The candidates for District 4 (clockwise from top left): Ryan Burris, Marisa DeMarco, Kevin Foran, Darryl Johnson, Jerome Lagmay, Jamie MacNeil, Tania Meloni, Chris Mont, Trish Purdy, Jessica Quillan, John Stewart, and Caroline Williston.

One of two women on Halifax regional council, the three-term incumbent for District 4, announced this summer that she wouldn’t be running again.

Without Lorelei Nicoll in the race, a dozen candidates have stepped up to take her place, representing the district that includes Cole Harbour, Westphal, Cherry Brook and Lake Loon.

Of those 12 candidates, five are women.

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:

Ryan Burris

Marisa DeMarco

Kevin Foran

Darryl Johnson

Jerome Lagmay did not reply.

Jamie MacNeil

Tania Meloni did not reply.

Chris Mont did not reply.

Trish Purdy

Jessica Quillan did not reply.

John Stewart

Caroline Williston


Ryan Burris

(facebook.com/pages/category/Political-Candidate/Ryan-Burris-District-4-627167714593224/)

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

We have to get ready, we need to be organized, we need a solid business plan and a solid housing strategy with municipal commitments. Form an HRM housing committee to direct the program. Take an in depth look at what other municipalities like Dieppe, St .John’s and Chester are doing and what works well for them and what didn’t. 

We need to start tracking non-market housing and to understand our market. Identify what affordable housing is needed, where and what the current affordable rental rates are in all HRM. 

We need to use all of our assets, sell land for less than market value,  donate and help obtain land for housing groups. Ensure the sale of surplus lands includes an affordable housing requirement for development. Create partnership, shared ownership with affordable housing providers. 

Waive property taxes completely for affordable housing providers and non-profits and developers. Create incentive packages for development and make affordable housing  attractive. Support micro and tiny living and reduce red tape. Lowering building lot size dimensions, basing lot sizes on unit square footage not an arbitrary number for lot size. 

Remove fees and connection cost for water access. Update densification policies to include affordable housing requirements. 

Make sure urban design policies do not negatively impact the cost of housing in HRM 

Promote cost effective building methods and low maintenance finishes that don’t need replacing periodically, like flooring, wall coverings and exterior finishes. 

Promote the construction of simplistic units with basic needs in mind like functionality versus luxury. Forgoing high end design and large size units with high rental costs. Establishing incentives to appeal to accelerated development of the types of units required in different areas of HRM. 

Establish an affordable housing fund within the budget. Municipal planning, development and investment should work together to market affordable housing as an economic development opportunity not only for the city but non-profits, housing initiatives and developers we need to make affordable housing available now. 

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

During and post pandemic we need to save where we can all across the board. I support a reduction and will consider all recommendations by staff and the board of police commissioners. 

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

No. Contractors should pay their workers based on provincial labour standards. 

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 always support climate change planning. The goals set out in HalifACT 2050 will take all the support it can gather to ensure completion. Reducing emissions and adapting as a city is a priority. 

How often do you use Halifax Transit?

I use transit a few times a year. Our transit system needs expansion. For example Lake Loon to Main Street there is no bus. 


Marisa DeMarco

(ilivedistrict4.ca)

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

It is critical that we bring all stakeholders to the table including builders and developers-and we need to take a bottom up/asset based approach to the process. Each district has its own unique asset based social structure so, as mentioned in my platform, I’d like to see a District 4 Affordable Housing Action Sector Working Group working on this as steadily as possible.  Keeping all three levels of government engaged in the process while developing and implementing the ideas formulated by the team.  By using a bottom up approach, the community takes ownership for the projects and advocacy at hand, and will engage with the Municipality to make a solid commitment to improving access to affordable housing in HRM.

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

I will greatly support a re-allocation of funds to developing programs that focus on the effective management of mental health related calls – to help both, the officers response, and to deliver the help necessary to those experiencing mental health issues that endanger either the individual or the public. A reduction isn’t necessarily what we need-we need to assess how the funds are being spent currently, and effectively allocate the funding to where it’s needed most. And through my work in this community, I can say that it is much needed in addressing mental health.

