1. NSCAD to accept students stranded by Trump’s immigration order
“NSCAD University will be among a group of Canadian art schools accepting international students slated to go to U.S. schools now left stranded by President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration,” reports Chris Lambie for the Halifax Examiner.
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Last Thursday, I noted that the decision to build a new J.L. Ilsley High School in Spryfield was “the worst kind of political spoils”:
Like the results or not, the school board came up with its school replacement plan through a studied and transparent process that was informed by open public debate. The McNeil government then took the entire process behind closed doors and drew up a capital plan that punished north end Halifax for electing NDP candidate Lisa Roberts as their MLA, and rewarded Spryfield for electing Liberal Brendan Maguire as their MLA.
A couple of days later, a reader sent me a photo of a mailer sent to residents celebrating the school decision, but I was tired or otherwise occupied or just plain dumb, and assumed it was just a Liberal Party mailer, not realizing that the mailer was actually sent out at taxpayer expense. Reports Jean Laroche for the CBC:
Thousands of postcards are being delivered, courtesy of the taxpayer, to homes in Halifax celebrating a controversial decision to build a new school in the community of Spryfield.
In Immigration Minister Lena Diab’s riding of Halifax Armdale, some 7,300 postcards are being dropped in mailboxes. The mailouts feature Diab’s contact information, eight smiling faces and the message: “Congrats J.L. Ilsley! We did it.”
Next door, in the riding of Halifax Atlantic — which is home to J.L. Ilsley — Liberal backbencher Brendan Maguire is sending out 9,000 postcards bearing the message that a new facility will soon replace the high school, which “is looking a little dated.”
Between the two of them, the Liberal politicians are spending about $3,500 on the postcards.
Recall that an Auditor General’s report called out the McNeil government for approving new schools in Bridgetown and Tatamagouche (which just happen to be the ridings of Premier Stephen McNeil and Education Minister Karen Casey, respectively), even though those schools were ranked 26th and 28th on the School Capital Project list.
Yesterday, I linked to a Local Xpress article, which mentioned in passing that a “long-talked-about Highway 102 interchange for the Lantz area, between the Elmsdale and Milford exits, is set to become a reality, with local MLA Margaret Miller ready to make the announcement in the next couple of weeks.” This struck me as odd:
Every time I see a new highway interchange built in a rural area, I think there are some behind-the-scenes real estate dealings in the works, and a developer must have special access to the political decision-makers. I mean, that’s how it’s worked for the last 60 years, right?
I wonder who’s profiting on this.
To which Graham Steele commented:
That whole interchange story really caught my eye. Government MLA in a marginal seat, with a couple of schools up for review and a few months before an election, is about to announce a highway interchange, which might lead to residential development in 5-10 years, which might provide new population to save the schools. Schools are saved (or at least the review will be inconclusive at least until after the election)! Hooray for the MLA!
Is that how it works now? Have we returned to the old spoils system of politics in Nova Scotia?
Whenever I want a refresher course on Nova Scotia politics, I go back and read this piece Stephen Kimber wrote in 2006.
(I realize that “spoils” traditionally refers to a successful political party appointing its supporters into government positions. Although the Liberal Party is also doing that [see: hiring of Marilla Stephenson], I’m here using an expansive definition of the term that includes using government expenditures to reward voters who elect the party candidates, punish voters who do not, and entice voters for the next election.)
3. Court Watch: Curtis Steele, Codey Hennigar, and George Hubley
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4. Parks & Rec budget
“Halifax councillors are signalling they want to dial back close to $1 million in proposed cuts to the city’s parks and recreation budget,” reports Marieke Walsh for Global:
The cuts include ending funding and staff wages for the Jumpstart program, cutting volunteer support service, and ending lifeguarding at four beaches while user fees would increase for artificial turf fields. The beaches are the Dingle, Blackrock, Government Wharf and Kinsmen.
