Archive for July, 2012

When I decided to run for regional council to represent Dartmouth Centre, I decided that my campaign would be built on sustainability.  However, I do not choose to think of sustainability in only terms of environmental concerns, but also in the context of social, economical.   I feel that by focusing in these three areas, together we can embrace a vision for Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) for long-term growth and sustainability.  In the first of three articles, I will highlight social sustainability.

Social Sustainability

 The driving force of any city are the people. In HRM our people are truly our greatest resource.  From the Eastern Shore to Hubbards to Dartmouth Centre; we can witness on a daily basis the love, vibrancy and potential that is shown by HRM residents.  The best designed plans will be futile if we do not have HRM residents behind regional objectives.

Firstly, in my conversations to date with people across Dartmouth Centre and HRM, there has been a common theme of not being heard by their elected officials.  Also, there is a sentiment that the sharing of information from the community to regional council, between regional council and other levels of government/governing bodies is poor.  One of our strongest desires as humans is to simply be heard.  If elected as your councillor, I want to reverse this trend and re-open the lines of communication.  Together, I want to build connections between citizens and councillor, between neighbourhoods in Dartmouth Centre, between communities across HRM, and between councillors in city hall and colleagues from other governing bodies.   I believe, together we can achieve this by:

  • Monthly town hall meetings/community pot lucks in our district of Dartmouth Centre
  • A weekly e-newsletter to highlight government business and district concerns and events
  • Social Media Communication via Twitter: @BrynDartCentre, facebook: facebook.com/bryndartcentre and my blog bryndartcentre.wordpress.com
  • District Profile on Halifax.ca’s site, current and up to date
  • Stand alone District Website to provide user friendly info on Dartmouth Centre & HRM
  • Quarterly print newsletter mailed to citizens of Dartmouth Centre
  • Bi-weekly visits to district citizens that may not able to attend monthly town hall meetings/community potluck. Ie. Nursing Homes, Group Homes etc.

Secondly, I believe we need to do better on investing in youth in all of the communities that make up our great region.  In Dartmouth Centre, there is a great energy and vibrance, our community is growing and evolving. Young families are once again choosing to call downtown Dartmouth home, alongside young professionals, under-represented groups and seniors, there is immense potential in our community.  There is a need and desire of residents to help to better foster a sense of community in Dartmouth.  One of the ways that we can accomplish this is by investing in youth.  I believe, together we can accomplish this by:

  • Partnering with community groups, HRM, Halifax Regional School Board (HRSB), adult and youth residents to explore the development of a program to establish a network of community gardens.  These can help to create urban space to increase resident’s food security by growing their own produce in their own neighbourhoods. Also, together we can help to foster new skills for youth and adults alike, and pride in one ’s self and others.  Together, we can help to create community by having communal gardens: we can build relationships with neighbours, community groups and Mother Nature.
  • Working collaboratively with HRM, youth residents, community groups, HRSB, and private business to identify places to create free recreation for youth.  To identify, from youth what activities/facilities they would want to use for recreation.  Also, to engage HRM and HRSB on using existing infrastructure for recreation/youth programming to be housed in.   Lastly, looking at what infrastructure we currently have in Dartmouth Centre for free youth recreation and whether those are meeting the current needs of youth residents.   There is great potential to help get our kids be active and engaged again, we just need to open a dialogue and let them share their voice.
  • Listening to residents concerns, and working together with grass-roots organizations, HRSB, HRM and Dartmouth Centre residents to ensure that access to education is a priority at all levels of governments.   Also, helping to advocate together with residents that access to HRSB schools are meeting the needs of the community.

Lastly, we need to create a stable grant funding program for our arts and culture communities.  Currently, arts and culture funding is administered via the community grants program where a multitude of groups compete for either a project grant of $5,000 or a capital grant of $25, 000. This current funding structure can cause funding issues for certain groups and events.

http://www.halifax.ca/boardscom/bccgrants/communitygrantsprogram.html  – HRM Community Grants Program.

The arts and culture in HRM are an integral part of the mosaic that makes up our city. They are artists, musicians, theaters, and art show events who need secure, stable funding from HRM. It is a necessary change to help support and enhance our arts community, so that they can continue to do what they do best.   To facilitate this, together we can:

  • Examine best practice from other jurisdictions,  in to how they successfully provide secure Arts funding.
  • Collaborate with HRM Arts & Culture community and HRM Council to develop and implement a plan that will provide secure, stable funding for the arts and culture
  • Separate Arts & Culture funding requests out of the community grants program, and create an independent Arts & Culture Grants Program.

