In this issue
My Council Update includes info on Nora Bernard Street, Grinch’s in the neighbourhood, Peninsula South Complete Streets, snow info, two new heritage registrations and a record number of registrations this year, open data, and my new approach to Twitter.
Housing Update #9 describes my frustration with Council’s inaction on short-term rentals, and also new Rapid Housing funding. Coronavirus Update #52 outlines concerns about ER capacity and the need for everyone to continue to take precautions
Public Meetings and Hearings has info on meetings starting in 2023. Roadworks has some info on ongoing work.. Community Events has information on new years events and more.
It was a really moving 105th Halifax Explosion Memorial on December 6th. The day is full of moments, from the official ceremony at Needham Park, to the Firefighter Line of Duty Death memorial an hour later at Station 4, Lady Hammond Road, and then an hour later the memorial at the Mont Blanc gun in Dartmouth on Albro Lake Road. I want to thank everyone involved in organizing these memorials, but especially the teachers at John MacNeil Elementary who brought about 30 kids to the Dartmouth memorial.
After a wonderful engagement and thoughtful process, I am pleased that Cornwallis Street in Halifax will be renamed Nora Bernard Street. Nora Bernard, Recipient of the Order of Nova Scotia, was a residential school survivor and prominent activist who successfully demanded compensation for residential school survivors. Renaming this street was one of the recommendations of the Task Force on Commemoration
I had a resident email me to say there are Grinch’s in the neighborhood. She wrote “Happy Holidays. If you are planning on sending out a newsletter this month I thought it would be a good idea to remind everyone to be kind and keep an eye on your decorations and parcels. I had decorations stolen from my porch on the weekend.” I know her pain, we had some antique blow mould candles stolen off our deck last year. Take precautions, tie stuff down, and keep the lights on at night, as most of this seems to be crimes of opportunity… our candles were not tied down!
The Peninsula South Complete Streets project has posted the Phase 2 What We Heard Report and Institutional Stakeholder Supplementary Report are available for download from the Shape Your City page. I am excited to see this project’s planning phase approaching a conclusion. You can read the report here https://www.shapeyourcityhalifax.ca/peninsula-south-complete-streets
While we have been lucky so far – winter is upon us and we should get a snowstorm any day now. A reminder that snow updates and service standards for sidewalk, bike lane and road clearing can be found here: http://www.halifax.ca/snow
Regional Council approved requests to add two properties to the heritage registry, located at 1460 Oxford Street (Dalhousie President’s Residence) and 1322 Robie Street.
This brings the number of heritage registrations this year to a record-breaking 23 registrations. The second-best years were 2019 and 2021 with 12 each, and is over four times the average registration of 5 a year for the last decade. This is in addition to the protections created by new Heritage Conservation Districts, like Old South Suburb. I feel it shows a great deal of confidence in Halifax’s approach to heritage registration, the improved grant program, and the ability to use heritage development agreements to allow for the sensitive redevelopment of properties. I am very pleased with these results.
HRM released five new datasets on Open Data, as part of an ongoing commitment to providing public access to data created and managed by the municipality.
The five new datasets include the following:
· Grass Inventory
· Repealed Legislation
· Sidewalk Winter Maintenance Areas
· Street Winter Maintenance Areas
· Volunteer Recruitment Areas
To access all the data sets, click here https://www.halifax.ca/home/open-data
I wanted to let you know that I am no longer monitoring my Twitter account and using it for broadcast only. I will keep posting my agenda and retweeting HRM and Halifax Water, but the platform has become even more toxic since its recent purchase. This article was my final straw “Elon Musk’s Twitter abruptly dissolved its Trust and Safety Council on Monday night, just moments before it was scheduled to meet with company representatives. The council was an advisory group of nearly 100 independent civil, human rights and other organizations that the company formed in 2016 to address hate speech, child exploitation, suicide, self-harm and other problems on the platform.”
I maintain accounts on six platforms to better help inform residents about what is going on in Halifax and District 7, but as always, if you want to have a chat, email me at email@example.com or call me at 902-430-7822 (but email is better).
I’m going to be off from tomorrow (December 16) back in the New Year (January 2) other than New Years eve and the levee.
I wish you all the very best. Have a happy holiday season, stay safe, be kind,
Housing Update #9
On Tuesday Council was asked to approve regulations that would ban short-term rentals (STRS) in residential zones other than in a primary residence and deferred the decision. The legislation before us was what Council had asked for in 2020. You can read the original 2020 report here and the proposed legislation here
I am really very disappointed Council did not act and instead asked for more information. To me this is a pretty straightforward choice, we are in a housing crisis and residential neighbourhoods are not meant for “ghost hotels” and commercial tourism operations.
I had hoped that my amendment asking for a report to consider allowing suites in the future for STR might end the momentum on deferral. The motion was to ask for a report to come back when the rural STR report comes back (probably in a year or more) for consideration. The idea was “ok you are worried about this issue, let’s pass this ban now and consider changes later when we have data”. It almost worked.
It almost worked, we got the vote up to 8 for 6 against deferring, with Deputy Mayor Sam Austin, me and my colleagues Lindell Smith, Kathryn Morse, Pam Lovelace and Lisa Blackburn voting no. When the Mayor spoke in favour of deferral, I knew we were going to lose.
