1. Marty Leger
Friday was the one-year anniversary of the disappearance of Marty Leger, and police have issued the perfunctory request that if anyone knows anything they should contact the police.
Leger was last seen riding his mountain bike on the Spider Lake Trail, and his car was found near the trailhead. A massive manhunt was launched for him, to no avail.
I hike the Spider Lake Trail once or twice a year. Leger’s disappearance makes no sense to me. Still, to this day, it’s nearly impossible to get off the trail due to the debris from Hurricane Juan. It is possible to get turned around on the trail — I’ve done it myself — but you eventually end up back where you want to be no matter what you do. I suppose Leger could’ve drowned in the lake, but it was dredged, and where’s the bike?
I keep feeling there’s much more to this story, a piece we’re missing.
2. Spelling it out
Last year I had the pleasure of meeting Evelyn C. White, a former San Francisco journalist who went on to write the biography of Alice Walker, and who now lives in Halifax. This morning I awoke to find that White had sent me an article she had written about a spelling bee held Saturday for African Nova Scotian students.
As I sat among the cozy, multi-racial crowd at the Mount campus, my mind drifted to MacNolia Cox who, in 1936, made headlines as the first black student to reach the final round of the Scripps competition.
Then age 13, the Akron, Ohio resident spelled without error over a span of two and a half hours, notes author A. Van Jordan. A professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey, Jordan revisits the girl’s life in his acclaimed 2004 poetry collection M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A.
Quiet as it has been kept (in the age of President Barack Obama), the American capital was largely a segregated city until the 1950s. As Jordan tells it, the all-male, all-white panel of judges for the 1936 contest were loathe to crown a black student as national champion. With Cox poised for an unprecedented victory, the judges asked her to spell a word that was not among those on an official list that competitors had been given, to study, in advance of the event.
The word? Nemesis, “the inescapable agent of someone’s or something’s downfall.” Nearly 80 years later, the choice still resonates with abject cruelty.
“A Prince Edward Island woman now living in Halifax is opening her home to women from her province needing abortions in the city because the procedure is not available there,” reports the CBC:
Chelsey Buchanan posted on social media offering a room, food, bus tickets and transportation to the clinic. She hasn’t had any requests for the room yet.
Buchanan said she was inspired to offer help after reading the Sovereign Uterus, a blog where women were sharing their frustrations with the system.
4. Pedestrians struck
A police release from Friday:
On May 28, at 5:56 p.m., officers responded to a pedestrian / vehicle collision at the intersection of Morris and Hollis Streets. A 40-year-old woman crossing Morris Street in a marked crosswalk was hit by a vehicle turning left from Hollis Street to Morris Street. She suffered minor injurres [sic] and was treated at the scene by EHS.
A 45-year-old male dirver was issued a summary offence ticket under section 125(1) of the Motor Vehicle Act for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk. This ticket carries a fine of $693.95 and four points on a driver’s license upon conviction.
And a police release from yesterday:
A 40-year-old female pedestrian was struck by a vehicle while crossing Farnham Gate Road in Clayton Park. The pedestrian was not in a crosswalk and the collision is still under investigation. The victim was taken to the hospital as a precaution and the injuries do not appear to be life-threatening.
Trade Centre Limited has inked a deal with Centerplate, a mulitnational firm based in Spartanburg, South Carolina, to operated the concession stands at the $48 NSF Fee Centre. Explains the TCL press release:
Centerplate will introduce new options, including local food and healthy alternatives, while continuing to provide traditional favourites. The transition will take place over the summer with the launch set for the fall events season in September.
“Local food and healthy alternatives,” eh? You know what would really help the local economy? Hiring a local firm. Why the heck should all the profits from the former Metro Centre concessions go straight out of town?
If TCL couldn’t hire a local firm, why couldn’t it simply do the concessions in-house? TCL makes much ado about its “world-class caterer” that provides food services in the convention centre; surely there could be some economy of scale from just expanding that operation into concessions.
In any event, where have I heard about Centerplate before? [thinking, thinking…]
The man seen in an alleged dog abuse video has been identified in a search warrant obtained by Global News.
On Thursday, it was reported the BC SPCA was investigating after receiving a surveillance video shot in an elevator of the Private Residences at Hotel Georgia in downtown Vancouver allegedly showing an unidentified man kicking a dog several times.
