Upcoming budget process, Square Roots needs help, District Boundary review challenges, more

In this issue

My Council Update includes info on the upcoming budget process, noise bylaw exemption process info, letter to Minister Lohr, Cogswell noise, Imhotep job openings, Square Roots needs help, District Boundary review challenges, Camp Hill fence, leaf cleanup, IWK ICU full – let’s wear masks.

Public Meetings and Hearings has info on upcoming council meetings. Roadworks has a lot of info as a lot of “before winter” last-minute sidewalk and curb work is underway right now.  Community Events has a lot of winter season stuff, High School music the musical, Now We Don Our Gay Apparal, more!

Councillor Update

Hello all,

As the weather turns crisp and cool thoughts at Council turn to, you guessed it, budget season.  We had our very very first Budget Committee meeting yesterday before a long and productive Council meeting.

I’ve already started to get emails from folks upset by the tax increase proposed by staff. 

It is important to remember that the percentage increase being talked about now is not on the tax rate, it is on the bill.  So it is not an 8% increase proposed on top of assessment increases.  Assessments have grown so much I would be unsurprised if we did not cut the rate and still get a 4-5-6-7-8% increase.

I explained how the budget process works in a blog post last year which I just updated: https://wayemason.ca/2022/03/08/how-hrm-sets-the-tax-rate-focus-on-the-average-impact/

The truth is the 8% increase is proposed by staff because Council has been relying on Deed Transfer Tax the last four years to keep the tax bill from increasing with wage growth or inflation.  Staff have urged Council not to rely on deed transfer tax, which relies on robust sales of property, and with the war in Ukraine leading to economic slowdown and interest rate increases, sales are tanking, and with it the revenue from deed transfer.

In past years, Sam Austin, and Kathryn Morse when she joined Council, and I have been supportive of staff’s proposal to try and keep pace with inflation, but we failed to convince a majority.

The last three years staff projections suggested taxes should keep pace with inflation and wage increase, around 2.1-2.3%, and instead, we opted to keep it down around 1-1.7% (not including the one-time climate change fund increase) and use deed transfer to cover the difference.  The market cooled suddenly and unexpectedly when Putin launched his illegal and immoral invasion of Ukraine, and here we are.

What that means is not only did we keep taxes artificially low, not keeping pace with costs and inflation and wage growth, during a time when other cities were generally raising taxes 3-5% per year, but we also were not putting unexpected Deed Transfer windfalls into our capital reserves, so we now have a significant shortfall of capital funds, given the cost of building a rapidly growing city.

All of this adds up to a real financial challenge for the municipality.  I don’t think 8% is possible, it will cause harm to businesses and individuals already struggling with inflation.  The alternative however is 10s of millions of cuts to programs put in place to deal with growth and the growing social crisis.  This will be the most difficult budget we’ve faced since the 2008 financial crisis.

I expect we will raise taxes some, and cut some.  But please, the most important takeaway is when they talk about the percentage increase on the tax bill, that is NOT on top of assessment increases!

While the Province has passed unfortunate and poorly conceived Bill 225 they have not yet acted to cancel the changes to the Noise Bylaw, so HRM is going ahead with the new By-laws construction noise exemption process.  This is a cornerstone of the new and much more responsive noise bylaw.  The intent is to better regulate developers who need to extend construction noise beyond the standard By-law N-200 Respecting Noise timeframe (7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays), to finish construction and shorten project timelines.

The construction noise exemption process establishes criteria that a developer must meet, as well as a submission process to be reviewed by municipal staff. Further information can be found online at: halifax.ca/constructionnoise, under “Construction Noise Exemption Mitigation Methods.”

Prior to the updates to By-law N-200 Respecting Noise, noise exemptions typically required Regional Council approval, which could not be processed quickly enough to meet industry needs. To learn more about construction-related noise, visit: halifax.ca/constructionnoise.

To determine if a project near you is approved for a construction-related noise exemption, call 311 or visit halifax.ca/constructionnoise/event. Residents may submit a noise complaint or inquiry about noise exemptions to 311 and a staff member will investigate.

