1. Yarmouth ferry
“Monty Python was funnier,” writes Stephen Kimber:
No. Check that. Monty Python is funny. Lloyd Hines? Not so much.
Still, one can understand Tory MLA Tom Halman’s description of the latest twists, turns, twirls and top-this folly from the ongoing, never-ending Yarmouth-to-somewhere-in-Maine ferry fandango as “like a skit out of Monty Python.”
Personally, I prefer to think of Hines, Nova Scotia’s transportation minister, as the laughably, affably inept Sergeant Shultz from the popular 1960s TV sitcom, Hogan’s Heroes.
“I know nothing.”
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2. Lunenburg and Airbnb
“When ‘Old Town Lunenburg’ received its UNESCO World Heritage Site designation in 1995, people anticipated an increase in tourism based partly on the charm of its working waterfront and historic areas,” reports Jennifer Henderson:
Changes to both have been resisted until this summer when the Town of Lunenburg began grappling with change on both a micro and macro level. The Heritage Site designation was expected to boost the number of visitors but nobody could have foreseen what effects the rise of Airbnb and other short-term private rental schemes would bring.
Henderson goes on to explore the threat from Airbnbs, but also looks at a potential new player on the waterfront:
In March, council received a presentation from a local company, ABCO 3-H Holdings, asking for a letter of non-objection so the company could apply to Ottawa for permission buy a portion of the seabed of Lunenburg Harbour. ABCO’s Jason Huskilson told Council the company intended to infill about three acres so it could proceed with a vaguely defined, mixed-use residential and commercial development on waterfront property it had bought adjacent to its plant at 81 Tannery Road.
The proponents of ABCO 3-H Holdings are Jason, Michael, and Gregory Huskilson. During the summer of 2018, they bought the former ABCO Industries plant from the Eisenhauer family, which had successfully operated the company over the decades building boats, machinery, and more recently environmental clean-up equipment.
There’s an interesting connection between the two families. The CEO who ran ABCO for 27 years is Jim Eisenhauer. He also served on the Board of Directors of Emera Inc. for eight years before leaving this spring (2019) to become the lead director for Nova Scotia Power. The three brothers who bought the family business from the Eisenhauers are the three sons of retired Emera CEO and former Nova Scotia Power president Chris Huskilson. “Small world,” as they say.
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3. Convention Centre
I was dealing with other stuff when in late July the province published its Public Accounts for the 2018/19 fiscal year, which ended March 31, so only this weekend did I look to see how much the convention centre is costing we taxpayers.
The answer for last year: $3,133,320 from HRM and $3,119,916 from the province, for a total of $6,233,236 (see note 8). But of course, that expenditure made us all fantastically rich because of the miracle of spinoffs and economic impacts and positivity, dammit.
How’d you spend your convention centre riches? I bought a boat.
4. Public Accounts
Public Accounts is a gold mine of data. (Maybe that’s not the best metaphor…) I’ve long thought it would be a good idea to sic a journalism class on Public Accounts, especially Volume 3, the Supplementary Information, which lists every provincial employee’s salary (over $25,000) and every grant or payment made by the province.
For example, just a cursory look finds we paid Bay Ferries $24,014,673 last year — see, I really did buy a boat! — while IBM was paid $28 million and change and Dexter Construction $136,834,124 from TIR.
One group of my fantasy journalism class could dive into provincial salaries. How do six-figure salaries align with the overall gender and racial makeup of the workforce? What are “retired” deputy ministers and bureaucrats being paid for showing up for board meetings? What else do the data tell us?
Another group would look at rent payments made by the province. Armco got paid about $1.5 million, while the Maritime Centre received about $4.5 million. Are those reasonable rents? How is the provincial office space divvied up, and who benefits?
A third group of overly tasked students would be told to ask broader questions. Why are we still paying money to the President and Fellows of Harvard College? Does spending $200,000 for advertising in the Chronicle Herald (and $130,000 in other Saltwire publications) really make sense in the age of the internet? What the heck is the NC CC Developments Partnership and why is it getting paid $10,760,570.04?
The students could do this all day long, every day for the entire school year. I’m sure most of the expenditures are reasonable, or at least somewhat justifiable, but prying into them to understand them would be an immensely worthwhile public service.
5. Watching deer while Black
Lynn Jones forwards the following letter, which she wrote to Truro Mayor Bill Mills:
Please add me to the list of African Nova Scotians who are constantly being racially profiled in this province for no valid reason and while you’re at it, give your constituents in Truro and your Town police a lesson in white privilege, anti-Black racism, and the history of the founding people of our province and Truro.