The man can then be seen hauling the dog by its leash as he exits from the elevator.
The search warrant issued as the result of the BC SPCA investigation and obtained by Global News on Friday identifies the man as Des Hague.
Desmond Hague is the chief executive officer of the American catering company Centerplate, Inc. which has contracts in British Columbia with BC Pavilion Corporation, the Crown Corporation responsible for operating BC Place and the Vancouver Convention Centre. According to PavCo’s 2013 financial statements, they paid $20,583,729 out to the company in the last fiscal year and in 2013.
If you’re so inclined, you can watch the video here.
But don’t worry: Hague resigned in September, and so your local healthy alternative will also be cruelty-free. Just the profits leaving town are cruel.
1. Peter MacKay
MacKay’s legacy, as Stephen Kimber sees it:
During nearly a decade in senior cabinet portfolios — justice, defence, foreign affairs — MacKay helped Stephen Harper push what was once our country far to the warriors-not-wimps, lock-em-up-and-throw-away-the-key, either-good-guys-or-terrorists side of the ideological divide.
2. Monuments to power
Every now and then I read an opinion piece that is so finely crafted that I’m a bit in awe of it. Dan Leger’s weekend piece, in which he compares the Harper government’s desire for monuments, ultimately to itself, to the monuments of dictatorial regimes, is one such piece. Writes Leger:
“It is shameful that the Liberals and the NDP have come out against building this monument at this site, and it is shameful that some in the media have done the same,” according to Employment Minister Pierre Poilievre.
“Under the strong leadership of Prime Minister Harper, we will build this monument.”
See, there’s the point. Canadians weren’t asked if they want the memorial and apparently don’t like it. But by jingles, it’s going to get built anyway because that’s what happens under the strong leadership of our prime minister.
In that quote, Leger was referring to the proposed Victims of Communism Memorial in Ottawa, but he goes on to explain that the same logic is at play with the god-awful Never Forgotten Memorial planned for Meat Cove.
3. Nova Centre and downtown rents
Mike Campbell, owner of The Carlton, includes this observation in his latest newsletter:
I got a call out of the blue today from an old friend of mine from back in the punk rock days in Ottawa. He was a musician/studio owner/bar owner/producer then. For the past probably 20 years he’s been in the commercial real estate biz in Toronto and has been instrumental in accommodating the global brands moving into Queen St. West in that city…
Anyway, he called to give me the heads up that his firm thinks Halifax is on the cusp of a major boost, heralded by the arrival of Urban Outfitters on Barrington Street, and that will mean probably dire things for businesses like mine because landlords are going to want to double — or triple — rents in the area now that the big boys are moving in in advance of the completion of all the projects currently underway downtown, including the Nova Centre across the street.
He also informed me that all his research tells him the music business is D.E.A.D. and it might never come back. His point was he thinks I should consider unloading my business while I still have a decent lease (that runs for the next few years) to some chain retailer.
Which makes me start to think that this is how these developments are actually designed to work. That the builders and the cities they build in are fully aware that these projects are murdering the independent businesses around them — like all the businesses around the Nova Centre that are getting zero help from any level of government (most noticeably the municipal one in this case) — and that the big boys will give lip-service but not much else, knowing full well that the end-game is to actually kill them on purpose so the landlords can make more money with corporate tenants once they die.
That’s a chilling thought but it sure does make a lot of sense… if you’re a greedy, uncaring prick, that is. Like most of my neighbours, I’m just trying to keep what I think is a big cultural plus for the city alive — at great personal cost — but even as stubborn as I am, I’d hate to look like an idiot when the dust settles.
In the end, it’ll be up to folks like you to prove — with your continued business — that you do want us to survive and that you do care about the existence of live music and independent restaurants in this city because if you don’t, you’ll be left with Moxys and Montanas and Outbacks and whatever else moves in to fill the vacuum. That doesn’t square with what I thought this city was about but, then again, maybe I’m dead wrong and have wasted a large part of my life tilting at windmills. That would suck…
It’s likely the new convention centre will have a honeymoon period of a few years — maybe just one or two years — when it will attract a respectable number of conventions simply for the novelty of the place. After that, I predict, the economics of convention centres — an increase in venues, a decrease in corporate head office willingness to underwrite travel — will kick in, and the place will struggle, managers will fill the space by giving cut rates to local meetings which generate no economic impact, and the numbers behind the poor performance will be finessed and obfuscated for as long as possible until the painful truth of failure will be acknowledged. Even then, there will be deniers and excusers, apologists who abhor accountability, who will tell us the venture was worth it, no matter what the additional cost.
