Profile: Halifax-Dartmouth – The Political And Administrative Structures of the Metropolitan Region of Halifax-Dartmouth

The City of Dartmouth: General information

1.1 Historical background

Dartmouth was settled in 1750 as an extension of Halifax’s military and commercial operation. Being part of the County of Halifax, it was administered by a sheriff and a grand jury under the Court of Quarter Sessions until 1873. The City of Halifax was the first local entity to fight for its autonomy (granted in 1841 by its Charter) and Dartmouth followed the movement and became in 1873 the second local entity to be self-governed. Its town statute remained until 1961 when Dartmouth became a City with its own Charter.

1.2 Population
  • 1966 – 58,745
  • 1971 – 64,770
1.3 Area in acres

15,800 acres (estimated). (See Figure 4).

1.4 Provincial Act regulating the City

Legislative Assembly has adopted a revised charter for the City of Dartmouth; Statutes of Nova Scotia 1970, Chapter 89, Dartmouth City Charter.

1.5 Relationships with other municipalities

There is no regional government as such. Joint commissions and authorities have been created for special purposes and some services are shared on a contract basis.

2 Political structures

2.1 General form

The City has a Council-Manager form of government. (See Table 3 for a list of the members of the Council).

2.2 Eligibility regulations

2.2.1 Universal suffrage for Canadians and British subjects of 19 years or more who were resident since the 1st of May of election year (no property requirements). In addition non-residents who are assessed in respect of real property within any polling district to the value of $300. and over are eligible.

2.2.2 Any Canadian citizen, resident of the City for one year preceding election day, of at least 21 years of age and whose name appears upon the assessment role of the City is eligible to run, for office.

Disqualification includes indebtedness to the City, employment with the City, contracts with the City, membership in the House of Commons or Senate of Canada.

2.2.3 Procedures for election Elections are held the third Saturday of October through a ward system, 14 Aldermen being elected in 7 wards, 2 in each ward. The Mayor is elected at large.

During the first year, 7 Aldermen and the Mayor are elected, the other 7 Aldermen being elected during the second year. The third year is left without election.

Table 3 List of officials of the City of Dartmouth

City Council

  • Mayor – Mrs. Eileen Stubbs
  • Deputy Mayor – John MacCormac


  • Ward 1: John Kavanaugh, George Ibsen
  • Ward 2: Ronald M. Smith, L. W. Granfield
  • Ward 3: Thomas B. Davis, Hart Day
  • Ward 4: Donald McDonah, Louis Cote
  • Ward 5: J. D. C. MacCormac, Chester Sanford
  • Ward 6: Donald K. Walkey
  • Ward 7: C. D. Richie, Lauchlan Fredericks


  • City Administrator: C. A. Moir
  • Clerk and Treasurer: N. C. Cohoon
  • Assessor: W. J. Symonds
  • Purchasing officer: W. M. Whitman
  • Chief Engineer: B . J. Fougere
  • Planning and Development: D. A. Bayer
  • Recreation: D. A. Lynch
  • Welfare Services: – W. M. MacNeil
  • Police Department: R. Smith
  • Fire Department: C. Findlay
  • Industrial Promotion officer: vacant (November 1973)

The Aldermen are elected for a term of three years, without any limitation on the number of terms. The office is regarded as a part-time appointment.

In 1970, actual votes were 9,445 for 30,364 registered voters, a tun out of 31%.

A referendum can be held on matters decided by the Council; procedure and forms applicable for election of Mayor and Aldermen shall be used in such a case. Specific by-laws regulating referendum procedures shall be approved by the Minister of Municipal Affairs. There has been no such recourse in the last years.

Political Party

There is no form of political party at municipal level in Dartmouth.

2.3 The Council

2.3.1 Members The Council is formed of 14 Aldermen and the Mayor, with the Mayor presiding with a casting vote only.

2.3.2 Meetings The Council holds meetings the lst Tuesday of every month and, if necessary, the 3rd Tuesday of every month.

