1. Northern Pulp’s sci-fi future
This item is written by Joan Baxter.
It’s all supposed to be decided in just 83 days.
Yesterday, Nova Scotia Environment announced that it had received the focus report for Northern Pulp’s proposed effluent treatment plant, which was required after former environment minister Margaret Miller announced in March that there were 19 “key deficiencies” in the information provided in the original submission.
Nova Scotia Environment says that it will spend 14 days checking the report to ensure it is complete. Then the focus report will be available online and open for public comment for 30 days. After that, the department has 39 days to announce its decision.
And that, if you are counting, takes us right up to Christmas Eve.
It will make for an interesting anniversary; it was on Christmas Eve back in 1964 that then-Premier Robert Stanfield told the people of Nova Scotia that a pulp mill was to be built on Abercrombie Point in Pictou County. At the time, he called it a “very pleasant Christmas present for Nova Scotia.”
Stanfield neglected to list all the gifts that the people were giving to the pulp mill, including massive amounts of cheap water and a dam to contain it, a causeway, access to 200,000 acres of prime Crown timberland with rock-bottom stumpage rates, new legislation to permit clear-cutting, and last and most egregious, the use of Boat Harbour — a tidal estuary that belonged and was precious to Pictou Landing First Nation — for the mill effluent, which the people of Nova Scotia would own and treat for the mill owners.
But apparently this is no time to be looking back at these pesky historical details about all the money and gifts that successive Nova Scotian governments have lavished on the pulp mill over the past half century. Or to raise inconvenient truths about the number of times — at least four — that different governments have promised to close Boat Harbour and then betrayed Pictou Landing First Nation by reneging on those promises, or about pledges to build a new treatment and disposal facility (there were proposals similar to the current one back in 1991 and 2001).
The reason I say that this is not the time for any such historical reflection on facts or context about the pulp mill is that I have been studying yesterday’s press release from Paper Excellence / Northern Pulp, and is it clear that the “Paper Excellence Team” who created it would have us all take a pill and follow them into a fantasy-land of their making.
Let’s start with the two renderings of the treatment facility that Northern Pulp is proposing be built beside the mill.
In one of the drawings, the aging and ugly bleached Kraft pulp mill has been whitewashed into a dream-like state, bleached into blissful oblivion in another.
Neither of the phantasmagorical images in the media statement is captioned, so it is difficult to know just what part of the proposed Activated Sludge Treatment plant the beholder is meant to be beholding.
What is obvious, however, is that the renderings have absolutely nothing to do with the reality of Abercrombie Point, and with the stench-and-smoke-and-steam-spewing chimneys of the mill, which are an industrial eyesore from any perspective.
Nor is there so much as a hint of what kinds of contamination lurks nearby; the proposed treatment basins are very close to the Canso Chemicals site where there is a plume of mercury in the bedrock, which is migrating towards Pictou Harbour, and where mercury-laced materials were buried in “secure” landfills in the 1990s, as I wrote here.
And it’s not just the images that have been doctored so much they look delusional.
It is also the text.
In the press statement, the proposed “effluent treatment facility” to treat the stinking and toxic effluent from the mill has been transformed into a “wastewater treatment facility,” even a “state of the art [sic] wastewater treatment facility.” The word “effluent” has been excised.
Nor does the media statement hint at the plan to pump up to 87 million litres of warm, treated effluent through several kilometres of pipe and into the rich fishing grounds of the Northumberland Strait off Caribou.
Rather, the reader is offered the meaningless claim that “the new system will see a significant improvement in the way treated wastewater is discharged.”
Then there is the tedious rah-rah jargon that riddles the short, 250-word press statement. In keeping with the Bousquet tradition, I counted some of the words:
- well-paying jobs (1 with a hyphen); well paying jobs (1 without a hyphen)
- protect the environment (1); environmentally responsible (1); environmental improvements (1); environmental protection (1)
- science-based (2)
Since the Paper Excellence Team neglected to offer any realistic images of what the Northern Pulp mill and its effluent look like, I thought it might be useful to insert a couple here, to offer some perspective.
