I hope you are enjoying your weekend, despite the unfortunate weather. Hopefully we will be able to gather in person this time next year for a more traditional celebration of Bedford Days!
I am sharing the complete update on the items addressed during the last Regional Council meeting. As you will see it was a very packed agenda.
In addition to a number of matters of regional interest, I would like to draw your attention to several significant matters of interest and impact on Bedford-Wentworth. These include matters such as the proposed provincial Highway 113 in Bedford West, development of sub-areas 12 and 1 in Bedford West, the approving of a Public Hearing for the former Waverley Rd school site on Scotia Dr., proposed proactive zoning for the Fort Sackville School property to address any potential future development, and a proposal to potentially implement a Heritage Conservation District in Scott Manor & Fort Sackville area of old Bedford.
As always, I look forward to receiving any questions or suggestions.
June 29 Regional Council Meeting
CONSIDERATION OF DEFERRED BUSINESS – December 1, 2020
Special Grant Request – Greater Burnside Business Association (GBBA) – Supplementary Report
Halifax Regional Council voted to defer consideration of a BID (Business Improvement District) – Formation Grant Policy pending Council providing direction regarding the corporate grants review project’s recommendations.
INFORMATION ITEMS BROUGHT FORWARD – June 8, 2021
Councillor Blackburn – World Press Freedom Day
Council voted in favour of this symbolic motion to support the freedom of the press and support local journalism. World Press Freedom Day is May 3rd. A healthy, professional news media is essential for the proper functioning of civil society and democracy at the local, regional, federal, and international level. It is more important than even that we have informed local media with accurate reporting.
CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER
Respecting Roadside Memorials – Policy for Roadside Memorials
Halifax Regional Council voted to approve By-law S-315, amending By-law S-300, Respecting Streets, and Administrative Order 2020-006-OP Policy for Roadside Memorials. This by-law only applies to municipal roads, not provincial roads (i.e. highways, etc.) and permits a two-year time limit for roadside memorials.
2021-22 Budgets and Business Plans for Area-rated Services
Regional Council voted in favour of approving a resolution toapprove budgeted revenues, and to approve Area Rates and Uniform Charges for fiscal 2021/2022, Schedule of Area Tax Rates. This includes:
- reinstating the Uniform Charge for the Westwood Hills Residents Association in the amount of $50 per taxable assessment account;
- increasing the Uniform Charge collected for Jenna Lane Homeowner’s Association from $500 per taxable property assessment to $625 per taxable property assessment;
- decreasing the Private Road Area Rate Fee collected for Kelly Point Lot Owner’s Association from $700 per taxable property assessment to $600 taxable property assessment;
- increasing the Uniform Charge collected for Three Brooks Homeowners from $400 per taxable property assessment to replace the previous rate of $400 to $450;
Regional Council approved the 2021-22 Operating and Capital Budget on May 4, 2021. Area-rated services require confirmation of their 2021-22 surplus/deficits and proposed 2021-22 operating budgets prior to tabling in Council.
In addition to the general rates of taxation, the Halifax Regional Municipality determines area tax rates and uniform charges for services provided outside the general tax rates. The Charter requires Council to formally set these rates.
It was discussed that passing a rate does not mean funds will be automatically released to organizations. There has been increased accountability and oversight in recent years on this, according to Councillor Deagle Gammon. Information on deferred area rate funds will be made available to councillors.
Municipal Planning Strategy Amendments for Bedford West- Sub-areas 12 and 1
Regional Council voted in favour of initiating a process to consider amendments to the Bedford Municipal Planning Strategy and any applicable planning documents and Land Use By-laws to enable a mixed-use subdivision in Bedford West Sub-Areas 12 and 1.
This is subject to the process creating planning policies and land use regulations consistent with the direction set out in the Regional Plan and the Integrated Mobility Plan, including:
- adhering to walkable, complete community principles, as discussed in the staff report dated April 29, 2021;
- providing a large central park parcel with significant street frontage;
- providing numerous direct street and pedestrian connections within the area and to Larry Uteck Boulevard and Hammonds Plains Road; and
- providing a central collector road, suitable for transit operations.
- Follow the public participation program outlined in the staff report dated April 29, 2021.
This is a unique motion that ties into the integrated mobility plan, safer streets, and more.
