News

1. Residents: Dartmouth Cove shouldn’t be turned into a “dump”

Jill Brogan speaks to a packed room at the Zatzman Sportsplex, where people gathered Monday night to voice their opposition to a plan to infill Dartmouth Cove. — Photo: Zane Woodford

Earlier this month, Zane Woodford reported on an application from 4197847 Nova Scotia Ltd. and owner Bruce Wood to use a piece of property off the shore of Dartmouth — a water lot in Halifax Harbour — as a dumping ground for rock from his company’s excavation projects. Woodford’s report also included the concerns local politicians had with that application.

This morning, Woodford tells us about the concerns residents are having. What did he find? “Dartmouth is not having it.”

More than 150 people gathered at the Zatzman Sportsplex on Monday night to voice their opposition to a proposal to infill part of Dartmouth Cove. The area is part of the waterfront, with a multi-use path along the train tracks connecting Old Ferry Road to downtown Dartmouth.

The project would last six years, starting in August. Coun. Sam Austin, MLA Claudia Chender, and MP Darren Fisher have all come out against the plan. At Monday’s event at the Sportsplex, organizer Jill Brogan, who lives near the water lot, told residents how to make their voices heard.

“We take it very seriously,” Brogan said. “Dartmouth Cove has finally come a long way that we’re not about to let somebody just turn it into a dump and destroy it.”

There are concerns about how the dump could be developed in the future, its impact on wildlife and community space, and what power the municipality has to stop the application and make sure the will of the people is acted on.

Read all about it in Woodford’s latest update on a developing situation.

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2. Report says Halifax should have 16 councillors. Luckily, that’s how many the municipality already has.

Councillors listen to a speech from Mayor Mike Savage at their swearing-in ceremony in 2020. Photo: Zane Woodford

The municipality’s district boundary review has found Halifax needs 16 municipal representatives, which is what it already has, Zane Woodford reports: 

The recommendation is the next step in the municipality’s application to the provincial UARB (Utility and Review Board), which will hold hearings early next year on the number and layout of municipal districts. The reviews must be conducted periodically, and they have to be based on five criteria: communities of interest, relative parity of voting power, geography, population density, number of electors. The last such review, completed ahead of the 2012 municipal election, cut the number of councillors from 24 down to 16.

To see more about how and why the review was conducted, and to find out what future growth could mean for the number of seats on council, read Woodford’s full article here.

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3. Long-COVID

Illustration: CDC

Yesterday, both Global and CBC’s Halifax bureaus wrote about Amy Tenenbaum, a 22-year-old Dalhousie student who’s had to quit her job and delay her studies due to the lingering effects of long-COVID.

In Amber Fryday’s report for Global, she writes that Tenenbaum was perfectly healthy before getting the virus:

With no underlying medical conditions and having had both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, Tenenbaum said she has been left disabled. She’s barely able to walk due to exhaustion and asthma, and largely unable to take care of herself.

Here at the Examiner, Yvette d’Entremont has covered long-COVID a number of times. In one of her most recent reports, she spoke to a young woman similarly effected, Tanaeya Taylor.

Like Tenenbaum, Taylor is in her 20s and had no underlying health problems before testing positive for COVID. Also like Taylor, she’s had to quit her job due to the lingering effects of the virus.

Three months after first contracting the virus, Taylor found herself battling dizziness, severe motion sickness, numbness on the right side of her body, chest pain and pressure, ongoing rapid heart rate (tachycardia), tremors, and extreme, overwhelming fatigue.

“Even lifting my arms or lifting my cell phone was too tiring. I was so exhausted. That was probably the scariest thing for me because I thought I was dying, literally, because I just could not stay awake,” Taylor said in an interview.

“It felt like I was just always in fight or flight mode, so it hasn’t been fun. Then on top of that, I have brain fog which is my longest lasting symptom. Some of the other things have cleared up relatively. I am able to get off the couch and get out of bed now.”

There’s been a mindset among some younger people that COVID doesn’t pose a threat to their health. There’s also been a growing shift toward post-COVID life even as the virus rages on.

These stories are important reminders that COVID is still very much a public health concern, and one that people of all ages should be taking precautions against.

