As we near the end of 2021, I want to thank you for your hard work this year and your adaptability in the face of change.
Last month, I announced a significant restructure at the municipality, with the introduction of two Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (DCAO) positions. We welcomed Caroline Blair-Smith to the role of DCAO Corporate Services and Denise Schofield as DCAO Citizen Services. These new, cross-department positions set us up for success by providing executive support on complex issues in our region, like homelessness and climate change.
We continue to safely live and work in a pandemic that is everchanging. This year, we saw vaccinations roll out across Nova Scotia, and with it, our Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Policy. I greatly appreciate your support in maintaining a safe and healthy workplace while continuing to provide valued services and programs to our community. With the newest variant, Omicron, detected in Nova Scotia, being vaccinated is more important than ever.
I’ve really enjoyed having the chance to get back out into our offices and meet some of you in person, including visits to Duke Tower, the new Halifax Transit office at the TD Building, and the Mackintosh Depot construction site. However, given the public health restrictions that come into effect on Friday, such visits will not be continued until a further directive is issued in the new year.
The municipality is growing and changing, with record numbers of new people calling our region home. When we welcome newcomers to our community, we also welcome new employees, like Frans, who I was lucky to celebrate at his recent Canadian citizenship event.
Pictured: Frans Sanders, Privacy Specialist,
Access & Privacy with a cake to celebrate
becoming a Canadian citizen.
As we look back on this year and forward into 2022, there are many municipal initiatives, both completed and underway, that are building a foundation for future improvements in our region. These wouldn’t be possible without your ongoing efforts. I am proud of how far we’ve come, and I’m excited for the year ahead.
Stay safe and be well.
Wela’lioq, amitiés, kind regards,
Thanks to your generosity, we have raised $67,433.96 in support of United Way Halifax (UWH) though our annual Employee Payroll Campaign. We should feel proud of what we accomplished together. The ripple effect of your generosity means your positive impact will be felt in the community right away and in the months and years to come, which will directly help people who need it most, like Mike in the video I shared with you last week.
I’d like to extend a special thanks to Denise Schofield and Chief Dan Kinsella, our 2021 campaign co-chairs; Kim Carver, campaign coordinator; this year’s Halifax Harbour Swim participants, and the Internal Communications team. I’d also like to recognize our canvassers across the organization who actively championed this year’s campaign within their teams.
UWH also has year-round initiatives where you can lend your time, effort and skills to make a difference in your community. See how you can support UWH throughout 2022.
Once again, thank you for making a difference to those who need it most, right here in our region. I am proud to work alongside employees who are passionate about making our community better and safer for everyone.
After nearly eight years of planning that included extensive engagement with a wide range of stakeholders, significant community feedback, major land negotiations and design approvals, the Cogswell District Project officially launched on November 2, 2021.
“Getting to this stage has taken a colossal team effort and we are very excited to begin actual construction of this history making project” says Donna Davis and John Spinelli from the Cogswell District Project team.
Where the aging and underutilized Cogswell Interchange currently stands will be a mixed-use neighbourhood, extending the entrance of the downtown northwards and reuniting communities separated by the interchange lands. The new development will include dedicated cycling lanes, multi-use trails, new parks and open spaces, a reimagined transit hub, and significant central urban square will support a livable, pedestrian-friendly area for people to live, work and play.
“The Cogswell District will connect the vibrant downtown region to the historic north end and the picturesque waterfront – creating a stronger, more inclusive network of communities,” says Brad Anguish, Executive Director of Transportation & Public Works and Executive Sponsor for the Cogswell project.
Staff continues with public engagement efforts, utilizing the Public Art policy as appropriate, to finalize placemaking and commemoration aspects of the Cogswell District. In particular, a focus will be placed on the ongoing engagement with the Mi'kmaw and African Nova Scotian communities in this regard.
