1. SIRT lays charges in Chambers case, not Rao case

Demario Chambers

Tim Bousquet reports that the Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT) has laid a charge of common assault against Halifax police officer Cst. Mark Pierce in a February incident outside the Bedford Place Mall. In its summation, SIRT writes that Pierce laid his hands on 15-year-old Demario Chambers and a “struggle ensued.” Chambers was never charged with a crime.

Chambers took out his phone and recorded the incident. He suffered a concussion, cuts, and bruises. Chambers wrote about the incident for the Examiner:

After they put the handcuffs on me, I asked one of them: “do you have kids or even nieces or nephews? Because I am sure you wouldn’t want this type of treatment to happen to them.” (They said we don’t need to answer that.) And you know what the cop did? He came behind me as my hands were handcuffed behind my back and my bum on the ground and stepped in the middle of the cuffs so they got even tighter on my wrists, then put me the back of the cop vehicle. My body was squished up in the back of that police car. My legs were going numb.

Santina Rao. Photo contributed.

But SIRT decided not to lay charges against two unnamed Halifax police officers in the Santina Rao case. Back in January, Rao was violently arrested, leaving her with injuries, after she was accused of shoplifting at Walmart at Mumford Road. Rao’s two children witnessed the arrest. Rao was never charged with shoplifting. She was charged with resisting arrest, although that charge was later dropped.

In its summation on the incident, SIRT writes the two officers were “lawfully justified and required to effect the arrest and protect themselves from the actions of [Rao].”

The totality of evidence clearly shows that [Rao] was causing a disturbance in a public place by screaming, shouting and using obscene language. [Rao] was asked on several occasions by [the first police officer] to stop swearing and to lower her voice, but she did not comply with this request. Both [police officers] told the [Rao] she could be arrested for causing a disturbance in a public place, but this did not cause her to change her behaviour. The evidence establishes that the [Rao] scratched [the second officer’s] face as she was being arrested.

Click here to read Bousquet’s entire story.

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2. Outbreak of COVID-19 in Moncton

Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

There are 17 new cases of COVID-19 in Moncton, all connected to the Manoir Notre-Dame special care home. It’s the largest single-day increase in the province since March. Shane Magee at CBC New Brunswick reports on the outbreak, which includes residents, family members, and staff at Manior Notre Dame. Two of the residents are in hospital in stable condition.

Premier Blaine Higgs called the outbreak a “wakeup call.” Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province’s chief medical officer, says a rapid response team was sent to the special care home to do testing and contact tracing, but it would take about two weeks before they can better understand the scale of the outbreak. Russell said the province is looking at whether to move back into the “orange” phase, which would mean more restrictions on businesses and the public.

Russell also warned of potential exposure to COVID-19 at the Costco and the St-Hubert restaurant where one employee tested positive. That employee was in contact with someone who visited the Manior Notre Dame. The employee is not showing symptoms and is said to be feeling well.

Magee didn’t get comment from Notre Dame, but Information Morning Fredericton spoke with Anne-Marie Johnson, whose 89-year-old mother, Huguette, is a resident there. Johnson says during a recent visit, she wore a mask, but says there were no screening questions asked. Johnson says she was going to call the Department of Social Development to see about having her mother removed from the home.

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3. Uber launching in Halifax in December

The Uber app. Photo: Charles Deluvio/Unslpash

Uber will be operating in Halifax by the end of December, although an exact date hasn’t been set. CBC reports on the announcement from the ride-hailing company that was shared this morning. In an email, Uber says it’s now looking for drivers in the city. Drivers will have to sign up on Uber’s website and will need a criminal background check, vulnerable persons check, and their names will be searched in the child abuse registry. They’ll also need a medical exam to get the Class 4 licence.

In September, the municipality gave companies like Uber the go-ahead to operate.

Matt Whitman, who’s running for mayor, is interested in being a driver, but not for Uber.

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4. Theatres write letter looking for funding, support

Neptune Theatre. Photo: Wikipedia

In late September, eight theatre companies across Nova Scotia wrote a letter to Leo Glavine, Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage, talking about the challenges theatres face in the COVID-19 pandemic. Stephen Cooke reports on the letter, which was released yesterday, for the Cape Breton Post. Cooke reports:

“To ensure Nova Scotia’s theatre organizations remain strong, vibrant cultural centres, provincial financial assistance is vital to sustain them,” Morgan is quoted in the letter.

