1. No 2017 patio season for Argyle Street
Wednesday morning, I saw that the city had posted a tender for the “streetscaping” of Argyle and Grafton Streets, but they wanted 150 bucks to view the thing, and I decided to instead spend the money on beer. Thankfully, the CBC has deep pockets and followed through on the tender:
Halifax won’t issue patio permits for a busy part of the downtown bar district this summer while construction crews revamp the streetscape
Crews will lower the sidewalks to street level and put in paving stones to mark the sidewalk from the street. The municipality is considering construction tenders now and expects to start work on June 1 and finish in late September.
This is all being done in preparation of the opening of the Nova Centre, supposedly on January 1 (but I’m hearing rumours of yet another construction delay). The city published this YouTube vid of the streetscaping project:
Here’s what I learned from the video:
• no one will care about climate change, and we’ll allow outside patio burners blowing so hot that people can sit outside in short sleeves
• trees can grow straight out of concrete with only about six inches of dirt allowed for watering and root balls
• no Black people will visit downtown
• all the parking meters will be removed except for (weirdly) three pairs of meters, one in front of the Neptune Theatre and two on Grafton Street across from Freeman’s
2. $500 million is now $219 million
Speaking of the Nova Centre… I’m old and forget things and sometimes remember them wrong, so I spent a bit of time this morning googling around to see if I remembered right that the Nova Centre was purported to be a $500 million project.
It turns out, those particular synapses haven’t yet burned out, and I was right: The Halifax Convention Centre calls it a $500 million project. The Chronicle Herald called it a $500 million project. Joe Ramia’s unofficial publicist Roger Taylor calls it a $500 million project. The Globe & Mail calls it a $500 million project.
Seems like the only one not calling it a $500 million project is EllisDon, the contractor building the Nova Centre, which calls it a $219 million project.
There are no doubt non-construction costs for architectural services, government fees and so forth, but $281 million worth?
Considering that the various governments are paying $161 million into the project for the convention centre, this is looking like a sweetheart deal for developer Joe Ramia.
3. Prince as the “Dionysian Christian”
“Eli Diamond was seven years old when he bought his first Prince and the Revolution album,” writes Chris Lambie:
It was Purple Rain.
“And then I bought every single subsequent Prince album on the day it came out. So I’m a bit of a Prince geek,” Diamond, an associate professor of ancient philosophy in Dalhousie University’s Classics Department, told more than 100 students Wednesday night at the University of King’s College.
Dressed in purple academic robes, Diamond schooled the King’s Foundation Year Program audience — many of whom were still in diapers when Prince was partying like it was 1999 — on the musician, songwriter, lyricist, and cultural icon.
Enjoy the pleasure of reading this article with a paid subscription to the Examiner.
(That rewording of the throw to the subscription page comes via Evelyn White, who suggested “flipping the message.”)
4. Flight 624
“Airbus’s negligence contributed to a crash landing at Halifax Stanfield International Airport two years ago, Air Canada claims in a lawsuit against the French aircraft manufacturer,” reports Aly Thomson for the Canadian Press:
In a statement of claim filed in Nova Scotia Supreme Court, Air Canada (TSX:AC) said Airbus SAS failed to identify shortcomings of the Airbus 320.
The document said it did not advise that in certain conditions, the plane’s flight path angle could be affected by external forces.
It also claims Airbus failed to incorporate a warning system to alert pilots to a deviation from the planned flight path angle.
In another CP article, Aly Thomson, perhaps channelling Parker Donham, wanted to write about the number of snow days called by local school boards. Thomson evidently uses the one size-fits-all Rolodex of experts that’s for sale at Lazy Reporters R Us, and so called up self-styled “education expert” Paul W. Bennett:
He said research shows that more than five lost days per school year is detrimental to student performance.
“We have evidence from Massachusetts that it affects math scores significantly,” said Bennett, citing a report from Harvard public policy professor Joshua Goodman.
He said Goodman’s research was based on up to five lost days, and the professor was shocked to hear from Bennett that Nova Scotia schools regularly meet or exceed that number.
“Nobody understands how extensive it is here,” said Bennett.
Problem is, Goodman was having none of it:
.@Educhatter You've misinterpreted my study. I don't find snow days hurt student achievement. Absences do. These are different things.
— Joshua S Goodman (@JoshuaSGoodman) March 29, 2017
In an op-ed in Local Xpress, Grant Frost has more.
I’m more curious about how certain people get on the Rolodex. Paul Bennett is one; Kevin Lacey is another. It seems one trick is simply to name your organization correctly — Bennet runs something he calls Schoolhouse Consulting, while Lacey is employed by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. Does either organization have any legitimacy? Do they represent anyone at all besides the organization itself? Those are the kinds of questions that reporters should ask before calling up an “expert.”
