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“Nova Scotia NDP president Bill Matheson and vice-president Judy Swift have both stepped down from their positions with the Party’s executive,” reports Jacob Boon for The Coast:
Although she strongly believes in the party’s direction, its caucus and “an exceptional group of MLAs,” Swift writes that she no longer has confidence in their leader.
“His focus on what he believes to be a ‘mission’—which might otherwise be a good characteristic—has become a liability which blinds him to his own shortcomings and hypocrisy,” she writes. “It has led him to inhabit a Trump-like world of alternate facts.”
“It is a very serious impugning of character and motivation, in her view of me,” [Burrill] says of Swift’s Donald Trump comparison. “It is not a view I share of her. I think she dedicates a great deal of herself to our party and I’m one of many people who appreciate it.”
2. Terry Izzard
“The brother of a man [Terry Izzard] who was shot to death in Halifax last year insists he might have survived the gunfire, but paramedics were held back by police officers who wanted to protect the crime scene,” reports CTV:
A video has surfaced showing police officers arguing with nearby residents shortly after the shooting. Witnesses are seen yelling at officers who are trying to secure the scene.
“There was a delay because it’s an active crime scene. There’s shots fired, Miss,” the officer tells the woman.
“Your job is to protect and serve. What are you doing right now? All you’re doing is serving paperwork,” the woman is heard shouting back at the officer.
Phillip [Izzard] believes, if the ambulance wasn’t blocked off, Terry might still be alive.
“(Officers) were negligent that night. All they were worried about was the crime scene,” says Phillip.
Const. Dianne Penfound of Halifax Regional Police says that is “100 per cent not true,” as their members were already administering first aid when paramedics arrived. Penfound says paramedics were ordered to proceed immediately to the scene.
3. Remember the pedestrian who was killed in 2011?
A few weeks ago, a concrete barrier went up partially across Coburg Street where it meets Spring Garden Road. That’s a (crappy) photo of it above; here’s a map of the location:
The concrete barrier was placed in the road because the natural path that pedestrians take going eastward from Dalhousie University to the shopping district of Spring Garden Road — or, importantly for this discussion, westward from Spring Garden Road towards Dalhousie University — put pedestrians in great danger. While the general path of pedestrians is either west-to-east or east-to-west, at the exact spot, they’re travelling either south-to-north or north-to-south. On the map below, the black dotted lines are the sidewalks:
I walk this route about once a week. It’s very heavily travelled by pedestrians — hundreds an hour. Before the barrier was put in the street, pedestrians had no safe way of crossing the street. There was no obvious “corner” to cross at, and cars heading west on Coburg Street intending to turn right on Robie Street zoomed right across the pedestrian path without pausing. This was a slight variation of the problematic “channelized right turns” that Erica Butler wrote about in June.
The new barrier solves the problem completely. Drivers who want to turn right on Robie continue on up to the light and turn right, and pedestrians cross in safety. Good job, city!
But something has been nagging at me for the last five years about this intersection.
Above, I’ve been writing about this location as the intersection of Coburg and Spring Garden Roads, but it’s hard to say where each street ends and the other begins. If you reframe the intersection a bit, you might be able to say it’s the intersection of Coburg Road and Edward Street, or at least near the intersection of Coburg Road and Edward Street. The “near” is important.
Back in 2011, a 63-year-old woman was killed near that intersection. The city’s new website is unnavigable, and I can’t now find the police release about the incident, but here’s how Aly Thomson, then working for Metro, reported it:
A 63-year-old woman was struck by a car and killed yesterday afternoon at an intersection on Coburg Road.
Shortly before 3:30 p.m., a black Toyota collided with a woman as she was crossing from north to south on Coburg near Edward Street, said police spokesman Const. Brian Palmeter.
He said the victim, who could not be identified, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Palmeter confirmed the driver of the vehicle is female, but didn’t give an age.
Police gathered statements from a number of witnesses. As of press time, a decision hadn’t been made on whether charges will be laid.
There were no visible marked crosswalks at the intersection where the accident took place.
“A crosswalk can be either marked or unmarked. So what we will do in the course of our investigation … is determine whether or not she was in an unmarked crosswalk,” Palmeter said.
At the scene, a black hat and black reusable grocery bag were found lying on the ground next to the driver’s car.
Several accident reconstruction officers were also on hand.
The woman “crossing from north to south on Coburg near Edward Street” confuses me. It confused me when it happened, and it confuses me now.
