1. Barho family
Yesterday morning’s fire is a terrible tragedy. Police issued this release at around 11:30am:
Following this morning’s fire on Quartz Drive in Spryfield, Halifax Regional Police and Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency confirm that there are seven fatalities resulting from the incident. All deceased are believed to be young children from the same family. A woman and a man remain in hospital.
Multiple calls of a fire in a residence were received early this morning. Police and Fire personnel responded promptly, and encountered heavy fire on the first and second floors of the house. The fire was contained shortly thereafter. Our first responders collaborated to respond to the fire and we are deeply saddened by this loss.
The victims were the Barho family, who are Syrian refugees initially resettled in Elmsdale, and who recently moved to Spryfield.
The Ummah Masjid And Community Center post the following on its Facebook page:
Please pray for this family, for the father to survive, for the wife to be ok soon, for these little kids to Rest In Peace.
Their funeral will be held at the Ummah Mosque as soon as we get the bodies released. Will keep you updated.
Abdullah, he was only 4 months old.
Rana, she was 3 years old.
Hala, she was 4 years old.
Ghala, she was 8 years old.
Mohammed, he was 10 years old.
Rola, she was 12 years old.
Ahmed, he was 15 years old.
Because many friends are willing to donate any money that goes toward the family afterwards, it was decided to proceed with a go fund me campaign. Please follow the link below, spread the word and share the link with friends.
Please tap to donate
Imam Abdallah Hussein
The parents are Ebraheim and Kawthar Barho; Ebraheim is badly burned and is “fighting for his life after apparently trying in vain to save his children.”
This CBC article has photos of the children.
I can’t imagine the pain for Kawthar Barho, the neighbours, the first responders, the broader community… it’s a horrible, horrible thing.
2. Sexual abuse
I’m getting bombarded with email about the allegations of sexual and other abuse at Shambhala International. Some tell me I shouldn’t write about it unless I familiarize myself and practice Shambhala teachings, which is an utterly absurd sentiment. Others are of the “yes, but what about…” variety.
It’s apparent that the community is in crisis.
There are also at least two more publicly published letters — one from Mipham Mukpo’s council, and one from Diana Mukpo, Trungpa’s widow. Interestingly, the council says it hasn’t heard from Mipham Mukpo in eight months.
Sort of relatedly, I’m a member of a couple of Facebook groups from Catholic schools from my childhood. I don’t much participate in them, mostly just watch. One of them — the page for my parochial school — started discussing the sexual abuse allegations in the diocese, and the school actually tried to shut down the group. The group’s moderator prevailed with Facebook, but the incident was telling, I think. The conversation continued. I should add, most on the group are devoted Catholics (I am not), and seem sensibly progressive in their attitudes.
Anyway, last week the Catholic Diocese of Richmond (Virginia) published a list of priests who have had credible allegations of sexual abuse levied against them. The publication of the list comes just before what is expected to be a much larger list made in expected indictments from the Virginia Attorney General’s office.
At least four priests on the diocese’s list were at my parish when I was a kid. One of them went on to become a bishop. People in the Facebook group are openly saying that a fifth priest (one I quite remember) was also an abuser, as was a lait person associated with the church. I was never the target of abuse or any other bad behaviour, and never knew it was directed at others around me, but I see now the pain and anger in people who I knew when we were kids.
I say burn it all down. I know this goes against doctrine, but there’s nothing particularly sacred about the Catholic Church or the Shambhala organization. There are undoubtedly good and worthwhile things associated with both organizations, but those good and worthwhile things can be carried forward without the perverse institutional structures that harboured and covered up sexual abuse.
Figure out how to do good and worthwhile things without carrying the institutional baggage.
3. Yarmouth ferry
“The company the Nova Scotia government is paying to run a ferry service to Maine has signed a $1.3-million lease with the Town of Bar Harbor to use its ferry terminal for the next five years,” reports Jean Laroche for the CBC:
Bay Ferries will pay Bar Harbor a minimum of $264,000 a year to lease the terminal, which was last used a decade ago.
Nova Scotia taxpayers are on the hook to upgrade the facility, fix the dock and build a new loading ramp — but the company won’t discuss those plans and has asked the province to keep quiet about them, too.
