1. Dartmouth development to include affordable and accessible housing, but it needs help from government
Zane Woodford reports on the plans for new affordable and accessible housing development in Dartmouth that’s facing some hurdles.
The project by Affirmative Ventures, which released the design this week, will be located on Main Street, across from the McDonalds. Half of the units in the six-story, 45-unit building will rent for as much as 50% below market value. The other half will be housing for seniors. The building plans also include space for two social enterprises from Affirmative Ventures: a pet store and a café.
Affirmative submitted its plans to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) for a long-term, low interest loan through the National Housing Co-Investment Fund for new construction, but they still need support from another level of government. Project planner David Harrison says they hope to get support from the province, and are looking for about $1 million in taxes and fees to be waived.
2. Addressing racism, housing in Mayor Mike Savage’s re-election platform
Zane Woodford went to the launch of Mayor Mike Savage’s re-election campaign on Tuesday in Africville Park. Irvine Carvery, president of the Africville Genealogy Society, who introduced all the speakers at the event, said he believed this was the first campaign launch to take place in the park.
Savage is the frontrunner in the three-way race. Coun. Matt Whitman and newcomer Max Taylor are in the running, too. As Woodford reports, the only publicly-released polling done so far found 89% of decided voters support Savage.
Savage also released his platform that’s posted online. As Woodford writes, under the heading Black Lives Matters:
Savage highlights what he views as his accomplishments on addressing racism: the establishment of the city’s diversity and inclusion office; the work of Halifax Regional Police in implementing the recommendations of the Wortley report into carding; council’s recent recognition of the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent; and council’s decision to cancel the purchase of an armoured vehicle for HRP.
And on housing, Savage talked about the Housing and Homelessness Partnership with the United Way, which didn’t hit its target of 5,000 new or preserved affordable housing units in five years. At the launch, Savage said:
In addition to requiring affordable units in new construction, we will now allow back yard suites, support the conversion of under-utilized commercial space to housing, and creating a housing trust to aid community partners in building affordable options.
The Downtown Halifax Business Commission is holding a live, virtual forum with all the mayoral candidates today from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Norma Lee MacLeod will be the moderator.
3. Parents concerned about wait times, backlog at 811
Emma Davie at CBC reports on the high number of calls into the 811 system on Monday, prompting concerns from parents and politicians about the backlogs. Davie learns there were 1,704 calls made to the 811 phoneline on Monday. The same day, the Department of Health and Wellness shared on Twitter it was experiencing a high volume of calls.
Davie talks to a couple of parents who called 811 who say they’ve waited for hours to get someone on the phone at 811 or hear back. Maggie Chickness tells Davie she had to pick up her 21-month-old son from daycare. He had three symptoms of COVID-19. Chickness waited two hours to speak with someone at 811. Their son had a COVID test Saturday and tests came back negative on Sunday night. She and her husband already missed a day of work. She tells Davie, “I have so much anxiety leading up to this fall and winter to know that he probably won’t be in daycare the majority of that time, but we still have to pay for that service while we miss work.”
Davie learns 80 extra staff have been hired to work with the usual 55 employees at the 811 centre.
CBC also got the approximate average incoming calls to 811 per day in the province so far this year:
- January: 306
- February: 332
- March 1 to 8: 390
- March 9 to 31: 1,475
- April: 1,203
- May: 879
- June: 861
- July: 1,062
- August: 1,186
The Progressive Conservatives and the NDP both released statements calling for changes in the 811 system.
4. Remembering Charles Saunders
Jon Tattrie at CBC writes about Charles Saunders, the prominent Black Halifax journalist who died in May but whose passing was just made public this month.
Saunders worked at the Halifax Daily News for years, writing columns and editorials. He also wrote non-fiction books like Black and Bluenose on contemporary African-Nova Scotia life. But as Tattrie shares, Saunders had a whole other writing career:
Inside, Saunders was a symphony of swords, beasts, heroes and villains, unfolding an epic adventure of an African warrior named Imaro in a world called Nyumbani, which is Swahili for home. He first thought up the idea for Imaro in 1969 — the year he was drafted — and worked for decades on fantasy novels featuring the character. The first book was published in 1981 and reprinted in the early 2000s.
Tattrie also talks with Troy Wiggins, who lives in Memphis, Tenn. who is publisher of FIYAH. Wiggins recalls reading Saunders’ books when he was a kid, calling Saunders the “father of sword and soul.”
It was a world filled with people who could be my ancestors. I’m an African-American male and I remember feeling vividly the sensory information: how the air smelled, how the people looked, how they were very regal and how they were very human.
Wiggns started writing fantasy fiction of his own, even sending some to Saunders to read. And Saunders wrote back with some advice.
This is a lovely tribute to someone whose work really impacted so many people in so many ways.
5. Calls continue for feminist analysis at inquiry of mass shooting
Jeanne Sarson and Linda MacDonald, co-founders of Persons Against Non-State Torture (NST), write in the Nova Scotia Advocate about the continuing need for a feminist analysis in the Nova Scotia mass shooting inquiry. Sarson and MacDonald also review the “good, bad, and the ugly,” of the inquiry.