I sent a letter to Minister Lohr about Bill 225 and some other housing-related issues which I shared with you last week.  I am pleased to say it looks like we will be meeting in December to discuss it further.

Regarding construction noise, I want to apologize for the excessive noise residents adjacent to Cogswell District construction dealt with for the last two weeks.  Rock breaking overnight was done to speed toe work to get Detour Road 1 built and keep the project from falling behind.  That rock breaking is complete, but less impactful night work will continue until December 16th.

Once Detour Road 1 is complete that will allow the re-opening of the Barrington/ Cornwallis intersection.

The push is to ensure the work is done before the asphalt plant closes for the season which will happen shortly as the temperature drops. This will open up large right-of-way areas and allow the contractor to continue working on the project through the winter.  I don’t expect a lot of overnight rock breaking in the future but I can promise HRM will do a better job of communicating when that kind of disruptive work may be coming up.

An organization I’ve been an enthusiastic supporter of for the last number of years is hiring. Imhotep’s Legacy Academy (ILA) programs nurture young minds of African heritage in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).  The ILA is hiring for various positions to join our newly launched Engaging African Nova Scotian Youth in Agriculture and Community Food Security Project.   These are great positions spread around Nova Scotia with a great organization.  Visit ILA webpage to apply and for more information on these opportunities.  Feel free to contact ILA via admin.imhotep@dal.ca or the project coordinator via mn988169@dal.ca  with questions concerning the positions.

The last newsletter I wrote about Square Roots Fairview and their need for volunteers and support.  They wrote this week:  We already have over 340 families signed up requesting Warm Winter Wear from our upcoming event on November 26th. The link has been closed as we search for organizations, churches or anyone who will assist us.  We are struggling to assist families within our Fairview/Clayton Park area. We cannot possibly accommodate all these other families.

Over 190 of the 340 families requesting assistance are from areas outside our Fairview/Clayton Park location. It saddens me to have to turn away families in need BUT I am putting the onus back on YOU to help the families within your communities. Please see the list below to help you understand the dire need!

The Halifax Peninsula has 56 families in need within the B3H, B3J, B3K and B3L postal codes.

Please reach out if you know of, or are part of an organization that can help us assist these families with their Warn Winter Wear needs. They can be reached here: https://www.facebook.com/squarerootsfvcp/. I will be reaching out to Non-Profits and faith communities in District 7 to try and rally support for this initative.

I thank everyone who contributed to the District Boundary Review.  Unfortunately at this point we have been unsuccessful in keeping the Tree Streets neighbourhood together and the proposal going back to the committee is to put the northern dividing line between D7 and D9 along Jubilee, rather than Quinpool or Pepperell.

You can view the What We Heard report and the newly updated proposed district boundaries maps here: www.halifax.ca/boundaryreview.

You can still provide feedback by attending meetings of the District Boundary Resident Review Panel and/or meetings of the Executive Standing Committee: https://www.halifax.ca/city-hall/agendas-meetings-reports, or send written submissions to the Municipal Clerks Office by email at clerks@halifax.ca, by mail at Municipal Clerks Office, PO Box 1749, Halifax NS, B3J 3A5, or by phone at 902-490-4210.

As for what happens next – while I still hope for a different outcome I believe it is critical that a proposal goes to the Utility Review Board that hasn’t been seen to be politically interfered with.  In 2011 the URB threw out the HRM proposal and did their own entire plan, from size of Council to the district boundaries.

Because I think it is important that this be a citizen and data lead process, I will not make a motion to amend at Executive or Council, nor will I support other Councillors who may wish to amend the recommendation.  I will support citizens in making their case to the committee, and if it comes to it, the URB.

Construction has begun on Phase 1 of the Camp Hill Cemetery Fence Restoration.  The scope of work will include removing approximately 100 m of fencing on Veteran’s Memorial Lane starting at the Robie Street end.  The fence panels will be taken off-site to a warehouse where they will be sandblasted, repaired and painted.  Existing concrete bases will be repaired and the fence panels will be reinstalled.  The work is expected to take approximately 12 weeks and will require sidewalk and lane closures.

