1. Cyber Safety Act
Following the tragic death of Rehtaeh Parsons, the Cyber Safety Act was rushed through the legislature in the spring of 2013. The Act has been criticized as overly broad and will no doubt face a constitutional challenge, but there’s one other problem with the Act: it may end up outing the very people it was intended to protect.
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2. Macdonald bridge reconstruction
The Bridge Commission has released the schedule for the reconstruction of the Macdonald Bridge, as follows:
- Continuous overnight bridge closures begin: March 1, 2015—Sunday to Thursday (five nights a week) 7:00pm to 5:30am
- Sidewalk and bike lane removal and continuous shuttle service begins: June 29, 2015
- First deck segment replacement: weekend of August 28, 2015
- Deck segment replacement: August 28, 2015 until Fall 2016
- Sidewalk and bike lane reopens: December 2016
- Project conclusion: September 2017
The press release notes that “the overnight bridge closures begin in March because there is a lot of preparatory work to complete in advance of the first deck segment being replaced” in August. Forty-six bridge segments will then be removed and replaced, requiring the complete closure of the bridge for most weekends. During night and weekend closures, Halifax Transit buses will be rerouted (and hopefully rescheduled) over the MacKay Bridge, which is going to be a giant hassle for tens of thousands of people.
“The bike lane and sidewalk will be available for use from 5:30am until 7:00pm from March until the end of June,” notes the release. “The contractor will need to close the bike lane and or the sidewalk to perform certain activities for some nights from 7pm until 5:30am. The details of these requirements are being confirmed. A shuttle service will be provided during overnight closures of the sidewalk and bike lane.”
After the bike and pedestrian lanes are removed completely, a 24-hour shuttle bus will be provided for pedestrians and bicyclists, until the work is complete.
The navy is proposing to build a $75 million “jetty” at the CFB Halifax dockyard. As depicted in a diagram (above) included in tendering documents, it will be a huge addition to the waterfront.
I find the terminology interesting. I grew on the waterfront and around ships, and the structure depicted is not what I would call a “jetty,” which by my way of thinking is a peninsula-like structure that sticks out into the water, like these two structures at the approach to Rudee inlet in Virginia Beach:
I would call what the navy wants to build a “pier,” not a jetty. I presume they know what they’re talking about, but I find the regional speech patterns interesting.
4. Pedestrians struck by vehicles
Last night, via a police release to reporters:
At approximately 5:00 P.M. this evening Halifax Regional Police responded to a call of a vehicle that had struck a pedestrian at the intersection of Micmac Blvd. and Woodland Ave. in Dartmouth. The vehicle involved was travelling north on Micmac Blvd. and proceeded to make a left turn on to Woodland Ave and in doing so struck a 23 year old female pedestrian who was crossing Woodland Ave. EHS attended the scene and checked on the pedestrian who was not injured. At this time the matter is still under investigation.
The MicMac/Woodland intersection is a giant sea of pavement. I don’t know the particulars of this incident, but speed is a huge issue at this intersection. It is the end of Highway 118, and nearly all the cars coming off the highway are travelling far above the posted 60kph (and then 50) speed limit, and drivers turning left from MicMac at the end of the light cycle into that flow of traffic must sometimes accelerate quickly to avoid being rear-ended. I fear for pedestrians in broad daylight there; at night with wet pavement it is particularly treacherous.
The CBC notes that this was the fourth pedestrian incident in less than 24 hours.
David Sparks, who was charged with breaking the publication ban in the Lyle Howe rape case, says he has “some remorse and some regret” for naming the victim on Facebook, and it looks like the charges are heading toward a sensible resolution.
Anonymous says it has evidence of “corruption” at Nova Scotia Power. I dunno. It’s like my line about the mafia: The mafia exists in Montreal because you gotta whack people every now and then to make them fall in line. But we don’t need the mafia in Maritime-nice Halifax; people don’t question or resist, and they just fall into line without being whacked.
That is to say, “corruption” means to work around the established laws and accepted social order for the benefit of the amoral elite. But if the laws and accepted social order already benefit the amoral elite, they don’t need to corrupt the system. In fact, they’re better off working within the system.
