News

1. Stadium

A woman hails a cab from the middle of the proposed Shannon Park stadium.

This item is written by Tim Bousquet.

Halifax council yesterday rejected Sam Austin’s bid to immediately end a staff review of the Schooners’ stadium proposal. Had Austin been successful, the stadium proposal would have effectively been rejected.

In October 2018, council passed a motion outlining how it would deal with the stadium issue. It read:

That Halifax Regional Council direct the Chief Administrative Officer to: 
1. Complete a thorough business case analysis on a proposal for a stadium, including a stadium district development from Maritime Football League Partnership (MFLP). 
2. Engage with the province to obtain legislative amendments to the HRM Charter to allow for a tax agreement on a stadium, and the ability to contribute financially to the debt financing of a stadium through a Tax Incremental Financing model or otherwise, pending the outcome of the business case analysis. 
3. Engage, collaborate and partner with the province on potential new and incremental sources of revenue designated to contribute to the debt financing of the stadium. 
4. Bring a report back to Council detailing the results of the business case review of a MFLP proposal with a recommendation to proceed or not to proceed as a funding partner in a new multi-use stadium. The business case review must include evaluations on the need, cost-benefit, risk, economic impact, partnership opportunities and current cost estimates. 

Maritime Football League Partnership changed its name to Schooners Sports and Entertainment (SSE).

It took 11 months for SSE to develop a stadium proposal; it was delivered to City Hall on September 26.

To rational observers, the proposal was a dud. It transferred the financial risk of the stadium entirely to government, and left the city liable for up to $2 million/year in loan payments for 25 years. It gutted the Shannon Park plan, and made the entirety of Shannon Park into a “tax increment district” that would see all property taxes collected dedicated to the stadium. While the stadium would be privately owned by a company controlled by SSI, the proposal left the city responsible for maintenance. There was scant attention paid to transportation issues in the proposal — for instance, no plan for bringing traffic from the MacKay Bridge to the stadium site — and what little was proposed for transportation outlined ridiculous assumptions like fully loaded buses being able to discharge passengers in two minutes and that people would walk to the stadium site from downtown Dartmouth, an hour away.

Regardless, when the proposal showed up, city staff started its review, saying it would take six months to fully vet the proposal.

Austin wanted to put a stop to that review, so he put forward a motion that would rescind the October 2018 motion. To be successful, he needed a two-thirds yes vote.

Austin argued yesterday that last year council had been assured that any stadium proposal would include significant private financing, while what was delivered included none. Moreover, the SSE proposal did not include the required evaluations on the need for a stadium, cost-benefit, risk, or economic impact.

Austin was backed up by several other councillors who argued that staff time was being taken away from other important but long-delayed city plans like the Moving Forward Together transit plan or a climate plan promised 18 months ago. “We’ve declared a climate emergency,” noted Richard Zurawski, “but we haven’t declared a stadium emergency.” Tim Outhit said the city can’t afford to provide necessary services like buses and sidewalks, so it shouldn’t prioritize funding for a stadium.

But Austin couldn’t muster the 2/3 vote. Here’s how councillors voted:

Yes (for stopping the staff review): Sam Austin, Waye Mason, Lindell Smith, Shawn Cleary, Richard Zurawski, Matt Whitman, Paul Russell, Tim Outhit.

No (for allowing the review to continue): Steve Streatch, David Hendsbee, Bill Karsten, Lorelei Nicoll, Tony Mancini, Russell Walker, Steve Adams, Lisa Blackburn, Mike Savage.

After rejecting Austin’s motion, council passed a motion requiring staff to provide an update on its work in December. CAO Jacques Dubé admitted that “we can’t have due diligence” by December, but his staff could provide some broad outlines of where things stood and, possibly, suggest some benchmarks that could be conditionally approved as the stadium proposal moves forward.

Which means we’ll see yesterday’s council debate repeated in December.

Dubé said that if SSE doesn’t get an answer by January, the company has indicated it would “walk away” from Halifax.

But I fear we’re on this stadium train, and a majority of councillors don’t want off.