Respecting HRM Civic Addressing Policies – Street Naming and Renaming
Regional Council voted to adopt the amendments to Administrative Order 29, Respecting HRM Civic Addressing Policies, as set out in Attachment A to the staff report dated May 11, 2021. There are several private lanes that need to be named, listed here.
The list of street names has been reviewed in keeping with HRM’s Civic Addressing Policies. All the proposed names are consistent with the Policies and By-law.
Alternative Approaches to Public Intoxication – Feasibility of Sobering Centres and Managed Alcohol Programs
Regional Council voted in favour of working with provincial government staff and other key stakeholders to examine potential changes to existing alcohol policies and regulations at the municipal and provincial levels to reduce harmful patterns of alcohol consumption.
As part of this, the CAO will work with partners to develop options for establishing a sobering centre in HRM, tailored to the needs of marginalized populations with complex needs. The goal of this approach is to steer HRM toward a more health-based approach to public intoxication, reduce barriers to health and addiction services, and provide more ap services that better serve the needs of this population.
This motion reflects ongoing efforts of Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) to identify and implement pathways toward a more holistic, coordinated approach to community safety and wellbeing. We are also undergoing a global reimagining of public safety and evaluation of the criminal justice system as the most appropriate tool to address social and health related issues.
Silent Fireworks for Municipal Events
Regional Council voted in favour of using close-proximity pyrotechnic grade fireworks at municipally organized festivals and events where the audience is less than 90 meters away, and to use commercial grade for large scale fireworks displays in Halifax Harbour and Bedford Basin where the audience is more than 150 meters away.
This would mean less invasive and quieter fireworks shows in the future in Halifax. Councillor Hendsbee noted that it may be better overall to simply move away from fireworks and focus on new technologies such as light shows. Elizabeth Taylor explained that in order for HRM to convert all commercial firework shows to pyrotechnic, the budget would be greatly increased.
Separately, Council also voted to direct the CAO to continue use of the municipality’s official notification process through all media platforms indicating potential noise impacts and the timing of events with firework displays and request proof of community notification from events with fireworks displays as a condition of funding in the Regional Special Events and Marketing Levy Special Events grant agreement process.
After the July 1, 2018 Canada Day fireworks display in Bedford Basin, staff were notified by the Councilor that a complaint had been received regarding the level of sound from the fireworks display. The complainant referred to the sounds as “bombs going off” and noted the negative effect on the health of residents suffering from anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The complainant was also concerned about the negative effects from these types of celebratory displays on animals in their natural habitats as well as household pets. The topic of “silent fireworks” was put forward as an alternative use for such celebratory occasions.
Staff undertook research into “silent” fireworks with emphasis placed on investigating associated costs and the environmental impacts should they be deemed a justifiable replacement to the fireworks typically used at municipally organized events.
Submission of Parks and Recreation Projects for Potential Stimulus Funding
Regional Council agreed on consent to direct the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) to submit an application to the Green and Inclusive Community Buildings Fund projects outlined in the June 9, 2021 staff report, and to return to Regional Council with proposed capital budget adjustments for any projects which are approved for funding.
French Services Strategy
Regional Council voted in favour of adopting a French-Language Services Strategy. As part of this, the actions outlined in the French-Language Services Strategy will be carried out as part of the annual budgeting process. Passing this motion shows commitment to HRM’s Francophone community and residents.
The Halifax Acadian and Francophone Partnership (Partnenariatacadien et francophone d’Halifax) called for a municipal French services strategy to ensure accessible and equitable municipal services for Acadian and Francophone residents.
External consultations with community members, and internal consultations with business units have identified the need for corporate guidelines to direct the strategic planning of French-language services with consistency and sustainability for the municipality.
As we know, English-French bilingualism is a crucial value of the Canadian society and a fundamental characteristic of the Canadian identity. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states the importance of language rights and a variety of other acts support access to French services, including the Official Languages Act and the Nova Scotia French Language Services Act.
Alternative Procurement for Broad Street South Roundabout
Regional Council voted in favour of awarding the design and construction of a single-lane roundabout at the intersection of Larry Uteck Boulevard and Broad Street (South) through an Alternative Procurement to West Bedford Holdings Limited at a maximum value of $3,900,000 with funding from Account No. CTU01006 – Bedford West Road Oversizing, as outlined in the Financial Implications section of the staff report dated June 20, 2021.