Anyway, at least somebody’s talking about the effect of high power rates on regular people. Here’s Anonymous and their spooky music:
Sean Gillis comments on the apartment building Halifax council approved Tuesday, at Maynard and Roberts Street:
The proposal is a mid-rise building (eight stories) with shops on the groundfloor and a mix of 70 bachelor, one and two bedroom units above.
The lot is quite small (1600 metres square or 0.16 hectares). The net density on the lot, if the project is approved and built, would be 416 units per hectare (or 177 units per acre if you prefer imperial). This is very high density. Density this high is achieved by mixing smaller units, putting the parking underground and building on almost the entire lot. It’s only one parcel, but if the whole neighbourhood built out like this it would the North End would be exceptionally dense. Currently, the neighbourhood density is about 36 units/ hectare.
When I read this, I recalled reading Jane Jacobs’ Death and Life of Great American Cities, which is on my bookshelf. Like the Ivany Report, people cite Jacobs about all sorts of things she didn’t say. But on this, Gillis has it right. Here’s Jacobs:
What are proper densities for city dwellings? … Proper city dwelling densities are a matter of performance … Densities are too low, or too high, when they frustrate city diversity instead of abetting it …
Very low densities, six dwellings or fewer to the net acre, can make out well in suburbs … Between ten and twenty dwellings to the acre yields a kind of semisuburb …
However densities of this kind ringing a city are a bad long-term bet, designed to become a grey area. …
And so, between the point where semisuburban character and function are lost, and the point at which lively diversity and public life can arise, lies a range of big-city densities that I shall call “in-between” densities. They are fit neither for suburban life nor for city life. They are fit, generally, for nothing but trouble …
I should judge that numerically the escape from “in-between” densities probably lies somewhere around the figure of 100 dwellings to an acre, under circumstances most congenial in all other respects to producing diversity.
As a general rule, I think 100 dwellings per acre will be found to be too low.
The take-away here is that we don’t need very tall buildings to get the “very high” densities Gillis wants and Jacobs found ideal—four-, six-, and eight-storey buildings get us there quite nicely, so long as they aren’t sprawling condos for childless couples surrounded by seas of parking lots. But I’d argue that 100 units per acre is really pushing it. Is there a more walkable city than Paris? Its density is about 92 units per acre, which it achieves with mostly six-storey buildings.
Learn to drive, says Lezlie Lowe.
3. Citizen Four
Carsten Knox is a fan of Laura Poitras’ documentary about Edward Snowden.
4. Cranky letter of the day
As I look out my window, I notice that there are not very many homes, windows, trees, etc. decorated to a “minimum” with Christmas lights. We have high power rates.
A lot of middle- or low-income residents also have high medical bills and can’t afford to light their homes. Even the postage for this letter has gone up 85 cents. Yet the worker layoff at Canada Post is tremendous.
Such a shame not to be able to enjoy the “little treasures” of Christmas—not only to delight in the season, but for others to enjoy it.
J. Mason, Fall River
No public meetings.
Burke-Gaffney Observatory (Friday, 7pm, meet at the lobby of the Loyola Residence Building)—check out the telescope at Saint Mary’s University’s Burke-Gaffney Observatory. Space is limited, so reserve a spot here. The tours:
…generally last one to two hours and involve looking at various astronomical objects through the telescope and discussing the nature of these objects.
We also use a fenced-in Observation Deck on the roof of the building to show you the constellations or objects in one of our smaller portable telescopes.
These events are suitable for about ages 8 and up.
Someone posted this video on YouTube. It’s just a drive across Halifax, from the Rotary to Dartmouth, around 1960 (possibly earlier?). It’s always fun watching these old videos. I notice that the electric buses were still running, and there were wires across the bridge for them. Which tells me it can be done. Let’s bring them back!
In the harbour
(click on vessel names for pictures and more information about the ships)
APL coral, container ship, Calgari, Italy to Fairview Cove West
Barkald, bulker, to National Gypsum
Swan Ace, car carrier, Bremerhaven, Germany to Autoport
Sloman Hermes, tanker, New Orleans to Pier 31
Ernest Hemingway, container ship, New York to Pier 42
I had a computer meltdown yesterday, meaning I’m even further behind on email and pretty much everything else. Got it resolved, more or less.
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