The candidates for District 10 (clockwise from top left): Andrew Curran, Mohammad Ehsan, Renee Field, Sherry Hassanali, Christopher Hurry, Debbie MacKinnon, Kathryn Morse, and Kyle Morton.

With Coun. Russell Walker stepping aside after 27 years, the race for District 10 has attracted eight candidates.

Walker only scraped by in 2016, winning the district — including Fairview, Rockingham and part of Clayton Park — with 35 votes. The runner-up, Andrew Curran, is on the ballot again, and so is the third-place finisher, Mohammad Ehsan.

Joining Curran and Ehsan are Renee Field, Sherry Hassanali, Christopher Hurry, Debbie MacKinnon, Kathryn Morse, and Kyle Morton.

The Halifax Examiner posed the same five questions to every candidate in this fall’s election:

  • What should Halifax be doing to create more affordable and accessible housing?

  • Would you support a reduction of the Halifax Regional Police budget for fiscal 2021-2022? Why or why not?

  • Should Halifax require contractors to pay workers a living wage? Why or why not?

  • In response to the climate crisis, Halifax regional council passed an action plan, HalifACT 2050, in June. How will you support accomplishing the plan’s goals?

  • How often do you use Halifax Transit?

We’re printing the candidates’ responses unedited, in full.

Election day is Saturday, Oct. 17, but you can vote online or by telephone between Oct. 6 and 14 or in advanced polls on Oct. 10 and 13. You can check to see if you’re on the voters’ list here. Not sure which district you’re in? Type your address into the map below to find out.

Click the candidate’s name to jump to their answers, or keep scrolling to see them all:

Andrew Curran

Mohammad Ehsan

Renee Field

Sherry Hassanali

Christopher Hurry

Debbie MacKinnon

Kathryn Morse

Kyle Morton


Andrew Curran

(andrewcurran.ca)

What should Halifax be doing to create more affordable and accessible housing?

Halifax should be advocating that all new development include a percentage of affordable housing (inclusionary housing), or pay a nominal fee to support the creation of new affordable housing. Co-operative Housing is an alternate solution that would benefit HRM citizens looking for affordable housing.

Would you support a reduction of the Halifax Regional Police budget for fiscal 2021-2022? Why or why not?

I would agree to support redistributing some funds to support community programs that build positive relationships between communities and the police, and helping to address systemic racism.  I also support redistributing funds to retrain/educate the police on sensitivity training and de-escalation techniques.  I support this idea because systemic racism continues to exits within policing, and we have to work to eliminate it.

Should Halifax require contractors to pay workers a living wage? Why or why not?

Yes, I support that contractors who are hired by HRM be required to pay workers a living wage in order to keep up with the cost of living.

In response to the climate crisis, Halifax regional council passed an action plan, HalifACT 2050, in June. How will you support accomplishing the plan’s goals?

Reducing our carbon footprint needs to be one of HRM’s top priorities.  I will advocate for switching buses to electric buses, reconsider light rail transit, support Bus Rapid Transit, and completely connected bike lanes.  I will work to find a solution for shared micromobility.  I will advocate to keep HRM’s Solar City program going. 

How often do you use Halifax Transit?

Not as often as I would like. The current bus schedule doesn’t accommodate the narrow time frame between work and after school, when picking up my children.  Bus Rapid Transit could be the solution to improve this situation.


Mohammad Ehsan

(mehsan.ca)

What should Halifax be doing to create more affordable and accessible housing?

Housing is a basic need and right. For people to grow and reach their full potential to be healthy and mentally stable, physiological needs (air, water, food, housing, clothes, etc.) must be met.

When it comes to affordable accessible housing it is a complex social issue. There is no doubt that our city is struggling with an exceptionally low vacancy rate, leaving so many without basic housing.

What does affordable mean? Who defines it? Affordable for whom? Is it only a matter of affordability and accessibility or is it also about quality and safety of those housing options as well?

According to Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), housing is technically considered affordable if shelter costs account for less than 30 % of before- tax household incomes.

From my experiences of dealing with housing issues affecting both tenants and landlords in District 10, I understand that there are many complicated challenges.

In theory, the concept of having a percentage of apartments in a few newly constructed complexes in our city being offered as affordable is good, however the reality of the cost is still way off from what most residents can manage. It is impossible for those who have limited means or live on government support to find or afford quality, safe, affordable, and accessible housing in the city.