I haven’t been able to let this incident go. Wherever the woman was struck, the police were obviously confused as to whether she was struck in an unmarked crosswalk or not. So confused that they closed the intersection for a few hours and sent investigators out with tape measures to draw maps and to try to figure it out.
It now occurs to me that the natural pedestrian path now blocked by the concrete barrier was where the woman was struck, and that location didn’t nicely fit into the cops’ (or the Motor Vehicle Act’s) definition of an unmarked crosswalk, but neither did it fit into the definition of jaywalking.
In 2014, I called the cops and asked for more information, then wrote this:
On January 24, 2011, there was a tragic accident at the corner of Coburg Road and Edwards Street. A 63-year-old woman walking across Coburg from north to south was hit by a vehicle, and killed. That day, police went out to measure the street, to determine if the unfortunate woman was within the “unmarked crosswalk” or not, and whether the driver should face charges. As police spokesperson Brian Palmeter told Metro:
A crosswalk can be either marked or unmarked. So what we will do in the course of our investigation … is determine whether or not she was in an unmarked crosswalk.
The Nova Scotia Drivers Handbook explains that:Every intersection has a crosswalk. Many are unmarked. Drivers must yield to pedestrians at all intersections, whether crosswalks are marked or unmarked.
The Nova Scotia Motor Vehicle Act defines unmarked crosswalks in exacting legalistic terms:(h) “crosswalk” means that portion of a roadway ordinarily included within the prolongation or connection of curb lines and property lines at intersections or any other portion of a roadway clearly indicated for pedestrian crossing by lines or other markings on the surface [The part I bolded concerns “unmarked” crosswalks, and the rest of the definition concerns marked crosswalks]
I don’t know what happened in the case of the 63-year-old woman. I asked police this morning, but they haven’t yet gotten back to me.
The cops never clarified the situation for me. I think (it was three years ago, and I can’t be certain) that I filed a Freedom of Information request about it, but got nothing useful back.
I now think it’s clear that it’s hard to bring the law’s definition of an unmarked sidewalk — the prolongation or connection of curb lines and property lines — to this geography. It kind of does make sense, but it kind of doesn’t, also.
And now this concrete barrier pops up.
Again: good on the city for putting the concrete barrier there. But every time I walk by that barrier, I think of a dead woman — dead because of an ambiguity in the law, and because of bad design of the street and pedestrian path.
Nothing will bring the dead woman back. Still, when I walk through the area, I also think of Erica Butler’s article on channelized right turns, and I think of the potential for many, many more dead pedestrians because of them.
And I wonder why, after the woman was killed, the cops couldn’t simply say that there was an ambiguity in the law and a bad design of the street and pedestrian path.
I also wonder why it took nearly seven years to do something about it.
4. Then plan to destroy Dartmouth
Speaking of badly designed streets, Dartmouth councillor Sam Austin writes about a city proposal to reduce Prince Albert Road from four lanes to two lanes from Sinclair Street to the Circ — that stretch by the Superstore:
The bulk of the traffic on Prince Albert comes from the highway and Waverley/Port Wallace and continues on along Banook towards Downtown. Given that movement, what capacity or purpose are those extra two lanes from Sinclair to the highway serving? HRM’s preliminary analysis indicates they’re pretty much redundant and whether the road slims to two lanes at Sinclair or at the Superstore doesn’t make any difference. The traffic capacity in either case is basically the same.
Austin has more about the Prince Albert proposal at the link, and suggests even more changes for Prince Albert as it travels through downtown. (One suggestion Austin doesn’t make but that I will: a three-way stop sign at the corner of Victoria Road; that intersection is dangerous for pedestrians and drivers alike, and a quick stop at the location would bring a sense of place to the area.)
But what’s even more interesting is an older proposal that Austin discusses — a 1970s-era plan to make Victoria Road a superhighway:
The priority of planners and engineers following World War Two was to move cars as quickly as possible above all else. Rapid suburban growth created lots of traffic and the professionals of the time mistakenly thought adding more and more road capacity would resolve the problem. It’s become clear since that continually adding more lanes just induces more people to drive and for developers to build more car-dependent neighbourhoods farther away. The induced traffic quickly fills up new road space. We get what we build for. It’s a vicious circle and it took us decades to learn the lesson. The result is that today we have a legacy of infrastructure from 1960s-1990s that isn’t built for people and just doesn’t work very well.
To get a sense of the old City of Dartmouth’s thinking that was the norm for the time, checkout the nightmarish vision for a Victoria Road expressway (a confidential 1971 report now freely available through the municipal archives).
