1. Healthy Bays Network: Fish farms are not just a rural issue; people in Halifax should be concerned
Yvette d’Entremont reports on the newly-created Healthy Bays Network (HBN), a group of several community organizations opposed to open-net finfish farms in Nova Scotia. The group is opposed to New Brunswick-based seafood company Cooke Aquaculture subsidiary Kelly Cove Salmon Limited’s new long-term (20-year) lease and a 10-year operating licence for its salmon farm site now in Liverpool Bay. The Nova Scotia’s Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture granted both of those leases.
HBN is also opposed to Cooke’s plans to expand its Bayswater operation in St. Margarets Bay.
Geoff Le Boutillier of the Twin Bays Coalition, one of the community groups now part of HBN, says they are opposed to open-net pen technology being used in the waters off Nova Scotia because “there’s a wealth of problems with it.”
It’s very profitable because nature itself cleans all that stuff away, the fish poop. They put chemicals in the open net pens which drift through the nets, passing fish and all kinds of marine-based wildlife passes through or around the nets and they are affected by it.
And the poop itself is carried away on currents, sometimes many, many kilometers away. So the footprint of those net pens is huge and not just the lease itself.
2. Opposition critics on the Advisory Council on the Status of Women call for an inquiry into mass murder, but McNeil government demurs
Two Nova Scotia MLAs and opposition critics are pushing for an inquiry into the mass shooting in April. Joan Baxter and Jennifer Henderson interviewed Karla MacFarlane, Progressive Conservative MLA for Pictou West and critic for the Advisory Council on the Status of Women, and MLA Claudia Chender, NDP house leader and critic for the Status of Women, who are both calling for an inquiry.
MacFarlane says part of the inquiry should happen in Ottawa, but the inquiry itself “definitely needs to happen” in Nova Scotia. She added that an inquiry could be therapeutic for families, even if it brings out answers on how the RCMP could have acted differently and saved lives.
I think the truth always eventually heals … That’s why it’s extremely important to have the inquiry here because of the fact that it happened here. And I think that we must recognize that this is the time for us to be most transparent and allow ourselves to be vulnerable in providing all the truth in this matter. And that’s why an inquiry has to happen so that we can identify why did it happen and now how do we move on?
Chender says she wants to see an inquiry, too, including through a gender lens. The MLA for Dartmouth South says we need to look at the ways in which misogyny and gender-based violence played (or didn’t play) a role in the mass shootings. She adds there’s a need for a culture change around “looking the other way” when we witness abusive behaviour.
While gender-based violence is certainly and sadly universal, it’s also very specific and it manifests in really specific ways in different communities… We have a lot of systemic misogyny, and in some cases violence here in Nova Scotia. And that’s a really hard curtain to peel back, especially right now when I think the whole province is in mourning.
Baxter and Henderson also spoke with two municipal councillors in Colchester County where 17 of the murders occurred. Tom Taggart, councillor for District 10, which includes Portapique, says he’s been asked “a million times” about an inquiry, but says his concern is with the families of the victims.
I’ll be honest. I’ve urged Council to respect the community and families there for now. There will be lots of time for those discussions, any questions that need to be answered. But certainly I’m not ready to jump into that right now.
Colchester County councillor Michael Gregory, who is a retired RCMP officer, didn’t have much to say, which actually says quite a bit. Here’s his response to some emailed questions (he wouldn’t grant an interview):
Halifax Examiner: Do you, as a municipal councillor, feel that there should be a public inquiry into the April mass shooting in Nova Scotia?
Councillor Gregory: No
Halifax Examiner: If not, why not?
Councillor Gregory: What would it accomplish?
Halifax Examiner: Would you support having this issue discussed at a county council meeting?
Councillor Gregory: What would we be discussing? All we know about the incident is what we read in the news.
Hmmmm, councillors Taggart and Gregory remind me of some other municipal councillors we heard from this year. Oh, right — it’s Richmond County’s all-male council, which in February voted no to funding for a women’s leadership conference that was to be held in Port Hawkesbury.
Municipal councils need more women.
Read the full story here.
