To: The Mayor and Council of Halifax Regional Municipality, CAO Jacques Dubé
From: Friends of Schmidtville
3 November, 2020
Schmidtville is a neighbourhood that received Heritage Conservation District designation from HRM in 2018. We have thanked Council and the great heritage planners who worked with us over ten years to realize this wonderful accomplishment.
For the information of new Council members, Schmidtville is the oldest, largest, contiguous, extant neighbourhood in HRM. Located just south of Spring Garden Road, it is bounded by Queen Street on the east, the cemeteries on the south, South Park Street and Brenton Street on the west, and Clyde Street on the north. A 7-minute video on our neighbourhood is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_9aWXilCss.
Recently we have been participating in the Peninsula South Complete Streets Advisory Committee (PSCSAC) on the issue of bike lanes and applaud HRM’s moves to green the city and reduce the reliance on automobiles. But we want to ensure that the needs of Schmidtville residents and visitors are considered seriously in the process, as well as those of the parents and pupils of Saint Mary’s Elementary School and the clients of Spencer House Seniors Day Centre
At the October 14, 2020 PSCSAC meeting HRM staff raised the option of destruction of trees on Morris Street to accommodate bike lanes. We and others are appalled at this proposal and we immediately contacted the mayor and our councillor to investigate and clarify. Receiving no response, we contacted the media.
The planting of trees in the 1970s was one of the first and most transformational events that led to the revitalization of Schmidtville and its eventual attainment of Heritage Conservation District status. Cutting down trees to green the city is as ridiculous as it sounds. In fact, below is a diagram proudly displayed on HRM’s own website (https://www.halifax.ca/transportation/streets-sidewalks/urban-forestry/tree-cities-world) about the value of trees.
Since we criticized the tree-cutting proposal, we have been subjected to bullying behaviour by representatives of HRM. At first they called our intervention fake news. Then they played down the importance of the tree-cutting option. Then a purported representative of HRM told journalist Andrew Macdonald, on condition of anonymity, that the Schmidtville intervenors were “lunatics running around saying we are going to cut down trees.“
HRM officials have now confirmed that the trees proposal is indeed still on the table.
To use the word “lunatics” nowadays is bad enough but it is doubly wrong to employ it to describe representatives of a neighbourhood association who have worked so hard not only for our own area but for HRM as a whole.
Another problem is the lack of transparency, indeed secrecy, in this matter. Members of the PSCSAC have been told by HRM staff not to share the proceedings of that committee. But this was never a condition of participation. And the public does need to know.
The bullying and the secrecy by HRM officials are very disturbing to us. Can you please investigate this matter and report back to us.
William Breckenridge, 5514 Clyde St; Christopher Breckenridge, 5514 Clyde St.; Larry Haiven, 5606 Morris St.; Judy Haiven, 5506 Morris St.; Karen Mitchell #4 – 5567 Morris St.; Lillian Breckenridge, 1354 Birmingham St.; Teresa Cassels 5516 Clyde St.; Lara Cusson, 5610 Morris St.; Joanne Corbett, 1345 Birmingham St.; Lyndon Watkins, 1314 Birmingham St.; Mary Ellen Donovan, 5608 Morris St.; Faisal Forhart, 1341 Morris St.
I am a year-round cyclist and agree wholeheartedly that cutting down trees for a bike lane is wrong. I will be contacting my Council member to express my opinion and urge him not to support this motion.