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Are Halifax bouncers misunderstood?

By Hilary Beaumont

Halifax bouncers have kids and partners. They’re students, athletes and small business owners. They have loans, bills and taxes to pay. Ask any of them for their job description, and you’ll hear they’re communicators before they’re fighters.

But when we talk about downtown violence, bouncers become “juiced-up ‘roid monkeys” itching for a fight.

They become villains.

A little over a month ago, bar patron John Wesley Chisholm stirred the downtown violence debate by posting a narrative about an aggressive bouncer on Facebook. His allegations were against a bouncer at The Carleton, however the bar released a different version of events.

News 95.7 invited Chisholm to defend his position on air. In response to Chisholm’s story, a listener named Al called the station to comment:

“These bouncers get an attitude that they have a right to bully people,” he said.

“They are always overly aggressive. They cause these situations to escalate nine times out of ten. A lot of them, believe it or not, a lot of them should be tested. A lot of them nowadays are on steroids. So you got a guy pumped up on steroids protecting your children. …They need training in anger management.”

Randy, who said he was a former bouncer, called in and responded to Al:

“The bouncer is there to protect people, including the bar staff, the people who are there to drink and the people who are coming through the door,” he said.

“Clearly you have to agree, Randy, there’s a lack of training standards here and training is an absolute necessity in these jobs,” radio host Rick Howe interjected.

“When I started, my training was: How to put a guy in a full-nelson and how to talk him down,” Randy replied.

“Ninety per cent of the time, I talked the guy into leaving the bar, and 10 per cent of the time, you have to use force. If you’ve got a drunk coming at you with a beer bottle and he’s going berzerk, what are you going to do? You’ve got to think about everybody in that bar.”


Photo: Hilary Beaumont

What training do bouncers receive?

Mykyta Clancy is a 23-year-old university student. He’s working on an honours in psychology and criminology. He has a 3.7 GPA, and he’s a fan of the Dexter book and TV series.

Clancy has “tons of debt” accumulating from student loans. Working security downtown four nights a week pays for rent, groceries and other costs of living.

He finds night shifts easy to schedule around school.

Clancy has worked as a security guard at two bars in Halifax for four and a half years. I agreed not to name the bar he currently works at, but it’s located on Barrington Street.

“I turned 19 and I had a couple friends who were working at a bar, and they said they were having fun doing it. They suggested I drop off a resume, so I did.”

“Just so you know, we’re not about fighting here,” his supervisor told him when he was first hired. “You have to be able to use your words.”

“That was the first thing they actually told me.”

“They told me the first day, you need to be able to talk to people; the best thing you can do is talk someone out of the bar.”

Here’s what you learn when you work a security gig at a bar in Halifax: How to approach people in a non-confrontational way, how to talk to people, how to use your posture to mitigate risk.

Clancy was taught “the three A’s”: A bouncer can ask the patron to leave, advise the patron to leave, or finally, if the first two don’t work, assist the patron in leaving.

“If somebody wants to show resistance—if they want to throw an elbow back at us, if they want to punch us—we have to start restraining them,” Clancy said.

Clancy received similar training across the two companies he worked for. He said training was based on the criminal code and liquor control act.

Training is also based on fire regulations, according to a 27-year-old doorman who didn’t want to be named due to the negative stereotype associated with his job. We’ll call him Matt.

Matt has worked security for seven years in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Ontario.

“It started out as something I enjoyed doing when I was younger, and as I got older, my girlfriend had a child.”

His girlfriend is a nurse, which means her hours are irregular. Working nights and weekends allows Matt to spend as much time as possible with her and his son, five-year-old Jackson.

“I spend most of my time with my little one and my fiancé,” he said.

At his current security job, bouncers use the “equal or lesser force” rule, Matt said.

“You can’t use excessive force when dealing with someone. You have to use the same amount of force they generate toward you. And that’s only used up until a point.”

