The candidates for District 11 (clockwise from top left): Stephen Chafe, Matthew Conrad, Bruce Cooke, Patty Cuttell, Bruce Holland, Kristen Hollery, Jim Hoskins, Ambroise Matwawana, Lisa Mullin, Hannah Munday, Dawn Edith Penney, and Pete Rose.

Halifax’s longest-serving councillor gave plenty of notice that he wouldn’t be running for a ninth term.

Coun. Stephen Adams, first elected in 1991, made the announcement a full year before this fall’s election, and 12 candidates have stepped up to take his place in District 11.

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:

Stephen Chafe

Matthew Conrad

Bruce Cooke did not reply.

Patty Cuttell

Bruce Holland

Kristen Hollery did not reply.

Jim Hoskins

Ambroise Matwawana did not reply.

Lisa Mullin

Hannah Munday

Dawn Edith Penney did not reply.

Pete Rose


Stephen Chafe

(stephenchafe.com)

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

Affordable Housing is something the City is not going to be able to address directly, because the Provincial government does not want the Municipalities to have any sway over that.   So instead this means HRM Council will have to take more creative steps to help solve the affordable housing problem.  

I plan to introduce something for Council to vote on,  called Affordable Indexing.   This means that the City will be looking to reduce a Landlords Property Tax payments by the equivalent (or more) of how much they reduce a Tenants monthly rent below the average market cost.   This would use a formula that mostly benefits small and medium sized landlords, who set aside some of their rental units for this program.   The Landlord could save up to 80% off their Property Tax payments in a year, if they agree to pass that on to the Tenant.  The Tenant then can have an affordable place to live, and the Landlord is not out of pocket.  It is the Municipality that swallows the poison pill.  But better this in the short-term, then to have to deal with an large increase of homeless and jobless people in the a year or more.  

Sitting down with the Federal government to bring in something similar to use with the taxes on Rental Income for small and medium sized landlords would help this work as well. 

This will work better than  a simple Rent Cap Controls (although we will likely need some for of that as well) and it will be a measure that works over the next few years to help put downward price pressure on the rental market in general.  Given that Rents are already too high now, we need such a mechanism to help take the steam out of the constant rent increases.  

Working with third party organizations like Habitat for Humanity, to help finance and have them build and operate these new subsidized apartments or houses is another viable option.   

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

In some areas yes.  The obvious one being spending on overpriced objects like the Armored Truck. 

Overall though, No.   We need instead to put new funding towards creating a new Mental Health Response Force ($3 million),  a Speed and Bylaw Enforcement Group ($2 Million),  and more funding and time towards increasing BLOCK training programs for officers.   This would include increasing the number of police resources available to programs like the 1-800 Crisis Line which currently only has one officer on shift.    That number of staff should double, or triple.  

Change in some policies also needs to happen, which are less about funding and more about resources.  For example when someone in Crisis is currently taken to the Hospital Emergency, we require regular Police Officers to stay there for hours with that person.   Why do we not have specially trained Mental Health workers who can do that instead,  at less expense and with more direct skills on how to help or advocate for the person brought into the Hospital?  This then allows those two Police officers to get back in their car, and get back out on the street doing what they are actually trained to do.  

Common sense needs to be applied more often in how we  go about tasking the right people on staff to deliver the Policing model, which immediately start to save tax dollars. This should be more obvious to the people doing the planning. 

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

This is simplistic, and the wrong approach.  At present most contractors who work for the city are not allowed to know how much actual money the parent company representing them makes.   This leads to some very unfair working arrangements,  where the Recruitment or Parent Company is making far more then the actual Contractor. If this was more transparent a process, then many workers would not take a job if they felt they were being underpaid.

Solutions to this include:  

Is should be made a requirement that all Contract workers know exactly what their Parent Company is also making on any such contracts ( to allow for fairer wage negotiations).  If the Parent company or Recruiter is making $150 an hour on a task, then the sub-contract employee needs to know this before signing any employee agreement.  I know some companies who deal with the Municipality and their employees fairly in this regard,  but transparency will ensure that this always happens more fairly. 

The HRM Administration should look at ways to eliminate the use of third-party Contract or Recruitment agencies who are taking too large a piece of the wage pie.   If there is any proof of unfair exploitation of wages,  the Contract signed with a Recruiter should contain the right for HRM to withhold money and arbitrate fair payments to the worker(s) accordingly when abuses are revealed.  

