Emailing with social equity advocate Jen Powley, District 7 | City | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

Emailing with social equity advocate Jen Powley, District 7

“People will be able to know who is fighting for them and who isn’t.”

Emailing with social equity advocate Jen Powley, District 7
Nicola Davison
Jen Powley decided to challenge for the District 7 (Halifax South Downtown) council seat because she cannot abide by the unfairness going on in the city. “The situation with the police in HRM is a great example of inequity,” she says. “We need to ask the communities what they want the job of the police to be, and actually act on this.”

Powley, who moved from Alberta to Halifax 20 years ago, says she would like to strengthen the city’s procurement policy. She also wants a city where municipal contracts pay a living wage, adding that a good percentage of these contracts could be awarded to marginalized groups such as Indigenous people, African Nova Scotians, recent immigrants and people with disabilities. “That percentage should not go below the percentage of that group found in the population, and should even be higher for reparative purposes,” she says in an email interview. Powley is living with multiple sclerosis, a condition that affects the way she talks, walks, writes and sees.

Powley’s passionate about the ecological sustainability of the city. She finds it absurd that council approved the construction of huge concrete buildings even after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s warnings on reducing carbon emissions. “I know Halifax has a housing crisis,” she says, but “only a small percentage of residents can afford to live in these new buildings anyway, so all that concrete, glass and steel isn’t really helping.”

She helped start the No More Warehousing Association, which advocates for better housing options for people with severe physical disabilities—Powley will be the first elected councillor who uses a wheelchair if she wins—and she’s a member of Our HRM Alliance and two organizations that help refugees get settled in Halifax, giving Powley the background and experience to make informed decisions on council matters.

“I think my record of community change might be beneficial,” she says. At the same time, she’ll be a leader who’s always ready to learn and “plan to form an Advisory Council to collect input from leaders in areas where I have minimal or no experience.”

As a member of the JRG Society for the Arts, Powley would like to see improvements in the arts and culture of Halifax. “I want to dedicate one percent of HRM’s budget to arts and culture organizations and individuals,” she says. “Rather than the talented people having to move elsewhere, I think we should be willing to pay for what sets Halifax apart from the rest of Canada.

“I can’t promise that these will be done, because if elected, I will be one voice of 17 on council, but I hope if they don’t get done, people will be able to know who is fighting for them and who isn’t.”

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