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Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia
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Étoile Estates: Sustainable Garden Services

Bryn Jones-VaillancourtBryn Jones-Vaillancourt

Chef Local Food Advocate Darmouth Proud

Metro Transit Launches New Ad Campaign

Bryn Jones-Vaillancourt

This Metro Transit launched an ad campaign aimed at increasing ridership.  The campaign entitled "Do it on the bus" is a cheeky double entendre, however in looking at the website I find it dissapointing.   You can see the site here While I appreciate the fact that Metro Transit is launching this campaign to beef up ridership, I don’t buy into this campaign.   I feel that the campaign while cheeky, has little substance and I am not confident it will increase ridership.  The transit strike did of course affect transit use, coupled with decreased revenue and rising costs—it is a tough spot.  Furthermore, the cost of this ad campaign could reinstate the Alderney ferry service to pre-budget cut levels of 2012.  Cheeky ad campaigns, which lack substance, are not going to change behaviour, and in this case increase ridership.  During the election campaign there was much discussion about how to improve transit, and they were some great ideas.  Now is the time that our local government and we as citizens should be tapping into and exploring some of those ideas. However, across the municipality people are unhappy with the current transit models being used.  If the management of Metro Transit and HRM council feel that this is the best way to address the issues, then they are missing the boat.

There are issues with the Go Time service, route efficiency, employee morale and how the public perceives Metro Transit.   It is a double edge sword where public demand and economies of scale are working in tandem and causing problems for Metro Transit.   While for some people in HRM, Metro Transit may very well meet your commuting needs, but there are many I feel that this is not the case.  I know of many people who are frustrated by the frequencies of buses, the routes and lack of a truly integrated system.

For example let’s look at the new bridge terminal, yes it is shiny, bright and beautiful and we did need a large terminal in the network.  Though, just down the hill at Alderney are ferry and the potential for rail connections: a transit hub you say?  No, not in HRM: this example is but one of many that I feel undermines the confidence residents have in our public transit system.    Having a hub system that is properly integrated between bus, ferry, active transportation and one day rail would go a long way in address concerns and improving mobility for all residents across HRM.    There are three parts that I feel are contributing to our public transit woes: city hall, city infrastructure and human nature.

First, city hall since amalgamation there has been a well known divide between urban, suburban and rural councillors.   This divide is playing into how as a municipality we value public transit.   You have urban and some suburban councillors calling for better transit while rural councillors say not on my watch.  This divide was highlighted last year in the debate to cut back Alderney ferry or not.  There were councillors saying thing such as ‘I’ll cut the ferry because you cut my bus’.   The reality is that even with all the supposed focus on greener transportation, HRM is still from a policy perspective a very car centric place.    It is not merely that regional council must be looking at transportation through a different lens, so must the bureaucrats behind them.

Our city infrastructure plays a lovely piece in the perfect storm that caps transit at the knees.  Look around HRM, and consider how our roads are laid out.  All Across HRM we lack a grid structure, either because of geography or poor planning; couple that with narrow roads in the urban core and providing efficient transit is a challenge and an exercise in patience.   Metro transit made a good move last year in the introduction of a corridor on Portland Street, to increase frequencies of runs and modify the routing.   This is a good move because it takes into consideration of the limitations of geography and municipal infrastructure.  Having separate transit ways, like in other centres, is not a viable solution for Halifax but having corridors and transit hubs I believe is.

Lastly, we should address human behaviour and how that impacts use/non-use of transit.  As humans, we are wired to take the means that provides the least resistance.  If we are en route to a destination and there are two options: one takes say 15 minutes and one takes 1.5 hours—we will take the option that only takes 15 minutes.    All across the city, there are examples that trips on transit simply take too long.  For example if you are in Clayton Park and you need to get to Burnside, you better get comfy it would be roughly an hour and that is without traffic issues.  When I attended culinary school at NSCC Akerley, what was a 15 minute car ride took 1-1.5 hours on the bus.   So, because the city is truly built for cars and to move cars around quickly that is what a lot of people do.

So, to truly improve transit, I feel we need to do the following:

  • Stopping viewing public transit as a burden to municipal coffers and starting viewing it as an asset
  • Use our natural harbour to a greater extent to help move people in our public transit model
  • Develop a stronger hub system, and expanded the corridor model that was introduced last year on Portland St
  • Management and council actually need to sit down with transit users and transit drivers to talk about what will make the system better from their perspective.
  • Don’t spend money on ad campaigns, when they could be better directed to improving actual service.

HRM Political Round Up: Weeks of February 18 and 25th

Bryn Jones-Vaillancourt

The last two weeks have been active in our HRM political arena, and in some decisions not for the best.

