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District 7

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Waye Mason reclaims seat for Halifax South Downtown

The District 7 incumbent isn't going anywhere.

Posted By on Sat, Oct 15, 2016 at 4:00 AM

Mason showing his pearly whites at Spencer House on election night. - ADINA BRESGE
  • Mason showing his pearly whites at Spencer House on election night.
  • Adina Bresge

For the second time, Waye Mason has defeated Sue Uteck.

The incumbent councillor won another term in office, claiming the District 7 race Saturday night over Uteck and political rookie Dominick Desjardins.

“It's a real vindication of the changes we brought to council and to the government in HRM in the last four years to get almost two-thirds of the district voting,” councillor Waye Mason said of his decisive re-election win.

The returning incumbent beat his opponents with over 60 percent of the (unofficial) vote. This is a big change from back in 2012, when Mason beat Uteck (former area councillor of 12 years) by a mere two percent vote margin.

“I was out there for five months, I gave it my all and I respect the decision,” said Uteck over the phone. “I've got a full-time job that I'll return to and we'll just go from there. I'll still be involved in the city whether it's on a board or a committee.”

Mason’s term in office earned him wide popularity, and a respect for his energetic approach to politics, but also his critics. Both Uteck and Desjardins campaigned claiming he didn’t push the Centre Plan fast enough, and put small businesses and heritage properties at risk. Mason says downtown construction is the most obvious concern of the district, one which HRM will have to attend to further during the next four years. The councillor says he's ready for the challenge, and takes this election as an official thumbs-up from area residents.

“There will be no break,” said Mason. “The most important thing is land use by-law change on the peninsula...That's what we heard over and over again at the doors, is concern about development.”

Unofficial voter turnout in District 7 was just 30.6 percent, with 4,811 total votes cast. Finalized results will be released by HRM on Tuesday.

With files from Adina Bresge.

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Thursday, October 6, 2016

Candidates come prepared for a fight at Halifax South Downtown debate

Past, present and possibly future councillors duke it out over downtown development.

Posted By on Thu, Oct 6, 2016 at 3:50 PM

Incumbent councillor Waye Mason (left) faces-off against Dominick Desjardins and Sue Uteck in the battle for District 7. - ADINA BRESGE
  • Incumbent councillor Waye Mason (left) faces-off against Dominick Desjardins and Sue Uteck in the battle for District 7.
  • ADINA BRESGE


An incumbent city councillor, his predecessor and a political rookie duked it out over the past, present and future of Halifax South Downtown at an all-candidates meeting Wednesday night.

More than 50 people flooded the room at Spencer House, some watching the proceedings with one foot outside as they straddled the doorway.

Emotions in the audience ran high as the constituents questioned the current, former and aspiring District 7 councillors—Waye Mason, Sue Uteck and Dominick Desjardins, respectively—about the ongoing transformation many feel threaten their neighbourhood, such as the demolition on Young Avenue or the proposed high-rise construction on the site of a church near Saint Mary’s University.

Development concerns took centre stage at the debate, sprawling into issues like heritage protection, bike lanes, property tax, land use, election finance reform and arts and culture funding.

Uteck came prepared to fight for the seat she occupied in City Hall for 13 years before being ousted by then-newcomer Mason, who won the 2012 election by fewer 100 voters. She sparred with Mason over their respective records, each shifting blame for downtown’s development woes on the other’s administration.

Uteck accused the current council of procrastinating on The Centre Plan—a guide for downtown developers set to be released this month. She said the project has been stalled for three-and-a-half years, leaving the district’s heritage sites vulnerable to irresponsible renovation, but was careful not to cast development as a universal negative.

“In the absence of rules, people are going to develop,” said Uteck. “To blame the development community on the current ills of the city is actually simplistic, and just not well thought out.”

Mason said the plan is only running one month behind its original schedule, and people need to give it time to work. He took both his opponents to task for accepting donations from developers, boasting how he led the effort for campaign finance reform on his first day in City Hall to prevent that sort of conflict of interest.

Uteck denied that her political influence could be purchased. Engagement with developers is part of running an “inclusive” campaign, she said, hinting that Mason’s refusal to do so may reflect an anti-development bias.

“The issue isn’t being against development. It’s about being okay with development where it’s not going to damage our communities,” Mason said. “You can’t have corporations treating influencing an election as a business expense.”