AUDIT AND FINANCE STANDING COMMITTEE
Funding Request – Neptune Theatre
Halifax Regional Council approved on consent to authorize the Chief Administrative Officer to execute a contribution agreement with Neptune Theatre for a contribution of up to $100,000, subject to Neptune Theatre providing certain informational requirements as set forth in the May 5, 2021 staff report.
Budget Changes – Composting Facilities Recapitalization
Halifax Regional Council approved on consent to approve a budget increase to the 2021/22 approved gross capital budget, to increase Project Account No. CW190005 Burnside Composting Facility Repairs in the amount of $539,000; and to approve an unbudgeted reserve withdrawal of $539,000 from Q556, Solid Waste Facilities Reserve to fund this increase, as outlined in the Financial Implications section of the June 1, 2021 staff report.
COMMUNITY PLANNING AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT STANDING COMMITTEE
Respecting Noise – Noise Management and Mitigation in Downtown Areas – Argyle Street Entertainment District
Halifax Regional Council voted in favour of an amended motion, with the time moved to midnight, for the First Reading to By-law N-206, amending By-law N-200, Respecting Noise, as set out in Attachment B of the March 22, 2021 report.
ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABILITY STANDING COMMITTEE
Water Quality Monitoring Policy and Program Development
Regional Council unanimously and enthusiastically voted in favour of a detailed lake water quality monitoring program, with testing to begin next spring. This program would be based a Water Quality Monitoring Policy and Program Development Report by AECOM.
This comes at a critical time, considering climate change, in addition to human impact due to growth and development within the municipality. Water quality monitoring is an essential component to successful management of water resources, a shared responsibility between each level of government, the private sector and the general community.
Each has roles and responsibilities to protect and manage water resources. As the level of government closest to residents and with responsibilities for planning, parks and recreation, community enjoyment and wellbeing, and environmental sustainability, the Municipality has a critical role to play.
The purpose of water quality monitoring is to establish baseline conditions, answer questions, address key concerns, or meet other legislated requirements. A water quality monitoring program is a tool to capture information for which an organization can act to either remediate or improve the overall health of the ecosystem.
The proposed monitoring program would consist of sampling 74 lakes in the municipality on an annual basis, with the number of sampling events determined based on lakes’ priority concerns and vulnerability (i.e. risk of harmful algae bloom, high chloride concentration, historical E. coli contamination, or other risks from land use). This program would also involve training community groups to become involved and become stewards of the lakes they know so well.
Monitoring these 74 lakes is very important and getting community groups involved in testing is a unique opportunity as a model for stewardship. Community organizations getting involved in testing would undergo standardized samples to ensure safety protocols are followed and samples are taken accurately.
HRM is already monitoring at beaches this year, which began in June, and will be responding to any blue-green algae on our beaches. Staff will visit beaches to confirm any reports of algae blooms. Residents should report any suspected algae blooms at municipal lakes by contacting 311.
Municipal Planning Strategy Amendments for 18 Scotia Drive, Bedford
Regional Council agreed on consent to give First Reading to consider the proposed amendments to the Municipal Planning Strategy and Land Use By-law for Bedford, as set out in Attachments A and B of the staff report dated May 14, 2021, to designate the former Sunnyside Elementary School (Waverley Road Site), 18 Scotia Drive, Bedford, as R (Residential) and apply the RTU (Two Dwelling Unit) Zone, and schedule a public hearing.
Less than Market Value Lease – The Royal Life Saving Society Canada, Nova Scotia Branch, 1014 Purcells Cove Road, Halifax
Regional Council agreed on consent to authorize the Mayor and Municipal Clerk to enter into the Municipality’s standard less than market value lease agreement with The Royal Life Saving Society Canada, Nova Scotia Branch for the premises located at 1014 Purcells Cove Road.
Less than Market Value Lease Agreement – Spencer House Seniors Centre, 5596 Morris Street, Halifax, NS
Regional Council agreed on consent to authorize the Mayor and Municipal Clerk to enter into the Municipality’s standard less than market value lease agreement with the Spencer House Seniors Centre for the premises located at 5596 Morris Street, Halifax.
Regional Special Events Grant Report 2021/2022
Regional Council agreed on consent to
- Approve 41 Event Grants for a total of $188,225 (Table 1 of theMay 18, 2021 staff report) from the approved 2021/2022 Operating Budget – C760 Community/Civic Events; and
- Approve 15 Event Grants for a total of $200,000 (Table 2 of theMay 18, 2021 staff report) from the approved 2021/22 Operating Budget – C764 Cultural Development funded from the 2021/2022 Community and Events Reserve Q621.