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4. Church shelters have permits extended through August

The Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth is looking to keep the 20 tiny temporary shelters it built in December open this summer,” reports Preston Mulligan for the CBC this morning.

The shelters, which are eight-feet by eight-feet, were created to help alleviate a homelessness crisis that’s only worsened since the start of the pandemic. Now, HRM has agreed to renew permits for the shelters for another three months.

They’ll likely be necessary beyond that, given the stresses on the shelter system in the municipality as a lack of housing, affordable or otherwise, prevent shelter beds from freeing up.

“As people are well aware in the city — and if they’re not, they should be — that there’s no place to go. There’s no halfway houses, there’s no transition homes, there’s no boarding houses, there’s no affordable apartments. The supply is really low right now,”  John Stevens, project co-ordinator for the emergency shelters project, told CBC.

The news comes as the point-in-time count for Halifax — providing a more thorough look at how many people are currently homeless in the municipality — is expected to be released later today. The Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia, which conducts its own regular estimates, puts the number of people experiencing homelessness in Halifax at 575 as of May 10.

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Views

Should we be betting on gambling advertising in sports?

Watching the hockey playoffs on TV, there’s something different about the broadcasts this year. If you’ve been following at all, you’ve no doubt noticed it, too.

It’s not the game; it’s the ads.

There’ve been a lot of changes to Hockey Night in Canada since I was a kid.

It used to be broadcast on the CBC in standard definition. It had the greatest theme song in the history of sport. And commercial breaks were dominated by ads for one product: beer.

There was the famous I Am Canadian commercial, which starred the present host of Halifax’s Mainstreet on CBC. The Keith’s Scotsman, which starred a man later convicted of child pornography charges. And the Molson Bubba ads, which featured a jingle was so stupidly infectious, it became a staple of our school bus singalongs in elementary school, right up there with the Song that Never Ends and the Batman version of Jingle Bells.

But there’s a different product that’s started to take over the commercial breaks between face-offs and periods this year. Ads for online sports betting have exploded.

If you’ve watched hockey at all this spring, you’ve no doubt noticed them. Ads for online bookies, peddled by athletes, comedians, and anyone with a hint of celebrity in search of a paycheque, usually in some futuristically flashy neon world of attention-grabbing graphics, telling you how you can become a champion in your own right through the exciting world of internet betting.

Whereas I first came to know Wayne Gretzky for his role in building an Olympic Gold Medal team in Salt Lake City ⁠— and kids before me first knew him for his preternatural playmaking on the ice ⁠— kids today might know him primarily as the guy who tells them the best place to throw away their money online.

The endless stream of ads for online sportsbooks, alongside partnerships between these companies and sports leagues and their broadcasters, led Roy MacGregor to dub this year’s NHL playoffs “Hockey Night at the Casino” in an opinion piece for the Globe.

It’s not just hockey either. If you follow sports, promos for online betting are everywhere now.

Most popular sports channels on YouTube these days are sponsored in part by companies like DraftKings or FanDuel. Before games, TV broadcasts flash graphics showing the betting odds alongside player stats and team records.

Take a look at more traditional media like Sports Illustrated. I Googled that magazine yesterday and found a link to the magazine’s website first, followed by links to a list of subcategories. At the top of that list, a link to articles on “Betting.” Below that is the “Swimsuit” category. Third is a link for stories from the “NBA” stories. So if SI.com is any indication, American sports fans seem to like gambling first, sex second, and the actual sports themselves last.

This morning, when I searched for the magazine, the Betting link was gone, though it still appears at the top of the Sports Illustrated home page.

I love watching sports, and I like to make the odd wager between friends ⁠— I’ve never bet through an online sportsbook ⁠— but all these betting ads make me feel seedy for following the Blue Jays and the Battle of Alberta. Like OnlyFans, pop-up ads for penis enlargement, and clickbait headlines, sports betting commercials take one our most embarrassingly base human desires and weaknesses and rubs our noses in them.

They also tempt another generation of problem gamblers.

“When single-sport online gambling became legal in Ontario last month,” writes Adam Pettle in a recent contribution to Macleans, “I received text messages from many friends asking how I felt about the barrage of online casino ads popping up all over town like whack-a-moles.”