As the political rivals traded barbs, novice Desjardins seemed intent on reminding the crowd of his existence. The Cineplex theatre manager has been running a scrappy campaign, capping donations at $200 and touting his lack of experience on council as his greatest asset.

“For the past four weeks, I’ve been inundated with phone calls, because someone is not answering their phone,” Desjardins said. “I can tell you every single call has been returned…That is not what we’ve had in this district in a long time.”

A recent Saint Mary’s University graduate, Desjardins has based his platform on reaching out to residents of District 7, particularly the young ones. Had the community been consulted, Desjardins said, the city could have avoided bedevilled projects like “bike lanes to nowhere” and instead, invested in existing downtown infrastructure people care about.

“Right now, we have city planners that are stamping anything they can get their hands on…when we need more heritage preservation,” he said. “Between my two opponents, with a combined 15 years on council, I think there was ample time that something could have been done.”

E-voting in the municipal and school board is open until Oct. 13. Haligonians can cast their ballots at in-person polling stations between October 8 and 11, or on election day on Oct. 15.

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Monday, October 3, 2016

15 questions with District 7 candidate Sue Uteck

“This district needs a representative who has the experience to understand the rules…I am that person.”

Posted By on Mon, Oct 3, 2016 at 4:00 AM

Uteck can be reached at 902-817-7776 and sue@sueuteck.ca, or via Facebook and Twitter. - VIA CANDIDATE
  • Uteck can be reached at 902-817-7776 and sue@sueuteck.ca, or via Facebook and Twitter.
  • via candidate

The Coast sent all 53 candidates running in HRM’s municipal election the same 15-question survey in order to help their residents and our readers know a little more about who’s running for council. Here’s what Sue Uteck from Halifax South Downtown sent back.

———

Why should residents of your district vote for you?

District 7 is undergoing a tremendous change with respect to development, traffic, destruction of heritage and potential changes to the land-use bylaws that govern our everyday life. This district needs a representative who has the experience to understand the rules and who works with the residents, the business community, staff and fellow councillors in order to meet the needs of our district. I am that person.

What’s something you wish people were talking about more this election?

That there is an election.

What’s the last thing you Googled?

A recipe—just wanted to make sure I was doing it right!

What’s the most accurate criticism someone’s made about you?

That I take everything on as a challenge and blame myself too much when the outcome is not positive.

What was the first concert you ever went to?
Well Max Webster at my high school (Eastdale Collegiate, Oshawa, Ontario) was the bomb, but for the big show at Madison Square Gardens it was Bob Dylan..I was 14 and took the train for the first time.

What was the last movie you didn’t finish?

My late husband Larry was a fan of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I always wished that we could have watched it together.

What pisses you off?

Government misspending. A perfect example is the current situation on Spring Garden Road. This is an area that needs a total fix which is coming in 2018-19. What happens in an election year? $650,000 for street improvements that will be torn up in two years. The total fix should have been now and all those who visit and shop this area, especially those with disabilities would agree. Imagine what $650,000 could have done for the longterm ongoing maintenance of the area.

What’s changed the most in your district since 2012?

Definitely the plan of the previous council of 2008-2012 set in motion what you see today. The Central Library has been amazing. The downtown development plan was the right thing to do but the lack of communication and the now far too late construction mitigation plan has left many residents confused and angry.

What’s a specific moment in politics or your professional life that you really regret?

I do not really have any regrets—politically or professionally. Disappointments, yes, but that is the nature of the beast. I regret that my children were under such scrutiny but they have turned into amazing young adults and I am very proud of them.

What’s the last thing that made you really laugh?

My dog Ford, he is always amusing in his big gentle way.

What’s your go-to meal when cooking?

Steak, definitely steak.

What worries you the most about the Halifax Regional Municipality and the issues it's facing?

The outflow of our youth is something that needs to change and change now. We need to work with the business community and supply them with a ready workforce. The potential Port Merger is an issue that could have devastating traffic consequences for our District and the City needs to take a strong position on this.

How would you describe your opponents in this race?

I admire anyone who steps up to offer for public service.

What’s something you don’t know, but want to learn?

I want to continue to learn what staff members do on a daily basis to do their job. Regretfully as regulations would not allow, I would secretly love to captain the ferry and blast out Frank Sinatra tunes every Friday!

What do you promise NOT to do if elected?