Residents are encouraged to help keep the streets, sidewalks and public walkways clear of fallen leaves.

The annual fall leaf cleanup program began Monday, Nov. 21 and concludes on Monday, Dec 12. Crews will begin collecting and removing leaves from streets in the heavily-treed areas of the Halifax peninsula first, and then in other areas of the urban core as required. Please note that this service is scheduled to happen only once on a street-by-street basis; however, crews may return to address areas that were not initially accessible as a result of parked vehicles or other barriers. The municipality is asking for the cooperation of residents to efficiently complete this program. Ensuring streets are free of leaves not only ensures the good operation of stormwater systems but contributes to ensuring safe roads for all commuters.

Temporary ‘No Parking’ signs will be posted in neighbourhoods prior to cleanup in that area. In order to facilitate proper cleanup, residents are asked to abide by posted signage and not park on the street.

The potential for street flooding increases greatly when catch basins are clogged with debris. Residents are also asked to respect municipal by-laws which prohibit the sweeping or depositing of leaves along the gutter of the street or in the roadway. For details on the scheduled cleanup for neighbourhoods on the Halifax peninsula, visit halifax.ca/fallcleanup

Finally, I encourage you to wear a mask in public places until the emergency room and ICU at the IWK get their numbers back to normal. The content of the IWK/Public Health press conference was sad and scary. Dr Lynk and Dr Strang are asking us to get our flu vaccinations, wear a mask in public places, stay home if we are able when we have symptoms.  I know we are all exhausted about COVID at this point but the ICU at the children’s hospital is full, and none of what we are being asked to do is worse or harder to live with than that.  More on the health crisis here: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/public-health-officials-respiratory-illnesses-1.6646040

That’s it for now, I expect I will get one more update out before winter break, but until then, thank you, stay safe, be kind,


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, December 13, 10 am

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 Budet (posted mid-day Friday prior to the Tuesday meeting) or to check the agenda. Upcoming meetings

  • Friday November 25, 10 am

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 alternating with Regional Council. Please check the webpage here for agendas (usually available a week before the meeting), locations, and times.

  • Tuesday, December 6, 6 pm (if required)

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 alternating with Regional Council. Please check the webpage here for agendas (usually available a week before the meeting), locations, and times.

  • Wednesday, December 15, 6 pm

Agenda here – https://www.halifax.ca/city-hall/agendas-meetings-reports?category=140

Halifax Peninsula Planning Advisory Committee & Design Advisory Committee
The Nova Scotia government has suspended the meeting of planning advisory committees and most forms of public engagement on planning for three years, ending April 2025.

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

A lot of “before winter” last-minute sidewalk and curb work is underway right now.  Labour and supply issues pushed a lot of this year’s projects quite late into the year.

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:https://www.halifax.ca/transportation/streets-siewalks/RoadWorks

Cogswell Construction Project
This major construction project, one of the biggest HRM has ever undertaken, is well underway.  Construction will take three years.  More info can be found here:  https://www.halifax.ca/about-halifax/regional-community-planning/construction-projects/cogswell-district-redevelopment

Jubilee Road CN Bridge
CN and HRM are coordinating the rehabilitation of this bridge, which has been delayed until 2023.

Community Events and Info

High School Musical
November 24,25,26 7pm FREE |Woodlawn High School

Disney’s High School Musical opens November 24th, 25th and 26th at Woodlawn High School, 31 Woodlawn Road and features students from 13 different HRCE schools.  Admission is FREE and by general admission with a 7 p.m. start. This is the full Broadway version of the show onstage, with a live rock band! The show is family friendly, and ASL interpreter services are being offered for our Friday, November 25th evening show

Public Input – New 3 year Public Safety Strategy
Thursday, Nov 24, 2022, 5:30-6:30 p.m. | Harbour East Marine-Drive Community Council Meeting Space, Main Floor Alderney Landing (Large Meeting Room), 60 Alderney Drive, Dartmouth