Hey, why are we paying people to work at the Canadian Tire-branded Jumpstart program? If Canadian Tire wants to put its logo all over city-owned property (see: Canada Games Centre and The Oval), it can pay for its own damn workers.
Anyway, Walsh lists the proposed cuts:
• Stop lifeguarding at four beaches: $44,000.
• Eliminate Jumpstart funding and staff wages: $146,000
• Remove monitors on all-weather fields: $60,000
• Adhere to D level field service: $5,000
• Eliminate employee discount: $15,000
• Increase fees for artificial turf fields: $81,000
• Reduce availability of portable washrooms: $5,000
• Defer maintenance for parks: $76,000
• Cut volunteer support services: $125,000
• Reduce multi-district facility contribution, staff report says it’s no longer needed: $300,000
I’ve seen this before:
I don’t think we should be paying city staff to support what is essentially a Canadian Tire advertising initiative. (I wonder, incidentally, how much of the supposed “charitable” money collected by Jumpstart is spent purchasing sports supplies directly from Canadian Tire.) If these employees are necessary to run city programs, then they shouldn’t be wearing shirts and jackets with Canadian Tire logos on them, but rather the same city-branded clothing every other city rec employee wears.
But most of the other proposed cuts are ridiculous. Deferred maintenance? Haven’t we learned that deferring maintenance increases costs down the road? Besides, along with plowing the streets and paying the cops and firefighters, recreation is a fundamental service requirement of city government. It should be fully funded.
Thankfully, it appears councillors aren’t going along with the proposed cuts, and are even considering raising taxes to pay for increased rec services.
5. Real-time bus location
A city press release issued yesterday:
Halifax Transit passengers who use mobile or web apps to find out when their bus will depart may soon benefit from real-time bus departure information that is now available for use by third-party application developers.
Today, Halifax Transit released a beta — or test — version of its GPS-based real-time bus location data through the municipality’s Open Data Catalogue. Halifax Transit already provides access to bus schedule and route information in static formats, but the new data release will allow organizations such as Google, Microsoft and the digital development community, to incorporate live departure information that will significantly improve public transit information applications.
Halifax Transit is initially launching the data feed to developers as a beta release. During this time, the technology team will be closely monitoring the service to identify and address potential technical issues. Users of the real-time data may experience occasional downtime or possible inaccuracies in data quality until the technology team has resolved any issues that are found. Subsequent communications will be issued once the beta version of the real-time data has been tested in the marketplace, and is deemed to be fully operational.
To access the beta version of the real-time data feed and a number of other publicly-accessible data sets, visit www.halifax.ca/opendata.
I know a couple of local geeks who are likely already working on this.
“The demise of places to find strong journalism — in print, on the airwaves or online — and the erosion of the quality of much of what is being produced in 2017 are not good for anyone in a free society,” writes Michael Lightstone:
Of course, the Halifax market is still served by television networks, radio stations, online news outlets Local Xpress, allnovascotia.com and the feisty Halifax Examiner (thank you, Tim Bousquet) and by such publications as Halifax metro, the Coast, Frank Magazine and Halifax Magazine.
Hopefully, the strike at the Herald will end soon, or, at least, one day.
And hopefully, a new generation of journalists will be able to find good jobs in metro.
In the meantime, here’s what we’re missing by not having reporters religiously covering beats:
• medical news (aside from health crises and labour disputes)
• nuts-and-bolts matters related to our education system, including post-secondary schools
• stories about poverty, affordable housing issues
• standard court, justice system coverage
• environmental issues
• continuing stories on race relations, immigration, refugees, foreign workers
• workplace trends and challenges
• news reports about the military and veterans’ issues
2. Cranky Letter of the Day
I was happy to hear about the big win (almost $1.7 million) for a New Waterford couple, Adam and Amanda MacKay, during the Chase the Ace in North Sydney on Jan. 22.
I also noticed t hat all five members of the family, including their three children, had first names starting with ‘A.’
Just saying. Congratulations all.