Since the launch, pre-construction activities have begun, including the installation of a laydown site that will facilitate the receipt, temporary storage, and occasional assembly of construction equipment and other supplies. Last week, actual construction commenced with the installation of a gas pipeline, sanitary sewer, and storm sewer on Upper Water Street in preparation of construction of the first detour road within the project area. The detour road is expected to be in place in summer 2022.
As well, the planning team welcomed new member Donna Flynn. Having held various positions across multiple business units with the municipality for nearly 20 years, Donna brings with her a wealth of experience to her role as Project Coordinator.
“I’m excited to be supporting the team and to be a part of such a large, historic project for the region,” says Donna. “I’m looking forward to learning new skills and to see all the changes come into effect first-hand.”
The team will be sharing more project updates as things begin to ramp up this spring. In the meantime, take a virtual tour of the future Cogswell District, and watch a recap of the official launch featuring guest speakers Mayor Mike Savage, CAO Jacques Dubé, Elder Alan Knockwood, and Marcus James and Peter Campbell of 902 Man Up.
We caught up with David to learn a bit more about him and what he’s most looking forward to in his new role. Welcome David!
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself and your role.
A: My wife and I moved to Halifax in 2001 from Toronto. At the time, I worked for a consulting company called Cyberplex and I transferred from their Toronto office to Halifax to take over the General Manager role. I worked for a couple of other consulting firms in the region, a local marketing firm, and immediately prior to coming to HRM I was Vice President of Information Technology at Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation. My career has involved all aspects of Information Technology, especially project delivery, customer service, and IT strategy.
In my current role of CIO, I lead the team which supports the organization in leveraging technology to be more productive, have greater insights, and make data-driven decisions. A big part of my role involves ensuring we build and maintain strong and active relationships with all the Business Units in the municipality so we are attuned to the how we can best assist them.
Q: What do you like most about your role so far? What excites you about joining the municipality?
A: The 20 years I have lived in Halifax have been wonderful; there is no other city in which I wish to live. Having the opportunity to do work every day which can help grow and enhance our region is a big draw for me.
So far what I have been most excited about is the people. I am part of a very diverse and dedicated team who are eager to help the organization utilize technology effectively. I have had the opportunity to meet people in business units throughout the organization and have been impressed by everyone’s focus on making life for our residents continually better.
Q: Can you speak to some of the short and long-term goals you hope to achieve, for yourself and your team?
A: The work of the IT team is driven by the needs of the business so I’m focused in the short term on learning all I can about how each of our business units work and what their needs and priorities are. The main goal for the IT team is building and maintaining strong partnerships throughout the organization so we can align and continually improve the services we’re providing to the organization.
Q: What is the best career advice you have received?
A: The best advice I have received is “consider the people component first”. As a technologist it can be tempting to lead with technology and its capabilities. However, a technology solution is only valuable if it aligns to the needs and preferences of the people who use it. Every piece of technology is only going to work as well as the team of people who implement and maintain it. You always need to start with the people part of the equation if you want to have an effective technology practice.
Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?
A: My wife and I have two daughters, 13 and 17 years old. Family activities take up most of my spare time. Both of our girls have always been heavily involved in sports - soccer and ringette in particular. I am also quite involved with ringette where I coach my youngest daughter’s Under 14 team for the Harbour City Lakers Ringette Association and the Under 14 Provincial program through Ringette Nova Scotia.
Each year, the municipality proudly hosts a variety of holiday events, bringing festive cheer to residents across the region.
In 2021, the Civic Events Team in Parks & Recreation coordinated the Halifax Christmas Tree Lighting at Grand Parade, the City Hall Holiday Projection Show, the TD Dartmouth Lights of Christmas program, the new Halifax Public Gardens Holiday Lights installation and the Menorah Lighting at City Hall.
When asked what it means to support the festivities each year, Mike Gillett, Senior Civic Events Coordinator, says it’s rewarding for him and the team to bring a little joy into the lives of the public.
“Seeing kids with their parents, dancing to the music with big smiles of their faces, it never gets old,” says Mike. “At the Halifax Tree Lighting, Rebecca Guilderson sang “Let It Go” from Frozen as their final number. She had all the kids’ attention – it was magical.”