Imagine Victoria Road as a sunken expressway cutting across Dartmouth, demolishing half of the Flower Streets, an overpass at Thistle Street, all of the cross-streets like Cherry and Russell cut off, and a giant roundabout at the foot of Maple that, in some future phase, would have its own flyover ramps Cogswell style. Sullivan’s Pond adjacent to a spaghetti interchange of fast moving traffic? Truly an awful vision, but pretty standard thinking for the era.
Thanks goodness the City of Dartmouth didn’t have enough money to destroy itself in 1971 and the Victoria Road expressway was never built. Still, we ended up with scattered sections of roadway based on these ideas about how a city should function. The Cogswell Interchange is the most prominent local monument to the era, but Wyse Road, Alderney Drive, Prince Albert Road, and Victoria from Albro Lake to Highfield all have shades of the same. We’re passed all that now and cities around the world are rethinking how our streets are used and actively making changes to correct past mistakes. Prince Albert will never be four lanes down to Ochterloney and Alderney so why are we holding onto extra lanes that go nowhere?
I’d go further: the Expressway engineering of Victoria north of Albro Lake Road kills people. People die on that stretch of road with alarming regularity — not just pedestrians (as if they don’t matter), but also people in cars and, last year, a motorcyclist, as people are driving too fast.
And in downtown Dartmouth, Alderney Drive (and the entire Alderney Landing complex) is a mess. It’s a wind tunnel, it’s unfriendly to pedestrians, and worse of all, it’s ugly. The 1980s rebuild of the area blocked views down Queen Street to the harbour, and further north, effectively blocked pedestrian access to the waterfront (the recent addition of the railroad fence doesn’t help). I know it would cost a lot of money, but the old Dartmouth City Hall will soon be torn down anyway, and Alderney Landing is a piece of junk so should be torn down as well… let’s tear out the street and the railroad tracks and all the buildings we possibly can and start anew.
5. Convention centre
As we go to publish, Events East, which is the rebranded Trade Centre Limited, announces that the new convention centre will open December 15.
That means we’ll all be rich, rich, rich by December 16.
Also, too: no hotel. Have I mentioned the non-existent hotel?
1. Roger Taylor is wrong
I kinda get a columnist rewriting a self-serving press release: it’s easy, a simple phone call to someone who wants to plug their organization, and presto, 900 words and invites to cocktail parties where they have those little triangular sandwiches.
But in this instance, the press release is from CBRE Ltd., a real estate firm with a long list of credulous releases: “Toronto positioned for growth in 2017,” is the topmost press release on its website in late November of 2017, just as the Toronto real estate market stalls; and the rest of the releases are always upbeat, talking about the imminent riches to be made by investing in real estate right now, today. Nary a cautionary word on the CBRE site. In fact, searching for the word “caution” on the site, I found a release warning against caution: “Commodity prices and an overriding sense of caution by business executives may be delaying real estate decisions, but where there is confidence, like in the tech sector, demand is strong and competition for both new and character-filled space is as strong as it’s ever been.”
In any event, the CBRE press release Chronicle Herald business columnist Roger Taylor rewrites this morning is about how the tech industry is driving the real estate industry. Sure. And then there’s a David Letterman or Buzzfeed style Top 10 list of Fastest Growing Tech Markets for Canadian cities. Halifax is… #8! Yah, us.
But so what?
The icing on the cake, however, is where Taylor interviews Bob Mussett, CBRE’s VP for Bullshit in Atlantic Canada:
According to Mussett, one of Halifax’s winning ingredients attractive to tech companies, is still the cost to operate, which is the second lowest in the country.
“So, when the powers that be at (tech giant) Amazon, for example, look at the different components needed for their second headquarters, cost is going to be one of them,” he said.
And while other places may have compelling arguments for Amazon to build in their city, Mussett said those other places don’t offer the lifestyle and the cost base offered in Halifax and Nova Scotia.
Wait… Amazon? You mean like the Amazon that didn’t even short list Halifax on the list of 100 cities that passed muster for its second headquarters? Lemme check the date on that. Yep, published November 27, last night.
2. Michael Pickup
“The ironic thing about the fuss over the Premier’s snarky attack on the provincial auditor general is that he has the right target but the wrong issue,” writes Richard Starr, who goes on to say that Auditor General Michael Pickup’s critique of the McNeil government’s implementation of policy goals to decrease the doctor shortage was appropriate. However, continues Starr:
Whether the same can be said about the eagerness of both Pickup and his AG predecessor to implicitly question the fiscal policy objectives of successive governments is another matter. If there has been any crossing of the line into public policy it has taken place there.
