1. The “elites” justify themselves
I attended the Dalhousie Senate meeting yesterday so I could hear president Richard Florizone justify the $300,000 trip by self-styled “elites” to MIT.
In a response to questions by Senator Françoise Baylis, Florizone said the “REAP” trip was justified by… yep, the Ivany Report. Baylis also asked how a bunch of rich white guys going to MIT reflected the Ivany Report’s call for diversity; Florizone said that he and the other REAPers were going to take their new knowledge and meet with various community groups — he specifically mentioned the Black Business Initiative and, sigh, FUSION Halifax.
I can’t see the trip as anything but a junket, but if it did hold real value, wouldn’t it make more sense to send the BBI and Fusion folks directly to MIT than to have the intermediaries of John Risley and Richard Florizone? It’s like a multibillion dollar game of telephone.
Senator Letitia Meynell asked what specific university policy justified such a trip, to which Florizone replied that the trip fell under the university’s mission for “service.” He didn’t say who exactly was being served.
Florizone did say that private donors have paid about half the $300,000 travel bill.
I interviewed Florizone just as the meeting was ending, which explains the background noise on the recording below. The other reporter on the recording is Stephanie vanKampen, working for the CBC. I didn’t expect any grand insight to come out of my interview, and I didn’t get any. But here it is:
2. The Office Space Boogie
“The North End Community Health Centre announced Monday it plans to lease two floors of the Major General Donald J. MacDonald building on Gottingen Street and be fully operational by Sept. 1, 2017,” reports Anjuli Patil for the CBC.
I’m told Community Services, which now occupies most of the Donald MacDonald building, is moving about half its operation out to Bayers Road, presumably to Joe Ramia’s office complex at the old Bayers Road Shopping Centre.
It’s amazing how these things happen. This is total speculation on my part and incredibly complicated, but follow the balls here…
Way back in April of 2015, the city issued a tender for a “Corporate Accommodations Space Planning Study,” in anticipation of the expiry of the city’s lease on Duke Tower in 2020 and the then-expected city’s purchase of the old World Trade and Convention Centre, that crappy old building on Argyle Street across the street from City Hall, which will be up for grabs once Joe Ramia’s Nova Centre opens, should it ever open (I still have my doubts, but that’s another story).
Basically, the accommodations study would look at where city offices are and where they should be once all this game of musical office buildings was over. The tender was awarded to MHPM, which was supposed to produce a report by October 30, 2015. But there’s no report. I call over to City Hall every few months to shoot the shit and ask about that accommodations study, but it seems to have fallen by the wayside. I wonder if MHPM got paid for it.
I can only guess why MHPM never produced a report, but my suspicion is that as early as last year it became known that George Armoyan would for some reason jump in and buy that crappy old office building on Argyle Street. This surprised the heck out of me: “Nobody in their right mind would buy a 35-year-old office tower in a market with a 12 per cent plus vacancy rate when something like 300,000 square feet of new office space (Nova Centre, TD Bank expansion, 22nd Commerce Square, etc.) is about to come on the market,” I wrote last year. It still makes no sense to me — unless Armoyan has a for-certain tenant, like, say, the city.
I have no evidence that the city has committed to moving its Duke Tower offices across the street to the crappy old office building, but if it has, there’s a bit of a problem: the crappy old office building has 118,000 square feet of office space, while the city rents just 65,000 square feet in Duke Tower. That leaves 53,000 extra square feet to be leased by Armoyan. Again, this is speculation — but the city leases 45,000 square feet from Ramia out in the old Bayers Road Shopping Centre; what if it agreed to move those offices down to the crappy old office building so Armoyan would have a nearly full building?
Ah, but you see, that’d be sticking it to Ramia, no? We can’t have that. But what if we found a new tenant for Ramia’s Bayers Road space, like, oh, say, Community Services? Then Armoyan gets to fill his crappy old office building with city offices, and Ramia keeps his Bayers Road building full with provincial offices. Two happy developers, thanks to government leases. And that’s really the goal here — to keep developers happy right?
Maybe I’m all wet. Time will tell.
