Making a difference in our region

Highlighted below are a few recent decisions by Regional Council that reflect steps being taken by the municipality to make a difference in the Halifax region. For more details regarding all matters deliberated by Council and the direction given to municipal staff, please see the action summaries which are posted to the online meeting agendas within one business day as well as the meeting minutes which are posted online once approved by Regional Council.

Highlights from Nov. 22, 2022

A man stands over a garden bed with a green watering can. A smiling woman kneels with her hands working in a garden bed behind him. It's a beautiful sunny day.

Changes to the Community Garden Program are in bloom

Council approves updates to the Community Garden Program that will reduce barriers to growing food and flowers, clarify Community Garden requirements, and permit honeybee keeping.

The Environment and Sustainability Standing Committee recommended that certain administrative orders in the Respecting the Community Garden Program be repealed and updated to provide clarity for staff administration. The changes also aim to reduce barriers to growing food and flowers by requesting to increase the amount of available park space that Community Gardens can occupy and specifying conditions for greenhouses.

Since the inception of the Community Garden Program in 2009, the initiative has grown from six to 25 community gardens operating on municipal property. The objective of the updated Administrative Order is to accommodate the many new requests for Community Gardens that are received each year.

The amended Administrative Order also introduces new policies that address current trends of Community Gardens, such as insurance policy and requirements to permit honeybee keeping in the gardens. These changes will be reflected in an updated version of the Community Garden Handbook.

For more information, read the staff report.

*Note: this motion will be final when the meeting minutes are approved by Regional Council.

Text reads "Board of Police Commissioners' Subcommittee to define defunding the police"

Halifax Regional Council takes next steps to form a committee to review recommendations for the Halifax Regional Police

Regional Council has requested municipal staff provide a report on forming a committee of Council to work on the recommendations of the Subcomittee on Defunding the Police report on de-tasking police.

The Committee will review recommendations from the 2022 report titled Defunding the Police: Defining the Way Forward for HRM and determine how each recommendation could be implemented.

The Defunding the Police report was developed by professor and activist Dr. El Jones with support from the Subcommittee on Defunding the Police. The report was presented to the Board of Police in January 2022 and provided 36 recommendations to establish a definition of defunding and de-tasking the police.

In November 2022, a working group reviewed the Defunding the Police report on behalf of the Police Board and advised that a committee of Council be formed to further review the report’s recommendations.

The Committee will provide regular updates to the Board of Police Commissioners and will be composed of members of the Board of Police Commissioners, HRM representatives and Councillors, HRP and RCMP representatives, a Nova Scotia Department of Justice representative, and community members with relevant experience.

For more information, read the full staff report.

*Note: this motion will be final when the meeting minutes are approved by Regional Council.

A photo of Halifax City Hall in the summertime

Funding approved for a three-year sobering centre pilot

 Funding for a three-year sobering centre pilot has been approved.

 In June 2021, Regional Council passed a motion, directing to work with the provincial government and other key stakeholders to examine potential changes to existing alcohol policies and regulations at both municipal and provincial levels, to reduce harmful patterns of alcohol consumption, and to develop options for an establishment of a sobering centre in the municipality.

Over the past two years, research and consultation was completed to assess the municipality’s current approach to public intoxication within the region, with evidence consistently demonstrating the benefits of a harm reduction approach to substance misuse, especially for those who are experiencing addictions, mental health, or homelessness.

On April 12, 2022, an information report was presented to Regional Council, to establish a sobering centre, a place in which intoxicated individuals, whose intoxication poses a potential risk to themselves or others, can become sober in a monitored environment. The sobering centre has three main goals: connecting intoxicated individuals to appropriate services, reducing pressures on emergency response services, and avoiding criminalization for behaviours related to substance abuse, mental health and addictions. A cost-sharing agreement with the provincial government and other stakeholders to develop a viable, co-funded model was identified as a next step.