2. Few details on woman’s death

Police tape around homes on Willow Street. Photo: Twitter/Ashley Field/Global Halifax

Police are still investigating after a woman’s body was found at a house on Willow Street in Halifax yesterday.  Several houses in the area were surrounded with police tape on Tuesday. A release from the Halifax Regional Police say the woman was found in the 6200 block on Willow Street early Tuesday. HRP spokesperson Cst. John MacLeod told The Star Halifax’s Philip Croucher they “don’t know” if the death is a homicide. 

Update: Halifax police have laid charges in the incident.

3. Crown attorneys walking off the job today

Business at today’s law courts could be chaos as crown attorneys walk off the job. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Most of the province’s crown attorneys are expected to walk off the job today, reports Michael Gorman with CBC. In a news conference yesterday, Perry Borden, president of the Nova Scotia Crown Attorneys’ Association, says the situation will be chaos.

There’s going to be a lot of gaps, there’s going to be a lot of coverage issues and, like it or not, there will be some casualties of this walkout.

Last week the government changed the game, last week they made the playing field unfair. None of us want to be here.

The province introduced Bill 203 last week that would declare crown attorneys an essential service and take away their right to arbitration.

Borden says the crown attorneys have worked to cover cases like sexual assaults and murders already before the courts. Other cases have been handed over to managers. A spokesperson for the province’s prosecution service tells Gorman they were “scrambling” to find lawyers to cover courts today.

The crown attorneys have asked for an increase of 17 per cent over four years, while the province offered seven per cent. The premier says the province can’t afford the crown attorneys’ ask.

There’s many of my constituents who would be happy with a seven per cent [increase], which they’re not getting.

4. Micco, Westwood looking to buy Duggers building

Duggers on Spring Garden Road is moving and the entire block will get a new look in 2021. Photo: Facebook

Duggers on Spring Garden road is moving into new digs in 2020 and its soon-to-be old location will torn down. Paul Hollingsworth at CTV spoke with Ross McNeil, owner of Duggars, who says the store is moving into a two-level space in The Doyle, a new development across the street. McNeil says the buyers of the old location are Mickey MacDonald of Micco and Danny Chedrawe of Westwood Developments, although the sale isn’t a done deal.

Sue Uteck with the Spring Garden Road Business Association says “that whole block will be coming down.”

It will be down in the spring. Then in 2021 you’ll see a whole new look with the $10-million street revitalization.

Duggers has been in its current location for 25 years.

5. Atwin’s historic win in Fredericton

Jenica Atwin won the riding of Fredericton in Monday’s federal election. She’s the first Green Party candidate to win a federal seat outside of B.C. Photo: Facebook

Yvette d’Entremont with The Star Halifax speaks with Jenica Atwin, whose win in Monday’s federal election makes her the country’s first Green Party candidate to win a federal seat outside of British Columbia. Atwin won the riding of Fredericton, defeating incumbent MP Matt DeCourcey. She’s also the first woman to be elected for the riding.

For it to be talked about as a historic moment is just incredible. I’m a history buff myself. It’s something I’ve been following my whole life, and now to kind of have my own little legacy is great.

It’s something for me to leave my children. It’s something that we can be proud of in our team, that we accomplished this thing that seemed impossible to so many people across Canada.

Atwin is from the Fredericton area and works the First Nations Education Initiative Inc. She tells d’Entremont about some of the factors that influenced her win, including concerns about climate change after flooding in the city.

Every door I knocked on we were talking about the environment, and so it is nice to see that we are kind of aligning in that way and that we’re willing to elect someone who has such a strong focus on environmental issues.

Atwin says she’s also focusing on Indigenous rights, particularly those of Indigenous women.


Views

1. Two-tier system for early childhood educators

In The Chronicle Herald, Margot Nickerson, president of CUPE Local 4745, which represents early childhood educators, writes about the two tiers of early childhood educators. Nickerson says while all early childhood educators fall under the Nova Scotia Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (EECD), there are big differences in how they are treated, particularly when it comes to pay and benefits.

