Priorities

Community First

The story of the North End is a story about proud, determined, and diverse people. It is a story about a place that is rich in history and culture. It is a story of reaching our potential, for our families, our neighbours, and our businesses; as an equitable, affordable, safe, and sustainable place to live and work. It is also a story of real challenges, facing real people.

This is our story. With your support, we can be heard.

As your candidate for District 8 – Halifax Peninsula North, I encourage you to consider my priorities to truly put our Community First!

 

 

 

 

Responsible Development

 

The North End of the Peninsula has experienced a great deal of change. While some has encouraged growth and opportunity, this has been an exception and not the rule and little focus has been put on community benefit and responsible development. As a result, we continue to feel the pressure of rapid gentrification and face challenges from increasingly unaffordable and inaccessible housing. 

 

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"Little focus is placed on community benefit and responsible development."  

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Our community has seen a significant increase in residential and commercial development in the past 10 years. Unfortunately, as is the case with much of the Municipality, this development rarely comes with meaningful community considerations.

If we are to introduce developments into our longstanding community, it must be done with a clear and overarching commitment to community benefit. Otherwise, the rapid and uncontrolled gentrification we see now will continue unchecked.

Presently, there is no requirement – let alone motivation – for developers to consider community benefit. There is rarely a requirement for ‘affordable’ units which, themselves, are subjective and can be given up for a minor fee.

Action

  • Motion that future developments contain Community Benefit Agreements (CBAs) if we truly want to promote equity and respect the historical populations in our community.

  • In addition to community benefit, motion that developments in our community be held to the highest environmental standards possible to ensure the future health and well-being of our community while working to ensure that developments incorporate new green spaces to help ensure that our community remains safe, healthy, and accessible.

Accessible and Affordable Housing

 

It is no secret that housing accessibility and affordability in Halifax is spiraling out of control. The housing crisis is happening now and we cannot continue to wait on taking action to address it.

Through both my work and volunteer experience, I have dealt with the impacts of inaccessible and unaffordable housing for years. I’ve also lived most of my life in affordable housing which has allowed me to remain in my community without being forced out. But this serves as a band-aid solution that does not address the causes of the crisis.

The rental market in Halifax – and in our community more than most – is inaccessible for many people. New units go up, but prices don’t stabilize. It’s clear that some measure of control is needed before we force more and more people out of their community and quicken the gentrification that’s already well underway.

Short-term rentals are also a major factor in driving the rental market to unaffordability. These remove conventional long-term units from the market which further drives prices up. To make matters worse, these remain largely unregulated and introduce new issues around health and safety within the community.

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"We cannot simply rely on 'the market' or the philanthropy of developers to correct the housing crisis. That amounts to a 'do nothing and see' approach and we've tried that. It hasn't worked."  

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Accessible housing isn’t just about cost. Accessible housing must consider several factors, including cost,location,services, and amenities. Our community is fortunate to have a large number of elder and senior members – people who make up a valuable and longstanding part of our community – and they are similarly left our of the picture when it comes to being able to access housing that considers their needs.

While much of housing lies with the Province, we at the municipal level cannot stand by and wait. We must enact change where we can to mitigate this crisis and press the provincial government at every opportunity to take action to protect our community members. 

 

Action

 

  • Re-examine zoning and regulations around short-term rentals.

  • Advocate and work with like-minded Provincial representatives to enact rent control legislation.

  • Identify and explore building opportunities for affordable and accessible housing units based on currently available properties. 

  • Take action on responsible development to ensure that truly affordable and accessible units are mandated for new builds in the community and cannot easily be skirted through nominal fees. 

 

 

Equity and Equality

 

Our community is home to a diverse population.

The African Nova Scotian population in Halifax, and specifically the North End, go back well beyond Canada’s official founding; and there is a significant Indigenous population that predates settlement. We are also home to multi-generational Middle Eastern populations, 2SLGBTIQA+ people, elders and seniors, an increasing number of newcomers, and many more who call our community home.

Rapid and uncontrolled gentrification, however, threatens our diverse community. Of course, this is only the most recent chapter in a long history of injustice. From relocation of populations to property value depression, our community has gone from a thriving hub of commerce and arts to a depressed neighbourhood to a gentrified one.

For our vulnerable residents, these conditions further challenge their ability to live happy, healthy, and safe lives. Those facing mental health challenges can’t be overlooked, either. People facing these challenges are at a higher risk of harm and homelessness. We need to commit more attention and resources to help people dealing with mental health issues in our community and press the Province to do the same.

More broadly, our city, province, and country still face significant systematic issues surrounding race, sex, mental health, sexual identity, and more.

Despite the systemic injustices faced, our community can and will thrive. But to do this, we have to acknowledge our historical failings and work together to build a truly equitable and equal community. We must enable and empower historically disenfranchised populations, provide meaningful opportunities, re-evaluate what policing and social services look like, promote responsible development, and close the employment gaps.

If we fail to protect that which makes our community what it is, it stands to become another dime-a-dozen ‘trendy neighbourhood’ which will be forgotten when the next one comes around.

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"If we fail to protect that which makes our community what it is, it stands to become another dime-a-dozen ‘trendy neighbourhood’ which will be forgotten when the next one comes around."  

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Action

 

  • Continue and advocate for the re-allocation of police budgets to preventative social and community programs and services.

  • Explore the possibility of a mental health clinic/satellite in the community. 

  • Take action on responsible development to address issues like displacement through affordability and other community benefits which disproportionately impact vulnerable groups. 

 

 

Safe, Healthy, and Accessible Community

 

A safe and accessible community means a lot of things. At the end of the day, it means that our community needs to be designed in a way that ensure our residents and those visiting our community can do so safely.

While there has been some movement to implement measures to make streets safer, it is clear that residents - people - are still secondary considerations. The significant influxes in housing units, as part of multiple large developments, have not been accompanied by changes to infrastructure necessary to deal with the additional vehicles and pedestrians. Cars remain the exclusive priority on our streets – even those that are entirely residential – and few, if any, viable and safe alternatives for getting around exist.

Whether this takes the form of more woonerf-style streets, changes in residential speed limits, or controlling access for through-traffic, we need to take real action to make our community safe for everyone.

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"We must engage with our community in a real and meaningful way to learn what is needed to make our community safe and loved."  

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It’s also important that we work to protect, promote, and expand our community green spaces. Parks and other green spaces are crucial parts of safe, healthy, and accessible communities and we need to ensure that existing green spaces are protected and promoted while encouraging new developments to incorporate new green spaces wherever possible.

 

To accomplish this, we must engage with our community in a real and meaningful way to learn what is needed to make our community safe and loved.

 Action

 

  • Conduct meaningful engagement with community members by going to them to determine their needs.

  • Prioritize the safety of people over the convenience of vehicles on residential streets and seek solutions that promote safety through design. 

 

Environmental Responsibility

 

Climate change is real and irrefutable reality we’re facing. As a harbour city, Halifax is particularly vulnerable and our community on the Peninsula especially so.

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"We must be a leader in combating climate change both as a city and as a community."  

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We must prioritize Green technologies, innovations, and developments. We must be a leader in combating climate change both as a city and as a community.

Action

  • Work with all levels of government and other stakeholders to advance HalifACT 2050. 

  • Motion that new developments prioritize environmental considerations so we can steer our community toward a greener future.

I'm always looking to connect with my community

info@virginiahinch.ca

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