1. Cassidy Bernard’s ex-boyfriend arrested for her murder
Yesterday, RCMP announced second-degree murder charges against 20-year-old Austin Isadore. He is accused of killing Bernard last year. Isadore was her ex-boyfriend and is the father of Bernard’s twin daughters.
Janey Michael, who is president of the We’koqma’q Native Women’s Association, said she’s thankful a second-degree murder charge has been laid and she doesn’t want it downgraded to manslaughter. She said the community will be helping Mona Bernard raise her granddaughters.
“It will never bring closure to a community. We lost a young vibrant woman, a mother, a new mother. There will be healing but we’ll always remember Cassidy. She’ll always be in our hearts and mind.”
Writing in The Chronicle Herald, Andrew Rankin discusses the case and the divisions it has caused in the community:
The grandmother of the man charged in Cassidy Bernard’s death wants her mother to know that she’s sorry.
“Mona Bernard is a wonderful person and her daughter was a beautiful, sweet young woman,” said Patsy MacKay…
“People think Charlene and I are murderers,” said MacKay. “But we had nothing to do with this.
“I understand people are suffering and they have every right to. We’re just hoping they might stop because this has been such a nightmare for us too.”
Isadore had been banned from We’koqma’q since September.
2. Rezoning shenanigans
This item is written by Tim Bousquet, and is spurred by the Harbour East – Marine Drive Community Council meeting listed in the “Government” section
I’m increasingly realizing that the real money in development isn’t so much in just building stuff allowed by existing zoning laws and land-use regulations (although there’s plenty of money in building so-called “as of right” developments), but rather through gaming the system. A developer buys land cheap because it has all sorts of restrictions on it — a restricted zoning doesn’t allow so much in development, so land prices are cheap. But then, the developer is able to get the restricted zoning changed or ignored, and suddenly the value of the property increases immensely.
I first started thinking about this when I tracked Mary Thibeault’s property (and I just got depressed re-reading that saga), when I saw that an old lady lived her last years in relative poverty because she couldn’t get her property rezoned, but developers were able to buy the property at fire sale prices and then were somehow able to game the system in order to get the rezoning denied to Thibeault, and therefore make millions developing it.
Now I see it all the time. It’s the modus operandi of a litany of developers: work the system to get the rules changed in order to turn previously “under-valued” property into gold mines.
Case in point: developers William and Helen Craig want to build townhouses on a 13.5 acre site at 20 Sea King Drive in Dartmouth. Sea King Drive is the extension of Albro Lake Road up towards Lancaster Drive. The parcel extends all the way to the corner of Lancaster and Woodland Avenue. Here’s a map of the site:
The site is now zoned R-1 residential, which means single-family detached houses; under that designation, the site could hold 60-70 units, says the staff report. The Craigs want the zoning changed to TH (townhouses), and to change the allowable lot coverage of the Dartmouth TH zoning from 35% to 45%, and to 50% for one-storey townhouses. If approved, all of these changes would allow for 98 townhouses on the site.
But it’s important to note that the change in lot coverage requirements would not just affect this site, but in the words of the staff report, “the increased lot coverage requirements would also be applicable to any townhouse projects in the Dartmouth Plan area including alterations to existing townhouses originally approved based on a 35% site coverage limit.” Other developers worked within the 35% coverage area, but now they’ll be able to go back and build more units, all so Helen Craig can squeeze more profit out of her Sea King lot.
The Craigs position their developments as retirement living, and that gives staff the justification for supporting the land-use changes:
[T]he Settlement and Housing Chapter of the Regional Plan states that one of the objectives of the Plan is to design communities to provide housing opportunities for a range of social and economic needs and promote aging in place.
They have in the past been accused of causing flooding by clear-cutting a development site in Bible Hill.
3. Mayann Francis discusses human rights complaint
Francis is a former head of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission and was the first African Nova Scotian to hold the position of Lieutenant Governor. She has previously talked about being regularly racially profiled while shopping.
Mayann Francis, recovering from an operation and still in pain, was visited by a physiotherapist who, without permission, started reading the cards attached to the flowers in her room.
“Are you a doctor,” the physiotherapist asked. Francis told her she wasn’t, and explained that she had received several honorary doctorates.
“How come,” was her next question. “Because I was the Nova Scotia Lieutenant Governor,” a humiliated Mayann Francis responded.
“Here you are, a patient, you’re in pain, and you’re being questioned and quizzed like that. She had no business reading my personal cards, that was totally inappropriate. But then to continue to ask these questions. When I told her that I wasn’t a doctor, that should have been the end of it. Why was she questioning me? Is it because I was a Black woman and she saw my title there, and wondered how can that be? ” Francis asks.
