The candidates for District 9 (from left to right): Bill Carr, Shaun Clark, Shawn Cleary, Stephen Foster, and Gerry Lonergan.

Confirmed in a recount, Shawn Cleary beat the former councillor for District 9, Linda Mosher, by little more than 100 votes in 2016.

Cleary is hoping to win again, and the district, which includes the west end and crosses the rotary into Armdale, has four other candidates vying for the seat in this election.

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:

Bill Carr

Shaun Clark

Shawn Cleary

Stephen Foster

Gerry Lonergan


Bill Carr

(billcarrdistrict9.ca)

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

We should be working with developers and the provincial and federal governments to make sure that all supports are in place and being fully utilized. We should start by working effectively with what is there. Then we need to develop and enforce legislation that ensures affordable and accessible housing by making these a priority for developers as well as for governments. There are proposals that have been adopted but not fully implemented. Why that is the case needs to be understood and remedied. Targets need to be established and guarantees that those targets are reached needs to be legislated, and this needs to happen asap.

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

The discussions around HRM police and the work they do are not at the stage where budgets can be determined. I would support reductions in the police budget if I knew that the social services needed to support what the police are doing was in place.  I don’t believe in a knee jerk reaction to simply “take-away funding” when what is needed is a careful evaluation of what the police do and how they do it and who could be doing it more effectively. This wouldn’t take long and has been needed for some time. After that determination is complete then we’ll see clearly where and how the funding needs to be adjusted.  It isn’t simply a ‘police’ issue. It is a justice, and community health and safety issue and needs to be approached as such.

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

The determination of a living wage is a moving target. Affordable housing and the lack there of, rising food costs, transportation issues, and insurance all play into this discussion, just to name a few things that affect a proper addressing of that question. Of course contractors should pay a living wage and there should be benefits on top of that that make life better for the worker and help them do better work for the contractor. “What that wage would be and in conjunction with which benefits?”is the subtler question. This is what seems lost in the conversations I am hearing.  We need to take care of each other. This isn’t a platitude – it is common social sense. It shouldn’t be constructors versus workers – it should be about contractors and workers together finding common ground and doing good safe mutually profitable work together in our community. And it is up to government to facilitate that discussion and ensure that through this dialogue a resolution to the issue of a living wage takes place.

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?

After a close read of HalifACT 2050 my initial response would be to pass a motion to move the timeline to 2025 and accelerate the action on the sample mechanisms to make them implemented strategies asap. The eco-crisis is upon us and is not relenting. To paraphrase an old saying “the road to eco-hell is paved with unimplemented mechanisms.” This document has many good ideas but they need to be immediately and aggressively integrated into policies and procedures for the city moving forward. I would ask that a report card be developed to make sure these initiatives don’t get lost. Our concern for our Eco-Future should not be a fad of the moment but rather an ongoing and vital aspect of our vision for the future of HRM and its people. 

How often do you use Halifax Transit?

Often up until the Covid Crisis and am starting to again now that it is under control. 


Shaun Clark

(facebook.com/ShaunClarkDistrict9)

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

How many ideas would you like? I have a collection now! My favorite idea at the moment, although I’m not sure how feasible it is currently, is that any property being sold for property tax auction is sold undervalued to community groups and nonprofits to be used as affordable housing. There was recently a motel that went up in Shad Bay (see my facebook page for the article). I would like to see more options for groups like that, for Habitat for Humanity, who are willing to help people get affordable/low income housing for themselves. During my campaigning I have collected many other ideas, and look forward to trying as many as needed to get this right for short, mid, and long term housing relief. 

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

No, not for 21-22. It’s too short a time to set up all the backups we’d need to replace the services that HRP is currently providing, that they would cut instead of cutting money to the people who are getting paid the most. Crossing guards would need to be set up, security, traffic cams would be a big help. Things that we would undoubtedly be punished with for having removed these services. A more long term approach, absolutely. We need to focus on reworking things so that the city council can have a say about what happens with policing without having everything run through the Board of Police Commissioners. 