And since we’re talking about perspective, there is also the question of how the government can meet this onerous and short deadline of Christmas Eve for this crucial decision, when it takes so long to do far simpler investigations.
Because Nova Scotia Environment decided the new effluent facility required only a Class 1 environmental assessment, less onerous and much shorter than a Class II assessment (which Linda Pannozzo wrote about here), the department has very little time to decide on the project.
Contrast that with how long it takes Nova Scotia Environment to undertake an investigation into a relatively small effluent spill. On October 21 last year, Northern Pulp’s effluent pipe once again sprang a leak, which I wrote about here. William Palmer, the man who discovered the leak told me he and his wife discovered all the leaks — six of them — since they moved to the property in 1985. The 2018 leak was not as serious as the one in 2014, when 47 million litres of toxic effluent spilled over sacred Mi’kmaq burial grounds.
Since last year, I’ve been asking Nova Scotia Environment regularly for news of the investigation and what it found. Yesterday, after I sent another email asking for an update, Nova Scotia Environment spokesperson Rachel Boomer told me that the investigation into that leak is still “ongoing.” She has “no more details to share” on it.
Eleven months and counting, and the investigation into the leak still isn’t complete.
While in just 83 days, Nova Scotia Environment will review and assess the focus report, receive and review public comments, and then analyze all of the above so that the minister can make a decision on whether to accept or reject the Northern Pulp proposal for a whole new effluent treatment and disposal facility.
Seems odd, to say the least.
2. Savage on stadium: city’s costs are too high
This item is written by Jennifer Henderson.
Mayor Mike Savage told University of King’s journalism students yesterday about his “biggest concern” with a $130 million proposed football stadium at the former Shannon Park military base in north Dartmouth. “As it is currently configured, I think the cost to the city would probably be too much,” said the mayor. Savage was responding to a question from journalism student Joe Thompson, who quoted the politician as having recently said he would like to see a stadium built but only if the cost was right.
“What is the right cost?” asked Thompson during a town hall style session at the Central Library where the mayor participated in a question-and-answer session with students after a short presentation about his role as mayor. (I was in the room because I am a part-time instructor at the journalism school)
“My biggest concern with this stadium proposal is that on top of what it will cost to build, it will cost tens of millions of dollars to feed the transportation to get people in and out,” replied Savage. “Before I got elected, the city committed to $20 million to build a stadium, contingent on the province and the federal government also contributing $20 million.”
“If we can get a stadium for $10 -$15 million, we would have the best deal in town!” continued Savage. “But if you need to add $40-$50 million for transportation, it changes the water on the beans for me.”
Savage was referring to the fact the stadium proposal from Schooner Sports and Entertainment does not include funding for buses or upgrades to the transportation system to bring fans to and from the site of the proposed 24,000 seat stadium. The 435-page proposal is currently being reviewed by staff working for the municipal and the provincial governments which have been approached by the promoters to pay $4 -$5 million a year for several decades to cover payments on their commercial loan.
The mayor noted that HRM is no stranger to funding megaprojects and in the case of the Central Library and the new convention centre, Savage says those investments were “worth it.” He noted HRM had ponied up $65 million to build the Library and $180 million to build the Nova Centre on Argyle Street. The issue, he suggested to students, is not the price-tag but whether all the costs connected to the new stadium would outweigh potential benefits to the municipality.
3. Province looks to ban vaping products
The province is looking at banning flavoured vaping products, reports CTV/The Canadian Press. Yesterday, the Conservatives introduced a bill in the legislature that would ban e-liquids and prohibit the use and possession of tobacco products by people under the age of 19.
The premier said the government was already looking at regulations that would require licences to sell vaping products. He said a bill wouldn’t be introduced during this session of the legislature, but regulatory changes could happen by the end of the fall session.