Provincial partners at the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness and the Office of Addictions and Mental Health have indicated willingness to move forward with the municipality to implement a three-year sobering centre pilot commencing in 2023/23. To advance this work, Regional Council has approved the implementation of the three-year pilot, as well as funding until 2024/25 for a shared cost approach for the pilot, pending both municipal and provincial budget approvals.

As a next step, pending funding approvals, staff, in consultation with provincial partners, will commence the process to select a service provider to develop and operate the centre, identify wrap around supports, and determine a location for the centre.

For more information, read the staff report.

*Note: this motion will be final when the meeting minutes are approved by Regional Council.

A Halifax Transit bus is shown travelling within the city.

Regional Council approves next steps in the Halifax Transit Student Transit Pass Pilot Program

Regional Council has approved the implementation of Phase 2 of the Student Transit Pass Pilot Program and have passed the motion to accept a contribution of $200,000 from Halifax Regional Centre for Education to put towards the Pilot Program.

Four schools, Dartmouth High School, Woodlawn High School, Ecole secondaire du Sommet and Ecole secondaire Mosaique, were chosen to participate in Phase 1 of the Pilot Program, which was successfully launched in the fall of 2021.

There were a total of 2,580 Transit passes provided, with 2,250 passes being distributed amongst students, and positive feedback received from participating students, families, and schools. The program gives students access to all Halifax Transit conventional buses, Access-A-Bus, and ferries during the school year. 

Phase 2 of the program, which will run from January 1 to fall 2023, will add six junior high schools that feed into the two participating high schools, including: Bicentennial School, Dartmouth South Academy, John Martin Junior High. Additionally, within the Woodlawn High family of schools, phase 2 will include Caledonia Junior High, Ellenvale Junior High and Eric Graves Memorial Junior High.

Results from Phase 2 of the Pilot Program and a recommended approach for next steps will be shared with Regional Council via a staff recommendation report in the fall of next year.

For more information on the Pilot Program and it’s next steps, read the staff report.

*Note: this motion will be final when the meeting minutes are approved by Regional Council.

Highlights of recent Regional Council decisions

A photo of Halifax City Hall in the summertime

Municipality awards bid for energy efficiency improvements at the Scotiabank Centre

Revised November 10, 2022

Regional Council has approved the motion to award a request for proposal, FQ 22-160, Scotiabank Centre Critical Equipment Supply and Storage, to Trane Canada ULC, to make energy efficiency improvements for the replacement project of the existing ice plant and chilled water system at the Scotiabank Centre.

The Scotiabank Centre, like many other facilities across the country, uses ammonia as a refrigerant for its ice plant. The municipality has been taking a best-in-class approach to ongoing enhancements of the Scotiabank Centre which address the typical deficiencies of an aging facility. Replacing ammonia with the R513a refrigerant, as part of a new ice plant system, reflects the commitment to safety best practices – resulting in a safer workplace for staff and a safer facility for all guests and the public at large. The overall project, which includes heat recovery, solar, controls and the proposed new R513a ice plant, is expected to save 14,000 tons of CO2 equivalent over the lifetime of the project. The project is in direct alignment with the municipality’s goals of HalifACT, helping to deliver on our commitment to reducing emissions, switching to clean and reliable energy sources.

The project will receive $2,265,817 HST in funding from Project Account No. CB1900008, Energy Efficiency Initiatives, and is being partially funded with the Federal and Provincial Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) funding, accounting for 60.2 per cent of the bid price.

The supply and storage of critical equipment RFQ 22-160, is the first phase of the Scotiabank Centre ice plant and chilled water system replacement project. The second phase of this project will be completed through a Design Award RFP, which is scheduled to be posted following the award of RFQ 22-160.

For more information about the replacement project, read the staff report.

To learn more about our HalifACT commitments, visit our website.
 

An image of a bicycle's handlebars commuting in a designated bike lane on a road in the summertime

Improving active transportation in Dartmouth through the Dartmouth North Active Transportation Project

Regional Council has approved two recommendations to improve active transportation initiatives in Dartmouth, including the installation of 2.2 kilometres of bicycle facilities in Dartmouth North, through Farrell Park, Farrell Street, Victoria Road and Highfield Park Drive.

