Every year, each Councillor is provided with $94,000 in discretionary capital funds that can be spent on municipal and community projects. Past projects that have been funded in Dartmouth include the Skate Park, playgrounds and community gardens. I’m pleased to announce that this year, a portion of District 5’s funds (approx $50,000) will be awarded through a participatory budgeting process. Participatory budgeting allows members of the public to have a direct say in how funds are allocated. Community groups with a project setup science fair style and everyone, young and old, who attends is free to cast a vote to help determine which projects get funded. Participants must vote for five projects and incomplete ballots will not be counted (no showing up to just support your own pet project exclusively). Participatory budgeting was pioneered in HRM by Waye Mason five years ago and has since been used by Councillors Nicoll, Smith and Cleary. Both Councillor Mason and former Councillor Watts spoke highly of the engagement and community building that participatory budgeting produces. I’m eager to give it a try in District 5.
For interested community groups, I will be hosting an information meeting at the Alderney Gate Library at 6:00 on October 2. The meeting will provide you with criteria and information about the process. Actual voting on projects will take place on November 7. Groups interested in securing funding must be non-profits and awards will be capped at $10,000. For additional information, you can contact my Constituency Coordinator, Laura Nooyen at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (902)490-6982.
While half of District 5’s budget will be awarded via participatory budgeting, I will continue to direct the other half of District 5’s funds. The portion that I direct will be aimed at improving municipal property, coordinating with other Councillors/politicians, projects identified in my election platform, small asks from community groups (it doesn’t make sense to use participatory budgeting for small dollar amounts), and for the inevitable unforeseen opportunities/challenges that arise. I will publish on my site a detailed breakdown of how all funds were spent at the end of each fiscal year.
Lake Banook Water Quality:
HRM has wrapped up its supervised beaches program for the year and, unfortunately, the results from this season for Birch Cove on Lake Banook were terrible. Birch Cove was closed for half the season, 33 days, due to e-coli tests that exceed Health Canada’s Guidelines. There seems to be a worrisome trend developing as closures at Birch Cove have increased significantly over the last three years.
|# of Days Closed||5||0||6||17||17||33|
At the next Regional Council meeting, I will be asking for a staff report into completing a pollution study of Lake Banook. The goal of the study would be to identify the source of the e-coli contamination (duck, dog, human, soil, etc) and suggest measures that could be taken to reduce the bacteria count. While exact conclusions will need to wait until after/if HRM completes a study, one thing that we can all do to reduce e-coli is pick-up after our pets. In other places, like Lake Champlain in Vermont, waste from dogs has been found to be a significant source of e-coli and it likely has some impact in Banook and in HRM’s other urban lakes. Picking up after Fido will help ensure that our lakes continue to be healthy and available for us all to enjoy. Exact details of a potential study in Lake Banook will come when my initiation report returns to Regional Council, assuming Regional Council approves my request.
Sawmill River Daylighting:
It’s hard to believe, but the long talked about daylighting of Sawmill River is underway. We’re in the midst of the construction pain right now for Phase 1. Ochterloney between Crichton Avenue and Prince Albert Road is closed until December. I have heard from a number of residents requesting that HRM install a temporary three-way stop sign at Crichton and Hawthorne to help manage the detoured traffic. Staff are actively monitoring the situation and are prepared to intervene if conditions warrant. The challenge with changing signage is that, inevitably, someone who is not expecting a new three-way stop will miss the change, potentially leading to collisions. That risk would be repeated again in December when the temporary stop sign is removed. HRM’s Traffic Authority has to weigh whether conditions warrant taking the risk of changing signage to solve a temporary issue. It’s about choosing the least bad option. Also related to the project, the lower end of Prince Albert Road along the Canal Greenway will temporarily be made a permit parking only zone to accommodate residents of Lock 4 who won’t be able to access their building’s underground garage for eight weeks. Lots of short-term pain with construction, but I’m confident the end result will be worth it.
Big Lift Update
The Big Lift is nearing completion, but there is still some work to be done. The Bridge Commission advises that the Macdonald Bridge will be closed from 7:00 p.m. Friday, September 15th to 5:30 a.m. Monday September 18th and cycling lanes and sidewalks will be closed from 10:00 p.m. Friday until 3:00 p.m. Sunday. The Big Lift closures are expected to end in November and the project will be complete in March 2018. Visit the Bridge Commission’s website for more updates and information about the Big Lift.
Halifax Ferry Terminal Refresh
The Halifax Ferry Terminal will be undergoing phase two of a refresh project this fall. The design work for phase two is nearing completion and HRM is hoping to tender construction this month. These renovations will include a new George Street entry vestibule, windows, canopy, and signage, a new security and fare management kiosk and waiting areas, an update to the public washrooms and addition of a universal washroom and new signage and passenger information installations. This work is expected to be complete in March 2018.
