1. Perfectly safe
“The province’s offshore regulator has cleared Shell Canada to resume drilling one of two exploration wells after an accident in March that saw two kilometres of pipe break off a wellhead and sink to the ocean floor,” reports the Canadian Press:
High and heaving waves caused the “riser tensioner system” that connected the wellhead deep under the ocean to an offshore drilling rig to break off and sink ahead of a storm on March 5.
The Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board said it spent three months conducting a thorough review of the incident and investigation report, and engaged independent expertise in deepwater drilling to provide additional oversight.
“The CNSOPB review confirmed that the crew of the Stena IceMAX appropriately prepared for heavy weather in the days leading up to the incident on March 5,” read a statement from the board released Wednesday.
Well OK, then. Nothing to see here, move along.
2. Tuition increases
The province yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the universities. The document continues the ongoing decrease in government support for universities, with the expectation that tuition will be increased.
Specifically, government grants to universities will increase by one per cent each year over the previous year. Given that inflation is expected to run in the two to three per cent range annually, this amounts to a one to two per cent cut in funding, year after year.
On the tuition side, the “one-time market adjustments to tuition” allowance remains in place, meaning universities can increase tuition to whatever they want between now and the end of the four years. After that, they are limited to a three per cent annual increase. That figure might come close to annual inflation rates, but there’s no indication that, whatever inflation might be, students’ ability to pay will increase accordingly. In any event, the three per cent cap applies only to Nova Scotian students enrolled in undergraduate programs — all bets are off for out-of-province or international students, or graduate students, or students enrolled in medicine, dentistry, or law.
And of course, the MOU requires that universities embrace the “innovation” of further corporatizing the institutions.
The Canadian Federation of Students rightly condemned the MOU in a press release yesterday:
“Claims to prioritize improved access for students are proven false while this government is deregulating tuition fees across the board,” said Charlotte Kiddell, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students – Nova Scotia. “With almost every university using the market adjustment to increase fees beyond the three per cent cap for the duration of the memorandum, students will face unprecedented financial barriers to pursuing a post-secondary education in Nova Scotia.”
I’ve said it before: We’ve become a meaner, nastier society, and we’re shitting on young people.
3. Airport sprawl
Real estate firm Colliers International has recently listed leases for a commercial development next to the airport. This development has nothing to do with airport-related or -dependent industries, but is simply the same-old suburban sprawl we’re supposed to be opposing nowadays:
The Airport is the busiest east of Montreal with over 3.7 million passengers per year and a resident trade area that includes 123,000 residents within a 20 minute drive. Already with an Irving gas station, Subway and Tim Horton’s, a comprehensive mixed commercial use plan is being developed by the Airport which will see major retail, hotel and office uses occupying adjacent lands. The first phase of current Core Commercial lands encompasses 17.2 acres of land already serviced and ready to be developed including 4.2 acres planned for office uses.
Lands will be made available for both tenants seeking a design-build solution or for developers seeking to develop commercial property with a land lease (long term up to 60 years) in place with land rents to be negotiated.
“An art project which explores Indigenous self-identity in Halifax was unveiled at the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre as part of National Aboriginal Day celebrations Tuesday,” reports Maureen Googoo:
Approximately 80 people gathered for the unveiling of the clay tile mural project called, This Is What I Wish You Knew.
The mural is made up of 50 individual clay tiles, each one exploring the urban Indigenous identity in Halifax. Each tile was created by one of the 50 people who participated in the four-month project at the friendship centre.
Googoo’s Kukukwes.com site is devoted to covering aboriginal issues in Atlantic Canada. (I interviewed her for Examineradio, and you can listen to that episode here.) That was going to be an uphill slog no matter what, and Googoo writes that she is having difficulty reaching the income she needs to keep the effort going:
Kukukwes.com urgently needs your support in order to continue providing news coverage of Indigenous issues in Atlantic Canada. We need $1,142 more in monthly pledges/subscription by June 30 in order to reach our first goal of $1,500.
I’ve been a monthly subscriber to Kukukwes.com from the start. If you have the means and interest, consider contributing to Googoo’s fundraising campaign.
5. Bert Frizzel
Bert Frizzell was elected yesterday as the new chair of the Nova Scotia Business Inc. Frizzell is additionally vice chair at The Shaw Group and over a 40-year period has been Shaw’s president, COO, and CEO.