                                                                                                                                             Solid Waste Issues

Well we have been touted as national and even international leaders in waste diversion...the wheels are coming off the truck.  The report was completed by Stanec and sights cost concerns and service delivery issues.  Presently, the municipality is seeking input from citizens on the Stanec report.   Additionally, in a motion by the Environmental and Sustainability committee, there is a request to the province to allow HRM to collect the 5 cent bottle deposit and reduce the deposit from 10 cents to just 5 cents.   This revenue would go into general HRM coffers, and while on the surface is sounds good—I do not support this motion.

The impact this would have across our municipality to people at or below the poverty level is huge.  Consider people who collect these refundable in your neighbourhood to help supplement their weekly budgets.   Equally important are all the people that enviro-depots now employ, some of these individuals have barriers to employment and programs such as Youth Live help citizens across HRM obtain entry-level employment.   Government should be about making things better for all by providing the framework to do just that, added municipal revenue should not be on the back of the poor.

                                                                                                                                                                                     Crime Mapping

On February 14, the day of love, admit some fanfare Deputy Police Chief Moore debuted HRP’s crime mapping site.  While I believe that information is power, and have concrete factual evidence can help to debunk myths running around our city.  However, alleged comments by Moore about how sexual assaults, between intimate partners are not included on this site, because people are not interested in that is ridiculous.  The max number of days of data is seven days, and you can select which crimes you would like info on.  Furthermore, the potential to marginalize areas is real, and well I overall applaud this project—I hope it will do more good than harm. I do feel overall that our force is doing a good job, and crime stats are down.  However, the HRP needs to continue and build on the community engagement/liaison model.  You can see the crime mapping site here.

Transportation

Winter has been hard on our roads in Dartmouth and across much of the region, daily I observe potholes—some that are true hazards.  As council continues to drag their heels on an improved public transit system, roads will only become worse—more use will result in more wear.  The failure to reinstate full harbour ferry service at Alderney is short-sighted and is sending the wrong message about the value of mass transit.   We are fortunate to have a beautiful harbour, and we must use it as a crucial component of our mass transit system.   Having an integrated land and marine mass transit system in Halifax is the right choice.  It is time council and the bureaucrats at Metro Transit listen to citizens and make a transit system that we so long for.   The Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission has an online petition to bring back late ferry service, see it here

Metro transit is also starting the process for a new 5 year plan.  There will be public consultations, however if they are like other public consultations in HRM... I’m not sure of the value it will hold.   This year’s installment of new buses is almost approved; HRM will purchase 22 new buses to replace aging vehicles, at the cost of $406,422 each.  Finally, public consultations were held last Wednesday about intersection reconfiguration at Rainne/Cogswell and Agricola/Cunard by switching them to roundabouts.  The current configuration of these intersections is at the best of times scary for all who cross them.  I do feel there is merit in this proposal; however my reservation lies in how the changes will impact pedestrians.  The installation of roundabouts must be mindful of the fact these two intersections are heavy in pedestrian traffic as well as vehicular. You can learn more about the project here.

BJV

 

HRM Politics Round up for Week of February 11

Bryn Jones-Vaillancourt

 

After a week hiatus we are back.   There was lots of activity in HRM chambers this week with both the committee of the whole and regional council.   Councillor McCluskey and Councillor Craig were absent to other related obligations.

                                  Sidewalk Taxes are changing

The big debate in the committee of the whole was regarding local improvement charges(LICs) and taxes for sidewalks.   The debate was lengthy and passionate over the course of the several hours.  Prior to this debate, depending on where you lived within our region how funding was collected for sidewalks varied greatly.   It was combinations of LICs for construction, maintenance via urban general rate and snow clearing via another special rate.  The present tax levies, as per the staff report, cited this system was failing the needs of HRM.  As I watched the committee of the whole, the debate become at times bogged down on divisive points.   In the end, it was an amended by Councillor Mason that was approved in both the committee of the whole and regional council sittings.   The new approaching will leave LICs for rural HRM residents to construct sidewalks and maintenance funded by an urban/suburban general rate.  Residents in urban areas will pay for construction and maintenance with suburban areas within 1km of a sidewalk paying the same.  Some of the debate around the sidewalk issues, truly highlights how some of our municipal policy makers are very car centric.   If we are to move forward with active transportation projects, sidewalks need to be part of the puzzle.  Secure funding for sidewalks, mass transit and bike lanes must be a priority in this city.

                                 No Officer Cuts in New Police Budget

Chief Blais presented a budget for HRP that if accepted by the commission would not result in any cuts to front line officers.   The operating budget would increase by 5.51% to roughly $73.7 million, and include conversion of administrative police positions to civilian jobs to help with savings. The budget has not be approved yet by the Board of Police Commissioners, debate will occur on February 25.  If approved, it will then go to regional council for final approval.   Also a report came out, to show violent crime stats are down.  It is good to hear that we will not loose front line officers.  However, as a city and a a police force, how the resources are allotted need to be examined.   There are distinct hot spots across the region, and cultural shifts we should be pushing for.   We should build on the cooperation between police and citizens to strengthen our communities.