Legislation, standards and regulations in child care centres are every bit as stringent as those in pre-primary programs, but there is one striking difference between the two groups. Wages and benefits for early childhood educators vary greatly, depending on whether they work in a child care centre or a pre-primary program, even though they are doing the same job. All early childhood educators deserve decent wages and access to government-run benefits and pension plans, regardless of whether they work in a child care centre or a pre-primary program. Equal work deserves equal pay.

Education minister Zach Churchill announced last week the department is forming a working group to look at the issues of pay and benefits. Workers in the province’s pre-primary program make $23 to $24/hr.

In January, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released a report called Unappreciated and Underpaid, by Christine Saulnier and Lesley Frank.

ECEs are considerably discontented about wages and benefits in the workforce. Despite the implementation of wage benchmarks and the funding commitments by the provincial government to improve wages, only a small percentage (22%) of ECEs thought that their pay was fair considering their background and skills. Moreover, a significant portion (67%) felt that their salary does not adequately reflect the work that they do. This predominantly female profession suffers from societal expectations that all women face when they do this kind of work—it is assumed to take very little skill and that women do it because they love it and thus, they do not deserve to be fairly compensated. The outdated 2012 benchmark ($16.55) the government used is inadequate.

Recommendation: ECEs in Nova Scotia deserve a fair benchmark; we recommend either $18.10, the national median hourly wage for 2016 (the last available data), or $19.52 which would bring their wages to 60% of median hourly wages of Nova Scotia teachers. As it stands, the most recent data (2016) shows that ECEs in Nova Scotia still earn the lowest wages in the country ($16.05)

A quick look at job postings for early childhood educator show that private daycares still pay ECEs under that benchmark, starting at $13/hr like this job, which requires a early childhood education certificate or diploma, or this one, which starts at $15/hr.

I’m glad to see this news. I have said this before, we value our children, but not the people who take care of them.

2. Discover Halifax’s master plan

Yesterday, Tim retweeted a post on LinkedIn from Ross Jefferson, the president and CEO of Discover Halifax, who was talking about their master tourism plan for Halifax. As Tim pointed out, Jefferson uses world class to describe the team that will help create this master plan.

What shall we find in Discover Halifax’s master plan?

These so-called world-class team members include Michele McKenzie, Group ATN consulting, and Twenty31. Says Jefferson:

Sure, we could leave it to chance and let this growth direct us. This approach will likely continue to have positive outcomes for us, but I believe we have an opportunity to shape this growth, anticipate challenges that come with growth, and along the way build a better community for visitors and citizens.

Simply stated, we need a plan. A plan that will help us grow the tourism industry in a sustainable and inclusive way that benefits all of Halifax’s communities. A master tourism plan can help Halifax achieve the goals it set out in its Economic Growth Plan. We have an opportunity to chart a course that supports broader community goals and help build a place not just for tourists, but for everyone.

Besides needing some editing, this entire post didn’t teach me anything new. Jefferson says in his personal Twitter bio, he loves all things Halifax from Hubbards to Ecum Secum. I am not even excited to learn more about the master plan, and I say this as someone who has explored a lot of places from Hubbards to Ecum Secum.

This guy knows what’s up.

Anyway, Jefferson says in his post “community collaboration” is the next step in this master plan business.

We’ll be looking to engage partners in the industry and a wide array of businesses so we can develop a plan that is bold yet achievable; sustainable and inclusive.

One stat in the accompanying video that caught my attention was the 4,000 tourism businesses that employ 23,000 people. This is where the good ideas are. It’s the people on the ground, meeting the tourists, who really know what’s going on. I hope the master plan acknowledges them.


Noticed

On Tuesday, I noticed something odd in the Bedford Basin. The blue barge was missing! All that sits there now is the platform on which the barge usually sits. The blue barge in the Bedford Basin is one of those buildings in the city that just about everyone knows, but not everyone knows why it’s there. Maybe it’s been missing for a bit, but I just noticed now.

Where’s the blue barge of Bedford Basin? Photo: Suzanne Rent

I got a tour inside in 2016. I went along with officials from DRDC and someone from the Sierra Club who was doing research on the Halifax Harbour. We took a boat ride from Dartmouth. It was all very top secret and I wasn’t allowed to take my phone or camera inside. The technicians who work here calibrate acoustic instruments used on commercial, naval, and coast guard ships.

