City Planning, Reviews and Transparency

I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t know what goes on in the cities planning department.  But that right there is part of the problem.  Some of this info should be known, reviewed, and available easily to see. And perhaps it is, but the HRM website is not exactly user friendly in my opinion.  Yes its hard with so many departments, and I don’t have better options.

The snow issues of last winter are still fresh in our minds, and we still see foibles and inconsistencies, at least from my and I’m sure the public’s perspective.

I’m not on council, nor am I running, but if I were, here are things I would like answers to, and I think we should have them publicly available no matter what. Some relate to each other, some don’t. And in no particular order….

  1. When do we start regular maintenance for different things? ie: road repainting, patching, parks and rec?
  2. Who, how often, and when are plans for regular maintenance reviewed.
  3. How are priorities set? Is downtown residential patching more important than heavy shopping areas like Bayer’s Lake? Same with line painting.
  4. What data is used to determine this.  historical? how often is it collected, updated?
  5. What is the infrastructure plan? Do we have multi-year plans? if so why, a few years ago, was beford hiway near old ultramar paved, then torn up for water, then torn up for gas, rather than doing the latter two first?
  6. Do we have an infrastructure bank? Do developers contribute? Should we allow developers to build developments for profit that add to our infrastructure woes without contributing to a pool to improve it?
  7. Should we allow development at all in some areas till we can make it sustainable infrastructure wise?
  8. Do we have a growth plan?
  9. Why do we interrupt daily traffic in non-residential areas when we could do work in off-peak hours.  If contracted, why, who reviews.  Are the cost savings worth the downsides?
  10. Why, oh why, do we allow paving and patching in cold weather? I would need to see empirical proof that this is a valid plan, as having seen it first hand, asphalt sticks to tar better when both surfaces are hot. Cold ground will also expand, and heave destroying work done during cold weather faster than if in summer.
  11. This is an over generalization, but it is a common perception in the HRM public….Why is it so hard to actually make a decision? Are people afraid? Lets stop referring to committees over and over, and do things.

I’m not looking for personal response here, I just think that council should be aware that these criticisms are out there (not necessarily of council either, but of the whole shebang).  Lets get together and make this city truly work rather than continue to feel like were bogged down in bureaucracy and “heritage”.

An Open Letter to Halifax

I can’t help but notice that the level of hubris, disdain and general apathy in this city seems to grow on a daily basis.  Don’t we all wan’t a better, safer, politer city? Its time we all took action.  it doesn’t have to be hard.  Try to do something easy today, and every day, and think of others first.

Some examples:

  • Return your shopping cart to the corral. And actually stack them.
  • Use the garbage can.
  • If you make a mistake in traffic, go with it, and turn around, don’t endanger others and yourself to cut across the lane. You won’t lose more than a couple minutes, of which you’d be at a light anyway.
  • Save handicapped spaces for those that really need them.
  • If a cashier opens, let the person who waited longest go there, don’t take off from the end of the line.  They waited longer than you.
  • When you are leave a building, move aside from the doorway that others have to use.

Its really simple folks, lets start acting like we want to be treated, and stop acting as if the world is ours alone.

Shit or get off the pot Halifax!

That’s what my Dad used to say about people who waffled.  Though he likely wouldn’t have called it waffling or indecisive, I’m sure he’d have had other more colorful terms.

But in whatever terms you want to use, Halifax needs a leader, or council that will do just that.

No matter what your take is on the issues here, you have to agree that the current council’s policy of ignore it till it goes away doesn’t work.

Come on people make a decision and stick to it. Are you going to sell St. Pats? or not? Keep the oval? or not? Allow beer sponsorship? or not?

And one more that seems to have fallen off the radar again, a stadium for the FIFA Women’s world cup.  We wanted to host a game or more, and for that we need a stadium. Deadlines to say yay or nay have come and gone. 

Maybe the council read too much Douglas Adams who said “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”

In some ways I’d like a stadium, to be able to host world class events, to maybe get a CFL team.  But I also understand money could be spent on schools and roads which we need too.  What I don’t agree with is the way council seems to just want to delay the decision till its too late to actually make one. “Oh, I’m sorry we can’t get a stadium now because we missed the deadline, studying it to death”  Come on Peter Kelly et al, shit or get off the pot already!

And my last rant for this one, we are in the middle of a transit strike here, affecting a great many people getting to school and work.  And what does council decide? We don’t need a meeting today, not enough on the agenda.  And they then even waffled on that decision.

I’ve never been much into municipal politics, but changes are needed. Whether those already there can change themselves remains to be seen, but if not, I’ll be casting my municipal vote for the first time ever soon.