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

Yes. Especially since the contractors are our own people and cannot afford to live in our city. I have family who are either going to be homeless come january or move out of the province. If we had living wages, we could at least pay our current exorbitant rent fees. 

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 have yet to fully read the plan. The last point I was at was on Active Transportation. I am a big proponent of the environment. I have joined Plastic Free Elections in not putting up signs as one of the first things I did for my campaign. I look forward to reading this. It’s something I am quite eager to do and learn more about. If you’d like, as soon as I’m done, I’ll send an email with my completed thoughts. It may not be for a couple weeks, as I’m in the middle of campaign mode, my children are back at school, and the current COVID crisis, as well as other important readings I must get done as well. 

How often do you use Halifax Transit?

Regularly. I am disabled, and if I’m not walking I’m often busing unless I can grab a ride with someone. Busing/walking are my main forms of transportation.


Shawn Cleary

(shawnclearyhalifax.ca)

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

Affordable and accessible housing is shared responsibility in Canada. In Nova Scotia, municipalities have limited authority and resources but there are a number of things the city can and should be doing to help increase the supply of affordable and accessible housing. A major step was just taken in approving secondary and backyard suites  across the municipality. Backyard suites in particular can more easily achieve accessibility compared to basement and attic apartments. We need to continue working with the non-profit housing sector to waive fees, provide grants, and offer municipal land below market value. We need the provincial government to give Halifax the authority of Inclusionary Zoning to require large developments to include a percentage of affordable and accessible units. We will invest the funds from density bonuses directly into the building of affordable and accessible units. We also need to ensure a steady supply of new housing units to keep pace with demand and reduce upward pressure on prices and rents, to help with overall affordability.

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

I supported the reduction of $3.5 million to the police budget in 2020-2021. I brought the motion forward to cancel the police armoured vehicle and put that money into anti-Black racism initiatives. I will support a reallocation of funds from the current police budget to support non-police professionals, especially in the areas of addictions and mental health, community development, crossing guards, speeding tickets, etc. This would put expertise in place to deal with the complex issues of society that have been relegated to police only because no other system has yet been set up to deal with these activities. It can also bring more equity and allow for more effective de-escalation in these situations. 

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

Yes, which is why I brought an amendment to Halifax’s new procurement policy to set the criteria for what is an appropriate situation for applying social procurement and to define or quantify what is a fair wage. We need to ensure the municipal government isn’t saving money on the backs of a contingent and precarious workforce.

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?

HalifACT2050 has a two-pronged approach. The first requires the municipality to lead by example: to bring municipal buildings to net zero, and to convert the fleet to greener energy by continuing to buy hybrids, plan for electrification of buses and other light and heavy vehicles, and explore hydrogen. It also requires changes to transportation infrastructure and policy to reduce community emissions. Our land use plans need to updated to incorporate the Green Network Plan to maintain green spaces and ensure effective carbon sinks, mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change on flooding, coastal erosion, etc. We also need to encourage private development becomes greener.

How often do you use Halifax Transit?

In the summer, I usually walk and cycle, and take the bus only occasionally. In the winter, I take the bus a couple of times each week.


Stephen Foster

(votestephenfoster.ca)

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

Affordable housing is probably the single most pressing issue facing HRM today. I think the recent move to allow backyard and basement suites was a great first step, but there’s a lot more that needs to be done. We need to ensure that our zoning laws are encouraging the kind of development that we want – I think Portland, which recently passed comprehensive low-density zoning reform, could be a good example to follow here. Ultimately, though, we have to recognize that we’re a growing city, and one reason that housing costs are increasing is because we simply aren’t building enough new units to keep up with that growth.

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

We clearly face real issues with injustice in the current law enforcement system, and we can’t keep putting off acting on those issues. However, I don’t believe reducing the police budget is the answer here – I’m not convinced it would do much to address the core issues that we face. Instead, I’d like to see us focus on things like different recruitment strategies, better training, and most importantly, real accountability when cases of officer misconduct occur – in particular, I’d like to see us expand on the current civilian oversight of the police that we have, and give it some real teeth.

