1. Nova Scotia budget
The Nova Scotia government has announced a budget for spending a projected $11.6 billion in revenue, with plans for a $55 million surplus in the 2020-21 fiscal year.
The CBC’s Michael Gorman outlines the government’s announced highlights, including spending increases (the Nova Scotia Health Authority budget increases by $77.7 million) and revenue cuts (the corporate tax rate is set to go down by 2 percentage points, costing roughly $81 million.) There’s an additional $18 million in order to extend the Nova Scotia Child Tax Credit to families taking in less than $34,000. And then there’s $16.3 million to subsidize the theoretical ferry service between Bar Harbour and Yarmouth.
The Chronicle Herald’s Andrew Rankin asked Vince Calderhead, a local poverty and human rights-focussed attorney, to weigh in on the budget’s impact on poor people.
Finance Minister Karen Casey called the budget one that supports all Nova Scotians and said for the province to thrive “now and in the future, we need to ensure our citizens receive the programs and services they need.”
But Calderhead said the numbers prove differently for the poorest in Nova Scotia.
“There is a staggering affordability problem for social assistance recipients. Their monthly incomes are hundreds and hundreds of dollars per month below what they need to be to afford a minimally nutritious diet.”
2. Whale sanctuary
This item is written by Tim Bousquet.
Back in 2016, the Halifax Examiner broke the news that the Whale Sanctuary Project was planning to build a $15-million sanctuary for captive whales and was scouting locations for it in Nova Scotia.
On Tuesday, the organization issued a press release announcing it had selected Port Hilford, near Sherbrooke for the project:
The Whale Sanctuary Project announced today that it will work together with Sherbrooke and the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia to create a seaside sanctuary in Port Hilford for whales being retired from entertainment parks.
“Of the hundreds of locations that we’ve researched in British Columbia, Washington State and Nova Scotia, Port Hilford stands out as the premier location for a whale sanctuary,” said Charles Vinick, Executive Director of the Whale Sanctuary Project.
Port Hilford offers an expansive area that can be netted off for the whales in a bay that’s open to the ocean but is sheltered from storms. It has access to necessary infrastructure and plenty of room along the shore for the facilities that will be needed to care for the animals, as well as for an onsite education and interpretive center.
“It’s an ideal location for whales coming from marine parks and aquariums,” Vinick said, “You couldn’t ask for a more welcoming and eager community than the people of the Sherbrooke area.”
Intelligent and socially complex animals
The plan to locate a sanctuary in Nova Scotia comes in the wake of Parliament passing Bill S-203 in 2019, to bring an end to keeping whales and dolphins captive in Canada.
“Whales and dolphins are highly intelligent, emotionally sensitive and socially complex animals,” said Dr. Lori Marino, President of the Whale Sanctuary Project. “In the confines of a concrete tank at a marine park they suffer chronic stress and then often fatal illness. Relocating them to an ocean environment will give them a healthier life where they can thrive.”
Marino added that the whales captured the imagination of the people of Sherbrooke from the very first meeting. “They’ve been holding special activities for the kids,” she said. “It’s as though they’ve already made the whales part of their community. And the town already has the feel of a sanctuary.”
The next steps in working toward the creation of a sanctuary will be to work with local fishers and community members to further define the vision for the whale sanctuary, and to initiate the regulatory processes needed to establish the site.
The Whale Sanctuary Project’s objective is to have the sanctuary ready to receive whales by the end of 2021.
Dozens of considerations went into selecting the best location for a seaside sanctuary: from water analysis to sea-floor conditions, to tides and currents, to potential impacts of local wildlife on the whales and vice-versa. Members of the organization visited locations along the South and the Eastern Shores, and met with communities in Shelburne, Liverpool, Port Hawkesbury and Sheet Harbour, as well as Sherbrooke to seek proposals for potential sites.
“As important as the physical properties of the location are in deciding on a site location, we also knew that the relationship the sanctuary would have with its host community would be pivotal,” Vinick explained. “The Sherbrooke community has exceeded all our expectations.”
Plans for the sanctuary include a visitor center, nature trail and viewing spots. The sanctuary will also work with schools and museums to offer educational programs about the whales at the sanctuary and their counterparts in the wild.
Funding for the creation and operation of the sanctuary will be through private donations. Funding for the two-year search for an ideal site for the sanctuary has been led by Munchkin, Inc., makers of unique products for babies and children.
3. Email alleges MLA Hugh Mackay “extremely drunk” while driving
The CBC’s Anjuli Patil reports on a leaked email sent to Andre Veinotte, the president of the Chester-St Margaret’s Liberal Riding Association from someone whose name has been redacted, alleging that MLA Hugh Mackay, who has been previously convicted of drunk driving, is a habitual drunk and dangerous driver, and that a worker at his constituency office made efforts to help him keep it quiet. Reports Patil:
The author tells Veinotte and the others he’s resigning from the association and includes an account of the alleged incident.