3. Premier McNeil: A message from my grandmother about the RCMP
Paul Palango writes about the silence from Premier Stephen McNeil and Justice Minister Mark Furey, an ex RCMP officer, on calls for a public inquiry into the mass shootings in April. Says Palango:
What investigation arising out of the circumstances is going to change the fact that the RCMP embarrassed itself with its performance that weekend? There are supposedly more than 900 Mounties in Nova Scotia in contract and federal policing? Where were they all?
Logic dictates that since the shooter, who the Examiner is calling GW, was absolutely linked to the shootings and fires, any new criminal investigation should have little, if anything, to do with him. RCMP Chief Supt. Chris Leather said as much at a press conference three days after the rampage: that GW “acted alone.”
Has the RCMP stumbled onto some new, sensitive, and dramatic case or are they and the government just slowing everything down to a crawl, to control the narrative and buy some time?
My gut tells me the latter. Prove me wrong.
Palango also talks about his own experience reporting on policing, beyond the three books he wrote about the RCMP. And he shares stories about his own family’s experience as peace officers and a message from his grandmother, Mary Sarah MacLellan, who would have told the premier, “Jeezus snow-shovellin’ Christ, Stephen, get the blazes off your arse and call an inquiry.”
Read the full story here.
4. COVID-19 update: Most businesses in Nova Scotia can reopen June 5
The Halifax Examiner is providing all COVID-19 coverage for free.
Tim Bousquet reports on the latest on COVID-19, including that it’s back to business for most starting June 5.
On Wednesday, the Department of Health and Wellness announced one new case of COVID-19, which is at a retirement home at Northwood. That brings the current total at Northwood to 16 cases: 12 residents and four staff. There have been 1,053 known cases of the disease in Nova Scotia and 975 people have recovered. Fifty-nine people have died with the disease.
And on June 5, a number of businesses can reopen, if they follow the protocols for their sector:
— restaurants for dine-in, as well as takeout and delivery
— bars, wineries, distilleries and taprooms
— lounges are not permitted to reopen at this time
— personal services, such as hair salons, barber shops, spas, nail salons and body art establishments
— fitness facilities, such as gyms, yoga studios and climbing facilities
These health providers can open, too:
— dentistry and other self-regulated health professions such as optometry, chiropractic and physiotherapy
— unregulated health professions such as massage therapy, podiatry and naturopathy
The province says daycares will be allowed to reopen on June 15.
My kid has been asking about when she can see her friends without having to stay two metres apart from each other. I don’t have the answer. There seems to be a lot of frustration from people who would prefer to see their families and friends before they go shopping.
Read the full story here.
5. Frontline workers: Grocery store staff
In the latest in my series on frontline workers, I talk with someone who works in a grocery store. The worker didn’t want to include their name, but we had a great discussion about safety measures in the stores, how customers were treating staff (most are nice, some, not so much), and we talked about the raises they got, but how they still don’t receive benefits or sick days.
I enjoyed writing this series because I got to learn more about how different jobs have changed in response to COVID-19. But I also got to learn more about those I interviewed beyond the work they do. Like many of us, they are finding ways to cope during a crisis and keep occupied. We are all more than the work we do.
Read the full story here.
6. Basic income: An idea whose time has come
Dolores Campbell at the Cape Breton Spectator writes that one of the good things we’ve learned in this pandemic is that a Guaranteed Annual Income (GAI) is not only “very doable and hopefully very probable.” Of course, the federal government created the Canadian Emergency Benefit Response (CERB), which is helping Canadians keep afloat during this crisis, but the idea of a GAI is not new.
In the U.S., Andrew Yang, who had been seeking the Democratic nomination for president, was promoting a Universal Basic Income. Yang has been credited with the idea of giving Americans $1000 a month during the pandemic.
Campbell writes about Professor Evelyn Forget of the University of Manitoba, who studied Mincome, a 1970s Manitoba experiment on GAI that was the first of its kind in Canada. Forget got her hands on 1,800 boxes of project records from Mincome and worked to learn more about the results.
A GAI in Canada before COVID-19 probably would have solved a lot of problems around the eligibility for CERB as we watched the criteria change over several weeks. Says Campbell:
Had a GAI been in place as we headed into this totally unfamiliar territory that is life with COVID-19, everyone over 18 might have been able to count on having $2,000 dropped into their bank accounts or mailboxes each month and would possibly even have qualified for a COVID-related financial boost, as those on OAS and/or GIS have.
