In the harbour
1. Mason v Uteck
To no one’s surprise, yesterday, south end councillor Waye Mason announced he is running for reelection in the October municipal election.
Here’s his press release:
Waye Mason announces re-election bid for Councillor of District 7
Halifax, May 25 2016 – Today, Councillor Waye Mason officially launched his campaign for re-election to represent district 7 in Halifax’s municipal election to be held this fall.
“Last election the residents of District 7 voted for change, and since then, we’ve made great progress together. Council has been reformed, government spending has been brought under control, and the city’s programs and services now better reflect the values and priorities we believe in” Waye said.
“Today we launch our campaign to protect the progress we’ve made together, and to continue to bring progressive ideas to the people of our community.”
Waye has worked hard to restore the public’s faith in a municipal government that was wracked by scandal and seen by many as ineffective. Today people have direct input into the municipal budget process, government is more open and transparent, and Council is working on behalf of people again.
“Now that every one of the 30 commitments I made last election have been accomplished or underway it’s time to build on those results and deliver more positive change to our district and the municipality” Waye said. “This election is about continuing the positive momentum we’ve worked so hard to create.”
And this morning, former councillor Sue Uteck announced her candidacy.
Here’s her press release:
Sue Uteck Declares She Will Run For HRM Council
Halifax —Sue Uteck announces that she will run to represent District 7 – Halifax South Downtown on Halifax Regional Council
“When it comes to protecting our neighbourhoods, growing our city responsibly, nurturing our arts community and delivering transit systems that work the ball has been dropped,” says Uteck.
HRM Council has struggled to cope with many difficult issues over the past years: the Centre Plan — now three and a half years delayed — which will revamp the development and planning regime in the Halifax-Dartmouth downtown core; new rules for curbside garbage collection; and the redesign of the public transit system.
“District 7 is a challenging and diverse area. It includes residents, universities, the port, and many businesses. During my 12 years on council, I have proven my dedication and determination. I get things done.”
While serving as councillor, Sue represented Halifax on organizations at the municipal, provincial and federal levels, and served as Deputy Mayor.
She is currently the Atlantic regional manager for March of Dimes Canada.
2. Water lots
“The Halifax Port Authority and the Millbrook First Nation have entered into a memorandum of understanding that sets the stage for the infilling of Turtle Cove in Shannon Park,” reports Paul Withers for the CBC:
The cove is a federal water lot of about two hectares.
“We are looking at the entire infilled cove,” Chief Bob Gloade said.
There was immediate negative reaction to the news:
Skeptical that filling in the Cove at Tufts is a good plan. Big change from last public meeting https://t.co/Jd0s0yoh9i
— Sam Austin (@SamAustinD5) May 25, 2016
Which brought my own response:
Anyone who opposes this who didn’t oppose King’s Wharf, please line up at the Cornwallis statue https://t.co/7CTb5IoKtz
— Tim Bousquet (@Tim_Bousquet) May 25, 2016
I don’t know if Austin opposed King’s Wharf developer Francis Fares filling in 5.9 hectares of a water lot in the Dartmouth Cove area, but if he did, I can’t find it. I do know that he praised “high quality projects like King’s Wharf” and has noted that “King’s Wharf is turning the derelict Marine Slips into a new, high-density mixed-use community.”
I don’t think filling in water lots is a good idea, but anyone who said that while King’s Wharf was making its way through the planning process was accused of being anti-Dartmouth, a naysayer, and otherwise just a horrible person.
3. Lyle Howe
I don’t have an opinion one way or the other on the merits of Lyle Howe’s defence at a disciplinary hearing before the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society, but I’m fascinated by it. CBC reporter Blair Rhodes live-blogged the hearing via Twitter, revealing that Howe was pulling out all stops to rebut the charges against him — Howe is going so far as to subpoena Judge Alanna Murphy and demand that lawyer Don Murray, who is on the three-member panel hearing the case, step down.
4. Wild Kingdom
A deer was running around on Spring Garden Road yesterday:
Deer running up Spring Garden Road:(#halifax pic.twitter.com/j47EPzOHq1
— Heather (@hazysunshine2) May 25, 2016
1. Patronage appointment
“Theodore Tugboat’s new job [is] seen as patronage appointment by other boats,” writes Matt Brand:
HMCS Halifax, which has served the Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Forces since 1992, says it’s clear Theodore’s appointment to the position of Welcome Ambassador was not based on merit.