Around 3:30 p.m. that day, the writer said he received a “frantic” phone call from Penny Lawless, who works in MacKay’s constituency office, saying MacKay was “very drunk, texting and calling her while he was driving.”
The writer said this was the “third or fourth time” this had happened to Lawless over the previous few months. He said Lawless instructed him to go to New Ross, N.S., to find MacKay. He said Lawless knew MacKay’s location because of the iPhone’s Find My Friends feature.
He said he eventually found MacKay approximately 10 kilometres south of the intersection of Highway 12 and Forties Road.
The writer said MacKay was sitting in the driver’s seat, the engine was running and there was a bottle of vodka on MacKay’s lap.
The writer said he told MacKay he was there to take him home, but MacKay refused to go with him and drove off, and ran over his foot in the process. The man wasn’t injured.
The rest of the story is equally as shocking, and if even a small part of it gets confirmed, I can’t imagine the people of Chester-St. Margaret’s Bay will want to be represented by Hugh MacKay much longer.
4. Halifax sells former St. Pat’s High School property to Banc
There go my dreams of keeping a Quinpool greenspace. Of course, there was never a plan to keep the former St. Patrick’s High School site in its current green and spacious state, but now the deal is sealed. Zane Woodford reports that the city has sold the site to local developers Besim and Alex Halef for $37.61 million dollars, with a tidy 2.5% cut going to Commercial Real Estate Services Canada, who brokered the sale.
Under planning rules, the Halefs could build a structure up to 90 metres tall on the site, which is about 28-30 storeys, reports Woodford.
5. Christian charity accused of fraud in 2nd class action suit
Angela MacIvor reports for the CBC on a Canadian class action suit filed against the Christian charity, Gospel for Asia.
Plaintiff Greg Zentner of Woodburn, N.S., alleges the charity “defrauded or made negligent misstatements” to him and other donors. The statement of claim also said the “defendants civilly conspired to misrepresent the nature of donations collected.”
In other words, Zentner alleges the money raised didn’t go where it was supposed to. He is seeking damages for the “misuse of donor funds in excess of $100 million.”
The statement of claim was filed in Nova Scotia Supreme Court on Tuesday. Gospel for Asia (GFA) settled a class-action lawsuit in the U.S. with similar allegations last year for $37 million.
6. Stealing $2 million from DND brings no jail time
The CBC’s Blair Rhodes reports on the sentencing of two men convicted of defrauding the Department of National Defense of $2 million dollars.
The Crown had been asking for federal prison terms for Bry’n Ross, 65 and Harold Dawson, 60, following their convictions for fraud.
But Justice James Chipman dismissed that idea and gave them two years of house arrest.
“I am of the overwhelming view that it would not be in the interests of justice to commit Messrs. Ross and Dawson to a prison environment,” he wrote in his sentencing decision.
It’s worth mentioning that Ross and Dawson are both white men, as is Justice Chipman. It certainly is refreshing to see consideration of the realities of what committing someone to a prison environment means, but in a world where Black people are significantly overrepresented in federal prisons, one has to wonder how often judges apply this level of empathy to non-white people convicted of crimes. In the interest of whose justice is this sentence, exactly?
1. “Sometimes filling the corners is just what we need”
Stephen Archibald gets inspired by the shape of the slated-for-demolition CBC Television building on Bell Road, and explores other buildings that found a way to fit into the odd non-standard corner around Halifax, including the five-sided Pentagon building, which came down to make way for the Cogswell interchange circa 1963.
Archibald also visits the squished-in Bollard House at Queen and Dresden Row, and Peter’s Pizzeria which occupies a small triangle of space where Victoria Road meet Inglis in the South End. Archibald notes, “This sort of perfect, little, commercial building doesn’t seem to get built anymore.”
2. Talking about the takeover
Today, Saint Mary’s will host a livestream of a talk, in French, by Concordia professor Ted Rutland entitled, “The history of urbanism and racism in Halifax, 1880–2010.”
Back in 2015, Rutland came to Halifax to speak in English about his research into the history of displacement of people in the city. The event, hosted by the Radical Imagination Project and titled, “White Ignorance and the Struggle Against Gentrification in Halifax,” drew hundreds of people to the Army Navy Club on Maynard Street, and also featured a panel including Ingrid Waldron, Lynn Jones, and El Jones. Rutland started with a statistical snapshot of gentrification in Halifax, before getting into the longer history of displacement in the city, starting with officially sanctioned and engineered displacements, and winding up with the cultural and economic force we are more familiar with today, gentrification. I wrote about Rutland’s talk, for the Halifax Media Coop:
…In the early 2000’s the average price of a home between North and Cornwallis shot past the rest of Halifax for the first time in history, and then kept growing. Ten years later, the neighbourhood is seeing a development boom of both condos and commercial spaces that is transforming the neighbourhood.
