Budget update, district capital 2022-23, peninsula south complete streets, more

Pictured above is a detail of a pillar on the front of the renovated Green Lantern.  More pictures here: https://www.facebook.com/wayemason/posts/373997021220393

In this issue

My Council Update includes info on the budget, district capital for 2022-23, peninsula complete streets, Ronald MacDonald House, summer jobs at HRM, and introducing Victoria.

Public Meetings and Hearings has info on upcoming council meetings.  Roadworks has a couple of new constructions.  Community Events is starting to fill up with events, but this one has a lot of education-based grants and bursaries with deadlines that are coming up.

Councillor Update

Hello again!

January to March has become the highest workload period for Councillors! As our budget process has gotten more public, transparent, and accountable it has also gotten more complex and time-consuming.

In a week when we have Regional Council (often all day), I can also have two all-day budget meetings, for 4-5-6 weeks in a row, as well as other committees and boards.  It’s pretty all-consuming.

We are largely almost done, but I apologize to folks as my response times have gotten longer, and will be for another couple of weeks.  This is part of why it’s been five weeks since my last District e-newsletter.  Almost done though, and I appreciate your patience!

I wrote about how Council sets taxes last newsletter, and I had a professor from my MBA at SMU ask some very pointed and correct questions of clarification!  I wrote this expanded blog about budget and taxes, to provide more background to those that may be of interest to residents.

Today, March 8th is International Women’s Day! Together, let’s celebrate all women and girls and their incredible contributions to our world. Let’s also acknowledge the progress made towards achieving gender equality – and the work yet to be done. We all have role to play in forging a more gender-balanced world.

COVID restrictions are ending on March 21.  I am not sure how I feel about it if I am honest. It’s hard to stop worrying after two years of a State of Emergency, and not all the indicators are positive right now.  For my part, I intend to go out to dinner and enjoy this relaxation, but I’m still going to wear a mask in public until we see where the trends go into April.

I’ll return to work out of City Hall on March 22, but I’ll still have a HEPA filter in my office, and for the time being, will continue to do most of my meetings with residents via Teams and Zoom.  I hope everyone feels comfortable enough to do what they think is appropriate for their own health and safety.

While COVID restrictions are largely going away, I’ve taken the difficult decision to not try and rush into a face-to-face Participatory Budgeting process this year.  It’s already getting late to do the full PB process, and the community groups do best when they get the money as early in the construction season as possible.  I also worry if we go for a full public process and vote in May or June it may get derailed if we have cases spike.

So once again this year, residents and community non-profit groups in District 7 will be invited to apply for a District Capital Funding grant. There are two project streams – a big projects category that funds up to $10,000 and a small project category that will fund up to $5,000 or less.

District Capital Funds are for permanent projects that provide publicly accessible benefits in the community and that provide widespread community benefit. Priority is given to projects that are intergenerational or focused on youth or seniors, and which work to address equity, inclusion, and systemic racism in our community.  Projects must provide the broadest public benefit, and meet all HRM policies and guidelines

In late May, Victoria and I will review the applications and announce the successful applicants.  My website will be updated with information including application deadlines by the end of this week.

You have probably noticed we have a lot more potholes than normal for this time of year.  We’ve had the perfect conditions of repeated freeze, thaw, freeze with our seemingly weekly snowstorms and then rain.  This causes asphalt to degrade very quickly.

Road operations crews identify, log, and address potholes all year. They also rely heavily on residents to report any problematic potholes they see, so they can be logged into the system for repair. HRM’s crews monitor and repair more than 1,700 km of roadways. More than 5,200 potholes are repaired throughout the municipality each year.

The time to fix a pothole can range anywhere from 7 business days to 30 business days depending on the pothole and if it is considered a priority. Crews aim to repair priority potholes on main arterial and major collector roads within 7 business days.

On municipal roads, please call 311 or email contactus@311.halifax.ca. You can also fill out this online form at www.halifax.ca/potholes

I’ve gotten a couple of emails about the Peninsula South Complete Streets project, which includes both Morris Street and Robie Street.
Staff have developed several conceptual options for Robie St., University Ave., Morris St., and South Street with the goal of understanding how they might retrofit new pedestrian, accessibility, and cycling infrastructure into these streets while also considering potential, associated changes to parking, curbside loading, traffic lane widths/directions, property access, and other street functions.

