1. Occupy North Mountain
Joan Baxter reports on a sit-in by residents who live close to a piece of land near North Mountain in Kings County that is slated to be sprayed with glyphosate-based herbicide. The residents say they won’t leave the spot until spraying is cancelled or the permit expires at the end of the year. The spraying can begin today and residents say they will serve notice they’re occupying the land. The spraying will be done by Century Forestry Consultants Limited.
Besides the sit-in, residents are organizing demonstrations Thursday, September 3 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., at the junction of McNally and Nollett Beckwith Roads on North Mountain. Resident Don Osburn, who along with his partner Anna owns 130 acres of land where they have an organic farm, say they have contacted their own MLA, Leo Glavine, and sent letters to Environment Minister Gordon Wilson. But there’s more, as Osburn says:
We’re also going to be demonstrating at the Department of Environment offices in Kentville. And we’re going to organize a series of emergency nature walks, and we’re going to show people the good, the bad, and the ugly world. We’ll take people on walks through one or more of our woodlots that are being sustainably managed along Meekin Brook. And we’ll also do walks up to the clearcut that’s proposed to be sprayed… When people see the magnitude of this clearcut, they will be stunned.
One of the things we’re passionate about is the need to establish sustainable forestry, and I say “establish” because we don’t have sustainable forestry here. And the people that are making efforts to establish it are not being sufficiently supported. All they get are empty words.
Baxter’s reported on the dangers of glyphosate-based herbicides before. As she reports here, in 2015, the World Health Organization’s cancer research agency classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans. But Health Canada refuses to recognize that, as the Halifax Examiner reported here and here.
2. COVID is making us cook more at home, but we’re also wasting more food
The Halifax Examiner is providing all COVID-19 coverage for free.
Yvette d’Entremont reports on a study that says households in Canada are wasting a lot more food each month since the pandemic began — like 20 to 24 million kilograms more food each month.
The study on food waste is a collaboration between Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab and Ontario-based research firm Caddle. The report’s co-author Erica Finch says food waste is not surprising considering most of us are cooking at home more often now. Says Finch:
But how much of that food that they’re buying are they using, and how much is being thrown away compared to before the pandemic? That’s the part that’s difficult for us to tell.
The report learned there were many reasons households were wasting food. As d’Entremont reports:
The reasons why Canadians are wasting food varies, with a majority (31.3%) stating the food was left in the refrigerator or freezer for too long. This was followed by 30.4% discarding food because household members didn’t finish meals. Not consuming food prior to the best before date was the response given by 15% of respondents, while 17.2% said they didn’t waste any food at home.
Another 12.8% said they threw food away because they preferred the freshest food possible.
But d’Entremont also learns why the issue of food waste is important. Says Finch:
We know that one in seven households in Canada are food insecure so in that sense it’s important to be thinking about food that’s being thrown away and how we can save that food. But also wasting food doesn’t just mean throwing away the food itself.
It also means that you’re wasting all of the resources that go into producing that food in the first place. In that sense, food wastage is a really important environmental issue as well and it’s something we can all play a part in reducing.
I don’t know what d’Entremont was cooking in that photo she took, but I’d eat it.
3. Dead Wrong Extra: Robin Hartrick’s very problematic evidence against Glen
In Tim Bousquet’s latest in his Dead Wrong Extra series, he talks more about Margaret Hartrick, who was known as Robin, one of the most important witnesses in the Glen Assoun case. This is part 1 of a two-part series in which Bousquet will explore the problematic evidence Hartrick offered in the case.
Robin was the one witness who could place Glen very close to the spot were Brenda Way was murdered. But Robin didn’t come forward with the information until a year after Brenda’s murder, when she was being investigated in another case. As Bousquet reports:
As she was interviewed about that case, Robin, perhaps thinking she was deflecting attention away from her own inaction when the man died, told police that she had become a sex worker in order to help police. She told police that “she was working the streets only to get information on who killed Brenda Way,” said Constable Peter Gallant at trial. Robin went on to tell Gallant and Constable Anthony Blencowe about what Gallant called “vague details” about a red truck somehow being involved in the murder.