The barge has been there since 1958 and a lot of people think it’s owned by the Bedford Institute of Oceanography, but it’s actually owned and operated by the Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC). I made a few calls and no one seemed to know its whereabouts, but eventually I learned the barge is now at the dockyard for repairs, although as of publication time I didn’t know when it was taken there. The Facebook page for Maritime Forces Atlantic has a photo of the barge from back in March when it was taken to the dockyard for refit and repairs. I don’t think it’s been gone since then, but I am still waiting to hear back from DRDC.

The blue barge in for a refit. Photo: Facebook

There’s a well in the middle through which instruments are lowered and tested. There’s a pretty good description of the inside of the barge here. I remember the black-and-white photos on the walls of the first technicians and scientists who worked here in the 1950s and 60s. They were dressed in suits. The attire the technicians wear now is much more casual.

Anyway, these are the things I think are interesting about the city. The barge is a city landmark. I’ll be waiting for its return.


Government

City

Wednesday

Audit and Finance Standing Committee (Wednesday, 10am, City Hall) — nothing terribly interesting on the agenda.

Community Design Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 11:30am, City Hall) — the committee is going to babble on about the pointless Centre Plan.

Heritage Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 3pm, City Hall) — there’s been talk of creating an Old South Suburb Heritage Conservation District since 2003. We’re still talking about it. In fact, the proposal for the district (as opposed to the actual creation of it) is so old it should get its own historic designation.

Western Common Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 6:30pm, Prospect Road Community Centre) — staff updates!

Thursday

Transportation Standing Committee (Thursday, 1pm, City Hall) — Here’s the agenda.

Open House Public Information Meeting – Case 22115 (Thursday, 3pm, Halifax North Memorial Public Library) — an application by Ekistics Planning and Design to allow a multi-unit residential building by development agreement at 2438 Gottingen Street, Halifax.

This will be an Open House style Public Information Meeting from 3pm to 5pm and again from 6pm to 8:30pm. More info here.

Public Information Meeting – Case 22450 (Thursday, 7pm, Music Room, École du Sommet, 500 Larry Uteck Blvd, Halifax) — Cresco Holdings Limited is requesting a substantive amendment to an existing development agreement to allow an additional 72 residential units on lands on Hogan Court, Bedford. More info here.

Province

Wednesday

Legislature sits (Wednesday, 1pm, Province House)

Thursday

Legislature sits (Thursday, 1pm, Province House)


On campus

Dalhousie

Wednesday

Noon Hour Voice Recital (Wednesday, 11:45am, Sculpture Court, Dal Arts Centre) — students of Betty Allison and Christina Haldane will perform.

Violin Masterclass (Wednesday, 4:30pm, Room 406, Dal Arts Centre) — with Marc Djokic.

Percussion Masterclass (Wednesday, 7pm, Room 121, Dal Arts Centre) — with Beverley Johnston.

Horn Masterclass (Wednesday, 7:30pm, Room 406, Dal Arts Centre) — with Louis-Philippe Marsolais. He’ll be performing with Symphony Nova Scotia on October 24th.

Thursday

Margaret Leslie. Photo via mothercraft.ca

Supporting the Transition to Parenthood: The Impact of Parental Trauma on Early Childhood Development (Thursday, 10am, Parker Reception Room, IWK Health Centre) — Margaret Leslie, Director of Early Intervention Programs at the Canadian Mothercraft Society, will lead this day-long workshop. $75, more info here, registration here.

Mini Medical School (Thursday, 7pm, Theatre B, Tupper Link) — Mandi Irwin presents “Diabetes”, and Tammy Keough-Ryan presents “Kidney Disease.”