On behalf of the theatre employees, contractors, volunteers, audiences and communities across Nova Scotia that are dependent upon the continued success of our cultural organizations, I urge you to do more now.”

Jeremy Webb, Neptune Theatre’s artistic director, wrote a letter to Glavine on Sept. 8. Cooke reports that in that letter, Webb referred to funding that was to be coming to the theatre sector, but never happened.

Glavine did respond to the letters later on Wednesday, but not directly to the letter writers. In a released statement, Glavine writes that he would continue to work with stakeholders.

I’ve had the opportunity to meet with several arts and culture organizations to discuss their ongoing challenges and concerns. We’re also keeping an open dialogue with all levels of government as we work together on a solution to support the sector through this time.

Webb talked with Cooke and said he wanted to know more about the plan and wants to see live shows back on stage next year.

We just want to talk. We want to hear what the minister has planned, if anything or if nothing. And we want to know what the government is going to do to help us at this time.

Again, understanding that they’re helping a lot of other people at this time. But we’re part of this community and we just want to have news.

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1. Saving the Sandy Lake-Sackville River Regional Park

Aerial view of the Sandy Lake – Sackville River Regional Park. A coalition of 27 organizations is working to give official status for the regional park and expand the park with another 1,800 acres. The area is also on the list of growth centres in the HRMs regional plan. Photo: Skyline Studios

There is a 1,000-acre regional park that lies between Hammonds Plains Road and the Sackville River that many people don’t know about. Sandy Lake Park was first identified as having potential for a regional park in 1971. That’s when the Metropolitan Area Committee on Planning identified Sandy Lake, along with six other areas, for proposed regional parks. The other six areas — including McNabs, Hemlock Ravine, and Long Lake — are all now popular parks in the city. Yet, Sandy Lake was never formally designated.  For the last few years, the Sandy Lake-Sackville River Regional Park Coalition, which is made up of 27 groups, has been working to formalize the status of Sandy Lake Park, save it from development, and expand the park by another 1,800 acres. Karen Robinson is the co-chair of the coalition. She says:

It’s interesting to look at it and see how the other six are all parks we know about, use, and love and Sandy Lake has been the best-kept secret, from a park’s point of view, in the city.

Robinson says there have always been small groups working to protect the area. But it was in 2013 when Armco, which owned a parcel of the land near Sandy Lake, did a clear cut, that area residents really started to organize and learned plans for Sandy Lake as a regional park fell off the table. The coalition got stronger over the last few years, getting the word out and and scientists on board to study the biodiversity in the area.

The recommended boundary of Sandy Lake-Sackville River Regional Park in a community context.

The Sandy Lake Conservation Association has a comprehensive timeline of all the events about Sandy Lake. There’s been development in the area over the years and more attempts to make Sandy Lake a regional park. Sandy Lake (listed as Jacks Lake) is listed in the regional plan as a regional park. The Bedford Lions Club raised $150,000 to create Sandy Lake Beach here in 2001. In 2006, the 1,000 acres, which are owned by the HRM, along with the Bedford Lions beach, were identified as the Jacks Lake Regional Park, but that park still has no official designation. Karen McKendry, the wilderness outreach coordinator with the Ecology Action Centre, which is part of the coalition, calls the park a “Schrodinger’s Cat kind of park.”

The coalition is also working to save Sandy Lake from development. While the park is listed in the regional plan as a regional park, it’s also on a list of growth centres (click here to see the list of growth centres on page 40 of the regional plan). The coalition wants Sandy Lake removed from that list. There are private owners of land in the area, including Clayton Developments, which now owns the land that was clear cut by Armco in 2013. The coalition put together a 241-page submission for when the regional plan undergoes review (click here to read that submission).

People use the park now for recreation. They swim and boat in the lake and hike in the woods. The HRM provides a parking lot, some signage, garbage cans, a lifeguard station, and changing rooms. There is an informal network trail that people experienced with the area know well. McKendry is a trail runner and has been to the park many times. She says it’s unlike so many other parks in that you can access old growth forests just steps from the parking lot. Says McKendry:

The woods there are astounding. It should be on par and have the same recognition the backlands is getting and Blue Mountains already has. It’s an urban oasis. This is a place where we could spread out during COVID. This is a place where we could be doing adventure therapy. This is where you could have guided nature hikes to connect people with nature. It’s an underutilized park but some of the characteristics that make it amazing would be degraded if you’re not serious about this whole thing. It’s like a half-completed job.

