MUNICIPAL ELECTION TIME!
The official list of candidates running in the 2016 municipal election has been released. In District 8 there are seven candidates vying to represent the area. The candidates are: Brenden Sommerhalder, Lindell Smith, Chris Poole, Patrick Murphy, Anthony Kawalski, Martin Farrell, and Irvine Carvery. In District 7, which takes in a southern strip of the North End, there are 3 candidates: Sue Uteck, Waye Mason, and Dominick Desjardins. To find out more about all of these candidates go to Halifax's Candidates and Offical Agents webpage. There you will find email addresses and links to individual candidate websites.
NEBA, along with Downtown Halifax Business Commission, Spring Garden Road Area Business Association, Quinpool Road Business Association, Sackville Business Association, Downtown Dartmouth, Spryfield, Mainstreet Dartmouth Business Association, and Our Alliance, is organizing a Mayoral Forum on September 27th, 6pm at the Westin NS Hotel (the big room). Mike Savage and Lil MacPherson are confirmed. There are no cats running this time. The event will be moderated by Dan Leger. Come on out and hear what hear what the candidates for Mayor have to say about the future of Halifax and how they plan to lead of city to a better future. District 8 All Candidates Forum District 8 promises to be an exciting race with no-incumbent and many candidates. Together with some local community organizations, NEBA is organizing an All Candidates Forum. The goal of the event will be to provide citizens in the area an opportunity to hear the positions of candidates on various issues related to economic and community development in the North End. The event is being tentatively scheduled for the week of October 1. Please keep an eye open for an announcement confirming the date, time and place. If there is an issue you are particularly interested in, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. All questions will be gathered, issues identified, and then a final list of 8 – 10 questions will be sent to candidates in advance of the forum. Given the number of candidates and variety of topics, there will not be questions from the floor. The event will be structured to ensure there is time to hear from all candidates on a broad range of issues. Some mean time-keeping skills will be required. NEBA Top 7 Election Topics NEBA's relationship with the municipality is an important one. We have special agreements (like the Enhanced Maintenance Agreement) where we work with the municipality to improve things such as street and side-walk cleaning, garbage removal, and snow clearing. We get HRM grants for festivals and events. We work with horticulture on trees and planters. We are in on-going dialogue with municipal police over community safety. And we meet regularly with HRM staff through BID-Quarterly Meetings. Our relationship with the District 8 Councillor provides an integral channel of communication between the business community and the municipality. During my time in the role of Executive Director, Councillor Jennifer Watts and I worked on many projects like Gottingen Talks and the Agricola Bike Corral, and discussed critical issues related Centre Plan, tax reform, parking, streetscaping and more. While there is a long long list of things to discuss with the 2016 Councillor Elect, here are the Top 8 Topics we would like to hear about. 1. Tax Reform After many years of advocacy, tax reform seems poised to become a possibility. The provincial government says it is looking to pass legislation this fall that will enable Halifax to set differentiated tax rates that could support small businesses. The next step is for Halifax to apply the legislation in a way that actually targets the issues — primarily, the impact of rapidly increasing assessments on small business. We need a strong and knowledgeable voice on council that understands the issue and can help implement amendments to commercial property tax rates in an effective way. 2. Parking The new HRM transit strategy has Gottingen designated for Transit Priority Measures (TPMs). This could mean the loss of on-street parking along Gottingen. Parking is still critical to main street business districts. The proposed transit plan will see more bus traffic moving through Gottingen, with little to no benefit to residents or businesses of the area. The long promised "Parking Roadmap" was suppose to provide an over-all parking plan for the north end, but as of yet has not been developed. Coupled with the sale of "surplus" property and remnant lots in the area, opportunities are being lost to address the parking needs in our rapidly growing commercial community. We need creative solutions and leadership to ensure we have the parking infrastructure and capacity to meet the current and future needs of residents and businesses. 3. Better Streets and Public Spaces Streetscaping — the design of roadways to include the planting of trees, the calming of traffic, and the installation of benches, bike infrastructure, proper lighting, and public art — is an important investment in our urban public realm. As urban areas increase in density, the quality of our streets and public space becomes increasingly critical to the social and economic success of an area. Gottingen and Agricola are areas long-over due for an investment in public space. With several new high-density developments planned, we need a champion who can work with city staff to make streetscaping improvements a reality. 4. Affordable Housing One of the most important roles of our city government should be to ensure everyone, at every income level, has access to a decent place to live. The trend in cities across the country is a growing geographic division between income groups. Yet it is also recognized that the most sustainable, stable, resilient communities in the world are those that have a mix of incomes and demographics. We would like to see the municipality get more involved in ensuring a range of affordable housing across the city. We need a leader in the municipal government who can continue to advocate that the municipality take more responsibility for ensuring the delivery of affordable housing across housing types and housing tenures. 5. Culture Culture encompasses many things— diversity and inclusion, music and art, history and community. The North End is unique in all of these cultural aspects. A recent study identified the most economically successful cities in the world were those with the greatest cultural diversity. We have diversity — and need to grow it. We are the creative hub of the city — and need to recognize, support and nurture it. Our community is rich with history — and we need to protect and build on it. We need a leader who can see the possibilities in mixing the old with the new, in a way in which our community can grow with meaning and pride. 6. Centre Plan After years in development, the Centre Plan process is nearing its final stages. Zoning is a complex piece of work that has major implications on the future form (height, width, set-backs, etc.) and use (residential, commercial, institutional, etc.) of buildings, as well as a serious impact on real estate values which can determine the viability small businesses, local property ownership, and affordable housing. Areas along Agricola and Gottingen have been identified as “primary growth areas”, meaning they will receive special zoning consideration. There is a need over the next year to continue to make sure what is proposed in the Centre Plan for these areas, and the urban core as a whole, reflects and enhances the uniqueness of the north end and communities who live there. 7. Economic Development The establishment of the provincial Office of Regulatory Affairs and Service Effectiveness is an exciting development. The goal is to eliminate barriers on new or existing regulation and service to enhance economic opportunities. HRM will have a designate working in the office to specifically address HRM barriers to economic development. Developing a clearer vision of our economic strategy is key to ensuring any changes in regulations are effective and align with the city’s bigger vision. Halifax Partnership could play a key role in helping Halifax better establish a clear and aligned economic vision which all departments could work toward achieving. The economic strategy would be amiss if it did not include and recognize the significance of small locally owned businesses. 8. Municipal Political Reform Recently we have seen how broken our municipal democracy is with the Willow Tree decision. When councillors who represent an area vote down something, only to have councillors from other areas the municipality vote for it — against staff recommendations — you really have to wonder what is going on. How can citizens have faith in the political process or system? This is a crucial time for cities across Canada. As populations shift from rural areas to urban centres, the governing and management of urban centres becomes more complex. It is critical cities have responsible, transparent and accountable municipal governance. Someone needs to take a lead on municipal political reform in Halifax. We welcome candidates to comment on all of these topics on our Facebook page.