Back to School Safety
With the start of the school year, police are asking residents to help keep streets safe for students as they head back to the classroom. Keep in mind that the speed limit in school zones are 30 km/hr in areas where the limit would otherwise be 50 km/hr. By reducing your speed, you’ll have more time to react to the unexpected and avoid an incident. Remember that passing school buses in either direction when the red lights are flashing, regardless of the number of lanes of traffic, not only puts people in danger, but is illegal and carries substantial fines. HRP school officers and community officers, as well as the HRP Traffic Unit, will be out and about in school zones throughout the municipality during the month of September to educate motorists, enforce motor vehicle regulations and ensure a safe start to the school year. Visit Back to School Safety Tips for more information.
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 September 5, 2017
Our return from the summer break saw Council make decisions on purchasing the Purcells Cove Backlands, feral cats, a community fund at Otter Lake and more. Read about it here
Step up to Leadership Course
HRM’s Volunteer Services department will be offering a free nine-week leadership program to help you develop leadership skills and build strong communities. The course will be held at the Bedford LeBrun Centre Wednesdays from 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. beginning September 20th. To register, contact Darren Hirtle.
Dartmouth Players Season Opener CANCELLED
The Dartmouth Players will be performing Five by Five, a show that brings together five stories of individuals struggling with the concept of invisibility. The show will run from September 14th – 17th and you can purchase tickets for any of their upcoming shows at Ticket Atlantic or with cash at the door.
Take Action Society Community Hub
The Take Action Society has moved it’s Hub of Community Connections and will be offering many new programs. The hub will be open from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Mondays – Fridays and offers programs like cooking, crafting, exercise clubs and workshops. They are also hosting a free afterschool youth program. For more information, see their facebook page.
Shubenacadie Canal Excursion
Saturday September 16th 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Cameron Ells from the Nova Scotia Institute of Science and volunteer with the Shubenacadie Canal Commission will be leading a tour of the Fairbanks Centre, Locks 2 and 3, and a visit to the new flume house and the boat cradle this weekend. This event will happen rain or shine, and all ages are welcome! Forecast right now looks great.
When Things Come Together Art Show
Saturday, September 15th 6:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Just Us King’s Wharf
Snacks, drinks, conversation and the art of Dartmouth’s Patricia Gonzalez Rivero. Many of her paintings were born at the beach and in the waves
3rd Annual Walk for Seniors
Saturday, September 16th 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Dartmouth Seniors Service Centre
Join the Dartmouth Seniors Service Center in their annual fundraising walk this Saturday at 9:00 a.m. You can register for $25 or by fundraising $35 and stopping by the center or giving them a call at 902-465-5578. The Dartmouth Seniors Service Centre provides valuable services and programs to our seniors including social, physical, and educational activities, meals on wheels, medical transportation and much more. Light refreshments and door prizes will be available after the walk.
Maple Syrup Workshop
Tuesday, September 19 7:00 p.m.
Alderney Gate Public Library
Register today to join Brian Allaway from Acadian Maple Products to learn all about the history, production, types and trade of Maple Syrup and enjoy a taste of some of the different grades.
Sunday, September 24 12:00 p.m.
Agricola and Spring Garden
Enjoy Switch’s fall event on the Halifax side. Agricola Street will be closed with lots of community activities and entertainment taking over the street.
Pleasant Street Neighbourhood Meeting
Monday, September 25 7:00 p.m.
North Woodside Community Centre
Come work with your neighbours on ways to make the Pleasant Street area around the old Sobeys a better place. Update to be given on the six issues identified last year with a round table discussion. Topics include the community plan completed by the Dalhousie planning students, future development at the old Sobeys mall, and incorporation of the group as a formal society.
Pet Loss and Bereavement
Thursday, September 28 7:00 p.m.
Alderney Gate Library
Many people experience very deep feelings when they lose their pet. In recent years, as understanding of the human-animal bond has developed, the intense mourning for pets has become more recognized and understood. Suggestions on how to process the grief, to move into healing and ways to mourn and commemorate a beloved pet are shared. Speaker Nancy Blair is a Registered Counselling Therapist and a Certified Pet Loss and Bereavement Counsellor with the Association of Pet Loss and Bereavement.
Saturday, September 30th 7:00 p.m.
North Woodside Community Centre
Compete in a fun night of friendly competition in support of the North Woodside Community Centre. There will be cash grand prizes for the top three teams as well as door prizes and round winner awards. Teams of six are encouraged to register to participate by September 22nd. Email them for more details or to register.