1. Barry Dalrymple
Councillor Barry Dalrymple told the CBC yesterday that, like Jennifer Watts, he will not seek reelection next year. Dalrymple represents the sprawling first district, which stretches from Waverley through Fall River and out to the end of the Musquodoboit Valley.
Dalrymple, a former RCMP cop, adopted a politics of resentment — in his view, Fall River is overtaxed and doesn’t receive the same level of services other districts get. Fall River is among the wealthiest communities in HRM, so in terms of a straight taxes-for-services calculation, Dalrymple’s probably right, but, ya know, welcome to being wealthy.
I’ve jokingly boiled down Dalrymple’s put-upon complaints to the phrase “It really sucks to live in Fall River,” but Dalrymple’s been a straight shooter with me. I had to corner him a while back and talk to him about a difficult situation in his district. Because I was driving around the district, knocking on doors, and asking a bunch of questions about the issue, I actually got a cease-and-desist order from a resident out in the area. Given the circumstances, I can’t really fight the order or say more about it for the present. But I can say that I think Dalrymple dealt with the situation adequately, far better than most councillors would have.
I often disagree with Dalrymple’s politics, but in terms of committee work and staying on top of the issues, Dalrymple is among the hardest working councillors. He’s done yeoman service on the Environment and Grants committees, and we’re all better off for it.
Interestingly, Dalrymple told the CBC that one of the reasons he’s not running for reelection is that council is too small:
It’s far too big a district. This district is one quarter the size of the whole HRM and spread out over an hour and a half drive from one end to the other. It’s rather ludicrous,” he said.
Dalrymple said he was on the committee that looked at council reform and says they recommended 20 councillors. Currently there are 16 councillors.
I’ve always maintained that downsizing council would result in poorer representation, and more importantly, less diverse representation. The ceeb continues:
On Wednesday, District 8 councillor Jennifer Watts announced she would not re-offer in 2016. She said council needed new voices and was currently “very white, it’s predominantly male and it also tends to be of an older generation.”
Dalrymple agrees and said there is not enough turnover on city council.
“There’s room there for more youth and more diversity,” he said, adding there is someone out there younger and more in tune with the demands of the modern world who can do a better job.
The problem is, with bigger districts it takes more money to successfully campaign, and so winning candidates will more likely be tightly connected to business interests that contribute to campaigns, will more likely have the time to campaign (meaning someone else is attending to family duties), and will more likely have appeal that stretches across a broad swath of communities (meaning minority and marginalized communities will get lost in the mix). Council will be increasingly white, male, and carry a business bias.
2. Commuter rail
Speaking of Dalrymple, yesterday he said that even though a consultant’s report showed the proposed commuter rail line out to his district isn’t economically viable, he still supports it:
He said the suggestion that the rail line is not economically viable is a fair statement, but he questioned the alternatives.
“The report says it would take $35 million in capital costs to get started,” Dalrymple said. “Compared to a third bridge at a billion dollars, I would say it’s tremendously economically feasible.”
He also pointed to the potential $35-million cost of widening Bayers Road or up to $400 million to widen the Bicentennial Highway.
“Is commuter rail economically feasible compared to those? Very much so, absolutely.”
Fair enough, and BiHi widening will cost more like a billion dollars, once you factor in right-of-way costs and associated roadways. (Thankfully, so far as I know, planning for a third harbour crossing has been dropped, while the Bayers Road-BiHi widening — it’s one project; you can’t get one without the other — is in limbo.)
Still, it’d be far cheaper to simply run buses down the BiHi. Buses can go to where people actually want to go — the universities, the hospitals, the downtown business district — while a commuter train will leave passengers off many kilometres from those destinations. If the rail fetish is overwhelming, we should at least look at light rail, which can jump onto city streets and get into the urban core.
A pipe broke on the fifth floor of Victoria General Hospital last night, leading to flooding of the building, evacuation of patients and postponement of surgeries.
4. Anti-union thugs
“A dinner hosted by Halifax Water for management and non-unionized staff who worked through the labour disruption, plus changes to the pension plan, is raising concern amongst the Canadian Union of Public Employees,” reports CTV:
Up to $10,000 in gifts were handed out during the dinner at the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Dartmouth on Sept. 9.
James Campbell of Halifax Water says a buffet dinner was served in an effort to show its appreciation to non-unionized staff.
1. Ministerial responsibility
Graham Steele uses the bureaucratic approval of a quarry in Fall River, apparently unbeknownst to Environment Minister Andrew Younger, as an example of the loss of the concept of ministerial responsibility:
If the minister agrees with the decision to approve the quarry, he should own it, and answer for it.
If he doesn’t agree with the decision, he should do whatever it takes to change it, and quickly before work on the quarry gets underway.
We must not allow the doctrine of ministerial responsibility to die. We cannot, or we are sunk.
2. Active transportation
Lezlie Lowe says it’s long past time for pedestrians and bicyclists to claim their rightful place on the streets.