The good: The announcement on July 28 that there would be a federal-provincial inquiry into the worst mass shooting in Canadian history.
The bad: The grief of the victims’ families who had to protest and march to get that inquiry, but also reports that complaints from the gunman’s neighbours about abuse of his common-law spouse and stash of illegal guns were ignored by RCMP.
The ugly: “The misogyny this serial assaulter and gunman carried as he went raging through Nova Scotia communities for over 13 hours, killing 22 people — inflicting 13 femicides — the killing of female persons — and nine homicides — the killing of male persons.”
Sarson and MacDonald write:
A feminist analysis in the Nova Scotia mass killing inquiry includes promoting prevention opportunities to deconstruct the social and cultural patriarchal misogyny that nurtures’ male violence against women and girls. Feminists have spoken of the need to include a feminist analysis in the inquiry, noting the importance that femicides and homicides have ties to domestic violence. Prevention awareness therefore comes by naming the killing of women as femicide and making the links that mass shootings are frequently preceded by relational assaults predominately by white men against their female partners. Educational interventions beginning with children and knowledge of red flag warnings of femicidal risks relating to male violence against women and girls can help prevent such violence spilling over and harming other adults or children.
1. Lesser-known histories of Nova Scotia
I’ve been following the Historic Nova Scotia website for a bit now. It’s a great collection of stories, including lesser-known histories, from around the province, all contributed from local historians, historical societies, and museums. On Monday, I spoke with Roger Gillis, who is the director of the project, which got its start in 2018 when Gillis was president of the Council of Nova Scotia Archives. Gillis says he suggested such an app and site would be a way to raise the profile of different archives in the province. He found the platform Curatescape for the site and app. After they got some funding, the site was up and running and collecting stories. Gillis says the response has been very positive.
“A lot of the cultural heritage organizations, contributors, local historians, and academic historians have seen the value in it,” Gillis says. “It’s profiled some of those lesser-known histories. It’s attracted a following. People are coming back to see what new content we’ve developed.”
The project is slowing down a bit right now, but there are currently 219 stories on there, with more being added. There’s also an interactive map.
Gillis says they had history classes at universities who did research with students and then went on to publish stories on the site. The site/app acts as a bit of a walking tour, too. For example, there are profiles on several buildings at Sherbrooke Village on the Eastern Shore.
Sharon Murray was the project coordinator and she wrapped up her contract last week. Murray worked with the contributors, received stories and helped them with the format. She did workshops across the province to encourage contributions and was the editor for a number of the stories. The project has an advisory group with staff from the Nova Scotia Archives, Nova Scotia Museum, Beaton Institute, Centre acadien, Université Sainte-Anne, and the history department at Mount Saint Vincent.
Gillis has his own stories that he likes, including Electric City by historian Joan Dawson, The Cycling Craze in West Hants by the West Hants Historical Society, and The Circus Ship Fire from the Nova Scotia Museum.
“There is a lot of content on there, it’s hard to pick,” Gillis says.
I was going through the site again and there are histories I never knew about, including the Glace Bay Chapter of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and another story called The Tragic Storm of 1944, which is about a storm and tidal wave that landed in Port Hood, damaging the local fishery and derailing a train in Judique. That story was written by Joanne Watts at the Chestico Museum.
Another story, Taking the Cure, is about the province’s first sanatorium, which opened in 1904.
There are a number of stories of Nova Scotia women, including poet Rita Joe, Viola Desmond and Dr. Carrie Best, Anna Hamilton, who helped establish the North Shore Archives, Mi’kmaw Elder Mary Ellen Robinson, who helped thousands of Indigenous women get back Indian status that was revoked when they married non-Indigenous men, giantess Anna Swan, Dr. Maria Louisa Angwin, the province’s first female doctor, and Portia White, international opera and gospel star. There’s also an article on the history of samplers, handstitched photos of different landscapes and scenes. These samplers were made by young Nova Scotia women, but there’s one sampler made by Rachel Barrett, a young Black Nova Scotia girl. Barrett’s sampler is a rare find and features an illustration of the African School of Halifax.
Gillis says while they’re ramping down, they do want to keep the project going. He’s says they’re looking at ways to grow, find more contributors, and, of course, get more funding.
“My hope is people will see it and explore deeper,” Gillis says. “The stories only go so far. We include reference lists, too, so if there are topics they want to learn more about they can contact some of these organization that are doing the bulk of this work. There’s so much rich history to share from different perspectives and different communities. I think this will whet people’s appetites. This is a way to explore from afar.”
For about the last nine years, a group of friends and coworkers and I got together for potlucks. We do this at least once a year. The tradition started at the office where we all worked and we continued when we all stopped working there. The last time we got together was the summer of 2019. I often made dessert (I make pretty good cream puffs.)