Retain more SME’s in house, so there is less reliance on Contract resources.

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?

Look at ways to support the use of more non-petroleum based vehicles where possible. Including City vehicles – be that Transit or other Staff vehicles.   

Creating options like local Food Security supports will reduce carbon emissions from Trucking of food goods to our province.  This will include a Green House Purchase program similar to the Compost Bin program from a few years ago, along with a local seed program.   This includes revisiting the laws we have now on allowing larger urban gardening operations, and free or low-cost Farmers Markets facilities around the Region, where farmers can sell those produced goods easier.

We currently have a program to help homeowners put Solar PVC panels on their roof.   I hope to bring in a similar program to put Solar Thermal technology in place on peoples homes, as well as on HRM Public Buildings and on apartment buildings.    This technology is ideal for our climate,  more cost effective, and much  more environmentally friendly (does not use up rare earth minerals like Solar PVC does).   

I would also encourage the City to look into power generation options through larger Solar Plants, similar to what you see now in many German and other European cities.   This uses sunlight to run steam powered electrical generation.   Again cleaner, safer and much less risk  then nuclear technologies. 

How often do you use Halifax Transit?

I used to used it every day,  when working downtown for the HRM Administration offices.   

Then when I took work in Burnside a couple of years ago,  it took two hours  (three+ hours on a bad day)  to get work, for what is normally a ten minute car ride.   So like many folks, I had no choice but to switch to using a gasoline vehicle to become a commuter. There are simply no good options for cross town bus travel.   

We need a better Spoke and Hub style Regional Transit system that reaches farther outside of the current HRM Transit system limits,  to provide many more LINK buses.  These Buses can then move from Transit Hub to Transit Hub in under 30 minutes with no stops in between.    


Matthew Conrad

(mattconraddistrict11.com)

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

A few things really. It’s not a single solution. We should be working with developers to make it an easy choice to include affordable units/housing. 

We should not be looking at 1-2 level mercantile occupancy buildings. If we are breaking ground we should include living units above. They don’t need to include party rooms, theatres or gyms. People just want affordable places to live. On top of that we need to look at some form of rent control that’s fair for both landlords and tenants.

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

Not exactly. I do have an idea that is a bit proactive and progressive but it wouldn’t exactly be a deduction or increase in costs. If we are to cut costs, we should see how much it would cost to police the city ourselves verses paying the RCMP. 

This way we would have full say over our police in our city and I’ve been told it would actually be cheaper.

Something worth exploring.

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

I think attitude reflects leadership. So if we lead the way on this, we could be leaders in setting the standard that people deserve to be able to make a quality 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?

I’m all for going green. I’m going “single use signs” free for this election. I feel anyone who claims to be for the environment should have done the bare minimum by not campaigning with plastic signs.

On top of that, I would like to see us have requirements to have new buildings be as close to net-zero or net positive as possible. I am a board member of a developing community centre and having the building net-zero was important to us.

On top of that, we need to keep improving our transit system to make it desirable and easy to use.

How often do you use Halifax Transit?

Great transition…

Now, I don’t. I grew up using it. My parents still use it as they never owned a car. It’s something important for me to make sure we are always improving our transit system. For the environment and for people to get around our city without it taking hours. 


Patty Cuttell

(pattycuttell.com)

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

HRM needs a real affordable housing strategy that a) identifies and acts upon what HRM is currently able to do, and b) identifies where HRM needs to lobby and work with other levels of government to address urgent housing needs. The approach needs to be multi-pronged and look at: 

