News

1. How a proposal for tiny homes for veterans could shape Halifax’s affordable housing policy

A rendering of Homes for Heroes’ tiny home village in Calgary, completed last year.

Zane Woodford talks with Dave Howard, co-founder of Homes for Heroes about a proposal for a village of tiny homes for veterans in Halifax. The proposal would include 15 to 25 tiny homes that are about 300 square feet, with support staff on site. Veterans would pay rent based on their income and their stay would help them transition back into civilian life, getting a job and then on to more permanent housing. Howard tells Woodford the goal is to eliminate homelessness for veterans.

We have, we believe, over 5,000 veterans experiencing homelessness in any state — and that might be from couch-surfing or living rough to living in the streets — across the country, and we believe we have a solution to eliminate that.

Homes for Heroes opened its first tiny home village in Calgary less than a year ago and three veterans have already “graduated” from the program.

Woodford reports Coun. Stephen Adams brought a proposal to council back in January 2019. A developer was ready to provide the land and the proposal passed unanimously, but then the developer dropped off.

Adams’ report came back to council on Tuesday with some recommendations to chief administrative officer Jacques Dubé.

Click here to read Woodford’s complete story.

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2. Questions for the candidates: Districts 2 and 3

Zane Woodford continues with his questions for candidates running in the upcoming municipal elections. This second set are answers from candidates in District 2 — Preston-Chezzetcook-Eastern  Shore and District 3 — Dartmouth South-Eastern Passage.

Woodford sent a list of questions to each candidate and we’re publishing their responses unedited. The five questions the Examiner posed to the candidates are as follows:

  • What should Halifax be doing to create more affordable and accessible housing?
  • Would you support a reduction of the Halifax Regional Police budget for fiscal 2021-2022? Why or why not?
  • Should Halifax require contractors to pay workers a living wage? Why or why not?
  • In response to the climate crisis, Halifax regional council passed an action plan, HalifACT 2050, in June. How will you support accomplishing the plan’s goals?
  • How often do you use Halifax Transit?
The candidates for District 2 (from left to right): David Boyd, David Hendsbee, Nicole Johnson, and Tim Milligan.

There are four candidates running in District 2: David Boyd, David Hendsbee, Nicole Johnson and Tim Milligan. District 2 is the municipality’s largest district, stretching from Lawrencetown to Ecum Secum. Hendsbee has been councillor here since 1993, except for a stint as MLA. Woodford got responses from three of the candidates; Milligan didn’t reply. You can read the responses here. 

Some highlights: Boyd would like to see more funding for police, including for more foot patrols and police boxes. Hendesbee is in favour of a living wage, and Johnson would review programs around policing, looking at what programs are working and what programs are not. Boyd is the only candidate who uses transit daily, although a good portion of this district, especially along the Eastern Shore, isn’t served by transit.

The candidates for District 3 (from left to right): Vishal Bhardwaj, Clinton Desveaux, Lloyd Jackson, Becky Kent, and George Mbamalu.

Four-term Councillor Bill Karsten isn’t running in District 3, so five candidates have put their names forward: Vishal Bhardwaj, Clinton Desveaux, Lloyd Jackson, Becky Kent, and George Mbamalu. District 3 covers Russell Lake, Portland Hills and Estates, Eastern Passage, and Cow Bay, and there are 20,927 eligible voters here, according to 2016 numbers.

All five candidates sent in their responses and you can read them all by here.

It’s interesting to see how much thought and time candidates put into answering these questions, if they send in responses at all.

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3. Why are women scarce on council?

Halifax City Hall in August 2020. Photo: Zane Woodford

Over at the Nova Scotia Advocate, Judy Haiven looks at why women have become scare on Halifax Regional Council. Haiven includes a chart that looks at the terms women have served on council. Currently, there are two women on council: Lisa Blackburn in District 14 and Lorelei Nicoll in District 4. But as Haiven points out, there used to be more women on council:

Judy Haiven/Nova Scotia Advocate

Says Haiven:

Today with two women councillors, we have half the number of women (4) councillors that we had from 2012-16.  And in

  • 2008-12 there were 9 women on council (more than four times the number we have today — 39%)
  • from 2004-08 there were 9 women on council (39%)
  • and from 2000-04, we had 5 women on council (21%)

Haiven cites two reasons for fewer women now: The reduction of council seats from 23 to 16; and the dissolving of school boards and health boards across the province.