Some of the conceptual options being explored would have an impact to trees in the area, while others would have minimal or no impact.

As with any municipal infrastructure project, they are giving careful consideration to potential impacts to the existing tree canopy while also looking for opportunities to advance the goals of the Urban Forest Master Plan by planting new trees in conditions that would enable them to thrive.

It’s important to note that at this stage of the process no recommendations have been made or plans approved.

Residents will have the opportunity to provide feedback on the conceptual options during our second phase of public consultation, which will take place this spring. Following public consultation and staff evaluation of the options, a recommendation will be presented to Regional Council for review and approval.

You can learn more about the project here: https://www.shapeyourcityhalifax.ca/peninsula-south-complete-streets

I’m pleased to give residents an update regarding the new Ronald McDonald House on South Street. The project has been sent to tender and RMH are are optimistic that preparation of the site will begin in late April/early May.  They expect the construction will take 18-20 months, but this will largely be based on the availability of key local trades in this heated construction market that we all find ourselves. In the latest news, they are extremely proud to share that the new House will be certified for accessibility through the Rick Hansen Foundation.

There are lots of great summer job opportunities with the Halifax Regional Municipality. REC jobs offer a rewarding experience and offer a fun culture, the opportunity to gain valuable career skills, and an environment that promotes health, wellness, and physical activity. These jobs give you an opportunity to work in areas of interest – with children, at beaches and pools and in sports, recreation, and inclusion. Plus, most jobs offer free evenings and weekends! Check out the current postings — https://www.halifax.ca/about-halifax/employment/seasonal-youth-employment-recreation

In other news, I am so pleased to welcome Victoria Palmeter to City Hall as a new Constituency Coordinator! She has taken over from Liam, who has taken a new job as HRM’s election manager. Thank you to Mel Campbell for filling in the last month.  Victoria can be reached by email at Victoria.palmeter@halifax.ca or by phone at 902-490-2012.

Finally, I am off next week, though checking email and voicemail periodically to make sure the right info gets to Victoria and other staff. I’ll be back on March 22, at our first face to face Council meeting since December.

Thanks and stay safe,

Waye

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, March 22, 10am
·        Tuesday, April 5, 10am
Agendas here: https://www.halifax.ca/city-hall/agendas-meetings-reports?category=127

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, March 11
·        Friday, March 25 (if required)
Agendas here: https://www.halifax.ca/city-hall/agendas-meetings-reports?category=127

Halifax & West Community Council – Halifax City Hall, Council Chambers
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, March 8, 2022 6pm
Agenda here – https://www.halifax.ca/city-hall/agendas-meetings-reports?category=140

Regional Centre Community Council – Harbour East Marine Drive Room, Alderney Landing
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, March 23 6pm (if required)
Agenda here – https://www.halifax.ca/city-hall/agendas-meetings-reports?category=140

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: https://www.halifax.ca/city-hall/boards-committees-commissions/h/halifax-peninsula-planning-advisory-committee

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: https://www.halifax.ca/business/planning-development/public-hearings

Roadworks Update

The following street closures or sidewalk disruptions have recently been added to the RoadWorks map
·        GOTTINGEN ST from CUNARD ST to CORNWALLIS ST
·        HOLLIS ST from SALTER ST to BISHOP ST
·        COGSWELL ST from GOTTINGEN ST to NORTH PARK ST
You can find out road closure details on the HRM Roadworks map:
https://www.halifax.ca/transportation/streets-sidewalks/RoadWorks

Community Events and Info

Halifax Noise Study
Open Now
We are conducting a short survey on noise annoyance among residents of Halifax. The purpose of this study is to investigate your perception of noise levels in Halifax. More info: https://bit.ly/noisehfx

Free help with your income taxes
Started March 1 | Halifax Public Libraries
Halifax Public Libraries has shared that registration for free tax clinics with the Library opened on March 1. You can register for 2022 tax clinics by calling your local library branch or by visiting in-person. This year, tax clinics will be held via telephone with a volunteer from CRA’s Community Volunteer Income Tax Program. You may be eligible for help at a free tax clinic if you have a modest income and a simple tax situation.  Learn more about whether you’re eligible, and register here: https://bit.ly/33oT1eI