Read the full story here.
7. Halifax developer proposes 23-storey tower for Robie Street under baked-in Centre Plan exception
Zane Woodford reports on developer Danny Chedrawe’s new proposal for a 23-storey tower on his Robie Street property next to the Willow Tree site. If approved by Council, the tower will have 102 apartments or condominiums and commercial space on the ground floor and possibly the second floor.
As Woodford reports, this isn’t the first proposal for the site. In 2014, Westwood and Armco jointly applied to develop the Willow Tree site and Chedrawe wanted 18 storeys. Westwood submitted another plan in 2015 that included a hotel. Two years later, they submitted another proposal for a six-storey commercial space and 22-storey tower. And in 2018, they brought the proposal to the city as the Centre Plan was in its final stages.
This article is for subscribers. Please subscribe here.
What to do when you get lost in the woods
Cecilia Khamete and her friend Nenyo had been hiking for at least an hour in the woods on Sunday, May 24 when they realized they were lost. They planned the week before to go on a hike. The pair, who’ve known each other for three years, are each other’s isolation bubbles and have been spending every Sunday on a road trip. That morning, they narrowed down their hike choices to the Salt Marsh Trail or the Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area. Neither had been to Blue Mountain before and it was closer to home. “We thought we’d do a two-hour hike and we might have time to go back to the other destination,” Khamete says. “And that just never happened.”
Khamete lives in Herring Cove and has hiked trails there before. Nenyo, who didn’t want to include her last name, hikes neighbouhood trails. When they first researched Blue Mountain, a Google review said the trails were at an easier level for hikers. They brought along snacks and water. They had on hiking shoes and were dressed warmly. They each had phones that were fully charged. The day was warm and sunny.
They drove to Lake Shore Drive where there’s an entrance to the wilderness area there. They saw different coloured ribbons on the trees, which they thought were some kind of directions on what trail to take. They took a smaller trail that eventually led to a larger trail and thought that was the main way to get out. Despite the warmth and sun of the day, the trails were wet and marshy the entire way. They walked in the wrong direction for about an hour and a half.
We couldn’t see anything on either side that indicated we were coming to an exit.
They used Google maps to figure out where they were, but it wasn’t helpful. During a second Google search on Blue Mountain they learned the trail was for more advanced hikers. They were lost.
I am not sure how we missed that. We realized we couldn’t keep going.
Khamete’s hip was hurting from the exhaustion of hiking the muddy trails. She called 311 because they didn’t think it was a 911 emergency. Eventually, they were directed to 911 and then to an RCMP officer who tried to direct them out. They sent their coordinates and the officer headed to the trail and tried to get in with an ATV, but the vehicle got stuck in the mud. Khamete and Nenyo used Google Earth, but that didn’t help and they couldn’t see an exit in any direction.
Khamete couldn’t keep walking so they found a rock on a granite outcrop where they stayed. Over the course of a couple of hours, Khamete talked with the RCMP officer on the phone or through texting. Eventually, they were put in touch with Halifax Search and Rescue (HSAR) around 3:45 p.m. The RCMP officer kept checking in with them while they waited.
Khamete talked with Blair Doyle, director of search with Halifax Search and Rescue, who assured them help was on the way. By 5 p.m., no one had arrived and Khamete says they thought no one would get them by sunset.
It was a little panic by telling ourselves if we keep moving forward maybe we’ll get to an exit. That never happened.
Khamete says they learned about how their personalities dealt with the stress and panic of being lost. Khamete says at one point, Nenyo started screaming.
That made me laugh. I kept laughing and she kept screaming. If anyone had seen us, we looked mad.
The noise in my head kept getting louder and louder. I looked back and there was no sign of a human being.
Nenyo fell asleep for about 15 minutes.
When I woke up, I was calmer.
At one point, they saw a river with logs for crossing, but to get to the river they had to cross a bog. But they didn’t know it was a bog because it was covered by grass and Nenyo says it looked stable. She was walking ahead of Khamete and took one step into the bog and sank to her waist. She grabbed on to some plants and pulled herself out. They went back to the granite outcrop and called the RCMP officer. “That was quite a suspenseful moment,” Nenyo says.
