rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Encroaching development a defining issue in Halifax municipal elections

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca for as little as $5 per month!

Photo: John Douglas/flickr

North Preston's Miranda Cain tells Metro's Zane Woodford the key issue in her District 2 is "lack of recreation." Rod Brunt's main concern, reports Haley Ryan, is cycling safety on Halifax's "shark-infested" streets. "Our issues," Musquodoboit Harbour's Kim Young tells reporter Yvette d'Entremont, "are just basically the oppression of rural development."

And so it has gone as Metro reporters fanned out across the Halifax Regional Municipality's 200 urban and rural communities scattered over a land mass the size of Prince Edward Island to ask a sampling of the region's 400,000 residents what they see as the most important issues our politicians should focus on in the lead-up to the October 15 municipal election.

It shouldn't be surprising -- given that local governments are closest to our everyday lives -- that most of those concerns are specific to local districts or interest groups.

But there is one issue that encompasses and transcends the rest, and it has to do with development.

Our city is at a crossroads.

What do we want Halifax to look and feel like a decade from now?

That question sparked the launch of the Willow Tree Group, a citizens' coalition that originally banded together to fight two mega-high-rise projects slated for their Quinpool-Robie neighbourhood.

But as they considered those projects -- each will require a special development agreement since they don't conform to existing rules -- they quickly realized neighbourhoods all over HRM face similar struggles.

In fact, the group claims there are now 179 "special-case" development agreement applications -- each designed to circumvent existing zoning and land-use bylaws to build bigger, taller, more -- working their way through the system from every electoral district in HRM.

So Willow Tree has come up with its own set of questions it thinks you should put to candidates who seek your vote.

Eventually, the new council will have to say "yea" or "nay" to each agreement -- or perhaps a blanket "no" to them all until new rules are in place.

Whatever your position on development, you need to ask those who seek to represent you their views on development generally, and projects specifically planned for your district.

By the time the questions come up for a council vote, it may be too late.

This article first appeared in Stephen Kimber's Halifax Metro column.

Photo: John Douglas/flickr

Like this article? rabble is reader-supported journalism. Chip in to keep stories like these coming.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.