Gentrification has its own particular problems and the community in which I grew up in Truro, as did my parents before me and their parents before them — have lived on Ford/Cross street in Truro since the early 1700s. Many were forced to live where they did because of the racism in the Town of Truro which rejected Blacks living elsewhere. Ford Street has historically been known as one of the three Black Communities in Truro referred to as The Marsh, The Island, and The Hill. While spatterings of other ethnic groups did live there, it was still known as the Black Community and was addressed as such. Truro’s previous and first Black town councillor, Raymond Tynes, was successful in having the town erect plaques in each of the three areas acknowledging these African Nova Scotian communities and the people so their presence would not be forgotten. Over time, the area has become gentrified and all the horrors of gentrification have come with this change.
For many reasons, the majority of the many Black families who inhabited “The Marsh” for generations are gone. Most reasons directly related to economics or lack thereof. Flooding, directly connected to environmental racism, became more prevalent with industrialization; lack of financial resources to fix up old homes and build new homes and other socio-economic conditions was cause for out migration. Many who owned their homes and properties received little funds for their sale and they often became renters as opposed to owners when they left.
The Town of Truro did nothing to assist Black people to remain in their community and offered no incentives to rebuild their homes. New development bringing money and people with financial resources the Historical Black and poor community did not have began to gain control and most Black residents could no longer afford to live here and pay the high associated rental costs.
A very few Black families remain on Ford Street and they watch others move into this once proud African Nova Scotian community, where they are now a small minority with little hope to find the refuge and peace that once was. Soon they will all be gone.
We who were the original inhabitants are now “the others” in a community that has become gentrified. Additionally, we are seen as invoking fear for those who are the newcomers as they see us as not belonging.
Last night in the early evening well before dark, three Black community elders, myself included, left my home on Cross Street and travelled by car a few feet around the corner headed up Ford Street when we excitingly spotted deer grazing. We stopped the car in the lane we travelled in our community since time immemorial to where a new apartment building is being constructed (there was no activity as it was after 5pm) and spent time watching the activities of the deer while my elder sister took pictures of them from inside the car. There is one house in the lane inhabited by non-Blacks but several houses in the neighbourhood.
As we were about leaving, a police car drove up and wanted to know what we were doing. I asked, “Why?” He said someone had reported suspicious people in the area taking pictures.
I proceeded to give your town police a history lesson about the founding of this Black community and its inhabitants and was outraged that because we were Black in our own community we were now suspicious and to be feared. I suggested he give whoever placed the call the same history lesson I gave him. The audacity!!! How White Privilege rears its ugly head when you least expect it. He attempted to assure us that our colour was not mentioned on the call so was not an issue yet I fail to understand why we were being stopped and questioned in the first place for being in a legal area taking pictures, mere feet from my house, and why it should raise anybody’s suspicion except because we were Black and should not be there.
Moreover, just because “our colour” was not mentioned on the call, does not mean that the call was not motivated by race, consciously or unconsciously. A car with white people had driven up the lane earlier and no police stopped them. The police officer even stated he had been given the color and make of my car by the caller. Others in my car explained we were watching deer but I did not as I felt it was no one’s business nor did I give my name when asked by police as there were no grounds for the inquiry. No crime had been committed and the officer offered no grounds for him to question us. The police officer did not persist.
Once again, I was reminded that in this society, African people will always be viewed as the outsider, never given the same rights and privileges as white folks who may have just stepped foot into a given space.
Mr Mayor, you’re right, I am angry that the town I grew up in, as did my parents before me and those before them, has created the conditions for Black people to be viewed as outsiders and not being accorded the respect of belonging. I’m angry that the Town of Truro has done so little to advance the situation of Black people here. It is a holy disgrace that all should be ashamed of. I’m angry that my community is gone and no one did anything to save it. I’m angry that the new normal is for police to stop and question Black people wherever and whenever they step foot into areas white people determine are out of bounds for Blacks. I’m angry that our history of survival is not documented nor taught in schools. I’m angry that overt and systemic racism and discrimination continues and is not eradicated. I’m angry that no monuments have been erected of our Black citizens past and present, and no buildings or infrastructure has been established to acknowledge our culture and norms. The list goes on.
Mr Mayor, I well remember in a public forum where you announced you were a friend of mine. Well, I’m now drawing on that “friendship” to request you do something to lift up the situation for Black people in our town. Affordable housing is required now. Programs that address poverty and health, including mental health, are required now. Unemployment is at an all time high. Programs for single parents and seniors are required. A place to meet and hold events in a Black community center — a place of our own. The list goes on.