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

I would like the ‘living wage’ clause to be well defined – are we referring to a specific hourly wage or covering extra costs like parking, food and accomodations for those coming in to HRM to work from rural areas? Either way, I support a living wage for all, however I am also very frugal and would like to see specifics on how this would be integrated into a pay structure.

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 would support this plan as a Councillor who believes in being held accountable-if we are making a promise to hold ourselves responsible for these changes we need to continuously revise and maintain legislation and code to support the plan, improve education on climate change at the community level and amongst stakeholders, improve our active transportation infrastructure, while developing strong stakeholder partnerships and improving research capabilities here in HRM and provincially.

How often do you use Halifax Transit?

I have mobility issues and work 3 jobs, so I have to drive and do not use transit services.


Kevin Foran

(voteforan2020.ca)

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

Affordable and accessible housing is part of a federal and provincial government plan.  They are key for ensuring Halifax has more options and to ensure the municipality engages with the process, to ensure the unique needs of the municipality are met.  There are several initiatives and programs that exist today, but COVID-19 has shown us that more needs to be done.  We need to look at zoning by-laws, entertain innovative solutions such as backyard suites and ensure an affordable component is part of all new proposals reviewed by the Community Planning and Economic Development Standing Committee and the Community Design Advisory Committee.  Ensuring that policy development includes provisions for affordable and accessible housing is critical to making change.  HRM needs to revisit how it engages with private business as well, as most dwellings are built by private companies.  Partnerships, financial incentives, and tax rebates can all be effectively used as levers to encourage affordable housing solutions, along with planning permission.

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

Any discussions about policing in the HRM must apply to HRPD and the RCMP, as they both provide services in HRM.  An arbitrary cut to services without planning would not help change the current situation.  City Council has approved a motion to have a comprehensive review of policing services in the municipality, and the Board of Police Commissioners are working on a definition of defunding to help them define where changes and reinvestment are needed.  This work needs to happen within a defined timeline with input from the community, and to allow for the necessary recommendations for budget changes to be made in advance of the budget approval process in early 2021.  There is no denying that change must happen, but it needs to be done in ways that will produce the most benefit, allow for planning around impacts (e.g., contracts, collective agreements) and define how the changes will be evaluated.

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

A living wage is something that all workers in the province should have.  The research tells us what is needed for singles and families to be above the poverty line, and we should be working with our provincial governments to make this a reality.  Contractors are a good place to start, but we should not be holding them to a higher standard than anyone else in the province.  HRM may use contractors from outside of the municipality, so enforcement would be an issue.  Also would we only enforce the wage for the portion of work that is being done for HRM?  Logistically this will be a challenge and difficult to measure.  Start by looking at the wage policies of the municipality, and then look for ways to influence and partner with the provincial and federal governments to make this 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?

Support for initiatives to address the climate crisis under HalifACT 2050 is essential to ensure that HRM is prepared to deal with the local impacts of the climate crisis.  The best way to address this is through a committee that will be responsible for developing, implementing, and monitoring a detailed action plan that will report regularly to council.  Climate change is a huge threat and without dedicated resources there is a risk that the work will not be done.  Accountability for the actions required is key, as we can’t add it to the existing work of staff.  A focused approach with the appropriate resources is the way forward.  If these initiatives are important, we must dedicate resources and have more than just an agreement in principle. 

How often do you use Halifax Transit?

Halifax Transit continues to be a beneficial system for residents.  I work close to home therefore do not need to use public transit. I do use transit when attending events in downtown Halifax. If elected to council it would be my main mode of transportation due to parking and the convenience of living on a bus route.


Darryl Johnson

(facebook.com/johnsoncoleharbour)

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

The city should be working collaboratively with the provincial and federal governments .They should include the grass roots community organizations that work directly with homeless issues , low income earners , seniors on fixed income and including the marginalized communities and vulnerable population, enabling a proper assessment. The city needs to be commit to building more affordable housing and less high end housing.

