Halifax Votes 2016: Dartmouth development, bylaws and public safety in District 5
Metro talks to Charlene Gagnon, outgoing councillor Gloria McCluskey, and one-time candidate Bill Zebedee about the big issues in Dartmouth Centre.
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If you ask the area’s long time councillor, everything in Dartmouth Centre is just fine.
“I don’t know of any issues in District 5,” said a deadpan Coun. Gloria McCluskey in a recent interview. “I think it’s in pretty good shape.”
Ask most other people in the district the same question, and they’ve got a list. For most, it starts with development.
Charlene Gagnon, who ran as an independent in the area in last summer’s provincial byelection, said development is a “huge issue” for the district.
“What is gonna happen with development over the next four years in downtown Dartmouth? It’s huge because it’s about to explode,” she said.
With buildings popping up all over the district, Gagnon said she’d like to see more of a “family focus.”
“We have huge vacancy rates for singles. We have very little housing for families,” she said.
Gagnon would also like to see her next councillor fight for more affordable housing in the district.
Another big issue for Gagnon is bylaw enforcement, pointing to incidents like the recent tiff between the municipality and Sailor Bup’s Barbershop.
“We have had a significant amount of interference from bylaw people with a lot of the small business, who can’t afford the lawyers to go up against them, and it doesn’t make any sense to me,” she said.
Last on Gagnon’s list is public safety.
“Especially with all of the violence that has been happening in the city lately, I’d like somebody who has a concept of what those social indicators of public safety are to attack the root issues: more programs for youth, more opportunities for marginalized people, better housing situations, more addiction treatment programs,” she said.
In all, Gagnon has found McCluskey to be a strong representative for the area, but she believes her time has “come and passed.”
“Gloria and I’s values don’t align on a lot of stuff, but I respect the hell out of her for doing what she’s done and for being such a champion for the residents here,” she said.
For the first time in decades, McCluskey’s name won’t be on any ballot in Dartmouth, and there are eight candidates fighting to fill her shoes.
“People are laughing and telling me, ‘There’s eight of them running and it’s gonna take eight of them,’” McCluskey said.
Two of the names on the ballot this year have been there before: journalist Kate Watson and city planner Sam Austin both ran in 2012, but were unable to defeat McCluskey.
Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission executive director Tim Rissesco has run for office in the area as well, having come second in last summer’s provincial byelection.
Rounding out the group are Nova Scotia Health Authority team leader and photographer Adam Bowes; ACORN community organizer and activist Gabriel Enxuga; luthier Ned Milburn; lawyer Derek Vallis; and entrepreneur Warren Wesson.
“To fill (McCluskey’s) shoes, for any of those candidates…It’s gonna be, how responsive are you? That’s what people in this district want, I think, is a responsive kind of councillor,” said Gagnon, who has four candidates’ election signs in front of her house.
Bill Zebedee ran in the district in 2012, but isn’t throwing his name in this time. He said the candidates are going to have to pound the pavement to win this race.
“With Gloria not running this time, people are going to want to know who they’re voting for,” he said.
And take it from one who knows; McCluskey agrees.
“Whoever knocks on the most doors will win this election,” she said.
Gagnon is hosting a podcast series, talking to each of the candidates about their platforms. You can find the episodes here.
Meet the Candidates:
How to vote:
- e-voting (online and by telephone) starts Oct. 4, runs every day till Oct. 13
- Advanced polling in person on Oct. 8, 11
- Election Day is Oct. 15
Qualifications: must be at least 18 years old, Canadian citizen, Nova Scotia resident for six months, and an HRM resident before the first advanced polling day
Check if you’re registered: votersearch.halifax.ca/hrm/onvoterslist.html
Which district you live in: apps.halifax.ca/districtlookup
Where to vote: votersearch.halifax.ca/hrm/wheretovote.html
Any other questions: call 902-490-VOTE (8683) or 1-844-301-VOTE (8683) or email email@example.com