As I said in the debate on the main motion (to regulate) “I have 0.4% vacancy in District 7, I can’t not support this.” If it’s only 100 units, it’s still 100 units. I think its probably north of 500. We need housing.
I am very disappointed this was deferred when staff did exactly what we asked them to do 2 years ago. We have the ability to put these units back into long-term rental inventory, and we must do so. April can’t happen fast enough.
Some good news is that the Feds have launched Round 3 of the Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI) which invests an additional $1.5 billion to create up to 4,500 new permanent, affordable housing units across the country. This is much-needed funding that will help municipalities to address the urgent housing needs of people and populations who are vulnerable. HRM was again selected as a municipality that would receive immediate funding through the Cities stream.
The first two phases of this program enabled hundreds of new units for the most vulnerable in our community, many of which are already open or about to open, like the new Mikmaw Native Friendship Centre shelter on Carelton or the Adsum House project for women and children.
Municipal staff will be reaching out to affordable housing providers to identify partners and establish projects that could benefit from this new funding initiative. The municipality will need to partner with a not-for-profit or registered charity that is an established housing provider to deliver the housing. Due to the short timeline, expressions of interest must be received no later than January 6, 2023, at 12 pm (noon).
For more information, please visit the RHI page on Halifax.ca. https://www.halifax.ca/about-halifax/regional-community-planning/affordable-housing/rapid-housing-initiative
Coronavirus (and other viruses) Update #52
Our experience with COVID, RSV and the flu and colds going around got very personal this month. One of our household got COVID last week, the rest of us did not, but thought we had because we had a cold that is going around. Mask wearing, HEPA filters, isolation in the house, two PCR tests and ten rapid test later, we managed a win and did not see COVID spread.
I know we are all tired of COVID, but… we need to consider the alternatives to taking some precautions. We have full emergency rooms because we have folks catching RSV, COVID, and regular old seasonal flu.
SARS2 COVID is effectively a seasonal virus now. In Canada and the US September and October are the lowest months for spread, but as we start to move indoors numbers have shot right up. The province is reporting 79 cases a day on average and 13 deaths in the last reporting period.
There is increasing evidence that people who had COVID have become more susceptible to other infections due to immune system suppression or damage. It means more people are getting sicker from what would normally be minor things. More here.
I encourage you to wear a mask as much as possible, wash your hands with soap and warm water very frequently, reduce your potential exposure as much as possible, and of course, get vaccinated and get your flu shot.
For me and my family, you will see I am wearing masks in meetings and when out at events or Christmas shopping, though I am being more choosey about what I am going to or not. I can only encourage you to do the same, and stay safe this holiday season.
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, January 10, 10 am
- Tuesday, January 24, 10 am
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
- Wednesday January 18 10 am
- Wednesday January 25 10 am
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, January 17, 6 pm (if required)
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.
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 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
The following street closures or sidewalk disruptions have recently been added to the RoadWorks map
- BARRINGTON ST from END to HOLLIS ST, starting on 2022-12-07 | View in RoadWorks Map
- HOLLIS ST from SACKVILLE ST to SALTER ST, starting on 2022-12-01 | View in RoadWorks Map
- BEDFORD ROW from GEORGE ST to PRINCE ST, starting on 2022-12-05 | View in RoadWorks Map
- CREIGHTON ST from FALKLAND ST to COGSWELL ST, starting on 2022-12-01 | View in RoadWorks Map
- MAYNARD ST from COGSWELL ST to HARRIS ST, starting on 2022-12-01 | View in RoadWorks Map
- SPRING GARDEN RD from QUEEN ST to SOUTH PARK ST, starting on 2022-12-02 | View in 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
Nature Guardians: Our 8th Annual Christmas Bird Count
Saturday, December 17, 2022, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm | Shubie Park Dartmouth
The Young Naturalists Club of Nova Scotia is a club for youth and families that promotes the appreciation and conservation of nature. The Club creates opportunities to develop natural history skills and knowledge through interactions with adult naturalists and hands-on learning experiences. The organization connects members of the adult natural history community with young people interested in nature in order to foster youngsters’ passion for nature. The Club focuses on developing natural history observation skills, such as using binoculars and taking field notes. Members also learn to make the important connection between observing and understanding this province’s extraordinary natural assets, and what actions they can take to help conserve them. Positive experiences in nature, and shared excitement about the natural world, lead to the development of a lifelong conservation ethic. More info https://yncns.ca
New Years Eve in Grand Parade
December 31, 2022, 9:45 pm to 12:30 am | Grand Parade 1749 Argyle, Halifax
Enjoy artist performances, the main concert, a large fireworks show and a DJ. Performers include emerging rock star JJ Wilde, Tik Tok pop phenomenon Devon Cole and Halifax DJ OKAY TK. Watch it on Eastlink Community TV through the evening and on the Halifax will have a spot on CBC’s National TV broadcast from 9:45 – 10:15 p.m. Find out more about this event at halifax.ca/newyearseve
New Year’s Day Levee
9:30 am to 11:00 am | Halifax City Hall, 1749 Argyle Street (please enter off of Argyle)
Ring in the New Year with a special reception with the Mayor and Councillors on New Year’s Day. Join me in Halifax Hall in City Hall. I hope to see you there!
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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
— by calling toll-free: 1-800-670-4357.
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 the office have your 311 reference number ready. Vicki Palmeter is my Constituency Coordinator. Vicki can be reached by email at Victoria.email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 902.430.7822.