 

                                    New Library Budget Increased by $2million

Regional council approved a request by Judith Hare, CEO of Halifax Public Libraries for a higher ceiling to fund-raise.  The funds would be used to help with interior decor of the new central library.  I am excited to see the new central library, and I believe it will be a great addition to our city.   As our cultural capital increases, it is good to keep stock of our recreation capital and how we can make our green spaces interactive.

Till next week: stay connected and talking

BJV

 

 

HRM Council Round Up For Week of January 28, 2013

Bryn Jones-Vaillancourt

In the last week of January, regional council has made some interesting choices and there have been some long term projects that are moving forward albeit slowly.

First up, Councillor Steve Craig (District 15- Lower Sackville) purposed a motion around the crosswalk issues.  Over the last year, accidents between motorists and pedestrians in crosswalks have grown exponential.  Specifically, in the last two months there have been at least 10 people struck in crosswalks across HRM.  Ken Reashor, who is the Traffic Authority for HRM and Director of Transportation and Public works, has taken an unpopular stance on crosswalk safety. He believes that less not more crosswalks are the answers, and that motorists should maintain the right of way more often. Working against people such as Norm Collins, who has been a long time crosswalk safety advocate; Reashor has in my opinion helped the foster the car centric policies of HRM.

Councillor Craig’s motion is as follows:

11.3 Councillor Craig

That Halifax Regional Council direct staff to provide a report which:

1. Prior to the end of fiscal 2012-2013, to provide an interim report that:
- Provides the current understanding of how HRM focuses and performs on all factors related to pedestrian safety – HRM engineering, public education, law enforcement, public engagement and evaluation;
- Identifies HRM pedestrian safety statistics and how HRM statistics compare relative to other municipalities; and
- Identifies a short-term HRM action plan to address pedestrian safety and any impacts on the 2013-2014 budget.

2. During fiscal 2013-2014, to develop and present for consideration by Halifax Regional Council, a long-term comprehensive pedestrian safety action plan to help ensure, and to be seen as ensuring, overall pedestrian safety for HRM residents based on:
- The analysis of factors which may be contributing to pedestrian accidents;
- Provides options considering both process and organization structure that focuses on engineering, education, enforcement, public engagement, such as a Crosswalk Safety Advisory Committee, overall evaluation, policy and legislation, inter-agency/departmental coordination and cooperation elements;
- Provides a mechanism for continuous reporting and evaluation of the foregoing; and
- Identifies ongoing budget impacts to the proposed action plan.

In addition, that the Mayor, on behalf of Halifax Regional Council, correspond immediately with the provincial Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal to request an update regarding a recommendation from the 2007 Crosswalk Safety Task Force which stated that “the departments responsible for collecting and analysing collision data do so in a timely, comprehensive, consistent and accurate manner.”  [i]

While, I side with Councillor Craig on this motion.  There is additionally mention of the 2007 Crosswalk Safety Task Force that presented specific recommendations.  I think that the report process has some merit.  However, I feel that if we are to truly move forward on the issue it will need to be at the community level.  Presently, council is not moving to deal with the lack accountability of Reashor to HRM citizens.  While, this would require coordination with the province; I believe it should be a necessary part of this puzzle.   Furthermore, it is my hope that staff does not fully re-invent the wheel and access past reports, updating as required to expedite this process.   On the citizen level, if crosswalk safety is of concern to you I suggest that you contact your councillor and Mayor Savage to communicate such.

Another big, and in my perspective, positive move this week came out of the Audit and Finance Committee.  Eddie Robar, Director of Metro Transit, presented their annual budget but it did not include full late night ferry service.  Councillor Gloria McCluskey (District 5, Dartmouth Centre) motioned for Metro Transit to re-work their annual budget to include re-instatement of full late night ferry service.   The motion passed and sent Metro Transit back to the budgetary drawing board.   This is an important move, last year when regional council cut late night weekday ferry service, it was a horrible decision.   The harbour ferries provide a crucial link between our downtown cores, and if we are ever going to get serious about public transit in this city some of the things we need to:

  1. Restore full Halifax-Dartmouth ferry service to the level of pre-August 2012
  2. Look at expansion for the Woodside – Halifax ferry service.
  3. Explore how we can better use our harbour to move our residents around quickly and economically.

The negative aspect to the Metro Transit budget is the fare increase.   Metro transit has asked for a 0.25 cent increase, to help in funding technological modernization of their operations.  The fare increase was approved by the committee.  However, I do have reservations as to how that increased capital will be utilized.  Citizens have been hearing for years from Metro Transit, of a commitment to improved “real time GoTime” values, but to date that change has not occurred.   I am skeptical of the plan as in the past our public transit department has promised large but come up very short.   If you would like to read, the budget presentation from Metro Transit please click the link under the end notes.[ii]

The city has sold off the last piece of property it owned in Bayers Lake but because of development agreements has had to buy back the streets in this parcel of land to make them public.  Couple this with the expansion of the approved expansion in Burnside, and there is great potential to undermine our downtown core.  This is important because of the challenge we already face to attract retail and office space into our downtown cores.   Finally, council has approved a study to assess the viability of HRM investing in a district energy system.  District energy systems recycle waste heat from primary power generation, and sell it via a grid to customers.  The feasibility study will cost 300, 000.  I believe the investment could in the long term be beneficial to HRM and I approve the feasibility study.  If you would like to read the staff report, please check at the bottom of post.[iii] 

Stay Connected. Be Informed.