Security staff are taught to talk first, he said.

“No matter what happens, where you are, you use your head. Everything you do, you can talk it out,” Matt’s mentor in Toronto told him. “I’ve found that to be the best approach in this business.”

However, bouncers are not regulated, and there is no industry standard for training.

In 2009, NS tried to regulate security workers. Justice Minister Ross Landry said people should know what to expect from the security industry, just as they do from police services. He attempted to put forward the same legislation in 2010 as well. Both bills died.


Security staff experience abuse on the job

Security staff stand with their backs to the wall, their feet shoulder width apart and their hands clasped in front. They wear black jackets. They can be big guys. This image combined with the pervasive violent bouncer stereotype can lead to the assumption security are looking for a fight.

But the bouncers I spoke to said the opposite was true.

“No, it’s usually the opposite,” Matt said. “Most people I know would rather talk somebody out than have to deal with them physically, because for us, physicality just means more paperwork at the end of the night.”

After any physical contact with a patron, security staff must fill out an incident report, a “use of force” report and witness reports.

“I call it homework,” a veteran bouncer named Chris said, “because every time you lay a hand on somebody, you have to write a report about why you were laying your hand on somebody. If it does go to court, you have to have your backside covered.”

Violent bouncers are considered liabilities to security companies and bars. But they do exist.

“You get bad apples who do this job,” Clancy said. “That’s going to happen in any industry.”

If they use unnecessary force, they’re let go, he said. However, if they have an “in” in the industry, they can usually find work again as security.

“There are bad apples who fill that stereotype but most of us don’t,” Clancy said.

“Stereotypes handicap us from the get-go. I think people are quick to point the finger at us.”

In fact, security workers experience verbal and physical abuse on the job themselves.

People shout often shout derogatory insults at Clancy and Chris: “fuck you guys,” “you guys are faggots,” “you guys are gay,” “come down the street and fight me.”

“Thugs,” “bullies,” “retards.”

“We’re challenged on a regular basis,” Clancy said. “We know better than to let those things get to us.”

“We’re big boys, we have thick skins,” Chris said. “If you want to verbally assault us, that’s fine, but when you lunge at us physically and threaten our personal space, then you will be restrained and brought outside.”

Clancy was “bottled” at a previous job. It can happen really quickly, he said. That’s why they’re taught to remove drinks and bottles from patrons’ hands.

At his current job, a guy pulled a knife on one of his coworkers.

Chris, who works at the same bar, said a patron punched a bouncer in the face on St. Patrick’s Day.

In 2008, George Rigakos, associate professor of law, criminology and political economy at Carleton University, researched nightclubs across Canada.

“We wound up finding that bouncers experience more workplace violence than police officers”Rigakos told the Ottawa Citizen.

Bouncers can be attacked when leaving the job, he told the Citizen, and they can also experience “revenge attacks” when off the job.

He also found they are more likely than police to have an “us-versus-them” mentality coupled with contempt for patrons.

In Canada, he said, there are now three private security guards for every police officer.

Chris said he’s worked as security staff in Halifax since the ‘90s.

In the mid-‘90s, Western countries including England, Canada and the US began talking about the violence associated with the security industry.

Since then, Chris said, “it’s changed big time.”

Back then, he said, people were only asked once to leave.

“If they didn’t leave, bouncers were big back then. They were big and grizzly, and they would muscle onto somebody and they wouldn’t think twice about oops, off a post, oops, off a wall. Unfortunately there were a lot of people who got roughed up, and it gave us bad names and bad reputations for it.”

Now there are more security cameras. Bouncers walk people out of the bar rather than dragging them. They work in pairs to increase safety. There are incident reports. They use their words rather than their fists.


Re-thinking the stereotype

“When you see a doorman in this city, they’re like everybody else,” Matt said. “They have families, they’re going through school, they have papers due Monday, they’re no different from anybody else in any other profession in the city.”