2.3.3 Powers of the Council

Council carries out its functions through adoption of regulations or by-laws. Specific procedure is established for adoption of bylaws: 3 distinct and separate readings before it is finally passed and not more than two readings shall be had at one meeting of the Council (section 126).

Charter gives powers to the City to achieve specific functions (Sections 135 to 182).

  • determination of land use and establishment of regulations in regard to land use: planning, zoning, building construction;
  • undertaking of works to organize land use: streets, water supply and sewer, housing;
  • operation of services for the Community: transportation, police, fire, health and welfare, education and recreation.

Charter gives to the City powers to establish mechanisms to achieve above mentioned specific functions:

  • Administration (section 183-217)
  • Taxation and finance (section 218-291)
  • Assessment (section 292-323)
  • Boards and Commissions (section 324-341)
  • Liens and tax collection (section 342-378)
  • City Court (section 379-400)
  • Legal proceeding (section 401-447)
  • “In addition to powers specifically allotted to it, the Council has the power to do all such things as are incidental or conducive to the exercise of the allotted powers”. (Section 138).

2.3.4. Control of Council’s decisions

No additional approval is needed for a by-law duly adopted by the Council, exception existing for powers conducted by by-laws under A7 sections of the Charter which require approval of the Minister of Municipal Affairs.

Main powers affected by this disposition are the re-definition of ward boundaries, Aldermen and Mayor’s duties, referendum procedure, housing and development schemes, establishment of Boards and Commissions, technical planning board and development officers, building by-laws and most of the by-laws regarding taxes and assessment.

(List of these exceptions are given in Schedule, Part III, P. 280, Dartmouth City Charter).

2.4 The Committees

The Council has recently decreased the number of Committees to two: Committee on Planning Development and Operations Members: 7 members from different wards. Meetings: 4th Tuesday of every month. Powers: Committee is advisory to Council on policy matters and specific subjects referred to the Committee by the Council. Committee on Finance and Social Services Members: 7 members from different wards and who are not members of Committee on Planning. Meetings: 2nd Tuesday of every month. Powers: Committee is advisory to Council on policy matters and specific subjects referred to the Committee by the Council.

2.5 The Mayor

Term of office: The Mayor is elected for three years, without any limitation on the number of terms. The office is regarded as a part-time appointment. Election and mandate: see point 2.2.2 eligibility and 2.2.3 election procedure.

Powers of the Mayor: The Mayor is the chief officer of the City. He presides over the meetings of the Council and of the Committees with only a casting vote.

3 Administrative structures

3.1 General

Dartmouth has a City Manager system.

(See Figure 5 City of Dartmouth Organization chart).

3.2 Staff

Approximately 700 full-time employees (excluding the teachers but including employees of the special authorities and wage-earners employed with various departments of the City).

3.3 Departments

The City created 9 departments, 3 for internal administration, 4 for City services and the departments of fire and police. (See By-law C-7. 1962). Every department has a director appointed by the Council who is responsible for the good administration of the department to the Council through the City administrator. In addition, the Council created, and placed directly under its authority, an industrial promotion officer. (By-law No. 96, 1966)

3.3.1 Recreation department Duties: The department has a mandate to organize recreation activities and to provide the necessary equipment. Organization and Staff: 9 employees in 3 divisions

  • Parks and playgrounds
  • Recreational activities
  • Special programs.
City of Dartmouth Political & Administrative Organization Chart

Budget (1973 estimates): $659,900.

3.3.2 Social Services department Duties: The department has a mandate to administer welfare payments and to establish community services with the objective of social development. Organization and Staff: 19 employees in 3 divisions

  • Community Residence (3 employees)
  • Special Programs (1 employee)
  • General Assistance (9 employees). Budget (1973 estimates): $2,239,700″ including $1,537,900 for welfare payments.