Without an action plan in place for the effective implementation of the recently approved basement apartments and backyard suites, I am uncertain about the success of this initiative in mitigating the affordable housing crisis.

I am committed to the Housing First principle in alleviating homelessness and the housing crisis.

We need to create an environment where small and medium entrepreneurs can invest in the housing sector by creating more affordable housing options for people with income at different levels. Affordable housing should be a priority for all levels of government. Our city needs concerted collaborative efforts with other levels of government and the private sector to have a broad-based plan in place dealing with this issue. HRM must also re-examine its outdated archaic land use by-laws to make room for changes affecting positive change in the sector.

For low-income families, having rent control back in place is an important step and I am going to advocate for provincial provisions in protecting our most vulnerable through pilot rent control and landlord licensing initiatives.          

Would you support a reduction of the Halifax Regional Police budget for fiscal 2021-2022? Why or why not?

I am currently a board member of the Halifax Police Diversity Working Group (PDWG). I am fully committed to bringing community concerns and issues of importance to the PDWG from diverse community perspectives.   

Considering the spectrum of debates on defunding police, I am (a) in favor of keeping the budget as is for most core services, (b) reallocating budgets from areas where its supposedly spent inefficiently (e.g., polygraph tests) to other areas such as Mental Health Mobile Crisis Team and Victim Services, and (c) increasing funds for mental health and other training opportunities of members of the Police force. 

The Halifax Regional Police and RCMP have been reasonably asked to account for services provided and discontinue unacceptable discriminatory practices in recent months. So, I would like the Police to continue providing its core law and order services where few other services (e.g., wellness check) can be redirected to other service providers. 

Should Halifax require contractors to pay workers a living wage? Why or why not?

Yes, contractors should pay workers a living wage so they can maintain a good healthy quality of life in our city. This must happen.

In response to the climate crisis, Halifax regional council passed an action plan, HalifACT 2050, in June. How will you support accomplishing the plan’s goals?

HalifACT is a sound policy document outlining the future course of our city’s actions in mitigating climate crisis. It is time sensitive as well. I will advocate for every future relevant city policy to be examined through HalifACT lens first before the HRM approves those plans and policies. For the successful implementation of HalifACT, I will advocate for regular allocation in the city budget and support continuing collaborative initiatives with other levels of government. 

How often do you use Halifax Transit?

I only use the Halifax Transit sometimes as the challenges associated with public transit are as real for my family as for many others in the community. The City is encouraging residents to use public transit, yet it is failing to provide adequate acceptable service. Infrequent services, difficult routes, time delays and unrealistic travel times especially for daily commutes, services being cut to name but a few of the problems plaguing our transit.  For instance, the elimination of #18 Bus Route is an example of schedule gaps increasing in District 10, even as the district grows. Unless we make public transit easy to use, we will continue to have challenges encouraging ridership.


Renee Field

(reneefieldhalifax.com)

What should Halifax be doing to create more affordable and accessible housing?

I think Halifax Council should utilize and empower Community Council and develop a ten-year strategy. The city needs to work with non-profit housing providers to address the affordable and accessible housing issue currently affecting our most vulnerable. It’s clear the Affordable Housing Work Plan in 2018 the city adopted does not work. The plan does not require any monitoring or follow any reporting protocols. The city needs to first track the housing need if they are going to measure meaningful results on a yearly basis. The city has a duty to its citizens to think outside of the box to tackle this growing issue which is prevalent throughout HRM.

Would you support a reduction of the Halifax Regional Police budget for fiscal 2021-2022? Why or why not?

I do support reallocation or a reassignment of certain tasks and functions of the Halifax Regional Police where Halifax’s communities have identified the police aren’t performing well. I believe mental health is a huge challenge and there should be a different number to call, rather than 911, which would enable mental health care workers, instead of the police, who would be best trained to intervene in cases involving people in crisis.

Should Halifax require contractors to pay workers a living wage? Why or why not?

Yes. According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Halifax falls short of what’s needed and a wage of $21.80 an hour would go a long way to providing a decent quality of life for our citizens, but I believe this should be implemented in stages. It might also be the case this is something HRM could bring in-house.

In response to the climate crisis, Halifax regional council passed an action plan, HalifACT 2050, in June. How will you support accomplishing the plan’s goals?