“For the most part, these are just guys looking for extra income, working around their schedules with spouses and school,” he said.

Bouncers are usually young, socially-liberal moonlighting students, Rigakos found.

“All my friends work downtown, so it’s a great chance to be around all my friends,” Clancy said.

Soon he’ll be writing the LSAT and applying to grad schools. Entering the police force or the military are other options, but school is the most important thing to him right now.

“We are really misunderstood sometimes,” Chris said. “I always say, bouncers are known as uneducated thugs who throw people out on their heads, and doormen are people who are educated and can talk to people.”

Halifax experiencing bike boom similar to 1897

Practicing on velocipedes inside gymnasiums helped Haligonians avoid falling in the streets.

By Hilary Beaumont

This month there will be two, not one, Critical Mass events in Halifax. Usually once a month, cyclists mount their steeds and parade down the streets to both celebrate bike culture and bring attention to the dangers they face on the road.

Bike Week, May 31 to June 9 this year, is in its 14th year. Cafés say they’ll offer people wearing bike helmets discounts on coffee during this year’s week of bike-related events.

Buses have bike racks on the front. Bike parking is sprouting on sidewalks. We’ve got a one-metre rule, even if it’s not always followed.

Meanwhile, business is booming for bike shops and rental companies, prompting more competitors to enter the local market over the last few years.

An increasing number of people are embracing bicycles as a legitimate form of commuter vehicle that does less harm to the environment than cars and also encourages exercise.

Halifax hasn’t witnessed bike mania like this since before cars existed.

Since 116 years ago.

In April 1897, the Halifax Ramblers sponsored a four-day bike show at the Masonic Hall, with “a magnificent display of bicycles and everything pertaining to the wheel on a scale never before attempted in the Maritime Provinces.”

The show was open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. An Italian string orchestra played. Trains brought tourists to the city from rural NS. Admission was 10 cents and patrons were entered into a draw for a new bike.

That year, the Halifax Chronicle wrote, “1897 will be known as the year of the bicycle craze.”

We know this thanks to Heather Watts’ 1985 book “Silent Steeds: Cycling in Nova Scotia to 1900.” Unless otherwise noted, this article owes its historical information to Watts.

Between 1890 and 1900, bicycles were all the rage, Watts writes. Bike clubs organized races and paraded down the street during “fancy” rides. Hotels and other businesses offered discounts to cyclists. Bike shops thrived. The pro-bicycle culture attracted tourists to Nova Scotia.

The first bikes to reach Nova Scotia were the velocipedes in the late 1860s. Noisy, heavy and difficult to steer, they were iron-framed beasts with wood-rimmed wheels that would rub against and chaff the rider’s legs. Cyclists wore tight pants, which weren’t trendy at the time, to avoid catching material in the mechanism.

In 1868, after a New York acrobatic act featuring velocipedes toured NS, five Halifax gymnasiums opened their doors for velocipede lessons so riders could avoid the embarrassment of falling in the street.

Around 1870, high wheels also became popular in NS. This model featured a large front wheel sometimes five feet in diameter, and a smaller back wheel. They were faster, travelling at a maximum of about 27 kilometres per hour versus the velocipede’s maximum of around 14 kilometres per hour.

Demand for the vehicles prompted a race to patent the most efficient bike. In the 1880s a “safety” model with smaller wheels was invented, closely resembling the bikes we ride today.

Previous to the 1890s, bicycles, high wheels and velocipedes were hobby vehicles for elite club members. But increased competition amongst inventors and distributors lead to more user-friendly designs at a lower price point. This encouraged women and people earning average incomes to try cycling, too.

However popular and fashionable they may have been, bicycles had their flaws. They couldn’t shield their riders from Nova Scotia’s elements and their air-filled tires burst easily on unpaved roads.

The Halifax Ramblers ride down Hollis Street on Labour Day.

