“Nova Scotia’s 9,300 public school teachers got their first look at the latest contract offer from the province Tuesday with union leaders telling them it was ‘the best deal that was available,'” reports Michael Gorman for the CBC:
The four-year deal is worth an extra $60 million, but it was given a lukewarm reception, at best, from teachers who learned of its details during a conference call with the Nova Scotia Teachers Union.
The offer doesn’t change the plan for the long-service award, which is the benefit paid out upon retirement for existing teachers. Anyone hired after July 2015 is not eligible for the benefit.
The deal also changes the way the three per cent wage increase is paid out.
The wage freeze would last 20 months instead of 24 months. By moving up when the hikes come, the result is an increase of $17.2 million for salary over four years, teachers were told during the conference call.
The entire contract proposal is at the link. Commentary on it is below, under Views.
“An ‘opioid prescribing culture’ fuelled by doctors who doled out ‘crazy amounts’ of ineffective narcotics, and the pharmaceutical companies that sell the drugs, bear a share of the blame for Nova Scotia’s drug epidemic, according to physicians quoted in a new study,” reports Chris Lambie:
“‘It is sad to see that people have to go to methadone treatment because they were put on narcotics in the first place for no justifiable reason,’ (says one doctor),” according to a first draft of the study.
Many of the docs interviewed for the study “had serious concerns about today’s narcotic-seeking and opioid-prescribing culture in primary care,” it says.
“Why are we using opiates?” says yet another doctor quoted in the study. “They don’t work. The only reason why we use them is because (drug companies) keep giving us free suppers … those guys have infiltrated the whole medical system.”
This article is behind the Examiner’s paywall, and so available only to paid subscribers. Click here to purchase a subscription.
3. Newer accessible buses considered unsafe by riders
“By the end of March, Halifax buses will be 100 per cent of the accessible low floor (ALF) variety,” reports Examiner transportation columnist Erica Butler:
That’s an important step forward in the slow march towards equal access for those of us with mobility challenges. Put that milestone next to the recent beta-testing of a new stop announcement system, and Halifax Transit appears to be making real progress in accessibility.
But unfortunately, some of our new accessible buses are not as accessible as they appear. About 40 per cent of the new ALF buses, all those purchased since 2012, have a restraint system for chairs and scooters that some riders are describing as unsafe.
This article is behind the Examiner’s paywall and so available only to paid subscribers. Click here to purchase a subscription.
The federal government has issued an “advanced procurement notice” for $50 million worth of renovations and reconstructions of the Old Armoury on North Park Street:
Description of the Project
The work is for Phase 2 of the heritage rehabilitation of exterior walls of the North Park Armoury, which includes selective replacement of exterior stonework of the north, east and south walls, as well as remaining part of the west wall. The North Park Armoury is a federally designated “Classified” heritage building and part of a National Historic Site.
Description of the Services
The North Park Armoury rehabilitation project Phase 2 includes design services for the following Scope of Work:
• Rehabilitation of exterior walls, which includes selective replacement of exterior stonework of the north, east and south walls as well as remaining part of the west wall. Construction documents for rehabilitation of the central part of the west wall have been completed during Phase 1;
• Structural roof reinforcement and replacement of the roof shingles;
• Ground level concrete slab and other concrete walls repairs excluding perimeter foundation wall;
• Heritage conservation of windows;
• Rehabilitation of integral building systems (e.g. electrical, mechanical, fire safety, communications);
• Functional interior fit-up and renovations to meet the operational requirements.
• Abatement of hazardous materials;
• Force Protection upgrades;
• Seismic study and design provisions;
• Accessibility design upgrades;
• Design upgrades to comply with the current Building Code where appropriate considering the Heritage aspect of the building.
The estimated construction cost is in the order of $50,000,000.00.
It is anticipated that this procurement will be initiated in early 2017. This is conditional on the project receiving approval to proceed by the DND.
Fifty million dollars is a lot of money. It’s the order of magnitude of the cost of the new library or a four pad arena. I’m not necessarily saying we shouldn’t spend the money on the Armoury… but consider that the cost of rehabbing the Khyber, which arguably has as much if not more historic value, has been estimated at a relatively modest $4 million. Maybe the Save the Khyber folks should play up the military angle — it’s where closeted gay sailors hung out, or maybe some admiral sunk a ship and drank his sorrows away at the Khyber, or whatever.