Nenyo had a second nap while they waited.
I learned a lot about myself. When I’m stressed, I escape by sleeping. I didn’t know that.
Paul Service was dispatched with part of the team to find Khamete and Nenyo. He does public relations for HSAR and on this day landed the helicopter that took Khamete and Nenyo out of the woods. He says it was a standard call, and the pair reached out early, which is the right thing to do when lost in the woods. It’s not the first time the team has responded to calls here. It’s actually one of a few spots, including the Bluff Trail, plus another area in Dartmouth, where people find themselves lost every year. This was the first rescue the team has done in Blue Mountain this season. Service says they did a couple rescues there last season.
Service says the reasons people love the Blue Mountain wilderness area, including its accessibility to those living in the city, and its rugged beauty, is what makes perfect training ground for its searchers. HSAR has approximately 160 active volunteers, including 40 or so on its remote search team. Nineteen volunteers helped in this search. Service says they use the area for their Advanced Searchers course, which volunteers take after they have at least two years of service with the team. Over 24 to 36 hours, searchers in the course use that area to run through all sorts of scenarios.
It’s so close you don’t think anything can happen. It’s the wilderness and it’s right in our backyard. That’s what we love about it as well.
Service says a few years ago, the team was in that area training when a group that got lost stumbled upon the training exercises. Service says the team thought the hikers were part of the learning scenarios. Service recalls the hikers saying to them, “We called 911. How did you get here so quickly?”
Blue Mountain posed issues for the team that Sunday when they went looking for Khamete and Nenyo. Its ATV crew went in first, before the searchers on foot, and they ran into trouble when they hit some wet, muddy areas.
Service says Khamete and her friend were right to call for help as quickly as they did. They had a lot of power left on their cellphones, so they could keep in touch with rescuers before they were found. Service says HSAR has an Adventure Smart program that teaches people how to prepare, including more trip planning and more research on what the area is like. He says hikers should also carry a lot of essentials with them.
We carry a large backpack with our members and all our members who went in on this call had enough to look after themselves for 24 hours. But they also had enough gear, jackets, lights, that sort of thing, to look after a subject for the same amount of time.
Like so many other organizations, Halifax Search and Rescue had to adapt its work for COVID-19. Service says the team talked with RCMP, Halifax Regional Police, and Halifax Fire about how to protect members. They suspended in-person training and meetings moved online. Members learned how to wear PPE and other protections. During the evacuation on the weekend, everyone on the team wore masks because they work in close proximity to each other.
Right now, is a really good time to tell people to be careful when they go into the woods. We alluded online that it takes 12 of our folks to move a stretcher out of the woods. Obviously, in this case we didn’t need a stretcher … but they all have to be within a metre of the stretcher to have really effective control of that. It’s very labour intensive, even with an up-and-out helicopter and other resources coming in. They all have to have the appropriate PPE.
Service says he’s seen posts online where people are getting out on trails they’re unfamiliar with in an effort to avoid too many people on more popular trails.
It’s a situation where if you don’t know the area, you really shouldn’t go into that area right now. Don’t take new risks because you’re avoiding more populated areas.
Khamete says they were told to keep listening for the sound of the ATVs, but she says she saw the searchers’ bright orange jackets first.
Oh my god, we were so happy. I’ve never been so happy to see a bunch of strangers.
The HSAR team did medical checks on Khamete and Nenyo. Khamete got pain meds for her hip. Both got dry socks and blankets and food and water. But everyone still had to get out. A helicopter was called, but it had trouble finding a landing spot. Khamete and Nenyo still had to walk through more marshy spots to get to the chopper, but this time they had help.
A police car then drove them to Khamete’s car near the wilderness entrance.
They all got out around 7 p.m., about six hours after making the first call to 311.
When Khamete got home later that night, she tweeted out photos and a thank you. She took the next day off and even made tentative plans to go hiking again, probably the Salt Marsh Trail at some point. Nenyo went back to work the next day and is avoiding hiking any trails for a while. She says she won’t even go on a road trip this weekend.
