A short (relatively) update for August. Please note, that I’ll be on vacation for the end of August. I’ll be returning to duty September 4. While I’m away, you can report any routine municipal issues to 311 or call my constituency coordinator Laura Nooyen at 902-490-6982 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sullivan’s Pond Concerts
Back in June, I shared the news that the Sunday concert series at Sullivan’s Pond was being scaled back this year. The Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission has generously sponsored the concert series for the last several years, but they decided this year to refocus their efforts on providing activities closer to home on Portland Street and in Ferry Terminal Park. The Business Commission has limited funds and I appreciate the years they’ve provided entertainment at Sullivan’s Pond. The bandstand hasn’t gone quiet entirely. The Business Commission still provided two concerts (Canada Day and Natal Day) and HRM has also paid for one (Natal Day). I’m pleased to share that my open call for interested performers to try and fill some of the void has produced two additional shows to finish out the summer. This Sunday, August 20, features the Dartmouth Citizen’s Band and then on Sunday, August 27, Acoustic Firefly will play. Funding for these two concerts has come from District 5’s Advertising and Promotion budget. I will be looking to see if HRM can takeover some of the programming at the bandstand as part of the 2018/2019 Parks and Rec budget.
Herbicides in Downtown Dartmouth
I have heard concerns from a few residents about the provincial approval of a CN application to spray glyphosate along the rail tracks. Glyphosate is a herbicide and CN wants to use it to kill off the vegetation along the tracks to make maintenance easier. You might have seen the story in Nova Scotia Advocate.
While there is much to question about provincial policy and the use of pesticides, they won’t be used in Downtown Dartmouth. I have spoken with CN and they have indicated that the Downtown Dartmouth section will be cut mechanically. This is because the tracks are too close to public buildings, parks, homes, and businesses. This isn’t an optional concession by CN that can be changed either. The Province imposed a 30 meter buffer as part of the permitting process and since there are almost no sections on the Dartmouth line that are more than 30 meters away from other buildings, the practical impact is a ban in District 5. I spoke with Provincial officials in the Department of Environment and they are firm on the 30 meter buffer.
So if CN isn’t going to spray in Downtown Dartmouth, how come they applied to? The problem here is the lot that contains the railway, Property Identifier (PID) 00339648, is a single parcel of land. PID 00339648 runs all the way from Windsor Junction to Eastern Passage. The parcel isn’t broken up into smaller lots so to spray the tracks out in the woods beyond Burnside, the notice has to list the whole line.
Crosswalk Light Pilot
To try and improve crosswalk safety, HRM has piloted rectangular rapid flashing beacons at four crosswalk locations in HRM. One of the four sites is the intersection of Dahlia and Maple Streets. I travel through the Dahlia and Maple intersection frequently and, so far, I have been fairly impressed with the new lights. They’re at eye level and seem much more noticeable. If the pilot proves successful, I’m hoping we’ll see more of these lights in Dartmouth.
Prince Albert Road
Still on the subject of crosswalk improvements, if you missed it on my website, I’m pleased to share that there are changes coming to Prince Albert Road. Since being elected, my favourite list that I get from staff is Dartmouth’s road recapitalization projects. Road recapitalization is the staff jargon for when HRM actually replaces the roadbed and curbs. It’s more than just putting down a new layer of asphalt. I see each street recapitalization project as an opportunity to fix pieces of infrastructure that don’t work very well because it’s as close to starting from scratch as we get.
Prince Albert Road from Hawthorne Street to Harris Road was on the recapitalization list for this year, but after I met with staff, the section from Sinclair Street to the Braemar Superstore was taken out. Staff are now looking at a more detailed redesign for that section of roadway (more on that project in the near future).
The lower half of Prince Albert Road from Sinclair to Hawthorne will proceed though this year and I’m pleased to share that the area around the crosswalk by the Mic Mac AAC is going to be made significantly more pedestrian friendly. The current layout is problematic because the sidewalk on the south side of the street doesn’t connect to the crosswalk or to the well-used pathway going up Silvers Hill. When I first met with staff, they weren’t optimistic that the existing crosswalk could be kept in its current location because of the missing sidewalk on the south side of Prince Albert Road. They didn’t want to cut down the mature tree or excavate out the front yards of the three homes along Prince Albert Road to put a sidewalk in. I suggested instead that we should simply narrow Prince Albert Road to accommodate a sidewalk since this section doesn’t have on-street parking. Staff went off and looked at the idea and agreed to narrow the street. The sidewalk, crosswalk and Silvers Hill path will all be connected after the project is complete.
Sawmill River Daylighting
Halifax Water is getting underway with the first phase of daylighting the Sawmill River. Fencing has gone up around Sullivan’s Pond and in the Canal Greenway and the water level in Lake Banook has been lowered. Ochterloney between Crichton Avenue and Prince Albert Road will close in about two weeks to accommodate construction and will remain closed for several months. Halifax Water has committed to providing regular updates via a bi-weekly newsletter on their website. You can read the first entry here.
HRM has made a few more outdoor locations available for the growing sport of pickleball. The tennis courts in Morash Park in Woodlawn have been converted into several pickleball courts and I’m pleased to report that pickleball is now available in District 5. Lines have been added to one of the two tennis courts in Brownlow Park by Penhorn Mall to enable either tennis or pickleball to be played. Play on.
Silver’s Hill Art
Thanks to everyone who provided feedback via facebook or email and came out to the brainstorming meeting to imagine what could be painted on the bleachers at Silver’s Hill. The next step is for the artist to provide a few concept drawings for the public to consider. She had originally hoped to have those ready by now, but it’s summer and we’re all slightly behind schedule. I’ll share the concepts as soon as they’re available.
