Nova Scotia·Analysis

5 districts to watch in the upcoming Halifax municipal election

Here are five of the districts in the Halifax Regional Municipality that promise to be battlegrounds on Oct. 15.

Four of the 16 seats have been decided by acclamation, others will be hotly contested

Brendan Sommerhalder (left), Iona Stoddard (centre) and Ned Milburn (right) are some of the candidates running in the upcoming Oct. 15 election. (CBC/Twitter/Twitter)

Of the 16 districts in the Halifax Regional Municipality, four include councillors facing no competition in the Oct. 15 election.

But others promise to be races to the finish. They include:

District 1: Waverley-Fall River-Musquodoboit Valley

Current councillor Barry Dalrymple is not reoffering, and the district is a toss-up.

The large suburban/rural district has six candidates vying for the seat.

Steve Streatch, a former councillor who's from the more rural part of the district, is from a Conservative political family, knows the area and how to campaign in it.

However, if there are popular candidates from suburban areas, he may not be able to take back a council seat.

Steve Sinnott, who worked in the public sector, and real estate agent Alison McNair are from Waverley, and from Fall River is Cathy Deagle-Gammon, executive director of Dartmouth Adult Services Centre, which provides programming for people with mental disabilities.

Trevor Lawson is a veterinarian from Carroll's Corner, which is rural, while former real estate agent Colin Castle is from the Musquodoboit area.

Traffic and commuting are usually the biggest issues in the suburban parts of District 1, while the rural areas tend to feel neglected, meaning it's anyone's game.

District 2: Preston-Chezzetcook-Eastern Shore

Incumbent David Hendsbee is reoffering, but this is a sticky time for District 2.

The Save Rural HRM group is upset over new development rules that it says don't take into account the unique needs of rural communities.

As a result, many along the Eastern Shore are upset, though how much blame Hendsbee must shoulder remains to be seen.

There are three other candidates.

Public servant and filmmaker Shelley Fashan of Lake Echo is running and has been vocal in the fight against the construction and demolition of a landfill facility along Highway 7 in Lake Echo. That's the heart of Hendsbee's district.

Will he be blamed?

The other candidates are Nova Scotia Health Authority public servant Sydnee McKay and Gail McQuarrie, a travel agent and former transit driver.

District 5: Dartmouth Centre

Gloria McCluskey, a former mayor of the pre-amalgamation City of Dartmouth and vocal proponent of her community, is not reoffering.

Eight people now are vying for the job — the greatest number of candidates in any HRM district.

Dartmouth Centre is home to fierce pro-Dartmouth sentiments. Some people have never accepted being absorbed by the megacity. They don't like the Halifax signs or even being referred to as Halifax.

Someone was so upset with Halifax's new branding in Dartmouth they cut it off this sign at Sullivan's Pond. (CBC)

There are a number of strong candidates in this race, including a few who tried in 2012: Sam Austin, an urban planner, and Kate Watson, who is well known in the theatre and arts communities.

Tim Risessco, executive director of the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission, has thrown in his hat for the first time.

The other candidates are Nova Scotia Health Authority staffer Adam Bowes, anti-poverty community organizer Gabriel Enxuga, Ned Milburn, who handcrafts guitars, lawyer Derek Vallis and entrepreneur Warren Wesson.

Local lawn-sign wars appear split, meaning this will be a good race to watch.

District 8: Halifax Peninsula North

Jennifer Watts is not reoffering, and has said she only wanted to stay in office for two terms.

There has been some chatter about limiting terms. A few of the candidates pushing this idea include Brenden Sommerhalder, marketing director at the Downtown Halifax Business Commission, and Lindell Smith, a youth programmer at the Halifax North Memorial library.

The main issue in this district is gentrification and affordable housing. This is the home of the Colonial Honda controversy, which saw housing torn down to make way for a car dealership parking lot.

Protesters picketed the scene of a home being demolished in June as part of Colonial Honda's expansion plans. (CBC)

Former councillor Patrick Murphy is trying for the job.

Two African Nova Scotian candidates, Irvine Carvery, an old hand at political campaigns, and Smith, a younger man, also are in the race.

The other candidates are Martin Farrell, artist Anthony Kawalski and former school board representative Chris Poole.

District 12: Timberlea-Beechville-Clayton Park-Wedgewood

Reg Rankin, a councillor since amalgamation and a county councillor even before that, is not reoffering.

Former MLA Bruce Holland is running, as are meteorologist Richard Zurawski and Bruce Smith, who has ran unsuccessfully before.

Advanced care paramedic John Bignell, Otter Lake Community Monitoring Committee member Scott Guthrie and Department of Justice bureaucrat Iona Stoddard are the other candidates.

The Otter Lake landfill is located in District 12, so garbage issues are top of mind for residents. (CBC)

This district is home to the Otter Lake landfill, so garbage issues will be top of mind in at least part of the district.

The district also includes the Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area, a long-running controversy that was recently put to rest. It isn't clear if there are lingering feelings over that, though they likely would have been directed at Rankin anyway.


Pam Berman


Pam Berman is CBC Nova Scotia's municipal affairs reporter. She's been a journalist for almost 35 years and has covered Halifax regional council since 1997. That includes four municipal elections, 19 budgets and countless meetings. Story ideas can be sent to

With files from Rachel Ward