Francis turned to the Human Rights Commission after being dissatisfied with the NSHA’s response to her initial complaint.
Devet also speaks to Sharon Davis-Murdoch, who is both co-president of the Health Association of African Canadians and a Dartmouth General Hospital Foundation board member. Without addressing the Francis case specifically, she encourages African Nova Scotians to share their experiences in the health-care system:
“I would say that is really important is that people come forward and share their experiences, good and bad, because we do not have data, we are not able specifically to speak about numbers of times that these things happen, but anecdotally we know that they do happen,” Davis-Murdoch says.
4. Judges consider Garnier appeal
Christopher Garnier’s lawyer, Roger Burrill, was in court yesterday, appealing his client’s conviction for the 2015 murder of Catherine Campbell. Garnier was sentenced to life with no chance of parole for 13 and a half years.
Burrill argued that Garnier was pressured into a false confession by his interrogators, who repeatedly emphasized the importance of him speaking to them “now.” That resulted in Garnier misunderstanding his legal circumstances, he said, crossing a line past moral inducements and into a grey zone the trial judge should have paid more attention to…
He also accused the judge emphasizing the question of consent between Garnier and Campbell for activities that took place at the friend’s apartment, creating a “persistent sense of overwhelming sexuality.” Garnier was not charged with sexual assault, Burrill argued, which may have confused the jury when it comes to consideration of the facts in the case.
Crown attorney Mark Scott picked these arguments apart in court, stating that “jury instruction has to be correct, but it’s not required to be perfect.”
The three Nova Scotia Court of Appeal judges have reserved their decision.
Silver Donald Cameron reissues book on the 1970 fishermen’s strike
A couple of weeks ago, Silver Donald Cameron emailed to tell me he was launching a new edition of his 1977 book The Education of Everett Richardson: The story of the Nova Scotia fishermen’s strike, 1970-71.
The book is a detailed and multi-faceted look at what happened when trawlermen in Canso, Mulgrave and Petit de Grat (and they were all men) decided they had had enough and wanted to join a union and fight back against Booth Canadian Fisheries and Acadia Fisheries. Unionizing was tricky, because the fishermen were not employees. Under a 1947 Supreme Court ruling they were considered “co-adventurers” in the fishing enterprise. That might have made sense in the traditional in-shore fishery, but the fishermen working the draggers for Acadia and Booth argued they worked entirely on terms set by the company, like employees.
The fishermen had chosen the Vancouver-based UFAWU to represent them. The union’s leader, Homer Stevens, was a Communist — which gave the companies a stick to beat the fishermen with: We’re not against you unionizing. We’re just against this Commie union that doesn’t have your best interests at heart, etc.
Cameron brings together extensive interviews with the fishermen, newspaper accounts of the day (including several stories by a certain Chronicle Herald reporter called Linden MacIntyre), social history, and personal commentary. Anticipating accusations of unfair bias, he writes:
I am biased, but I hope I’m not unfair. In general I’m sympathetic to workers, not to multinational corporations, and I think their account of the strike and its causes is a load of horseshit. But I’ve given it to you as completely and as fairly as I can. You can judge it for yourself.
Why should we care about a fishermen’s strike 50 years ago? First, it’s a great story with great characters. In one of the later sections of the book, Cameron describes reading his manuscript to some of them, and records their reactions and lively commentary over what he’s written, what they think he left out, and so on.
Second, Cameron can really write. He says Nova Scotia’s paper of record covers the province “like an industrial effluent.”
Here he is describing union leader Homer Stevens:
Homer Stevens is a strong and dramatic figure. Nobody is neutral about him. He is a tall, quiet, rather gaunt-looking man. His handshake, like his voice, is extraordinarily soft, as though he were totally devoid of aggression. He is not, of course: his intensities burn out at you from his glittering X-ray eyes. Even in terrible old newspaper photographs those eyes bore into yours, penetrating, unnerving: the eyes of a hypnotist or a shaman. Edison Lumsden says he can’t look Homer in the eye: “I just look at him for a sec’ and then I’ve got to look away because his eyes are boring right through you. No, he’s a quiet, soft-spoken fellow and things like that, but he’s a fellow that I wouldn’t want to get wound up.”
No wonder his enemies yap like foamy-mouthed terriers when they talk of him.