Together, we can move forward and make Dartmouth Centre and HRM the most vibrant, diverse, socially sustainable city in our region.

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HRM Staff Report on Disclosure of Staff Salaries

Staff report published in regards to disclosing staff salaries:

On page three, of the only four page it suggestions options council could consider.   I suggest that the ethical option is for council to implement option 2 and 3 on page 3 of the report.

They state:

“2. Council could direct staff to immediately publish on the HRM web site, as part of routine disclosure, the salary bands for all non-union positions and hourly rates of pay for all union positions.

3. Council could, by motion, request that the provincial government designate HRM as a public sector body for the purposes of the Public Sector Compensation Disclosure Act. This would mean that HRM would be required to disclose compensation it pays to any person if the amount exceeds $100,000. This change may be done by regulation and does not require a legislative amendment. This would result in broader disclosure than what Council is currently exploring, and would place long-term disclosure obligations on the municipality.” Cited from June 28, 2012 Staff Report Public Reporting of Senior Employees’ Salaries

The full report is provided in the main link above.

 

I feel that for council to be transparent, and honest on this issue that they opt for the above two recommendations.

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HRM October Elections

Press release asking HRM to consider improved voting access.

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Candidacy Press Release

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We are fortunate to live in HRM. We are blessed with wonderful neighbourhoods and rich in natural treasures.  This year marks many milestones: Canada’s 145th birthday, 20 years since the cod fishery moratorium, sixteen years since amalgamation.  Also, this year brings municipal elections to Nova Scotia in October.  For HRM our elections take place in October:

  1. E-Voting/Telephone Voting October 6-18, 2012
  2. Paper Ballot, Saturday, October 20th, 2012

This election also is one where we will elect 7 fewer councillors, as district boundaries have been redrawn and our current Mayor, Peter Kelly, is not re-offering. So, we have a great opportunity to evaluate all candidates and pick the best that we feel will move our region forward.   Our city is growing and evolving, the typical notion of it being ‘us versus them’ is an old hat.  We can as residents and elected officials of both districts and HRM, make positive decisions that are for the good of our region–they are not mutually exclusive.   Also,  we can think of what HRM means to each of us and to consider how our current governments are directing policy.

During the course of this election, I would like all HRM residents to think about all the positive things that are in our city.   This year provides the means for all of us to realize our strengths, and to acknowledge what needs improvement in our city government policy.   What we can do better to make HRM  an even stronger, more vibrant region, that is both fiscally responsible and has a strong sense of duty to all citizens.   Regardless if you are homeless, employed, white, Japanese, French-speaking, HRM born or an immigrant to HRM, Arabic speaking, Muslim, Jewish, transgender, female, a senior citizen, or a youth: every single citizen of HRM is important. You do count and you do have a voice.

HRM needs a clear vision to chart our course for the future, one built on sustainability with focus on economic, social and environmental concerns.    Together, we can create solutions to address poverty, homelessness, access to education,  and equality for every person in HRM.   We can embrace the evolution of our region collectively and have elected officials that make positive decisions for both respective districts and HRM as a whole.  We can embrace the diversity in our region, to listen, learn and collaboratively create solutions to work for all people of HRM.  Also, together we can work on connecting across invisible and visible boundaries to help our region succeed and for all people to feel equal.

Together, we can propose to our government, our friends, our neighbours that we can in HRM think both with social duty and fiscal responsibility   The fact there is anyone in our city that has to choose between groceries and paying a power bill, between feeding their child versus paying rent, between feeling valued and part of society versus being forgotten-requires a solution.  My city, the community I grew up in and have grown to cherish is one of a people with great pride.   We are a network of people caring for each other, of neighbourhoods welcoming newcomers to HRM.   We are a place where people have a social morality and are ready to provide propositions to local government.

However, in HRM with our current municipal government there is a shift away from community and the importance of valuing all voices.  Areas, I feel that together we can have a conversation about are:

  1. How can we unite as a community and enable the diversity that exists to have a voice in government?
  2. What can we do to mobilize as a local collective to help reduce poverty?
  3. What can we as HRM-born citizens do to help facilitate new comers to our region to feel welcome, valued and accepted?
  4. What we can do to organize and push for a local strategy on energy security and renewable energy policies?
  5. What will we as individuals and as collectives do to safe guard our environment?
  6. What is the long-term vision, for HRM that we want to leave for our children and grand-children?
  7. What can we do to develop solutions to deal with Affordable Housing?

This election: please consider what all candidates are offering. Please vote, and together let’s make HRM the strongest, most vibrant region that we can be.

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