Candidates discuss local issues with North End residents

Diversity, development projects are focus of debate

Candidate Lindell Smith talks about his views on diversity in Halifax and his plans for change.
Candidate Lindell Smith talks about his views on diversity in Halifax and his plans for change.   Samantha Calio

Development, diversity and affordable housing were the focus when around 100 North End residents gathered at the Northwood community centre on Wednesday.

They were at the centre to hear the views of the seven candidates vying to represent District 8 on municipal council.

“Being a young black male from a community that is stigmatized as negative, growing up I always felt that I didn’t belong,” says candidate Lindell Smith, the community library assistant at the North Branch Library.

The event, hosted by the Bloomfield Neighbourhood Residents Association, selected topics for the candidates to address. Organziers also accepted questions through email and Facebook before the event.

The first step towards inclusion, Smith says, is breaking up the old boys club and giving city council fresh faces and viewpoints.

Diversity and involvement have been important issues throughout the campaign, but is especially prominent in District 8. The incumbent, Jennifer Watts, is not seeking re-election and has said council, which is predominantly white, male and old, needs to be more diverse.

Artist and candidate Anthony Kawalski says Nova Scotia represents many groups of people but there are prejudices and efforts must be made to draw people to Halifax.

Development another major issue, says candidate Brenden Sommerhalder, the director of marketing for the Downtown Halifax Business Commission.

Development is transforming the North End, especially along Robie Street, with construction of car dealerships and new apartment buildings, so the issue is a prominent one.

“There is development happening here but it’s not fitting the community, they are not reaching out to people,” says Chris Poole, Halifax small business owner and one of the candidates.

Denise Graham, a property owner of the North End, said in an interview her main concern is affordable housing and the working poor – “people who aren’t in the position to voice their concerns.”

People can vote online anytime or at the polls on Oct. 15.

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