But what really killed the bicycle was the electric car. Around 1900, the elite ditched their bicycles for the latest form of transportation, the electric runabout car —later replaced by the gas-run automobile.

Automobiles made the roads unsafe for cyclists, and relegated them, literally, to the sidelines. However, cyclists may owe credit to the automobile for aiding the eventual resurgence of bike culture beginning in the 1970s.

Early cycling lobbies advocated for better roads and highways, but it was the popularity of the automobile that lead to widespread paved roads, helping bicycles take their place again as a popular commuter vehicle.

“Today we are witnessing what may be the beginnings of a new bicycle boom in Nova Scotia,” Watts wrote in 1985.

Bike Week was declared in HRM for the first time in 1999. Since then, city proclamations have called cycling an inexpensive and healthy way to commute, a globally-recognized form of transportation, an alternate vehicle to the automobile that reduces both health care costs and green house gases, and a priority under active transportation.

From 2008 to present, the total number of bike lane kilometres in HRM has increased from about 50 to 87.

Bike culture still has a long road ahead, however. The tension between bicycles and cars still exists today, raising safety concerns for cyclists. This, and the lack of a continuous network of bike lanes in Halifax, discourages some from cycling.

There’s hope, though. The Crosstown Connector, a proposed bike lane spanning from the south end to the north end, has cleared public consultation hurdles, and the information gathered will help council decide whether the project should go forward, and if so, which route to pick.

Business owners have opposed the route running along Agricola Street, saying removal of car parking would discourage customers. However, the Halifax Community Health Board, the Halifax Cycling Coalition and other groups have said Agricola is already a bike corridor, and a bike lane would encourage active transportation.

Thanks to Heather Watts for her marvelous book, Silent Steeds—a great resource if you want to know more about the history of cycling in Halifax from 1860 to 1900.

A tale of two markets: Seaport renovations begin after port takes over, vendors leave

Image: Nicole Bratt via Flickr

By Hilary Beaumont

Major changes are coming to the Seaport Farmers’ Market, starting Monday. Over the next couple years, the market’s new manager, the Halifax Port Authority, is overhauling Seaport to make it more customer-friendly.

Market-goers will see the main stairs demolished to make way for a new entrance. Two new staircases will straddle each side of this entrance, with bleacher seating for customers who now sit on, and clog, the main stairs.

Above the new stairs, a bar-height counter with stools will run along the railing. Currently customers balance their drinks there while surveying the bottom floor of the market.

The living wall, which currently exists in a zombie state between dead and alive, will be removed to make way for the new entrance. The wall was originally imagined as an indoor vertical garden and natural air filter, but lack of light and water prevented growth, and the plants that managed to grow attracted mice.

To make up for lost greenery, Seaport plans to give away potted houseplants to customers at the new front entrance—rodents not included.

Visitors will also see two new bathrooms, another set of stairs at the south end of the market and a community kitchen. The Seaport website is also undergoing a redesign. To allow for messy, noisy renovations that might otherwise bug customers, the market is now closed Monday through Thursday.

The changes come after more than two years of uncertainty over the future of Seaport. Since last spring, several vendors have jumped ship and those remaining voted to bring in new management last May. Investors have yet to be paid, and the port authority won’t say how much the new renovations might cost.


Great expectations

Before Seaport opened in 2010, more than 500 investors poured between $1.5 and $1.7 million into the market, which cost $14 million to build. Media attention around the project was positive, and most Historic Farmers’ Market vendors, believing Seaport would be successful, packed up their stalls and made the switch.

Soon, though, it became clear the City Market of Halifax Cooperative was $9 million in debt and revenues weren’t high enough to pay it down. In November, 2011, the coop realized its business plan wasn’t working, and retained consultants to restructure Seaport and act as interim management.

The consultants held meetings with stakeholders, vendors and creditors, analyzed the design and layout of the market, surveyed 744 customers and 170 vendors, and produced an operating budget.