Touch Tank Alderney Landing
There is a new family-friendly activity at Alderney Landing: a touch tank. The touch tank is being run by the non-profit Back to the Sea Society. Back to the Sea’s mission is to “spark curiosity in our marine life.” The space has been provided by Alderney Landing and will be open on the weekends throughout August. The idea of the Back to the Sea touch tank is not to keep animals on permanent display, but instead to keep them for short periods before returning them to the sea. It’s catch and release. The Back to the Sea Society hopes to eventually establish a permanent mini-aquarium like the ones operating in Ucluelet, BC, Campbell River BC and Petty Harbour, NL. I wish them the very best of luck: a mini-aquarium would be a fantastic addition to the Dartmouth waterfront! For more information on Back to the Sea, visit their website.
Fall Recreation Programs
The Fall 2017 – Winter 2018 Recreation guide is out. Check out the variety of programs being offered in Dartmouth and register for Fall programs starting August 16 and 17.
Pets in Hot Vehicles
With the hot weather, motorists are reminded that the interiors of vehicles can quickly heat up, making it intolerable for pets. An animal can be overwhelmed by heat in as little as ten minutes. The temperature in a parked vehicle – even in the shade with partly open windows – can quickly get hot enough to seriously harm or even kill your pet. If you see in pet in distress, contact police right away.
Low Income Transit Pass Program
HRM’s Low Income Transit Pass Program has reached capacity for 2017-2018. The program allows 1000 people annually to purchase a monthly transit pass for $39 per month, which is half the cost of a regular pass. Thanks to a motion that I made, Council adopted bylaw changes that allow Transit to remove applicants who don’t actually follow through on purchasing passes after six months of inactivity. These spaces can then be provided to others. Based on results from the pilot, this will provide approximately an additional 150 people with access to low-cost transit for part of the year. Applications for the Low Income Transit Pass Program continue to be accepted in person at any municipal service contact center, by email or regular mail and applicants will be added to the wait list. For more information or to access the application form, visit HRM’s website or call 311.
The Big Lift: Redecking the Macdonald Bridge Photo Book
The Big Lift is nearing completion. The project saw bridge deck panels removed and replaced overnight and our Old Bridge is now our New Bridge. This engineering feat was captured by photographer Dale Wilson in his new book The Big Lift: Redecking the Macdonald Bridge. The book was released early this month and can be purchased for $29.95 at the Halifax Harbour Bridges Macpass office by the MacKay Bridge.
To keep you better informed about what is going on at Council, I’m writing a regular blog after each council meeting. Each of my entries is about what I saw as noteworthy from a District 5 perspective and my views on the issues. We might not always agree, but I think it’s important to provide a record of how I voted and why.
Council Update, July 18, 2017
At this meeting we looked at the ferry schedule post-Big Lift, roof repairs for the Cole Harbour Place rink, Baker Drive Park master plan, sidewalk snow clearing tenders and more. Read about it here
Council Update, August 1, 2017
A long meeting where we discussed ferry service during special events, dogs on the ferry, how to pay for transit in the future (smart cards) and more. Read about it here
Council Update, August 15, 2017
An even longer meeting where we debated improvements to the MacDonald Bridge bike lanes, how to pay for stormwater infrastructure, Bloomfield’s future and more. Read about it here
Dartmouth Band Concert
Sunday August 20th 2:00 p.m – 3:00 p.m.
Come enjoy a relaxing afternoon at Sullivan’s Pond with some music from yesteryear courtesy of the Dartmouth Citizen’s Band. The Band was originally the Dartmouth Centennial Band and some of its members have been playing since those early days back in 1967.
Farewell to Summer! Party
Wednesday August 23rd 2:00 p.m.
Alderney Public Library
Celebrate the end of summer with crafts and snacks at the Alderney Library. Tickets will be given out 30 minutes before the event and anyone ages 3 and up are welcome to attend.
North Woodside Community Centre Open House
Thursday August 24th, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
North Woodside Community Centre, 230 Pleasant St.
Meet the staff and learn more about the programs and activities the North Woodside Community Centre has to offer at their open house this month. Drop by for refreshments and to see demonstrations from our program instructors. For more information, give them a call at 902-463-9276.
Hope for Wildlife Open House
Sunday August 27th 12:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Hope for Wildlife, 5909 Hwy 207 Seaforth, NS
Hope for Wildlife is a great organization that is committed to helping injured and orphaned wildlife in Nova Scotia. Check out the work they do at their annual open house where you can see the bird and mammal nurseries, recovery units, marine unit, and flight cage; there will also be wildlife displays and demonstrations, kids’ activities, live music, barbeque, and silent auction, as well as local exhibitors, crafts, and food. See their website for details.
Sunday August 27th 1:00 p.m.
A new Dartmouth group, Acoustic Firefly offers a variety of different music styles. Something for all ages. Pond is booked for the afternoon. Show starts at 1:00 and goes until the band has had enough.
MacPhee Centre for Creative Learning Fundraiser
Saturday September 23rd
MacPhee Ford, 580 Portland St.
Commit to test drive a vehicle at MacPhee Ford on September 23rd and they will donate $20 to the MacPhee Centre for Creative Learning. The MacPhee Centre for Creative Learning empowers youth between the ages of 12-19 by connecting passion with purpose through the arts. Learn more about this event here. The centre are also offering a great variety of summer and fall programs, so make sure to check out their website for more details.