African Heritage Month, Budget 22/23 & how tax increases are calculated, HalifACT, residential solar, snow removal issues, more.

I snapped the picture above of the restored historic City Hall bells the other morning.  You can read more about them here.

In this issue

My Council Update includes African Heritage Month, budget 2022 and how tax increases are calculated, HalifACT and climate change, NSP’s ill-advised residential solar proposal, snow removal issues, and more.

Public Meetings and Hearings has some online engagement information for those that may be interested. Roadworks has no new info.  Community Events is still very winter and covid, no face to face events to report.

Councillor Update

Hello all,

I invite you to recognize Canada’s Black History Month and Nova Scotia’s African Heritage Month with me throughout February.

As we commemorate this important month, please take time to celebrate and learn more about the rich culture, achievements and contributions of African Nova Scotians and communities of African descent in our region and across the nation.

This year’s African Heritage Month theme, Through Our Eyes: The Voices of African Nova Scotians, recognizes the long-standing history of people of African descent in the development of Canada.

The municipality is holding a variety of events to celebrate the legacy, achievements, and contributions of people of African descent as part of our collective Nova Scotia heritage.

For more information, visit the municipality’s African Heritage Month website:

I understand and Council understands that the municipality still has work to do to ensure our efforts to address anti-Black racism are rooted in the needs of our African Nova Scotian community. Last June, Regional Council endorsed the Framework for developing a municipal Anti-Black Racism (ABR) Strategy and Action Plan. The Office of Diversity & Inclusion/ANSAIO has since completed employee pre-engagement sessions and recently began public engagement, as extensive participation is essential in the development of this important work.  This work is ongoing and is somethingI am deeply committed to supporting.

I’ve been hearing a lot of concern about proposed tax increases. One of the biggest concerns is that we’ve all seen massive assessment increases, and that it is unfair for the tax increase on top of that.

The good news is that Halifax sets a target for the average tax bill increase, not rate increase. When Council is being asked to set an average increase of 0-5%, that is on the amount paid the previous year, not on the rate.

The tax rate is set after assessment comes in. If there is a huge assessment increase, HRM will bring down the rate, to hit the target of average tax bill.

Last year, the average residential tax bill went up 1%, but the urban tax rate went down slightly, 0.815 to 0.813 per hundred to achieve that. (Budget Book 2021-22 page 25)

This year, the proposal is the average residential tax bill go up 4.6%, with the urban tax rate going down from 0.813 to 0.771 per hundred.  That’s a proposed almost 2 cent rate decrease required because of the assessment spikes. (Budget 2022-23 staff presentation, slide 10)

Table showing budget impact on tax rate (rate goes down)

So no, HRM is not double-dipping, the municipality never does. This will be the fourth or fifth time the rate has been cut since I’ve been on Council.

Why a higher increase than last year?  I wrote about the need to take the cost of climate change adaptation seriously in a previous post.  I spoke about it at Council during the debate on this proposal. A lot of folks have said to me “why can’t you find savings to fund HalifACT and not raise taxes like this?”

The reason is Council has already been squeezing for years, keeping taxes down and those efficiencies and savings have already been realized.

The fact is HRM has kept tax increases below inflation for six years.  The average increase is less than 1.7%, last year was 1%, the year before 1.4%.  I’ve been saying for years this was risky.  HRM has used capital reserves and deed transfer tax to keep the rate artificially low, and eventually, options to do this are used up.

If we had gone with 2.1% the last two years, this year the change would be 2.8% or lower this year to fund HalifACT.  We cannot keep pushing off this increase and hit our climate and sustainability goals by 2030.

Even with this adjustment to fund our climate change work, and bringing future changes up to inflation or income (whatever is lower), HRM still will have, on average, some of the lowest tax increases in Canada, which is something I am proud of.  More on the budget and what we are debating can be found here:

The other climate-related issue is the deep opposition I have with NS Powers’ proposed network fee charged to new installs of residential solar panels.

I have a lot of concerns about the argument NSP is making here – that other users are subsidizing the solar panel users.

The last time I looked, all ratepayers are paying for all greening of power infrastructure in Nova Scotia.  NSP itself is asking for rate increases to pay for green power generation to replace coal by 2030.  NSP benefits from carbon credits generated by homeowner installed solar, and ultimately ALL green capital investment is paid for by ALL ratepayers, whether NSP or others is making the investment.

The main difference between rooftop solar and NSP solar farms is that NSP can’t make their 9% profit on someone else’s investment.  The proposal has made a lot of folks angry, for good reason.

Residential solar is a way to harness small investments from thousands of people to help decarbonize our future, capital investment NSP doesn’t have to help fund.

Rooftop solar is a key component of HalifACT and our efforts for HRM as a community to hit it’s carbon goals.  It is critical that this proposal be overturned by the regulator, and failing that, provincial legislation.

NSP needs to rethink this application and withdraw it, to restore some trust with their many partners in the community who feel betrayed by this proposal. NSP is a critical part of our low carbon future, and some of the ideas I’ve heard around V2G for load balancing, battery storage, and other future projects are brilliant.  This proposal undermines all those potential plans.

Councillor Austin has a draft motion he is bringing to Council to direct HRM to seek intervenor status. The proposal has major implications for our ability to scale up Solar City and achieve the rooftop solar targets in HalifACT. Council will consider it on Feb 8.

I hear and agree with concerns around sidewalk snow removal this last weekend.  I was shoveling my own driveway when the snow turned to rain Saturday afternoon, and the sidewalk plow had yet to come by.  I think HRMs standards are appropriate if they are met, and they were not met on most side streets sidewalks and most corners.  (standards here – )

I learned in 2015 if a rapid freeze follows a large snowfall the sidewalk snow clearing needs to start before snowfall stops, a full pass or two of sidewalks needs to have been done before the rain starts, or it will freeze solid and take days and even weeks to clear back.  I’m talking to staff about how this can be remedied now and avoided in the future.

