1. Possible tailings leak at Atlantic Gold’s Moose River gold mine?
Joan Baxter reports on a possible leak at a tailings facility at Atlantic Gold’s Touquoy open pit gold mine on the Eastern Shore. As Baxter reports, someone took aerial shots of the potential leak and shared them with Scott Beaver, president of the St. Mary’s River Association. Beaver is also part of the No Open Pit Excavation (NOPE) citizens’ group that opposes the Atlantic Gold’s proposed gold mine at Cochrane Hill near Sherbrooke. Baxter writes:
According to Beaver, who has been sharing the photos on social media, they show a tailings leak at the Touquoy mine, about 70 kilometres east of Halifax’s Stanfield International Airport.
“You are looking at a leak in the tailings dam wall,” writes Beaver in an email. “There is not yet any evidence that this has been reported as of yet. You can see in the pictures that they are using a small pump to pump the toxic water back into the tailings Impoundment. This is disturbing!”
Baxter’s article includes an update with responses from Dustin O’Leary, a spokesperson from Atlantic Gold, who said there’s “no leak of any kind occurring.” The Examiner is still waiting for more information, including responses from an independent expert.
2. Houston and developers and landlords
In his latest column, Stephen Kimber wonders how closely premier-designate Tim Houston is listening to developers and landlords in Nova Scotia. And he thinks maybe it’s too closely. Kimber writes:
Back in March, for example, Houston went to great public lengths to distance himself from the federal party. “That’s a separate party,” he told reporters days after a meeting of federal party members refused to even accept that climate change is real. “I’m the leader of the Nova Scotia PC Party,” he insisted, “It’s a separate party, different leaders, different members and, in some cases, obviously different values.”
Houston would prefer to cast himself as a red Tory — conservative on fiscal issues but progressive on social ones.
But then along comes an issue like housing, which is both economic and social, and the red fades quickly.
“I don’t believe that rent control is a solution to the housing crisis,” our new premier declared at his first post-election press conference, adding that “the solution to a housing crisis is more housing. We need more housing… I have calls from people who have lost their rental because of rent control.”
Let that sink in for a minute. And then this. When someone asked why he wouldn’t keep rent control in place, at least until there was more housing, his answer: “What does that do to those that were thinking about building?”
3. Have a story about the housing crisis? Tell us!
This week we have two community sessions for our series Priced Out: Addressing the Housing Crisis.
Tuesday, August 31 from 6pm to 8pm is our virtual session via Zoom. Click here to sign up here for that one.
And on Wednesday, I’ll be in Spryfield for an in-person session at the Spryfield Lions Rink (in the gym). Click here to register for that event.
If you can’t make any of our events, you can always call or text our message line at 1-819-803-6215.
Click here to read more about our series Priced Out: Addressing the Housing Crisis.
4. Sell part of the Forum, city staff advise
Zane Woodford reports on a recommendation from city staff that Halifax Regional Council sell off a portion of the Halifax Forum to help pay for a redevelopment plan.
In 2019, council voted to go ahead with a plan from consultants Ventin Group (+VG) that would redevelop the Forum, which is a registered heritage building and has fallen into disrepair. The plan would include restoring the brick façade and updating the rest of the complex. This would all cost $85.9 million.
When council approved that plan, it directed staff to explore some sort of public-private partnership development, likely mixed-use commercial and residential, to recoup some of the cost. As I reported for StarMetro Halifax back then:
Chief administrative officer Jacques Dubé said that would likely mean a long-term land lease with a developer for between 65 and 99 years.
“We wouldn’t sell the land. It’s probably unwise to sell that kind of strategic property,” he said.
In a report to council on Tuesday, recreation planning specialist Gareth Evans and policy and planning manager Richard Harvey are recommending the city sell the land outright.
“Following the commissioning of a study to understand the private development interests in the Halifax Forum complex, it has been found that the best approach would be dispose of the north portion of the site (corner of Young and Windsor Streets) to off-set project costs,” Evans and Harvey wrote.
5. New online mental health service could mean no wait list
Taryn Grant at CBC reports on a new online mental health service that could be available for Nova Scotians with mild to moderate symptoms of anxiety and depression. And as Grant reports, the service would be available without a wait. Currently, there’s more than a one-month wait list for initial assessment for in-person mental health services.
Grant spoke with Amanda Hudson-Frigault, a consultant at the health authority on e-mental health and substance use, who said these early intervention services help prevent some mental health issues from turning into more complex issues that need far greater treatment.