Blencowe gave the details in his testimony:
We asked her if she could give us the size, a make, a model, a year, a license plate, at which time she told us she couldn’t give us any of that because she had never seen it. We asked her to specify a little more, at which time she stated she had never seen or heard about the truck but she had psychic visions, and that she had a psychic vision about a truck being responsible.
We became a little more frustrated and asked her if she had any information she could give us at all, at which time she started to talk about a vision of what we call the old Pipeline Road, which was the old Ultramar pipes that used to run off of Windmill Road. We asked her if she had any information based on knowledge or if it was another vision. Again, she stated it was a psychic vision.
By this point, we felt that she was wasting our time, and we were getting ready to escort her out of the building, and she made the statement to us, “Well, I guess it doesn’t matter that at 4:15 Glen told me in front of Linda Grandy’s apartment that he knew Brenda was dead,” and that’s where her statement was taken, starting at that point. And we asked her if that was based on knowledge or another vision, at which time she said that was based on knowledge, and we began a statement.
None of this makes sense. If Robin knew Glen was near the murder scene at about the time of the murder, and he knew that Brenda was dead, she wouldn’t have needed to start “working the streets only to get information on who killed Brenda Way” — she already had that information.
Bousquet includes the never-before published videotape KGB statement from Hartrick. You can decide for yourself if Robin was a credible witness.
4. Artist’s street safety project hits a bump in the road
Zane Woodford reports on an artist in Dartmouth who went “rogue” and created and installed a speed bump in the city-owned parking lot at Findlay Community Centre in Dartmouth. This was Doug Carleton’s second road safety installation that got him into trouble. Last year, Carleton, who is known on Twitter as PewPew, @StreetArtNS, painted a 3D crosswalk on Erskine Street. The city wasn’t happy with the 3D crosswalk and removed the paint.
But as Woodford reports, this time the city called the cops on Carleton for his latest project. The speed bump is made of epoxy Carleton says is five times stronger than concrete. Under the epoxy is aluminum foil tape and reflective tape, which glows at night. He tested it last winter and it can withstand snowplows. Carleton tells Woodford he wants to see the bump at crosswalks across the city.
If they were at crosswalks, if you had that little bump there, it would start drivers actually slowing down a little bit as they approach crosswalks.
My hope, if I couldn’t get these all over HRM, would be that we could disperse them evenly enough over HRM that you elicit sort of a Pavlovian response in drivers … People would get in the habit of slowing down enough that they could save somebody’s life if they didn’t happen to see them going into the crosswalk.
But not everyone was happy with the bump. Councillor Sam Austin says the municipality notified police. Says Austin:
This is the second time he’s gone and modified the city’s infrastructure. We can’t have people just going around and installing speed bumps wherever they want. That would not make our city a very safe place to be,” Austin said in an interview on Monday.
I mean, this is rogue.
Woodford and I must have been thinking alike this week. See my piece on speeding in the HRM in the Views section.
5. Shubenacadie Residential School to be designated as national historic site
Olivia Stefanovich at CBC reports that the former Shubenacadie Residential School is one of two former residential schools in Canada that will be designated as national historic sites. The other former school is Portage La Prairie Residential School in Manitoba. Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson, who is responsible for Parks Canada, will make the announcement today.
Dorene Bernard, a Mi’kmaq from Sipekne’katik First Nation and a survivor of the residential school system, tells CBC she wants to ensure that what Indigenous children endured at these schools will never be forgotten.
My vision is that it will be a place where people can go, read the plaque, go to the place where the school once stood and to start that conversation of the history of the residential school and look for more information.
There’s currently a plastic factory at the site of the former Shubenacadie Residential School. The building at Portage La Prairie is still standing.
The residential school system was nominated as a national historic event by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.