For right now, I am requesting the following:
1. That you hold the police accountable for their harmful response to us “watching deer while Black.”
2. A copy of the police policy on street checks/carding.
3. A breakdown of the number of checks of Black people in Truro by police (including traffic stops, street checks, and the recording of observational information).
4. An accounting of all services and programs that are specifically designed to address the needs and concerns of African Nova Scotians in Truro.
5. If no such services and program exist, I request an action plan with timelines to put in place the requisite services. The development of that Action Plan should respond to the 2017 Report by the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent which provides recommendations that are specific to Black Canadians, including African Nova Scotians. (I have attached a copy in case you don’t already have one. I would suggest that you share it with all town officials.) African Nova Scotians should of course be involved in the development of the plan.
I would appreciate a reply to this letter within fifteen (15) days. I did not receive a reply from you to the letter that I wrote raising concerns about the redneck play at the Marigold Cultural Center although I see that the play has been thankfully cancelled.
It is so unfortunate in this day and age that we have to continue to take the time out of our normal lives to demand the minimum level of dignity that should be afforded to all.
I will continue to remain in the struggle,
Dr Lynn Jones
Truro and Halifax, Nova Scotia
6. Cutlass Fury
“Ships from eight NATO nations will visit Halifax from September 9 to 20 for Exercise CUTLASS FURY 2019, which will take place in the waters and skies off Nova Scotia and Newfoundland,” reports Trident, the newspaper for Maritime Forces Atlantic:
It will be a medium-scale international exercise and visiting warships will be open for tours for two days.
The public is invited to tour Canadian and allied warships on September 6 and 7 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors can access Dockyard through Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Scotian, the Naval Reserve Division located at 2111 Upper Water Street.
The event will include a food truck fair, with food trucks selling a variety of specialty and gourmet food selections. Valid Canadian identification is required for entrance into Dockyard.
Yep, there’s a food truck rally to help celebrate enough firepower to destroy, say, Iran.
The ships start arriving Thursday (see On the harbour, below), and there’s a big send-off from the Bedford Basin through the Narrows on Monday.
7. The Gully
I’ve been wondering why the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA] ship Okeanos Explorer has been puttering around Halifax. Over the weekend, Canadian Press reporter Michael Tutton told us why:
On Saturday, the NOAA research vessel Okeanos Explorer was filming in waters of about 350 metres, and at one point viewers were treated to spectacular and frightening tight shots of a huge lobster devouring a squid one tentacle at a time.
On Thursday, the cameras revealed the existence of large fields of bamboo coral at depths of over a kilometre — a sight that Kenchington said demonstrates there are still many things scientists don’t know about the life in the Gully, about 200 kilometres off Nova Scotia’s east coast.
The steep sides of the underwater preserve plunge down more than 2.5 kilometres, creating habitat for a vast range of life — including the endangered bottlenose whales that hunt for squid more than a kilometre beneath the surface.
No public meetings.
North West Planning Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 7pm, in the Centre named after a bank, 61 Gary Martin Drive, Bedford) — WM Fares wants to build a commercial building in Sackville.
Community Services (Tuesday, 10am, One Government Place) — Rollie Thompson, the Dal prof, and Leonard Doiron, the executive director of Child, Youth and Family Supports in the Department of Community Services, will talk about legal issues in child protection — I’m presuming this means getting refugee children in state care citizenship.
No public meetings for the rest of the week.
No public events.
In the harbour
05:00: Budapest Bridge, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
05:30: Mediterranean Highway, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany
06:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
08:30: Ardmore Sealifter, oil tanker, arrives at anchorage from IJmuiden, Netherlands
11:30: Mediterranean Highway sails for sea
16:00: Atlantic Sun, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
21:30: Budapest Bridge sails for Rotterdam
23:00: Ardmore Sealifter moves to Irving Oil
08:15: HNoMS Thor Heyerdahl, Norwegian Navy frigate, arrives at NH2 PST
10:00: NRP Francisco de Almeida, Portuguese Navy frigate, arrives at Dockyard
10:30: USNS Patuxent, US Navy replenishment vessel, arrives at Berth TBD from Norfolk
11:30: HNLMS Van Speijk, Netherlands Navy frigate, arrives at Dockyard
13:30: HDMS Peter Willemoes, Denmark Navy frigate, arrives at Dockyard
Where are the Canadian military ships?
[insert your own pithy observation here]