“It all starts with me” the tag line from David Suzuki’s commercial for Conserve Nova Scotia basically says it all. If we do not start with me (us) where does it start?
Living within our means, using the resources we have, and making sure we replenish those resources should be everyones mantra. Unfortunately, many humans and governments do not follow this sound advise.
Case in point: Urban Sprawl, and underutilization of existing infrastructure within our own municipality. Halifax Regional Municipality has been sprawling for years and its affecting the municipality’s ability to maintain the amenities we all ready have. Like an elastic band, you can only streatch something so far before it breaks. Each time a new residential development plan in an unserviced area is approved by Council it costs a huge amount of money for the basic infrastructure such as water, sewage, streets, police, fire, transit, and schools. As new areas pop up outside of the urban core, the need to maintain the existing infrastructure within the already established areas still exists. Like any water pipe, recreation centre, street or sidewalk that has been utilized for a period of years, it only has a certain lifecycle and repairs, ugrades or replacement is vitial to maintain a level of service.
Tonight I attended one of the 3 meetings regarding the Peninsula Recreation Centre public meetings. George Dixon Centre, Needham Centre and St. Andrew’s Centre are all under review. The centres are in need of upgrades, redesigning of programmable space and wheel chair accessability . All were build decades ago when accessibility was not a standard practice. Furthermore, Halifax is becoming the home to many different ethnic communities who have certain needs which must be accommodated as well. The message was clear from the residents, just upgrade what we have. Losing such assets to a community would be devastating as they are the heart of a community. HRM By Design also supports complete neighbourhoods and these type of facilities are key components.
Back to my rant. If we are going to make our municipality a liveable and viable place to live we need to follow a sustainable way of living and stop building our communities which make us reliant on cars. Walkable neighbourhoods are vital to the health of our residents and municipality. Reliable mass transit is a must as well but I’ll get into that later as I believe our transit routes are not serving the residents or commuters as well as it could. Ok, I must rant about this for a few lines… We have too many buses serving the same areas and are not looking at any change to this by the looks of things. 550+ workers (NSPI), 300+ students (NSCAD), residents of the area (1200+) and those who will be wanting to frequent the future Farmers Market and Pier 21, Cunard Centre, and the Train Station/ Bus Station at the Westin, the students of Dal and SMU, staff of the hospitals and the patients were relying on the Downtown Shuttle to make their lives easier, but the shuttle was not included in the latest 5 yr transit strategy. Out of Frustration I have started a petition. Please sign it!
To wrap this up, HRM needs to plan better for the future. We as citizens need to demand that our government doesn’t just think it’s sustainable but actually that they lead us by example by retrofitting community centres, re-evaluate our transit strategy and demanding more eco-friendly means for our future.
You need to be aware of what the Municipality is or isn’t doing and contact your Municipal Representatives via phone, email, snail mail etc as it does start with you.