Near the end of The Education of Everett Richardson, Cameron sums up why this story is an important part of labour history:
In the end the fishermen were collective heroes and martyrs, who lost the battle for themselves but won it for their brothers. They smashed the archaic prohibition on fishermen’s unions and left unionism firmly established on the draggers. They changed the law, changed conditions on the boats, and left the see-saw of power balanced a little more evenly.
They forged an alliance with young urban radicals, adapted to a new relationship with their women, brought two new fish buyers to Canso and dramatically improved the price of inshore fish. And they demonstrated the real relationships between Nova Scotia’s most powerful institutions with startling clarity, while revealing that a handful of people, strengthened by their insistence on justice, could bring an entire province to a halt. They showed us what the labour movement was really all about, and in their defeat the complacent labour bosses were forced to parade their own bankruptcy.
Sure, parts of the book are dated (I imagine Cameron wouldn’t be romanticizing drunk driving if he were writing today), but don’t let that deter you.
Cameron has also written a new introduction, in which he argues that as the power of unions have faded, environmental activists are now the ones carrying the torch against the corporate state:
Increasingly, those who stand up for the earth in Canada and the US are not just being ignored and sidelined; they’re being reviled as radicals, fanatics and “eco-terrorists” — as vicious marginal figures whose resistance to industrial projects deserves harsh punishment. David Dodge, the former governor of the Bank of Canada, has even opined that as the government pushes ahead with the TransMountain pipeline, a few people will be killed. He finds that acceptable. Those aren’t really citizens with consciences and legitimate concerns; they’re just “extremists” and “fanatics” who will die because the authorities have to “enforce the law.” And Dodge is not some looney character braying away on the street corner; this is a distinguished public servant whose voice is heard in the highest councils of the nation. And it will get worse.
In 1970, Everett Richardson was sentenced to nine months in jail for the exact same offence. But after an over-reach like that, things got better. Richardson’s sentence created an overpowering coalition of unions, youth, peace activists, church groups and others that ultimately forced the provincial government to back down and permit the fishermen to unionize. The same will happen with the environmental movement.
Yesterday, the Examiner published a Jennifer Henderson story about how far the province is from meeting the Ivany report target of $4 billion in annual tourism revenue by 2024. Henderson writes:
Sobering statistics for 2019 appear to support that view. As of the end of September, the number of people who visited Nova Scotia had declined by 4 % from the previous year. Disruptions from Hurricane Dorian were blamed for a 13% drop in September but the number of travellers was already down for July and August, the peak of the season.
“We need a robust air access strategy that looks to move people in,” said [Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia board chair Judy] Saunders. “We need greater accountability for how public money is spent and a regional growth strategy that will make tourism a 365-day business.”
When Tim tweeted a link to this story, Twitter user Erynn Ahern wrote: “At the risk of sounding like a broken record: What if we tried cycling tourism?” Ahern’s display name is “cycling zealot” so there is no doubt where she stands.
Curious about whether the province promotes bicycle tourism at all, I headed over to the provincial tourism website. This is the image that greeted me when I landed on the site using my phone:
The desktop version is slightly different:
The image is cropped. The CAT dominates the page, but there are links on the right side to photos, maps, and outdoor adventure packages.
There is a “learn more” button on the CAT image. I clicked. The page shows a smiling family and features a video which ends with a card reading:
BAR HARBOR THIS SUMMER
In case you needed a reminder, the ferry did not sail at all in 2019.
There’s a “Make a Ferry Reservation” button! What happens if we click? There’s a nice interface, where I can select the dates I want to travel. But it’s kind of hard to choose a date, because all of them are grayed out on the calendar. I click “next”:
Please contact one of our friendly representatives at 1-877-762-7245 for more info.
Update July 15, 2019
Due to continued construction and related approval processes at the Bar Harbor ferry terminal, it is anticipated that the earliest date on which any service could commence is in the late summer range. Efforts are being made to accelerate the start date; but, in the meantime, all customers holding bookings on the season will be offered full refunds on their reservations and no new reservations will be accepted until there is more definitive timing. Passengers will be offered alternate passage, where available, between Saint John and Digby on MV Fundy Rose. The company will communicate directly with its customers on these changes.
Bay Ferries Limited deeply regrets any inconvenience caused to our customers and impacts on our partners and the hospitality industry.
Remember what Judy Saunders said in that Jennifer Henderson story?
“We need greater accountability for how public money is spent and a regional growth strategy that will make tourism a 365-day business.”
The #1 item highlighted on the Tourism Nova Scotia website is a summer-only ferry service that did not run at all, with a message last updated more than four months ago.