We haven’t had a potluck this year. A couple of months ago, I suggested we have one, perhaps outside, all appropriately physically distanced, but we realized, as good and clean as we are as cooks and bakers, we didn’t want to share in a potential feast of virus.
Over the summer, I was travelling for work and at the hotels where I stayed there was no breakfast buffet service. I was given a brown paper bag and inside was a juice box, granola bar, and a pre-wrapped muffin. A couple of weeks ago, out of curiosity, I called a restaurant whose Sunday buffet I like. Turns out the buffet is closed for a little while because of concerns around COVID.
I know this is not a big priority, but COVID-19 could mean the end of the buffet. Who wants to have a breakfast sneeze muffin when there’s a pandemic going on?
Some restaurants have reduced their menu selections and closed buffets if they have them. The Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia does provide some guidelines around self-service and buffets, so it’s not like buffets are outlawed, although I’m told these guidelines have no authority anyway. Here are the guidelines around dining establishments with self-serve areas:
During the initial phases of reopening, and where allowed, consideration may be given to staff member assistance for buffets, salad bars and other self-serve areas. Also, where salad bars and buffets are permitted, they should consider putting extended sneeze guards in place. Change, wash and sanitize utensils frequently and place appropriate barriers in open areas. Add a hand hygiene station at both the start of, and end of the buffet line.
I don’t know about you, but going to a restaurant with a sneeze guard around the buffet doesn’t sound terribly appetizing. Buffets require a lot of cleaning since there are more people touching more surfaces and utensils and gathering around one area where physical distancing is tricky.
Stephanie Taylor with The Canadian Press wrote about this back in May. At that point, restaurants in Saskatchewan and Manitoba weren’t allowing buffets to open and Alberta didn’t have a timeline for when buffets in restaurants there could open again. And in Alberta in March, a bunch of doctors contracted COVID-19 from a buffet at a curling bonspiel.
And in June, the Canadian Institute of Food Safety wrote a blog about the future of buffets.
As the institute’s blog points out, there are already certain health risks around buffets, including food contamination and the risk of certain foods, like fish and poultry, moving into the Temperature Danger Zone. Restaurants may need to hire more staff to manage the cleanliness and lineups at the buffet. There’s also still some anxiety among customers about going out to restaurants at all, let alone to buffets. As the blog says:
While all of these risks of buffet-style restaurants have been known for some time, they were often accepted or overlooked by customers. The COVID-19 pandemic has now made customers acutely aware of health and safety precautions and what restaurants need to do to keep their premises safe. These food safety risks associated with buffets may not be so easy to ignore after the pandemic passes.
Restaurants with buffets will have to make some changes, like offering a cafeteria-style service with pre-crafted plates or a menu of a la carte items, or family service with larger plates of food served at one table of guests.
At least one all-you-can-eat buffet in HRM is up and running again. The Panda Buffet Chinese Restaurant opened in a new location on Main Street in Dartmouth on Sept. 11. According to its Facebook page, they’ll provide disposal gloves to customers. Masks are also to be worn when picking up the food.
Audit and Finance Standing Committee (Wednesday, 10am, City Hall) — agenda and info here.
Design Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 4:30pm) — the committee is going to get out its giant rubber stamps and slap them around like nobody’s business for the new building that will replace the old convent at North and Oxford Streets.
Community Planning and Economic Development Standing Committee (Thursday, 10am, City Hall) — more info and agenda here.
No public meetings.
Loss of function of transcription factor EB (TFEB) remodels (Wednesday, 4pm) — Purvi Tredi will speak. Contact [email protected] to receive the link to the online seminar.
Michael Crummey in conversation with Sharon Bala (Thursday, 7pm) — with readings by the finalists of the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award, Shandi Mitchell, Jaime Burnet, and Michael Crummey. Register for this Zoom webinar here.
2020 Annual General Meeting (Thursday, 5pm) — virtual meeting, info and registration here.
Marketing Through Adversity (Thursday, 11am) — webinar with Eleanor Beaton; register here.
In the harbour
06:00: X-Press Makalu, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Setubal, Portugal
08:15: MOL Emissary, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Rotterdam
10:30: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Fairview Cove from Saint-Pierre
13:00: X-Press Makalu sails for sea
14:00: Atlantic Kestrel, offshore supply ship, sails from Pier 9 for sea
15:00: YM Upsurgence, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
18:00: Ef Ava, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Argentia, Newfoundland
20:00: BBC Edge, cargo ship, sails from Pier 9 for sea
23:45: Ef Ava sails for Portland
I was working on a couple of freelance/volunteer projects the last couple of days and here are a few ways I spent some of that time:
1. Replacing the two spaces after every period (or after a question mark or an exclamation point) with one space.
2. Editing the unnecessary capitalization of random words.
3. Replacing exclamation points with periods!!!!
4. Telling people, “No, I can’t take your photo from your Facebook page or website. We need a high-resolution photo.” (One project is a print product, so we need high-resolution photos).
5. Looking for contact information on websites. You’d be surprised at the number of websites where the contact information is hidden or not there at all.