  • Supportive housing.  What supportive housing partners exist, and how can Halifax work with them to increase units. HRM regularly sells off real estate assets through either through economic or community development streams. We need to identify what land HRM currently holds that is suitable for supportive housing and work with partner agencies to help expedite the development process. This needs to consider both traditional housing, and innovative housing solutions such as mini-homes. We are in an urgent housing crisis, and prototypes and out-of-the-box solutions need to be part of the short-term solutions. As well HRM needs to implement it’s approved policy to waive permit fees for not-for-profit housing providers, waive or set special rates for water connections, and increase in-house staff focused on addressing an affordable housing program.    
  • Subsidized housing. This is primarily the responsibility of the provincial government. While HRM can not dictate what Housing Nova Scotia does, I believe there needs to be more collaboration and partnership around addressing subsidized housing in Halifax. Halifax does not seem to be a priority with the Government of Nova Scotia. We need to increase lobbying efforts. 
  • Rental housing. HRM already has one of the highest ratios of rental apartments to condos in the country. The problem is with such a low vacancy rate, there is rental scarcity. As a result, property owners are increasing rents without consequences. I think we need to look at rent controls again. The consequences of not doing so are putting more and more people at risk of poverty and eviction. 
  • Alternative solutions: Land Trusts and cooperatives are tools being used in other cities. While we have some coops, I would like to explore how HRM can support more of these community-based alternative housing models. 

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

Yes, I would. We need to look at the cost of policing, the amount being charged to HRM for overtime, and how policing resources can be better used to address the changing needs of the city. Overall, crime in Halifax is going down, yet costs continue to increase. I think the entire policing strategy needs to be updated, with the focus on public safety, and better responses to issues of mental health and social inequity. 

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

Everyone should earn a living wage. But I believe this issue is also strongly tied the to increasing cost of housing. Right now these things go hand-in-hand in Halifax. We need to look at holistic solutions to the increasing cost of living — including food security, housing, and affordable transit options. 

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 think the HalifACT Plan is an excellent start. Using the plan as a guide, it needs councillors who will champion it and continue to make it a priority for HRM in terms of budget, dedicated staff, and measurable results. 

How often do you use Halifax Transit?

Sometimes, when needed. I live in Purcell’s Cove where the #15 bus service was reduced to peak hours. This makes taking transit more difficult, particularly given my job is not alway based on a 9-5 work day. I work in the city, and will take the bus to get around on the peninsula. On the peninsula there are several options and greater frequency making it a viable option. 


Bruce Holland

(bruceholland.org)

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

I would like to see Halifax become more directly involved in the creation of affordable and accessible housing. Currently it is predominantly the responsibility of the Federal and Provincial Governments. They would be well served to provide funding to allow the City to create affordable and accessible housing.

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

I would like to review the budget to see if there are efficiencies to be had. A more effective way to accomplish what is necessary is to provide additional funding to departments and agencies that deal with the issues we are trying to improve on.

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

This is something that can be accomplished by including a wage level clause in the contracts.

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 work to ensure climate matters are considered at all levels within the municipality to ensure we reduce our climate carbon footprint.

How often do you use Halifax Transit?

Occasionally.


Jim Hoskins

(facebook.com/jimhoskinshfx)

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

HRM not doing enough and I would be aggressively be pursuing this issue by looking at the following:

Land use planning

Calls for appointing a Municipal Affordable Housing Director

A Municipal Housing Fund ( one where the monies actually go to new housing)

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

I will not support any reductions in the Police Budget insofar as staffing officers on the street but we have to rebuild in areas that are just not working .The  public must not be put at risk particularly in the areas of speeding enforcement, photo radar being adopted, and moving Police fulltime offices to District 11 would be a priority for me. Covid 19 of course will definitely have an effect on the timing of my positions.

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

HRM should be looking at having a sustainable work force of our own staff and insofar as contractors wages stay out of it, it is private industry but regarding the work of the contractors more accountability is greatly needed.

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?

Fully support this and will vote for anything that enhances its goals within a fiscally responsible budget that truly supports reducing our emissions and carbon footprint.

How often do you use Halifax Transit?

I go for at two transit rides throughout my District during the year to see how it is working  but would use it for sure if it was more efficient .


Lisa Mullin

(facebook.com/Lisa-Mullin-for-HRM-Council-2020-106013230982372/)

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

HRM needs to continue the work done with the Housing and Homelessness Partnership in meeting the goals outlined and earmarked for completion in 2022.  We have a long way to go to meet those targets.  When affordable housing/rental crisis/eviction rates, etc come up at Council, I have heard it many times over that “Community Services need to be part of the discussion” and yet they never seem to be.  As Councilor, I am committed to relationship building with the Dept. of Community Services so that they WILL be part of the discussion.  Housing stock (either building new units or repairing/maintaining existing units) is only a fraction of the answer.  Council can impact those directives easily, but the units can’t be filled if the people they are intended for can’t pay the rent.  