Yes, I support the plans outlined in HalifACT 2050 but we need to provide more options for citizens, increase our green footprint with the investment in more parks, sport fields, playgrounds, wilderness areas, and hiking trails. We need to provide better alternative transportation options throughout HRM to entice people to utilize other means to travel; this means more walking and bike lanes with proper barriers so people feel safe, and more carpooling options. The city also needs to work with businesses and other levels of government to provide affordable approaches for people to retrofit their existing homes to utilize more renewal energy like solar panels.

How often do you use Halifax Transit?

Before the pandemic at least three times a week in the warmer months and in the winter on a daily basis for my commute to work.


Sherry Hassanali

(sherryhassanali.ca)

What should Halifax be doing to create more affordable and accessible housing?

From an Equity perspective, I believe that as a City we should be doing more in terms of having more affordable and accessible housing.  I believe that there needs to be affordable housing units in apartment buildings, including new builds.  

Would you support a reduction of the Halifax Regional Police budget for fiscal 2021-2022? Why or why not?

I believe HRM needs a highly-trained, skilled, and educated force that is in tune with the communities they serve. They need to be of the community, for the community, and working with the community.  From an Equity perspective, monies should be funding the police to meet those requirements.

Should Halifax require contractors to pay workers a living wage? Why or why not?

According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives,  it estimates that a full-time workers in Halifax must make $21.80 an hour to make a living wage.  A living wage is the amount a family needs to avoid severe financial stress, promote healthy development of children, and allow families to participate in their communities.  I believe, from an Equity perspective, most contactors work seasonally, or part-time therefore it would stand to reason that a living wage is necessary. 

In response to the climate crisis, Halifax regional council passed an action plan, HalifACT 2050, in June. How will you support accomplishing the plan’s goals?

Halifact 2050, is an environmental action plan that is necessary for the long-term sustainability of our City. In 2019, HRM Council declared a climate emergency.  We are all responsible for being part of the solution. Supporting the plan is integral to building a stronger, more inclusive, more equitable City.

How often do you use Halifax Transit?

I use Halifax Transit whenever it is necessary to do so.


Christopher Hurry

(cjphurry@gmail.com)

What should Halifax be doing to create more affordable and accessible housing?

Halifax is in desperate need of more affordable and accessible housing and I full support the Density Bonus Funded Affordable Housing Program, but I also believe that the city needs to be more like Singapore and build and lease affordable, well-built nice apartments.

Would you support a reduction of the Halifax Regional Police budget for fiscal 2021-2022? Why or why not?

This is a both a complicated and simple question. The HRM Police budget of 85 million needs to be used to ensure that social workers and mental healthcare workers are also included in providing support for people in crisis in the community. I do not know if they should be within or without the police budget but basically we need a broader and more holistic understanding of what “policing” is and what funding is used for so that we have a more community aligned organization that treats everyone the same. 

Should Halifax require contractors to pay workers a living wage? Why or why not?

Contract workers are basically being exploited by companies who are looking to their bottom line to avoid paying a living wage, they are passing on the cost of the employees to the community, you can be working full time and still have to go to the food bank. This is morally wrong and exploitive we need to insure that this is not encouraged since it is corrosive on the well being of people, families and the community. 

In response to the climate crisis, Halifax regional council passed an action plan, HalifACT 2050, in June. How will you support accomplishing the plan’s goals?

The HalifACT 2050 is wonderful document but it also made me furious. A time line extended out to 2050 is insane. We need find creative ways to implement this document sooner. We built a railroad across Canada in 5 years, it took 7 years to put a man on the moon, and you are telling me that we need to take 30 years to get our act together.

How often do you use Halifax Transit?

Not as much as I want to. When I worked in Burnside there was no way to get to work on time, I worked for a company that employed 300 people but the delays in changing buses was challenging. I took the bus just the other day downtown and thought that massive improvements have been made but that it mainly helps people who are traveling during rush hour in a specific direction (getting from the peninsula to the middle of Fairview first thing in the morning is difficult). Also, having the bus tracker only update at timed stops can make the system totally unreliable during rush hour.


Debbie MacKinnon

(debbiemackinnon.ca)

What should Halifax be doing to create more affordable and accessible housing?