As for the Nova Centre, time will tell. The entire Nova Centre complex includes the convention centre, a hotel, and an office tower. No one doubts the hotel above the convention centre will be successful, although it’s interesting no operator for the hotel has been named.
The office tower is the big unknown. In November, developer Joe Ramia announced a delay in the Nova Centre project, with a new completion date of September 30, 2016, and with the convention centre opening January 1, 2017. Ramia has yet to announce a tenant for the office tower.
With inflation in the construction industry running something like 10 or 15 per cent a year, the construction delay has no doubt increased Ramia’s costs.
I have no reason to wish ill on Ramia. Good luck! Still, my sense is that Nova Centre’s not a viable project. I think he’ll fill the building by poaching existing downtown offices with the lure of, sure, a shiny new office tower, but also with lower-than-anticipated (by him) rents. I still think the province might find a way to further subsidize the project, not through an increase in convention centre rents (as has been rumoured), but rather by a sort of directed payroll rebate — Nova Scotia Business Inc. will give some giant corporation tens of millions of dollars in payroll rebates on the condition that they locate in Nova Centre.
Getting back to Campbell’s newsletter, what does the Nova Centre mean for surrounding businesses? I see it going one of two ways.
First, I’m wrong and the Nova Centre cheerleading squad has been right all along. Nova Centre will be a huge success, and we’ll have men with briefcases walking all around town, dropping money everywhere and so falling in love with the place they move their families here and establish billion dollar headquarters for their companies and all the employees make 250 grand a year and prosperity forever, amen.
This is the view of Campbell’s real estate friend, and evidently of the owners of the buildings around the Nova Centre, who have evicted tenants like Strange Adventures and Night Magic in order to renovate for anticipated higher rents, and, in the case of the old Seahorse, have already increased rents. With higher rents, it’ll be possible for a couple of the Argyle Street bars to survive, but only by catering to the men with briefcases across the street. They’ll be packed on weekends, when conventions are booked, but not through the week, so drink prices will have to soar, locals won’t want to pay for them, and the street will be dead on weekdays and filled with out-of-towners on weekends. The night life zone in Halifax will move to the north end, and Argyle will become a sterile zone.
Or, I’m right, and the convention centre goes bust. With rents raised in anticipation of prosperity forever, amen, the locally owned businesses have all been chased out, but the big chains stay away because there’s no business to attract. Argyle Street becomes one of those sad pathetic streets we see around all failed convention centres — a ghost town in stark relief because of all the shiny new stuff and fancy brickwork.
In short, Argyle Street has already been set up to die. Now we just watch it play out.
4. Cranky letter of the day
Recently, I got quite a surprise when a little boy came to my door and told me I was getting one of the new postal boxes. Canada Post did not notify me.
I just found out because the neighbour who was assigned the box contacted Canada Post and asked to have it relocated because they want to erect a swing set on the designated spot. Canada Post was happy to accommodate them, even though it meant moving the box to my property, not notifying me and digging up my yard.
Apparently, erecting a swing set is a better reason to relocate one of the new postal boxes than problems with traffic, parking, poor visibility, garbage, noise and vandalism. I advise all residents who’d like postal boxes relocated to contact Canada Post and mention the magic words “swing set.” This worked for my neighbour, so it should work for others as well.
Marilyn LeBlanc, Halifax
Grant Committee (1pm, City Hall)—the committee will approve $300,000 in arts grants.
Tantallon asphalt plant (7pm, St. Margarets Bay Centre)—this is a public meeting too hear input about a proposal by Scotian Materials to amend planning rules to allow the company to build an asphalt plant near Little Indian Lake, on the site marked with the red box on the map above. Details here.
No public meetings.
In the harbour
Asian Emperor, car carrier, Fawley, England to Autoport
NYK Meteor sails to sea
First day of June and I turned the space heater on in my office.