Collaboration Communication Compassion: Vote Bryn for Dartmouth Centre,together we will make our community better.

Bryn Jones-Vaillancourt

Dear Friends, As we come to the end of the election campaign, I first want to thank Anthony my fiance for all his support. Also, my family, my friends and all the new friends I have made along the way.   All of you have helped support me on this amazing journey.   If you have already voted, I thank you.   If you have not voted, I ask you to please vote.   This election I feel is a turning point for Dartmouth Centre and for our municipality.

I am running because I want to put people first once again at city hall.  It is time to end the secret meetings, the ignored emails and the favouritism for particular groups.  I see the potential that is in our community.  We have amazing, talented people who are so passionate about our community.  I feel it is time that together we bring the vision forward.  We can build a community where no one is left behind and where every voice is heard.   Together, I believe we can unite our community and address that we have residents who's basic needs are not being met.

We have challenges in Dartmouth Centre, and great opportunities to grow and transform our community.  However, we must be be ever vigilant that as we grow that we do not further push people to the fringes. Gentrification must be kept in check, and that together we build a truly inclusive community.  Let us build sustainable from an environmental, social and economic point of view.  I grew up in North End Dartmouth, and I have a passion for Dartmouth that many of you share.   I want to help make our community better for all.   We can make Dartmouth an even better place to work, live and play.   Together, let's invest in people:

  1. Let's have a world class transit system that integrates bus, ferry and active transportation routes.
  2. Support local business in Downtown Dartmouth. Explore the inequity in the commercial tax system.
  3. Protect green space: interactive green space that supports families, youth, seniors and young professionals
  4. Re-build the relationship between Dartmouth Centre and City Hall
  5. Keep gentrification in check: everyone in Dartmouth is important, regardless of your background

Together, with your support I want to move Dartmouth Centre forward.  Our time is now to build the most sustainable, welcoming and inclusive community.  On Election Day vote Bryn Jones-Vaillancourt for Dartmouth Centre - District 5

My Thanksgiving Day Message

Bryn Jones-Vaillancourt

Dear Friends, We are so fortunate to live in this beautiful community of Dartmouth.  We have beautiful lakes and parks right in our backyard.  The love for community and care who show for others in Dartmouth is second to none.  We have a proud history of helping people, and providing ways to support people when they need it most.   On this beautiful Thanksgiving weekend, let us pause and give thanks for all we do have.

Let us give thanks that we live in a community that cares about their neighbour.  Let us give thanks that nature has be so kind to provide us with land to grow our food, lakes to quench our thirst; and an ocean that feeds us, protects us and gives us a place to play.   Let us give thanks to living in a country where we can make our voices heard without fear of being silenced.  Let us give thanks to our farmers and fisheries, who harvest the land and sea to nourish us.  Finally, let us give thanks that we live in a democracy where we can choose our path.

On this Thanksgiving weekend, I ask all of us to pause, to connect with people in your life and in your community.  Together, let us speak of what we are thankful for.  Together, let us be proud of our accomplishments and our failures for they are both learning experiences.  On this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for so much: a wonderful fiance, supportive family and friends and for being able to share my hopes and vision for Dartmouth.

To all of you I wish as much happiness, love and community that you can handle.  I wish for everyone that even if hard times arrive in your lives, you will know you have a community of support.  I wish for everyone a dinner to celebrate harvest time and to come together around food with people you care about.  Finally, I wish that if you know of anyone who could use a friendly hand; please reach out and share a meal with them.

Happy Thanksgiving Dartmouth

Help Support Bryn in his bid for councillor. Together, we can put people first!

Bryn Jones-Vaillancourt

  Dear Friends,

As we are now in September and we draw closer to election day: I wish to thank you all for your support and ask for your continued support. I have been working hard all summer to attend community events, and can proudly say that I have knocked on doors in every neighbourhood of our amazing district.

As we enter the last leg of the campaign, I ask for your support both on elect ion

day and up to election day. To continue to spread my message I kindly ask you to talk to your friends, co-workers and neighbours about me and my campaign. Together, we can put people first and make our city an even better place to live, work and play.

To continue to share my message, I am setting a fund raising goal of $1000. This will be to help cover the costs of brochure printing. Friends, I kindly ask for your support. If you believe that we can put people first again in our local government, I kindly ask for you to make a donation to my campaign.