5. Portapique residents ask for privacy
Global News talks with residents in Portapique who say they’ve seen a steady stream of traffic in their community since the shootings on April 18 and 19. Residents say many visitors here are coming to visit the site of the homes where victims were killed. Thirteen residents of Portapique were among the 22 victims of the mass killing. Four properties in Portapique were burned.
Global talked with resident Andrew MacDonald, who says he counted 50 cars on the road just one morning. He says visitors drive past a sign that says, “Please give us our privacy.”
It’s really intrusive, and we feel like we’re in a bit of a fish bowl with everybody just looking at our lives, and for all the wrong reasons.
I would love people to come to Portapique and visit, but not to come and gawk at the horror and tragedy.
Serena Lewis, the bereavement, grief and wellness co-ordinator for the Northern Health Zone with Nova Scotia Health, tells Global residents are grieving the identity of their community.
Being known now as this area, this region in Canada where this tragedy has occurred, there’s definitely a discomfort with having that kind of identity. I think that for a lot of people, I hear them talking about the fact that it’s now uncomfortable that people are seeking this out as a site to come and visit.
Area councillor Tom Taggart tells Global at memorial set up at a local church may come down because residents are concerned about the number of cars on the road.
1. Where are drivers speeding in HRM? Everywhere, apparently
On Sunday, I shared a tweet asking which residential neighbourhoods in HRM were the worst for speeding yet nothing is being done. I shared the same post in the Facebook group HRM Safe Streets for Everyone. I got a lot of feedback — so many streets across the HRM were mentioned I quickly realized I should have asked where speeding wasn’t an issue (I did eventually ask that question and no one had an answer).
Here’s a rundown of some of the streets where people told me speeding is a big problem:
Halifax: Brunswick Street, Barrington from Morris south, Novalea Drive, Robie south to Saint Mary’s University, Quinpool Road from Oxford to the Armdale Rotary, Titus to Lacewood, Joseph Howe, anywhere in Fairmount, Quinpool Road, Connaught Avenue between Quinpool and Bayers Road, Bedford Highway from the Windsor Street Exchange to Flamingo Drive, Dutch Village Road, Knightsridge Drive (since the roundabout went in), Lacewood Drive between Bayview and the Dunbrack, Herring Cove Road (especially past the Captain William Spry Community Centre,) Leiblin Drive, Theakston Avenue, Hartlen Avenue. Anywhere off the peninsula. Okay — anywhere on the peninsula, too.
Dartmouth/Cole Harbour: Avenue du Portage, John Stewart Drive, Crichton Avenue, Windmill Road, Wyse Road, Prince Albert Road between the Aquatic Club and the Superstore, Sea King Drive, Alderney Drive, all around Sullivan’s Pond, Main Street between the Forest Hill Parkway and Booth Street, Colby Drive, Wildwood Boulevard, Breeze Drive and Caledonia Road between Waverley Road and Main Street, Portland Estates, Mount Edward Road, Woodlawn Avenue, Portland Street between Gaston Road and Baker Drive, The Circ (Hwy. 111)
Bedford: Larry Uteck, Starboard Drive, Oceanview Drive
Lower Sackville: Sackville Drive and all the side streets off Sackville Drive, Riverside Drive, Glendale Avenue, Walker Avenue, Beaver Bank Road
Allen Heights in Tantallon
Windsor Junction Road, Waverley Road, Wellington, Fletchers Lake, and anywhere in Fall River (it’s like Scotia Speedworld, I’m told)
Porter’s Lake: Myra Road
Whew. I’m sure there are more.
The HRM has a list of 27 streets across HRM that are up for proposed implementation of traffic calming features, including speed humps, this year. (Philip Moscovitch has a great explanation of the difference between speed bumps and speed humps here, item #2.) I don’t know the status all of these projects, but Erin DiCarlo, a spokesperson with the municipality, tells me the work on these streets will either start this year or will be tendered for construction this year. Southill between Glenforest Drive and Clayton Park Drive wasn’t on the list, but it now has two speed bumps. Click here to find the list.