Having these tools and resources available free online is really intended to provide another tool in people’s tool belts that in the end, hopefully, as evidence has shown, could prevent someone from escalating to the degree where perhaps they [would] need to see someone in person.
The program is now out on tender.
I’ve been writing about workers leaving their jobs — specifically in the service industry — for weeks now. Are you tired of reading about it? But last week, I read by the far the best opinion piece on this issue. It was written by Lori Fox, a writer, freelance journalist, and former server who lives in Whitehorse.
“I’m one of the service workers who left the restaurant industry during the pandemic. Serve yourself” was published in the Globe and Mail last week. Fox wrote about their 15 years’ experience as a server. They lost their job during the pandemic and chose not to go back when restaurants started opening up. Instead, Fox, who never collected CERB, grew their freelance business and found regular work as an editor. They also enrolled in an MFA program so they can teach writing. They’re also working on their first book, This Has Always Been a War.
There are so many good bits in Fox’s article, you should just read it all. But here are some snippets:
What has been said about us — that CERB has kept us from re-entering the work force, that we are lazy and unambitious, that we simply don’t want to work — is ridiculous.
It’s also indicative of the way much of society thinks about working-class bodies: as expendable, interchangeable, replaceable parts of a capitalist machine over which it has ownership. Some people not only feel entitled to our labour, but to pay as little as possible.
Let’s be clear, then. It’s not that we don’t want to work — it’s just that we don’t want to work a physically demanding job in substandard conditions without benefits for minimum wage.
Before the pandemic, many of us working-class people were hustling so hard we didn’t have time to question the way we were living, nor the way we were being treated by our employers – which is to say, in both cases, often poorly.
What CERB gave us wasn’t economic stability — $2,000 a month is only $12.50 an hour — but time to think about what we wanted. Which, as it turns out, might not be to making a living for other people while we rag-and-bone our way through life.
I reached out to Fox on the weekend who said they’ve received a lot of positive feedback on the article:
Working class people have emailed me, saying how much it resonated with them, and people from other classes have told me it has made them rethink the way they view service workers, which I think is incredibly rewarding. I live in Whitehorse, Yukon, population 26,000, and I was just out tonight, having a beer with a friend, and several people stopped me to talk about the piece, which is humbling, to know I’ve touched people not just across the country, but in my own community.
I wrote this piece because I don’t believe most middle to upper middle class people — even those who worked as working class people in their youth — really understand what it’s like to be working for minimum wage today, especially in customer service. I see people be so impatient or so critical of retail and food service workers today, especially now, during the fourth wave, and I think this is because capitalism has taught us that “customers” are somehow “more human” than “workers”— it’s more important culturally that we feel served than it is to view the person serving us as a human being with thoughts and feelings, and whose safety and emotional well being is actually far more valuable than the short-term pleasure of the services some people feel entitled to.
Fox has long been an advocate for living wages, and as they say in their article, “any wage that’s not a living wage is a poverty wage.” I asked what they thought the pandemic has taught us about what we pay workers, specifically those in the service sectors. Fox said:
I don’t think the pandemic has taught us anything we didn’t already know about the way capitalism handles wages and working class bodies; it’s always been unfair. What’s different now, though, is that it is evident how important working class labour is, that the system can’t function without it — something I don’t think working class people had the time to consider, working as hard as we do, as fast as we did, pre-pandemic. I think capitalism is like a motor — when it’s operating at full speed, it’s hard to see exactly how it works, what components are making it run and how. When something goes wrong, however — when a head gasket blows, or an oil pan cracks or a drive belt breaks, for example — things start to slow down or stop, and then you can see the way everything works, how all the pieces fit together, where the weak and strong places are. And we haven’t been and still are not taking care of the most important component of our economic engine, the working class, for a long time, and the pandemic has made it obvious just how strained and underserviced this part of the machine is.
We’ve been taught that our work is worth what employers are willing to pay for it, but that’s simply not true — we’re more than our work and our work is worth more than a wage. How is it that a stock broker, who works with imaginary numbers and creates nothing but more imaginary numbers, is considered a more valuable human being and is rewarded for their work more fruitfully, than someone who handles the fundamental necessities of life: growing and making food, building houses and roads, taking care of other people. It‘s as if we don’t know what things are worth anymore. Paying working class people a living wage — a wage tagged to what they need to not only actually be an alive, living human being, eating and sleeping and living in a safe home, but to have pleasure and ease and freedom — isn’t a wild idea. It’s commensurate with the work we do, which is the foundation for all other enterprises and pleasures and accomplishments people can undertake.