“I’ve been involved in anti-terrorism operations in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea. I’ve taken part in several NATO missions around the world. And what does Theodore do? He mostly meanders around the harbour, grinning like an idiot,” said the typically reserved frigate, who added, “Maybe if I changed my name to HMCS Harry Halifax I’d be considered for the job.”
2. Free transit
Gabriel Enxuga, a candidate for council in Dartmouth, wants transit to be free:
Free transit is a form of economic stimulus because it puts money directly back into the local economy. Low-income and working people have unmet financial needs, and that $78 a month that would have otherwise been spent on transit will instead be spent on food, rent, utilities and other basic necessities.
Imagine how great it would be if the ferry were free. Free public transit across the harbour would mean that more summertime tourists would visit downtown Dartmouth, and that suburban commuters would have free and environmentally sustainable transportation to work every day. Free transit would mean that unemployed people would be able to go out and look for work and that people with disabilities would be able to more actively take part in social and economic life.
So let’s get those cars off the road and put more money back into the pockets of working people!
The cities of Saint-Joseph-du-Lac, Que., Winnipeg and Calgary all already have some form of free transit, and Moncton is currently looking at implementing a similar policy. Now it’s our turn.
Free transit is good for working people and for Halifax.
I think transit fares are too high, and we know that every increase in fares sees a decrease in ridership — that’s why total passenger numbers haven’t increased even as the service has improved: every time ridership starts increasing, council increases fares, bringing the numbers back down again.
But I’m not a big fan of completely free transit. Riders need buy-in, and the fare box provides that. Moreover, it gives riders a bit of ownership of the program and therefore the power to demand better service. Seen from the other side of the equation, free transit allows transit managers and politicians to view transit as “just” a poverty program and not the necessary transportation system it is. Need to bridge a $1 million budget gap? Cut it from transit because it’s only poor people who use it.
Already, one of the biggest problems we have in terms of creating a better and more convenient transit system is that transit is viewed by many people as a poor person’s game. Lots of people don’t ride the bus because they think it’s beneath them, and many politicians don’t demand better service because they see it as a low return on their time — they think only poor people ride the bus, and that poor people don’t vote.
For the longest time, no one much cared about the passengers. The attitude was that passengers could sit on a bus that takes ridiculously infrequent and circuitous routes because really they had no other option — they’re poor, so they should be thankful for what they get. Ridership was seen as a inflexible number of poor people who can’t drive, and so the emphasis was on cutting costs — don’t increase the frequency of buses, which would require hiring more drivers, but instead get double-buses and cram more people into them at the same inconvenient hourly schedules. One driver can handle twice the number of passengers, which is a huge increase in efficiency. Who cares if this best serves passengers?
We’re moving somewhat past those attitudes — today’s transit service really is better than it was a decade ago — but if we’re to continue to make progress we’ll have to have a shift in mindset. When more middle class people want to take the bus as a lifestyle choice, politicians and managers will start catering to them and their potential votes, which will make transit a more viable transportation option for more people. Put simply, politicians and managers will see passengers as customers, and not as the undeserving poor.
The surest way to not get that change in attitudes is to make transit free. It shouldn’t be this way, but it is.
3. Cranky letter of the day
When at first we set out to deceive, oh what a tangled web we weave.
I always thought a good businessman tried to appease all his customers, not just a few! I am able on my own to think clearly on the facts provided and cast my vote on what I think I should do. Furthermore, I am not brainwashed by some of the big business people in Pictou County.
We all use the same services, goods, food and beverages.
From a concerned taxpayer and voter in the Municipality of Pictou County.
Art Ashley, Marshdale, Pictou County
Port Wallace Community Open House (2–4pm, and then again from 6–8pm, Port Wallis United Church, 263 Waverley Road) — explains the city’s website:
Port Wallace has been identified as a potential future growth area for a community to be serviced with municipal sewer and water services. Regional Council has directed that a planning process for the area be undertaken to design the community and determine servicing needs and the boundaries for services. Once completed, detailed policies and regulations pertaining to uses, layout, densities, open space and other community amenities will be presented in a document known as a secondary planning strategy for consideration of approval by Regional Council. However, before this happens, there will be opportunities for community engagement.
No public meetings.
No campus events today.
