1. Chair of Tourism Agency is a tourist
Ben Cowan-Dewar was appointed the chair of the newly created Nova Scotia Tourism Agency just last month. Now, he’s moved himself, his wife, and his two children to Ontario. That’s not a problem, says both Premier Stephen McNeil and Darlene Grant Fiander, president of the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia.
I happened to be at Province House yesterday when McNeil defended Cowan-Dewar’s move. The premier said that Cowan-Dewar’s great work in tourism is helping to address the problem of out-migration. He said that with a straight face, seemingly unaware that Cowan-Dewer just added four people to the out-migration figures.
Cowan-Dewar moved to Nova Scotia in 2008, from Ontario. In 2012, the New York Times highlighted Cowan-Dewer’s Cabot Links golf course in Inverness — “several hundred miles and a time zone from any large metropolitan city and a lonesome three-and-a-half-hour drive in a rental car from Nova Scotia’s lone major airport” — explaining that remote, out-of-the-way golf courses are all the rage among the uber wealthy:
The foremost example of the seclusion-yields-success business model is Bandon Dunes, a similarly inaccessible Oregon seacoast complex opened in 1999 that now draws 130,000 golfers annually and employs almost 1,000. The developer of Bandon Dunes, Mike Keiser, a former greeting card mogul who grew up in upstate New York, is the financial clout behind Cabot Links as well.
Keiser is the most successful kind of “financial clout” — the kind who doesn’t use his own money. “Cowan-Dewar, then just 25, nonetheless started pitching his vision to everyone, beginning with regional agencies that could lend him money,” explained the Times.
One of those “regional agencies” was the federal Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, which lent Cowan-Dewer $2.5 million in 2008 to build the golf course, $750,000 more in 2012 to build a hotel at the course, and then another $2.75 million to expand the course last year.
Another “regional agency” was the provincial “jobs fund,” which loaned Cowan-Dewer $8.25 million in 2013.
Golfers tell me that Cabot Links is a great course, whatever that means. I have no reason to doubt that’s true. Lend me $14 million and I’ll build something spectacular, too.
The Times article gives some possible insight into what motivates Cowan-Dewer’s move back to Ontario:
And in March 2008, even though not one golf hole had been constructed, he moved from downtown Toronto to Inverness with his wife, Allie Barclay, who was 35 weeks pregnant and leaving behind a career in finance.
“I arrived in tears,” Barclay said last week, recalling the move. “I felt like I was in the witness protection program.”
I guess the mob boss has been murdered, and the family can move back to the city without fearing for their safety. The kids can go to a nice school, not those hellhole schools they’ve got in Cape Breton. Barclay can sit on a board of a museum or charity, and drink wine with other sophisticates after an afternoon shopping in boutiques. Cowan-Dewer can own a table at the local country club, regaling his exploits of getting rich on the backs of the hicks out east.
The golf course has brought much-needed economic activity to the area, but the owner of the Cabot Links is sending the message that while Inverness may be a nice place to visit, it’s a horrible place to live.
Maybe that should be the new slogan for the Nova Scotia Tourism Agency. “Nova Scotia: you wouldn’t want to live here, but it’s a great place to visit!”
2. Racist grafitti
Racist grafitti has been discovered at the Dal library, reports Moira Donovan.
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I was out of town when the Rainmen fiasco/scandal/whatever happened, and so am not on top of it. You can read El Jones’ analysis here.
Yesterday, the Canadian Press reported that:
The fallout continues from the bizarre battle between the Windsor Express and Halifax Rainmen.
The National Basketball League of Canada suspended Windsor’s head coach Bill Jones one year and fined him $4,000, while Windsor guard Tony Bennett has been suspended indefinitely pending a review. Halifax assistant coach Pedro Monteiro has been fined an additional $4,000.
The news comes a week after the NBL handed out $90,000 in fines to the Halifax Rainmen after they failed to show up for Game 7 of the league final against Windsor. The Rainmen argued they felt unsafe after a morning altercation with the Express at shootarounds.