But the coop was facing a potential lawsuit from one of its contractors and it became clear to vendors that something had to change. They could seek creditor protection, go bankrupt and/or put the port authority at the helm. Forty-two out of 48 coop members voted last May for the port authority to take over the 40-year lease.

When they did, the coop dissolved and the port authority said it wouldn’t take on the debt. It’s unclear at this point whether investors will ever see their money.

Image: Nicole Bratt via Flickr

Vendors leave

At the end of January, it became official that The Fish Shop, a Seaport staple, wouldn’t renew their lease. But by this point, other vendors had already left.

Brian and Keith Boates of Boates Farms, a small-scale apple, pear, cider and vinegar producer, pulled out of the market when it became clear the port authority would take over.

“I felt duped a little bit, to go, and then when we got there, it wasn’t what we expected,” Brian Boates said Saturday while tending to his stand at the Historic Farmers’ Market.

The coop told the Boates family Seaport would be a traditional farmers market with quotas for primary producers like themselves, and caps on vendors selling the same product, which enticed the family to move to Seaport.

“It certainly didn’t shape up that way,” Boates said.

When the coop moved to Seaport, they became more relaxed about enforcing bylaws that protected small vendors, Boates said. He questioned managers about the bylaws and finances, he said, but they wouldn’t give him a straight answer.

When the port authority took over, the market became public with a for-profit mandate. That’s fine for large farms, but over time small-producers tend to be out-competed in that type of structure, if they don’t grow, Boates explained.

Private non-profit cooperative structures like the Historic Farmers’ Market, on the other hand, protect small vendors by setting caps on those who sell, for example, bread or apples. At the Historic market, there are three apple vendors selling three different kinds of apples, and management has capped the number of bread vendors at seven.

“In Nova Scotia, we still have our small family farms, and we should be supporting them more so than building let’s say an American-style public structure,” Boates said.

George Pickford of Acadiana Soy Products left Seaport for similar reasons.

Also tempted by the new market, Pickford expanded his business to Seaport. He had low expectations of turning a profit, but thought his business would do well in the long term. Instead, the tofu stall operated at too large a loss, so he retreated to his stand at the Historic market.

There were a few reasons the small-scale primary-producer said he was in over his head. For a start, rent was three times as high at Seaport. Vendors got a discount on rent by operating more days of the week, Pickford said, but he couldn’t afford to pay staff for those additional days.

And, he said, there were more than enough people selling the same thing: “Our apple sales dropped, our cider sales dropped from close to 75 jugs a week to maybe six, because there were three other apple cider vendors within eyesight of our booth.

“It just consolidated too many people selling the same thing, to try to gain the revenue to make their overhead.”

He sold nut butters, but there were two other vendors selling nut butters. He sold Just Us coffee, but three other people sold coffee. The market was diluted enough that he and his competitors weren’t turning a profit off these items.

Historic Farmers’ Market manager Lisa Morrison echoed the concerns of the two farmers.

“If they’re a local, small-scale farmer, they’re doing everything themselves,” she said. “They’re farming the fields and then they’re also coming to the farmers market.”

“So when it gets to a point like at Seaport when they’re expecting the farmers to be there more than one day a week, or three days a week, then that jeopardizes the viability of a small-scale local farmer to be able to keep his business going.”

Pickford said he’s benefitting from the coop model at the Historic market. He and Boates said their sales are decent this season, and their regular customers know where to find them.

“There’s lots of room for two markets,” Boates said.


Seaport vendors feeling positive

Last Thursday, during a World Café-style event, the port authority told vendors renovations were about to begin.

One vendor, who didn’t want his name used because he wants to maintain a good relationship with Seaport, said the World Café meeting was “a bit misleading and manipulative,” and he wasn’t given the opportunity to ask how many days a week the market would be open.

However, he said the turnout of more than 100 vendors was positive, and he felt somewhat reassured by the fact the meeting took place at all.