Gotta keep those ferry dock plans secret for competitive reasons — some other ferry company might land a $10 million annual contract with the province and start running a second ferry to Bar Harbor that competes with the Bay Ferries ferry.
4. Prison deaths
A prisoner named Calvin Kenny has died unexpectedly in the Atlantic Institution in Renous, New Brunswick. No further details are available at this time.
I’m also hearing there was a death of a prisoner in solitary confinement at the Springhill prison; I have no further details on that, either.
5. Keith Colwell went to Tasmania
And got his photo in the Tasmanian press.
6. Common Roots
“Halifax’s Common Roots Urban Farm is looking to move from its current spot at Robie Street and Bell Road to a green space by the Bicentennial Highway at Bayers Road,” reports Anjuli Patil for the CBC:
“Once that site is approved by city council, if that can happen, then I’m going to be really relieved and excited,” said Jayme Melrose, the farm’s business developer. “I think that it’s a good site, I think it will be a surprisingly good site.”
Melrose said Bi-Hi Park is an ideal location because it’s close to some of the farm’s users in the Fairview and Clayton Park neighbourhoods as well as MetroWorks — a new partner organization for the farm.
Still, the park isn’t big enough for the whole garden. There are currently 200 plots at the location by the Halifax Infirmary.
“We’re going to have to cleave into a few different pieces, but it’s big enough to hold our headquarters. So we’ll be able to have a gathering place and our education market gardens there,” Melrose said.
I think that’ll work for the farm. I like that it’s in that neighbourhood.
Here’s what is probably an unpopular view: Bi-Hi Park and the adjoining block (which holds 10 houses which would’ve obviously needed to have been expropriated and razed) between the two arms of the on- and off-ramps of the BiHi should’ve been the site of the new Mumford Terminal. It’s right next to the rail line, so the terminal could’ve also served as a commuter rail stop. Additionally, the site is well placed to serve the Bayers Road buses, lots of people living nearby in social housing, and all of Fairview.
But the decision to rebuild the Mumford Terminal right where it is across from the Halifax Shopping Centre has already been made, so my probably unpopular view won’t be considered.
7. Lake Banook development appeal
Jeff Weatherhead has lost his challenge to the Harbour East – Marine Drive Community Council’s approval for the development of an eight-storey building at 307 Prince Albert Road (at the corner of Glenwood Avenue, the site of the former funeral home across from the Superstore).
Weatherhead, a lawyer who lives in the neighbourhood, appealed the Council’s decision to the Utility and Review Board. Yesterday, the UARB published a decision dismissing Weatherhead’s appeal. You can read the decision here.
8. No Black people in the Black neighbourhood
Speaking of buildings looking nothing like the renderings that promote them…
Joseph Arab has submitted an application to the city to build a 16-storey apartment building behind Victoria Hall on Gottingen Street. The building will face Creighton Street.
No matter what you think of the proposed development, can we all agree that the person/persons who drew up the renderings for this proposal need to do a better job?
This proposed development is a literal stone’s throw from Uniacke Square, and on Creighton Street, a historically Black neighbourhood that still is home to many Black people, and yet the three renderings presented to the city for consideration show 10 people, all of whom are white; nary a Black person in sight.
This is not a mistake: the development is being marketed towards a certain demographic, and that demographic evidently does not include the Black people who actually already live in the neighbourhood. Black people are unwelcome.
“The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), self-described as “an independent, not-for-profit organization that provides essential information on Canada’s health systems” issued its latest report on Canadian physicians earlier this month,” writes Richard Starr:
The report provides detailed data on, among other things, how many doctors there are and how much they are paid.
Given that those two issues have been prominent in the political debate that’s been swirling in Nova Scotia ever since the Liberal campaign promise of a family doctor for everyone, the latest data from CIHI should be of considerable interest, especially for opposition politicians.
On physician supply, CIHI reports that in 2017 there were 256.6 physicians per 100,000 population in Nova Scotia, the highest ratio of any province, and significantly above the national average of 234.4. But in terms of fulfilling the election promise, the numbers are moving in the wrong direction. In 2013, when the McNeil Liberals made the ill-considered commitment, the ratio was even higher – 260.9 doctors for every 100,000 people.
