The candidates in District 13 (clockwise from top left): Tom Arnold, Derek Bellemore, Tim Elms, Robert Holden, Nick Horne, Darrell Jessome, Pamela Lovelace, Iain Taylor, and Harry Ward.

With Matt Whitman hoping to step up to the mayor’s chair, District 13 is an open race.

There are nine candidates hoping to take the controversial councillor’s place in the district, which includes Hammonds Plains, Tantallon, Hubbards and Peggys Cove.

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:

Tom Arnold did not reply.

Derek Bellemore

Tim Elms

Robert Holden

Nick Horne

Darrell Jessome did not reply.

Pamela Lovelace

Iain Taylor

Harry Ward did not reply.


Derek Bellemore

(votederekbellemore.ca)

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

The housing crisis should be brought to the forefront for the municipality. For a start, we need to follow the standards we have set in place for affordable housing in policies such as the Centre Plan, consider proposals for the upcoming Regional Plan update, and work with the province to expand our supply of units. I believe we should assess whether we provide housing as a percentage of income and rooming houses to offer transition for the homeless.

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

I would support reducing the police so long as funds are deferred to social determinants of crime and community initiatives. Purchasing body cameras and increased accountability measures will help, but is only a small component of the broader solution. We must focus on mental health supports and addiction treatments, affordable housing, and overall community improvement through poverty reduction. We must go beyond simply policing to make our communities safer.

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

I think a living wage should be the standard we should work towards for our employees. Everyone deserves a living wage as the cost of living rapidly increases.

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?

This is such a huge step for the municipality in addressing the climate crisis. One of the priorities I will work hard to achieve is the expansion of our transit system and the transition to an electric fleet. The Rapid Transit study has put in the groundwork. I will also push for our environmental standards to be upheld for all sectors of our economy as well, and assist businesses with the transition.

How often do you use Halifax Transit?

I do not use Halifax Transit as much as I used to, but I used to take the bus into Dalhousie everyday. I do wish to use transit more often, especially if I am to work in the city. I know many rely on transit to get to work, so I will make it a top priority.


Tim Elms

(time4tim.ca)

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

We need to relax zoning laws to ensure zoning by-laws are up-to-date and we need increase our use of e-permit zone reclassification. Access to affordable financial services must include lone parents, single pensioners, migrants, long-term sick & disabled people, long-term unemployed, & households headed by students or part-time workers. We can create more affordable & accessible housing by both “de-zoning” the suburbs as well as allowing some “gentle densification”  that goes beyond secondary suites & laneway houses but also includes ways to redesign single-family lots into multi-family lots. We can also look at a combination of public/private housing; where our governments invest more in housing production funds that can be used to help developers finance new buildings that include more units for low-income and working-class residents.

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

I support the council, who has already unanimously approved a $3.5 budget reduction for police. That said, Halifax is the only major Canadian city where police services are split between a municipal police force and the RCMP (it’s a provincial contract).

Some of the existing funds could go to creating a new front-line emergency service where health experts, social workers and those trained to deal with mental-health crises would be called. Police are currently performing homeless services, working with children in schools, responding to calls for mental health crises, performing social work and welfare checks, mediating domestic disputes and responding to drug overdoses. There should be another number to call, rather than 911, so mental health care workers can intervene in cases involving people in crisis. 

That said, we also need to invest in Police GPS tracking and body cameras, as well as establish an intermediary task force that acknowledges/discusses the challenges facing all our communities, both in transparent and accountable manner. We need on-going training for police to help reduce bias and improve cultural competency, as well as promote internal diversity. 

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

I am in favour of continuing the living wage discussion, as this topic has many variables to consider, including full time job security for all. We need to consider the very real possibility of diminished contractor interest in HRM, due to the increased cost of staff which could result in less jobs for low-wage workers. Also, a higher “living wage” would provide minimal assistance to only contracted low-income workers and would not lift the incomes of those below the poverty line who are either unemployed or employed part-time. Compare the suggested living wage for HRM, which is $21.80 to a continuing care assistant in HRM who makes on avg. $16.69/hr. Some of our essential workers, even if they work at the same site, will not benefit from a contracted living wage increase because only those workers who are under the city contract are covered by the ordinance. 

Sound municipal policy calls for a middle ground. 

The most effective methods to combat household poverty are; Universal education, extended health care and the redistribution of income though increased social security payments. We need to work with both the provincial and federal governments to alleviate poverty by reforming the income tax and social security systems currently in place instead of creating an opportunity for reduced job security; which would only exacerbate wage stagnation, rather than alleviate it. 

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?