“Am I feeling reassured? A little bit, I am, yeah. I do get the sense that someone is actually steering the ship now.”

The first time he realized the market was in good hands was when he received an email from the port authority, and then a follow-up phone call to confirm he got the email. He was delighted to see that management had “the time and resources to actually call us and make sure we’re on the same page”

Several other Seaport vendors Haligonia spoke to last Saturday were happy with the market’s new direction.

“Seaport is going to have lots of renovations so I believe it will be better,” Turkish cuisine vendor Coskun Ayazoglu said. Though he started at the Historic market, Ayazoglu was happy overall with Seaport, and plans to stay put.

“Things will be better,” he said with a genuine smile.

Seaport Farmers’ Market manager Julie Chaisson said her market is focused on building a customer-friendly space, and vendors will benefit from that.

“It’s farm-to-table, whether you shop at one market or another,” she said.

“It’s about a philosophy around local food, primary producers and connecting the producer with the customer.”

Strategic Urban Partnership to hold Cogswell Interchange consultation

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By Hilary Beaumont

Blow it up? Tear it down? And then what?

The Strategic Urban Partnership plans to ask Halifax residents what they think should happen to the Cogswell Interchange.

On Thursday, a council standing committee voted to allow the group to host an “ideas expo” to ask Halifax residents what they want to see on the nearly six-acre property separating the North End from downtown. The Community Planning and Economic Development Standing Committee also voted to incorporate the resulting ideas into HRM’s future decisions regarding the Cogswell Interchange.

After her presentation to council, SUP member and co-founder of The Hub Joanne MacRae said consultations could kick off around April, and that the process would resemble the HRM by Design engagement model. CBC Nova Scotia is set to co-host the effort.

MacRae said the “ideas expo” would be “part fair, part Pecha-Kucha [and] part regular meeting.”

Since January last year, HRM has been a $55,000 cost-sharing partner with SUP, and has provided the organization with $25,000 in funding. Businesses and organizations represented in SUP’s membership include NSCAD, Neptune, CarShare, the Ecology Action Centre, the NS Housing Trust, CoLab and Fusion Halifax. Art of Hosting advocate Tim Merry and Dalhousie School of Planning director Andy Fillmore sit on the seven-member organizing committee with MacRae.

The SUP presenter said the group hasn’t picked anyone to host the consultations yet.

Built in the late ‘60s and widely regarded as an ugly structure, the Cogswell Interchange has served to cut north end foot traffic off from the downtown, and has never carried the heavy traffic it was intended for.

The alleged economic facilitator and its concrete sister, Scotia Square, were built to tempt “cash and carry” drivers into the downtown. A highway around the peninsula, which was never built, was meant to provide a scenic route for drivers. Pedestrians were an afterthought, at best.

Since north end residents made it clear to former Councillor Dawn Sloane in 2000 that the eyesore had to go, HRM has solicited studies and looked for reasons to demolish the structure. But its demise only became a major priority last year in the run-up to the municipal election.

In October 2012 after several years of putting it off, HRM published a Request For Proposals for the site. And in December 2012, new Mayor Mike Savage identified the Cogswell Interchange redevelopment as a “legacy project,” and one of the first steps toward revitalizing the downtown.

When he was HRM supervisor for heritage and design in October 2011, Fillmore said council was waiting for one of three triggers before they would consider ripping the interchange down:

1) The maintenance costs outweigh the cost of demolition
2) A major structural problem makes it unsafe or unstable
3) The city receives a major public or private financial boost specifically targeted at the interchange

From 2009 to 2011, HRM spent $1 million repairing the structure. That work is meant to tide the interchange over until its demolition, or 2019. Whichever comes first.

Oddly enough, MacRae’s personal opinion of what should replace the interchange sounds a lot like what was there before; a residential neighbourhood was razed to make room for the interchange.