The black population of the North End which made up 27% of the population in 2006, was down to 20% by 2011, according to stats presented by Rutland.
Gentrification is hardly a new phenomenon. “In Halifax, there hasn’t been a moment when there hasn’t been a claiming and a displacement process,” said Rutland.
It started right with Cornwallis, who arrived here in 1749 with both a plan for a new city and a bounty for the scalps of Mi’kmaq people, said Rutland. “When we’re talking about displacement, claiming and violence, that’s the history of Halifax.”
Fast forward to the early 1900’s for another key moment in this history. A diphtheria epidemic, concentrated in poor neighbourhoods, leads authorities to demolish homes, and a well-intentioned plague of progressives ‘help’ people by taking control of their children, their houses and their neighbourhoods. The progressives are “people who want to do something useful, but have no idea how to do something useful,” said Rutland.
Here’s where the “white ignorance” of the talk’s title finds its roots. It’s a term coined by philosopher Charles Mills to describe a kind of “socially produced” ignorance, a huge blind spot to how others might be experiencing the world.
This lack of understanding extends through race and class, and leads to a frustrating paradox: “White people don’t necessarily understand racism even though they are the ones perpetuating it,” said Rutland.
Luckily this ignorance can be reduced, said Rutland, “but we’ve got to recognize it.” Wednesday’s discussion seemed like it scratched out a beginning in that process.
Rutland’s history lesson didn’t end with the 1900’s. Most are at least somewhat aware of the takeover of Africville and the resettlement of former residents. But it didn’t begin or end there. The 50’s, 60’s and 70’s saw roughly 5000 additional people displaced in Halifax’s North End.
To the largely home-owning black community in the North End this was especially devastating. In addition to more sinister profit-driven motives, much of it happened under the well-intentioned auspices of ‘progressive’ urban renewal.
Rutland’s final historical example was actually a failed attempt at dislocation. In the early 1970’s as the tides were turning on urban renewal, protests by a number of community groups stopped the completion of Harbour Drive, a massive ring road that would have encircled the peninsula, destroying sections of the north end and much of the waterfront.
This time, Rutland pointed out, the good intentions behind the campaign reflected something different: a renewed interest in public space. The middle class were starting to value urban life again, and the idea of the lively, dynamic city is born. “It’s a huge moment where we see a different way of being in public space,” said Rutland. “And it’s exactly that idea that creates gentrification.”
In racist Halifax of the 70’s through to today, the urban revival is not experienced the same way by everyone. It’s a different city for anyone outside of the predominantly white and powerful middle class.
And, concluded Rutland: “The only way in which anti-gentrification politics is legitimate in this context is to prioritize the struggles of black communities against displacement.”
You can hear Rutland’s talk, short talks by panelists Ingrid Waldron, Lynn Jones and El Jones, and the audience interaction, here.
3. NSFM calls out province on neglecting low roads for high roads
The Nova Scotia Federation of Municipalities issued a release expressing its reaction to the provincial budget, and they don’t sound happy. The organization, which includes representatives from the 50 different municipal governments in Nova Scotia, says it is disappointed with the province’s “failure to address the increasing financial gap municipalities face due to rising costs and outmigration.” The NSFM also specifically calls out the province’s healthy capital budget for 100-series highways, an area where the government seems determined to spend beyond Nova Scotia’s means.
The province is spending a lot of money around the province to upgrade its 100-series highways, with a capital budget reaching more than $1 billion.
But none is targeted directly to upgrade the provincially owned Trunk 1 that brings visitors directly into the heart of Nova Scotia’s towns.
“Hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent on highways, and a fraction of that would go a long way to saving our Main Streets and keeping our rural routes in shape for the thousands of people who call our towns home.”
As I was revisiting the 2015 coverage of the White Ignorance event in the North End, I noticed that one of the poems performed by El Jones that night was one she had created for a 2012 rally in support of a community bid to take over and re-purpose the St. Pat’s-Alexandra School, which city officials sold to JONO Developments, in a legally contested sale. The site still sits vacant, and the neighbourhood kids have plenty of creepy stories about what happens if you wander inside.
Heritage Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 3pm, City Hall) — two properties — 10175 Highway 7 in Salmon River and 6047 Jubilee Road — are being considered as potential heritage sites.