The Halifax Regional Municipality’s Public Safety Office is inviting residents to provide input on the new three-year Public Safety Strategy. The draft Strategy, which outlines public safety priorities and activities for 2023-2026 has been developed based on consultations and recommendations from several strategic reports provided to the municipality over recent years. The public safety strategy guides the development and implementation of preventative and evidence-informed strategic initiatives to improve conditions that contribute to safety and well-being. More information about the 2018-2022 Public Safety Strategy can be found online. Residents are encouraged to view the presentation and take the online survey, which will be open from Monday, November 21 to Wednesday, December 7. For more information and to take the survey, visit shapeyourcityhalifax.ca/public-safety-strategy

A Solemn Commemoration of the 89th Anniversary of the Holodomor (Ukrainian Famine-Genocide of 1932-33)
Film Screening and Panel
Saturday, November 26, 2022, 5pm | Atrium 101, Saint Mary’s University 923 Robie Street
A Candlelight Vigil in Memory of Victims of the Holodomor

Saturday, November 26, 2022, 7pm | | Peace and Friendship Park on Hollis Street, Halifax
The Ukrainian Canadian Congress Nova Scotia Branch and Ukrainian Canadian Association Halifax-Dartmouth Region cordially invites you to attend Food as a Weapon: Hunger Politics – Panel discussion and public screening of a documentary “Stalin’s Secret Genocide”, 15 minutes, written and directed by Andrea Chalupa, and also a Candlelight Vigil in Memory of Victims of the Holodomor, Peace and Friendship Park on Hollis Street, Halifax.  For questions, email novascotia@ucc.ca

Friends of the Halifax Common AGM
Thursday, November 29, 2022, 6:30-8:45 | Halifax Central Library

For more than 250 years, the Halifax Common has been a very important part of the social and physical health of the people of Halifax. Green space and common open space are being increasingly recognized as important, especially since the city adopted the Centre Plan which focuses on increasing the population of the Peninsula but has made no provision for an increase in green and common space. The AGM will focus on the Halifax Common Master Plan which is underway and can determine the future of this vital green and common space. Understanding what is being proposed and the impact it can/will have on the lives of Haligonians is vital. With this in mind, members on the FHC Board have taken individual aspects of the process and been working on and researching various applicable topics and will report at the AGM.

Tax Relief for Non-Profit Organizations Program
Deadline November 30 | Apply Online

HRM’s Tax Relief for Non-Profit Organizations Program is now open for application to be considered in next year’s program (2023). Be sure to apply by the deadline of Wednesday, November 30th, 2022. This program can help some non-profit organizations reduce their annual property tax under Administrative Order 2014-001-ADM the Tax Relief for Non-Profit Organizations Program. Learn more about eligibility and find the application form online at the bottom of this webpage: https://www.halifax.ca/business/doing-business-halifax/tax-relief-non-profit-organizations Applications can be mailed (see the address on the webpage noted above), e-mailed, or dropped off at any HRM Customer Service Centre. Questions? Please reach out to the program’s designated email address at: nonprofittax@halifax.ca.

Winter 2023 Rec Registration
Begins December 7 and 8
Get ready to register for Rec programs happening this winter! Winter recreation registration begins on Dec. 7 for dryland programs and on Dec. 8 for skating and aquatics. Program PDFs are expected to be available on Dec. 2 at halifax.ca/myrec. To improve security for users, the Halifax Rec online registration platform will be changing its password requirements starting Nov. 16. New and existing users with passwords less than 10 characters will be required to change their password before logging into their MyRec account: https://fal.cn/3tEyX.  Existing users with passwords of 10 or more characters are unaffected. We urge all impacted users to change their password to 10 or more characters before the upcoming winter recreation programming registration dates. To change your password, visit the account login page and follow the password reset instructions. Questions can be directed to your local recreation centre or call (902) 490-6666.

