HRM District 2 Election 2016:
David Hendsbee Running for Re-Election
By Richard Bell
David Hendsbee’s been campaigning for office--and mostly winning--for a long time—all the way back to class rep in 11th grade.
But when I asked him in a recent interview why he was seeking yet another term as HRM Councillor, he didn’t hesitate a second: “I love my job.” He smiled, and repeated, “I love my job.”
He believes that councillors should act as “champions” for their constituents. “I have always worked to help communities advance their goals, I want to help community groups and organizations fulfill their mandates and provide services and community facilities. If there are any grant opportunities community groups have to maintain their heritage properties or local parks or playground sites, we champion those.”
Looking back over his career, Hendsbee said the change in staffing fire departments was one of the single biggest changes. “We’ve been blessed to have dedicated volunteers. But we’re finding now that those volunteers are becoming more scarce because of changing demographics, changes in work life and family life. Now there’s more of an expectation that the municipality would provide on-call daily service, with volunteers when they’re at home on week nights and weekends.”
Hendsbee pointed to his proposal to get HRM to take over the maintenance of rural church graveyards as an example of his work to overcome the urban/rural divide. “The churches could pass along all the burial records to the city, and put any perpetual care funds into a trust fund,” Hendsbee said. “ Our residents need assurance that we’re not going to let these historic graveyards fall into ruin.”
Hendsbee also pointed to his efforts to get Halifax Transit to create an express bus route from Musquodoboit Harbour to Scotia Square as another effort to make life better for rural commuters into the urban core. “I’m still championing the rural express bus service in the first regional plan,” Hendsbee said. “The first regional plan called for park-and-ride terminals in Musquodoboit Harbour, Porters Lake, and Lake Echo along the 107 highway. They only built one, in Porters Lake at exit 20. They need to get on with building the other terminals.”
On the controversial proposal to rezone a parcel of land on Highway 7 in Porters Lake for use as a construction and demotion debris (C&D) recycling plant, Hendsbee says he
does “want to make sure the community has an opportunity to be fully heard and have its concerns addressed. I can’t actively campaign on an issue that’s before the planning process because I don’t want to be seen to be prejudicing or biasing the process and therefore make me possibly ineligible to speak or stand for the community.”
By taking a position, and then voting on the rezoning proposal, Hendsbee says he would be laying the Community Council’s final decision open to being overturned by the Utility and Review Board on the grounds of bias.
But he added that there was a possibility the decision might go to the full Regional Council: “When they came up with the strategy they have now, Council left it up to private industry to pick sites. Maybe the planners are having second thoughts about the siting of certain locations and certain facilities. The planners might be looking at more of a holistic approach by Regional Council instead of just by local community councils.” Hendsbee was not serving as an HRM Councillor in 2002 when Regional Council adopted the current C&D regulations.
Looking ahead to this fall’s election, Hendsbee points to his experience and his dedication to showing up. “Right now, you need a steady hand on the wheel, someone who knows the issues and won’t get frustrated by the process,” Hendsbee said. “ I’m logging 2,500 to 3,500 km per month driving across the district. I try to be as accessible as possible, to be there whenever there’s a community event or meeting.”