Last year, for a story on family camping, I interviewed Chris Surette, CEO of A for Adventure, which he calls “a marketing company for the outdoors.” Surette said when it comes to promoting the outdoors year-round, New Brunswick is far ahead of Nova Scotia.
There are tons of places I would recommend in New Brunswick. They are ahead of us. They have more programming. When you go into a provincial park in New Brunswick or look up activities they’ve done a tremendous job. One really good example is Mactaquac just outside of Fredericton. You can roll up there right now and there’s a shed full of 40 pairs of skis and snowshoes and you can just borrow them. You want to talk accessibility: They have groomed trails across the park, warming huts — and it’s all free…
Kouchibouguac is unreal in the winter: Fat bike trails — basically snowshoe trails they’ve converted, using a special groomer for fat bikes — cross-country ski trails, cabins you can rent. It’s awesome. Sweet park in the wintertime.
But back to Ahern’s question: What about cycling tourism?
If you browse “Outdoor adventure packages” there are a few cycling-related packages among the 98 results. These are multi-day guided tours ranging in price from over $700 to more than $2,300.
Down near the bottom of the Top 25 attractions (you know, the list that has the non-operating CAT at the top) there is a page on cycling, with links to maps and trails. But if the province were serious about attracting cyclists as tourists, there would be more than one reference to them in the Tourism Nova Scotia strategic plan. Here it is, under “Experience Development”:
Identifying and prioritizing Nova Scotia’s most competitive existing and emerging products and tourism icons that match the interests and values of targeted EQ market segments and high-yield niche markets. Examples of strategic initiatives include: Good Cheer Trail; Seafood Trail; cycling trails (Blue Route); and destination trails. New products and enhanced icons can provide a platform for private sector to create and sell experiences, strengthen target market appeal, and increase revenues.
If we were serious, the Peggy’s Cove loop — one of the most popular tourist routes in the province — would not be a risk-your-life proposition for people on bikes.
We would mandate widening shoulders to accommodate bikes when we repave. We would have more provincial funding for trails.
But maybe you think we’re not spending money on cycling because people on bikes don’t spend money anyway. Fair enough. Let’s see if there is evidence from anywhere else that might apply to Nova Scotia.
In a 2018 report, the notorious Communists at the Texas Department of Transit Public Transportation Division note the economic benefits of cycling trails.
- In Arizona, a survey of bicycle tourists found that the average bicyclist spent as much as $260.01 per day or $638.28 per trip (2012 dollars). The Arizona survey amount is nearly double what other research has estimated, but the surveyed bicycle tourists tended to be more affluent and spent much more than the average tourist in Arizona.
- In Canada, a 2014 study by Université du Québec à Montréal’s Transat Chair in Tourism in Quebec Province found that bicycle tourists spent an average of $214 per day (US $163) while cycling La Route Verte network. Accommodations and restaurants account for the majority of this amount.
- In Missouri, bicyclists using the Katy Trail spent an average of $45 per day on trip-related expenses and $56.82 per day on trail-related expenses, for a total average of $101.82 in 2011.
- In Wisconsin, research shows the average bicyclist’s expenditure varied dramatically depending on the type of trip. For example, a Wisconsin resident bicyclist using a trail spends $17.99 per day, whereas a bicyclist embarking on a multiday bicycling tour spends $80.84 per day on average. This data is consistent with a 2014 survey of Great Allegheny Passage users (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Cumberland, Maryland) which found that day users spent an average of $18 per day, while overnight bicyclists spent $124.58 per day.
In their conclusion, the report’s authors write:
From an economic standpoint, bicycle tourism spending can significantly contribute to local economies. Dollars spent on bicycle repair, manufacturing, and retail sales contribute to local, regional, and state economic prosperity… Texans would benefit greatly from more connected bikeways across the state. The provision of bikeways can increase spending in local economies, improve the health of local residents, and improve the quality of life for all Texans.
A couple of years ago, I visited Rimouski a couple of times with my partner. We brought our bikes. She was tied up for most of the day with a training program. I’d spend my time riding the beautiful coastal trails, which had repair stations, air pumps, and benches, and which connected with other trails so you could easily ride long distances safely.
Back in 2014, when I went to Dunedin, Florida for Blue Jays spring training with my son, one of the things that appealed was the Pinellas County bike trails. We stayed near the stadium, rented bikes instead of a car, and on the few days we didn’t go to ballgames, we rode to parks, beaches, restaurants, and so on. It’s true we contributed less to national GDP by not renting a car, but because we saved on that expense we had more money to spend locally.
