Happy Valentine’s Day to you and your loved ones. Like so many days and events over the past year, today will be different from previous Valentines’ Days, However, I hope that you are able to somehow be in contact with those important to you.
In this update I will focus on ongoing Budget discussions, Snow Clearing, Heritage Day municipal services, and two import Resident Surveys.
Ongoing Budget Discussions
The Budget Committee continues to meet once or twice per week, in addition to regular Regional Council meetings, to discuss and debate the proposed operating and capital budgets from all HRM departments. We have also had presentations on some options available to potentially reduce the staff recommended increase of 1.9% increase to residential and commercial tax bills. These presentations and discussions will continue over the next couple of months. Residents are encouraged to either participate in the meetings, or to submit comments and suggestions by email.
My objective continues to be to find ways to reduce the recommended increase, while also trying to put back some of the temporary cuts and freezes we implemented last spring. Reducing green cart pickups and fewer summer parks and recreation staff are examples of cuts. Councillor salaries were frozen and District Capital Budgets for community projects were reduced by 50%. These were done during the recasted budget resulting from the pandemic. I believe this reduction or a freeze is possible due to some assistance we have received from the province to offset huge loses in Transit revenue, plus a small anticipated surplus from some other operating units. Also, to-date HRM has not had to use the line of credit given to it last spring by the province to assist with short term revenue challenges resulting from the pandemic and lockdown. This is extremely good news!
This past week saw our most significant snowfall to-date this season. Overall I was pleased with how our streets and sidewalks were cleared by our contractor. However, I did report to HRM and to Dexter a few shortcomings that I observed, plus some concerns brought to my attention by District 16 residents. One issue or concern that continues to arise is cul de sacs. Some cities do not plow them, but HRM does and I strongly support that policy. However, during a major accumulation like we just experienced, cul de sacs initially receive a first pass / swipe for emergency access only. The crews then return to widen and pushback the street. This policy has been in place for over a decade, but it still appears to be misunderstood.
Monday is Heritage Day. Please see the announcement below regarding HRM services during the holiday.
Public Service Announcement
Municipal programs and services on Nova Scotia Heritage Day, Monday, Feb. 15
Friday, Feb. 12, 2021 (Halifax, NS) – The Halifax Regional Municipality is advising residents that municipal programs and services will operate on a reduced service level on the provincial statutory holiday, Nova Scotia Heritage Day, Monday, Feb. 15. This year, Nova Scotia Heritage Day will honour Lieutenant Edward Francis Arab.
The municipality recognizes that many residents will still rely on our services on the holiday, such as transit and 311, and therefore, our operations are designed to minimize service disruptions for residents. Please note that all essential services will be maintained.
Solid Waste Collection and Facility Hours
There will be no garbage, organics or recyclables collection services on Heritage Day, Monday, Feb. 15. Curbside collection normally scheduled for Monday, Feb. 15, will occur instead on the preceding Saturday, Feb. 13. Residents are reminded that collection services can begin as early as 7 a.m.; to ensure collection, materials may be placed curbside the evening prior to collection day. Please note that materials should be placed curbside in a manner that does not interfere with ongoing snow clearing operations.
The Otter Lake Waste Management Facility and municipal recycling plant will be closed on Monday, Feb. 15, but will be open during regular operating hours on Saturday, Feb. 13.
The Household Special Waste Depot in Bayers Lake will be closed on Saturday, Feb. 13, and will re-open for regular operating hours on Saturday, Feb. 20.
Halifax Transit Bus and Ferry Services:
Halifax Transit buses and ferries will be operating on holiday service (Sunday) schedules on Heritage Day, Monday, Feb. 15.
Recreation Facilities, Programs and Services:
Many recreation facilities will be closed on Heritage Day, Monday, Feb. 15. Residents are advised to call ahead to their respective facility for operating hours and program information. Contact information for municipally-operated facilities can be found online.
The Emera Oval will be open on Monday, Feb. 15, weather and ice conditions permitting. A reminder that the Emera Oval is operating with a reduced capacity to follow current public health guidelines. Skaters must pre-register for public skate times at halifax.ca/myREC up to 48 hours in advance of a desired skate time. Non-medical masks are mandatory at all times, including on the ice surface. View the complete Emera Oval schedule here.
For more information on municipal services during COVID-19, visit: halifax.ca/coronavirus.
Customer Service Centres:
The 311 Contact Centre will operate during normal hours of operation on Heritage Day, Monday, Feb. 15.
The three in-person customer service centres – located at Alderney Gate, Bayers Road and Musquodoboit Harbour Recreation Centre & Library – will be closed on Monday, Feb. 15.
On-street parking will be free on Heritage Day, Monday, Feb. 15, however, motorists must abide by other posted signage, such as accessible parking, fire hydrants and no-stopping.
Have a safe and enjoyable Heritage Day.
Two Surveys – Please Consider Completing!
Two Important Resident Surveys relating to trail access and also to recreation amenities in District 16:
As always, I welcome your questions, concerns and ideas!