1. Sutton Place
Yesterday morning, the gossip mill (meaning my email) was buzzing with news that a hotel operator for the Nova Centre hotel will be announced today — Sutton Place, I was told, a chain with five hotels out west, will brand the hotel.
Alas, I was busy, and Roger Taylor at the Chronicle Herald beat me to breaking the news:
The head of The Sutton Place Hotels will be in Halifax on Thursday to announce that his company will open a 260-room luxury hotel in the Nova Centre complex, The Chronicle Herald has learned.
Chairman and CEO Tom Gaglardi is perhaps best known to sports fans as the owner of the Dallas Stars NHL franchise, which he acquired in 2011.
He is also president of Northland Properties Corp., a family-owned company founded by his father Bob Gaglardi. Tom also serves as the president, CEO and chairman of Sandman Hotels, Inns & Suites, and CEO and chairman of Suites and Moxie’s Restaurants, LP.
The Vancouver businessman will be introduced to the city by the private-sector developer behind the Nova Centre project, Joe Ramia, president and CEO of Argyle Developments.
Premier Stephen McNeil and Halifax Mayor Mike Savage are also slated to be on hand for the announcement taking place at the Halifax Convention Centre, which is also part of the Nova Centre.
I haven’t been invited to the announcement, sad trombone.
Back in October, I interviewed Jan deRoos, a professor of Hotel Finance and Real Estate at the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University, and asked him why it was taking so long to open a hotel above the Halifax Convention Centre. He reviewed the hotel industry for me, and explained the economics of opening a hotel. (I’ve taken that article from behind the paywall; you can read it here.)
One interesting point deRoos made:
I told deRoos that Nova Centre developer Joe Ramia has claimed to have a deal with a hotel operator, but said he’d leave it up to the operator to make an announcement. I don’t believe him, I told deRoos, but if Ramia has secured an operator, how long before a hotel opened would an operator make such an announcement?
“A year,” answered deRoos. “You’d want that long to work with the convention centre operator for joint promotions and advertising.”
It would be possible, said deRoos, to get a hotel up and operating in less than a year, but he estimated that the Nova Centre hotel would require at least 150 employees. “You don’t want to poach most of those from competitors, and management positions will take time to recruit the right people. I’d say it’d take at least six months.”
I told deRoos that Ramia has missed multiple deadlines for opening both the convention centre and the Nova Centre, and that two years’ worth of conventions secured for the new convention centre had to be cancelled or rebooked in the old, existing convention centre.
“That would give a potential operator great pause,” said deRoos. “The hotel is ultimately tied to the convention centre, so you want to make sure the operation is viable.”
Even then, he said, once a hotel is opened it will take about two years before all marketing can bring in enough guests to make it successful.
2. CBRM’s secret meeting
“Discovering, thanks to the reporting of Rick Grant, that the CBRM mayor and council are holding a secret meeting today with port developer Albert Barbusci sends a chill up my spine,” reports Mary Campbell in the Cape Breton Spectator:
The meeting is being held at the Holiday Inn to avoid the bother of calling a special in camera session of council. While in camera meetings are good for hiding the matters under discussion from the public, they have a huge disadvantage in that they must be announced, so the blighters will know you’re up to something. Meetings at the Holiday Inn are much better that way (until nosy reporters get wind of them, anyway).
Barbusci apparently wants to “update” council on his “progress” in establishing a container port for Ultra-Large Container Vessels (ULCVs) in Sydney harbor.
I don’t think any “international partners” are accompanying Barbusci, which may be because he doesn’t seem to have any.
As with the Examiner, the Cape Breton Spectator is subscriber supported, and so this article is behind the Spectator’s paywall. Click here to purchase a subscription to the Spectator, or click on the photo below to get a joint subscription to both the Spectator and the Examiner.
3. St. Matthew’s steeple
“Heaps of wood and chunks of plaster littered the sidewalk in front of a historic Halifax church on Wednesday, leading the city to shut down a section of Barrington Street,” reports Jayde Tynes for Metro:
One of the steeples on the historic St. Matthew’s United Church, founded in 1749, crashed to the ground overnight Tuesday due to the high winds that slammed through the province as part of a storm system.
Due to safety concerns, Halifax Regional Police and HRM crews closed off Barrington Street between Spring Garden Road and Bishop Street late Wednesday morning.
Rev. Betsy Hogan, minister at St. Matthew’s United Church, said the damage is part of a worrying trend of powerful storms disrupting her church and the lives of some of the region’s poorest citizens [who use the shelter and soup kitchen housed in the church].
It can’t help that the wind generator called the Maritime Centre is right next door.