Last year was the first time presenting the holiday projection show on City Hall. Mike credits that moment as a highlight in his career, along with seeing this year’s projection and the new Public Gardens holiday light display.
Andrew Cox, Senior Civic Events Coordinator, and Nick Allen, Project Manager, Facility Design & Construction, played a key role in coordinating this year’s Menorah Lighting.
“For over 25 years the municipality has celebrated Chanukah [Hanukkah] with the local Jewish Community, Mayor and Members of Regional Council, and anyone in the community who wishes to attend,” says Andrew. “It’s always a privilege to work with Rabbi Feldman and Bassie Feldman in organizing and celebrating the Festival of Light each year.”
Nick agrees. “It’s great to see us represent inclusivity and hold events for our diverse community. Rabbi Feldman brings an energy to the event that is truly one-of-a-kind. His connection to the community is very special.”
Holiday lights bring plenty of sparkle to the season – and the Public Gardens display wasn’t the only thing shiny and new this year. The team also coordinated a new launch location for the fireworks show using a boom lift. Set up 60 feet in the air above Grand Parade, it made for an even more spectacular experience for the crowd watching in the square below.
There’s still time to check out all the lighting displays mentioned in this article. Visit www.halifax.ca/events for details.
It truly takes a team to coordinate these special events for our community. A big shout out to everyone involved in supporting this year (the list is long - we checked it twice!)
• Civic Events - Andrew Cox, Mike Gillett, Billy Comer, Shari Dillman, Caroline Murphy, Elizabeth Taylor, Maggie MacDonald, Tara McConnachie
• Forestry - Crispin Wood, Natalie Secen, Kevin Osmond, Tristan Yull
• Office of Diversity & Inclusion/ANSAIO - Cheryl Copage-Gehue
• Halifax Regional Police – Constable Ash Lewis, Constable Danny Berube
• Traffic Management - Patrick Doyle, John Rooke, Craig Oxner Sr., Kenny Briggs, Richard Baxter
• Corporate Communications - Christine Kimball, Hillary MacEachern
• Facility Bookings - Tracy Murphy
• CAO’s Office - Kim Carver
• Mayor’s Office - Shaune MacKinlay, Kelly MacNamara
• City Hall - Glen Smith, Boyd MacKenzie, Cortrea Beals, Agnes Gyurcsanyi
• Stage Crew - Mike Matthews, Denis Boissoneault, Nathan Ernst
• Parks - Steve Rice
• Transportation & Public Works - David Boudreau
• Fleet - Mary Ann Hindy
• Finance - Charlotte Short
• Corporate Facility Design & Construction - Nick Allen
• Fire Services - Roy Hollett
• Projection Show, Street Light Group - Desmond Munden, Lucas Breckenridge
• Public Gardens Light Display - Sean Street, Chris Poole
As you begin to settle back into the busy personal and professional routines that September brings, I want to take this opportunity and provide you with an overview of the significant organizational changes that have occurred during the spring and summer months.
At the senior leadership level, Jerry Blackwood was appointed to the position of Chief Financial Officer/Executive Director of Finance & Asset Management (FAM); Caroline Blair-Smith’s portfolio expanded to Executive Director of People, Communications & IT (PCIT), a new business unit comprised of Human Resources, Corporate Communications and IT; and David Thorpe joined the IT team as Chief Information Officer. Earlier this week, I was pleased to announce that John MacPherson accepted the position of Executive Director, Corporate & Customer Services, after acting in this role for the past several months.
At the business unit level, the Real Estate team has moved to Corporate & Customer Services, and Performance Excellence now reports to Corporate Planning. For the latest business unit charts and contact information, visit the Municipal Organizational Chart.
Now that many of us have returned to our regular worksites, you’ve likely noticed that some business units and divisions have relocated. Check out this interactive map to help guide you around municipal offices located in downtown Halifax and Dartmouth.