I am the only candidate running in D10 who currently resides in an apartment so I have unique insights into the challenges that tenants face in today’s rental market. Although not a municipal responsibility, the provincial government must review and revise the Residential Tenancy Act which, since its last revision, has only increased the issues for both tenants and landlords. As councillor for District 10 I will lobby my Provincial counterparts to ensure this is done in a timely manner. Secondly, I have heard many horror stories of “renovictions” over the last few months and situations where seniors can no longer keep up maintenance on their family home however are unable to downsize because affordable renting alternatives are not viable due to reduced income. Additionally, first-time home ownership is just not within reach for many who would like to purchase a home. Affordable housing is a complex issue that will require all levels of government to work together to first determine what constitutes “affordable housing” and then how to achieve this. Any new developments across the municipality should be required to include some aspect of permanent affordable and accessible housing.

Would you support a reduction of the Halifax Regional Police budget for fiscal 2020-2021? Why or why not?

I do not agree with “defunding” the police. However, I do support a reassessment, review, and reallocation of current resources. For example, by reinvesting in community services and education we can reduce the need to call police for situations where the police officers’ specific skill set are not required. Although, the province does say they have a Mental Health Mobile Crisis Team it is not well advertised and seems to be underfunded. On the doorstep’s residents are expressing concerns that the unit does not travel throughout HRM and is not well advertised to the public. When someone is suffering with a mental health crisis, is suicidal, child service concerns or is dealing with substance abuse issues, it would make more sense to have this mobile team, appropriately staffed and trained, to respond to with professionals who are appropriately equipped to assist. By partnering with the provincial government and reallocating a percentage of the current policing budget, this unit’s outreach could be increased to geographical reach all HRM residents.

Additionally, there is a need to reinvest in additional sensitivity training to ensure issues like racial profiling are addressed. I want to be clear, I do not agree with any proposal to purchase armoured vehicle for HRP, in my view this money can be better spent in other areas of policing such as education and out reach.

Should Halifax require contractors to pay workers a living wage? Why or why not?

I am unsure if by asking about “contractors” it refers to home builders, developers, excavating or landscapers, so for this case I will just focus on the building industry. Many contractors sub work out to sub-contractors who are skilled tradespeople. As such, the wages they currently receive are regulated by Union protection, which in most cases is equal to (if not greater) a living wage. While speaking with several members of the construction industry, I am informed that both tradespeople and laborers are currently in short supply throughout HRM, therefore many are likely already receiving the equivalent to a living wage (estimated at $21.80 according to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives). I feel this issue is much broader than just the construction industry and needs a re-examination of the minimum wage which applies to all workers, however this is more a Provincial issue than municipal.

In response to the climate crisis, Halifax regional council passed an action plan, HalifACT 2050, in June. How will you support accomplishing the plan’s goals?

I fully support initiatives that works towards reducing HRMs environmental footprint and help address the ongoing global climate crisis. I am committed to working with local community groups, developers, residents and HRM staff to ensure sustainable growth across the municipality. I strongly support protecting areas, like the Blue Mountain Birch Cove Wilderness, from further development and increase green spaces throughout HRM. I have many ideas where the municipality can contribute to addressing climate change while not negatively impacting the overall municipal budget. I also support programs, like Solar City and various rebates, that help residents’ transition from carbon based options to more environmentally friendly, sustainable alternatives.

How often do you use Halifax Transit?

Usually several times per month. I fully support initiatives that make transit more attractive to commuters and that increase ridership. Residents want affordable, reliable, and efficient alternatives to carbon based vehicles; transit is a proven, viable alternative.


Kathryn Morse

(kathrynmorse.ca)

What should Halifax be doing to create more affordable and accessible housing?

While running in District 10 I’m meeting people from all walks of life–recent university grads, working parents, disabled seniors–who are desperate to find an affordable place to live.  I’ve also met landlords who tell me dozens of people apply for each apartment vacancy and some of the applicants are in tears. Halifax urgently needs leadership on affordable housing. We need an effective and adequately resourced affordable housing strategy.  It should be led by a respected expert who has demonstrated results in creating affordable housing and who can coordinate the work of all levels of government and community partners, including housing non-profits.  I also support requiring developers of large multi-unit projects to contribute to an affordable housing fund. New affordable housing units may qualify for federal green recovery infrastructure dollars if designed for energy efficiency, as they should be. 

Would you support a reduction of the Halifax Regional Police budget for fiscal 2021-2022? Why or why not?