There are more women running in this election, which is good to see (there are four women running in my district, District 10). Says Haiven:

Let’s think about the fact that in five terms, since 2000, our council averaged more than 27% women councillors – and today women make up only 12% of councillors. What will it be in a month from now?

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4. Film industry sees boost in interest from American producers

Professional video camera
Photo by Vanilla Bear Films from Unsplash

Screen Nova Scotia executive director Laura Mackenzie tells Halifax Today there’s a bit of an increase in film production in the province, with 12 projects either restarting or continuing this fall. She says she also expects the low number of cases of COVID-19 in the province to be good news for more projects. She says calls to her office are up 50%, and many of those calls are from producers south of the border, who are interested in filming projects in Nova Scotia. Says Mackenzie:

For the most part, the interest that I’m getting from the U.S. are production companies that are looking to use Nova Scotia crews and Nova Scotia performers as much as possible, which is great. That’s all we ever want, we want to make sure Nova Scotians are being employed in these jobs.

She adds it’s best for these producers to employ crews in Nova Scotia because they don’t have to self-isolate for two weeks like crews coming into the province from outside the Atlantic Bubble.

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5. Riverview sports teams get new name

Sports teams at Riverview Rural High School in Coxheath will now be called the Ravens. Photo: Riverview/Twitter

Sports teams at Riverview Rural High School in Coxheath will get a new team name after the school’s 900 students voted in favour of the new name this week. Joe Chisholm, the school’s principal, told CBC Mainstreet after 100 names were submitted for consideration, the choice came down to Fusion and Ravens, with Ravens winning the vote. The previous name, Redmen, had been the school’s branding for about 50 years, but Chisholm said it was time for a change.

With what’s going on in the United States and Canada, and around the world, everybody seems to be taking this to heart and understanding that it’s the way we should be going.

CBC talked with Allison Bernard of Eskasoni First Nation, who works with Mikmaq Rights Initiative and played hockey at Riverview in the 1980s; he says younger people are acknowledging the hurt that comes with such names.

Students are more compassionate these days, the younger generation. They know, through social media and education, that Aboriginal Canadians have gone through a lot. And they understand our plight.

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Views

Trash talkin’ the litterers

Singer-songwriter Hal Bruce heads out on the highway near his home in Lawrencetown and picks up litter on the side of the road. He stops when he fills his wheelbarrow. This is the litter he picked up last week. Photo: Hal Bruce

Last week singer songwriter Hal Bruce walked along Highway 207, pushing his wheelbarrow and picking up litter in the ditch. Bruce and his wife Lynne have lived in the Lawrencetown area for 26 years and frequently go on walks together. Bruce has been doing these litter pickups for the last 12 years, heading out from from the street where he lives and down the road about 1,000 feet, picking up trash on the side of the road, and dumping it into his wheelbarrow. Most of the litter is coffee cups, cigarette butts, pop cans, beer cans, wrappers, as well as scrap lumber and junk that’s fallen off vehicles. He does the pickup on garbage day, so he can have the bags of litter ready to go. He and Lynne often go for walks in their neighbourhood and Bruce says when you’re walking on the shoulder and looking into the ditch, the amount of litter there is “scandalous.”

“Now I’ll be doing it more often because it’s getting really out of hand,” Bruce says.

After his litter pickup was done, Bruce shared a photo of the full wheelbarrow on his Facebook page.

“I didn’t want people patting me on the back for it, but what I wanted to do was maybe raise some awareness,” he says. “We’re picking it up and making it better, but it’s not teaching anyone else — the people who are doing the littering don’t give a hoot.”

Litter is one of Bruce’s pet peeves and his annual wheelbarrow run on his neighbourhood road isn’t the only time he picks up other people’s trash. He says he’s reported people for tossing litter out of their car windows. He and his wife do a lot of nature walks and while he doesn’t bring his wheelbarrow, he’ll bring gloves, and pick up litter they see, stuffing it in a backpack.

“It’s disrespect for the environment, it’s disrespect for other people because they’re throwing it on their properties,” Bruce says. “People don’t care, they just don’t care.”

Littering is one of my pet peeves, too. I especially hate when I see drivers toss their cigarette butts out their car windows. When I worked at bars, smokers on the patios would often leave butts on the ground, even if there was a container for those butts close by. Tossing any trash on the ground anywhere beyond a trash can is just lazy, unsightly, disrespectful, and destructive to the environment. And yet, people continue to litter.