Pettle is a recovering gambling addict who once had to sell his home to pay off debts he incurred betting on sports, many of which he didn’t follow.

“I would text back a quip about how much I was learning,” he continues.

For example, I learned the precise spot to cross Campbell Avenue so that I don’t have to come face-to-face with the large banner ad for the MGM Casino promising to bring Las Vegas to Toronto, which hangs on the side of the bodega at the end of our street.

I’ve also learned to mute the TV while backing out of the room as soon as the third out is recorded during Blue Jays telecasts to ensure that I don’t catch the first commercial (there’s an even-money proposition that it will be for a betting website).

When you’re in recovery for a gambling addiction in this new era of mainstream sports betting, lessons like this can save your life—or at least go a long way in combating all those other things you learned all those years ago: don’t be a wuss. Run from negative emotions. Numb discomfort at all cost. Put the house in your wife’s name.

It’s an open secret that problem gamblers like Pettle are relied upon for a large portion of legal gambling revenue.

So why are ads for this potentially addictive recreation everywhere? Why the escalation?

Here in Canada, the feds passed a law last summer legalizing single-game sports betting online. Until then, only parlay bets were legal, meaning you had to bet on outcomes from multiple games to gamble on sports within the good graces of the government. Since then, private companies have partnered with leagues and broadcasters to try to separate fools from their money.

Nova Scotia legalized single-game betting just before this year’s Super Bowl, meaning you could legally bet on it without having to add a wager on another game to the ticket.

It’s made gambling even more frictionless in the sports world.

You don’t have to consider odds on multiple games. You don’t have to call up a bookie. You don’t have to go to the corner store. You just need to hop on your phone before a game begins.

When Rob Csernyik, wrote for The Coast about the pandemic’s impact on Nova Scotia’s gambling industry, he spoke with a man he called “John,” who said casino closures had limited his gambling. Before public health measures forced closures, John said Casino Nova Scotia was like a second home. From the article, which was written months before Nova Scotia adopted single-game sports betting:

It fascinates me that even for someone like him who is deeply committed to gambling, the province’s decisions heavily impact how he goes about it. For instance, without the casino during COVID-19 he took a step back from his usual gambling, if only briefly. He tells me if the casino moved to Bayers Lake, which is farther for him to travel to than downtown, he’d be less inclined to go to the place he’s described as his second home. When asked if he’d take part in legalized single-sports betting if Nova Scotia adopts it, he doesn’t miss a beat: “Absolutely.”

(Csernyik has also previously written for the Examiner about the follies of Casino Nova Scotia and the health risks of government-sanctioned gambling. You can find that story here).

Part of the reasoning behind the legalization of single-game betting is for the government to regulate and cash in on a huge illegal industry, writes Csernyik, who cited the Canadian Gaming Association’s estimate that Canadians spend $14 billion annually on “bets made through illegal bookmaking or offshore wagering sites.”

It’s not unlike the reasoning behind cannabis legalization.

But since that drug was made legal ⁠— which I am all for ⁠— I haven’t been hit over the head with ads where the Trailer Park Boys try to sell me on how fun a particular strain is. The only relevant marketing I’ve seen since then has told me about the dangers of driving under the influence.

While the government wants to regulate sports betting like it regulates weed, there’s clearly no interest in regulating the marketing of sports betting like the marketing of pot.

We see ads for sportsbooks we’re not even legally able to play in this province. (Atlantic Lottery Corp. runs Pro-Line for the Atlantic provinces, the only sportsbook legally available to Nova Scotian gamblers right now). So many ads come from Ontario companies (Sportsnet, for example) and Ontario sports teams (the Jays, Leafs, Raptors, etc.). Yet we can’t even play them. So these ads promote the practice of sports betting, not its legal practice.

The Alberta Gaming Commission’s vice president has called this spillover of ads into other province’s illegal. (As in Nova Scotia, Alberta has one legal sports book online for its citizens to play).

These ads, aside from being garish and dangerous to problem gamblers, run the risk of normalizing gambling for kids who just want to watch their idols play the sports they love. Why can’t we put restrictions on this type of marketing, as we do for cigarette ads? Or take the cannabis approach and focus on marketing healthy practices?