1. No 4. Engine House
Peter Ziobrowski follows the 1905 construction of the old No. 4 fire station on Bedford Row. I found this part interesting:
The proposed construction material — concrete block — was also addressed. It was initially thought that brick would be cheaper, and a petition against the use of concrete was received from the bricklayers’ union. Concrete block was a modern material and felt to be unproven, and was considered to be a cheaper material then stone (though concrete block was in wide use in cities west of Halifax). The blocks were proposed to be made by city labour, and laid by union masons.
In the end, Council accepted the tender of Edward Maxwell at a cost of $17,764 for a brick building with concrete trimmings. The building was complete by May 1906, and the final payment was released to the contractor.
Graham Steele writes a final column for the CBC, lamenting partisanship.
Steele has contributed to the civic education in Nova Scotia, and his columns have often provided important insights into what is going on in the legislature and premier’s office.
I gotta say, though, I’m not buying this disdain for partisanship.
Yes, party politics in Nova Scotia can be remarkably childish. I’ve seen party workers, who are otherwise intelligent people with broad views of the world and humanity, reduce themselves to unthinking foot soldiers for their party when discussing other parties. It’s annoying.
But no amount of hand-waving can make that go away. We can’t just say, “oh, let’s leave party politics behind and follow the Ivany report recommendations” because the Ivany report recommendations will have to be interpreted, and that will inevitably lead to differing opinions, which will lead back to … partisanship.
I joke that we’re all supposed to drink multiple shots of Jagermeister every time someone says “Ivany report” because the report is held up to support whatever political viewpoint any politician or commentator has, even if those viewpoints contradict each other. For example, Bill Black today makes a head nod to the Ivany report to support fracking, which it doesn’t.
This is the problem with Steele’s call for a unity government: What are we supposed to be unifying about? Steele says simply that “The Ivany report would, in its entirety, become a ‘unity platform’ for the peacetime coalition. It would anchor the government’s public-policy agenda.” But who gets to define what the Ivany report says? Bill Black says it supports fracking, I say it doesn’t — who decides? A while ago someone suggested that I interview each of the Ivany report’s authors separately and ask them specific policy questions and document how they disagree with each other. I think that’s a good idea, but probably they’ll refuse to answer direct questions about policy. It’s open to, ya know, interpretation.
In practice, a unity government means whoever wins the rhetorical battle to define what the shared purpose is gets to dictate what happens, and the rest of us are supposed to sit in the corner and shut up.
Today, Steele takes the focus off politicians and puts it on citizens:
Effective citizens — engaged, knowledgeable and persistent — are, when united in common cause, the most powerful political force that ever was.
I agree that an informed and engaged citizenry is important (although I note that Steele has said that demonstrations outside Province House are useless…), but we’re back to this “united in common cause” thing. Here’s the thing: people disagree about stuff. The citizenry will never be “united” unless you have a dictatorship forcing them to be united. The whole point of the democratic system and the resulting partisanship is to have one section of the disagreeing public prevail over another section of the disagreeing public, for a while at least. “Continued muddling through,” which both the Ivany Report and Steele decry, is a hell of a lot better than the alternative, which is forced compliance to one group’s dictates.
Yes, we can ask for a more worldly (and importantly: forgiving) view among politicians, party workers, citizens, and even reporters, but let’s not turn our backs on partisanship: it’s the only thing that keeps us from blowing the place up.
That aside, Steele has been an important and needed voice, and I’ll miss his CBC columns.
3. Cranky letter of the day
We often take our little dog, complete with a poop bag, to Peakes Quay.
And on Sunday we were disgusted with all the poop that people can’t be bothered to clean up.
Come on people, love your dogs but clean up their mess so that we can all enjoy this lovely city.
Doreen Cook, Charlottetown
No public meetings.
Spider Silk (1:30pm, Chemistry Room 226) — Jan K. Rainey will speak on “Unraveling the Nanoscale Basis of Spider Wrapping Silk Toughness.”
Accents (3:30pm, Windsor Foundation Room, CHEB 170) — Michael Kiefte and Bonita Squires will speak on “Accent and Communication: The Speech-Language Pathologist’s Perspective.”
Cold War Matsu: Three Time-Spaces and a Fisherman (3:30pm, Room 1170, Marion McCain Building) — Song-Chuan Chen of Nanyang Technological University will speak.
Research Presentations (4pm, 3H, Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building) — Day 2 of this year’s research presentations from the honours students of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
In the harbour
3:30am: ZIM Alabama, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for New York
7:20am: Skogafoss, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Argentia, Newfoundland
11:30am: Skogafoss, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for sea
11:30am: Zenith Leader, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
3:30pm: Triton Leader, car carrier, arrives at berth TBD from Zeebrugge, Belgium
4:30pm: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Pier 36 for Saint-Pierre