Bruce is not the only person out there picking up after others. There are programs across the province where hundreds of volunteers each year get outside with garbage bags in hand and pick up trash in ditches, in parks, and on shorelines. Some of the groups collect data on what kind of litter they pick up and how much. Tina Knezevic with WWF-Canada sent along Nova Scotia data from the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, which is a partnership between WWF-Canada and Ocean Wise conservation partnership. Here’s what their shoreline pickup looked like for 2019.

You can find the national data by clicking here (cigarette butts are at the top of the list of most common piece of litter.)

Volunteers with the Adopt-a-Highway program, which is run by Divert NS, pick up litter along the sides of the province’s highways each year. According to its annual report for 2018/19, 1761 volunteers spent 6691 hours, covering 706 kilometres of highway, and picked up a total of 48 tonnes of litter. For the previous year 2017/18, 1672 volunteers spent 5010 hours over 566 kilometres of highway and picked up 47 tonnes of litter.

Garbage collected on McNabs Island by volunteers and the Friends of McNabs Island Society. Photo: Friends of McNabs Island Society

Every year, volunteers with the Friends of McNabs Society head out to the island in the harbour and pick up litter. I emailed Cathy McCarthy, who volunteers with Friends. She says this year’s cleanup was cancelled because of COVID-19, but the group is doing a smaller cleanup of Lawlor Island this Sunday. But she tells me since 1991, Friends of McNabs has picked up 14,000 bags of trash from  McNabs Island. She says about half of that is marine debris like lobster pots, rope, plastic sheeting, and styrofoam, and the rest is a mix of coffee cups, plastic bags, and plastic tampon applicators. She says most of the garbage lands on the island after hurricanes stir up the harbour waters. She says they haven’t seen a decrease in the volume of garbage they pick up — they average about 500 bags each year — but now they get more help. Says McCarthy:

What has changed over the past 29 years is the number of people willing to help us clean up the beaches. It could be because we don’t charge people to get to the island on cleanup day, or it could be more awareness of the environment. We have more people volunteering than we can afford to transport over. We limit the numbers to 250 volunteers.

Back in 2008, the Department of the Environment and the Nova Scotia Youth Conservation Corps did a study called “A Characterization of Nova Scotian Litter.” There’s a lot to go through here, but there are some good graphics on what litter is out there.

They even break down the litter collected by the brand names of the products.

There are fines for littering in Nova Scotia, though and they’re all listed here in the Summary Offence Ticket Booklet. The fine for littering on a highway is $410.

Bruce would like to see higher fines than that, though.

“I think people like that should get a $2000 or $2500 fine,” Bruce says. “If they get a fine of $100, they just ignore it. And these people who are caught are forced to do 10 days of picking up garbage wearing a shirt that says, ‘I am a reformed litterer’ in big letters. And people might stop doing it. Seriously.”

Bruce says his Facebook post inspired a few people to do similar cleanups in their own communities.

“Even if one person does it, maybe when they do it and they post something, maybe it will start something,” Bruce says. “I think the people who [litter], it doesn’t even phase them at all. We have to phase them.”

Update:

I reached out to the Department of Justice to get numbers on how many fines have been issued for littering. Department spokesperson Heather Fairbairn sent along this graphic. There aren’t many fines for any kind of littering. And the number of fines for littering from a vehicle on a highway has gone down from 36 fines issued in 2015 to 21 issued in 2019.

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Noticed

Finbar’s Irish Pub in Bedford started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to build a Sweater Weather Patio. Photo: Finbar’s

This week, Finbar’s Irish Pub in Bedford started a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for a Sweater Weather Patio. In the video for the campaign, the pub’s owners, Mike and Pamela Casey, say, like many other businesses, they’ve had a challenging year, but this Sweater Weather Patio is their plan for the winter. The patio will be an enclosed space with semi-permanent and retractable windbreak systems and infrared heating. Says Mike Casey:

We think we can create a space that will be super cool and comfortable to sit in, in weather as cold as five degrees, maybe even lower.

So far, the Kickstarter has raised more than $11,000 of its $30,000 goal.

It looks like bars and restaurants across the country are looking into year-round patios. CBC Manitoba talked to Mark Turner, owner of Amsterdam Tea Room & Bar in Winnipeg, who wants to add heating and retractable awnings to his patio where he’s already installed plexiglass barriers between tables. Says Turner:

You could sit out in like -10, -15 weather, so long as it’s not too much. That would also allow us to tie into events like Festival du Voyageur. A lot of people I speak to say they’re ready for it, especially now when people prefer to sit outside. They can just dress for the weather.

