By Richard Bell
Halifax Regional Council has voted to start a process intended to lead to long-sought sidewalks in 17 rural communities, including Sheet Harbour, Lake Echo, Porters Lake, Musquodoboit Harbour, Middle Musquodoboit, and East Preston.
The vote was on “Proposed Administrative Order 2022-008-ADM, Respecting the Implementation of Area Rates to Fund Sidewalks Outside of the Urban Tax Area in the Halifax Regional Municipality and Amendments to Administrative Order 2019-005-ADM, Respecting the Establishment and Use of Community Area Rates in the Halifax Regional Municipality – Rural Active Transportation.”
Under the terms of these Administrative Orders, HRM planners will select five of the 17 communities as high priority to be completed within the next 10 years. There will be an increase in the local area tax rate for each community after that community’s sidewalk is built. Because of previous planning work, the first of the 17 communities to get its sidewalks will be East Preston.
The question of exactly who will pay this higher local area tax rate remains to be determined. In funding for a previous round of sidewalk building in Sheet Harbour, HRM eventually settled on a three-zone system based on how far you lived from the sidewalks. The rationale was that people living close to the sidewalk got more use from it, and should therefore pay more than people living further away.
The map shows the Sheet Harbour system: yellow (the core) rate was $25/property; blue was $15/property; and green was $5/property.