Transportation Standing Committee (Thursday, 1pm, City Hall) — the committee is recommending that council direct the CAO to “promote and encourage the use of the Flexible Work Arrangements Business Practise for all non-union employees as an option for managing congestion and reducing single occupancy vehicle trips in alignment with the Integrated Mobility Plan (IMP).”
Public Open House – Case 22332 (Thursday, 6pm, Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church, 3844 Joseph Howe Dr, Halifax) — Timbercreek Asset Management, which is a giant Toronto-based real estate company that owns a bazillion apartment buildings, wants to tear down two apartment buildings on Willet Street and build three new apartment buildings of eight, 13, and 19 storeys, totalling 517 units, and some townhouses besides. It will look nothing at all like the architectural rendering above, especially since in the northern hemisphere, the sun is to the south, not the north.
No public meetings for the rest of the week.
Voice with ORA Ensemble (Wednesday, 11:45am, Sculpture Court, Dal Arts Centre)
Implication of a Novel Subpopulation of Platelet-Derived Microparticle in Inflammatory Diseases(Wednesday, 4pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — Luc Boudreau from Université de Moncton will talk.
Mini Law School: A brief history of women’s human rights (Wednesday, 7pm, Room 104, Weldon Law Building) — Mariana Prandini Assis will talk.
Dalhousie Reading Circle (Thursday, 9:30am, Indigenous Student Centre Community Room, 1321 Edward Street) — weekly meeting for “Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.” More info here.
Law Hour with Mark Sakamoto (Thursday, 12:30pm, Room 105, Weldon law Building) — Mark will talk about his “Body of Work (so far): Life in Law, Business, Tech & Culture.”
Restrictions of eigenfunctions to general subsets of surfaces (Thursday, 2:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Suresh Eswarathasan will talk.
Let M be a compact surface, without boundary, in Euclidean 3-space. We can consider some special functions, namely Laplace-Beltrami eigenfunctions, that have some fundamental importance. Functions of this type arise in physics as modes of periodic vibration of drums/membranes or as the stationary states of a free quantum particle on a surface.
In the first part of the lecture, I will give a survey of results that demonstrate how the geometry of M affects the behaviour of these special functions, particularly their “size” which can be quantified by estimating integrals over certain geometric subsets of M. In the second part of my lecture, I will discuss joint work (past and in-progress) with Malabika Pramanik (U. British Columbia) studying these integrals over general Borel subsets of $M$ and how our results generalize those presented in the first part of the lecture.
Explicit examples and formulas will be used throughout a majority of the talk.
Bring your own Laplace-Beltrami eigenfunctions.
Transformative Politics of the Wild (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Hall, Marion McCain Building) —Lisa Young, Executive Director, Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources (UINR) and Elder Albert Marshall, Eskasoni First Nation, will talk about “Re-emergence of Netukulimk in Mi’kma’ki: Awakening the Sleeping Giant.” More info here.
African Heritage Month: Poetry Slam (Thursday, 6pm, Gorsebrook Pub) — the theme: “Rooted.” More info here.
Mount Saint Vincent
Vincent’s Restaurant (Wednesday, 4:30 – 7pm) — Tourism & Hospitality Management students will make you dinner at this student-run teaching restaurant. Reservations required. For menu options, pricing, and alternate lunch and dinner dates click here.
Black Coffee (Wednesday, 5pm, Art Gallery, Seton Academic Centre) — from the listing:
Sip a hot cup of joe and engage in a critical and honest discussion about race and community. Through a graphic facilitator, attendees will participate in unpacking the topic “Pulling the Race Card.”
More info here.
Gender in Health Workshop (Thursday, 9am, Rooms 404-405, Seton Academic Centre) — Phillip Joy will talk about how sex and gender can influence the health of people.
Where Have All the Monsters Gone? (Thursday, 4:30pm, room 404, Seton Academic Centre) — Karen Macfarlane will talk. Email here for more info.
Miss Chief in the Museum (Thursday, 7:30pm, Alumni Hall) — Kent Monkman will talk.
History is subjective. The dominant version of history upheld in museums on this continent is told from the perspective of the colonial settler cultures who projected their values and ideals onto the Indigenous people and landscape of North America. Cree artist Kent Monkman discusses his interventions in museums that have taken form as commissioned paintings, curated exhibitions, videos, and site specific performances. Monkman will also discuss his recent commission for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York – two monumental history paintings for the Great Hall and the creation of a new performance piece.
More info here. Public welcome, but priority seating for King’s students.
In the harbour
04:00: Inyala, oil tanker, arrives at Irving Oil from Saint John
05:30: Boheme, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southampton, England
06:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
06:30: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 9 from Saint-Pierre
20:30: Boheme sails for sea
I hope all you “spring is here” people are knocking on plenty of wood.