Halifax citizen survey – my main gripes

http://www.pra.ca/en/Halifaxcitizensurvey

I entered this on the overall sentiment page of the survey:

0) First of all: This is only a list of the unhappy-making things I see happening. There are also many good things, like the Central Library, that I am not listing here, because frustration currently prevails for me. That you are doing this survey in the first place is great. So don’t get defensive now, please. You are all good people, staff, councilors, mayor. You asked for a piece of my mind, so here we go: 🙂

1) Crosswalk and bike lane maintenance is extremely poor: Cheap options were chose (painted lines), without putting real infrastructure in place (bike lanes and bike paths should be safely separated and protected, pedestrian safety requires traffic calming measures, not just paint on the road).

And then the painted lines wear off! And are note renewed. For example, most of the crosswalks in Fairview are bare recognizable (zebra lines almost completely gone).

2) Don’t get me started on commuter rail from Bedford to downtown: Talked about at least since Peter Kelly’s time, progress is like molasses. Turn that trailway corridor that surrounds the peninsula into a high-speed connector for commuters! Be it with a bus lane in there, rail-based or whatever, but get something going.

3) “Solar City” with loans at 4% interest is a nice idea, but still much too cost-prohibitive. Why don’t you start by setting good examples and put solar on all municipal buildings? Eat your own dogfood, as they say. I want to put solar panels on my house but my wife is afraid of the costs and the debt. So maybe offer tax rebates instead of loans at almost commercial rate.

4) Give community gardens municipal space on long-term basis. Common Roots getting kicked out for a hospital parking lot is disgraceful. Offer them a pro-bono lease for the big former school property on Quinpool, please. If you want to improve quality of life, community gardens are gold. Groom those treasures!

5) Stop giving exemptions from your own regulations and plans to “developers” (aka real estate capitalists). No more “29 or 25” storey haggling. Create democratically and community approved rules and then STICK TO THEM. I am not against density, but it can be done in moderate and fair ways. If those inventors don’t think they can make enough profit unless they fill the peninsula with towering ugliness, then send them packing. We don’t need a Vancouver-like situation with empty and/or overpriced housing that normal locals cannot afford anymore!

6) Protect the Commons for everyone, primarily as the green lungs and heart of the downtown. Playground, public sports, gardens, community, peace.

7) Make the city and its outskirts truly walkable. Please, no more sub-divisions without sidewalks. No more huge parking lots where pedestrians have to play the old Frogger game from the 80s, hoping not to get killed. And don’t add insult to injury by installing pedestrian surveillance cameras at crosswalks. Traffic calming is the key. Wide straight roads invite 60k/h driving or even faster. Put in protected bike lanes, bumpers at spots where drivers are known to go too fast. One more pedestrian killed in HRM and I will consider suing the city for negligence. But don’t worry, I don’t have the money and time for the lawyer. 🙂

8) Last but not least: Birch Cove Wilderness Park is overdue. Meanwhile you are allowing an immense expansion of Bayers Lake, clear-cutting and blasting into what many hoped to become a buffer zone for the protected wilderness. I am one of the Friends of BCBM and I am not sure if I can believe that this council is ever going to pull off the park. It is like one step forward, two steps back.

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