I published my latest Housing Update this week, and you can read it here  –

What can you do if someone is in need during an extreme weather event?  If you see an individual in need of shelter during extreme weather and they have requested help, please call 311 or 211 to connect them with service providers and ensure help is on the way. But if their life is in danger, please call 911.

Finally, I want to bid a fond goodbye to my Coordinator Liam MacSween, who has taken a new job as HRM’s election coordinator.  Liam and I worked well together, and I will miss his wise counsel and practical Cape Breton wisdom.  This is a great new job for him and I know he will be good at it.

For the interim, Mel is back!  You can reach my acting Coordinator Melody Campbell during the business day, Melody, the manager of the Council Support office and my former coordinator, is filling in while hirings are underway. Melody can be reached at 902.490.6355 or by email at

Thanks and stay safe,


Public Meetings, Hearings & Engagement

Halifax Regional Council – Halifax City Hall, Council Chambers
If you want to read reports coming to Regional Council (posted mid-day Friday prior to the Tuesday meeting) or to check the agenda. Upcoming meetings:

  • Tuesday, Feb 8, 10 am
  • Tuesday, Feb 15, 10 am (if required)
  • Tuesday, Mar 1, 10 am

Agendas here:

Budget Committee – Halifax City Hall, Council Chambers
If you want to read reports coming to Budget (posted mid-day Friday prior to the Tuesday meeting) or to check the agenda. The public is encouraged to speak and have their say about the upcoming budget. Upcoming meetings:

  • Friday, February 4, 2022
  • Wednesday, February 9, 2022
  • Wednesday, February 16, 2022
  • Friday, February 18, 2022
  • Wednesday, February 23, 2022
  • Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Agendas here:

Halifax & West Community Council – virtual meetings
Community Council meets on Tuesday evenings that alternate with Regional Council. Please check the webpage here for agendas (usually available a week before the meeting), locations, and times.

  • Tuesday, Feb 22, 2022 6pm

Agenda here –

Regional Centre Community Council – virtual or face to face meeting
Community Council meets on Tuesday evenings that alternate with Regional Council. Please check the webpage here for agendas (usually available a week before the meeting), locations, and times.

  • Wednesday, Feb 23, 2022, 6pm

Agenda here –

Halifax Peninsula Planning Advisory Council
Halifax Peninsula Planning Advisory Committee meets once a month to discuss and provide feedback to Council on planning proposals for the three districts on the peninsula. Upcoming meetings:

  • No meetings scheduled at this time,

Please check the webpage for agendas (usually available a week before the meeting), locations, and times:

Information about how to watch or participate in virtual meetings can be found on the agenda pages. Please confirm meeting dates and times on our website as dates and times are subject to change.

Public hearings
Public hearings are published 2-3 weeks before they take place. There are no public hearings posted at this time. A list of upcoming hearings can be found here:

Roadworks Update

The following street closures or sidewalk disruptions have recently been added to the RoadWorks map


You can find out road closure details on the HRM Roadworks map:

Community Events and Info

African Heritage Month - Halifax Public Libraries

African Heritage Month – Halifax Public Libraries

African Heritage Month – Learn. Share. Explore. Experience.

February 2022 | Halifax Public Libraries and various other locations
2022 marks the 38th year of official African Heritage Month celebrations in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Library, in partnership with the Black History Month Association and community partners, is proud to help share and highlight community voices, talents, and history. This year, we will begin with a variety of virtual, live streamed, and online experiences, and we hope to expand to in-person events once it is safe to do so.The TD Ready Commitment is the presenting sponsor of African Heritage Month 2022 at Halifax Public Libraries. Their support makes it possible for us to host and share high quality African Heritage programs and content throughout the month of February and year-round.
More here:

Community Grants Program Preapplication inquires welcome
Deadline March 31, 2022 | Online
HRM’s Community Grams Program offers funding for community projects led by registered, non-profit organizations and charities throughout the Halifax region. There are project grants of up to $5,000 and capital grants of up to $25,000. A wide variety of projects are eligible for the grants such as publishing maps or guidebooks, creating interpretive panels, buying safety equipment, or renovating a building for community use. While you cannot apply yet for 2022, you can contact the Grants office for general inquiries at this time: Applications will be accepted starting in January and up until March 31, 2022.

Applications Open for Heating Assistance Rebate Program
Open Now to March 31, 2022
Help with home heating costs is available for Nova Scotians living on low incomes. Applications for the Heating Assistance Rebate Program (HARP) open today, October 18, for the 2021-22 heating season. The annual program provides a rebate of up to $200 to low-income Nova Scotians who pay for their own heat. The income threshold to qualify for the program is $29,000 for single-income households and $44,000 for family-income households. Applications are available at and through Access Nova Scotia, Community Services and MLA offices.
Additional Resources:


How can we help?

311 – HRM’s Call Centre
HRM’s call centre is open 7 days a week, Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday & Sunday 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. to respond to routine inquiries and complaints from HRM residents. Please use this service since it helps HRM keep track of issues that are of concern for residents (missed solid waste pickup,

Call my office
Call my office for assistance with your municipal issues. Please try 311 first, and when you call have your 311 reference number ready. You can reach my acting Coordinator Melody Campbell at 902.490.6355 or by email at

Reach out to me
I’m always available to help residents. Email is always better than a phone call, as I am often in meetings and much of the time I cannot answer the phone. If Liam or 311 cannot assist you, please email me at or call 902.430.7822.