September 30 marks the inaugural National Day for Truth and Reconciliation | Mui’watmnej na’kwek wjit Ketlewey aqq Apiksiktatimk. Stay tuned to the Employee Hub for information on how you and your team can recognize this and other upcoming dates of significance, including Treaty Day (October 1), Mi’kmaq History Month, and National Disability Employment Awareness Month (both commemorated in October).
As we begin to safely live with COVID-19, I hope you are allowing yourselves and others the space to ease into this unfamiliar reality.
Stay safe and be well,
The municipality is committed to addressing anti-Black Racism issues that still exist within the organization and across the region to help create safer and more inclusive communities and workplaces. In 2020, Regional Council asked for the development of an anti-Black racism action plan to acknowledge and address anti-Black racism related issues with respect to municipal government and service delivery. This past June, Regional Council endorsed the Anti-Black Racism Framework, which will guide the development of an Anti-Black Racism (ABR) Strategy and Action Plan.
Russel Brooks joined the municipality as the ABR Program Coordinator to support the work of the African Nova Scotian Affairs Integration Office (ANSAIO) as it leads the municipality in the development and implementation of the ABR Strategy and Action Plan.
We spoke to Russel to learn more about his passion for this important work and the goals he hopes to achieve through this initiative.
Q: When did you begin your role as ABR Program Coordinator and what attracted you to this position?
A: I began my role with the municipality as the Anti-Black Racism Program Coordinator in April 2021. This opportunity appealed to me because it put me in a position to be involved in meaningful work and pursuing necessary change.
Q: How does your previous experience apply to your current role as ABR Program Coordinator?
A: In the past I’ve had a variety of opportunities, as a tutor, mentor and advocate for people of African descent both in Halifax and Ontario. This, along with my lived experience encountering barriers throughout my own life, helped me understand the importance of this role and the influence it can have not only within the municipality, but within the community at large.
Q: What are some of the things you have been able to support in your role so far, and what goals do you hope to achieve?
A: To date we have been able to develop a framework that will shape the creation and implementation of the municipality’s Anti-Black Racism Strategy and Action Plan that was endorsed by Regional Council in June. I’ve also had the privilege of collaborating with other employees who are Black and/or are of African descent across the organization to bring forward recommendations and strategic initiatives that address several issues of anti-Black racism that impact municipal employees. Facilitating corporate training with the Office of Diversity & Inclusion/ANSAIO team has also given me an opportunity to support this work and make connections with all business units throughout the municipality.
As for goals, one of the focuses is to increase the awareness around the importance of this work. With the increase in awareness I hope to see a deeper understanding of these issues and how addressing them will result in a better municipality both for employees and citizens.
Through the implementation of the Anti-Black Racism Strategy and Action Plan, the goal is to see a significant change in the experiences for Black people and people of African descent, both in our organization and our communities.
Q: What are some ways municipal employees can support ABR initiatives? Do you have any updates to share with employees related to the ABR Strategy and Action Plan?
A: Employees can go to halifax.ca for updates on current and upcoming initiatives related to anti-Black racism initiatives. Also, employees can continue to check the Employee Hub for any upcoming events, as ANSAIO will continue to create and provide learning opportunities for municipal employees. Employees can reach out directly via email to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
As housing insecurity continues to be an issue in the region, collaboration with professional service providers and other levels of government has significantly accelerated to help address both affordable housing and homelessness.
This week, former Assistant Chief of Emergency Management, Erica Fleck, began a new three-month role as Housing and Homelessness Administrator, to lead the emergency response to homelessness for the municipality. Deputy Chief Roy Hollett, Halifax Regional Fire & Emergency, will temporarily take over as the Emergency Management lead in Erica’s stead.
Erica’s new role is focused on the immediate support and coordination required to advance Regional Council’s directive to invest $500,000 towards emergency accommodations. The funding will focus on leveraging opportunities that will have the most immediate impact on the ground, including increasing the inventory of temporary accommodations as soon as possible.