“I think there needs to be more people there,” MacRae said. She described a neighbourhood with townhouses. “For me it’s like, bring on the people.”

What would you like to see on the Cogswell Interchange site? We'd like to hear your comments below or on Facebook, here.

Council to discuss inconsistencies in sidewalk snow removal

By Hilary Beaumont

The largest snowstorm to hit Halifax this season has resurrected a debate that dates back to amalgamation. And depending on council’s upcoming budget decisions, it’s either costing property owners or pedestrians.

In some areas of the municipality, like Clayton Park, Fairview, Rockingham and Wentworth, it’s the responsibility of the city to clear snow from sidewalks. Residents in these areas pay extra property tax for sidewalk snow removal.

In other areas, including Armdale, Purcell’s Cove, Spryfield and most of the peninsula, residents are expected to clear their own sidewalks. If not, HRM may charge the property owner for snow removal, or even ticket them.

Along major arteries and bus routes—Robie Street, for instance—HRM does clear sidewalks.

Currently residents in areas with city snow removal pay an additional property tax of 15 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. For a $200,000 property, that’s $30.

Now, under HRM’s active transportation plan, the city is considering extending the service to the entire city. According to the Audit and Finance Standing Committee’s draft Transportation and Public Works budget report (PDF), which goes before Council Wednesday, extending the service would cost $23 million each year.

It’s too early in the process to say whether this cost would be passed on to property owners or absorbed by the municipality.

Another cost could be the city’s active transportation goals. North end resident Michelle Skelding says the lack of sidewalk plowing in her neighbourhood discourages her from walking.

On Sunday night around 9:30, Skelding was walking home from the Bus Stop Theatre on Gottingen Street—a walk that usually takes her 10 minutes.

Skelding estimates about a third of sidewalks were shoveled in her mainly residential neighbourhood. She crossed the street several times to avoid the deep snow. As she reached the corner of Creighton and Cunard streets, she stopped in her tracks, snapped a photo of the mountain of snow in front of her and posted it to Facebook with the caption, “Halifax, why you no plow sidewalks?”

Not only were the sidewalks not shoveled, but the plows hired by HRM to clear the streets had also blocked crosswalks with large piles of snow.

“They’re making it convenient for cars, but with pedestrians they could care less,” she said. “It’s ridiculous.”

Skelding decided to walk on the street instead.

The entire four-block walk, and the couple minutes to snap and share the photo, took about 20 minutes.

To get around the city, Skelding generally walks or takes the bus. She doesn’t own a car.

Skelding is doing exactly what HRM hopes more Halifax residents will do. According to the Active Transportation section of the city website:

“We live in a society where people are less active, pollution is on the rise and health concerns are increasing. By providing a variety of options to the general public we can encourage more active lifestyles and decrease the reliance upon the automobile.
Many people will walk as part of their journey to work, while others will use active modes for the entire trip. However, many won't due to time constraints, lack of facilities at their (sic) desitnation, or concerns over safety. However, if safe, well-connected routes, with end of trip facilities were available that encouraged active transportation, then it would be more viable.”

“I’m prepared for the elements, but when I have to walk through snowbanks to try and get to where I need to be, it’s too much,” Skelding says.

When asked about the tax hike, she was concerned landlords might pass the cost along to tenants. She said she would rather deal with the snow than a rent increase.

Skelding’s area councillor Jennifer Watts, said she heard from residents before and after the storm concerning sidewalk snow removal. Some of them, like seniors who may not be able to shovel, were adamant the city should clear the sidewalks. But others argued they don’t want the property tax hike associated with snow removal; they would rather do it themselves.

Watts said residents should be able to vote on the issue by district. One vote, in District 9, Armdale-Peninsula West, could take place as early as April. Watts will be watching closely to see whether something similar could be possible in her north end Halifax district.

[Ed: What do you think? Comment on this story on our Facebook page, here: http://on.fb.me/Vdpc4t]

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