There’s big money in celebrating the military. You can’t even question it, as no doubt the responses to this post will demonstrate.
5. Students and development
“Despite concerns about rowdy students from a handful of nearby residents, Halifax regional council approved a residential development proposed for Coburg Road on Tuesday,” reports Zane Woodford for Metro:
[T]he main concern that emerged from would-be neighbours was who they believe will live in the building: students.
“I’ve had a lot of student neighbours over the years, and they’ve gone from the sublime to the ridiculous,” Meredith Annett, who lives on Larch Street, told council. “And there is a lot of ridiculous out there and let me tell you, when you’ve got it next to you, it’s really not fun.”
Catherine Coady lives behind the site, and said she’s concerned about noise levels in a neighbourhood that already has a large student population.
“I feel we should be concentrating on having families come to the south end, not transient people,” she said.
Only councillor Lindell Smith voted against the project.
6. Nova Scotia enters the early 20th century
The province yesterday announced a small change in liquor regulation:
Effective today, Jan. 24, restaurant patrons will be able to order up to two alcoholic drinks without ordering food. Until now, customers had to order food to be served an alcoholic drink or move to the restaurant’s designated lounge area, if one existed.
I’ve always found provincial liquor regulations bizarre. Soon after moving to Halifax in 2004, I met with some friends at a restaurant for a post-event drink. Nope, couldn’t happen unless we ordered a meal. Another time, on Good Friday, I popped into a tavern for a mid-afternoon beer; the friendly bartender put a soiled, half-eaten hamburger in front of me “in case the liquor inspector comes in,” because it was illegal to have a beer without a meal on Good Friday (they did away with that rule a few years ago, but still).
The rule change has an immediate positive effect on one business, reports Yvette d’Entremont for Metro:
Being able to serve alcohol to patrons who don’t order food is “a game changer” for eateries like Riot Snack Bar in Halifax.
“This is actually a game changer for us…We’re a brand new restaurant whose business is primarily at night,” Riot co-owner Nicole Tufts said in an interview Tuesday.
“We’ve had to sometimes turn away large groups of people who just want to come in for a drink. It’s going to change everything for us because now we can just invite those people in.”
Tufts goes on to make an important point: the liquor rules have led to big box drinking establishments, and the concentration of bars downtown. If we had more dispersed options for people to meet for a beer or two, it would encourage neighbourhood sociability without the crazed drunken riotous atmosphere that can sometimes dominate the downtown bar scene.
In any event, Riot Snack Bar is on Quinpool Road, which has long needed rezoning to allow neighbourhood pubs. With all the construction going on in the corridor, it’s time for Halifax council to re-visit that issue.
1. Teachers and inclusion
Parker Donham points to a clause in the proposed teachers contract that deals with inclusion of students with special needs:
This tentative agreement creates an independent Commission to study and make recommendations on inclusive education. This Commission, which is funded by the Department and the NSTU, will study how inclusion has been implemented in Nova Scotia, review best practices throughout the world, and provide recommendations related to funding, resources and resource allocation and accountability, professional development, alignment of initiatives, and such other matters as the Commission deems appropriate. Further, the Commission will make recommendations regarding a mechanism for future regular reviews of inclusive education.
The commission will include one person appointed by government, one appointed by the union, and a chair jointly agreed upon. Affected children will be excluded, along with their parents and organizational advocates. It’s the education system’s equivalent of letting building inspectors make final decisions about the accessibility of public places.
The peculiar evil of segregated schools is that they robs all children—the able bodied and nimble witted as much as those facing physical and intellectual obstacles—of the lessons of humility, empathy, and discernment that come from close experience with the full range of human abilities. Inclusion is the best way for classrooms to instil the grace required for a compassionate citizenry. The meek may not inherit the earth, but they have much to teach us, and we are all the better for absorbing those lessons.
2. Cranky Letter of the Day
Has anyone noticed lately that all our big chainstores have started multiple buying? Did you also notice that unless you buy two, you do not get the sale price?
Superstore started the bandwagon with bread and now most items in the store are priced the same way. Sobeys quickly followed the leader and now Shoppers. Lawton’s is the only store that one loaf of bread is a sale price. Needless to say that is where I get it.