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

I would support a reduction if done probably and it didn’t affect our residence safety. I would be in favour of a reduction in overtime and a hiring freeze on new recruits during post Covid.

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

Yes to ensure everyone is on the same playing field and can afford basic necessities. This also encourages more spending and in turn boosting the local economy.

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? 

As we know the climate crisis is world wide and has to start at the municipal level. I am a firm supporter . It’s important to Reduce carbon emissions by carpooling, and bikes for example. Continuing harbour and lakes clean ups and protecting our green spaces. Education is  key factor.

How often do you use Halifax Transit? 

Occasionally 


Jamie MacNeil

(votemacneil.com)

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

When it comes to affordable housing, municipal governments have a tremendous number of levers they can pull to have a positive impact on affordable housing in our communities.  By-laws and policies can be put in place to ensure opportunities for development of affordable housing projects take place throughout the municipality.  For example zoning allowances for affordable housing should be broadened to reduce the amount of time and number of barriers to developing affordable housing stock. 

Affordable housing is not just a municipal issue it is a societal issue and thus requires all levels of government to participate in a solution.  I am a firm believer in coalition and partnership building among other levels of government, government institutions such as CMHC and charitable organizations to maximize every dollar spent on affordable housing developments. Density bonusing will see 60% of money-in-lieu contributions go to affordable housing projects in our municipality.  How do we get the most out of that money.  I believe partnerships with other levels of government can be negotiated to access preferable rates of project financing, access lands below market rates for affordable housing projects and provide tax incentives for meeting design, budget and project schedule targets.

These measures will allow for improved and continuous development of new affordable housing stock but how does that help someone now?  People are struggling in a housing market that is on fire and prices for old stock, new stock and rentals are in a constant state of increase.  In these extraordinary circumstances, tax holidays or reductions for low income and fixed income residents to me is a reasonable first step. Programs for affordable transportation and access to support programs can help people reduce the burdens of affording modern living.  Keeping more money in one pocket allows you to have more money in the other for the necessities of life.

Finally, in 1993 with vacancy rates above 7% on the peninsula and 12% in Dartmouth, the provincial government disbanded the Rent Review Commission under the Rent Review Act.  The minister at the time was quick to say that if rents started to get out of control again the provincial government would be there to reinstate the commission.  Well, I believe that it is time as a municipality to tell our provincial partners the time has come to reinstitute the Rent Review Commission and supply protection for people trying to survive this perfect housing storm.

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

I don’t see the budget as the problem.  Numbers on a balance sheet aren’t causing anxiety and distrust for residents within our municipality.  To get to the heart of the issue we need to look at behavioural change within all of our institutions, within people across the municipality.  Communication and in particular listening to the other people and their concerns around policing in their communities is a start.  We need resources to tackle the issues, to invest in learning and listening and taking the first steps in restoring trust and faith between our communities and the women and men entrusted with serving and protecting them.  I would like to see a better use of the police budget to tackle this front line issue, to invest in the women and men in uniform to ensure they have the training in all aspects of the word to best serve all communities in our municipality and to listen to the views of each community on how they feel policing would best fit them. 

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

I believe that contractors are an extension of the people who hire them.  If we as a municipality believe that workers should be paid a living wage, and we do, then everyone who is hired by the municipality directly or indirectly must also live up to that standard.  Government’s must be an example to the rest of society and must put into practice that which aspire for the whole of our community.  Absolutely contractors being paid by taxpayers should pay workers a living 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?

Currently I run a renewable energy company which does research and testing on renewable energy generation.  Moving our municipality forward on HalifACT 2050 is critical and as a councillor I will support the accomplishment of the plan by moving that staff provide regular updates to council and the public on progress for the plan.  Regular updates to council will build public accountability into the process and confidence for the taxpayer that progress is being made.  It will also ensure that if progress is not taking place at the pace at which we would expect, council as well as the public will be made aware very early in the process and can direct change in implantation strategy and avoid ‘surprises’ down the road.  Public accountability should drive all aspects of government policy but issues on climate change are an absolute necessity. 