The staff report for the project describes a recommended route and bikeway facility through Dartmouth North, connecting the Wyse Road bike lanes to the Burnside Greenway. This route is an important segment of the Regional Centre All Ages and Abilities (AAA) Cycling Network, which was proposed in the Integrated Mobility Plan and approved by Regional Council in 2017. This project will provide a safe and comfortable regional bikeway connection through Farrell Park and along Farrell Street, Victoria Road and Highfield Park Drive.

The recommended bikeway facility also addresses barriers for people walking and cycling in Dartmouth North. The recommended cycling route will add two crossings of Victoria Road at Farrell Street and Highfield Park Drive and will add a missing sidewalk segment on Victoria Road. Public consultation also identified the need for other local street and pathway enhancements, as well as a corridor study for Victoria Road, between Albro Lake Road and Highfield Park Drive, to achieve further improvements for all road users.

The new bikeway supports the municipality’s Integrated Mobility Plan, the Regional Municipal Planning Strategy, and our goal to implement modern bicycle infrastructure that is safer, connected, and comfortable for residents of all ages and abilities. The Dartmouth North Active Transportation Planning Project will use the most recent engineering design guidance to provide better safety for the vulnerable road users from motor vehicles and manage interactions among all road users.

Throughout two rounds of public and stakeholder engagement, residents were invited to learn more about the project and provide their feedback on current barriers to walking and cycling as well as cycling route options and designs. Information about the Dartmouth North Active Transportation Planning Project is available on the Shape Your City website, including summaries of public input in two What We Heard Report reports.

Additionally, Council approved the recommendation to direct the CAO to consider planning and implementation of opportunities for other Dartmouth North mobility improvements. This includes a corridor functional plan for Victoria Road and local street enhancements. Details can be found in the staff report’s Discussion section, dated October 13, 2022.

For more information, read the detailed staff report.

An image of a housing construction site with a man working under a blue sky

Regional Council advances approval of Affirmative Ventures Association – Buy-Back Agreement

Halifax Regional Council has voted to release the Buy-Back Agreement, which was registered on title to the lands 64-66 Lakecrest Drive and 139 Main Street, Dartmouth, in support of the development of affordable housing for mental health consumers and seniors by the Affirmative Ventures Association.

The Affirmative Industry Association of Nova Scotia (“the Association”) was incorporated in 1992 to promote the financial independence of persons with a disability through vocational training and supportive employment. In July of 2006, the municipality sold 64-66 Lakecrest Drive in Dartmouth to the Association to enable an expansion of services for the community, in support of the construction of affordable housing for mental health consumers served by the Association. 

By 2007, the Association completed construction and opened the 10-unit apartment building known as Affirmative House, which the Association has continually operated as non-profit housing for mental health consumers. The Association now owns four properties, including 139 Main Street and two parcels of land at 66 Lakecrest Drive, to support employment programming for clients. The two parcels are both encumbered by the original Buy-Back Agreement with the municipality. 

The Association is proposing to construct a seven-story affordable housing facility on Lot DM-1AB, referred to as the Main Street Centre. The Main Street Centre building’s occupancy is expected to be 87.5 per cent residential and 12.5 per cent non-residential and will provide space for a training centre and supportive employment programs for the community. The residential portion of the building will provide a total of 45 units, 25 of which will be reserved for the Association’s clients at deeply affordable rates, and 20 units for seniors which are larger, accessible units that will be rented at or below market value.

The Association has since requested either a partial release of the Buy-Back Agreement, or full release of the agreement. Municipal staff recommend a full release of the Buy-Back Agreement on both parcels of land to Regional Council, which has been approved, enabling the Association to secure the additional mortgage financing from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), to ensure they can deliver on their commitments to affordable housing and mental health initiatives.

For more detailed information on the decision, read the staff report.

To learn more about our efforts to address housing and homelessness in the region, visit our website.