And Theresa Kliem with CBC in Saskatchewan reports on temporary changes to Saskatoon’s parking patio program that will allow restaurants to install patios year round.

Las Palapas Resort Grill in Saskatoon told CBC it made its own changes to its patio, adding canvas tarps and renting a space heater.

But a couple of weeks ago, David Lefebvre of Restaurants Canada told Erica Alini with Global News that outdoor heating and year-round patios won’t help the industry through the winter. Lefebvre says Restaurants Canada is lobbying the government for specific stimulus spending to help the industry. He says programs like Eat Out, Help Out in the U.K., which gives customers discounts for eating-in at restaurants on certain nights of the week.

Will you go for dinner on a patio in the middle of winter?

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Government

City

Thursday

Design Review Committee (Thursday, 4:30pm) — virtual meeting; agenda here.

Youth Advisory Community Council (Thursday, 5pm) — virtual meeting; agenda here.

Special Halifax West Community Council (Thursday, 6pm) — virtual meeting; agenda here.

Friday

Women’s Advisory Committee (Friday, 2pm) — virtual meeting; agenda here.

Province

No meetings.

On campus

Dalhousie

Thursday

The sour side of sugar: sensory abnormalities in diabetes (Thursday, 1pm ) — online lecture with Veronica Campanucci from the University of Saskatchewan. More info and link here.

Friday

No public events.

Saint Mary’s

Thursday

Navigating the Library Catalogue (Wednesday, 4:30pm) — online webinar.

Friday

Canadian Forensic Psychology Virtual Fall Conference (Friday, 12pm) — more info and registration here.

Fall 2020 Virtual Convocation (Friday, 3pm) — more info here.


In the harbour

14:30: Skogafoss, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Argentia, Newfoundland
15:30: Acadian, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for sea
21:00: Yantian Express, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Dubai
21:00: Atlantic Sail, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
22:00: Skogafoss sails for Portland


Footnotes

This is week three of my horseback riding lessons and so far, I fell off the horse only once, during a dismount, flat on my ass onto the ground. Fortunately, I was uninjured and had a good laugh. There’s something very therapeutic about being around horses. I’ve always loved them; their beauty and their speed. Horses can read people, too, and they know when you’re nervous or kind.

My father owned and trained horses at Sackville Downs back in the 1970s and ‘80s, so I grew up around horses, in the barns. There are a few things I remember about that place: The smell of the mix of oats and molasses the horse ate; eating fries from the canteen in the grandstand; all the ticket stubs from lost bets on the ground; and the trainer, nicknamed Pepsi, whose real name I never knew. But besides a few trail rides, I never learned how ride a horse properly. Taking lessons has been on my personal list of goals, so this was the year I finally signed up. Lessons are also a good reason to buy new boots.

At the ranch where I train, many of the horses are rescues. There are also chickens, dogs, and donkeys. The owner, Marylyn, is quite a character and a great trainer. I’m learning everything about riding and taking care of the horses. The first time I visited the ranch, several horses came my way, and one nuzzled into my back. Annie, the horse I rode for my first couple of lessons, snuggled up to me the first lesson. I leave the lessons exhausted and coated with dust and dirt, but for a few hours I get outside and disconnect from everything.

Phil Moscovitch suggested I read Marjorie Simmins’ memoir, Year of the Horse, about how she got back to riding after a riding accident in 2011. I haven’t had a horseback accident, but it is 2020 after all, and I think we’ve all had setbacks of some kind, so it’s nice to get into the saddle. This week, I’ll learn how to trot.

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Suzanne Rent

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

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17 Comments

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  1. Good for Hal Bruce and his wife for picking up litter! The other area that appalls me is the university neighbourhood in the south end of Halifax. Aside from the twice a year dumping of most of the contents of apartments (May and September) on the street (beds, clothing, bedding, dishes, books, desks, mattresses, shoes/boots, dishes household items, ironing boards, etc. etc.), many students renting houses don’t seem to get the whole garbage routine until very late in the game (if ever). Just throwing things to the curb any day of the week (including breaking mirrors) is the norm. Most green bins aren’t used, or are used for garbage and rejected. Now we see disposable gloves and disposable masks thrown around the neighbourhood. We used to have a lot more neighbourhood garbage cans on polls years ago, but perhaps the city has given up on emptying them. It’s discouraging, especially from young people.

