Incumbent Halifax mayor Mike Savage releases platform, outlines plans for COVID-19 recovery

Incumbent Halifax mayor Mike Savage will fact two challengers in the Oct. 2020 municipal elections. Coun. Matt Whitman and 23-year-old Max Taylor have jumped in to the race. Alexander Quon/Global News, Max Taylor/Facebook

The Halifax municipal election is heating up with just over a month until votes are cast on Oct. 17.

Incumbent mayor Mike Savage released his platform on Tuesday at a press conference in Africville Park.

The document paints a picture of what Savage believes is required to help the municipality through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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He notes that the municipality was well-positioned to succeed before the pandemic shifted the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM)’s financial outlook.

But he also admits that poverty and inequality have persisted under his watch.

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“We know that not all citizens have been part of the pre-COVID success, and these same people are now at greater risk of falling further behind,” the two-term mayor writes in his platform.

“Our plan for recovery must ensure that we are not just a bigger city, but working toward a community where everyone has enough to eat and a secure place to sleep, where every citizen finds a place to match their talent and their ambition, and where we all contribute to a healthy environment.”

Savage’s platform is in many ways a continuation of the work he’s done throughout his time as mayor.

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The document indicates that he wants the municipality to address poverty in the HRM by supporting requirements for affordable units in new construction, support the conversion underutilized commercial space to housing and work to create a housing trust to aid community partners to build affordable options.

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Another one of his goals is to achieve food security in the municipality. An estimated one in five households in Halifax experiences food insecurity and Savage says the coroanvirus pandemic has likely heightened the risk of more facing that outcome.

He says he wants to “explore” new zoning options that would allow for increased food production in the municipality’s residential areas, as well as offering continued support for the well-received Mobile Food Market project.

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Savage also commits to acknowledging the history and reality of racism and anti-Black racism in the municipality, with the header in the platform being “support Black Lives Matter.”

“(We need to) reconcile the history of this city’s founding with a future that creates a trusting, respectful, and progressive relationship with the Mi’kmaw, and implement the wise and thoughtful recommendations of the task force on commemoration,” Savage says.

The incumbent mayor also commits himself and the municipality to implementing HalifACT 2050, the climate change strategy municipal council passed in 2019.

Savage’s announcement means that two of the three mayoral candidates have now released a detailed vision of the next four years.

Coun. Matt Whitman has positioned himself as the fiscal conservative who would protect taxpayers from municipal largesse and celebrate “history and heritage.”

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Whitman was an outspoken critic of the municipality’s reflection on how it would commemorate Edward Cornwallis, Halifax’s controversial founder who put a bounty on Mi’kmaq scalps in 1749 while serving as the governor of Nova Scotia.

Whitman was the only member of the council to vote against all parts of a task force report recommending the municipality sever ties with Cornwallis.

Max Taylor, the 22-year-old Tik-Tok creator who entered the mayoral race at the last minute, has not released a platform.

However, he has previously told Global News that he got into the race to inspire more people to get involved in municipal politics.

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