Pickup and the AG before him, Jacques LaPointe, have used their office to purvey doom and gloom about Nova Scotia’s fiscal state, using selective statistics and dubious analysis to make their case. It started with LaPointe, when the NDP was in power, questioning the inter-generational ethics of public debt. It has continued with Pickup.
I wrote about Pickup’s tendency to leave out facts that would spoil his story in posts in February 2015 and again in November of 2015. As a backbench MLA in 2012 Howard Epstein challenged LaPointe’s initial foray into this territory at a meeting of the legislature’s public accounts committee in January 2012. Further details of that encounter can be found in Epstein’s book, “Rise Again: Nova Scotia’s NDP on the Rocks.”
One thing to note is that there is nothing in the Auditor General Act that mandates an overview of the province’s fiscal position. LaPointe and Pickup have taken it upon themselves to venture into territory normally occupied by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. The other thing is that other than Howard Epstein, no politician has complained about AG’s continuously raising the small “p” political issue of public debt. Indeed, when Epstein brought it up in 2012 the top Liberal at public accounts apologized to the AG for his “diatribe” and the Conservatives called for Epstein to be kicked off the committee.
City Council (Tuesday, 10am, City Hall) — I’ll be live-blogging the meeting at @hfxExaminer.
Shared Housing Public Consultation (Wednesday, 2pm and 6:30pm, Maritime Hall, Halifax Forum) — says the event listing: “Halifax Planning staff will host a meeting to discuss amendments to the Halifax Regional Municipal Planning Strategy and all applicable community municipal planning strategies and land-use by-laws to simplify, consolidate and remove barriers to the development of special care facilities.” So there.
Public Information Meeting – Case 21088 (Wednesday, 7pm, Rockingham United Church) — WSP Canada wants to rezone an approved development agreement in Rockingham.
Public Information Meeting – Case 21454 (Wednesday, 7pm, Harrietsfield Elementary School) — the city wants to build a new fire station on Old Sambro Road.
Human Resources (Tuesday, 10am, Province House) — funding for trades to be discussed.
Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, Province House) — the Auditor General gets to fend off attacks from the Liberals.
The Man of Mode (Tuesday, 7:30pm, Sir James Dunn Theatre, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — Margot Dionne directs this play by George Etherege. $15 / $10. Additional shows each evening until Saturday, and Saturday also has a 2pm matinee.
Board of Governors Meeting (Wednesday, 9am, University Hall, MacDonald Building) — the governors will discuss the Innovation Superclusterfuck Initiative.
Modeling Emergency Health Service Utilized by Young Adults with Mental Health Problems in Nova Scotia Using a Count Time-Series (Wednesday, 11:30am, MA310) — Shams Zaman will speak.
Dalhousie Jazz Ensemble (Wednesday, 12pm, Sculpture Court, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — Chris Mitchell directs.
Hydrofluorocarbon Synthesis (Wednesday, 1:30pm, Room 226, Chemistry Building) — R. Tom Baker from the University of Ottawa will speak on “Base Metal Catalysis Approaches to Greener Hydrofluorocarbon Synthesis.”
Recovering Canada’s Marine Fish and Fisheries (Wednesday, 7pm, in the auditorium named after a bank, Marion McCain Building) — Jeffrey Hutchings will talk about “Recovering Canada’s Marine Fish and Fisheries: the Roles of Science, Policy and Societal Will.”
No Such Thing as a Small Language: An Evening in Literary Translation with Sebastian Schulman (Wednesday, 7:30pm, the Khyber Centre for the Arts, Hollis Street) — a book reading and discussion on Schulman’s recently published translation of Spomenka Štimec’s Esperanto novel, Croatian War Nocturnal (Phoneme Media, 2017).
Ageing, Organizations, and Management (Tuesday, 2pm, Room LI135) — Albert Mills will discuss his new book.
Museum of Natural History
Utopia on the Tip of Your Tongue: A Jewish History of Esperanto (Tuesday, 7pm, Auditorium, Museum of Natural History) — Sebastien Schulman, PhD candidate in Jewish History at Indiana University, will speak on the Jewish history and culture of Esperanto.
In the harbour
3:30am: YM Enlightenment, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Norfolk
5:45am: Boheme, car carrier, arrives at Pier 31 from Southampton, England
Noon: Transsib Bridge, oil tanker, sails from Imperial Oil for sea
2:30pm: Boheme, car carrier, moves from Pier 31 to Autoport
6pm: Rt Hon Paul E Martin, bulker, sails from National Gypsum for sea
I don’t know if I can last through an entire council meeting today.