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Thursday, November 30, 2006

From the mouth of the north end

Mike Fleury opens his ears.

Posted By on Thu, Nov 30, 2006 at 4:05 PM

Ayo Aladejebi is helping to give a voice to youth living in the north end—just so long as they can get over their nerves about public speaking.

Aladejebi helped to organize a special presentation being given tonight at the North Branch Library by a group of “five or six” young people who live in the north end of Halifax. The group will range in age, but all of the presenters will be younger than 17, he says.

“They’re a little scared of standing in front of people: They’ve never done anything like this before.”

Aladejebi is part of the Community Connections Network. The group normally meets every two months to discuss issues in the community, with a primary focus on the north end. Aladejebi says tonight’s meeting represents a special opportunity, both for the young speakers and for attendees.

“There are things going on in this community that the conventional media is maybe not reporting the way they should be,” he says. “This is more direct. We left it totally open to them because we didn’t want to create any bias. We just told them, ‘Say whatever you see is going on in your community, and how you feel about it.’”

Some of the presenters spent time this summer with a documentary filmmaker and were given the chance to record images from their neighbourhood. The images from that project will also be shown during a DVD presentation at tonight’s meeting.

Despite the mild bouts of stage fright, Aladejebi says the young speakers have come to understand the importance of this kind of event.

“One of their concerns was that nobody listens. But I told them, you can’t base things on the assumption that nobody listens. You still have to speak. Sometimes you’ve got to keep hammering your message and hopefully, someday, someone will listen.”

If you care to listen, drop by the North Branch Thursday, November 30, at 7pm.

The changing lanes

We (as in, the royal “we”) were out on St. Margaret’s Bay Road the other day and we happened to notice a newish-looking bike lane along the shoulder of the road—a bike lane we’d never noticed before. Fresh asphalt. Crisp lines. A place for cyclists to stretch out and be themselves.

Given our general fondness for bike lanes, we decided to call the city to tell them how much we appreciate such things. Brightens our day, it does.

“Ah, the one you’re talking about goes from around Northwest Arm Drive to the entrance of Long Lake Provincial Park,” says Roddy MacIntyre, the city’s transportation demand management coordinator. “It’s a couple of months old.”

The lane was completed in conjunction with a road-resurfacing project, which is how many bike lanes in the city end up being created. Piggy-backing bike lanes onto other roadworks helps to stretch a limited bike-lane budget.

Physical space is another challenge. Although MacIntyre can name some other areas in the city that have acquired new bike lanes in the last year—Kearney Lake Road, along the Bedford Highway—downtown lanes are still difficult.

“The peninsula is still one of our biggest challenges,” he says. “The Brunswick Street bike lanes were restriped and reassembled this summer, but still…well, we are trying. There isn’t always a lot of space, but we’d like to be able to put bike lanes everywhere that’s deemed necessary.”

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