I don’t have any particular insight into this, except to say that the Rainmen have failed to increase the fan base and it’s clear the organization has been struggling financially. I don’t know what explains the lack of fans — I’ve been to a few games and enjoyed them, but somehow was never motivated enough to buy season tickets or even tickets ahead of time. Maybe this just isn’t a basketball town. But I suspect that financial struggles led to an organizational breakdown.
4. The Battle of Point Pleasant Park
Reports the Chronicle Herald’s Frances Willick:
Dog walkers and fresh-air enthusiasts who visit Point Pleasant Park on Saturday may encounter soldiers and assault boats.
Canadian Armed Forces members are participating in a training exercise at the south-end Halifax park from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The military exercise will include assault boats landing at Black Rock Beach, a forced march around the perimeter of the park and the construction of an aerial ropeway.
5. Bozo government tweaks film tax credit yet again
CBC reporter Jean Laroche’s Twitter feed yesterday was a laugh riot:
The Chronicle Herald’s Michael Gorman spells it out in detail here.
Three SMU football players — Kayin Marchand-Wright, Melvin Abankwah, and Jonathan Langa — have tested positive for steroids and have been sanctioned for four years, which means that “none of these athletes are eligible to participate in any capacity with any sport signatory to the [Canadian Anti-Doping Program], including training with teammates, until their sanction periods have concluded.”
A fourth SMU player, Marvin-James Golding, has tested positive, but his case remains open.
1. Fire stations
Stephen Archibald has a wonderful post about old fire stations around town that long ago were converted to other uses. Pictured above is the Queen Street station. Archibald also mentions the McKelvie’s building, the Stubborn Goat gastro pub, a station on Oxford Street converted to a workshop, and a now-gone station across from the town clock that operated as a car repair shop. A couple of weeks ago I walked along the Bedford Highway and noticed an old station that has been taken over by a non-profit agency. I’m sure there are lots of others.
2. Cranky letter of the day
The rash of fires that hit Cape Breton last year upset me.
Particularly saddening for me was the loss of my own home in South Harbour in northern Cape Breton to a fire in the very early morning of June 20.
Whoever was responsible took away a home that housed five generations and the beginning of a sixth generation of one family, not to mention everything in the house.
Sad to say, that is not what was most upsetting.
The constable who arrived on the scene was very compassionate when I spoke to her on the phone and again when I arrived at the RCMP station in Ingonish.
However, it appears my house didn’t deserve the attention of a house that was occupied year-round.
No fire marshal or forensics experts came. And there was no investigation other than what the constable did.
Because there was no power hooked up to the house, the cause of the fire was said to be arson.
I was refused insurance coverage because the house didn’t have power. Had there been insurance, I believe this case would have received more attention.
I am grateful no one was hurt. My girls, their children and I often stayed in the home. Thank the good Lord that was not the case on June 20, 2014.
But I think of what I had in that house and who originally owned it. I am very sad and sick about the loss.
The fire was a crime, but it didn’t seem to be treated as such by anyone other than the constable who was there. I thank her sincerely for all her efforts.
Whoever is responsible took from me and my family things that can never be replaced: My father’s gramophone, my Aunt Cy’s settee set, a rubber dolly from generations back in my mother’s family, my godmother’s Remington typewriter, one daughter’s dollhouse, another daughter’s heirloom dishes, my children’s and grandchildren’s toys, and many more things.
I hope whoever was responsible for the fire never has the sinking feeling I have, and never loses anything they cherished and looked after for many years, only to have someone else take it away in a minute. I hope someday they realize what they took from my family and maybe even feel a little remorse.
I know most people thought this was just an old house, but it was my old home, my place to get away. And without insurance, I will never be able to put anything else there.
Those responsible should keep in mind that everything you do in this life — good and bad — comes back to you. It’s called karma.
Linda Mae MacKinnon, Sydney
In the harbour
I’m only this morning getting to all those emails that piled up while I was away. Thank you for your patience.