In the North End’s District 8, we see a unique district. This area used to be represented by Jennifer Watts, but in June the North-End native vacated her seat of almost eight years in the name of diversity. There has only ever been one “non-white” serving member on the HRM Council since its formation 20 years ago. For a city that has a huge amount of African-Nova Scotians along with countless immigrant families and international students, that’s pretty sad. As a District with so much ‘hype’ you can probably guess that there is an overwhelming amount of people to throw their hat in the ring. Unfortunately, the only woman who was running for the seat, dropped out recently, leaving seven men in total.
Brendan Sommerhalder – a young entrepreneur and volunteer from Winnipeg;
Lindell Smith – a Halifax native with strong community ties and a lengthy volunteer record;
Anthony Kawalski – a local artist with incredible life experience;
Chris Poole – a family man, business owner, and formerly worked in the film industry;
Irvine Carvey – a “no-bull” community activist and a repeat candidate from last October’s elections;
Patrick Murphy – a former councilor who works in the tourism industry;
and Martin Farrell – an older resident who has built his life in the North End.
The Journal reached out to these candidates via email over the weekend. Not everyone answered but hey, how important are emails? Right, Hillary? ANYWAYS, I must mention that four of the seven answered my email in a timely manner, three answered the questions before our deadline, and three of them just didn’t answer at all.
The questions were as follows:
- What are your thoughts on the state of affordable/student housing in HRM?
- How do you think that transit in HRM could be changed to become more accessible?
- What would you like to see implemented in HRM to provide more food security for Haligonians?
1.Outside of the university providing more student accommodation I think HRM should require developers to allocate a percentage of units to affordable rates.
2.Transit needs to be more reliable, in high user areas such as universities the wait time should be no longer than 15 minutes.
3.Food security can be achieved by supporting more farmers markets and providing free transportation to and from the markets for low income people and students.
- The state of affordable housing in Halifax is terrible. There needs to be conditions put on developers so a percentage of units in every new building are considered affordable (Affordable meaning, you can still afford to live after paying the bills)
- The transit system in HRM needs to be re-aligned so it is more efficient. Currently if you live in the far North End of Halifax, you cannot take a bus from Duffus Street to Superstore on Young Street. You have to take the bus to the South End or the North End of Halifax. This city needs to look at what is the most efficient and effective and not be afraid to look outside to see what other places who have a successful transit plan are doing.
- HRM and The Provincial Government need to provide more support to local organizations like the Mobile Food Market, Progress in the Park, Needham community garden, etc.. Land use could be reevaluated so that vacant lots, which are an eye sore and a waste of land could be made into temporary parks, urban farms/gardens and used for planting edible plants throughout the city and HRM until such time as the government or private owners use them for intended use.
1) Housing affordability is one of the most pressing challenges in District 8 and in Halifax generally. This is probably my number one issue. I am interested in a policy called inclusionary zoning. Inclusionary zoning is a municipal tool that would require developments to provide a certain proportion of their units at “affordable” rates, if they build within that zone. I think HRM could reasonably enact a form of inclusionary zoning that considers affordability as a level compared with median, I prefer by census tract as it is granular to the community (say, 30% of all new residential developments must offer units at that are affordable for people living at somewhere between 60% and 80% of the median income for the census tract in which the development is located).
I see inclusionary zoning as a tool for creating more affordable housing to a greater number of people, but I don’t see it as a social housing solution for people living at the lowest income levels.
2) The penalty for missing the bus should never be more than 15 minutes, or people won’t choose to take it if they have access to other means. The public transit system needs to be fast, regular, pleasant, and reliable in order to become the mode of choice for the majority of people.
To this end I would push for measures such as bus rapid transit (BRT; including priority lanes and lights for buses), commuter rail to cut down on through-traffic in our arteries in the peninsula, and integration with active transportation. I support Halifax Cycling Coalition’s plan for a complete protected bike lane network to be implemented in the urban core by 2020.
Also, finally fully implementing GPS tracking and a reloadable card payment system, as well as features such as free onboard wifi, will make the overall experience better for riders and potential riders.
3) I volunteered with and appreciate the Mobile Food Bus project this summer. It’s a great short term initiative, but it’s just a short term solution. I believe that HRM should provide supports for people or groups wanting to start food-related businesses in areas that are in need of access. Some solutions could include property tax breaks or holidays for these establishments, supports around procurement for food, and potentially even a fund that could be accessed to help such businesses through their first years. It is a shame that the Carrot Community Co-op closed, and I believe HRM could have supported it to help keep it open and self-sustainable.I also believe HRM can better support the community gardens in the area by expanding its community garden program.
By Erika MacDonald