Say that someone else is to blame. It’s your job—step up and take responsibility for both the good and poor decisions.

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Friday, September 30, 2016

The frenzy for Halifax South Downtown

All the candidates and issues facing District 7 this election.

Posted By on Fri, Sep 30, 2016 at 12:00 PM

This district covers the southern Halifax peninsula, including Point Pleasant Park, parts of Quinpool and some streets north of the Citadel. Click here for HRM’s boundary description.
 - AKRIA ARRUDA
  • This district covers the southern Halifax peninsula, including Point Pleasant Park, parts of Quinpool and some streets north of the Citadel. Click here for HRM’s boundary description.


  • Akria Arruda

The urban centre of HRM, this district keeps busy dealing with the concerns of home owners and renters in the south end, along with small business entrepreneurs and big business developers in the downtown. There’s still a lot of confusion on whether all the construction and cranes throughout Halifax South Downtown will ultimately bring new life to the district, and whether any small businesses will survive long enough to see that happen.

Eligible voters: 17,333 (as of 2014)
(Down about 600 from 2012)
Past voter turnout: 33.82 percent

The Candidates
In 2012, current district incumbent Waye Mason unseated Sue Uteck after 13 years at City Hall—but that didn’t stop her from running again this time around. In May, Uteck told The Coast she feels council dragged its feet on The Centre Plan— a guide for downtown developers which is set to be released this October. Mason—who’s been endorsed by former Halifax Needham MLA Maureen MacDonald and 2012’s second-runner-up Gerry Walsh—says the plan is only a month behind its original schedule. Developmental adversities also moved political rookie and recent Saint Mary’s grad Dominick Desjardins to put his name on the ballot. He promises “better consultation” with residents about construction proposals within the community, and also criticizes the timeline of the Centre Plan (and Mason’s term on council). Mason eked out a win against Uteck in 2012 with fewer than 100 votes, which makes Desjardins’ presence a wild card in predicting who’s going to take District 7 on October 15.

The Issues
Downtown development is the most obvious concern facing District 7. The peninsula is certainly getting a facelift, and opinions differ on whether the city is going about the building boom responsibly. Those obviously in dispute of that argument are downtown businesses like Attica, The Carleton (which announced it was filing for bankruptcy protection this past week) and The Wooden Monkey (whose co-owner Lil MacPherson is also running for mayor) calling on HRM for financial compensation over disruptions caused by the Nova Centre’s construction. Outside of the commercial areas, residents are also calling for better protection of downtown and south end properties. Last year, council approved two giant developments on the lots of what used to be four Wellington Street houses. Homes on Young Avenue are also threatened by demolition permits and some residents feel these properties should have heritage designations. Then there’s the Cogswell Interchange—the massive concrete maze dividing the downtown from north end Halifax that’s set to be demolished in the near future. Plans for what will replace it are still in initial stages. Right now, there’s more debate happening about how to reroute all the heavy truck traffic going in and out of the downtown core. Really, the list can go on. The councillor for Halifax South Downtown in 2017 is going to have their hands full. We hope they start by shepherding in a tactical, responsible Centre Plan that can start cleaning up some of the development mess plaguing HRM.

Click here to find out more info on how, where and when you can vote in HRM’s election.


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Thursday, September 22, 2016

15 questions with District 7 candidate Dominick Desjardins

“With over 15 years combined under my opponents, we need a new voice.”

Posted By on Thu, Sep 22, 2016 at 4:00 AM

Desjardins can be reached at 902-406-3141 - and DominickHFX@gmail.com, or via Facebook and Twitter. - ANISA FRANCOEUR
  • Desjardins can be reached at 902-406-3141and DominickHFX@gmail.com, or via Facebook and Twitter.
  • Anisa Francoeur

The Coast sent all 53 candidates running in HRM’s municipal election the same 15-question survey in order to help their residents and our readers know a little more about who’s running for council. Here’s what Dominick Desjardins from Halifax South Downtown sent back.

———

Why should residents of your district vote for you?

We need affordable housing, transit that fits the rider, increased practical bike lanes, a champion for our business and responsible development. With over 15 years combined under my opponents, we need a new voice.

What’s something you wish people were talking about more this election?

Making Halifax a youth-focused city.

What’s the last thing you Googled?

Masters of planning Dalhousie University.

What’s the most accurate criticism someone’s made about you?