We don’t actually need (legislation) to ban the flavours, but we may need to in terms of making other changes that may be required on how we deal with that product.
Progressive Conservative leader Tim Houston said his party was concerned about the health issues connected with vaping.
A vaping rights group, Rights 4 Vapers, says it’s concerned the ban wouldn’t take into account the adults who rely on vaping products, including flavoured products, to quit smoking.
An essential factor in a smoker’s decision to transition to vaping is taste. The flavoured vaping products give smokers a reason to move away from the burnt-tobacco taste of cigarettes. Flavours must remain available.
The role of flavours is something that adult vapers have confirmed.
In the largest survey of Canadian adult vapers, with over 4000 respondents, Rights 4 Vapers found that the clear majority of vapers use flavoured products like fruits and candy. Also, 94 percent say that they have quit smoking because of vaping and 98 percent say that they smoke less because of vaping.
4. City gets new alert system
A new alert system will warn Halifax residents about everything from parking bans to evacuations, reports Haley Ryan with The Star. Yesterday, the city launched hfxAlert, a mass notification system that will replace CityWatch. hfxAlert will warn about everything from bad weather to evacuations.
Maggie-Jane Spray, a spokesperson with the city, told Ryan hurricane Dorian “highlighted” the need for a new system.
There was a lot of definitely moving parts throughout that storm, and as the storm changed so did the communications that we needed to get to residents.
Users have to sign up online to get the alerts, which will be sent via email, text, phone call. A release about hfxAlert, suggested residents could also download the Everbridge mobile app, which will provide alerts through your mobile device whenever you’re in a specific area of HRM.
Halifax privacy lawyer David T.S. Fraser shared his concerns about downloading that mobile app on Twitter.
5. South Park shops look to sue over lost business
Businesses on South Park Street and Spring Garden Road area are getting together and looking for legal representation to sue for losses because of the collapsed crane in their neighbourhood, reports Francis Campbell at The Chronicle Herald. Campbell spoke with Michael Smith, co-owner of Twiggz Shoes in the Trillium building, who says insurance isn’t covering his loss in business or those of other businesses in the area.
Someone has to be liable. Someone has to be guilty here. We already are paying the penalty for it and other businesses are suffering worse than us.
Not one business owner has been contacted by a councillor or the mayor or anybody. We have a councillor who likes to go in and take selfies with staff but other than that there’s been nothing. We thought it was time to represent ourselves and band together.
Yesterday, the province renewed its state of emergency for the area. Work to remove the fallen crane started on Sunday. The top portion of the crane is secured.
Smith says his store is open for business, even with the state of emergency, but there’s no business. He says the group of businesses will deal with the mayor’s office, municipal departments, and the province on their own.
It’s just unacceptable. A lot of retailers are affected. This is amateur hour. A lot of us have been in business 20 or 30 years so we’re not going to go silently into the night on this one.
We need people who actually can do something, not people who want to look like they are doing something.
6. Looking ahead at Monday’s bridge protest
Nicole Munro at The Chronicle Herald talked with Halifax Transit, Halifax Regional Police, and Halifax Harbour Bridges about their plans for the planned protest by Extinction Rebellion Nova Scotia on the Macdonald Bridge on Monday.
A spokesperson with Halifax Transit told Munro they are considering detouring the buses that usually use the Macdonald Bridge to the MacKay. Halifax Regional Police wouldn’t say if they’d shut down the protest, but they are considering public safety.
And a spokesperson with Halifax Harbour Bridges says they are working with police, “to ensure we respect the rights for a peaceful protest, recognizing the Macdonald bridge is a key transportation route and that our priority is the safe cross-harbour passage for our customers.”
Patrick Yancey with Extinction Rebellion says pedestrians, cyclists, and emergency vehicles will be let on the bridge during the protest.
