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.
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.