On the phone with incumbent Sam Austin, District 5

"There are areas in policing that police do now, that could be done better."

Riley Smith
Sam Austin, a councillor for the past four years, answers the phone while driving, but quickly pulls into a parking lot to give his full attention to the call. “For me, what it really comes down to is the same reason I ran in 2016. I’m in it to do things,” says the representative for the 26,400 people within the boundaries of District 5 (Dartmouth Centre).

Since he’s up against only one other person on October 17, Austin says he’s distinguished himself from the competition by taking a stance on contentious issues, namely policing, housing and climate change.

“There does seem to be a fairly stark divide between progressive and not in District 5,” he says.

The former urban planner and father of two says some of his proudest accomplishments over the past four years include the first phase of the Sawmill River project, renovating the Zatzman Sportsplex and voting on HalifACT 2050, the city’s climate change plan.

“And continuing to work on transportation, because integrated mobility, we’ve really moved the yardstick planning-wise in the last little bit and you’re starting to see the results there in terms of projects,” Austin adds.

Austin isn’t scared to talk about tough issues like bringing Uber and Airbnb to the city, and even defunding the police.

“I do believe that there are areas in policing that police do now, that could be done better. Policing in a lot of ways can be rather reactive because you’re dealing with the fall-out of social problems that have been left to fester. Not dealing with problems like homelessness, poverty, food insecurity, racism,” he says. “You’re expecting the police to solve all these issues on the other end, it’s not realistic.”

The Dartmouth councillor says he’s running for another term because there’s plenty still to be done, and he wants council to continue to skew progressively.

“We’ll see, the voters will decide. I think the council will end up being a little more left than it was,” he says. “New voices are always welcome and we’re going to get at least five.”

About The Author

Victoria Walton

Once a freelancer, Victoria has been a full-time reporter with The Coast since April 2020, covering everything from COVID-19 to small business to politics and social justice. Originally from the Annapolis Valley, she graduated from the University of King’s College School of Journalism in 2017.

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