In the harbour
1am: Atlantic Huron, bulker, arrives at National Gypsum from Lower Cove, Newfoundland
5am: Herma P, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Rotterdam
6am: Atlantic Star, ro-ro cargo, sails from Fairview Cove for Liverpool, England
11:30am: Oceanex Connaigra, ro-ro cargo, moves from Pier 36 to Autoport
12:30pm: Sara, general cargo, arrives at Pier 27 from Szczecin, Poland
2pm: Bahri Abha, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Fairview Cove from Baltimore
2pm: Atlantic Huron, bulker, sails from National Gypsum to sea
2pm: Herma P, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove to sea
4pm: Oceanex Connaigra, ro-ro cargo, moves from Autoport to Pier 41
5pm: Singapore Express, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
9:30pm: Bahri Abha, ro-ro cargo, sails from Fairview Cove to sea
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Couple of points regarding free transit. Not only is the cost already largely subsidized, but in many systems the amount collected at the fare box and through sales of tickets and passes barely covers the costs of processing the coins, and printing and distributing tickets, passes, and transfers. Eliminating fare collection also speeds boarding, allows rear door boarding, eliminates fare disputes, and eliminates all the various programs to offer low cost tickets and passes. Free transit can actually save money and improve service, although the trade off is increased ridership – which is another benefit.
Free transit also makes it easier to have buses complement car use, rather than forcing people to invest in one or the other. That counters the notion that buses are for people who cannot afford cars – with free transit, you can own a car for when you need it, and use the bus for trips like commuting to work some days. That in turn reduces congestion and pollution, a benefit for everyone. It’s hard to make busing a lifestyle choice when it costs extra over and above what you pay to own and operate a car.
Historically, municipal transit systems were run by private companies, which had to charge fares to cover costs. They are run by governments now, and it makes no more sense to charge for buses than it does to charge for beaches, parks, or playgrounds. Wealthy folks don’t need these facilities, and even much of the middle class have their own private yards and kids’ play areas, but we make them available to all because we recognize it is good for the community to have these facilities.
The scary concept would be to try operating public transit as a free service for one or two years and then assessing the results. It would cost the taxpayers a bit more, but it would also give some money back to a percentage of those taxpayers who presently pay to ride the bus today. Would free public transit be deemed an overall benefit? Only trying it out would provide the necessary data to to prove it one way or the other… all other viewpoints on the concept are based on pure speculation, not facts.
Two thirds of the transit system’s operating costs are already subsidized by the public. Making it totally free may not be the best idea; but it would likely get a lot more cars off the streets. Every DUI offence should be around $2000+ with the offender’s vehicle confiscated and sold at auction with the proceeds of the fine and sale for the vehicle going into the pot to help pay for transit… and yes the DUI offender would be given a free transit pass for the period he/she is barred from driving. All seniors 65+, students G1-12 and University/College should get a free transit pass annually. Hotels/motels could pay a service fee and offer people staying at their establishments free transit passes that cover the time period of the room bookings. Businesses should be able to pay a service fee and offer a free transit pass to their employees. Perhaps all downtown businesses should be required to have their employees use park and rides coupled with free transit passes. Everyone ends up paying the price for too many cars on the road; but there are solutions out there if one really is committed to finding them..
Considering how unpleasant the transit system is to use, it would not surprise me if making it free actually didn’t bump ridership up that much. The only times in my life when I’ve ridden transit was when my commute was too far to walk and the weather was too bad for biking. Money had nothing to do with the decision to use the bus.
Agreed. I would have no more incentive to ride the bus if it was free than I do now. That level of interest being zero. The only way you’ll change participation by class is to ban class 5 motor vehicles and motorcycles from downtown HFX. Anything else is just the same old, neverending, counterproductive, waste-of-time blah blah blah….
“Anyone who opposes this who didn’t oppose King’s Wharf, please line up at the Cornwallis statue”
haha how did I miss that yesterday? Gold! #ClassicBousquet
Hi Tim: Nothing is “free”, not even a transit system with no fare boxes. The money to pay for it would come from taxes. Here are a few good arguments for abolishing transit fares from Leo Panitch, a member of the Greater Toronto Workers’ Assembly:
“Everything from schools to libraries to healthcare to water services is paid for by tax revenue. Roads don’t have user fees – why should public transit? We can pay for free transit through a fair tax system. The amount of taxes that riders would have to pay for fare-free transit would be much lower than the amount that they spend each year on the cost of commuting. Even those who drive cars are prepared to pay taxes for less traffic – and there is no better way to do this than by expanded and free public transit.”