I’m not trying to be overly moralistic here. I’ve never bought a Pro-Line (the only legal online sports betting service in Nova Scotia) but I’ve bet on sports plenty of times. I take part in the occasional playoff pool, and enjoy the odd wager between friends. I’m not against sports betting outright. And it’s impossible to stop anyway.

As that old Irish song says:

Some say that gambling’s a sin,
But I’ll bet you fifteen to one
That gambling has been in this world
Since horses and greyhounds could run.

Those ads haven’t been in this world that long, though. How long do they have to be a part of it?

I get that sports are a business, and gambling is a part of that business, but I worry about how prominent a place it’s beginning to have.

If we’re going to allow for more sports betting, and if we’re going to let profit-driven companies run the books, we have to be careful about how we let them promote it. Additionally, the same government that legalizes it must spend a substantial amount of money to provide gambling addiction services that are as easily accessible as online gambling itself. They’ll be needed, especially if every other commercial and sports show is telling you how to beat the spread.

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Noticed

John KF Irving. Photo: University of King’s College

Fifteen years ago, a family friend of ours, Jim Morrow of Mermaid Theatre in Windsor, received an honorary doctorate from Acadia University.

My parents hosted a party around that time, where Morrow found himself in conversation with my grandmother, who congratulated him. Then, attempting to make earnest conversation, with no hint of sarcasm — my grandmother was unfamiliar with that branch of speech — and malice towards none, she obliviously remarked, “It’s so exciting, Jim. You know, I only know one other person with a doctorate from Acadia… although she actually earned hers.”

What an odd thing, the honorary degree.

Did you know former Toronto Raptor Kyle Lowry also has an honorary doctorate from Acadia? And do you know why they gave it to him? Seriously, do you know? I mean he’s a great competitor, but how much has he done for the community of Wolfville or the university campus?

In an article for The Conversation this month, “Why award honorary doctorates and what do the choices say about our universities,” Kate Murphy tries to break it down.

Universities like to associate themselves with exceptional individuals through the awarding of honorary doctorates, but this practice has often attracted controversy, creating headaches for university administrators.

Universities gain a number of benefits from conferring honorary doctorates. The acceptance of an honorary degree by an exceptionally distinguished person often generates publicity and brings “reflected glory” on the university, in the words of one former Vice-Chancellor, preserved in the Monash University archives.

Honorary doctorates have long been used to foster advantageous connections with individuals, countries or organisations. The University of Oxford awarded the first recorded honorary doctorate in around 1478 to a brother-in-law of Edward IV in a clear attempt to “obtain the favour of a man with great influence”.

Honorary degrees have, unsurprisingly, usually been awarded to well-known individuals. The honouring of less-known individuals, and members of socially disadvantaged groups, has been much rarer.

This week, my alma mater, University of King’s College (Halifax), held in-person grad celebrations for the classes of 2020 (that’s me!) and 2021. Old Man Leudecke got an honorary Doctor of Civil Law. So did John KF Irving, who runs Acadia Broadcasting, the last part of the Irving’s former media stranglehold in New Brunswick (now that Postmedia’s bought Brunswick News Inc. from the family). He was also director of Irving Oil Ltd. before giving up the position in 2017.

“Depending on who you ask,” reads a King’s College release regarding the honorary degree, “any one of the companies Irving has run or been affiliated with can be credited with making a substantial positive impact on communities spread across Canada.”

Definitely depending on who you ask, that’s for sure.

I was chatting with my fellow King’s J-school alum, Lane Harrison, the other day. He actually attended the grad ceremonies. Apparently the reception of Irving’s honorary degree was, well, icy. Students reacted with awkward silence or shouts of protest.

Not surprising, considering the student body has been pushing King’s College to divest from fossil fuels for years, something King’s College in London (affiliated in name only) actually accomplished last year.

It reminded me of a CBC article I read in December, when Arthur Irving, the owner of Irving Oil, received an honorary degree from Université de Moncton. In that case, students and administration were far more divided.

In the article, Mrinali Anchan reported the school’s student federation wanted the honorary degree taken back, calling the decision to award it hypocritical:

“We believe that this decision sends the wrong message to our students, but also our community,” said Mathilde Thériault, the president the federation.