As previously reported, the “family docs for all” was one of three big health care promises from the Liberals in 2013. Another one that has come back to haunt them is the replacement of nine district health authorities with one large one. Two years ago, before the 2017 provincial election, the jury was still out on how that would work out. But post-election, dire predictions that centralization would cause all kinds of problems seem to be coming true.
The amalgamation robbed attention from the deterioration of front line service, evident in the increase in those lacking access to a regular health care provider. And it has not delivered on the promise to reduce Nova Scotia’s historically bloated health administration costs. I wrote about this chronic problem back in 2015 as the Liberals were embarking upon their misbegotten health care centralization voyage.
Audit and Finance Standing Committee (Wednesday, 11am, City Hall) — minor issues on the agenda.
Community Planning and Economic Development Standing Committee (Thursday, 10am, City Hall) — the Bus Stop Theatre is looking for government assistance:
[T]he Bus Stop Theatre Cooperative proposes a five year project that will entail the purchase of the properties in question, as well as the expansion of its facilities to include a new second performance space, two new rehearsal/gathering halls and new office space for arts organizations and non-profits. This project will require funding support from all levels of government and the private sector. The first and critical phase of this project is the purchase of the properties before the end of this year.
Also, Lake Banook will host the 2022 World Sprint Canoe Championships, and so a group called Canoe ’22 is looking to upgrade the various racing facilities on and near the park. The unsigned letter to the committee reads:
To improve the already highly regarded but dated Lake Banook competition course (Field of Play) and Back of House Facilities (surrounding shoreline areas of Lake Banook). To rival and exceed the best water sport facilities in the World.
We are thinking of this planning project the way we would think if we were building a stadium. The project will include infrastructure scope that covers the entire area around the lake:
- Race course: buoy system, start lines, start towers, return lane
- Parks: Grahams Grove Park, Birch Cove Park, Oakwood Park
- Buildings: judges tower, annex
- Power and Information Technology – wifi, fibre network, media network, power, video distribution and presentation
- Spectator area on Prince Albert Road
- Medal presentation area
Public Information Meeting – Case 21880 (Thursday, 7pm, South End Baptist Church, 60 Hastings Drive, Dartmouth) — Application by T.A. Scott Architecture and Design Limited requesting to enter into a development agreement for two six-storey mixed-use buildings at 358-364 Portland Street, Dartmouth, and to rezone lands and enter into a development agreement for one four-storey residential building at 36 A Rodney Road, Dartmouth. Case website.
Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, Province House) — Does anyone care anymore? Isn’t the whole point to make us not pay attention? In any event, they’ll be talking about some things IWK.
No public meetings.
Fungal Hydrophobin self-assembly has a basis in shared structural features (Wednesday, 4pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — Calem Kenward will talk.
The Memorialist: Keynote Address (Thursday, 7pm, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — from the listing:
…a performance that accompanies the exhibition The Memorialist by D’Arcy Wilson. Departing from the lecture hall as a traditional site of knowledge exchange and academic research, Wilson employs the podium to deliver a lecture about the first public zoo in North America: Andrew Downs’ Zoological Gardens. Yet, facts break down into storytelling, oscillating between truth and whimsy, while addressing Andrew Downs’ early ideals of wildlife conservation. The hour-long PowerPoint is comprised of imagery and new media created and collected by Wilson, that laments the colonial mistreatment of nature, presenting narratives of conflicting care and harm that fueled the artist’s research.
Free admission, limited seating. Reception with cash bar to follow in the Gallery, with a community welcome to Laura Ritchie, Director/Curator of MSVU Art Gallery. Facebook event here.
In the harbour
Just one ship today:
15:30: Glorious Leader, car carrier, sails from Autoport for parts unknown. (Unknown to me, but probably it’s heading to that Autoport down in Rhode Island. On my long list of things to do is to get a regular itinerary for the car carriers.)
I’ll be on the Sheldon MacLeod Show, News 95.7, at 2pm.
We have quite a few articles in the mix for the next few days. One of those is my own sprawling story, which I’ve been working on since New Year’s Day; I’m hoping to get it published tomorrow morning, but I’ve said that before…
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