How often do you use Halifax Transit?

Depending on where I was working downtown I would use public transit quite frequently.  As I now work from an office in my home, I do not use public transit as often but still do very much enjoy ferry rides from Dartmouth to downtown.


Trish Purdy

(votefortrish.ca)

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

This seems to be the hot topic in our municipality right now. With rent prices sky high and vacancy rates next to nil, our city is experiencing the beginning of a real crisis if something is not done to help curb this predicament. I believe it was a wise decision for council to pass the amendment to allow secondary and backyard suites in our residential areas. However, more can be done. I heard Gloria McCluskey call in to the Rick Howe show yesterday (Monday September 14, 2020 @ 9-10am) talking about the crisis of homelessness, and she spoke about council having a moral responsibility to do something. From what I am learning, it will take a collaboration from many people from the different levels of government who really want to see change to make this work. But, I agree we do have a moral responsibility to change what needs to be changed to help our most vulnerable, and those struggling to just make ends meet.  

David Harrison has written an informative article outlining suggestions for municipalities to help promote more affordable housing. (I have included the link below for reference and further information). He outlines 30 ideas that could help promote affordable housing in municipalities.

What should Halifax be doing to help promote more affordable housing? We should be utilizing every available tool in our toolbox to encourage, negotiate, and persist in collaborating with our provincial and federal governments to work towards practical solutions in terms of land use, developers, landlords, tenants, non-profit supportive housing, and the homeless. We can learn from other cities, and we can learn from each other. We desperately need the will to do the hard work needed to see solutions through to the finish.  

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

No, I do not support a reduction to the police budget. I support our police and do not want to see a reduction in their ability to do their job or in their authority to protect our city from crime and misdemeanors. I do not want to see our society become more prone to anarchy with a lack of respect for authority. Police and their presence within our community are needed and valued. Over and over again in this campaign so far, I have been hearing the residents of my district say they want more police presence on their streets, not less.  

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

Yes, I do agree with requiring contractors to pay their workers a living wage. This to me is an issue of ethics. However, there are benefits to companies who pay their workers a living wage. They have less turnover, less absenteeism, more productivity and less need for rehiring and retraining.

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 section 4.3 Economic Stimulus (4.3.1 Business Opportunities, 4.3.2 Reducing Costs, and 4.3.3 Job Creation) is how I can see myself best supporting the accomplishments of the plan’s goals. The Economic Stimulus plan is action orientated and practical. It is also measurable. I support heartily a goal that benefits our local economy by directing building retrofits to local businesses and creating jobs for more people in our city. However, with the economic effects of COVID still an unknown for the foreseen future, I wonder if the climate change plan will still go ahead as planned?  

 How often do you use Halifax Transit?

I do not personally use local transit, however two of my kids use it every day for school and work.  


John Stewart

(johnstewart4district4.com)

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

I feel we need to do several things to ensure we create more affordable housing. 

The rental market needs the following changes. New developments that include a percentage 10-15% is my suggestion of low income qualified rental units should be fast tracked through the permitting phase to speed their entry into the rental market. These units should be separately managed to ensure people meet the low income criteria to be able to rent them. We need to work with the province to move back to a system where existing rental units cannot have large increases without approval of a rental board. I also support the recent move by HRM Council to allow secondary suites and would like to see an incentive to allow all property owners that want to create a secondary suite to access an interest free loan up to $10,000 if they agree to provide the new suite as a low income rental unit.

The home ownership market could also benefit by having new housing developments include the same percentage of low income homes for purchase. This would again be a deciding factor in speeding them through the permitting process. These homes would be available below market value and their price would be restricted to remain under market value for at least 10 years. Home purchasers would need to apply to ensure they make less than a specified amount. The inclusion of these homes in many varied neighbourhoods would avoid having low income pockets in neighbourhoods. The inclusion of secondary suites in homes should also allow lower income families to use rent from these suites to allow them to achieve home ownership. 