They call it multiple savings for families. Personally I resent this. I call it greed.
Whatever happened to compassion for seniors? I worked 30 years and I paid all my taxes, never drawing on the system. I am now retired and my husband is in the nursing home. Do not need multiple buying; do not have the room to store it. Our children are all grown and out of the home.
I hear Superstore and Sobeys have a special day for discounts. Do they have one for seniors? I know Lawton’s has seniors’ day with 20 per cent off, even the sale items.
I recognize Murphy’s and some others businesses have a seniors’ discount at least once a week. But what about big businesses? Please don’t forget the senior. We also feel the pinch with reduced income.
I challenge big business to rethink what they are doing. I would love to hear if anyone else has noticed and has an opinion.
Sandra Rashed, Charlottetown
Heritage Advisory Committee (3pm, City Hall) — an unusually busy meeting for the committee, including:
The subject property is highly significant for its association with the reconstruction efforts of the Halifax Relief Commission after the 1917 Halifax Explosion…
Federal council appointed the Halifax Relief Commission (HRC) to provide relief to citizens affected by the explosion. The HRC contracted town planner Thomas Adams from Edinburgh, Scotland and the Ross and MacDonald architectural firm from Montreal, Quebec to build homes in the old Richmond district of Halifax. Adams redesigned 325 acres of land in North End Halifax, applying principles of the Garden City Movement. The new neighbourhood featured improved roads, high-quality design, and public open spaces. Ross and MacDonald provided a variety of designs for single dwelling units. The Ross and MacDonald designs were mainly constructed in the Richmond district using Hydrostone; however, similar homes were constructed outside the district using wood materials.
Beatrice Alice Lloy, known as Alice, was the daughter of Annie (Wright) Leedham. Annie lost her home on Windmill Road due to the explosion. The HRC offered to construct a Ross and MacDonald home for Annie on Windmill Road. However, correspondence between Annie and the HRC indicates that she chose to build the house closer to her daughter on Hawthorne Street. Annie was the sister of the famous businessman, George Wright. In his will, George left $5,000 to both his sister and niece. Research suggests that Annie used some of her inheritance to build the home on Hawthorne Street.
In MacGregor’s case:
The lot was originally part of a larger tract of land, known as the “Gascoigne Lands”, which was purchased in 1885 in a public auction. Approximately 7 acres of the lands were purchased by Stephen Hesler in 1906. Shortly after, Hesler subdivided the property and Hawthorne Street was constructed. By December, 1906, Hesler sold the lot to John Bremner. The lot underwent a series of land transactions, but by 1918, the deed indicated a house was present on the property. Although it cannot be confirmed, documentation suggests the house was present at the time of the Halifax Explosion. Therefore, the timeframe for the construction of the house can be narrowed down to between 1909 and 1917.
The house … is an excellent example of the Arts and Crafts architectural style which is rare in Dartmouth. Only one other registered heritage building of the Arts and Crafts architectural style can be found in Dartmouth, at 280 Portland Street. The house at 59 Hawthorne Street has many characteristic elements of the style including a wood framed building with wooden shingle cladding, a medium pitched gabled roof with generously overhanging eaves, decorative brackets, and a covered front porch.
It appears, but cannot be documented, that MacGregor’s house was designed by famed architect Andrew Cobb. The photos above are of the interior of the house.
• Also in Dartmouth, Christ Church wants to register the Christ Church Cemetery on Victoria Road:
The parcel of land where the cemetery is now located was part of the original town plot for Dartmouth. The northerly limit of the town was known as the “North Range,” a rocky elevation, which extended over to the Christ Church cemetery. In the 1780s, before the lands became the Christ Church Cemetery, they were used by families of the Nantucket Whaling Company as the “Old Quaker Burying Ground.” The 1878 map of the Town of Dartmouth indicated that the cemetery was once known as the “Episcopal Cemetery.” Council minutes from the Town of Dartmouth first mention the cemetery in 1882. Over the years, the cemetery was expanded several times.
A number of significant people of local history are interred in the Christ Church Cemetery including businessmen, politicians, victims of the Halifax Explosion and a memorial for a Titanic Victim.
