On the phone with residential painter Robert Holden, District 13

“We need services out here. There’s no transit on the weekends, period!”

Robert Holden is a single dad raising his six-year-old daughter. He works as a self-employed residential painter and was a stay-at-home dad for three and a half years. This October, he’s running for the council seat in District 13 (Hammonds Plains–St. Margarets) because he wants to see some changes in the district. “We need services out here. There’s no transit on the weekends, period!”

Holden says there’s a disparity in the resources District 13 residents receive from their property taxes, because the provincial and municipal governments are each responsible for different issues in the district. “So, I think we need to address how the jurisdictions work between the two different governments, and everything should fall under the umbrella of HRM.”

Holden, who was a city bus driver for five years, says his district needs improvement with Halifax Transit. “Our transit stops in Tantallon,” he says. “And there’s bylaws—believe it or not—that disqualifies private enterprise from starting a shuttle bus company,” something Holden tried to do but was stopped by the city.

The candidate also says his district needs safer roads for active transportation. “As far as cyclists on the road go for transportation, or pedestrian, we’ve got no curbs really,”

On the issue of senior care, Holden suggests the need for seniors’ housing to cater to those who can’t take care of themselves. “Why should people have to leave their communities,” he asks, “especially with a couple, and one person needs extra care and they split them up and send them somewhere else?”

Holden says he used to work helping run events for the city, and thinks HRM spends too much on holding events in central Halifax, Bedford and Dartmouth, while more rural areas are left out of celebrations and parades, or have to travel further to get there. “We don’t get the benefits of our tax dollars in those types of areas,” he says. “They could split up that budget and give districts to have events in their own districts.”

Holden is frustrated with councillors who aren’t accountable to their voters, and says he’s committed to changing that if elected. “I am actually open to doing that, to being accountable, public, transparent,” he says, adding that he has broad knowledge and different experiences that make him the right councillor for District 13.

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