Developers also play a role in this crisis.  We need them so that we can collect the tax revenue generated by their new constructions.  If Council pushes too hard on increasing the number of “affordable units” in each new build or by dictating a 30% of income ratio for rent setting, then the developers will go elsewhere.  I feel that the Council has to balance those discussions and continue on the path we have currently set with developers and not look to them to “fix” the problem.   To add depth to this issue,  HRM has an opportunity to work with registered charities (such as Habitat for Humanity, Affordable Housing Assoc. of NS, Metro Housing, etc) to help clear the way (zoning conflicts, old covenants, tax rebates) for the new construction of truly affordable units. If building new stock is what is desired, there are others out there who can achieve this in a different way than private developers.  

If the current housing stock was maintained and repaired properly, the need for additional construction may not be so great.  As Councilor, I will promote further financial support of the 311 system to address the complaints that are received from renters with landlords who are not meeting the rental standards.  As well, I  will promote Landlord education through NSCC (supported by Investment Property Owners Assoc of NS), the “I Rent It Right” program and Landlord licensing. 

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

I would support a budget that meets the needs of our city as well as provides fair compensation to our policing services to achieve our set outcomes.  I don’t feel that an arbitrary yes or no to that question would be accurate.  If Council asks certain outcomes to be met by our policing services and it costs more to achieve them, then no I would not support a budget reduction.  By the same token, if we are solely speaking of the “defund police” discussion then I believe there are many things on the policing plate that can and should be reviewed to see if they can more effectively be done by other people/agencies.  By having a complete review of the policing services contract Council can better understand what services can or cannot be diverted elsewhere and therefore impact the amount we pay for policing services.  As Councilor, I will be seeking a position on the Police Commission so that I can direct discussions in both directions (from Council to the Police and from Police to Council) in a manner that has increased transparency and greater understanding of the issues at hand.  I will advocate for greater accountability of policing services and also for increased fiduciary responsibility of Council.  Council cannot act in the best interest of our constituents if they are only given small snippets of information to act on. 

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

I am not sure that we can impose a “fair wage” policy for private contractors.  While in principle I think that a living wage is essential (I advocate for that in my daily work now), private contractors are their own entities and HRM Council is not in a position to mandate their HR policies/practices.  That being said, our new Social Policy will allow Council to measure each private contractor by a measuring stick that takes into account a living wage – in essence creating the climate where the only successful contract awards are going to contractors who subscribe to a healthier/stronger/fairer work environment for their staff. I am a STRONG supporter of that Social Policy and will absolutely refer to it regularly not only in contract negotiations but when discussing other matters such as recreation, green space building, land acquisitions, tender awarding, consultant hiring, etc…

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 a critical tool in aiding Council to make decisions which contribute to our commitment to climate change.  I will support the outcomes of this plan by referring to the principles in this strategy (and use them as my guide) each and every time Council debates: building codes, urban planning, transit issues/improvements, tax rebates, Local Improvement Charge projects, active transportation, landfills, energy creation, to name a few.  The principles contained in this strategy are not stand alone!  They are the foundations for a new mindset and once we begin to apply them to our decision-making they will become the “new norm”. 

How often do you use Halifax Transit?

I currently am not using Transit as I live in Shad Bay and we do not have transit services in our area.  Further, I have been working outside of the city core for most of the last decade and Transit is not an option for me.  That is not to say that I do not appreciate a robust Transit system!  I have been a keen follower of the Bus Rapid Transit Plan creation in the last year and support, in principle, the concept of moving people swiftly and efficiently around the City core.  I also have been looking for opportunities for the new Council to work with this plan to address the needs of the growing numbers of suburban commuters who are currently not adequately served by this plan.


Hannah Munday

(hannahmunday.com)

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

Affordable housing is an issue that has been steadily getting worse for years, and unfortunately with the jurisdictional conflicts between the city and the province it isn’t going to be an easy one to solve. The recent decision to allow basement & backyard suites will help by increasing inventory of housing; higher vacancy rates should mean a reduction in rental rates (although we need to push for the reintroduction of rent control). Inclusionary zoning could further increase inventories of housing to meet a variety of needs and economic circumstances, both in multi-unit buildings and detached / semi-detached housing developments. We also cannot forget that affordable housing must be built with accessibility in mind – single-level dwellings and wider doors to accommodate aids to mobility to name a couple of obvious adjustments that will increase the housing pool for folks on fixed incomes. 