“He doesn’t let up.”

What was the first concert you ever went to?

Bob Dylan, around the age of 10.

What was the last movie you didn’t finish?
Sausage Party (not my style)

What pisses you off?

When people write-off students or youth.

What’s changed the most in your district since 2012?

Increased pet projects, decreased parking on major streets, increased poor development.

What’s a specific moment in politics or your professional life that you really regret?

Not fighting for a youth-focused city during my early academic career.

What’s the last thing that made you really laugh?

A part in a film I was watching featured in the Atlantic Film Fest.

What’s your go-to meal when cooking?

Fettuccine Alfredo with homemade garlic bread (supper anyone?)

What worries you the most about the Halifax Regional Municipality and the issues it's facing?

Increasing condos with decreasing “affordable” rental options, leading to possible outmigration.

How would you describe your opponents in this race?

Welcoming to the “new guy,” and been there, done that.

What’s something you don’t know, but want to learn?

Surfing, I am trying though.

What do you promise NOT to do if elected?

Allow developers to play Monopoly with our properties, and fight with my colleagues.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

15 questions with District 7 councillor Waye Mason

“It is getting harder and harder for people to stay in the neighbourhoods they grew up in.”

Posted By on Wed, Sep 21, 2016 at 4:00 AM

Mason can be reached on Facebook, Twitter, via email at waye@wayemason.ca and by phoning 902-982-3898. - VIA VOTEWAYEMASON.CA
  • Mason can be reached on Facebook, Twitter, via email at waye@wayemason.ca and by phoning 902-982-3898.
  • via VoteWayeMason.ca

The Coast sent all 53 candidates running in HRM’s municipal election the same 15-question survey in order to help their residents and our readers know a little more about who’s running for council. Here’s what incumbent councillor Waye Mason from Halifax South Downtown sent back.

———

Why should residents of your district vote for you?

I've worked hard to deliver the 30 promises I made in 2012. Residents know what I stand for and know I deliver. I have 30 new promises, and they can count on me to work hard and get them done.

What’s something you wish people were talking about more this election?

I am surprised people are not talking about the Centre Plan more. Most of peoples' concerns about change of character in established neighbourhoods is controlled through land use bylaws, and the Centre Plan could revise all of those.

What’s the last thing you Googled?

It was actually [councillor] Tony Mancini's phone number to pass on to one of his constituents who called me by accident.

What’s the most accurate criticism someone’s made about you?

Too much of a policy wonk. I was recently told my email to a constituent read like a staff report (with footnotes). That said, it was accurate and answered the question!

What was the first concert you ever went to?

AC/DC at Wembley Arena.

What was the last movie you didn’t finish?
Darker Blue, starring Kurt Russell. Walked out of Park Lane.

What pisses you off?

I'll stay job related: the way some councillors ignore urban core residents' concerns about development and then complain that urban councillors ignore rural concerns. Pot, kettle.

What’s changed the most in your district since 2012?

That is easy—2012 was a lot of concern about “will we ever see any development?” and now the dialog is “we have so much development happening too fast.” It is a whole set of new challenges!

What’s a specific moment in politics or your professional life that you really regret?

Wellington Street. Deeply regret not winning the day. Should not build towers next to R1 single-family homes.

What’s the last thing that made you really laugh?

I laugh a lot, but basically every episode of Blackish has me laughing so hard I cry.

What’s your go-to meal when cooking?

I do a nice Thai ground pork thing with fish sauce, lime and cilantro over rice—fast and delicious.

What worries you the most about the Halifax Regional Municipality and the issues it's facing?

Affordable housing. It is getting harder and harder for people to stay in the neighbourhoods they grew up in. Additionally, both the north end part and Inglis/Morris part of District 7 have a lot of transient people—large chunks of the population with income challenges and it is getting harder to make ends meet.

How would you describe your opponents in this race?

Democracy is a wonderful thing. Good for them for putting themselves forward. It is a really hard thing to do.

What’s something you don’t know, but want to learn?

I would like to learn more about facilitating public engagements and about conflict resolution methods. Not because of council colleagues, but I end up in a lot of meetings with residents where there is a lot of disagreement. The more skills the better in those meetings.

What do you promise NOT to do if elected?

I promise not to change. Also to continue to pump out emails, tweets, e-newsletters, newsletters and to return phone calls at an amazing rate.

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