Acquiring that additional 1,800 acres will accomplish a lot, including protecting three tributaries connected to Sandy Lake; preserve large swaths of old growth Acadian forest, including some trees that are more than 200 years old; leave about 600 drumlins undisturbed; prevent increased flooding of the Sackville floodplain; and protect a diversity of wildlife, including reptiles, endangered woodland turtles, and more than 100 species of birds. That area that was clear cut in 2013 is part of the additional 1,800 acres. The coalition says if this area is protected, that clear cut land could rejuvenate into healthy Acadian forests.

Hemlock stand at Sandy Lake. Photo: Sandy Lake-Sackville River Regional Park Coalition

In 2017, the coalition invited Dr. David Patriquin, a retired professor of biology from Dalhousie University, to visit the park and do a flora survey. After that one visit, Patriquin visited more than 20 times for field trips and continues to do so. He records his observations at the website Sandy Lake and Environs.  

Sandy Lake is also close to Blue Mountains-Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area. McKendry says modelling in the Halifax Green Network Plan show three wildlife corridors have been identified there that could help animals, anything from salamanders to moose, access the Chebucto peninsula. The Green Network Plan identifies Sandy Lake as one of the last three large greenspaces in the HRM.

Sandy Lake is also the watershed area for the Sackville River, which the Sackville River Association and its president, Walter Regan, have worked to protect. Salmon make their way from the Bedford Basin, down Sackville River, and into Sandy Lake. McKendry says someone reported seeing a mature salmon jumping in the lake recently.

Robinson says there’s a danger, too, in sharing word about the park and what makes it unique.

As we put it on the table and more people hear about it and they start coming here and we want people to come here, but we need to have it organized and managed. Otherwise, it will be loved to death.

The coalition has been working to get the attention of all levels of government to come see the park and work to protect it. Says McKendry:

I’ve been out there with city councillors, MLAs, MPs in the last couple of months to say this is a city-defining project out here. For people in Lower Sackville and Bedford, this will be their super awesome park to go to.

Robinson says people can write their councillors and ask that the park be protected, formally and finally. The letters are being shared on the coalition website. She says when there’s a new council, they’ll write more letters. Says Robinson:

What we need is for citizens, whether they use parks or not, to contact councillors all across HRM, not just locally, but every councillor in all of HRM and tell them this is an important area to save for all of HRM. It’s a regional park. It’s not a local park. It was identified a long time ago and the scientists have come back in and found that it’s still amazing.

We’re working hard, we have hope, and what it comes down to, as Walter Regan says, is it’s last man standing. We’ve got a lot of people who are standing, who see this as important, and who are giving all they can to convince people of what’s here. It’s one walk in the woods at a time.

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Yesterday, CBC/Radio Canada shared its new nationwide Local News Directory “to help Canadians find and support local news media in their communities.” CBC worked with News Media Canada to create the Local News Directory. To find local publications, you just type your city into the directory.

The problem is the directory seems to be missing a lot of local news publications. If you search Halifax, the directory includes snapd Halifax, the Chronicle Herald, the South Shore Breaker (which is a publication of the Chronicle Herald,) the City Voice (a weekly publication of the Chronicle Herald,) The Coast, The Trident, and something called “Weekly News”, which just links to The Coast’s Facebook page.

What you won’t find is the Halifax Examiner. The Nova Scotia Advocate is also missing. If you search Sydney, only the Cape Breton Post is listed. The Cape Breton Spectator is not there.

News Media Canada was created in 2016 as a merger of the Canadian Newspaper Association (CNA) and the Canadian Community Newspaper Association (CCNA). Over at its own website, its list of publications is under construction. On Twitter, journalists and other media organizations were having great fun with the list when they couldn’t find their own local publications in the directory. Local news matters for only some publications, I guess.

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Regional Watersheds Advisory Board (Thursday, 5pm, HEMDCC Meeting Space, Alderney Gate) — no schedule Friday. Note: the last 6 meetings have been cancelled. Agenda page here.


No public meetings.


No meetings.