We need to reduce emissions within the transport sector, by going greener with transit busses that replace older transit buses & increasing bus accessible bus routes for all HRM.  Transit needs to be more accessible to make it a viable option for commuters  

We also need to generate more of our electricity through renewables. More efficient heating of buildings, rooftop solar energy, focusing on less wasteful living, and shifting focus on renewable energy.

How often do you use Halifax Transit?

As often as I can. in 2019, I took Mon- Friday 2 x day. I don’t think HRM residents takes transit enough. I think that is partially due to the lack of service in rural areas. Having empty busses running 100% routes throughout the covid-19 pandemic, and an estimate revenue loss off $20 million, has put an incredible strain on our City’s budget for 2021.  We can help offset this by following other major cities examples and increase our Metro-X routes to key tourist locations such as beaches and parks outside the peninsula. Transit revenue would increase throughout late spring- to early fall, as it gives tourists, students, and/or peninsula residents the ability to access beaches outside the city without driving. It’s an important revenue source. 


Robert Holden

(facebook.com/strongrepresentation/

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

I find it incredible this municipality has not planned for those with less. It is a moral obligation to do so. The municipality has failed to plan for people with less and we are now bearing the fruits of the plans they created. 

Plan and budget for it.  This should have been done many years ago but  governments have refused to act and continue to pay lip service to the problem.

Go after the province and or the fedearal government  for monies tax payers have paid towards affordable housing.  The federal government has earmarked money for affordable housing in NS. The municipality needs to put pressure on the federal government to act. Hand over the money. The provincial government can not be a layer of bureaucracy that wastes money or hinders the process of getting the job done. One or the other has to act and act yesterday.

Affordable involves an equation. Income vs cost.  Something HRM  can  do immediately to help the situation is ensure municipal employees (including those who work for companies we contract to) are paid a living wage which currently sits at apx. $22.00/hr. That may mean we do not contract out as much if at all. Cost savings can not be at the cost of poverty.  Raising wages to a livable wage would help to address a significant number more people’s ability to afford current housing prices.

There is a no interest loan option through CMHC  for creation and maintanance of affordable housing.   Communication  with contractors/developers is required to figure out why this option has not and is not being taken advantage of.  Bring stakeholders to the table and work out options and details. If there is an issue that is discouraging developers from accessing this program, address those issues with CMHC. 

Using the already established  funding available through CMHC,  securing the funds earmarked for affordable housing by the federal government, and earmarking a portion of municipal property taxes to affordable housing,  convert existing municipal buildings with vacant space to affordable housing.  Set aside municipal property and or buy property and use it for affordable housing projects.

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

No…But I need to see their budget.

Analysis needs to be done to figure out how to keep costs down.  If there is excessive overtime or other waste, the stakeholders need to be brought to the table to work out solutions.

If savings in one area (such as overtime) can be realized,  it may need to be allocated to new operational proceedures to achieve more accountability and transparancy.  The police may require more support in carrying out their duties. It may include more training and or more support staff. This will not come without a cost. If the costs can not be covered through efficiencies, more money may need to be allocated to policing from the municipal budget.

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

Yes. HRM has planned for opportunities for the wealthy without considering the costs of creating poverty. We are bearing the fruits of their plans that result in poverty including: homelessness, lack of affordable housing, mental health issues, health in general,  food insecurity and people not being able to afford to be productive members of society.  By providing better opportunities for everyone, we will be over all more  prosperous with fewer expensive social issues to tackle.

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?

Address the energy efficiency of every municipal building, vehicle, and the necessity of travel by municipal employees. Ensure municipal buildings and infrastucture is ready for rising ocean levels before the damage is done. Stop building on the waterfront where rising sea levels (especially during storm surges and increasing high tides) will do expensive damage.

More and better transit needs to be available to more rural areas and bylaws that disqualify private enterprise from supplementing transit options in rural areas need to be amended.

How often do you use Halifax Transit?

That’s supposed to be a joke right?

I live in District 13. We have no transit to use to get around the district. We do not  have enough transit going from the district to other points in HRM.  This a theme throughout the topic of service delivery in our district.  I will address this issue in general and specifically regarding transit service should I be  elected to represent District 13.


Nick Horne

(nickhorne.ca)

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

Halifax must address our current housing crisis immediately. HRM needs to become nimble in its ability to approve low-cost housing. If elected, I would:

Immediately begin work to create a draft model for fast-tracking development proposals that include affordable housing to alleviate the housing crisis that has vacancy rates hovering around 1%.

I would also motion that HRM ask the province to amend the Municipal Charter to give the municipality the power to require developers to build affordable housing units in new developments, and for the ability to impose rent controls as required.

I would motion for HRM to ask the province to give HRM the authority to expand current density bonus zones to encourage developers to build affordable housing outside HRM’s core.