1. Remembering Rickey Walker
It’s been just over three years since Rickey Walker was found shot near John MacNeil Elementary School in north Dartmouth. The case of his murder remains unsolved. Last week, I met up with Brandon Walker, Rickey’s nephew, to talk about his uncle and his community. Brandon has contributed articles to the North Dartmouth Echo, a community newspaper on which I serve as the volunteer editor.
Walker remembers Rickey as the one who kept the family together, making family dinners and hosting family get-togethers. Walker says Rickey, who was also his godfather, help to raise him from the time he was born.
I consider him someone who played a father role in my life, for all my life. He was someone I could really rely on if I needed someone to talk to and get something off my chest. He’d be the one to give me sound advice. He’d point me in the right direction if he felt I wasn’t going in the right direction. He gave me a lot of good advice over the years.
Brandon and his aunt, Rickey’s sister, learned about Rickey’s death in the early hours of Sept. 1 when officers with the HRP knocked on the door. In the last three years, Walker says he and his family would ask the police for updates on the cash. About a month and a half ago, Walker called HRP and asked for any documentation on the progress on the case, but Walker says they were told the police don’t actively call the families and any information is kept private.
I feel some communication is better than no communication.
Walker says it’s the community that has offered continued support to his family. Not even two days after Rickey’s murder in 2016, Walker says Ceasefire Halifax organized a march and more than 150 people attended.
That speaks to the feeling of a community. If someone good happens, they surround you. If something bad happens, there is a number of people who will rally behind you in order to get closure, to get justice.
Ceasefire Halifax no longer exists, but Walker says some of the people behind the organization still provide support for his family. He says Carlos Beals, who worked as a senior manager with Ceasefire, will reach out and ask how he’s doing. Other local activists like Quentrel Provo, the founder of Stop the Violence, messages Walker to check up on him.
Just that alone makes me happy to know people care. These are people who work hard to end violence in our community, even though that pillar, that central spot for them, which was Ceasefire, is gone. They still care.
Walker, 29, has spent most of his life in Dartmouth north. He grew up in the area between the two bridges until he was about eight. Then his family moved to a place near Albro Lake Road for a little while.
We always seemed to venture back to Windmill Road, which is the comfort zone of the whole family.
His grandfather, Charles, still lives in the same north Dartmouth apartment he moved into in 1986. Charles was in the army and was stationed in Germany where he met his wife and had two children, before moving to Dartmouth north.
Walker went to school at Shannon Park, Northbrook Elementary, Bicentennial, and Dartmouth High. He now works in a call centre and owns his own DJ business and hosts karaoke at local bars.
Walker says what he loves about Dartmouth North are the people.
I know everyone is going to say the same thing about their community but if something goes wrong, people rally together. If something goes right, people rally together and celebrate. It’s the closeness I love. To me a community is seeing the same faces everywhere you go and not getting tired of seeing those faces.
Walker volunteers with Farrell Benevolent Society where he’s on the board of directors. He also supports the work of other community activists like Kayley Dixon and Kim, the head librarian at the Dartmouth North Library who reads to the kids with the Take Action Society, another group whose work he supports.
While Walker is a strong believer in his community, he’d like to live elsewhere. He’s already lived in Edmonton twice.
I want to be a traveler. But I will always come back. I don’t want to limit myself to one community. I want to learn from everybody.
Walker says Dartmouth north was home for Rickey, too. He worked and lived in the community. Walker says he misses a lot about his uncle.
I miss the fact that I can’t get the sound advice from him that I used to get. Someone who I can just pick up the phone and call. I can do that with my other friends and the family I have. But I can’t get that kick in the butt that I sometimes need and he always gave. I miss that he was always my number one fan. When I hosted karaoke shows, he’d be the first one there. He’d point me in the right direction in getting better jobs. He helped me get a promotion. He taught me many different life lessons.
The province is offering a reward of up to $150,000 for any information that will lead to an arrest and conviction of the person who killed Rickey.