3.3.3 Engineering department Duties: The department fulfills 3 broad mandates – engineering design, survey control, and supervision of projects of the works division, or capital projects conducted by other departments; – regular public works (street, drainage and sanitary sewage systems, garage and public buildings) ; – maintenance and operation of water system. Organization and Staff: 162 employees in 3 divisions – Engineering (40 employees) – Works (80 employees) – Water Utility (35 employees). Budget (1973 estimates): $2,183,000 for Engineering and Works divisions. Water Utility division operates independently covering expenditures with revenue from sale of water. Actual expenditures for the Water Utility Division for year 1972 were $1,836,679, the accumulated deficit being $1,809,014.

3.3.4 Planning and Development Department Duties: The department has a mandate to prepare a master plan for the City (as dictated in the Planning Act), to prepare zoning and subdivisions regulations and to assume building inspection in accordance with City regulations. Organization and Staff: 11 employees in 3 divisions

  • Planning (1 employee)
  • Development (8 employees)
  • Building inspector (3 employees). These are formal divisions. The director of the department is actually head of Planning division. There also exist close working relations between Planning and Development divisions.

Budget (1973 estimates): $117,600.

3.3.5 Internal administration departments – City Clerk and Treasurer (25 employees with a budget estimate for 1973 of $389,400 including the expenditures for the City administrator’s office).

  • Assessment department (6 employees Budget 1973 estimates: $71,000).
  • Purchasing officer (5 employees Budget 1973 estimates: $40,900).

3.3.6 Other departments

  • Police department (100 employees Budget 1973 estimates: $1,215,000).
  • Fire department (104 employees Budget 1973 estimates: $1,626,700).

(See Table 4 for Dartmouth City Budget).

  • Industrial promotion and public relations officer. Duties: The officer has a mandate to collect statistics and information relative to industrial and tourist promotion and provide this information to manufacturers and others and organize publicity for tourists.

Table 4 City of Dartmouth 1972-73 estimates

As public relation officer, he shall provide liaison between the City and organizations having civic interests, the news media and the general public.

Staff: 1 employee. The position is vacant at the present time.

3.4 Administrative superstructure

The City Administrative Officer is called “City Administrator”, and is appointed by the Council.

He acts as chief administrative officer, director of personnel and labour relations coordinator between departments through an informal management committee held once a week (each Tuesday morning) regrouping all heads of departments. Agenda is prepared by the City administrator; officer responsible for relations between administrative and political levels. There is no direct contact between Committees of the Council and corresponding departments; coordinator between special authorities and City departments.

4 Special authorities

4.1 The School Board

Duties: As specified in the Education Act and sections 324 to 341 of the City Charter, to control and manage the public schools of the City.

Functioning: The Board of Commissioners is composed of 15 persons, 9 from the Council of Dartmouth and 6 appointed by Governor-in-Council of N.S. They meet once a month.

The Board has 122 employees (administrative and support) and 961 teachers.

The Council has approved a budget of $11,757,400 for year 1973. From an administrative view point the functioning of the School Board is closely related to the administrative process of the City.

  • through the Board of Commissioners: 9 out of 15 members being members of the Council;
  • through personnel administration: labour relation and wage policy established and managed at the office of City administrator;
  • through financial administration: city clerk and treasurer and budget officer are responsible for budget operations of the School Board. Budget shall be approved by the Council;
  • through support services: engineering department provides an ad hoc basis technical support to the School Board.
4.2 Ferry service

Duties: To operate a ferry service for pedestrians between Dartmouth and Halifax Harbour.

Functioning: The Ferry service is directly administered by the Council (there is no Board). The service has 19 employees and had expenditures of $310,655 for the year 1972. The City gives no subsidy to the service, all operation expenses being covered by fare revenues. The bus transit company is privately owned in Dartmouth and receives no subsidy from the City.

4.3 Dartmouth Industrial Commission

Duties: The Commission has been created by by-law to organize industrial promotion and recommend industrial policy to the City Council. Functioning: The Commission is composed of 11 members (the Mayor, 5 Aldermen and 5 citizens chosen by the Council). The Council has approved budget estimates of $34,000 for the year 1973. The Burnside industrial park is directly administered by the Council with recommendation from the Industrial Commission.