I generally don’t support reducing budgets for important public services, especially without an alternative plan for delivering the services.  With the right plan in place, which could take a year or more to develop, I would support a reallocation of existing funding to improve policing services to better reflect community needs and diversity.  This could include enhancing training for police, more community policing, expanding collaborative teams working with police that would include mental health practitioners and social workers, improving transparency and accountability, and investing in technology such as automated speed enforcement systems for use in high traffic residential areas and school zones.

Should Halifax require contractors to pay workers a living wage? Why or why not?

Yes.  This is the fair thing to do, and it’s also a public health issue because much of the work contracted out involves cleaning staff. Cleaners need to be adequately paid to ensure a high standard of cleanliness as well as low turnover of staff, especially now during the pandemic.  This is essential work and those doing the work need to be compensated with a wage they can actually live on.  It’s very difficult for people earning minimum wage to find an affordable place to live in Halifax given the increasing rents and 1% vacancy rate.  Money paid by HRM in a living wage (just above minimum wage) reduces poverty, improves public health and reduces the demand on the health care system, and circulates through the local economy many times over.  

In response to the climate crisis, Halifax regional council passed an action plan, HalifACT 2050, in June. How will you support accomplishing the plan’s goals?

I believe we can become a low-carbon city while improving the quality of life for residents in Halifax.  I support more walkable and bike-friendly neighbourhoods; greater use of renewable energy; measures to electrify transit and expand ridership; measures to increase housing density in the urban core; construction of affordable and energy efficient housing through partnerships; energy efficient conversion of public buildings; more parks and urban tree cover to cool the city in summer; better designed and more equitably-distributed green space for outdoor recreation; space for food gardens and urban agriculture; and conservation of near-urban wilderness areas such as Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes.

How often do you use Halifax Transit?

This year I have been walking to work or working from home so I am using transit a lot less—probably just a few times a month.  In previous years I have used transit daily. 


Kyle Morton

(kylemortondistrict10.ca)

What should Halifax be doing to create more affordable and accessible housing?

Halifax has a lack of supply when it comes to housing, forcing up prices for those who can even find a place to begin with. The only longterm solution is expanding the supply and doing it in a timely fashion. Halifax should set clear construction standards on an area by area basis, so that developers can quickly build more housing without excessively long approval processes. Meanwhile our rules should be set to make sure local communities are taken care of properly and to prevent exploitation by developers. When exceptions are asked for, the approvals process should also be reasonably swift. We have no obligation to approve everything, but our process shouldn’t take years.

Would you support a reduction of the Halifax Regional Police budget for fiscal 2021-2022? Why or why not?

I would not support any budget reduction that would affect the police payroll. Research compiled by black Harvard economist Roland Fryer suggests that a 10% reduction in police numbers are associated with an approximate 3.4% increase in violent crime and a 6.7% increase in homicides. Since violent crime tends to affect vulnerable communities the most, I think defunding police is an ineffective and harmful policy. I’d rather instead make sure the Halifax Regional Police and our local communities have more opportunities to positively interact so we can build more mutual trust and sympathy. I’d also like to improve independent oversight for the police so when things go wrong, those responsible are held accountable.

Should Halifax require contractors to pay workers a living wage? Why or why not?

During the pandemic and recession we’re in, I think it’s best if we try and preserve jobs first, and improve them when our situation gets better. Requiring higher wages during a period of belt-tightening is going to put pressure either on contractors or, more likely, the municipality, and we’re not in a strong position to do that right now. I’m open to the idea after an economic recovery though.

In response to the climate crisis, Halifax regional council passed an action plan, HalifACT 2050, in June. How will you support accomplishing the plan’s goals?

I will support it in any way I can, but most importantly I want to see the steps laid out in the plan enacted as quickly as possible. It’s very easy to delay things an extra year or two in a 30-year plan, but climate change isn’t something we can procrastinate on. I will be pushing for accountability and striving to complete tasks ahead of schedule so we’re prepared if any unavoidable setbacks do occur.

How often do you use Halifax Transit?

Before the lockdown, I spent about an hour on public transit per day on average, which is why I feel quite strongly about improving it.


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Zane Woodford

Zane Woodford is the Halifax Examiner’s municipal reporter. He covers Halifax City Hall and contributes to our ongoing PRICED OUT housing series. Twitter @zwoodford

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