“It is said the person who receives this honorary doctorate is considered to be a model for students. But quite frankly, we see him more as a the complete opposite.”

Thériault cited Irving Oil’s impact on climate change, which she said stands in opposition to the university’s claims of committing to tackle climate change.

Irving Oil, the province’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, partnered in August with TC Energy to reduce emissions from the Saint John refinery.

But the refinery has been responsible for one-quarter of all emissions in New Brunswick and sent 2.8 megatonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in 2019.

“Mr. Irving, as successful as a businessman he may be, his activities are detrimental to the environment and the future of our province,” said Thériault.

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Government

City

Tuesday

Committee of the Whole and Halifax Regional Council (Tuesday, 1pm) — virtual meeting; Committee of the Whole agenda, Halifax Regional Council agenda

Wednesday

District Boundary Resident Review Panel (Wednesday, 3:30pm) — virtual meeting

Province

Tuesday

Human Resources (Tuesday, 10am, One Government Place) — Promoting Healthy Living in Students, with representatives from the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development; Plus Agency, Board, and Commission Appointments

Health (Tuesday, 2pm, Province House) — Improving Cardiac Arrest Outcomes in Nova Scotia, with representatives from the QEII, IWK, Dalhousie, emergency health Services, and heart and Stroke Nova Scotia

Wednesday

Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, Province House) — Rising Food Cost and Food Inflation in Nova Scotia, with Sylvain Charlebois and representatives from the Department of Agriculture, Department of Community Services, Feed Nova Scotia, Nourish Nova Scotia, and Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture


On campus

No events


In the harbour

Halifax
09:30: Sedna Desgagnes, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 25 from Norfolk, Virginia
11:45: Lagrafoss, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for sea
15:00: AlgoNova, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from Montreal
22:00: Augusta Sun, sails from Pier 27 for sea

Cape Breton
08:00: Zaandam, cruise ship with up to 1,718 passengers, arrives at Government Wharf (Sydney), on a sevend-day cruise from Boston to Montreal
17:00: Zaandam, cruise ship sails for Charlottetown
18:00: Phoenix Admiral, oil tanker, arrives at Point Tupper from New York


Footnotes

  • Speaking of playoff hockey, tonight Connor McDavid, the most skilled hockey player to ever lace up a pair of skates, goes head to head against Halifax native and former Moosehead Nathan MacKinnon (no slouch himself) in game one of the conference finals. If you have even the slightest interest in hockey, forgo sleep and tune in. These two are electric.
  • I’d like a little credit for not ending Views by asking a rhetorical question and answering it with “You can bet on it.”
  • As I did last week, I’ll end this Morning File with a little music. Here’s Old Man Luedecke with a silly song about a cheap lunch, something that’s harder to come by these days. Be forewarned, it can be impossible to get out of your head.


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Ethan Lycan-Lang

Ethan Lycan-Lang is a Morning File regular, and also writes about environmental issues, poverty, justice, and the rights of the unhoused. He's currently on hiatus in the Yukon, writing for the Whitehorse...

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4 Comments

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  1. I worked in the sports gambling industry in a past life, so I’m being hypocritical, but I also find it gross, all the ads glamourizing gambling littered throughout the broadcasts. The mute button on my remote is getting a real workout.

    Almost makes me yearn for the days where Chevy ads using Bob Seger’s “Like a Rock” appeared during every commercial break.

    Almost.

  2. Ethan’s piece on sports gambling is appreciated. It was difficult to listen to former pro-athletes offer their support to such activity.People who were great athletes prompting’ duffers and others’ to take their ‘shot at greatness’ is distasteful. Celebrities are free to offer their name and their image to any product; there is no denying that. The decision to take the bait or wager is in our hands, not theirs.

  3. Thank you for the article on sports gambling– an activity which I find to be fun and interesting but recognize as possibly dangerous. I recommend reading up on the late Norm MacDonald’s gambling issues and watching the Netflix series Bad Sport– specifically the episode Hoop Schemes regarding the 1994 Arizona State basketball point-shaving scandal.

  4. Regarding Ethan’s thoughts about honorary degrees: Jim Morrow’s colleagues at home and abroad can attest to the fact that he indeed earned his, for his major contributions both before and after he was honoured.