Margaret Dennis, Lingan Road, Sydney
Note: readers have repeatedly asked that we give listings with more advance notice than day-of; this proved to be beyond my time constraints, but nowadays admin person extraordinaire Iris is collecting listing info, so I’ve burdened her with yet another task of putting two days of listings in each Morning File. (Iris is a perfectly capable writer, but I rewrite the listings to add whatever, er, insight I might have.)
Environment and Sustainability (1pm, City Hall) — councillor Peter Mancini’s proposed ban on plastic bags has gotten all the press, but the more interesting issue up for discussion is a district heating system for the Cogswell Interchange rebuild.
Harbour East-Marine Drive Community Council (6pm, Alderney Gate) — Innovacorp wants to rezone some land in the Woodside Industrial Park.
Public Information Meeting (7pm, Basinview Drive School, Bedford) — KWR Approvals Inc wants to develop 14 townhouses at 74 Union Street, Bedford. KWR is Kevin W. Riles, who used to be a VP at United Gulf but has gone off on his own.
Back in 2012, some people in the neighbourhood had me over to their house to discuss this development. At that time, the proposed developer was none other than Mort Kelly, then-mayor Peter Kelly’s father; Peter Kelly lived on Bridge Street, around the corner from the development site (he no longer lives there), and the neighbours told me that he was involved in the development, tromping around the property and such. I wasn’t able to verify Peter Kelly’s involvement, although Mort Kelly had put in a development proposal.
I don’t know how or when the proposal shifted over to Riles, but I imagine the neighbours have the same concerns, which were varied, but the one that stuck out for me was a worry about runoff from the project. As I recall, there’s a stream that runs through the property that was somehow altered with the construction of Highway 102 all those years ago… I forget the specifics. I imagine I probably have some paperwork related to it sitting around the office somewhere, but it’d take me weeks to find it.
Volunteer firefighter recruitment – Station 13 (7pm, North Dartmouth Boys & Girls Club) — The fire department is about to accept volunteers for its urban stations.
No public meetings.
No public meetings today or tomorrow.
African Heritage Month Launch (12pm, University Hall) — Kick-off event followed by the raising of the African Heritage flag on Studley Quad.
Fail Your Way to Success (6:30pm, the theatre named for a fucking bank, McCain Building) — Liesl L. Gambold moderates a forum titled “Fail Forward: Falling Short and Climbing Up.”
CleanSea (7pm, Ondaatje Auditorium, McCain Building) — a screening of the film “CleanSea Documentary: The Marine Litter Problem and What We Can Do About It,” followed by a discussion via Skype with producer Heather Leslie, from Vrije University in Amsterdam.
The Magic Flute (7:30pm, Sir James Dunn Theatre) — a Dal Opera’s production of Mozart’s classic, directed by Brent Krysa. Tix here. Additional Dates/Times: Friday February 3, 7:30pm; Saturday February 4, 7:30pm; Sunday February 5, 2:30pm.
Nothing we know about.
No events we know about.
Hydrocarbon Fingerprints (11:30am, Science Building S310) — Todd Ventura speaks on “Searching for a Hydrocarbon Fingerprint from Earth’s Past Subsurface Biosphere.”
Thesis Defence, Women and Gender Studies (1pm, Loyola 188) — Heather Baglole will defend her thesis, “Speak: Questioning Ethics, Feminism, and Representation in Verbatim Theatre.”
In the harbour
6am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
6:45am: Bruarfoss, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Argentia, Newfoundland
7am: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 36 from Saint-Pierre
11:30am: Bruarfoss, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for sea
11:30am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
2:30pm: Clipper Marlene, cargo ship, sails from Pier 27 for sea
4pm: ZIM Ontario, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from New York
4:30pm: Hollandia, general cargo, sails from Pier 31 for Rotterdam
4:30pm: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Autoport back to Pier 41
My copyeditor is AWOL. Please be kind.
I have a 10am meeting (which it looks like I’ll be late for), so won’t be around for the usual social media discussion. Party without me.