Wading through election ideas and question-dodges gives me a migraine quicker than a glass of harbour-solution sludge. I hope this helps you assess the eco-promises of the mayoral candidates. Grades are based on the candidate's knowledge, understanding, creativity and commitment to sustainability, as demonstrated in their responses to my questionnaire.
Tom Martin: B+
Martin has essentially adopted Our HRM's seven recommendations as his environmental platform. He opposes the Bayers Road widening, biosolids and fracking; he supports a greenbelt, creating a 30-metre buffer around all water bodies, banning clear cutting and coastal infilling and increasing spending on active transportation infrastructure. He wants to make developers pay for new infrastructure their projects necessitate, "to the degree that the industry can bear." To fund new eco-spending, he supports the always-contentious service-based tax system. He wants an Integrated Regional Transit Authority, "so we can actually increase spending on public transportation." Martin's got a plan, but he could go further.
Fred Connors: A-
Connors supports green roofs, greenbelts, district energy, local procurement rules and mandatory 30-metre development-free zones around water bodies. He wants to increase fees for developers, decrease downtown corporate tax, increase transit funding and introduce more parking fees. Connors thinks savings can be acquired from improved municipal energy efficiency and using renewable sources. He opposes widening Bayers Road and the use of biosolids. He supports banning pyritic slate dumping in water bodies. He's on the fence about fracking because he believes "the impact of contaminates in our water have to be weighed against cheaper and more efficient energy." Connors demonstrates knowledge, contemplation and creativity on environment.
Mike Savage: C-
Savage wants to end "haphazard growth" and improve transit. His main proposals are density bonusing, which already exists, and improving adherence to rules. He supports a greenbelt, decreased downtown corporate tax rates and increased public and active transit funding, paid for by expanding the downtown tax base and working with other governments. He opposes biosolids and fracking. Savage proposes a green innovation award for developers, improving efficiency in municipal buildings, local procurement and developing a "healthy community fund" for grassroots eco-projects. Savage is knowledgeable but doesn't commit to much.
Robbie (Wesley) McCormack: B
McCormack supports the greenbelt and decreased downtown corporate taxes, but prefers a reshuffling of transit priorities over increased Metro Transit funding. He's proposing eco/health sin taxes. To reduce our energy footprint, he recommends giving awards to neighbourhoods with the greatest reductions. He proposes creating a coastal strategy and establishing farmers' markets across the HRM. McCormack is creative and genuine, but his overall vision needs work.
Steve Mackie: C
"Urban residents should not have to make sacrifices for the benefit of suburban development," Mackie says. He wants a greenbelt, increased suburban property taxes and greater building heights in core areas. He thinks developers should pay for infrastructure necessitated by their projects. Mackie supports more spending on cycling infrastructure, but wants the private sector to provide new options, like additional ferry routes. Mackie's thought carefully about sprawl, but on other issues there's a learning curve.
Aaron Eisses: C+
Eisses wants to champion "growing in a sustainable and responsible way." That includes a greenbelt (which he says will also address coastal erosion issues). He supports raising tax rates for suburban boxstores and decreasing downtown rates, with developers paying for new infrastructure. He wants to build transit ridership and iron out the kinks before increasing funding for Metro Transit. He proposes a ban on chemical fertilizers and pesticides, but only in Musquodoboit Valley. He opposes fracking. Eisses cares, but his ideas on boosting a local economy, reducing energy use and invasives don't go beyond education.