Like my callout on social media, there doesn’t seem to be a pattern for where these streets are located. They’re all over the HRM. Some of them are the same streets mentioned in my Twitter feed and in the HRM Safe Streets for Everyone.
There’s another list, too. This is the current list of ranked street for potential future implementation for traffic calming features. There are 284 streets on this list. Click here to find that list.
DiCarlo tells me staff can complete about 10 streets on this (the list is updated each year).
“The final number depends on available budget, the type of measures that have been deemed appropriate for each street and integration opportunities with other Capital Projects,” Dicarlo says.
The rankings change, depending on requests received and when assessments are completed.
One of the streets that is on this list is Rafting Drive, which is off Millwood Drive in Lower Sackville. In May 2019, I wrote about speeding issues on Millwood Drive and how residents were calling for more traffic calming, which doesn’t seem to have taken place. There are stop signs at every intersection along Millwood Drive, from Beaver Bank Road to Sackville Drive. As I learned last year, speed humps can’t be installed along Millwood Drive because it’s a route for fire and emergency services (there’s a fire station at the intersection of Millwood and Sackville Drive). There’s a particularly bad turn on Millwood that has a posted 30 km/hour sign, but drivers go much faster. There’s a crosswalk here that connects to a path to the elementary school. There have also been accidents, including some in which cars ended up on front lawns or hit other cars parked on Millwood Drive.
For more than two decades, Rafting Drive was a dead-end street. The only drivers here were residents or their visitors. And then a new development was built and the street became a new shortcut. So, drivers coming from Glendale Avenue and Beaver Bank Road use Millwood and then Rafting to get to Upper Sackville, and eventually to the new roundabout to Highway 101. Rafting Drive is also directly across from Millwood High School (I went to school here, so I remember when it was quieter).
Right now, Rafting is ranked at #45 to get work done for traffic calming.
Rafting is probably not the only residential street in HRM that was once a quiet place where drivers took their time, but became a thoroughfare as new developments were built. New buildings go up, but the roads that serve them aren’t adjusted accordingly.
Fairmount, a residential neighbourhood just off Joseph Howe Drive, was the first neighbourhood in HRM to become a 40 km/hour zone. The signs went up in November 2019. There are a few signs there, but apparently they aren’t working. I took a drive there yesterday and there aren’t any traffic calming features like speed humps. Yesterday, I spoke with Gavin Giles, who’s lived in Fairmount for 19 years.
I chuckle when I see the signs that say 40. Most sane people would be happy if they drove 60, but they don’t. They drive 70, they drive 80.
Giles says he was told the HRM wouldn’t install speed humps because they interfere with snow and ice control, which he doesn’t buy.
He says he regularly sees drivers“rocketing” by him on Joseph Howe Drive, any time of day, even with children in the car. Giles says Fairmount is not a shortcut to anywhere, so most of the speeders there are residents or their visitors.
Giles says he’s hoping to meet with police soon to talk about speeding in the neighbourhood, including more enforcement. He said a few years ago, police did have cars at a few spots, including at Morningside Drive and a nearby church on Joseph Howe Drive, and gave out dozens of tickets, including two tickets for stunting. Giles says he “can’t remember” the last time he’s seen police in the area enforcing speed limits and handing out tickets.
The neighbourhood is looking for some respect generally that these are residential neighbourhoods. Regardless of whatever bullshit and bafflegab you might get from the traffic authority about how Joseph Howe is arterial and Brook is arterial, they are still residential streets and they are populated by old people with walkers and canes and they’re populated by young mothers and fathers pushing baby strollers, they’re populated by cats and dogs, and cyclists and runners. There’s a complete indifference to traffic control in this neighbourhood. It’s eventually will result in some kind of catastrophe. I wouldn’t for one single second suggest it’s endemic to this neighbourhood.
What I did notice is when I was out standing on these streets and taking photos, drivers slowed down. Maybe the municipality can hire me to stand on streets with my iPhone, scaring drivers into slowing down. Maybe they can do something more official, like cameras?