4.4 Joint Commissions

4.4.1 Mayor represents the City on the Board of: – Halifax Dartmouth Regional Authority (see part 1-A, pt.4.4.1) – Halifax Dartmouth Bridge Commission (see part 2-B, point 2.1) – Halifax Dartmouth Port Commission (see part 2-A, point 2.2.1)

  • Metropolitan Area Planning Commission (part 2-A, point 2.1.1)

4.4.2 Other Joint Commissions – Regional Social Planning Council.

(1973 estimates: $5,400).

4.5 Other special authorities
  • Dartmouth Emergency Hospital. Budget (1973 estimates): $426,000 which the City shares for an amount of $29,000.
  • Court: Budget (1973 estimates): $58,500.
  • Tourist Commission (1973 estimates): $14,300
  • Dartmouth Park Commission (1973 estimates) : $14,000.
  • Heritage Museum Board (1973 estimates): $32,800.
  • Regional Library Board (1973 estimates) : $212,000

Halifax County:

In 1759, the province was divided into five Counties, including the County of Halifax which included the townships of Halifax and Dartmouth. For local purposes, it was administered under the Court of Quarter Session system by a sheriff. After the incorporation of Halifax (1841) and Dartmouth (1873), which made those cities geographically but not politically part of the County, the House of Assembly adopted the County incorporation Act in 1879. The Municipality of the County of Halifax was incorporated under this Act in 1880.

In the City of Dartmouth, the department of Engineering is responsible for street design and construction and for the operation of traffic control equipment. The Dartmouth Transit Company is privately owned but works in consultation with City officers in the determination of routes and the level of service. In addition, the City of Dartmouth owns a ferry service for pedestrians only between Halifax and Dartmouth.

“Profile: Halifax-Dartmouth – The Political And Administrative Structures of the Metropolitan Region of Halifax-Dartmouth”, Bernard, André. Ottawa : [Ministry of State, Urban Affairs, Canada]. 1974.

Peri-urban residential development in the Halifax region 1960–2000: magnets, constraints, and planning policies

“Since the late 1950s there has been an explosion of residential development within the commuter belt of Halifax, Nova Scotia. This city region is unusual in having very little farming or pre-existing settlement, so that land prices are low, and development controls have been minimal. Conversely, however, the predominantly hardrock environment presents severe difficulties for the extension of sewer and water lines, and has thus constrained the growth of serviced residential subdivisions. This paper documents the regional progression of both suburban residential development, which is generally serviced, and exurban or country residential development (CRD), which is generally unserviced.

The author’s aims are, first, to describe the locational sequence of peri-urban residential development in the Halifax city region over the 40-year period 1960-2000. Secondly, to analyze and explain that sequence in terms of three sets of factors: magnets or attractors for residential development, constraints or inhibitors, and planning policies designed to control or direct development. Thirdly, to identify lessons from the past which suggest useful policy options for planning of future residential patterns. An assessment of past development processes and current options is particularly timely, since the region’s four municipal units (the cities of Halifax and Dartmouth, the town of Bedford, and the Municipality of the County of Halifax) amalgamated in 1996 to form the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM–see Millward 1996, 12-14). This regional government now stands ready to prepare a new land-use and transportation plan for the region.

While Halifax’s special environmental circumstances have produced a pattern of development which is unique in its particulars, many of the driving factors operative in the Halifax region are also actively or potentially operative throughout the developed world. The lessons from a detailed case study should therefore have considerable transferability, particularly to other city regions possessing high personal mobility in combination with low rural land valuations. Halifax allows an exceptionally clear view of the dramatic effects of automobile-induced commuter development, since its hinterland was remarkably devoid of resource-based settlement prior to 1950, there are no alternative urban employment centres within commuting range, rural land prices are extremely low, and competition or conflict between housing and resource industries has been minimal. The combined effect of these conditions is that pre-1960 housing within the commuter-shed has been swamped by post-1960 development, both in suburban and exurban areas. The paper also has wider relevance in that it highlights the local importance of broad shifts in styles of governance and planning philosophies. These shifts occurred worldwide after 1980, and the Halifax case illustrates the impact of policy and funding changes on the promotion and control of peri-urban residential development.