With 50 people, making a donation of $20 to my campaign, together, we continue spreading the word.

If you would like to make a donation, please contact me at bryndartcentre@bellaliant.net

Thank you for all your support

Bryn Jones-Vaillancourt

Vote Bryn for Dartmouth Centre - District 5 People First Always: Collaboration Communication Compassion

People power: together we can make Dartmouth Centre and Halifax better

Bryn Jones-Vaillancourt

September is now upon us! Summer is cooling, and my campaign is heating up! There are 33 days till advance polls open - October 6-18. During Advance Polls you can vote online or on the phone. In 47 days, on October 20, 2012 we will elect a new councillor for Dartmouth Centre - District Five. Dartmouth Centre, I believe I am that person. I believe in putting people first, joining our whole community together and bring accountability back to local government. The renewing of downtown Dartmouth, improved transit, infrastructure renewal and protecting our green spaces must be a priority. Together, we can bring the focus back to the people. I am asking for your support.

Now that September is upon us, I am looking for campaign captains. Campaign captains will be representatives for my campaign providing canvassing support, spreading the word about my vision for Dartmouth Centre and helping to get the vote out during election day.I am looking for campaign captains in the following neighbourhoods:
Woodside/Southdale Downtown Dartmouth Crichton Park Lancaster Ridge Mic Mac Mall Area Lake Banook Penhorn/Gaston Road Area Manor Park Northbrook Area Windmill Road Wyse Road/North Dartmouth Area Oathill Lake Area Tree/Flower Streets Area Hawthorne Area Albro Lake Area Maplehurst Graham's Grove
If you are interested in helping, please get in touch with me! Together, we can improve Dartmouth Centre, put people first and build stronger, healthier sustainable communities. Let's make Dartmouth Centre and our city Halifax a great place to live, work and play!

People First, Always: Collaboration Communication Compassion

Bryn Jones-Vaillancourt

Since July, while I have been going door to door across district 5, I have seen and heard people's concerns and their true hope, nah their desire for change.   Tuesday evening, I had the true pleasure of knocking on the door, of my Grade Two teacher: Mr. Grant Maclean. I was part of the first class he taught, and 25 years later he still remembers me.  I remember him as well, not so much of lesson plans, but of how he engaged us as young learners and helped to foster our dreams.  However, tonight he shared something with me that really re-connected me to my youth.   It was two pictures, taken during grade two: one was three other students and I, holding up flip chart paper that said "Share".   The second, was of the whole class, with us holding up a flip chart paper that said "Friendship"  These two pictures made me think of all the experiences I have been fortunate to have in my life.   These experiences have brought me to this point in my life and made me who I am today. As, I thought about growing up and how I viewed the world and have come to view the world: I saw a clear, strong desire that I have always had: to always help people, and to speak loud and fight injustice/inequality.  As I was growing up my career aspirations began with veterinarian, marine biologist, nurse, professional musician and finally to what I did choose: a professional chef.  The common thread among all these occupations is that desire to help people, to listen, give them a voice and enrich their lives.    I look at the photos of myself from grade two, and I see the same smile and compassion in my eyes.   The selfless compassion to advocate  for what is right, to help raise all people to the same standard and above all else to ensure everyone is heard.

This innate compassion, collaboration and willingness to find solutions is alive and strong in me today.  I believe in looking out for people: all people.  That government is there for the people and by the people.   I will never shy away from what is the right thing to do.  As you councillor, I will stand up for residents, business, environment and work to do my best to ensure that our people's interests are represented.  Dartmouth Centre, I will stand strong for our district and for our city.   We can do great things in our district and in our city, they do not have to be separate goals.

By putting people and our community first, and make good decisions we can end the stagnation we see in Halifax.  There is so much potential, together let's embrace our bright, inclusive future.

Vote Bryn for Dartmouth Centre- District 5

People First, Always: Collaboration Communication Compassion

October 2012 : Vote Bryn for Dartmouth Centre - District 5

Bryn Jones-Vaillancourt

Dear Friends, September is almost upon us, and as many of prepare to send kids back to school and young adults ready to leave for university and college.. I ask everyone to pause and take a break with family on this last long weekend of the summer. Today marks 37 days until advance online and telephone polls open for Halifax's municipal election 2012. This election is a turning point in our city's recent history. Sixteen years ago, we all joined to become one city reaching far and wide. Halifax, we are a beautiful city made of diverse communities and people. People are our greatest resource, and we must re-focus local government to put people first always.

In Dartmouth Centre, people all across the district are telling me they feel disconnected from city government. They are tired of the fighting on council, and desire to elect people who will represent and stand up for Dartmouth, and help to enable and support a true vision for Halifax. Dartmouth Centre, I am that person. I was born in Dartmouth, grew up here and I now with my fiance choose to call Halifax home. We have immense potential, and a wonderful energy that we can tap into. Together, we can enhance Dartmouth Centre and Halifax to make our community and city a better place to live, work and play.
However, I can not do this alone. Dartmouth Centre, I am asking for the honour of representing you on regional council. I ask for your vote in our October Elections. I ask if you believe in electing a person who will put people first, work to unite our whole district and help to foster a better sense of community: Vote Bryn. Over the next 37 days, I ask for your support and help during the last leg of my campaign. If you are interested in volunteering on my campaign, hosting an event, wish to make a donation, or have a concern to discuss: Please contact me.