A 2011 study in Anatolia: An International Journal of Tourism and Hospitality Research looks at the regional benefit of cycling in New Zealand. The abstract notes:
An analysis of bicycle tourists travel patterns, expenditure patterns and infrastructure use illustrates that due to their pace of travel and length of stay, bicycle tourists spend considerable amounts of time and money in regional areas… The paper concludes that although bicycle tourists may prove useful in assisting with revitalisation and diversification in rural and regional areas, the planning and provision of infrastructure and information are key considerations in maximising the economic development benefits of this form of tourism for regional areas.
(The paper costs US $43 for 24 hours of access, so I’m making do with the abstract.)
Is New Zealand too far away for you? Maybe their experience doesn’t count. Let’s look at a few other places, with a caveat.
Tim has pointed out many times (including particularly eloquently here) that economic impact projections are often largely BS. You also have to be careful about studies showing the economic benefits of existing infrastructure, where spinoffs and multipliers should be taken with caution.
Quebec’s Route Verte, part of which I was cycling near Rimouski, stretches more than 5,000 km and goes through nearly 400 municipalities. There is a whole network of accommodations called Bienvenue Cyclistes! catering to cyclists.
The UQAM study cited in the Texas report above says that cycling tourists in Quebec spend six percent more per person than other leisure travellers.
A report on a 2016 bicycling tourism conference says tourists (defined as people who rode more than 40 km per ride) spent $391 million in Ontario in 2010.
Erynn Ahern says she’s seen a remarkable difference in attitudes and volume of cycling in Ontario’s Prince Edward County, where she used to live, and where she worked for a company that rented bikes and offered tours.
Back in 2018, she tweeted:
We faced a lot of backlash from business when cycling tourism took off in my old town. People thought they showed up, didn’t buy stuff and left. Took years for folks to realize the people who would stop by later for dinner in street clothes were the same cyclists.
There was a winery owner who called up and screamed at us for sending people to their winery for a tasting. They had driven back the next day to buy a case of wine from their favourite places before leaving town, but he hadn’t made the connection…
Cycling tourism is huge with baby boomers & retirees and they bring money.
Nova Scotia is out of the way. Better-informed people than me are working on the issue of how to get people to come visit and spend money. I’m not suggesting we stop courting luxury golfers who fly in for a round or two and spend money in Inverness and elsewhere.
But I do think Ahern is right: What if we tried more cycling tourism?
No public meetings.
RESCHEDULED Budget Committee (Thursday, 9:30am, City Hall) — the meeting has been moved back to Dec. 10.
Environment and Sustainability Standing Committee (Thursday, 1pm, City Hall) — the Nova Scotia Turtle Patrollers will be making a presentation.
Harbour East – Marine Drive Community Council (Thursday, 6pm, HEMDCC Meeting Space, Alderney Gate)
Thesis Defence, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (Wednesday, 9:30am, Room C311, Collaborative Health Education Building) — Stefan A. Warkentin will defend “Aciniform Spider Silk Proteins: Investigating Solution State Assembly and the Potential of Nanoparticles as a Drug Delivery Vehicle.”
Thesis Defence, Economics (Wednesday, 10am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Zongming Ma will defend “Three Essays on Asset Pricing in Regime and ESG Environment.”
Genomics in Medicine Conference: Emerging Technologies and Bioinformatic Challenges (Thursday, 9:15am, Room 170, Collaborative Health Education Building) — two days of genomic topics and presentations from Dalhousie researchers and their trainees; keynote speakers are Stephen Scherer from the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, and Heleen Arts from the IWK. Registration closed November 28, agenda here.
Thesis Defence, Mathematics and Statistics (Thursday, 3:30pm, Room 430, Goldberg Computer Science Building) — PhD candidate Nancy Kahlil will defend “Stability Analysis of Reaction-Diffusion Models with Delayed Reaction Kinetics.”
In the harbour
11:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
12:00: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Fairview Cove from Saint-Pierre
16:00: Radcliffe R. Latimer, bulker, sails from Pier 25 for sea
Over the last month, I’ve given a lot of workshops on fermentation, in support of my book. It’s really satisfying to demystify processes like making sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha. Thanks to everyone who came.
At a certain point when I was writing my drafts I had less time to actually ferment anything. But right now I have several jars of kimchi and sauerkraut on the go, we’ve got a few batches of yogurt in the fridge and we’ve got some milk in the process of turning into kefir. My poor semi-neglected kombucha mother is looking perkier too. I appreciate the efforts of all the micro-organisms doing their thing down in the kitchen.