When asked what this new position means to her, Erica says, “I came to the municipality with the hopes of making a difference and helping people. This new role is certainly a challenge but to be able to assist in making this situation better for the people of HRM is the best job that I could ever ask for.”
In her new role, Erica will liaise with professional service providers, collaborate with business unit Executive Directors and staff, and work closely with external partners on potential temporary accommodations. She will also lead the municipality’s encampment operations team and act as primary spokesperson for all municipal homelessness efforts.
Erica holds a Bachelor of Emergency Management and has significant experience in policy development, execution, and review of emergency plans.
Erica joined Halifax Regional Fire & Emergency in 2017, following a distinguished 30-year career with the Canadian Military. Erica transitioned to a parttime reservist when she joined the municipality and continues to serve with the 5th Canadian Division.
This past summer, team members from Facility Design & Construction (Corporate & Customer Services) and Road Operations & Construction (Transportation & Public Works) toured the future home of the new Mackintosh Depot, a significant corporate improvement project that will meet the needs of municipal employees and residents alike.
After much consultation, many design iterations, and even a location change, the construction tender for the depot was awarded this past March.
Minor maintenance and storage of Road Operations & Construction fleet vehicles occur at the depot, which is also home to divisional and administrative teams, and to Procurement’s Stores Department that stocks supplies for various business units.
Constructed in the 1960s, the existing facility has three separate buildings that are no longer meeting employee and operational needs, including exiting issues and service bays that do not allow for minor vehicle maintenance and cleaning.
In contrast, the new centralized facility will boast 14 bays for vehicle storage; a large area for the Stores Department; a flexible, collaborative office concept; improved vehicle flow for increased safety; and adequate parking for fleet vehicles and staff. The building size was increased to allow for the growing municipal workforce, as TPW will begin to take on road transfers from the province.
In addition to these features, in alignment with HalifACT recommendations, the depot will be built to LEED silver standards, have efficient lighting and mechanical systems, a solar panel array and electric vehicle charging stations.
Once complete, teams from Road Operations & Construction, Procurement, and Parks & Recreation that currently exist across different municipal facilities will relocate to the new depot, allowing for operational efficiencies and minimal capital investment, resulting in improving service delivery to residents across the region.
Completion of the new Mackintosh Depot is scheduled for fall of 2022. Until then, we look forward to seeing more updates from the planning team, whose collaborative work is bringing this innovative facility to reality.
If you’ve been downtown over the last few months, you will likely have spotted work underway as part of the Spring Garden Road Streetscaping project. This major project will create an improved pedestrian experience along Spring Garden Road, with better accessibility, more greenery, new public artwork, and undergrounded wiring.
A project like this requires considerable collaboration – both across departments and with external partners. A core internal team, with representatives from Traffic Management, Infrastructure Planning, Project Planning & Design, Halifax Transit, Road Operations & Construction, and others, worked together right from the start of the project to ensure the proposed design was strong. According to Project Manager, Elora Wilkinson, this collaborative team structure allowed the project design to push the limits of what has been done before in Halifax.
External relationships were equally as important. From the beginning, and through construction, the Spring Garden Area Business Association has been a key project partner. The partnership began when the municipality installed a temporary stoplet (bus stop and mini park) on Spring Garden Road in Summer 2018. The stoplet added more space and amenities to the sidewalk and improved the comfort of pedestrians and transit passengers.
“It also kickstarted our extensive public engagement,” says Elora. “Here we tested ideas and recorded feedback that helped us understand what the public wanted to see on the street.”
The streetscaping project aligns with multiple Regional Council Priorities, by making Spring Garden Road a destination (Communities), investing in spaces to safely walk and roll (Integrated Mobility), and improving rainwater collection, planting over 30 trees, and decreasing traffic lanes on the street (Environment).
The project is expected to wrap up later this fall. Learn more and read project updates at halifax.ca/imaginesgr