  2. My friend and I used to walk 5 k a day along this rural road in Pictou County, not counting the trips into the ditches to pick up a lot of drink containers, which paid for our Christmas treats. We also collected trash. A huge percentage of that was used diapers, which begs the question, “why?” Do parents take their baby’s diapers with them to work just to dispose of them along the road on the way? There is garbage pickup here! Or – do they change their baby on the way to or from daycare and toss the diaper (keeping the child!)? Which means they must take the child OUT of the protective car seat while travelling. Neither makes much sense. This happened all seasons for a few years, so it couldn’t have been for just one wee kid- there was enough time in there to be toilet trained. Disgusting, and just weird. I hurt my leg and had to stop – and shudder to think the depths of diapers along the road now.

  3. Litter is one of my biggest pet peeves. I don’t understand how some people can carry something for an indefinite period of time while there is something in it but then have to toss it onto the ground the moment it is empty rather than carry it with them until they get to a garbage can.

    I have noticed a lack of garbage cans throughout the HRM in the past few years. I’ve been told that this is because it is too expensive to empty them. I don’t buy this argument. Garbage trucks go by regularly. Why can’t they empty the cans that the city or town puts in place?

    In the past, I have picked up litter. I would do so now if someone were to provide me with gloves and garbage bags and tell me where I can put it for pick up. I could probably pick up a bag a day, almost every day, just while out for a walk. And, like others, I suspect there would be a lot of Tim’s cups in those bags.

  4. Tim, check out what Melda Roache Clark is doing in Shelburne county. She is out along the highway all the time collecting bags and bags of litter, and she keeps records of it. I do my small road pushing my walker and a grabber stick. As another said, litterers just don’t care and any reprimand would spur them to throw out more, deliberately.

    1. Hi Laine! Today’s Morning File was written by Suzanne Rent. I’ll make sure she sees your comment, and thanks for cleaning up after the scofflaws.

  5. In my experience, it is difficult to get much garbage out into the woods without a motorized vehicle. A great deal of the trash I experience is trash left by drinking and driving ATV’s or random cookouts. I’ve switched to less litter pickup so that people realize it doesn’t magically go away. We recently had a functional freezer thrown out of a vehicle which then nearly landed on our potatoes. I now find several pizza slices a week thrown along one stretch of the highway.
    I think until the problem comes knocking (either through fines or from it piling up) nothing will change. We create a false impression that things are tidy when we do well intentioned community clean-ups. They aren’t a way for litterers to be held accountable.

  6. A couple of weeks ago I was about 12k back in the woods. A clearing we stopped at to have lunch had a lot of litter. Wrappers, cans, bottles etc.
    Some time ago one of the biggest providers of materials for people to litter , Tim Hortons stopped putting garbage containers at their drive throughs. Guess where a lot of that now ends up.

      1. Agreed. If they are enclosed it defeats the entire purpose. Some sort of windbreak and the heaters is a good idea, but we need the air to be circulating with the outside

    1. I really wish more restaurants would be explicit about on their websites and social media about what patio options they have. It would be good for their businesses!

  7. The Restaurant Association – and Public Health – should take note that COVID-19 is rapidly escalating in the UK, particularly England, and that rise was significantly contributed to by the “Eat Out, Help Out” campaign. As noted in The Guardian, the government paid to help reduce COVID-19, then paid to increase COVID-19, so it can now pay to help reduce COVID-19.

    1. And in Nova Scotia, the McNeil/Strang Tag Team very early on decided that Takeout Booze was critical in fighting the Covid Emergency. Of course, the booze pushers had lobbied for this for years, so Covid a wonderful opportunity to satisfy political supporters. Scientists agree that booze weakens the autoimmune system, the first line of defense against Covid. In addition, a significant number of health problems and emergency visits are booze related. This, of course, not a problem for our Chief Medical Officer Strang.

      What else goes on under the guise of the ongoing Emergency? Who is monitoring the Emergency Loot being doled out? Nova Scotia’s track record on public expenditures is pretty ugly to begin with, let alone under an Emergency.

        1. About 85% of alcohol is consumed by the top 10% of drinkers. NSLC’s entire business model depends on those people. Sure, making the province (aside from illegal alcohol buyers) go cold turkey would be wildly irresponsible and a gift to organized crime, but we can and should do better.

  8. when I lived out in West Hants on Chester Rd, my daughter and I used to pick up garbage on the side of the road. I really never understand why people litter.