On campus



Innovation Rounds: Patenting Medtech Inventions Necessities and Nuances (Thursday, 8:30am) —with Cecilia Basic, Canadian Intellectual Property Office.

This presentation will provide an overview of the necessities and nuances that come into play when patenting a medtech  invention. This includes: determining who is an inventor (and who is not), the role of patent literature, insights into the patent application and examination process, as well as an overview of some of the key differences in patenting medtech inventions in Canada, the USA and the EU will be discussed.

Zoom link here.

A Gutsy Approach To Diabetes Treatment: How The Gut Microbiome Influences Gut Hormones (Thursday, 11am) — Jeffrey Gagnon from Laurentian University will talk. Link info here.

Topos (Thursday, 12pm) — architecture lecture with Thomas Pathuret, France, and Ludovico Galeazzo, Italy. More info and link here.

Ready2Launch Demo Day (Thursday, 2:30pm) — Virtual event! Eight Dal start-up teams! Four-minute pitches! $5000 prize! More info and link here.

Likelihood-based Inference for Stochastic Epidemic Models, with application to High-resolution Contact Tracking Data (Thursday, 3:30pm) — Jason Xu from Duke University will talk. Info and link here.

A “NightIn” with EcoJustice Warriors (Thursday, 7:30pm) — Meet the women on the frontlines of environmental racism, including Ingrid Waldron, Michelle Francis Denny, Doreen Bernard, Vanessa Hartley, and Lenore Zann, along with host Tim Gray. $25, info and tickets here.


Cross-overs (Friday, 5am) — architecture lecture with Nikki Brand fromn TU Delft and Hub Zwart, Erasmus School of Philosophy, Netherlands. More info and link here.

The essential numerical range for unbounded operators (Friday, 2:30pm) — Marco Marletta from Cardiff University will talk. From the listing:

The numerical range of an operator T in a Hilbert space is a set in the complex plane, given by all complex numbers of the form (T u, u), where u ranges over all unit vectors in the domain of T. This set, usually denoted W(T), is convex, and if the spectrum of T is not the whole complex plane then it will be contained in the closure of W(T). These basic facts lie behind many methods for estimating whether or not some PDE is solvable, by getting estimates on where the spectrum of an associated operator lies.

The essential numerical range is a generally smaller set, still convex, which excludes all eigenvalues of T of finite multiplicity, and is intended to capture the essential spectrum of T. It was studied extensively in the 1960s for Calkin algebras of operators (and hence, in particular, only for bounded operators).

In this talk, based on joint work with Sabine Boegli and Christiane Tretter, I shall speak about what happens when one considers unbounded operators. Many unexpected pathologies emerge and can be illustrated even with very simple diagonal operators in `2 spaces.

If time permits I shall also discuss some results for operator pencils T − λB, where the numerical range is no longer convex. This lack of convexity is immensely helpful in many applications, including the Dirac equation.​

Link info here.

Thomas Jefferson’s Thermometers (and Hygrometers) and His Climate Optimism (Friday, 3:30pm) — Stokes Seminar by Jack Crowley from Dalhousie University, on MS Teams. Paper and invitation link here.

Saint Mary’s


Unleash Your Money Power! (Thursday, 11am) — untold riches await.


A photo of Alex Veinot.
Alex Veinot. Photo from the listing

Overcoming Adversity in Higher Education: My journey as a Mi’kmaq student (Friday, 11:30am) — Alex Veinot from Queen’s University, a member of the Glooscap First Nation, will talk via Zoom. Info and registration here.

In the harbour

06:30: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Fairview Cove from Saint-Pierre
06:30: Atlantic Kestrel, offshore supply ship, arrives at Pier 9 from the Sable Island field
15:30: Taipei Trader, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for Kingston, Jamaica
18:30: Atlantic Sun, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York


I didn’t watch the vice-presidential debate last night, but I hear a highlight was the fly on vice-president Mike Pence’s hair. I wonder what that fly was thinking …

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Suzanne Rent

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

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  1. It’s funny that one digital publication is included probably only because it used to be a newspaper in a previous incarnation, and the info the CBC is working from is out of date.

  2. Pretty obvious that the CBC list for local news only applies to printed publications. News today comes from digital sources, not just print. In fact print is becoming obsolete. In keeping with their theme, maybe CBC should also provide some of their content on VHS and cassette tapes?