1. Complicated legacies
“Was Lionel Desmond a victim of his war demons?” asks Stephen Kimber. “Or was he a villain, a perpetrator of domestic violence who murdered his own family? Or both? We may never know.”
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2. The danger of silence around STIs
At Halifax Today, Victoria Walton extensively quotes Rene Ross, executive director of the Sexual Health Centre of Cumberland County, on the importance of open talk about sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Reacting to news of a syphilis outbreak in Nova Scotia, Ross says it’s important to talk about sexual health and STIs:
The sexual health educator says that her centre is working hard to get the conversation more out in the open.
“Many people will actually have at least one sexually transmitted infection in their lifetime. STIs are actually a lot more common than what folks think,” she explains.
As with mental illness, there’s a lot of talk about stigma, but stigma is only one barrier. You need to actually be able to get treatment — something Ross acknowledges:
“We have no dedicated walk-in clinic. It is a very very long wait if you do have a doctor to get in to your doctor,” explains Ross. “Two of our walk-in clinics have closed within recent months, and we know that even in the city this past week the STI clinic at the VG hospital had to turn people away.”
3. More on hospital parking
More from the annals of hospital parking. Brent Kelloway at CBC has a story about a man who keeps getting parking tickets while he’s at the Cape Breton Cancer Centre, receiving chemotherapy:
MacDonald said there are only 10 parking spots available outside the centre, but they are usually full.
He said he usually parks his vehicle in a no-parking zone close to the cancer centre because he is too weak to walk farther…
“You’re giving a $25 ticket to a cancer patient that’s suffering financially,” he said.
MacDonald said he’s already struggling to pay for extra medication and supplies for his treatment, and finds it hard to believe he’s also being penalized for parking while undergoing treatment.
More on hospital parking in the Views section, below. I just want to reiterate, though, that when it comes to the proposed Halifax parkade I have seen nobody, except for two or three people on Twitter, argue that there is no need for adequate parking at the hospital.
I find it interesting that hospital parking is such a flashpoint. Charge too much and you are putting an unfair burden on sick people and their families. Charge too little and you’re subsidizing parking for people who may not be even visiting the hospital.
4. Surprise! Banks being jerks again
Yvonne Colbert has another of her consumer service pieces up at CBC this morning, this time about people unwittingly paying thousands of dollars for credit card insurance they never asked for.
The story focuses on 79-year-old Dartmouth resident Sheila MacIsaac, who checked her credit card statements after seeing a CBC story on credit card insurance. Sure enough, she’d been unwittingly paying a monthly fee for the service, even though she didn’t want it.
The part that really interests me about this story is what MacIsaac then had to do to get redress. Colbert writes:
She went to her local branch, but staff there referred her to Visa, which in turn sent her Assurant, the company that handles RBC’s credit card insurance claims. She was told they’d “look into it.”
She said she subsequently received a call from a woman named Beverley at Assurant who played a recording of a call previously made to MacIsaac in which the salesperson was trying to sell her the product.
“It was me, years ago, talking to some man telling me all the benefits of balance protection and you’ll hear me saying, ‘Oh, I see,’ but that’s not saying I signed up for it,” MacIsaac said.
MacIsaac winds up having to go back and forth with people who don’t seem to particularly care about her case. Then she goes to CBC. After that, RBC refunded her nearly $4,000.
Some time ago, Tim pointed me to Michael Lewis’s Against the Rules podcast. I found the episode called The Seven Minute Rule particularly striking.
It starts with Lewis trying to sort out a mess after someone applies for credit in his name and then defaults. Lewis then goes on to talk to other people being screwed over by financial institutions whose processes seem designed to ensure it is as hard as possible to get restitution if you’ve been wronged.
At one point, Lewis is sitting at the police station and thinking about how much time and energy he has spent on straightening out his credit because of the irresponsible actions of banks and credit card companies. He’s done absolutely nothing wrong (except fail to shred his statements) and he’s the one paying the price.
It’s easy to tell people to be aware and so on, but if saying “I see” to an agent is enough to get you signed up for useless insurance you don’t want, awareness is not going to do much good.