2021/22 Rural Transit Funding Program
Halifax Regional Council voted to approve grants pursuant to the Rural Transit Grants Administrative Order, for the 2021/22 fiscal year, to a maximum of $470,000, as such grants are set forth in Table 2 of the staff report dated April 29, 2021 (Attachment 1).
Interim Community Museums Grant Program – Recommended Awards 2021
Halifax Regional Council voted to
- Approve five (5) Project Grants as set out in Table 1 of the Discussion section of the staff report dated March 26, 2021 (Attachment 1) at a combined cost of $58,500.00 in fiscal year 2021-22 from Operating Account M310-8004; and
- Approve a two-year extension to the Service Agreement with the Association of Nova Scotia Museums at a total cost of $24,000.00 from Operating Account M310-8001; and
- Authorize the Executive Director of Finance and Asset Management to negotiate and execute an Amending Agreement for a two-year extension to the Service Agreement with the Association of Nova Scotia Museums.
HRM Community Grants Program Fiscal Year 2021 – Recommended Awards
Halifax Regional Council voted in favour of approving 53 awards as detailed in Attachment 2 of the staff report dated May 20, 2021 (Attachment 1) for a combined total of $479,646 from Operating Account M311-8004 Community Grants.
Originally there were 61 awards listed. However, St. Luke’s Church (#103), Orenda Canoe Club (#87), and Islandview High School Enhancement Committee (#76) and Seaside FM (#102) and Dartmouth Radio (#96), the Peggy’s Cove Preservation Society (#75), the Halifax Nordic Ski Club (#109) and the Wellington Station House (#105) were removed from the current list for further evaluation by staff and will be reviewed in a supplemental report.
HERITAGE ADVISORY COMMITTEE
Request to Include 5943 Spring Garden Road, Halifax, 1538 and 1540 Carlton Street, Halifax in the Registry of Heritage Property for the Halifax Regional Municipality
Regional Council voted on consent to deny the request to include 1538 and 1540 Carlton Street, Halifax in the Registry of Heritage Property for the Halifax Regional Municipality, as the dwellings have been demolished.
MEMBERS OF COUNCIL
Councillor Mancini – Halifax Search and Rescue
Regional Council voted in favour of requesting a staff report to examine the feasibility of bringing Halifax Search and Rescue and other RESAR teams under the municipality as a part of the Halifax Fire business unit. This report would be written in consultation with stakeholders such as Halifax Search and Rescue and other RESAR teams.
Currently, Halifax Search and Rescue operates independently, and relies on grants from the province and municipality. Fundraising issues and volunteer issues can negatively impact their ability to provide this service. Halifax Search and Rescue has not been able to fundraise for the past year and a half due to COVID restrictions, leaving their service at risk.
Ground Search and Rescue is a key element of our municipality. We rely on these teams for the safety of our residents; moving forward on this motion is a step forward to help ensure this service is adequately supported.
Councillor Mancini – Mobile Shower Pilot Program
Regional Council voted unanimously to request a staff report that examines the possibility of a pilot program to provide shower facilities for people experiencing homelessness.
As COVID-19 entered our lives, many individuals who were experiencing homelessness were offered jobs, but faced a significant challenge: accessing showers. At any given time, homeless individuals face a barrier to basic hygiene and sanitation services. Poor hygiene among the homeless contributes to infectious disease and poor mental health.
Showers could be provided as retrofitted Halifax Transit buses, through a community group purchasing a commercial trailer or by working with recreation facilities to develop a program.
This program could be similar to the agreement we have with the YMCA for the Senior Snow Removal Program. These services have been, and in some cases, still are operational in Abbotsford, Victoria, Edmonton, and Toronto.
I look forward to reviewing the staff report that will consider potential costs, partnerships, parking, safety and risk management for staff and volunteers, water system considerations and site selection for the program.
Councillor Mason – Development of Friendship Accords
Regional Council voted in favour of requesting a staff report that outlines a process and timeline for exploration of the development of Friendship Accord(s) with the Mi’kmaw Grand Council, the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Chiefs, band councils with current and anticipated service agreements with HRM, and any other group staff may identify, per the recently completed engagements regarding the Culture and Heritage Priorities Plan Update, and to consider including First Nations relationships in the terms of reference for the Executive Standing Committee.
