(From left to right) Mayor Mike Savage, Max Taylor and Coun. Matt Whitman during last week’s Mayoral Candidates Forum in Halifax. Photo: Zane Woodford

There are three candidates vying for the seat at the head of the Halifax regional council table — the two-term incumbent mayor, a two-term councillor, and a young TikToker.

The three candidates sparred in a forum last week, but they also answered some questions for the Halifax Examiner.

The 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.

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

Mike Savage

Max Taylor

Matt Whitman


Mike Savage

(mikesavage.ca)

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

Safe, affordable housing is frequently the first step out of poverty. The security of a home gives families the stability they need to help them find employment, establish healthy routines, and succeed in education. Currently, the municipality is seeking provincial approval for increased flexibility in density bonusing and other means of creating more affordable housing. We’ve also been an active participant in the Housing and Homelessness Partnership to put an end to homelessness and housing poverty in HRM, working toward the goal of creating 500 new secondary units and 250 affordable home ownership opportunities.

We must continue working with the Partnership to leverage the Federal National Housing Strategy co-investment fund to create new and refurbished affordable housing stock and help housing providers access these opportunities to avoid being overlooked in a competitive process.

In addition, HRM can review our municipal development fee structure to incentivize affordable housing through density bonusing and the creation of an affordable housing trust fund. We can also encourage the development of good quality small scale housing units, which are frequently the first stage of housing.

The development of affordable housing opportunities in suburban and rural areas will make it easier for seniors to stay within their communities as they downsize from larger properties.

I believe we must re-commit to the principle of Housing First as a response to poverty and homelessness.

HRM may not have an official housing mandate but that does not negate our responsibility to help our citizens with this growing issue. Affordable housing needs to be a top priority for all orders of government.

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

In the past year, Council has redirected money budgeted for an armoured response vehicle to support the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the non-police Public Safety Office.

Halifax police services are frequently called on for services which would be more appropriately provided by other professionals. This includes such things as traffic control or street closures for special events, which could be managed by special constables. More complex issues include wellness checks, which should include professionals with the skills to manage mental health or other health related crises. Council has approved a comprehensive review of police services to identify those functions that can and should be moved to other services, leaving the police with core duties. Implementation of any recommendations will have to be done in concert with the Province, as they have responsibility for mental health and other human services.

Our efforts should extend to better understanding and addressing social determinants of crime and continuing to invest in youth programming, community recreation, library services, public green spaces, and playgrounds that improve quality of life.

This review will help us determine the appropriate level of funding for the police to provide the services that citizens expect of our police service.

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

Following up on HRM’s new Social Procurement policy take action to ensure HRM pays a fair

wage to our employees and those with whom we do business.

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 were one of the first cities in Canada to declare a climate emergency and I advocated strongly for HalfACT 2050 to be adopted and to be challenging. Ouf staff has seen the will of Council and produced excellent work. The implementation must be a key priority for the 2020- 2024 Mayor and Council. For the protection of our economy in the long term, and the safety of our citizens it is critical that we meet the targets in that plan. That means Council must ensure that the resources are available, and that the necessary partnerships are pursued to ensure the successful implementation of the strategy.

How often do you use Halifax Transit?

I use the ferry often and the bus system infrequently.


Max Taylor

(facebook.com/Maxemersontaylor/)

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

I believe in co-op housing. There are lots of empty buildings in the city that could be turned into Co-ops and other forms of affordable housing.  And I did notice that they cut 150 thousand from the last budget for accessibility (to public buildings and libraries etc.) , that’s is unacceptable, every single building should be accessible to everyone.

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

I believe an important conversation has started, and having mental health crisis dealt with care, not policing, would be a good idea. My mom was a police dispatcher, and so I know a lot of good cops and dispatchers, who also want change.

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

It’s a living wage! People need it to earn a living wage. Why is this even a question?

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 need to spend more time on with the Action Plan. I believe in all things green. But just give me a bit more time to understand it better, and come up with a plan to support it.

How often do you use Halifax Transit?

When I lived in Bedford I took the bus a bit. But I found the schedules and routes didn’t work for me, I lived in Ingramport for a while, and I would have killed to have a public transit out that way. Transit is definitely a priority.


Matt Whitman

(mattwhitman.ca)

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

HRM City Hall overspends on every product & service we buy. That coupled with a huge red-tape burdened bureaucracy and a reliance on the 3 levels of government to solve all problems creates an ineffective system with minimal success. City Hall needs to make it easier for those willing to invest their private dollars & grow HRM to do so. More housing inventory drives down vacancy rates, creates choice & consumers win.

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

I’m opposed to defunding Pilice. I believe in DEFENDING police. I believe there are ways to benefit from reviewing current policing, including the RCMP’s role in HRM. Increased enforcement is key as well as police body cameras are red light cameras.

Should Halifax require contractors to pay workers a living wage?

A living wage is a decision suitable for a private business If they choose. Public taxpayer dollars must be spent wisely and paying a “living wage” would only increase the cost of every product & service purchased.

Our staff & contractors (And Councillors) are currently well paid. 

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 follow the recommendations in this plan.

How often do you use Halifax Transit?

Rarely. When I was in a wheelchair in 2018 I did. It’s difficult for residents in many suburban communities to benefit from transit. Transit had to be affordable and reliable.


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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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  1. Mayor Savage strongly supported the purchase of the Armoured Rescue Vehicle when the 2019/20 capital budget was passed.
    His statement shows he supports no reduction in the number of sworn members of HRP.