Last Friday, Andrew Rankin of the Chronicle Herald reported on Liberal MLA Labi Kousoulis’s view of the site of a proposed seven-storey parkade and power plant. The piece of land, between the Wanderers’ Grounds and the Museum of Natural History, was basically useless in its current state, Kousoulis implied:
“The area we’re talking about, nobody uses it,” said Labi Kousoulis, who represents Halifax Citadel-Sable Island. “When I drive by there nobody is sitting there having a picnic.”
When I saw this quote on Twitter, I pointed out that my partner and I had had a picnic there last summer before catching a Halifax Wanderers game. I’m sure we were not the only ones.
Someone came up with the idea of holding a winter picnic on the site as a way to protest the plans and connect with other people opposed to the parkade and power plant. On February 1, about two dozen people turned up.
Jillian Banfield was one of the attendees. She’s well-known in cycling circles as a bike advocate. She works for the Nova Scotia Health Authority, at both the VG and Infirmary sites, in anesthesia research, and says she and her co-workers have held team meetings in the threatened green space. Banfield says she attended the picnic because
I saw the response on social media from people being against this plan. The community is against this for so many reasons, and I wanted to show my support for that…
I got there a bit early on my bike because I heard from a couple of people who wanted to attend that their kids had afternoon nap times. Around 11:30 people started arriving with kids, and around noon it started to snow. These big flakes started gently coming down and it was just beautiful. People baked cookies and brought apples and sandwiches to share. People brought dogs, and there was a bunch of kids, and the novelty of a picnic on the first of February when it’s snowing was kind of delightful…
It was an opportunity to build community, and a great opportunity for me to talk to people. I’d never talked to anyone from the Bengal Lancers, and I learned about their program and how they are dedicated to the community…
It was pretty happy for a bunch of people pretty upset about something. There was a sense of unity against this proposal from different angles.
Paul Vienneau, who serves as an accessibility consultant for the municipality and other organizations, described the atmosphere at the picnic as “really cool.”
There were just citizens, people from the cycling community, people with kids, and the Bengal Lancers showed up. They had Ben the horse out for a walk to Ronald McDonald house and on the way back to the barn stopped in — 20 or more young girls and a couple of their leaders. They brought us all good luck horseshoes.
Banfield says she understands that not everyone is going to bike to work, and that people visiting the hospital need parking. But she also argues that doing more to encourage health authority staff to use bikes and buses will help reduce the need for parking. “We don’t even have an EPass for transit. It’s such low-hanging fruit.” (The EPass program offers discounted transit passes to employees, paid for through payroll deductions.)
I absolutely support that we need parking, accessible parking, the best parking at the hospital. I interact with patients, and I know parking is one of the more negative aspects of the experience at the hospital… We need to listen to people who use that infrastructure. At the picnic, there were grandparents who came from Pictou county and were visiting their kids in the city, and I thought, this really is a provincial issue. I don’t expect them to cycle in from Pictou County, but why aren’t we figuring out what they need?
In that Chronicle Herald story, Rankin writes:
Kousoulis, who also serves as labour minister, said the city’s downtown already has plenty of green space, pointing to Point Pleasant Park and Citadel Hill, and that “he’s all in favour” of anything his “government can do to provide a world-class hospital for people to ensure we can serve them better.”
“For me, hospitals trump everything.”
That’s the problem with the kind of secrecy that has surrounded this project. No matter what the proposal there will be people who disagree. But at least you can have an open and informed discussion about it. You can’t do that with misleading architectural renderings, secret meetings, and seemingly take-it-or-leave-it proposals.
“There are people who say we need parking and have to expand the parking, and yeah, absolutely, but can we have some critical thought and engagement and problem-solving?” Banfield says.
Vienneau sees it the same way. In addition to concerns about damage to the neighbourhood through loss of green space, he’s also worried about accessibility issues. In order to get to the hospital, visitors and patients will have to cross Summer Street.
It almost feels like they are trying to push this through without consulting the public… The premier’s defence was the consultants OK’d it. The parking garage will be barrier-free and accessible, and the hospital will be barrier-free and accessible, but there’s a 100-metre hole between them.