What many of these streets, like Larry Uteck, Starboard Drive, Baker Drive, and Joseph Howe have in common is their width. These are very wide roads and many commenters said wide roads encourage drivers to speed. I have noticed this, too. Joseph Howe is not a new street, but the newer streets are wide, too.
I asked DiCarlo about this, who said
New residential streets are built in accordance with our current Municipal Design Guidelines. The current standard design width is nine metres for residential streets. This allows for two way vehicle travel and on-street parking where applicable.
I found this study authored by Dewan Masud Karim that says cities should reconsider the width of their streets to make them safer. Narrower streets encourage drivers to slow down. Karim studied 190 random intersections in Tokyo and 70 in Toronto. Angie Schmitt with Street Blogs USA wrote about the study. Schmitt writes:
Looking at the crash databases, Karim found that collision rates escalate as lane widths exceed about 10.5 feet.
Roads with the widest lanes — 12 feet or wider — were associated with greater crash rates and higher impact speeds. Karim also found that crash rates rise as lanes become narrower than about 10 feet, though this does not take impact speeds and crash severity into account. He concluded that there is a sweet spot for lane widths on city streets, between about 10 and 10.5 feet.
In Toronto, where traffic lanes are typically wider than in Tokyo, the average crash impact speed is also 34 percent higher, Karim found, suggesting that wider lanes not only result in more crashes but in more severe crashes.
The “inevitable statistical outcome” of the “wider-is-safer approach is loss of precious life, particularly by vulnerable citizens,” Karim concluded.
This video from Road Guy Rob was filmed about residential streets in the U.S., but talks about how wide roads encourage speeding. Some of the residential road were so wide, Road Guy Rob could drive a complete circle within one lane.
Rob says curb extensions, bike lanes, and roundabouts can make streets narrower and therefore safer. It’s interesting — this guy says stop signs and speed humps don’t work as well and are just a “lazy” way to slow down streets.
So why is HRM still building wide streets in residential areas? And how can we make current wide streets narrower to slow people down? It’s important to tell drivers to slow down but clearly they’re not getting it. There should be more enforcement, but can we design roads to encourage better driving?
I had a great story I wanted to share here recently. I contacted the organization where the person I wanted to interview for the story works. I was told by the communications manager I had to send my questions beforehand for pre-approval. Apparently, it’s their media policy to have questions beforehand to pre-screen to “ensure transparency for our board.”
I didn’t send the questions, so you don’t get to read that story.
That was the second time in a week I was asked for questions before the interview. I didn’t send them to the other person either, but the interview went ahead and it went well.
Journalists often get asked to send questions in advance; this seems to be happening more frequently. Fortunately, most people do the interview without getting questions in advance. But asking for the questions beforehand so your board can approve them? That’s not happening.
I don’t know all the questions I will ask in an interview. Of course, I’ll tell someone what I’m writing about or researching and give them themes, but I can’t possibly know everything I will ask during an interview. Interviewing someone is not just about asking the questions; it’s about listening for the answers and asking more questions based on new information. It’s a back-and-forth process.
I know people want to practice their answers, but I don’t want the interview to sound rehearsed. An interview should be conversational and that conversation should be reflected in the story. Oh, and this is why interviewing via email doesn’t work either.
I’ve interviewed people who were nervous and not accustomed to being interviewed. That’s understandable, but I still won’t send the questions to them. Sometimes I chat with them beforehand and tell them about the process, just to help to calm their nerves.
Also, don’t ask to see the story before it’s published so you can “approve” it. That’s not how it works. You’re not paying for the story.
Getting the questions before an interview so your board can approve them shouldn’t be a media policy at any organization. Train your staff on how to do interviews and to be ready for any questions they might get. And why don’t you trust your staff to answer the questions properly? They’re the experts, right?
Northwest Planning Advisory Committee (7pm, virtual meeting) — Hekmat Jarrar wants to build a 19-unit seniors housing project at then entrance to Kingswood.
No public meetings.
In the harbour
I should invent an alarm clock that sounds like a cat barfing. That sound makes me jump out of bed every time.