4. Karen MacKenzie
On March 5, Halifax police issued a release about a missing person:
Karen Lee MacKenzie was last seen on February 25 at 95 Highfield Park Drive in Dartmouth. She is described as a white woman, 5’5” tall, 141 lbs with brown hair and blue eyes. She is believed to have been wearing a green jacket and a matching backpack when she was last seen. Karen was reported missing to police on March 3 and investigators are treating her disappearance as suspicious.
Yesterday, police announced they had arrested and charged a man in connection with her disappearance:
Investigators in the Integrated Criminal Investigation Division have charged a man in relation to the disappearance of Karen MacKenzie.
On March 3 police received a report that Karen had not been seen or heard from since February 25. Investigators treated Karen’s disappearance as suspicious and, yesterday, arrested a 40-year-old man in relation to her disappearance. The man was arrested at 4:40 p.m. in the Highfield Park Drive area of Dartmouth.
This afternoon, investigators charged 40-year-old Owen Patrick Nelson of Dartmouth with interfere [sic] with human remains, assault and two counts breach of probation. He is scheduled to appear in Dartmouth Provincial Court tomorrow morning.
The reference to human remains suggests that MacKenzie is dead.
On March 3, Owen Nelson posted that MacKenzie was missing:
Has anyone seen Karen Mackenzie in the past week? Last seen Monday evening. Would be wearing the green jacket in the picture and a green backpack.
On the same post, people understandably wanted more information and Nelson responded:
None of her friends or family have heard from her since last weekend either. I’ve checked hospitals now police are investigating.
When someone said they were sorry about Nelson’s “friend,” he responded:
Fiance. Sat we talked about getting sober then getting her a ring. Worst proposal ever.
Thank you everyone. I’m hoping that the power of social media we can find her. Coincidentally her and I just watched a Tom Hanks movie about everything being connected.
The next day, Nelson posted a video of two people — apparently he and MacKenzie, but they are out of the frame — playing with a dog, with the comment:
I miss your laugh babe. I hope that you are finally happy wherever you are.
The charges against Nelson have not been tested in court.
5. Sexual harassment on Parliament Hill
Former Halifax Examiner contributor Hillary Beaumont now works for Vice News. Over the past months she’s been diving into sexual harassment on Parliament Hill, and yesterday Vice published the result of her research, an article headlined “Parliament Hill’s weak anti-harassment policies and toxic culture are failing women.” Beaumont writes:
Parliament Hill in Ottawa is Canada’s centre of political power. Women here often enter politics as young campaign volunteers, and are later hired as employees when their candidate is elected. They work long hours and suffer burnout, hoping to learn the ropes and perhaps someday become MPs themselves. But while in the parliamentary workplace, staffers tell VICE News they are subjected to sexism, harassment, and sexual violence.
“Because it’s so normalized, it’s basically part of the job description for a lot of young women in politics,” former intern Arezoo Najibzadeh said.
Over the last three months, VICE News has interviewed more than 40 women across all three major parties who have worked on Parliament Hill, and reviewed that workplace’s current anti-harassment policies, copies of written complaints, and Bill C-65, the Liberal government’s answer to harassment in federally regulated workplaces, including Canada’s Parliament. With cross-party support, Bill C-65 is being fast-tracked and is now being examined by committee.
The VICE News investigation has found that weak anti-harassment policies alongside a baked-in hyperpartisan and male-dominated culture are failing women, particularly female staffers. And while Bill C-65 will bring Hill employees under Canada’s Labour Code for the first time, giving them another route to report, it will not replace the Hill’s feeble anti-harassment policies. Nor will it erase cultural reasons that prevent women from reporting abuse, including party loyalty, small office environments, and the imbalance of power between employees and superiors.
6. Sexual harassment in the restaurant industry
“Zane Kelsall, one of the city’s most celebrated young entrepreneurs and a Dartmouth success story who’s been profiled in local and national media (including The Coast) is now without a job,” report Allison Saunders and Jacob Boon for The Coast:
Two If By Sea Cafe and Anchored Coffee have severed all business ties with their co-owner after learning from multiple former employees about accusations of abusive behaviour and sexual misconduct.
Saunders and Boon should be congratulated for prying open the tight lid on sexual harassment in the restaurant industry. I know it’s difficult work because I’ve failed at it.
Much of the #MeToo movement has been directed at the very rich and very powerful men in film, politics, and news media. It’s not to take away from the importance of those revelations to say, however, that the everyday sexual harassment of blue collar workers by their relatively unknown bosses has mostly gone unreported.
My first real job (after paper delivery) was in a restaurant/bar. I was introduced to the toxic mix of drugs and sexual harassment early on, although in that particular case it was gay men doing the sexual harassing, preying on teenage boys who worked at the restaurant.