2. Cold storage was going to save N.S. in 1926
Stephen Archibald at Halifax Bloggers shares some excellent photos from his 1981 visit to the Halifax Seaport and ocean terminals.
Archibald took photos of the grain elevator and the tires on the side of the ocean terminals, which he says make it look like an art installation. Archibald also has photos of structures that have long since been torn down.
The best thing I saw that day was this massive concrete structure, a cold storage warehouse, now long gone. I imagine it held a lot of fish. It looks like proto-Brutalist architecture, 30 or 40 years before its time. And we all love a good water tank (that’s another photo of it in the header). NHB on the tank stands for National Harbours Board.
Archibald also did some research on Sir Henry Thornton, the president of Canadian National Railways, who laid the cornerstone for this warehouse in 1928. He found this cartoon that depicts how cold storage facilities would save the province from stagnation.
And do you recognize this location? Archibald says he didn’t at first.
Then it struck me: this is now the road I use on Saturday mornings going to the Seaport Market, walking past the Art College and the Canadian Museum of Immigration. Didn’t see that coming 40 years ago.
WE Day Atlantic announced its lineup for the event in Halifax on Oct. 16. This year’s event includes Halifax’s Neon Dreams, as well as YouTube star Johnny Orlando, pop duo Elijah Woods x Jamie Fine, Margaret Trudeau, and Gizelle de Guzman, a young singer from Nova Scotia.
I attended the first couple of WE Day events with my daughter when I worked as the editor of a local parenting magazine. Honestly, the first event in 2013 was a pretty good time. Really, it was a concert for the kids. My daughter met a number of the acts performing and WE Day founder Craig Kielburger. But the second event was far more corporate and less entertaining. There were fewer bands and musicians and more VPs of whatever company on stage plugging their brands. I didn’t care about this, so I was sure a bunch of teenagers cared even less.
I also grew tired of the idea that in order to get young people to give back to their communities you have to give them a big party where they can take lots of selfies as a reward. I also wondered about the kids who weren’t there and if they felt left out of the experience. WE Day is an experience for the privileged and a competition about giving back.
On Sept. 24, Halifax council voted 11-2 to give $65,000 to the non-profit organization for this year’s event (Matt Whitman and Stephen Adams voted no). Council has supported previous WE Days, including the event scheduled for 2018 that was cancelled.
The request to Council for the funds includes a letter from Craig Kielburger, which talks about how a new program called WE Well-being that will help kids promote mental health in their schools and communities.
The letter also includes this paragraph:
We will also be joined by our incredible co-chairs and youth champions, Ken Power, Regional Vice President of Telus; Sean and Crystal Murray, CEO and Creative Director of Media Operations, Advocate Printing and Publishing; and Doug Reid, Atlantic Managing Partner, KPMG.
Disclosure: I used to work for Advocate Printing and Publishing.
Harbour East – Marine Drive Community Council (Thursday, 6pm, HEMDCC Meeting Space, Alderney Gate) — agenda here.
No public meetings.
Legislature sits (Thursday, 1pm, Province House)
Legislature sits (Friday, 9am, Province House)
Mechanical Control of Heart Rate (Thursday, 11:30am, Room 3H-01, 3rd Floor, Tupper Building) — Eilidh MacDonald will talk.