I don’t like nature and nature doesn’t like me. I don’t know what I was thinking. I won’t do it again.
She did make a donation to Halifax Search and Rescue.
I am really grateful for what they did. I am grateful I live in a place that this is possible and I didn’t have to pay a dime. There were so many people who came to save my friend and me. And they did it for free. That blows my mind.
Khamete says for her next hike, she’ll be more prepared with better footwear, more water, snacks, and a blanket. She says anyone going on a hike should have their a fully-charged phone and a paper map, if they can find one. She adds if they get lost in the woods call 911 and stay put. And before you go, do as much research as possible about the place you plan to explore.
It took a long while before they could get to us. The terrain was difficult, even for the search-and-rescue people. That should tell you something. Maybe it’s not the right time to go to that trail. Call 911. Don’t call 311. They will talk to you, but it’s not the right call.
Being lost in the woods is a 911 emergency. The only way to get through to search and rescue is through 911.
That was an experience in a lifetime because I’ve never been in a situation where I had to seek help from emergency services. Truly, it was a lack of proper preparedness.
The federal government’s job bank underwent a makeover recently to help job seekers looking for work in the pandemic. You can find the link to the job bank here.
I never found this to be the best job site, but this version is at least more organized. There are categories for sectors, including agri-food, essential services, and work-at-home opportunities. There’s another section for “in-demand” jobs for those looking for work in another industry like retail, truck transport, and nursing. There’s a separate category for volunteer opportunities.
According to the site, there are more than 44,000 jobs in essential services, which for the Job Bank means anything from health, agriculture, construction, maintenance and repair, to law enforcement.
But some things never change, pandemic or not. Check out these jobs under vulnerable population services, which is an essential service. There’s this one for an instructor of people with intellectual disabilities with GOVRC Workshop in Springfill. The pay is $12.80/hr, full-time seasonal.
Or this one for a mental health worker with Metro Community Living in Lower Sackville. The pay is $14.84/hr. The job is part-time, casual, and shift work, so you’d need a car to get to work.
This cleaner gig in at Kings Janitorial in Yarmouth pays $13/hr. Haven’t we learned properly cleaning helps prevents the spread of disease? No hero pay for these folks!
In the work-from-home category, there’s this gig for a manager of promotion with Development Isle Madame Association. The pay is $12.55/hr for 35 hours a week.
Now take a look at the wages for these jobs in the agriculture, farming, and harvesting sector.
Luckett Vineyards, which is owned by Pete Luckett, is looking for vineyard workers who will get paid $12.55/hr to $14/hr for 50 hours a week. Toodle-dee-doo to getting ahead on that money.
Oh, Northern Pulp is hiring a forest nursery worker. And the pay is $12.55/hr, seasonal full-time.
In fact, most of the agriculture jobs just on the first page of that section pay just above minimum wage.
A reminder: the living wage in Halifax is $19.17/hr and $17.30 in Antigonish. The Canadian Emergency Response Benefit is $2000 a month or $14.29/hr for a 35-hour workweek.
I guess when it comes to wages in Nova Scotia, the new normal is not so new at all. Like a basic income, a living wage is an idea whose time has come, too.
Special Heritage Advisory Committee (Thursday, 3pm) — virtual meeting, agenda here.
In the harbour
06:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to anchorage
06:15: Macao Strait, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Setúbal, Portugal
06:30: Atlantic Sky, ro-ro container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
11:00: Tijuca moves to Pier 31
12:00: Oceanex Sanderling moves to Autoport
16:00: Atlantic Sky sails for Liverpool, England
16:00: Macao Strait sails for Mariel, Cuba
16:30: Tijuca sails for sea
18:00: Acadia Desgagnes, cargo ship, sails from Pier 25 for sea
19:00: Taipei Trader, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from New York
22:00: Augusta Luna, cargo ship, sails from Pier 31 for sea
If you don’t already subscribe to the Examiner, you really should consider it. My colleagues here are doing kick-ass work and it doesn’t happen for free. Subscribe here.
Better still, get the Cape Breton Spectator, too. It’s just $15 a month for the Joint Subscription. Mary Campbell and her team are also kick-ass.
“Supporting local” means supporting local journalism, too. Thanks!