I would also work to create incentives or even require developers to do more to shape HRM into a more modern and resident-friendly landscape, such as including sidewalks and parks in proposals; not just land designated for future park space, but actual parks at the time of development.

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

If elected, I would push for a through analysis of police spending, which should include determining what tools and training we must have to ensure the safety of both the public and our brave police officers. I do not feel we need an armoured vehicle. I support consideration being given to hiring more officers with advanced mental health training, and ensuring training for all officers is unsurpassed for mental health response. I support ongoing diversity training for our police: all citizens, whatever their race, age, gender identity or neighbourhood, need to be assured of access to policing without prejudice.

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

I believe that everyone deserves a living wage, and will work towards HRM ensuring fair pay in its procurement process. Due to Covid-19, HRM, like other municipal

governments around the world, has been thrown into financial turmoil and will face many fiscal challenges in the days ahead. Until the full extent of the financial impact of this crisis is determined, it is impossible to say how quickly the goal of a living wage can be reached.

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 definitely support science-based decision-making, and moving forward to a greener future. I support HRM working towards net neutrality, and would always consider ecological impacts when voting for decisions within Council.

In my volunteer life, I have been working toward the ecological preservation of a designated Ingram River Wilderness Area, and am proud to have had a hand in the current moratorium on clearcutting in the St. Margaret’s Bay region while a Biodiversity Assessment is undertaken by the Province and the St. Margaret’s Bay Stewardship Association.

As Vice Chair of HRM’s North West Planning and Advisory Committee, I take seriously any environmental impacts from residential and commercial development, and make balanced recommendations accordingly.

How often do you use Halifax Transit?

I have been blessed with the ability to work from home for the past number of years. Prior to that, I would use transit when I could. Living in suburban HRM means access to public transit is extremely limited. If elected, I will be working toward improving transit availability for suburban HRM.

In Hammonds Plains – St. Margarets, there is no public transit available in many parts of the district, and taxi service is also extremely limited. A group of concerned citizens worked hard to create a ride-providing service, BayRides, which is critically important, especially for our rural residents without access to their own vehicle.


Pamela Lovelace

(pamelalovelace.ca)

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

Halifax’s Affordable Housing Plan (2015-2020) is not working. There is no monitoring, evaluation or reporting, and community is not directly engaged in strategic implementation of this plan. It’s necessary to track our housing needs and available inventory, as well as work with community to lead this initiative on the ground through community-led planning. Halifax should develop and implement an “Accessible & Affordable Housing Strategy” and assign dedicated staff to oversee the execution of the strategy. Municipal land could be used for affordable and accessible housing for families and seniors, and organizations committed to this cause must be empowered to increase our community capacity.  Halifax can work towards Nova Scotia’s Access by Design 2030, but we need to put a sensible plan in place to reach that goal. The role of Community Councils should be reviewed to determine ways to empower them to work toward affordable and accessible housing. 

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

Yes, I support a reduction of the $84 Million HRP budget. In addition, I want to see the contract with RCMP re-negotiated to determine the best use of our limited budget. The rural areas of Halifax are not being serviced adequately by police. Spending precious dollars for an officer to sit on the side of the road with a speed radar is not effective use of our budget and it’s certainly not a good use of their skills. There are more effective community and technology solutions, such as photo radars to catch and fine excessive speeders. 

Public education is needed to address speeding, inappropriate and dangerous OHV/ATV use on roadways, drunk and inattentive driving. Police are not educators, therefore should not be expected to provide education programs to the public. In addition, police are not adequately trained to support complex mental health issues. The police budget should be reduced to provide dollars to embed community services alongside police. The harmful history of oppression by police against Black, Indigenous, and people of colour in Halifax must be acknowledged and resolved. The police culture must shift to provide dignity and respect to all. 

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

Yes. As an employer, the municipality has the responsibility to provide a safe, healthy workplace and fair, adequate pay for all who do work for HRM. Paying a living wage is the right and just ting to do for all.   

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 goals of HalifACT 2050 are admirable, however, in order to reach our goals, we need community plans that are realistic, achievable and support those goals. HalifACT 2050 is focused on how we work together to address climate change over the next 30 years, but it is not directly linked to localized community plans. This disconnect creates a barrier to success. Updating community plans to embed HalifACT goals is necessary.

Residents and businesses can implement cost saving initiatives if they can afford them. We can all consider transportation alternatives if public transit is available, affordable, and accessible. Being prepared for climate-related emergencies is possible with plans in place to address storm water management, dry wells, risk mitigation for wildfire, local food growth to address food insecurity, coastal protection of rising sea levels, etc. The premise of HalifACT 2050 is promising in its GHG emission reductions, although the implementation is inadequate as citizens are not actively engaged as partners with government.  Land Use Bylaws restrict food production and sharing in rural areas, and the Integrated Mobility Plan provides little leadership for rural Halifax that does not rely on volunteer efforts.  