3. LeMarchant–Saint Thomas
Earlier this week it was announced that LeMarchant–Saint Thomas elementary school will be torn down and replaced with a new school. Turns out, Stephen Archibald attended the school, and has all sorts of photos of it:
The main section of LeMarchant was built in 1951 and I started Primary there in the fall of 1952. Here is that class standing on the new front steps dressed up for some type of performance. I’m the toothless, demented looking child just right of center in the back row. Not hard to believe these sweet five year olds would turn into the always young and fun baby boomers of today.
My mother saved the program from the Primary Chrismas “concert.” Started with O Canada and ended with The Queen as all programs did in those days. Then we sang and danced; there were pantomime and mimetic(?), rhythm band and finger play. Songs included Who is Coming on Christmas Night? and I Love Little Pussy.
Those were sweeter, less difficult times, when the adults running schools could get the students to (presumably unknowingly) sing double entendre songs and no parents would complain. Nostalgia’s not what it used to be.
4. Cranky letter of the day
Shame is a five-letter word meaning, as my mother taught me, to hang one’s head when I committed a naughty act. I was expected to feel ashamed and to be contrite. The Oxford dictionary says shame is a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of doing something wrong.
Recently I’ve heard news of my alma mater, Dalhousie University, giving its retired president a huge salary after he retired while students resort to desperate means to pay their tuitions and many are excluded from the club of higher education due to rising costs. Neither the ex-president nor the board of governors expresses shame at their collusive, self-serving deed.
And I’ve heard of what Volkswagon has done to dupe its customers, including me, and the regulatory agencies into thinking their cars are cleaner than they in fact are in terms of their emissions. A few corporate heads will roll as a result of this but likely with huge payouts to the very executives who helped the deception along. And there will be no shame, no remorse, and definitely no contrition.
And so we live in a culture and are caught inside a system, corroded by corporate thinking, that knows no shame. As my mother would have said, “That’s a shame. Hang your head.”
Tony Kelly, Little River
No public meetings.
Thermodynamics of Confined Fluids (1:30pm, Chemistry Building, Room 226) — Richard Bowles, from the University of Saskatchewan, will speak on “Helical Sphere Packings: Insights into the Dynamics and Thermodynamics of Confined Fluids.”
Urban sociolinguistic ethnography (2:30pm, McCain Arts and Social Sciences Building, Room 1116) — Patricia Lamarre, from the Université de Montréal, will speak on “When urban sociolinguistic ethnography informs policy and politics in post-101 Quebec”:
In this presentation, I will briefly talk about my own trajectory as a sociolinguistic ethnographer and how the things that I study grew out of my own experience of growing up in Quebec. I will talk to how I moved from questions to developing an approach to data collection that allowed me to “catch” Montreal (as a place) and language and language users “on the move”. Finally, I will talk to politics of language in Quebec and Canada and how ethnography can inform policy as well as statistical research.
Risk Assessment (3:30pm, LSC 5260) — Margo Watt, a psychologist from St. Francis Xavier University, will speak on “The Risks of Risk Assessment.”
Early Australia (3:30pm, McCain Building, Room 1170) — Nancy Cushing, from the University of Newcastle, will speak on “Men ‘drunk with hunger’ and women ‘exactly like brutes’: convicts, gender, and rations in Early Australia.”
Forcing a Molecule to Take a Selfie (8pm, Ondaatje Hall, McCain Building) — Paul Corkum, from the University of Ottawa, will speak:
Waves – whether water waves, light waves or electron waves — share many features. Fitting for Halifax, this lecture is about waves. To prepare for the lecture, you could go to the ocean and watch waves crash on-shore.
Imagine an intense light wave shining on a molecule (or solid). During the talk you will see that a light-irradiated molecule creates an electron wave and that this electron wave is pulled by the light away from the molecule to just the right distance for a selfie.
To snap the selfie, the electron wave serves as a flash. When the electron “flash” illuminates the molecule, the electron scatters, converting back to light much like a water wave breaking over a rock creates foam and ripples. A digital camera records the new beam with the resulting image becoming one frame of a tomographic image of the molecule.
Just as medical tomography images your body, tomography determines the orbital wavefunction of the electron that bonds a nitrogen molecule. But even the image is not the most important result. Standard camera flashes last about 1/1000 of a second but the electron flash that takes the molecular selfie only lasts about 1/1,000,000,000,000,000 of a second. As the colliding electron converts back to light (in the X-ray region), it simultaneously converts into the world’s shortest flash: 60 attoseconds (60/1,000,000,000,000,000,000 seconds). These pulses are fast enough to freeze-frame an electron orbiting an atom and they even enable us to see the undulations of visible light.
In the harbour
The cruise ships Regatta (up to 650 passengers) and Carnival Splendor (up to 3,006 passengers) are in port today. As well, the condominium cruise ship The World, with its 200 passengers, spent the night in port and will sail later today.
I’m writing all day today.