And neither here nor there, but the No Name Cafe on the ground floor of the Donald MacDonald building is the go-to place for Gottingen-area workers on a tight lunch budget.
3. Council candidates answer my two questions
Yesterday, I emailed all council candidates two questions, as follows:
Hello council candidates,
I have just two questions for all of you. I’ll print your full unedited response, no matter how long or short, on the Halifax Examiner website.
1. Will you support a living wage ordinance?
Here’s some background on a living wage ordinance written by me:
And here’s much more from Living Wage Canada:
In short, a living wage ordinance would require the city and all companies awarded city contracts to pay employees a living wage.
Feel free to respond with a simple yes or no answer, or to expound with your thoughts.
2. If elected, what single thing would you want to accomplish as councillor (or mayor)?
Again, feel free to make as short or as long a response as you please, but please limit your response to a single issue or potential accomplishment.
I realize that campaigning is an arduous process. I wish you all the best of luck, and thank you for the time and effort needed to answer these two questions.
As of this morning, eight candidates have responded. I’ve published their unedited answers here.
There’s no hurry, and candidates should take as much time as they feel they need. As the other candidates respond, I’ll update the page and make it more user-friendly
4. More bomb threats
This morning at 7:16 a.m., police received a call about a bomb threat at Cole Harbour District High School. The call was in the form of a computerized voice message. Members of Halifax District RCMP and a Halifax Regional Police K-9 team trained in the detection of explosives responded.
In consultation with the Halifax Regional School Board, the decision was made to evacuate Cole Harbour District High School to nearby Cole Harbour Place. A sweep of the school was done, and the threat was found not to be credible. Students were able to return to the school at approximately 9:30 a.m.
As a precautionary measure, members of Halifax District RCMP attended other schools in the Cole Harbour area and requested they pay particular attention to their surroundings today and contact police immediately if they see anything suspicious.
On September 26th 2016 at approx. 4:30PM a bomb threat was received for the Dartmouth Sportsplex and Dartmouth Bridge Terminal. The area was contained and Dartmouth Sportsplex with the assistance of Halifax police evacuated the complex. A search was conducted by Halifax police K9. Which revealed nothing suspicious.
Containment of the area was released at approximately 9:30 pm.
“The move to prohibit bottom fishing in two areas off the coast of Nova Scotia will allow rare coral that’s more than 1,000 years old to survive, says one expert,” reports Chris Lambie for Local Xpress:
But Canada needs to up the pace if it hopes to meet the commitment of protecting five per cent of its marine areas by 2017 and 10 per cent by 2020, said Anna Metaxas, a biological oceanographer at Dalhousie University.
“We need to move faster,” Metaxas told Local Xpress.
The previous Conservative government “was not particularly supportive of marine protected areas,” she said.
“We are only at just below one per cent,” Metaxas said. “We have to hit five per cent by the end of 2017 and then another five per cent by 2020. So (the Department of Fisheries and Oceans) has a difficult job to do, but they’re doing their best. Hopefully the government is going to put in the resources that are required.”
6. Canal Greenway Park
The city this morning issued a tender for construction of the Canal Greenway Park in Dartmouth. The tender is incredibly detailed, but is summarized as follows:
The work generally involves but is not necessarily limited to site removals and relocations; supply and installation of various landscaping features including but not necessarily limited to: crusher dust pathways, concrete sidewalk, trees and shrubs complete with mulch, granite block seat wall, timber deck, granite stone pavers, topsoil and sod, water fountain and bike racks. The Work also involves electrical Work including the installation of conduit; ornamental street lighting, exterior receptacles, service entrance wiring and circuits several runs on concrete encased and direct buried conduit, and other electrical Work within the Replica Flume House Building. The civil work of this Project includes: supply and installation of new type k copper water service; PVC sanitary piping; a soil vapour extraction assembly including a sump pump complete with wooden cover, drain pipe, check and ball valves, perforated piping and filter fabric, a water meter complete with backflow preventor, pressure reduction valve, unions, drain valve, strainers; vapour barrier and a new concrete slab complete with clearstone.
Oddly, the tender offer does not include a map.
1. Cranky letter of the day
After attending the Cape Breton County Exhibition for years and seeing the crowds on the grounds, this year was a dud.