At other restaurants I worked at, sexual harassment of girls and young women was so common it wasn’t even commented on. It was just part of the restaurant environment: the long hours, the on their feet, the fending off the boss.
At one restaurant, my boss basically told me that in return for a small raise and promotion he should be able to have sex with my girlfriend, whom he described to me in lurid detail. Thinking back on it, I now realize that there were two things going on then: both the expectation of sexual entitlement on the part of my boss, but also an attempt to indoctrinate me into the culture of sexual predation.
I went on to a career in journalism (which has its own sexual harassment issues), but along the way I’ve witnessed firsthand plenty of sexual harassment of women working in bars and restaurants by their bosses, their coworkers, and their customers. These women were in difficult situations, to the point that most declined even to talk about it, much less ask for help.
I’ve written before about my friend Matt Hogan, a man a little older and a lot wiser than I was, who helped me understand the full dynamic of sexual predation, and why it should be called out. Now that I’m older, I try to speak just as plainly to younger men as Matt did to me.
But I haven’t had success reporting on sexual harassment. For example, when I worked at The Coast, two different women approached me two years apart, without knowing about each other, to ask me to look into the same man, the owner of a popular Halifax restaurant whom they said had sexually harassed them and other staff at the restaurant. I believed the women, and still do.
Each time, I asked the women if they were willing to use their names; they weren’t, which is completely understandable. Each time I asked if there were any complaints filed with the courts or regulatory agencies; there weren’t. Each time, I looked at as many court and other public records as I could find to see if there was any sort of paper trail that might reveal a broader pattern of alleged sexual harassment; there wasn’t.
After doing that work, my response was “I can’t just accuse someone of sexual harassment without any supporting evidence; it’d open me up to a libel suit.” That’s true, as far as it goes. But besides everything else, one thing the #metoo movement has demonstrated is that there are ways to report these stories. And to put it bluntly: I failed.
It takes hard work, imaginative strategies, and an expensive lawyer to review the reporting, but it can be done. And even if a particular sexual harasser can’t be identified, reporting very definitely can get to the broader picture of sexual harassment in the workplace.
You don’t have to be a reporter to know that alcohol and cocaine are pervasive in the Halifax restaurant industry, and they are often the tools of sexual predators; or to know that women are often hired solely for their looks and for the perceived possibility that they’ll be sexual partners; or to understand that harassment and sexual assault on the job are a reality for plenty of women.
You don’t have to be a reporter to know that reality, but it’s reporters who can tell those stories, and draw attention to that reality. And we should.
No public meetings.
Cloud Orchestration: Challenges and Approaches (Thursday, 11:30pm, Auditorium, Goldberg Computer Science Building) — Glaucio H.S. Carvalho from Ryerson University will speak.
Dal Law Hour (Thursday, 12:30pm, Room 105, Weldon Law Building) — Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Christa Brothers will speak.
Quasar Saxophone Quartet (Thursday, 2:30pm, Room 409, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — the ensemble from Quebec is going to be smoooooth.
Campus Budget Session – Agriculture (Thursday, 4:30pm, Librarian’s Corner, MacRae Library, Agriculture Campus, Truro) — dogs and ponies.
Sustainable Transitions in Canada’s Energy Landscape (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Theatre, Marion McCain Building) — Brendan Haley will speak.
Jazz Saxophone Recital (Friday, 11:45am, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — students of Chris Mitchell will perform.
Designing Metalloproteins for Precision Diagnostics and Medicine (Friday, 1:30pm, Room 226, Chemistry Building) — Jenny J. Yang from Georgia State University will speak.
Canada-EU Relations: Perspectives from Berlin, Brussels and Rome (Friday, 2:30pm, Room 1009, Kenneth C Rowe Building) — a panel comprising Stephane Dion, Ambassador to Germany and Special Envoy to the European Union and Europe; Daniel J. Costello, Ambassador to the European Union; and Alexandra Bugailiskis, Ambassador to the Italian Republic.
Skilled Recruits of Every Status: Artisans, Military Fortresses, and the Early-modern French Empire in the Caribbean (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1170, Marion McCain Building) — Arad Gigi will speak.
The Pythian Games (Friday, 5:30pm, Ondaatje Hall, Marion McCain Building) — students from the Dalhousie Classics Department will showcase their “talents in literary and artistic performance.”
In the harbour
0:40am: YM Express, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Bremerhaven, Germany
5:30am: Adriatic Highway, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany
6am: ZIM Constanza, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Algeciras, Spain
8am: Stellaprima, heavy load lifter, sails from Pier 9 for sea
10:30am: Selfoss, container ship, sails from Pier 36 for sea
4pm: ZIM Rotterdam, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from New York
4:30pm: ZIM Constanza, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for New York
5pm: Adriatic Highway, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
I still haven’t recovered from the time change.