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

The call to defund the police is often misunderstood. It doesn’t mean completely dismantling the police force. It doesn’t mean forcing police officers to do more with less. What it means is taking a hard look at the role of the police in our communities, and handing off the responsibilities to those other groups, agencies and resources that can manage them best. Mental health calls and wellness checks would be conducted by trained mental health professionals, not armed police officers. Hand-in-hand with this will come a reduction of budget for the increased militarization of the police force as exemplified by items like the armored personnel carrier purchase recently canceled by the city council – a decision I fully support. Funds should be reallocated to youth programs, anti-racism intiatives, social supports, addiction services… the list goes on.

I am in full support of initiatives around reassessing the role of policing in our communities, for the betterment of all residents. Related to this question, I would also like to see a review of the shared HRP / RCMP policing model in parts of Halifax (including areas of District 11). Does this model still work? How is the accountability of the police force different? Can we examine this relationship to see if it still is the best option? 

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

A living wage should be paid to all city contractors, for two reasons. 1) It is the right, compassionate, smart thing to do for the mental and physical health of all employees. 2) It is better for the economy when folks have enough money to support themselves and their families. 

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?

District 11 is growing fast, with thousands of new homes in the approval pipeline. The Halifax 2050 plan calls for both retrofitting of existing buildings (both residential and commercial) as well as designing & building new construction to be as energy efficient as possible. This is an area where council can and must push for immediate action. As councillor, I also see my role as bringing attention to the climate emergency regularly, to get residents looking at things through a green lens. We need to build the community will to address climate change and that’s where leadership on this issue is key.

How often do you use Halifax Transit?

I would love to use Halifax Transit, but in my area of District 11 (the Prospect communities) we have no transit service at all. There is a growing demand for the service here, and I certainly would use it if it was an option for me. Our district is growing fast and has limited capacity for commuter traffic – we can’t pave our way out of this, so we need to be looking at how Metro Transit services our area and where improvements could be made that will get more people out of their cars, even if only for part of the daily journey. More Park & Ride facilities are needed to serve the districts around the core.


Pete Rose

(facebook.com/peteroseDistrict11HRM)

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

We as a municipality need to partner more with our non-profit organizations and our developers to plan and build affordable housing units around the city.  Our non-profits groups are more able to manage these sorts of initiatives once they are constructed then our developers directly.  They are also more in tune with the social and economic needs of our population so we can ensure that the developments meet the specific needs of each area.

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

I would not support a reduction to the budget for the Halifax Regional Police.  I believe that we need to work with our policing budget to give our officers the tools and training that they need to be more effective in their jobs.  This would also include to bring in the resources and personnel with the proper training to respond to calls and incidents that today the police force is not trained to deal with.   

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

The topic of a living wage is a very difficult question.  I do not believe that the municipality has the ability to dictate to our contractors the wages that they pay their employees.  I believe that it is better for the municipality to focus on building more affordable housing and legislation to control the amounts that rents can be increased to make the wages that people are being paid will go further while the provincial government works to increasing the minimum wage.

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 the goals of the HalifACT 2050 action plan by working withing council to push more projects forward that reduce emissions and our carbon foot print.  More work needs to be done internally to make sure that Halifax owned facilities are more environmentally sustainable and move toward the use of energy sources like solar and wind.  

How often do you use Halifax Transit?

I do not use Halifax Transit.  There currently isn’t any bus route that services my area.


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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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3 Comments

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  1. As one who is seriously concerned about drinking water quality and impacts on human health in District 11, I would like to know from each candidate their platform and strategies for bringing clean drinking water to Harrietsfield/Williamswood and across District 11. This is also an issue for other HRM residents who are not linked in to the HRM Regional Water Commission system. Is it not time for a formal rural drinking water quality strategy for greater Halifax?

  2. I agree. I have worked with Patty on several issues over the years and feel she is bright, intelligent and a good listener. She would make a great Councillor (and maybe later an MLA?).

    Dr Iain Taylor, PhD.