In the harbour
1. Catherine Campbell
Truro police officer Catherine Campbell has been found dead. A Halifax police release:
Halifax Regional Police located human remains overnight in Halifax in connection with an on-going investigation.
At 12:10 a.m. officers assigned to the Central Quick Response Unit located female human remains in a wooded area east of Barrington Street at North Street. While an autopsy is scheduled for later today, investigators in the Integrated Criminal Investigation Division believe the remains to be those of 36-year-old Catherine Campbell and are treating her death as a homicide. She was a Constable with the Truro Police Service who was reported missing on Monday, September 14 by her employer when she failed to show up for work. Initially, police reported that Catherine was last seen at her Windmill Road address, however, the investigation has since revealed that she attended a bar in downtown Halifax in the early morning hours of September 11.
Investigators in the Homicide Unit of the Integrated Criminal Investigation Division have a male suspect in custody in connection with Catherine Campbell’s death. The 27-year-old Halifax man was arrested at 1:20 a.m. in Clayton Park and is being questioned. The investigation is on-going and we ask anyone with information about the death of Catherine Campbell to contact police at 902-490-5016. Anonymous tips can be sent to Crime Stoppers by calling toll-free 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), submitting a secure web tip at www.crimestoppers.ns.ca or texting a tip – Tip 202 + your message to 274637.
We express our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Catherine Campbell at this extremely difficult time. Her family respectfully requests that the media offer them privacy as they grieve Catherine’s passing.
Our thoughts are also with the Truro Police Service on the loss of one of their own. We can attest that losing a member of the policing family is extremely hard to bear but would be even more difficult given the tragic circumstances of Catherine’s death. The entire police community is mourning this loss.
2. Exhibition Park
“Two private investors are said to be interested in buying Exhibition Park, which is scheduled to close Nov. 15,” reports CTV.
Exhibition Park is owned by the province and managed by Trade Centre Limited, the provincial crown corporation that also manages the convention centre for the province and the Metro Centre for the city. TCL is responsible for all aspects of managing the facilities, including maintenance and upkeep of the buildings themselves.
In July, the province announced that it will soon abandon Exhibition Park:
Government had the building assessed and found immediate repairs would be required to ensure the integrity of the facility before next snowfall.
With costs estimated at $3 million for needed repairs to the roof and electrical, and another $6 million for upgrades, government will instead examine transferring the site.
But while the province said repairs to Exhibition Park would cost $3 million, CTV’s Steve Murphy tweeted that the unnamed private investors looking to take it over say they can fix it for far less:
This prompted the perfunctory knee-jerk anti-government reaction from Halifax councillor Matt Whitman.
This raises an obvious question for me, which I put to Whitman last night:
Follow the conversation:
As I explained yesterday, technically, the organization called Trade Centre Limited won’t manage the new convention centre, but the same people, morphed into a new organization called Halifax Convention Centre, will run it, so I think it was a fair question. Whitman responded:
I reject the notion that “every renovation & improvement & swingset always costs more when government pays,” but Whitman can’t have it both ways here. How is it possible that TCL can be inefficient and costly when it comes to Exhibition Park, but the bees’ knees when it comes to running the convention centre? And if the response to that question is that the $3 million (or $750,000, or $1 million) bill for fixing Exhibition Park is a sudden, unforeseen cost, please go sit in the corner — sudden costs brought on by deferring maintenance is a management failure.
I think, tho, that the cost of fixing the building is probably just a smokescreen for the abandonment of Exhibition Park because it doesn’t fit into the business model of the new Halifax Convention Centre. As I’ve reported before, that’s also why TCL has quietly abandoned the “Trade Centre” part of its former mandate.
It’s true that HCC won’t be responsible for maintaining the structure of the new convention centre — developer Joe Ramia is contractually obligated to do so. Given TCL’s track record, that’s a good thing.
3. Bullshitter of the day: Richard Butts
“The Nova Scotia government passed legislation last spring giving Halifax the green light to release a ‘sunshine list’ of the municipality’s top earners,” reports the Chronicle Herald’s Brett Bundale. “But several months later, city hall is still refusing to release the salaries of senior bureaucrats, citing privacy legislation.”