The Regional Situation to 1960 Halifax was founded as a fortress and naval base, not as the central place for a region of agricultural settlement (Millward 1993). Indeed, the physical environment almost precludes farming, being a forbidding land of glacially-scoured igneous and metamorphic rocks (granite, slate, and greywacke), poorly-drained, strewn with boulders, and lacking topsoil. Within the area depicted on Figure 1, only a few areas had sufficient depth to bedrock to enable settlement for semi-subsistence farming (Canada Land Inventory classes 3 to 5): these are the softrock environments to the north and a discontinuous area of drumlinized glacial till extending from Halifax east to Chezzetcook. Glacial till also enabled small pockets of farming in the Sackville river valley at Hammonds Plains, and on the north-east margins of St. Margaret’s Bay. Elsewhere the interior remained virtually unsettled through to 1960, with the exception of several Black communities–North Preston and Beechville (near Lakeside)–which began life as subsistence farming communities despite their lack of topsoil (see Henry 1973; Pachai 1987/1990).”

Published in Canadian Geographer | Hugh Millward | 2002,,

Christ Church Cemetery

See also:

The story of Christ Church, Dartmouth
Christ Church, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, 1817 to 1959

"Christ Church Cemetery", 1913.

Funerals held for two slain in Dartmouth

Funerals held for two slain in Dartmouth
DARTMOUTH. N.S. (CP) About 1,000 police men were joined by political leaders and hundreds of citizens in a overflow crowd which gathered here yesterday to pay tribute to Cpl. Eric Spicer, the Dartmouth policeman who was gunned down along with taxi driver Keith McCallum on Monday.

Cpl. Spicer’s widow and members of his family, along with representatives of the province led by Premier Gerald Regan took up the 400-seat main floor of the nearby Port Wallis United Church. Mayor Eileen Stubbs of Dartmouth, dressed in blue cloak and gold chain of office, and Mayor Edmund Morris of Halifax, headed civic delegations. Among those attending were representatives of police forces in Winnipeg, Toronto, Saint John and Moncton, N.B., Halifax, Dartmouth, and members of the RCMP. About 400 members of the public sat in a church auditorium, where the service was carried over loud-speakers.

STAND IN SNOW About 100 members of the Canadian Forces, a delegation of penitentiary guards, lands and forests officers and RCMP lined the road fronting the church for about 100 yards. Hundreds of citizens stood outside with them in the blowing snow listening to the service over loud-speakers.
In contrast only a small group of friends and relatives attended funeral services at Truro, N.S., for McCallum. a 23-year-old Dartmouth taxi driver.
McCallum, who lived in the Truro area before moving to Dartmouth earlier this year, was shot to death about 150 feet away from where Cpl. Spicer’s body was found.

Meanwhile Dartmouth police confirmed they have a witness who has supplied them with a detailed description of a second man sought in connection with the double slaying. Earlier police revealed Allan Craig MacDonald, 22, of Elmsdale, N.S., construction worker, had been charged with murder punishable by death in connection with the slayings. While the search for the second man is underway, MacDonald is being held at the Halifax Country Correctional Institute awaiting an appearance in magistrate court Monday.

The Montreal Gazette, Dec 26, 1975.,2365908&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiR7OrdooaGAxVeDRAIHYi_B20Q6AF6BAgJEAI#v=onepage&q=The%20Halifax%20Gazette%20%22dartmouth%22&f=false

Amalgamation Far Off

Smug Dartmouth

Tale of two cities
Amalgamation far off

HALIFAX Most urban Canadians get only one chance every few years to tell their local politicians just what they want to see done by government in the city. That chance comes at election time and it’s a pretty crude way of communicating a lot of hard detail about your feelings. You pick the person you like best or dislike least and vote; that’s it.
But politicians in Halifax and neighboring Dartmouth now have in their hands a sophisticated measure that tells them, among other things. just how much their constituents trust them and just what those people want them to do. The report was produced by the Metropolitan Area Planning Committee, which spent nearly three years drawing up a development plan for the region.

