Arena Strategy Expensive Mistake for HRM and District 7

On Tuesday, Regional Council will be asked to consider the Long Term Arena Strategy report which proposes to close all rinks in Bedford, Dartmouth and Halifax and replace them with two new four pad facilities. The report says it will save HRM $2 million a year to operate the two new complexes. I think the question should be – should HRM spend $90-100 million to build new facilities instead of repairing the existing ones for $18.8 million?  When you look closely at read more

Campaign finance reform is essential for HRM

It is important that how elections are funded, and what that funding can be spent on, be clearly defined and carefully monitored. That’s why the province has strong campaign finance laws, as does the federal government. Unfortunately, municipal election rules are weak – they increase the possibility for corruption and lead to unfair elections. As candidates, both of us believe it’s time to strengthen our campaign finance rules. Elections in the HRM are governed by the provincial Municipal Elections Act. The read more

Public Safety and Crime in HRM

Halifax is building a troublesome reputation as a community that is struggling with crime and its aftermath. It comes to no surprise that we  find ourselves debating the steps that we should take to reduce crime while addressing the root causes. In the days that followed the release of ambiguous stats that provided an unclear picture of what we are facing in terms of crime, conversations in our community were strong and diverse. Headlines that spoke of high murder rates read more

HRM needs an affordable housing plan, not empty words.

Halifax is starting to experience the kind of economic growth that drives up housing costs, creating challenges for many who struggle to provide safe and secure homes for themselves and their families. Recently Councillor Uteck proposed rent control as a solution. I think HRM can do better. Rent control is just one tool out of many that could be used to create affordable housing and foster housing security.  Rent control is also a provincial issue, not municipal. I find it interesting that read more

HRM arts funding in crisis

This opinion piece was run the Herald May 26, 2012. Read the full opinion piece in the Chronicle Herald. POST SCRIPT: After this piece was published I was asked to be lead author and opinon wrangler for the Arts Section of the Centre for Policy Alternatives Alternative Budget for HRM.  I have linked to the excerpted arts and culture section here.  This is a great place to start with a new, real cultural plan for HRM. HRM arts funding in crisis May 26, read more

Halifax needs a better budgeting process

Last night I had to wonder: why does HRM spend more time looking for public input when my neighbours want to put a small extension on their house than when it passes a $788 million dollar operating budget? I just got a letter that gives me a couple weeks to comment in case I have an issue with my neighbours’ plans.  This is a lot more time than I had, as a citizen, to read and comment on HRM’s budget. read more

What we really need is more ferry service, not less!

HRM Council made the wrong decision when it announced cuts to ferry service when it passed the Metro Transit budget.  We need HRM Council to invest in transit in the core, where it makes sense and has ridership, not cut services to fund expensive rural transit. The decision is being justified using ridership numbers and cost saving numbers that mislead people by not placing the ferry service in context. Cutting the ferry back so it stops at 10:30 instead of read more