Don’t go putting soap in waterfalls
On Thursday, the Department of Environment posted this on its social media channels:
This social media stunt has been around for years. Earlier this month, Nova Scotia Species for Risk posted this on its Facebook group:
In recent summers a new twist on an old pastime has gained in popularity. Some fun-seeking swimmers have taken to pouring dish suds, bubble bath, shampoo and other detergents into waterfall plunge pools for the bubbly effect. On the surface, this looks and sounds like great fun. But down below, everything is not well.
Detergent that hasn’t had time to break down in a septic system harms fish, including our globally endangered American eel, two of which I recently (July 22) observed dead in the pool below Maple Brook Falls, Inverness County. I removed eight discarded detergent bottles from the brook that day. Three more bottles a week later.
“Adding soap to a waterway is not a harmless game — it is illegal and is an act of pollution. This is a dangerous activity, which can be harmful to fish and other animals in the habitat. Our environment is sensitive and we must protect it.”
– Perry Trimper, former Wildlife Biologist
Detergents, including those marked ‘biodegradable’, destroy a fish’s outer mucus layer, which protects it from infection. Detergent can also severely damage gills and destroy eggs. When detergent concentrations in an area (like a swimming hole) approach 15 parts per million, most fish will die.
But isn’t Dawn dish detergent used to save wildlife after oil spills?
Yes, Dawn can be used to clean oil off of bird feathers without harming the bird’s skin. But that happens in controlled settings like wildlife rehabilitation centres where the grey water created can be properly treated. Dawn, like all detergents, is harmful to fish.
If you know people who take waterfall bubble baths, please share this information with them. Hopefully they’re simply unaware of the harm they’re causing (which is understandable), and not indifferent to it.
I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the kind of thing that’s been going on here and there, but with the advent of social media and all ideas, whether good or bad, being shared and taking off. That seems to be what happened with this.
Fish that aren’t killed outright by high concentrations are more susceptible to infection.
I agree in the sense, but I think this relatively small problem of people having too much fun in waterfalls is kind of a symptom of a whole cluster of problems we have that are ultimately a very big cultural problem … the growing disconnect between the human world and the natural world that supports the human world with or without our awareness of that.
It can be effective, but the key is not making the public aware of where the cameras are because that moves the problem to new locations. It’s a good thing people want to go to these places, but it does create new issues because a lot of these places are not properly protected and there are no official caretakers of the place. So, there are issues, not just the one we’re talking about, but those of people leaving lots of garbage, throwing glass bottles into the woods, which break and present new hazards for wildlife.When it comes to all the environmental challenges we’re facing, we’re all in it together. The more we can try to foster conversations that are productive instead of ones that descend into a shouting match, the better.
Regional Community Council (Monday, 6pm) — live streamed on YouTube
Halifax Regional Council (Tuesday, 10am) — live streamed on YouTube, with captioning on a text-only site
In the harbour
05:30: Torrens, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southampton, England
06:00: MSC Sandra, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Montreal
07:30: Lagrafoss, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Reykjavik, Iceland
08:00: Asterix, replenishment vessel, sails from Dockyard for sea
08:15: Algoma Integrity, bulker, sails from Gold Bond for sea
08:15: Thunder Bay, bulker, moves from Bedford Basin anchorage to Gold Bond
08:30: Wisby Pacific, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from Beaumont, Texas
10:10: East Coast, oil tanker, arrives at Irving Oil from Charlottetown
11:00: ZIM Yokohama, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
11:30: Torrens moves to Pier 27
13:00: Lagrafoss sails for Portland
14:00: Siem Pilot, offshore supply vessel, moves from Dartmouth Cove to Bedford Basin for trials
16:00: Mitera, oil tanker, arrives at anchorage from IJmuiden, Netherlands
16:00: MSC Sandra sails for sea
16:00: ZIM Yokohama sails for New York
16:30: Torrens sails for sea
22:00: Augusta Luna, cargo ship, sails for Bilboa, Spain
22:00: East Coast sails for sea
23:00: Mitera moves to Irving Oil
08:00: Paul A. Desgagnes, oil tanker, arrives at Sydney from Corner Brook
08:00: Niagara Spirit, barge and Tim McKeil, tug, transit north to south through the causeway for arrival at Aulds Cove quarry from Port-Daniel, Quebec
Monday Morning Files are tough.