This is the first stage in creating a more formal approach on our path to reconciliation. We look forward to this commitment, and the opportunities it provides for continued more dialogue and growth.
Councillor Lovelace – Proposed Provincial Highway 113
Regional Council voted in favour of requesting the Mayor to send a letter to the Province of Nova Scotia, asking for consideration to strike the proposed provincial Highway 113 from the potential projects list and transfer the corridor lands to protected wilderness status, so as not to interfere with the prospect of Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area potentially becoming a National Urban Park under the federal government’s expanding national urban park program.
Councillor Cuttell – Funding for Field Enhancement
Regional Council voted in favour of requesting a staff report in response to the request from the Province for funding for an enhanced grassed field at the new JL Ilsley High School in Spryfield. JL Ilsley is getting a brand-new building and the provincial government is putting in a new soccer field on the property – but not a full football field. The potential of this funding could help make a football field a reality.
Deputy Mayor Outhit – Rezoning – Fort Sackville School Property
Regional Council voted in favour of directing the CAO to consider amendments to the Bedford MPS and LUB for the Fort Sackville School property and the adjacent parkland to enable townhouses or two-unit dwellings and to prohibit mid-rise and multi-unit buildings.
Deputy Mayor Outhit – Heritage Conservation District
Regional Council voted in favour of directing the CAO to provide a staff report to
provide recommendations on identifying and prioritizing future potential heritage conservation districts outside the Regional Centre as part of Sharing Our Stories – The Culture and Heritage Priorities Plan, and subsequently through the review of the Regional Plan,and to consider the historic areas of Shore Drive, Fort Sackville, and Prince’s Lodge of Bedford, and Prospect Village as potential future Heritage Conservation Districts.
Councillor Austin – Administrative Order 53, Joe Howe Park, Dartmouth
Regional Council voted in favour of granting permission to Celtic Corner (69 Alderney Drive) for serving Alcohol on a patio in a section of Joe Howe Park, inside of regular park hours until October 31, 2021. Location to be determined by staff. They are looking to take over a small section near the wall mural that is currently not used otherwise.
Regional Council passed a motion to request a staff report on the current status and recommended options for potential revitalization of the Sackville Sports Stadium. The report should review the existing assets to consider:
- Current accessible, structural and design challenges of the facility;
b. Creation of Emergency shelter space, including support systems;
c. Addition of Indoor track/court/gymnasium/field space;
d. Addition of a water or pool feature;
e. Programming opportunities on First Lake;
f. Improvements to inclusive/accessible spaces and services; and
g. Creation of an accessible/centralized entrance to the facility.
The Sackville Sports Stadium was built in 1990 and experienced an expansion in 2000. Since then, it has not had a revitalization. It is currently the only facility like this that HRM owns and operates.
Regional Council passed a motion to request a staff report on developing an evidence-based formal policy for polygraph testing for the purposes of human resource management, especially during the selection process for any or all employees of the municipality, that provides a jurisdictional scan and includes peer-reviewed academic literature on the efficacy of polygraph testing for employment. The report will include recommendations for the use (or not) of polygraph testing in all departments and business units of the Halifax Regional Municipality, as well as with contracted services.
Case H00495 – Request to Include 2381 Moran Street, Halifax in the Registry of Heritage Property for the Halifax Regional Municipality
Regional Council voted to include 2381 Moran Street, Halifax in the Registry of Heritage Property for the Halifax Regional Municipalityas a municipal heritage property under the Heritage Property Act.
A presentation by Elizabeth Cushing (Planning and Development) covered historical significance of this property. Historical association with John M. Dewolfe, William Carr, and Joseph Sutherland. The property owner, Alex Livingstone, spoke further to the significance of the property.
Request to Include 2224 Maitland Street, Halifax in the Registry of Heritage Property for the Halifax Regional Municipality
Regional Council voted to approve the request to include 2224 Maitland Street, Halifax in the Registry of Heritage Property for the Halifax Regional Municipality, as shown on Map 1 of the staff report dated April 6, 2021, as a municipal heritage property under the Heritage Property Act.
By-law N-200, Respecting Noise – Exemption Request – Birch and Anchor, Bedford
Halifax Regional Council voted in favour of approving Birch and Anchor’s application for an exemption from the provisions of the Noise By-law to extend the noise exemption by a half hour from 9:30pm to 10pm on Fridays. No members of the public opted to speak at this hearing.