Gradients do grow on trees: a linear-time O(N)-dimensional gradient for statistical phylogenetics (Thursday, 3:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Marc Suchard from UCLA will talk. His abstract:
Calculation of the log-likelihood stands as the computational bottleneck for many statistical phylogenetic algorithms. Even worse is its gradient evaluation, often used to target regions of high probability. Order O(N)-dimensional gradient calculations based on the standard pruning algorithm require O(N2) operations where N is the number of sampled molecular sequences. With the advent of high-throughput sequencing, recent phylogenetic studies have analyzed hundreds to thousands of sequences, with an apparent trend towards even larger data sets as a result of advancing technology. Such large-scale analyses challenge phylogenetic reconstruction by requiring inference on larger sets of process parameters to model the increasing data heterogeneity. To make this tractable, we present a linear-time algorithm for O(N)-dimensional gradient evaluation and apply it to general continuous-time Markov processes of sequence substitution on a phylogenetic tree without a need to assume either stationarity or reversibility. We apply this approach to learn the branch-specific evolutionary rates of three pathogenic viruses: West Nile virus, Dengue virus and Lassa virus. Our proposed algorithm significantly improves inference efficiency with a 126- to 234-fold increase in maximum-likelihood optimization and a 16- to 33-fold computational performance increase in a Bayesian framework.
Bring your own Dengue fever.
The Importance of Black Canadian Studies in Medical Education (Thursday, 6pm, the Black Cultural Centre, Cherry Brook) — OmiSoore Dryden will talk. Free catered dinner, info here.
What’s Needed to Sustain the Sustainable Development Goals? An Indigenous community-based research perspective (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Theatre, Marion McCain Building) — Debbie Martin will talk. Her abstract:
The UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals are top of mind in recent years, as many communities and nations attempt to identify how to address health and social inequities, stem the onslaught of climate change, all while trying to maintain and grow healthy economies. In this lecture, Dr. Martin challenges us to consider that these things are not mutually exclusive and that Indigenous community-based and community-led research offers a critical lens through which to not only identify the interconnections between each of these issues, but that addressing them requires the wisdom offered by our Indigenous Elders and Knowledge-Keepers.
Citizens and Science in a Digitized World (Friday, 12:30pm, Room 104, Weldon Law Building) — Kimberlyn McGrail from the University of British Columbia will talk.
SURGE Entrepreneur Chat (Friday, 12:30pm, Room 2660, Life Sciences Centre) — Darren Rowles from Sona Technologies will talk. Register here.
Stereoselective Construction of Challenging C‑C Bonds: Total Synthesis of Complex Bioactive Agents (Friday, 1:30pm, Room 226, Chemistry Building) — Andrew Evans from Queen’s University will talk.
Plantations and Factories (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1170, Marion McCain Building) — Justin Roberts will talk.
One World Alumni Awards Gala (Thursday, 6:30pm, Loyola 290 Conference Hall) — tickets $25/10, available here.
Doyali Islam (Thursday, 7:30pm, President’s Lodge) — acclaimed Toronto poet will read, followed by a reception.
In the harbour
06:00: Jennifer Schepers, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from New York
06:30: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
06:45: Veendam, cruise ship with up to 1,350 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Sydney, on a seven-day cruise from Montreal to Boston
07:00: Pengalia, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Argentia, Newfoundland
07:30: Zuiderdam, cruise ship with up to 2,364 passengers, arrives at Pier 31 from Bar Harbor, on a 12-day cruise from New York to Quebec City
07:45: Regal Princess, cruise ship with up to 4,271 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Saint John, on a seven-day roundtrip cruise out of New York
08:30: Riviera, cruise ship with up to 1,447 passengers, arrives at Pier 34 from Saint John, on an 11-day cruise from New York to Montreal
11:00: Apollon Highway, car carrier, arrives at Berth TBD from Southampton, England
11:30: Oceanex Sanderling moves to Pier 36
15:00: Celsius Ravenna, oil tanker, sails from Imperial Oil for sea
15:30: Veendam sails for Bar Harbor
16:00: Zuiderdam sails for Sydney
17:30: Jennifer Schepers sails for Kingston, Jamaica
17:45: Regal Princess sails for New York
18:00: Riviera sails for Sydney
I’d like to hear about more employers who take their staff’s tips. This is the time of year that companies are booking holiday parties. From my experience, as I wrote about here, some employers will charge an automatic gratuity on those event bills, but not share those tips with the staff who worked that event. If you know of any employers that may do this, send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.