There is not one mention of the water table in HalifACT 2050, Halifax still has not mapped the regional water table. This is necessary work to understand and prepare for the continual loss of potable water within rural neighborhoods.

Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes Regional Wilderness Park is very important to me personally. I would like to see Halifax Council confirm the boundaries of the wilderness area and provide development-free buffer zones around all wilderness areas and stop allowing construction on flood zones.   

How often do you use Halifax Transit?

I used Halifax Transit bus and ferry frequently when I lived closer to it, but the service is not readily available where I live.


Iain Taylor

(iaintaylor.ca)

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

The vacancy rate in HRM is sitting at 1% which is a major problem as it creates high demand, and drives prices up.  The housing market in HRM is also seeing an incredibly hot sellers’ market, particularly for entry level homes, which has led to a sharp rise in property value and as a result makes it very difficult for first time buyers to enter the property market.  Secondary suites are a step in the right direction, and I am glad to see that they have been recently approved at city hall, but they will not be enough to increase the housing supply enough to improve the volume of affordable housing.  Collaboration with the provincial government will be key in attracting additional accessible development and to also look at freezing rent increases.  Affordable housing is further limited by the current minimum wage ($12.55), which impedes many workers from being able to generate enough disposable income to save towards buying a home while also paying rent, along with all of their other expenses. The most straightforward summary of the problem is that both wages and the vacancy rate are far too low. We need to either drastically increase the supply of affordable, accessible housing options, thereby lowering demand (and prices) and/or raise the minimum wage in the area, but where the minimum wage is the jurisdiction of the provincial government, HRM needs to be focusing on ways to increase supply.  

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

I would be in favour of a reduction of the HRP budget going forward. The fiscal strain we will continue to face in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic will likely mean we have to make some cuts in the total municipal budget going forwards anyway, but with the HRP’s pattern of misconduct towards people of colour, it makes sense to reallocate funds from the HRP to other priorities that will help to address the systemic issues, like lack of affordable, accessible housing, food insecurity, and poverty, which are often the root causes of crime. Keeping in mind the racial bias in the practice of ‘carding’, and the police assault of Santina Rao earlier this year – not to mention the attempted acquisition of a $300 000 armoured vehicle – it seems inappropriate that the HRP continue to account for such a large share of the municipal budget, especially considering we still contract the RCMP with over 20% of the police budget to cover 95% of the area of HRM. 

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

The municipal government has a fiduciary responsibility to its constituents to ensure that public funds are being appropriately allocated, often meaning the least expensive bid will be awarded a project.  Most contractors obtain their workers from a union, which will fight for fair market value for their workers.  I do not think it is the municipalities responsibility to be involved in dictating the price of labour when it comes to contractors if there is a union in place to advocate for their rights and wages.  However, in circumstances where there is a lack of union representation, I believe the municipality has a moral obligation to set the terms of labour to ensure a living wage for workers, similar to the wage outlined by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives of $21.80 for Halifax. 

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 commend the current municipal government for declaring a climate emergency last year, it was an important step in moving Halifax in the right direction. Having read through the HalifACT 2050 action plan, it is clear to me that the plan does not come close to addressing the scope of the problem quickly enough. Climate disruption is an existential threat, and we need to be more ambitious in our actions to address it. In the last year alone, we have seen unprecedented forest fires burn through the Amazon rainforest, Australia, and now the entire West coast of the United States.  On top of that we are on track for a record-breaking year of Atlantic hurricanes.  Extreme weather is nothing new to the world, but the effects of climate change will ensure that we will see more intense weather patterns more frequently.  The environment is screaming at us to do more to fight back the effects of climate change.  

With 70% of all energy use in Halifax coming from consumption in residential, commercial, and industrial buildings, this is the area we should be focusing our immediate efforts.  The current plan has the goal of retrofitting all existing buildings by 2040, and having a standard for net-zero climate resilient new construction by 2030.  I would support re-evaluating our current targets, and establishing much more aggressive goals in the immediate future.  We get there through massive investment in collaboration with the provincial and federal government.  The cost will be great, but the cost of doing nothing, or remaining on our current path will be far more severe.  Halifax needs to be a global leader in the fight against climate change. We have the strength of some of the brightest minds at our post-secondary institutions, now we need the political will from our governments.

How often do you use Halifax Transit?

When I was working in downtown Halifax I frequently used Halifax Transit bus and ferry routes, but when I took a job in Burnside I switched to driving to work, primarily. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic I have avoided using public transit to reduce the risk of exposure to my daughter, Isla, who has a rare genetic condition called Fanconi Anemia.


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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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