Ideas

Musquodoboit Valley a Resource Worth Protecting
Through the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, as world food production increased and food was plentiful, farms began leaving the Musquodoboit Valley. While the fields remain, they are generally used to produce hay. This creates what, in agricultural nomenclature, is called virgin land. Virgin land is land that has not had a high yield crop grown on it for a very long time. Virgin land tends to be very high in organic matter. When a high yield crop is planted in virgin land, the crop thrives and a bumper crop is the result. I drove though the Musquodoboit Valley this summer, and it is full of virgin land.
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The Curitiba Example…
A couple of years ago I had the pleasure to visit Curitiba, a wonderful city in Southern Brazil. In the 50s and 60s, Curitiba embarked on a radical approach to urban planning. While the rest of the world, especially North America, was growing around transportation in a car, the leaders of Curitiba decided to grow around transit and walkability. I like cars. I have owned a car in the past and understand there is a need for cars in our society. If you have a family, transit does not always work. If you have a disability, a car might be a requirement. There are many advantages to cars, but cost is not one of them. Cars are expensive; roads are even more expensive not only to build but to maintain. A transit pass in HRM costs $70 a month and is tax deductible. There is no car owner in the city that can get car insurance cheaper than that.
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One Idea to Improve Transit Going Forward.
In the spring I was thinking about a problem. How do we move 1500-3000 shift worker a day into the Shipyard without widening roads through the North End and creating parking lots in our streets. Ferries! Shannon Park is about .5 to .6 nm across the narrows. A ferry and bus terminal could be built on Shannon Park beside the rail line. Two ferry terminals could be built at both ends of the shipyard. Two ferries would have to be built. These boats could be used to transport shift workers in and out of the shipyard.
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Urban Agriculture
The unemployment rate in HRM is 5.4%. If all these unemployed people were software developers, it would be very easy to find them all great jobs. They’re not. Some of them need training; some of them need a job in their field; some of them have special needs; some of them are not able to work full time. Urban Agriculture is a great opportunity to give some of these people good jobs in their community.
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Cars: I do like them…
I don’t hate cars. I learned to drive when I was twelve. I am a supporter of transit, and I think our city needs to increase and improve transit. Transit is a more cost-affordable option than cars. It is not a more convenient option. I was raised in a family with five children; in situations like this, transit (and even small cars) won’t work. If you have children and you need to get them to soccer practise, music lessons, and swimming lessons, transit doesn’t work. If your commute time is twenty minutes and transit takes you forty minutes, transit doesn’t work. I think our city needs to put a priority on transit development so it does work.
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How Growing Sustainably Creates Jobs….
In business, it is the best practice to keep money moving. If you own a store and inventory sits on the shelves, you are not making money. If you make widgets and they sit in a warehouse, you are not making money. The same principle applies to developers. If a developer wins a bid to develop a property, the faster the money goes through the project, the quicker another project can be started and the happier the banks and investor will be. If the project is successful, the faster the profits are returned to the investors in the project. There is nothing wrong with making money. The key to sustainable development is acknowledging that a profits-over-quality approach is not desirable.
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We need a cost effective Transit link to the Airport
In its history our airport was moved from Chebucto Road, to the RCAF Station Shearwater, and in 1960 to the place it exists now by Kelly Lake. The problem is that it’s not easy to get to. It costs $50 to take a cab, $20 to take the shuttle. Parking is expensive. The new bus service is better, but it still takes at least 40 minutes to get from downtown Halifax to the airport. The best practise for a city is to have a direct, easy, affordable transit link to its airport. This increases business and facilitates growth.
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Urban Orchards
Is there a fruit tree in your backyard? Take a look and see. HRM is full of cherry trees, peach trees, and apple trees. At one time in history it was commonplace in the city to have a fruit tree in one’s backyard. Starting in the 50s with the green revolution, this trend began to change. Agriculture moved to a more industrial model. The concept of growing your own food was replaced by grocery stores and mass production of food. This trend is starting to change.
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How a LRT can Change HRM
If you look at the Google map of HRM, you see something really neat. We have a train track running through our city. This is owned by CN and is used to transport cargo in and out of the shipyards around the city. Could this be used to move people around the city as well? Yes, it could. Metro Transit used to give reasons why this is not feasible. Most of them do not hold. There is one exception: we may lack the critical mass to make it affordable. How do we fix that?
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Cat Issues
Through the efforts of some concerned citizens, I have learned a lot about the stray/feral cat population over the last couple of days. I grew up on a farm and do have experience with stray/feral cats; toms move from farm to farm depending on the abundance of food. As on the farm, I think that stray/feral cats provide a service to the municipality that cannot be overlooked. I have been told there are 40,000-100,000 stray/feral cats in HRM. Wow! The service they are providing is doing what they do: hunting rats.
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Thoughts for Rural HRM
The differences between rural HRM and urban HRM are vast. The challenges to go forward as one municipality will also be large and ever-changing. I grew up in a rural community. While I currently live in downtown Halifax, I have a special place in my heart for rural living, and hope to one day return to the rural lifestyle I know very well and love. What, as a municipality where the majority of the population live in the urban area, can we do to address the needs of the rural community?
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Arts and Culture
HRM has a long and wonderful history of arts and culture. We are the heart of East Coast Music and the centre of many great events and festivals. Nocturne is a wonderful way to experience the arts in the entire city, and has been a wonderful addition to autumn in HRM. The Buskers are a great celebration of the waterfront and encourages people to get outside. The Tattoo has been a staple in this city and province for as long as I can remember. The Pop Explosion and Jazz Festival are great celebrations of the music culture that exists in this city.
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Park-and-Rides
HRM is a large and diverse city. If we all agree that services like MusGo are the best option for rural areas and an improved transit system is the best option for urban areas, what do we do with the communities in-between? Park-and-rides. The area in-between the deep rural areas and the heart of the city is also very important and cannot be ignored. Some of these services already exist; buses from Fall River and Tantallon offer direct service bus service to the downtown area.
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Dedicated Bus Lanes
This would be a great addition to the transit system. Dedicated bus lanes do one very important thing: they take the buses out of the traffic that occurs during peak hours. In 1983 Ottawa built a transit way. I used this when I lived in Ottawa; it works very well. Will this cost a lot of money? Yes. I am not saying HRM should build a transit way, but we can learn from this project about how we can improve our own transit system.
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