You’ll recall that former Halifax CAO Richard Butts has taken a job with Shaw and that Allan Shaw, the company’s namesake and chair, is trying to muscle the city into buying the Purcell Cove backlands.
In terms of geographic area, the bulk of new suburban sprawl in the Halifax area is occurring in Bedford West. No surprise, Frizzell is also on the board of West Bedford Holdings Ltd, the main developer in the area.
The building at 1265 Barrington Street and the adjacent lot — that is, Bearly’s and its parking lot — are for sale for a cool $2 million. Assuming the bar is included in the purchase, that’s probably not a crazy price, but undoubtedly the property will be bought up not for the business but as a development opportunity.
Never mind that the structure is a registered historic property — a new owner can let that designation lapse and a year later tear it down. HRM by Design allows new construction with up to 45 feet in height, but that could be increased through staff-approved “bonusing” if a new developer puts in a daycare (see the new YWCA building a few doors down) or makes a gesture toward “public art,” maybe a statue of Roger Howse flipping off Paul McCartney.
I’m so old I remember when the promised South Barrington Street Historical District was going to save all the old buildings on the street. With The Borg destroying all sense of proportion at the centre of downtown and the continued decimation of historic buildings at the fringes of downtown, can we now just admit that HRM By Design was a cruel joke on the citizenry?
Grant Frost provides a detailed history of policies around student absenteeism. An interesting read.
Transportation Standing Committee (1pm, City Hall) — here’s the agenda.
No public meetings.
Bioinformatics (9:30am, Theatre A – Tupper Medical Building Link) — Nathaniel Comfort, from Johns Hopkins University, and author of The Tangled Field and The Science of Human Perfection will present “Toward a Biography of DNA.”
Planetarium Show (7:15pm, at the planetarium) — “The Summer Sky 2016.” Says the event listing:
This show focuses on the current night sky, the transition between the spring and summer star groups (Leo, Summer Triangle, etc.) and other seasonal night sky objects. This year, the bright planets Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are nicely placed for easy evening observation; come and learn how to find them.
Five bucks at the door. Leave screaming kids out in the car.
In the harbour
The Irving-contracted oil tanker Acadian made its regular stop in Halifax Harbour Tuesday, and sailed out this morning.
“Irving Oil manages to get along with only one Canadian flagged tanker these days,” wrote Mac MacKay back in 2012:
Acadian roams the eastern ports of Canada including St. John’s, NF, Charlottetown, PEI and points between, from Irving Oil’s base in Saint John, NB.
Built by Hyundai Mipo in Ulsan, South Korea in 2005, the ship is actually owned by FB Tankships I Ltd of Barendrecht, Netherlands, part of the Vroon group of companies. It is chartered to carry Irving Oil products, and is registered in Canada.
At one time Irving Oil was a major tanker operator with more than half a dozen ships trading domestically, others in foreign trade and several tanker barges. Such are the changes in distribution systems (essentially better highways and arrangements for product swaps with other refiners) and the expansion of Irving’s business south of the border, that a large tanker fleet is no longer needed. More than that there is no apparent need to actually own the tankers either, hence the charter deal with Vroon.
MacKay went on to describe the former Irving fleet in detail, with photos, here.
5:30am: Vega Rose, bulker, arrives at anchorage for AGM inspection from Alumar, Brazil
5:30am: Acadian, oil tanker, sails from Imperial Oil for Saint John
6am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
7am: Bruarfoss, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Argentia, Newfoundland
11am: Vega Rose, bulker, sails from anchorage to sea
11:30am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
11:30am: Bruarfoss, container ship, sails from Pier 41 to sea
4:15pm: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Autoport back to Pier 41
8pm: Ardmore Seatrader, oil tanker, arrives at anchorage from Paldiski, Estonia
9pm: Atlantic Conveyor, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
5:30am: Helga, no details at this time, arrives at berth TBD
8am: Atlantic Conveyor, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Liverpool, England; expected arrival in Liverpool is Thursday, June 30
Sorry, the kittens weren’t cooperating.
Please consider subscribing to the Examiner. Just $5 or $10 a month goes a long way. Or, consider making a one-time contribution via PayPal. Thanks much!