The common is our common wealth as citizens, and that the province would just come in and want to take this land to put this on there bothers me as a citizen of the city. We are a creative species. Surely putting it where they’re planning to put it is not a creative solution. And this thing about Labi saying he never sees people there — land has value. It doesn’t only have value by dropping a structure that costs millions of dollars on it.
I have seen a few cycling advocates on Twitter argue against having a garage at all, but neither Banfield nor Vienneau took that kind of extreme position. Vienneau again:
A parking garage is really needed. It serves people from around the region. But right now the angle that concerns me is it’s going to be a barrier to getting to the hospital.
I support discouraging car culture. I mean, I have to own a car so I can work, and it’s not realistic to expect people from Enfield to take transit to visit sick relatives every day. Parking is needed and the location of that parking lot is really important to me. All this work is not just for us right now but for people over the next 30, 40, 50 years. Let’s not have to go back and spend a billion dollars later to fix it.
1. Stephen Archibald goes for a walk
We all benefit when Stephen Archibald gets his car serviced. Back in July, he blogged about walking to Schmidtville while his car was at the dealer’s, noticing window boxes along the way.
This time, Archibald takes his Volkswagen to a dealership on Kempt Road for a recall repair: “apparently it could spontaneously careen down a hill.”
Instead of sticking around in a waiting room with “the charm of an airport terminal,” Archibald goes for a stroll, and as is his habit, takes us along.
He contemplates some of the Kempt road architecture, and finds delight in unusual places, before heading across “four lanes of speeding traffic” to visit the Fairview Lawn cemetery for the first time in 35 years. After that?
It was a shock to exit the peaceful and well-treed cemetery, and be confronted, once again, by this soulless landscape. Plant some trees, already.
2. National perspectives
No public meetings.
Public Information Meeting – Case 22396 (Tuesday, 7pm, Lakeside Community Centre, 1492 St. Margarets Bay Road) — Ramar Developments Ltd., which is owned by Larry and Darrel Marchand, wants to build a 66-unit subdivision they’re calling Elm Grove (presumably, that means they’ll first bulldoze an elm grove), in Timberlea, next to the Brunello golf course. More info here.
No public meetings.
Community Services (Tuesday, 10am, One Government Place ) — CCH, 1588 Society, Bus Stop Theatre, and Eye Level Gallery Re: Funding for Community Arts Organizations.
Woodwinds Recital (Monday, 11:45am, Sculpture Court, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — more info here.
African Heritage Month 2020: Focus on Us ‑ Flag Raising and Launch (Monday, 12pm, Atrium, LeMarchant Place) — more info here.
Making it Count: Assessing the impact of the Decade for People of African Descent on policy in NS (Monday, 5pm, Ondaatje Hall, Marion McCain Building) — OmiSoore Dryden, El Jones, Councillor Lindell Smith, and Crystal Watson will discuss the N.S. government’s Count Us In report and its implications on policy-making efforts in Nova Scotia. More info here.
The Power of Believing in Yourself: Reflections of a Rocket Scientist (Monday, 6pm, McInnis Room, Dal Student Union Building) — Renee Horton will talk, with entertainment by Eriana Willis-Smith, Lyris Daye, and more. More info here.
Robert S. Rodger Lecture Series (Tuesday, 7pm, McInnes Room, Student Union Building) — Ray Larkin will deliver the keynote address, followed by an panel discussion on governance featuring Julia Wright and Rohini Bannerjee. More info here, RSVP here.
Third‑Year Devised Theatre Project (Tuesday, 7:30pm, David Mack Murray Studio, Dal Arts Centre) — directed by Matthew Thomas Walker. Runs evenings until Saturday, with a sensory-friendly Saturday matinee at 2pm. $15/$10, more info here.
In the harbour
12:00: Elka Glory, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for sea
12:00: Acadian, oil tanker, moves from anchorage to Irving Oil
15:00: YM Essence, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
16:00: MOL Maxim, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
16:30: Tropic Lissette, cargo ship, sails from Pier 41 for Palm Beach, Florida
I am not a football fan, but I usually watch the Super Bowl with my neighbour and one of my kids. I didn’t even manage that this year though. Apparently Maritimers get together with friends to watch the game and eat donairs.