Kimberley Davies. Photo: UNB

North Atlantic Right Whales in Uncharted Waters (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Theatre, Marion McCain Building) — Kimberley Davies from the University of New Brunswick will talk. From the listing:

North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) are iconic Canadian animals that have become globally recognized as a poster child for the impacts of human activities on threatened species.  In this plenary I discuss biological adaptations right whales use to cope with a patchy and ephemeral zooplankton prey resource.  These adaptations make right whales unusually susceptible to harm from certain human activities such as fishing and shipping, apparently more so that other large whales.  I will explain how recent changes in the ocean environment  have put the future of these animals in peril through impacting both their population biology and risk from human activities.  Looking to the future, unprecedented collaborative efforts are underway that hope to improve the outlook for this species.

Saint Mary’s

Wednesday

Drum and Medicine Bundle discussion (Wednesday, 12pm, MM320) — Raymond Sewell, Student Indigenous Advisor, will play and sing, and talk about the sacredness of the drum and material cultural items. Bring your lunch, register here.

Thursday

Distorted Descent: White Claims to Indigenous Identity (Thursday, 12pm, Room LI135, Patrick Power Library) — Author Darryl Laroux will discuss why some groups of white, French descendant settlers in Canada are claiming “Indigenous” identity, and the effects of these claims on actual Indigenous peoples. Bring your lunch; tea, coffee and cookies provided. More info here.

Il Primo Re (Thursday, 6pm, Loyola L170) — screening of the “epic, violent, and hyper-realistic treatment of the myth of Romulus and his brother Remus as they navigate the harsh and brutal world of ancient Italy on their way to founding the city of Rome.” In Latin with English subtitles.

King’s

Wednesday

Imagining better health care: can counterfactual (“what if…”) learning by analogy from the bible help? (Wednesday, 7pm, Alumni Hall, Academic Building) — Abraham Rudnick will talk. More info here.


In the harbour

07:30: Mein Schiff 1, cruise ship with up to 2.894 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Sydney, on an 11-day roundtrip cruise out of New York
10:00: Silver Wind, cruise ship with up to 355 passengers, arrives at Pier 23 from Saint John, on a nine-day cruise from Boston to Montreal
16:30: Augusta Sun, cargo ship, arrives at Berth TBD from Moa, Cuba
17:45: Silver Wind sails for Sydney
18:30: Mein Schiff 1 sails for New York


Footnotes

Yesterday, I met with Iris the Amazing to go over some photo editing tricks I can use in Morning File. We had a lovely chat and lunch and she gave me a succulent to take home. I then dropped it on the way to the elevator and some of the soil spilled onto the floor. That’s all the dirt I have from Tuesday.

Suzanne Rent

Suzanne Rent is a writer, editor, and researcher. You can follow her on Twitter @Suzanne_Rent

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  1. Although this is not a federal issue it’s noteworthy that at an all candidates’ meeting in Dartmouth every single one of the candidates for MP, including the incumbent, when asked if they felt government money should be put into a stadium for metro said an unequivocal NO. The audience approved of this response.

  2. One wonders what sort of Koolaid some HRM staff and councilors are drinking. Are they so high that they are chasing after ideas that will never make a drop of money for HRM, letting developers tear down the unique older buildings that make HRM a tourist destination and a walkable city, selling off property located on the waterfront for use for residential buildings, that will most certainly be flooded or damaged because HRM doesn’t have the time to deal with those issues like climate change resilience or developing an emissions reducing transportation system? The science is clear, climate change is happening in Atlantic Canada now and all of HRM will be negatively impacted if we dither. We cannot afford the social or financial costs for failing to address the truly important issues of climate mitigation, resilience and creating an effective low emissions transportation system for the entire HRM region.

    1. Have the mayor and the councilors who voted against Sam Austin’s motion not noticed that the new convention centre is costing taxpayers a lot of money, in spite of the provincial auditor general’s warning that the projections for use were plucked out of the air? And that’s in addition to the $150 million plus to build it. P.T. Barnum was right when he said there’s a sucker born every minute.

    1. Yes, definitely been gone for quite awhile. I noticed it missing in late spring, and it had already been gone at least a few months at that point.

      Nice overview of what they do with it! I actually work at BIO, and also collaborate with a lot of folks from DRDC. I hadn’t realized that barge had been around since the 50’s. There’s a lot of really interesting oceanography history here (between the various institutions) that date right back to the beginnings of the field.