The 100th year of the EX should have been a spectacular event. The six-day exhibition became a five-day event due to inclement weather. The crowd was not on the midway. The people who were there were horse people who were treated to a good time inside the arena.
A $10 gate price to get into the exhibition kept a lot of EX goers home or finding other things to do. Food prices at the food court were pricey to say the least.
The 100th anniversary will never come again and was a one-time event. Someone dropped the ball on this one. Management had ample time to put on a great show. Booking music that would attract both a younger crowd and older crowd would have increased the gate count. Or, as in the past, if they had live band dances every night in the George MacNeil building and a fireworks display on the final night.
There was nothing special planned in the industrial buildings. An event like this being the 100th anniversary should have been planned two years in advance and they knew it was coming. I assume Pauline MacLeod was given little time to put on a good time, seeing as this was her first year as management.
I remember the year George Fox played at the EX and drew a large crowd.
The only worst EX than this year was the year the midway was not booked on time. One needs to check the gate for this year; they claim record numbers for this year and that may be a fib.
Manny Tobin, Sydney
I’m not saying Donald Trump has a coke problem.
No public meetings.
Standing Committee on Human Resources (10am, One Government Place) — Conflict of Interest Commissioner Merlin Nunn will explain that Nova Scotia has the most ethical and corruption-free government ever to grace the planet, and so that’s why in his 19 years on the job, he’s never found anyone who’s ever had a conflict of interest. Give that man a raise, eh?
Thesis Defence, Computer Science (10am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Fariba Haddadi will defend her thesis, “Investigating a Behaviour Analysis-Based Early Warning System to Identify Botnets using Machine Learning Algorithms.”
Seminar: “Careers Across Technology and Business” (11:30am, Room 430, Goldberg Computer Science Building) — Colleen Ward and Jessica Robyn Lumiere of TD Bank will talk about themselves. T
Chronic Disease Self-management (12:30pm, Room 409, Centre for Clinical Research) — George Kephart and Tanya Packer will speak as part of the Community Health and Epidemiology Seminar Series.
The Secret Double Life of Graphs (2:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Bob Paré will talk. The abstract:
By graphs I mean, as do most category theorists, what graph theorists might call directed multigraphs. A category is such a graph with an appropriate multiplication on its edges. In fact, a precise way to say this is that the forgetful functor from the category of (small) categories to graphs, which has a left adjoint, is monadic. This is of course well-known. What is perhaps less well-known is that the left adjoint, the paths functor, is comonadic. So one could say that graphs are categories with costructure. Here we have a nice comonad on Cat which is not a 2-comonad, and this is a bit troubling. However, Cat is not a mere 2-category but a double category, and the paths comonad lifts to a lax comonad on that. Considering the coalgebras on this gives a notion of “proarrow of graphs” thus giving a double category of graphs over which the double category of categories is monadic. We will study some of the properties of this double category.
Bring your own cat.
The Future of Halifax Begins in District 8: A Forum on Halifax’s Municipal Election (6pm, Room 1011, Kenneth G Rowe Management Building)
The seven current candidates for the council seat in District 8 have been invited to participate in a forum on the municipal election.
Why does District 8 matter to the future of Halifax? Why should people who don’t live in District 8 care about what happens there? And what are Dalhousie’s responsibilities to District 8’s residents?
The Halifax Examiner will podcast the discussion, and Tim Bousquet will serve as “reporter in residence”. This event is open to the public; students and guests will have the opportunity to ask questions of the candidates.
In the harbour
7:30am: Energy Patriot, oil tanker, arrives at anchorage from Port Arthur, Texas
8am: Caribbean Princess, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 22 from Saint John with up to 3,756 passengers
10:30am: Performance, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Damieta, Egypt
11am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
Noon: Umlma, oil tanker, arrives at anchor from Saint John for bunkers
Noon: Energy Patriot, oil tanker, moves from anchorage to Imperial Oil
3pm: Itea, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
4pm: Porgy, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
5pm: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Pier 36
5:45pm: Caribbean Princess, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Sydney
10pm: Performance, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
Whatever happened to summer?
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