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Media Release: Dalhousie University and Halifax Regional Municipality launch joint task force on response planning for unsanctioned street gatherings

Posted by Communications, Marketing and Creative Services on September 14, 2023 in News

Thursday September 14, 2023 (Halifax, NS) –Dalhousie University and the Halifax Regional Municipality announce the launch of a joint task force to address the issue of unsanctioned street gatherings in Halifax’s south end. The task force will help to improve planning, coordination, communications and safety response to these events. 

Unsanctioned street gatherings have been a growing phenomenon in Canada over the last decade, fueled by social media influences. This task force demonstrates the commitment of key stakeholders to collaborate and cooperate in response to the increase of this type of event in Halifax. The launch of the task force builds on collaborative work over the last year through a broader Collective Impact Planning Process to identify both short- and long-term strategies to address unsanctioned street gatherings. 

The task force members recognize this is a complex, multi-faceted challenge that will require significant, ongoing collaboration and novel initiatives to mitigate the impact of unsanctioned street gatherings in our city.  The task force’s work will complement additional initiatives being led to enhance student programming and strengthen harm reduction, as well as opportunities for community building between students and residents in the south end near the Dalhousie University campus.

While the task force members and others have already been working together to address these events, the Taskforce will:

  • Plan and implement a coordinated communication and education campaign to help prevent or mitigate these types of events by increasing awareness in the university and local community.  This will also include the consequences of hosting or participating in an unsanctioned gathering and immediate, timely response communications; and
  • Identify appropriate response and accountability mechanisms across respective areas of jurisdiction to deter hosting or attending gatherings and encourage all stakeholders to be involved in mitigating this challenge.

While each partner will undertake their own operational planning within their areas of responsibility, to demonstrate the shared commitment to action, the task force will be co-led by Dr. Rick Ezekiel, Vice-Provost of Student Affairs, Dalhousie University; Conor O’Dea, Acting Managing Director, Government Relations and External Affairs, Halifax Regional Municipality; and Derrick Boyd, Superintendent of Patrol, Halifax Regional Police. The task force membership will include representatives from Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency and Emergency Health Services as well as community representatives from the south end neighbourhood. The task force will be supported by a working group focused on Education and Communications. It will also have the ability to convene an ad hoc Security and Public Safety Response Group to prepare for and respond to specific events. 

More information can be found in the Terms of Reference: Dalhousie University website and Halifax Regional Police webpage


Media contacts:
Lindsay Dowling-Savelle
Media Relations Manager
Dalhousie University
C. 902-222-8810

Brynn Budden
Public Affairs Advisor, Corporate Communications
Halifax Regional Municipality
C. 902.476.6464