If you wanted a comment on harbour infilling, all you had to do as ask. We could have chatted about it last night. I’m definitely not “lining up behind the Cornwallis statue.” I would have supported Councillor Mason’s motion to look at that issue and happily took some heat for saying so because it’s the right thing to do.
On the question of harbour infill, it’s not about race, it’s about the merits of each project. I think infilling waterways is usually a bad idea. It’s definitely been a negative on the Northwest Arm and has been pushed too far at Bedford Reef. At Shannon, I’ll wait to see what the plan is, but I’m skeptical. I have been to Shannon several times and one of the great things about the site is you can get right down to walk on the shore, a shore that almost stretches around to three sides. It’s one of Shannon’s stand out features. I’m not convinced that wiping that away is good planning, especially when the property is so huge that there is enough space for a small town. If Millbrook wants more property to develop, it seems to me that more upland rather than harbour floor would be the way to go.
As for Kings Wharf, it’s complicated. It was a derelict industrial site in the middle of Downtown. The land and seabed there has some of the worst contamination in the harbour and often the best thing to do with that kind of pollution is to bury it. We also need a place to get rid of slate and the best thing to do with it is to get it into seawater. The site was already a Peninsula that had been heavily modified and infilled. Portland Street and Downtown Dartmouth were also in need of a spark to get redevelopment happening. I suspect that without Kings Wharf the following surge of new businesses that have added so much to Downtown wouldn’t have happened. For Kings Wharf I think we gained far more than we lost.
Perhaps Sam Austin wasn’t living in metro back in 2008 when Fares applied to fill in the old Dartmouth Marine Slips. I don’t recall any opposition to the infilling.
The Kings Wharf site is a much better location for development than Tufts Cove, unless you are keen to live next to a large power generation plant and oil tanks. Real estate development at Shannon Park is a very long way away.
airc, the EAC opposed the infilling of Dartmouth Cove, and I supported that view.
Dartmouth Cove is not filled in. The water area that was the slips has been filled in as well as an area to the west and the south. The old wharf that ships tied up to remains in place on the south eastern edge of the project and the concrete encased steel pilings are visible.
Sam Austin’s position seems to be we should think twice about filling in more wetlands and water lots along Halifax Harbour.
Your position seems to be that, as long as a First Nation band stands to profit from destroying wetland and water lots, no one should pause to consider whether saving them is a better idea. Furthermore, if they do question the destruction of Turtle Cove (Tuft’s Cove), but haven’t actively opposed each and every waterfront development in recent Halifax history, they belong in company with a notorious 18th Century genocidal mass murderer.
Perhaps you could take time out from polishing your anti-racist credentials to cover the longstanding fight to preserve what’s left of Bedford Reef and Crosby Island. You’d be okay in doing so because, to my knowledge, no Mi’kmaq bands are partners in the controversial development.
Free transit for students, unemployed. Free for pensioners after 9.30am. Works well in UK.
We need to get the riderships up an the buses are going anyway whey not fill them with those who need it but can’t afford it.
ALSO for tourists, etc. cheap go anywhere day passes after 9.30am. Most places have something like that and as usual Hfx is way behind the times in bringing it in.
Yes! Day passes! Good golly! Where are they?
Make it free and we’ll get what we pay for – shitty transit. That said, I’ve spent considerable time in Seattle, which has free daytime buses in their downtown tourist district. It’s a much bigger city with a sprawling downtown but that free transit is an excellent little perk for tourists.
Well, if it’s free, there won’t be transit. Nothing the government provides is free. Transit already operates at a loss with $78 for a monthly pass or $2.50 a ride.
Transit provides 13 million rides a year at a cost of 84 million dollars. If you assume the ‘average rider’ rides the bus 1.5 times a day, we get about 25,000 riders, or around 3000 dollars per person who depends on the bus. Of course, compare 3000 dollars/year to the costs of operating 25,000 individual cars – about $10,000 a year according to the CAA – even if riders paid the true costs of bus service it would be a good deal.
So, you could argue that we’re spending $60 million (the cost of the subsidy to Metro Transit) to collectively save 250 million dollars in auto expenses based on 25,000 riders for whom a car or the bus are the only option.
Here’s an idea for getting bus service out to the ‘burbs: Allow metro transit to enter into partnerships with private organizations that pay the full costs of supplying bus service. If a bunch of people in some neighbourhood want to save money on gas (we’re likely heading for another period of $1.40+ gas due to low capex due to cheap oil) want a bus, they should be able to get a bus provided they pay the real costs of it.