Dartmouth Centre, together we can improve our city by working together, talking more and having compassion for all people.

In October Vote Bryn Jones-Vaillancourt for councillor District 5 - Dartmouth Centre. People first always: Collaboration Communication Compassion

Vote it Forward: Making our community better today.

Bryn Jones-Vaillancourt

This election is about change, and making informed choices to help make our community an even better place to live, work and play.  My focus is on collaboration, communication, compassion and about putting people first always.  With that in mind, I don't want to wait until after October 20th to truly start making a difference.   In this election, it is about choosing a councillor who will care about our city in their words and actions.  I am ready to a stand up for people and for the betterment of District 5 and our city, Halifax. It is time that we, even as candidates make a stand, to be a leader and to encourage people to support our community and the amazing groups that support citizens all across Halifax.  There are so many groups that help members of our community, and I do not want to wait till after October 20th to show them that they have my support.

I believe in people taking care of each other and supporting our community.  In my bid for councillor of District 5, I asks that if you support my candidacy, to donate to one of the charities mentioned below in lieu of a lawn sign.  As a show of support, a donation of either time by volunteering or a cash donation between $5 and $25 to any of the organizations listed below:

  1. Alice Housing http://alicehousing.ca/
  1. United Way Halifax  http://www.unitedwayhalifax.ca/
  1. Stepping Stone http://www.steppingstonens.ca/
  1. Spay Day HRM http://spaydaynovascotia.wordpress.com/
  1. Feeding Others of Dartmouth (FOOD) – Margaret House
  1. Feed Nova Scotia http://www.feednovascotia.ca/
  1. YMCA of Greater Halifax/Dartmouth http://www.ymcahrm.ns.ca/
  1. Adsum House for Women & Children  http://www.adsumforwomen.org/
  1. Elizabeth Fry Society http://www.efrynovascotia.com/
  1. Bide-a-While Animal Shelter  http://www.bideawhile.org/
  1. Dress for Success Halifax http://www.dressforsuccess.org/affiliate.aspx?sisid=27&pageid=1
  1. Big Brother’s & Sisters of Greater Halifax http://www.bigbrothersbigsistershalifax.ca/en/Home/default.aspx
  1. Bryony House http://www.bryonyhouse.ca/
  1. LBGT Youth Project  http://www.youthproject.ns.ca/
  1. Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project (NSRAP) http://nsrap.ca/
  1. Canadian Mental Health Association Halifax/Dartmouth Branch- Among Friends Social Club   http://haldart.cmha.ca/programs_services/among-friends-social-club/#.UDQsj6OKiKI
  1. Laing House  http://www.lainghouse.org/
  1. Immigration Settlement & Integration Services (ISIS) http://www.isisns.ca/
  1. Halifax Sexual Health Centre  http://www.halifaxsexualhealth.ca/
  1. Boys and Girls Club of Dartmouth http://www.bgcod.org/
  1. AIDS Coalition of Nova Scotia http://acns.ns.ca/
  1. Canadian Diabetes Association – Nova Scotia  http://www.diabetes.ca/get-involved/community-news/category/nova-scotia/
  1. Chebucto Community Net http://www.chebucto.ns.ca/
  1. Hope Cottage http://www.hopecottage.ca/
  1. Parker Street Food Bank  http://www.parkerstreet.org/

All of these groups do amazing work in our community, and to continue the work that they do they need support from all of us.  I want to inspire in everyone that even the smallest action, can create a huge, positive ripple effect. Let’s one kind act at a time, let the ripples build into a wave of positive, inclusive change in our city. We can do better Halifax and it starts right here with each of us.

Together let’s set a goal of having $5,000 in donations and 1000 volunteer hours to these groups by October 20,2012 To track the donations being made by our community, I only ask that you email me or call to let me know the amount donated and to what group.

The above groups have no official affiliation with me, and I have selected them based on the good work I feel they do in the community.

Let's get it started and Vote It Forward!

Our Harbour Ferries: Keep them public and keep them frequent.

Bryn Jones-Vaillancourt

Today regional council will meet, with one of the items to consider being whether to reduce ferry service in HRM.   I have included the staff report, HRM staff recommendation is to: 'It is recommended that Halifax Regional Council implement the Ferry service reductions effective August 27, 2012, as per the Metro Transit 2012-13 Annual Service Plan approved by Regional Council on April 3, 2012."- Metro Transit Ferry Service Recommendation from HRM Staff

Their recommendation is not one that I support.  While, I applaud some re-alignments Metro Transit is making to service delivery effective August 27, namely their creation of a Portland Street corridor.   I do not support, the in my opinion short-sighted requested reductions to harbour ferry service.