• Halifax Grammar School wants to expand its operation but keep its historical registration.
Public Open House (6pm, St. Margaret’s Centre) — the proposed Tantallon asphalt plant. Deets here.
Western Common Advisory Committee (6:30pm, Prospect Road Community Centre) — an update on the Nicholas Lake Trail behind the community centre, which seems to be progressing as planned.
Also, how is it that I’ve never heard of the Masthead News before today? It is, its website explains, “a community newspaper that has been in service for 27 years. [Although the Masthead’s masthead says 28 years.] The printed version of the paper covers the St. Margaret’s Bay area of Nova Scotia including the communities and corridors of Chester, Tantallon, Hammonds Plains Road, the St. Margaret’s Bay Road (Hwy #3) to the edge of Bayers Lake in Halifax, and to Indian Harbour along Peggy’s Cove Road.” It looks like the Masthead mostly publishes contributed copy, events listings, and feel-good news, exactly as you would expect from such a publication. I notice Scotian Materials, proposer of the Tantallon asphalt plant, is an advertiser.
Anyway, committee member Wayne Shellnutt draws our attention to the December 7 issue of the Masthead, which contains an article about a new bridge on the Old Stage Road crossing Nine Mile River. I haven’t been out there in a couple of years, and I don’t recall that the old bridge (“old” meaning 1980s-era) was in bad condition, but all the same, I’m glad some attention is being paid to trail upkeep. Now if only someone could do something about the swamp on the east end of the trail, just past the golf course in Goodwood.
Public Information Meeting (7pm, Port Wallis United Church, Dartmouth) — proposed rezonings of Port Wallace lands. I’ve never quite understood how this development worked its way through the process with no significant (that I know of) opposition.
Public Accounts (9am, Province House) — unnamed bureacrats (the best kind for this sort of thing) from the Departments of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal (can we please change the name back to Public Works?) and Health and Wellness will be hauled in to be asked about p3s, presumably in relation to a new hospital.
Nucleophiles (1:30pm, Chemistry Room 226) — Rylan Lundgren will speak on “Copper-Mediated Oxidative Cross-coupling Reactions of Carbon Nucleophiles.” Refreshments next door at Room 225 before the lecture, and boy will you need them.
Oceans Management (7pm, Potter Auditorium, Rowe Building) — “Planning for the Oceans of Tomorrow: Can Lessons Learned from Rhode Island be Applied in Nova Scotia?” Former MP Megan Leslie, now with the WWF (the wildlife folks, not the wrestlers, but you never know with Leslie) will introduce a panel comprising Jennifer McCann, from the University of Rhode Island Coastal Resources Center; and Grover Fugate and Dave Buetel, both from the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council.
Refugee Crisis (7pm, Room 104, Weldon Law Building) — Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, will speak on,“Solving the Global Refugee Crisis”.
The White Sheik (8pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery) — A screening of Federico Fellini’s 1951 film. IMdB gives the plot summary:
Moments after the newlywed couple of the fastidious office employee Ivan and his young and pure wife Wanda arrive at a hotel in Rome for their honeymoon and a formal meeting with Ivan’s uncle, the bride decides to sneak out of the room and leave unnoticed. Wanda, obsessed with the masculine “White Sheik”, her idol and hero of her favourite romantic photonovel, and tempted by his fiery invitation, she decides to actually meet him in person just to show him a painting she made. Without a doubt, 20-year-old Wanda risks a lot, however, she needs to see him in all of his glory. Instead, she will reluctantly join the cast of the photonovel, she will even get a small part too, she will be seduced by the arrogant protagonist and ultimately, confused and disappointed, she will inevitably realise that she is all alone and so far away from Rome and her husband. Perplexed by Wanda’s strange disappearance and unable to disclose the news to his family, Ivan will seek her in the streets of Rome.
In the harbour
5am: OOCL Antwerp, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
7am: East Coast, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from Saint John
10:30am: Elektra, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southhampton, England
Noon: ZIM Constanza, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Valencia, Spain
3:30pm: Mary, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Cagliari, Italy
9:30pm: ZIM Constanza, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for New York
Midnight: Vega Omega, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 42 from San Juan, Puerto Rico
I’ll be on The Sheldon MacLeod Show, News 95.7, at 2pm.