Citizens polled
MAPC sent out a team of pollsters to ask people in the two cities and parts of surrounding Halifax County what they think about a wide range of urban issues. What should we spend more money on? What should get less money? Do you trust local politicians? Is local government getting better or worse? Those are the kind of questions they asked. And the answers in the survey provide a fascinating profile of the priorities of about one-third of the Population of Nova Scotia.
The results have delighted and amazed urban planners in the area. Both cities share many of the same concerns. The big problem, according to most people, revolves around youth; they want more money spent on helping kids who are on drugs and on providing more recreational facilities for teenagers. They are also concerned to about the same degree with pollution. education, parks, help for the unemployed, homeless children. mentally ill and ex-convicts, and police patrolling.

Commons interests
They have roughly the same interest in local politics and they trust their politicians about the same amount. With as many common interests as that. you might expect people in the region to be fairly open to the idea of amalgamating the two cities, a proposal that has been bouncing around for several years now. They are separated only by a narrow stretch of water.
Instead, their views differed sharply. In Halifax, about 60 per cent favored amalgamated: in Dartmouth, the same proportion opposed it strongly.
The difference appears to be based on the complacent almost smug view that people in Dartmouth have of their lot in the city of 75,000.
Forty per cent of them think their local government has gotten better over the last five or 10 years: only 25 per cent of Haligonians feel that way about their city.
One quarter of Dartmouthians rate their government as excellent or very good: in Halifax, only one-tenth of the people are quite so enthusiastic.

More trust
Dartmouth people trust their politicians more and they have a higher regard for their politicians’ competence than do residents of Halifax.
One planner feels that Dartmouth residents are more afraid of coming under the domination of Halifax city hall than they are of amalgamation; he says it’s a feeling that “goes back a long-long way.”
But the mood is clear. Dartmouth people are quite happy with their local government, thank you, and they don’t want any changes.
If you look for some reasons for the apparent dissatisfaction in Halifax, you find that many of the city’s people favor changes that make the city look like a classic small- liberal community.

Public housing for the poor? Spend more money on it, say more than 60 per cent of the Haligonians. Less than half the Dartmouth people feel that way. Store money for social welfare programs? Go ahead, say one quarter of Halifax people. In Dartmouth, only one-tenth say the same
thing. Some of those differences can probably be accounted for by the profiles of the two communities. In Halifax, for example, just over half the people earn more than $8,000 a year. In Dartmouth, nearly 75 per cent are above that income level.

Own homes
Dartmouth’s wealth is reflected in the fact that three-quarters of the people surveyed owned their own homes. In Halifax, 69 per cent of the people are tenants and the survey found tenants much more willing to spend money to solve social problems.
But the planners and politicians who have to interpret the survey still have to figure out what they should make of some of the apparent contradictions of the people in the area. Why do they agree about so many basic priorities and yet still look so different on a few crucial points? It’s a question they’ll have to come to grips with if they have any idea of forcing a marriage of the two communities.

The Montreal Gazette, Jun 20, 1973.,1177201&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjlncylpIaGAxW1JhAIHcFSDLI4ChDoAXoECAkQAg#v=onepage&q=The%20Halifax%20Gazette%20%22dartmouth%22&f=false

Twin Cities Map Metropolitan Halifax-Dartmouth

Many communities noted on this map: Burnside, Shannon Park, Tufts Cove, Albro Lake, Port Wallis, Tam O’Shanter, Westphal, Graham Corner, Commodore Park, Southdale, Woodlawn Woodside, Ellendale, Bel Ayr Park and Wildwood Lake within the City of Dartmouth.
A few peripheral communities are also noted: Shearwater, Eastern Passage, Cole Harbour, Willowdale, Highland Acres, Sunset Acres and Humber Park.

“Twin Cities Map Metropolitan Halifax-Dartmouth”, 1977.

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