Privacy legislation? Please. The province has for decades published the exact salary of every employee making more than $25,000. Want to know what your next door neighbour, the plow driver, makes? The woman across the street, the administrative assistant to the deputy assistant to the manager of bureaucratic affairs? Just click here and hit Command F (Control F on a PC) for their names, and Bob’s your uncle.
“Following provincial approval of the enabling legislation in May, staff have been fleshing out the process details of the administrative order, which will outline what compensation information will be disclosed, who it will apply to and how the information will be released,” said city spokesperson Tiffany Chase, who of course takes her marching orders from CAO Richard Butts.
If the province can put the salary of every full-time employee on the internet for all the world to see, so can the city. This is not rocket surgery.
Speaking of Butts, the Chronicle Herald is rightly editorializing against a plan to give top managers at the city a pension top-off. Writes the paper’s editorial team:
It’s also poor leadership to boost benefits for top earners when HRM is seeking to avoid a hike in contributions to its defined-benefit pension plan by reducing benefits.
In a July letter to plan members, the city pension committee recommends future benefits be based on best average earnings over five years, instead of three, and 10 years minimum service to take an unreduced pension at age 60.
It also recommends a change affecting only members with best average earnings of $140,944. It would freeze their future pension accruals at a level based on this salary, instead of following increases allowed by Canada Revenue.
So the new savings scheme could be seen as an end-run around this small reduction of high-earner benefits under the pension plan. That’s not a credible way to convince other pension plan members to go along with reduced benefits. Like taxpayers, they will not be impressed.
City government under Butts has been an acceleration of management theory applied elsewhere in North America: increase managers’ pay, slash workers’ salaries and benefits, loot the common good for the benefit of a few, and to hell with the future — that’s someone else’s problem.
And we wonder why the grass doesn’t get cut, the lines remain unpainted, and the sidewalks are icy.
“In the early 70s I worked on the restoration of Sherbrooke Village and realized that in the 19th century, fences were much more common and came in many designs,” writes Stephen Archibald:
Vintage photographs showed the richness of our lost fence heritage but I also began to notice and photograph a few old fences as I traveled in the province.
This striking example [above] in Hantsport was in front of a large Victorian house. The fence style was right for the 1880s and it might have been kept in good repair and pieces replaced since that time. It is no longer there and I suspect none of the wooden fences I photographed have made it out of the last century.
2. Cranky Letter of the day
With its rich history, striking architecture and azure waters, the town of Lunenburg is undeniably a gem in Nova Scotia’s crown. A trip to this picturesque locale on a recent hot summer day was tarnished, however, by a sight we witnessed from shaded, though still scorching seats on a nearby restaurant terrace.
Two carriage horses, sweltering in the blazing sun and clearly exhausted, were pulling carts loaded with people and trying to navigate amid the throngs of cars, motorcycles and tourists. One horse was obviously limping yet the driver apparently did not notice, or worse, did not care.
While the horses had hay and water at their rest stop on the busy street, they were provided with absolutely no respite from the stifling heat and sun. A simple inexpensive canopy would have provided some much-needed shade before they were forced to set out once more to pound the hot pavement — yet it was notably absent.
Around the world, a growing number of people have recognized that forcing carriage horses to pull oversized loads on city streets for long hours is neither charming nor romantic — quite simply, it is cruel. These gentle creatures often suffer from respiratory disorders caused by breathing exhaust fumes and can develop incapacitating leg problems from walking on hard surfaces. In some instances, horses have dropped dead from heatstroke after working in scorching summer heat and humidity.
A number of progressive cities have banned horse-drawn carriages altogether and it’s time that we joined their ranks.
Judy Layne, Hacketts Cove
Audit and Finance Standing Committee (10am, City Hall) — the committee is set to recommend that council establish a $100,000 fund for a Halifax Explosion 100th Anniversary Grants Program. The money will be divvied up to non-profits and schools that provide programming around the 100th anniversary of the Explosion.