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

I support a redistribution of the Halifax Regional Police budget for 2021-22. I feel we have taken the easy way out for too long and have just kept adding to the responsibilities of the police. I support the recent move to study the services provided by the HRP and to move the services to other departments to provide better service. I feel that when we move a service to another department then we move the budget for that service with it. I therefore am supporting a budget reduction technically but I think of it more as improving service and reallocating the money to the appropriate department. I feel that the services provided are to important to not be properly funded but society as a whole has identified the service we need but not taken the time to ensure we have the right people providing the services. In the end these services will be improved and so will our policing.

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

I believe everyone deserves a living wage and Halifax has the ability to influence this by saying if you want to do business with us then you need to pay your employees a living wage. this should include contractors and anyone we do business with.

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 key to success is to make the changes that have the largest return as quickly as possible so their effect is as long term as possible. The largest return is on the retrofit of existing buildings. We can provide PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) programs to encourage this to happen. The first step is to develop a guide to how these programs work and to provide PACE financing to assist in the transition. We are currently unable to provide this financing for commercial properties so we need to lobby the provincial government to change our charter to allow for this.  I also think we should make all future tenders of buildings to be net zero buildings and all future vehicle purchases should be electric vehicles when possible.

How often do you use Halifax Transit?

I do not use transit often as I walk to and from work everyday. 


Caroline Williston

(williston4hrm.com)

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

First, we need to freeze rent rates until we establish some economic recovery, and then we need to focus on developing new, truly affordable rental units to raise our 1% rental vacancy rate. A higher vacancy rate will lessen pressures on landlords to raise rents above fair market value and also motivate them to ensure properties are well maintained in order to retain renters. There’s more – but this is where we should start. 

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

More than ever, each dollar we spend must make life better for all Haligonians. Defunding the police does not mean expecting police to do the same job with less resources. It means lessening the demands on police by removing roles that should be performed elsewhere. Council has voted to explore what we ask of our police, and if we lessen their responsibilities, yes, we can lessen what we spend on their budget. However, this will only be beneficial if increased funding for other social welfare services takes place as a direct result. 

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

The people working to improve this city deserve a roof over their head and three meals a day.  Everyone deserves that, and in a modern, moral, and wealthy society, any full time employee should be able to afford it. A living wage will circulate itself back into the economy by increasing local spending and tax revenues. As the largest urban center of the maritimes, this municipality has a responsibility to lead the way. 

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 am committed to Decarbonizing Halifax, but HalifACT 2050 can be so much more than just a climate action plan. There are opportunities for local economic stimulus, affordable energy costs, and community growth. Climate change puts Halifax at risk for disruption in food supply, and rising prices – I’d love to see community gardens and co-operative farming sites throughout the municipality. In addition, investing in secluded neighborhoods, like those within the former Preston Township, will empower these communities, and build their capacity to independently handle crises later on – climate or otherwise. This will better the resilience of the entire municipality.

How often do you use Halifax Transit?

I share a car right now, but I would use Halifax Transit if it was more convenient; specifically when accessing the Halifax South End. In part of my platform I talk about the need for more ferry terminals, and later service. Some new ferry routes are discussed in the Rapid Transit Strategy, but we need more. Optimizing Halifax Transit benefits everyone. It would lessen pollution, congestion, and better spread the now very concentrated tourism and student spending from the downtown core. It would also make it easier for those without a car to live and make a living in Greater Halifax.


The Halifax Examiner is an advertising-free, subscriber-supported news site. Your subscription makes this work possible; please subscribe.

Some people have asked that we additionally allow for one-time donations from readers, so we’ve created that opportunity, via the PayPal button below. We also accept e-transfers, cheques, and donations with your credit card; please contact iris “at” halifaxexaminer “dot” ca for details.

Thank you!




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

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

Only subscribers to the Halifax Examiner may comment on articles. We moderate all comments. Be respectful; whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims. Please read our Commenting Policy.
Cancel reply
  1. Provincial government financial support for HRP and RCMP police officers in HRM for the period 2012-20 was $31 million.