Call for Artists: PER 2022 (play, explore, research)
Monday March 14 | Application Deadline
Votive Dance is seeking applications from movement-based artists for PER (Play, Explore, Research). PER is an opportunity for choreographers and movers to spend one-week workshopping ideas and material, with studio space and an honorarium provided to all participants. Application form: https://forms.gle/CmpgdDgjSTPq1v617

HRM’s Spring 2022 Step Up to Leadership
Registation Closes March 18 | Register Online, Sessions at Fairbanks Centre, Dartmouth
Sessions are now open for registration. The municipality’s Neighbourhood & Volunteer Services team offers a free, nine-session course that covers a wide range of topics to help you develop leadership skills and build strong communities.  To learn more or register, visit https://bit.ly/3HWwXam  Sessions take place Wednesdays, March 23 to May 18, 2022, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m at the Fairbanks Centre at 54 Locks Road, Shubie Park, Dartmouth.  Register at any municipal recreation centre or online at www.halifax.ca/myrec using the course code 00051338. For more information https://www.halifax.ca/about-halifax/volunteering/step-leadership

Margazhi Utsavam – Halifax Indian Fine Arts Festival
Saturday March 19 3pm-8pm | Bella Rose Arts Centre (SOLD OUT)
This festival is a celebration of Indian classical music and dance forms. This is more of a heritage and legacy being followed for decades. If you are into music, appreciate, and love music in any form, this is for you!

Diversity in Health Care Bursary program
Deadline March 21, 2022
The QEII Foundation is now accepting applications (until March 21) for its Diversity in Health Care Bursary program. These bursaries – valued at $1,250 each – support students studying in a healthcare field and who identify as African Nova Scotian/Black; Indigenous; Racialized; Immigrant; 2SLGBTQIA+; living with a physical, mental health or learning challenge; or having intersectionality of these identities. For more information, please visit http://QE2Foundation.ca/Diversity

Seasonal Employment
Community Grants Program Preapplication inquires welcome
Deadline March 31, 2022 | Online
HRM’s Community Grams Program offers to fund 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: NonProfitGrants@halifax.ca. 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 http://www.novascotia.ca/heatinghelp and through Access Nova Scotia, Community Services and MLA offices.
Additional Resources:

Active Transportation Education and Promotion Grant
Deadline April 11
Halifax Regional Municipality is now accepting applications for the Active Transportation Education and Promotion Grant.  Please see more information on the grant and the application form at the bottom of this page: https://www.halifax.ca/transportation/cycling-walking/active-transportation-grants-program

Stories and Mi’kmaq Legends with Leonard Paul
Sunday, April 24, 2022, 7:30-10:30 | St. Andrew’s United, Coburg
Join us for the 2nd concert in our 35th anniversary season, as Camerata presents Stories and Mi’kmaq Legends, celebrating the art of Truro visual artist Leonard Paul (www.leonardpaul.com) on Saturday/Sunday, March 12-13. A graduate of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and Acadia University, Leonard Paul is a painter specializing in high realism whose work is inspired by his ancestors and traditions; he is descended from a line of great Chiefs. His work has been awarded the Governor General’s Medal, and he’s received funding from the Canada Council for the Arts. Nova Scotia school choirs will join Camerata virtually for this performance when another new work by Laura Hawley will be premiered. The audience is invited to join the choir and Board for anniversary cake following the Saturday evening concert. https://www.facebook.com/events/406485677702914/

Suellen Murray Educational Bursary
Deadline April 30
Suellen Murray loved the Halifax Public Gardens and walked through on her way to work in the Department of Health each day.  It had particular meaning and joy for her during the three years after her diagnosis of a brain tumour.  In 2014, Dr T.J. (Jock) and Janet Murray, Suellen’s parents, and her husband, Byron Rafuse, established a $1000 annual bursary to recognise her love of the Gardens and to encourage and support educational activities related to this very special space in our city.  For more info: https://www.halifaxpublicgardens.ca/suellen-murray-educational-bursary

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.  More info here: https://www.halifax.ca/home/311

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. Victoria Palmeter is my new Constituency Coordinator.  Victoria can be reached by email at Victoria.palmeter@halifax.ca or by phone at 902-490-2012.

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 Victoria or 311 cannot assist you, please email me at waye.mason@halifax.ca or call 902.430.7822.