Don We Now Our Gay Apparel concert series: Songs for a Winter’s Night
Thursday, December 8 – Saturday, December 10 7:30 pm | St Andrew’s United Church Halifax

The Halifax Gay Men’s Chorus presents three performances of their upcoming Don We Now Our Gay Apparel concert series, Songs for a Winter’s Night on Thursday, December 8, Friday, December 9, and Saturday, December 10, 2022, at St. Andrew’s United Church in Halifax. All performances are at 7:30 pm (with doors opening at 6:30 pm). Songs for a Winter’s Night features beloved classic and contemporary music from international artists including Barbara Streisand, Dolly Parton, Sara Bareilles, Robbie Smith, Eric Whitacre and Gordon Lightfoot – all that with a good serving of Halifax Gay Men’s Chorus flavour.  Tickets are $50.00 for Patrons (Patrons will receive a $25 charitable receipt and will have assigned seating); $25.00 for General Admission; and $15.00 for Students, Seniors, and Under-waged. Tickets are available from our website: https://www.hgmc.ca/ 

Applications Open for Heating Assistance Rebate Program
Open Now to March 31, 2023 |  Online

Help with home heating costs is now available for Nova Scotians living on low incomes. Applications for the Heating Assistance Rebate Program (HARP) open today, October 17, for the 2022-23 heating season.
The annual program provides a rebate of up to $200 to eligible low-income Nova Scotians who pay for their own heat.
“We know that heating costs can be a financial strain for Nova Scotians, especially those with a low income,” said Colton LeBlanc, Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Internal Services. “The Heating Assistance Rebate Program is once again here to help with home heating costs. We would encourage all eligible Nova Scotians to take advantage of the program and apply.” The income threshold to qualify for the program is $29,000 for single-income households and $44,000 for family-income households.  https://beta.novascotia.ca/apply-heating-assistance-rebate-heating-assistance-rebate-program

2023 HRM Volunteer Award nominations are now open
Deadline Friday, January 6, 2023, | Online

Do you know an outstanding volunteer who gives back to your community? You can give them the recognition they deserve! Nominate an adult, youth, or group for the 2023 HRM Volunteer Awards. The deadline for nominations is Friday, Jan. 6, 2023  The HRM Volunteer Awards is an annual event that puts a spotlight on residents who have made a difference in their community by donating their time and skills to various programs and services. Successful nominees will be notified in March and will be invited to attend an awards ceremony during National Volunteer Week, taking place from April 16 to April 22, 2023. Let’s show appreciation for the work that volunteers do to help build stronger, healthier, and more supportive communities. Thank you, volunteers!  Nomination forms and detailed nomination criteria are available now: www.halifax.ca/volunteerawards

HRM YMCA Senior Snow Removal Program
Applications Open Now

The snow removal program is available to seniors (65 years of age or older) and persons with disabilities in the Halifax region who also meet the criteria below. The program applies to residential properties only – commercial properties are ineligible. Participants must reside in a single dwelling home which is owned or rented. The total gross household income of all people living on the premises must not exceed $32,000 The program is NOT available to landlords.  https://ymcahfx.ca/communityymca/ymca-senior-snow-removal/

Expanded Seniors Care Grant Open for Applications
Available Now 
Older Nova Scotians can now apply for grants to help with the cost of household chores, healthcare services and home heating. The Seniors Care Grant program provides up to $500 to help support eligible seniors to live well at home. People applying for the grant are also able to apply for a new, one-time grant of $250 to help with heating costs.  The Seniors Care Grant helps cover the costs of services such as snow removal, small repairs, lawn care, transportation, and grocery and medication delivery. The list of eligible expenses has been expanded this year to include phone and internet costs, and health services like eye exams, dental work, mental health supports, physical therapy and foot care. The new $250 home heating grant is available to eligible Nova Scotians 65 and older, including people who have already received money through the Seniors Care Grant or Heating Assistance Rebate Program in the past year. The grant is available for the cost of furnace oil, natural gas, propane, firewood, wood pellets and electricity.

More information about the grants, including how to apply, who is eligible and eligible services is available:
— at the program website: https://beta.novascotia.ca/apply-help-household-healthcare-and-home-heating-costs-seniors-care-grant
— by email: seniorsgrant@novascotia.ca
— by calling toll-free: 1-800-670-4357.

Housing Clinic
Monday and Thursday Mornings | Halifax Central Library, Spring Garden Road

Welcome Housing hosts Housing Clinics for those experiencing housing precarity every Monday and Thursday in June from 9-12 am, except on June 16


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

Call or email 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.