Firstly, we need to realize and value the marine component of our public transit service delivery.  Public transit should be about providing people options, options to move people from point 'a' to 'b' in an efficient, timely manner.  Approving the reductions in ferry service, is removing people's options and an a minor scale helping to decrease the efficiency and reliability of the whole service.

With the reality that our city wants to, and in my opinion should focus development in the regional centre and other identified growth centres, I feel it is crucial to have a public transit system that is integrated, diverse in service options and efficient.  Downtown Dartmouth and Woodside are both in a period of re-birth: with new residential and commercial developments.   A diverse, integrated public transit system will be required to move our citizens in an efficient, sustainable way.   Add to that the projected growth that we will experience in peninsular Halifax and Eastern Passage, it is necessary to maintain the current public marine service; while we explore ways to grow the marine component of our public transit. Also, I find lacking in the HRM staff report the mention of the impact of the 2015 closure of bike and pedestrian lanes on the MacDonald Bridge.   The closure of these two active transportation links between Halifax/Dartmouth will add stress to regional core.   It will add stress in terms of how people move from point 'a' to 'b', and  has the potential to

  • increase the number of cars on the road or
  • increase ridership on peak runs of main bus routes already close to or at capacity.

The proposed peak service reduction of the Woodside ferry and daytime reductions at Alderney would only add to stress on transit while those two lanes of the MacDonald bridge were closed.

Ferry reduction is not simply a Dartmouth issue, this is and should be an issue that concerns all residents of HRM.  If ferry reduction happens, it will be added to the list of decisions that have been made by regional council that are clearly favouring car centric transportation.  I am not suggesting we should never drive our cars, however we need a cultural shift and policy shift to have true options outside of solely driving.  Equally important is to think of if the reductions do happen, those savings will be utilized elsewhere within Metro Transit (as they should be), but I believe that once cut it would be difficult to bring back full service as the capital would have been redistributed.

In today's decision council should consider the following:

  • Let's begin to truly value and respect the benefit the marine component of our public transit system.
  • Think long-term not short-term: Our regional core is being reborn, re-visioned and people are moving back into the city.  We need to provide transportation alternatives to citizens, and it should be a variety of public transportation options.
  • Economic impact: Reducing the link that connect both downtown areas in our regional core is bad for business.  Business needs customers on their front doors, the ferry can help bring people to those front doors.
  • It's due time, as a collective regional council that it breaks away from this car centric policy.  We can no longer govern with models from the 1960s and 70s, and I feel that if council approves the staff recommendation it will be a step backward for our region's sustainability.

What can we do to realize the value of the marine component of our public transit model:

  • Establish a marine corridor that maintains and enhances Alderney service. Increase service for Woodside ferry to meet the growing demands of Woodside, NSCC Waterfront Campus, Eastern Passage and the commercial area of Dartmouth Gate (just before Highway 111)
  • Properly integrate ferry service with bus service on the Portland St corridor, so at Alderney we can provide a more efficient transfer service.
  • Explore the possibilities of ferry service from Bedford to Downtown Halifax. From Eastern Passage to Downtown Halifax
  • Examine the demand and viability of commercial water taxis

Below is the staff report regarding ferry reduction.

https://www.halifax.ca/council/agendasc/documents/120807ca1119.PDF

Economic Sustainability

Bryn Jones-Vaillancourt

After sixteen years of being unified as HRM, we as a municipal government are still following economic models and strategies that do not fit.  Continually, we are adopting a hands-off approach and allowing urban sprawl to hollow out our regional centre.  Property taxes are being used to finance to uncontrolled, unsustainable growth of our region.  To move our city forward, I feel we need to focus on social, economic and environmental sustainability.  To continue to be a driving economic centre, we need to unify our region, direct development to identified growth centres and most importantly follow the policies outlined in HRM by Design and RP+5.   In Dartmouth Centre, as part of the regional centre we have witnessed how our downtown and both sides of the harbour have been affected by a combination of poor government policy and changing consumer trends.  We have empty store fronts, empty lots, loss of tax revenue, and lack of investment on infrastructure. We need to invest in growth centres and municipal infrastructure, and invest in our people.  To support our economy we need to invest in the mosaic that is our community by better funding for recreational programming and arts/culture programming.  It is time in HRM, that we listen to all people's concerns and suggestions on economic sustainability.   We have the expertise and solutions in our community, it is simply a matter of actually involving people and listen.  Furthermore, HRM needs to start looking at best practices from other jurisdictions so that we do not re-invent the wheel. To put Dartmouth Centre and HRM people first and maintain and grow our economy, we need to:

  1. Do not reduce ferry service at Alderney Landing. This is counter to the growth we want to encourage in the regional core.  If we seek to have density in our regional centre, it is imperative we can move residents around our city in an efficient way.  Maintaining and enhancing both the Alderney and Woodside ferries.  If we are to grow we need to have an efficient, quick and reliable integrated public transit system: bus, ferry and active transportation routes.
  2. Hold HRM Council and HRM Staff accountable to abide by HRM by Design and RP+5 policies.
  3. Focus development in regional centre ( Dartmouth Centre and peninsular Halifax) and other identified priority centres. Urban sprawl is unsustainable, and funnels tax dollars out of areas where development needs to be focused and infrastructure made a priority. To grow our district and region, we need to abide by HRM by Design and RP+5.  Our city is evolving, we need to grow sustainably.  We need to grow in a way that will revitalize Dartmouth Centre while respecting our residents and neighbourhood characters.
  4. Fair taxes: Examine current residential and commercial tax rates. Find tax solutions that are fair for both residential and commercial rate payers.  Tax rates that support business and sustainable development
  5. Invest in Arts & Culture to a dollar value that is comparable and fiscal responsible to other cities of similar sizes to HRM
  6. Invest in Youth access to recreation and skill building programs.  Engaged HRM, private business and the province to help provide programs that are free or 'pay what you can'.
  7. Support non-profit groups in community that provide services to at risk and/or under-represented members of our community.

Finally, our region is the largest city in Atlantic Canada.  HRM is a strong driving force for our region, and our policies should reflect the positive economic impact our city has in Atlantic Canada.   To be a leader and to move HRM forward we should be proactive, not reactive, and have the fortitude the put policies in places that enable a long-term vision.   A vision that goes beyond a mere four-year mandate.  We have been a leader and example on waste diversion.  HRM can be an example once again, and we can do this by addressing an important issus: energy security.    It is time that we as HRM bring together our community, Nova Scotia Power, provincial government and other stakeholders to develop an energy policy for HRM.   A policy that focuses on strong renewable and sustainable energy generation.  We are blessed with many natural forces within HRM that we can harness to help power our city.   From solar, wind, hydro to co-generation models, we can help sustain our cities, create jobs, have a secure, clean source of energy and connect our community like never before.   Other cities across the world and even within Canada have such policies.  Dartmouth Centre and HRM, we can move forward together to guide our city where people are the priority and our region has vision to be economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.

Together, let's get started.   Collaboration. Communication. Compassion   In October 2012 Vote Bryn Jones-Vaillancourt for Dartmouth Centre.

Social Sustainability

Bryn Jones-Vaillancourt

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.

HRM Staff Report on Disclosure of Staff Salaries

Bryn Jones-Vaillancourt

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.

Read More

Moving our region forward

Bryn Jones-Vaillancourt

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.

Urban Gardening

Bryn Jones-Vaillancourt

Six years ago in Vancouver, British Columbia, an innovative volunteer began a trend that is now operating in twenty North American cities and counting.   Termed “Land Share”, “Sharing Backyards” or “Urban Garden Share” is a way for people in urban centres to garden and share.  It is a simple yet wonderful concept, not everyone has the ability or time to garden.  Though, there are some with a green thumb but no space to put it into practice. Bringing these two parties together, creates a garden space and an end of season harvest for two families! Through programs like Sharing Backyards ; people who have the land but no time or ability to garden can share their land with individuals who are green thumbs.  At the end of the season, both parties split the harvest equally.   It is an amazing grass roots approach to local food sourcing!  Also, it is teaching both parties involved about community, teamwork and the true cost of food.   The price of produce seem in the large grocery chains does usually not reflect the true cost of production.  That is to say to include the labour, time, and materials used to grow said produce.

Equally beneficially, are the positive environmental impacts.  Firstly, growing your own food helps to reduce your carbon footprint.  It eliminates the need to consume resources for food transportation.  Secondly, gardening is good for the local environment.  It aids in protecting and increasing the local biodiversity and aids to support the communal ecosystem.  Through techniques such as companion planting, one can reduce the need for harmful herbicides and insecticides while supporting a healthy insect population in the garden.

Sharing land and resources will also help to create new notions of community or strengthen old ones.  Historically, neighbours have been there to support one another.  This program brings back an old custom, that in the last fifty years has slowly been dying.  Bringing people together through food, whether in production or feast has always made us closer.  It allows us to see what makes all of us similar, celebrate differences, celebrate nature and the bounty from earth that our hard work yields.   Most important, it breaks down barriers around race, status in life, family situations, economic status and knowledge.

Urban gardening is a must as we move further into the 21st century.  It will help to foster a strong, local secure food source.  It will allow us to act in an environmentally sustainable manner, growing and consuming in season.  Reducing demands on resources for food production and transportation.   Finally it will bring our families and communities closer: making life better for everyone!

Ecology Action Centre: http://www.ecologyaction.ca/content/food

Sharing Backyards: http://www.sharingbackyards.com/