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

Given the budgetary situation that COVID-19 has forced us into, I think the unfortunate reality is that such a requirement wouldn’t be a realistic option for the next few years – indeed, far from increasing expenditures, we’re likely going to have to make some painful cuts in a lot of areas. However, once things have stabilized, it’s something that I absolutely think we should look into – the kind of society I want to live in is one where everyone can earn a living wage. We just need to ensure that the policies we put in place don’t backfire, and hurt the people that they’re trying to help – in this case, by potentially causing those companies to hire fewer workers, or to shift their hiring towards higher-skilled workers, leaving lower-skilled workers out in the cold.

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 someone who’s researched new forms of renewable energy, the climate crisis is obviously an issue that’s near and dear to my heart. I fully support the HalifACT 2050 action plan – I think it’s a great initiative that shows how Halifax can be a real leader in fighting climate change. Concretely, I think our biggest focus in working to accomplish the plan’s goals has to be on buildings – both retrofitting older buildings to be more energy efficient, and requiring new buildings to have zero net emissions. I think that’s the area with the largest potential for real progress in reducing emissions. I also think that switching over our transit system to electric buses is a no-brainer, and as a councillor I’d work to ensure it happens as soon as possible. 

How often do you use Halifax Transit?

Not nearly as often as I’d like! I certainly used it more when I was younger, and it was my only way of getting into and out of the city. Now if I’m travelling on the peninsula I usually try to walk, and for trips off the peninsula, transit often isn’t a viable solution. This is why I think we need to invest in a more robust transit network, and why I support initiatives like the Rapid Transit Strategy. If we make transit a more attractive, reliable and efficient option, more people will use it.


Gerry Lonergan

(gerald.lonergan@gmail.com)

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

Rent and property taxes should be indexed to inflation. This will allow both tenant and landlord to retain their current standard of living.  Other incentives can include encouraging new developments to include more affordable units.

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

Law enforcement is an essential service. I would support a review of the current budget and look to perhaps redistribution of funds between departments.  A special emphasis needs to be put towards training, mental health and evaluations.

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

Yes, a living wage is essential to the overall prosperity of the community. Tenders would only need to include a salary range as part of the contract. Employees who are treated well tend to be more productive, and a competitive workforce brings only good things to a city such as talented skilled labour.

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?

Among some of the objectives for HalifACT 2050 are to reduce emissions and “greening government operations” with net-zero municipal operations, and decarbonizing transportation. One step towards this goal is to increase the distribution of bus routes and increase frequency during rush hours. Evaluate traffic light synchronization while adding advanced green turning arrows to keep traffic moving. Daily I see cars stuck in an intersection because they were never allowed the opportunity to turn. Create incentive programs and rebates for residents and businesses payable towards sustainable energy upgrades and carbon reduction.

How often do you use Halifax Transit?

I don’t own a car and Halifax is an incredibly walkable city. When I’m not walking, I’m using public transit. The Alderney ferry is incredible and I recommend to all tourists. Where else can you get a tour of the harbour for $2.50.


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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. Shawn Cleary states “A major step was just taken in approving secondary and backyard suites across the municipality. Backyard suites in particular can more easily achieve accessibility compared to basement and attic apartments. We need to continue working with the non-profit housing sector to waive fees, provide grants, and offer municipal land below market value.”.. what about moving forward with REAL solutions for affordable housing?? Though he talks the talk, meanwhile he has supported developer proposals (Willow Tree, etc) over the past 5 years and we have yet to see him support a single serious affordable housing proposal since he was elected. Also these backyard suites will only lead to cutting down more of our urban forest, ncrease noise and parking issues. I am concerned we are losing the historical heritage and character of our city. Its time for the city to step up.

  2. This is my district. How many times has Bill Carr run for office? His answers about “working with developers” and police budgets do not inspire a lot of confidence in me. I am guessing it will come down to Cleary vs. Foster in the district.

  3. Shaun Clark : ” We need to focus on reworking things so that the city council can have a say about what happens with policing without having everything run through the Board of Police Commissioners.”
    Perhaps he should read the Police Act.