That’s all well and good, but for myself, the best thing we could do as tribute to the lives lost in the Explosion is to acknowledge that they were victims of war. Let’s finally declare Halifax Harbour a nuclear-free zone.
Halifax Explosion 100th Anniversary Advisory Committee (1–5pm, Nova Scotia Community College, IT Campus, Room B239, 5685 Leeds Street) — the committee is first holding a “workshop” where it will “brainstorm,” and then get down to serious business, watching a video produced by Gordon Wayhay of a “Model Railroad of Halifax/Dartmouth/Bedford prior to 1917.” Let’s hope it doesn’t go off the rails.
Public information meeting (7pm, Saint Mary’s Boat Club) — the proposed Wellington Street development is back. Readers will recall this is the 10-storey development suburban and rural councillors are forcing on the neighbourhood despite the neighbours’ objection, despite city staff’s recommendation against it, and despite the urban councillors’ opposition.
Public Accounts (9am, Province House) — a half-dozen bureaucrats and mucky mucks will be on hand to discuss “responsible gaming” and to show how much they love the concept, the drinking word is “responsible.” Everyone will be sloshed by 9:45, and then they’ll all head over to the casino to play the slots.
Autoclave packing (Wednesday, 11:30am, MA310) — somebody — the event page listing doesn’t say who, but presumably it’s somebody who knows what they’re talking about (maybe if they hired a dozen more communications specialists…) — will be speaking on “An application of mathematical optimization to autoclave packing and scheduling in a composites manufacturing facility.”
Gender roles in Pakistan (Wednesday, 12:30pm, Lord Dalhousie Room, main floor of the Henry Hicks Building) — David Jones will speak on “Gender roles in an era of transition: Pakistani University students today.” More info here.
Wabanaki (Wednesday, 1pm, Room 3H1, 3rd. floor Tupper Building) — Debbie Martin will speak on “Wabanaki: A new dawn for community-based Indigenous research and learning at Dalhousie.”
Thesis defence, Biomedical Engineering (Thursday, 1pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Hamed Hanafialamdari will defend his thesis, “Design of Piezoelectric Oscillometry, Accuracy in Tracking Time-Varying Impedance and Implications on the Frequency Dependence of Resistance.”
Local Adaptation (Thursday, 3:30pm, Biology Lounge, 5th Floor, Life Sciences Centre) — Scott Pavey, from the University of New Brunswick, will speak on “Genomics of Freshwater Eels Demonstrates ‘Local Adaptation’ is Possible Despite Panmixia.”
Planetarium show (Thursday, 7:15pm, Room 120, Dunn Building) — Dan Arsenault will present on “Constellations in the Zodiac.” Five bucks at the door. Leave young kids (under 8) out in the car.
Robots (Thursday, 7pm, Scotiabank Theatre Auditorium) — Ian Kerr, from the University of Ottawa, will speak on “Robots, Relinquishment and Responsibility: The Delegation of Human Decision-Making to Machines”:
This presentation investigates the emerging field of robo-ethics, exploring the ethical and legal challenges that accompany our decisions to delegate human activities and decision-making to machines. Dr. Kerr also examines the issue of responsibility when things go wrong in cases of human-robot disagreement.
In the harbour
Atlantic Concert, ro-ro container, Liverpool, England to Fairview Cove, then sails to sea
ZIM Vancouver, container ship, Valencia, Spain to Pier 42, then sails to sea
Dolphin II, container ship, New York to Pier 41, then sails to sea
Anja Kirk, oil tanker, Paldiski, Estonia to Imperial Oil
Fritz Reuter, container ship, Lisbon, Portugal to Pier 41
The cruise ships Brilliance of the Seas (up to 2,500 passengers) and Crystal Symphony (up to 940 passengers) are in port today.
I’ll be on the Sheldon MacLeod Show, News 95.7, at 4pm.
Amen, Judy Layne. Why we persist in beating up on these poor creatures is beyond me.
Ah bullshitter of the day.
Don’t you people realize that helping your friends and allies is much more important than providing services to the public? We must make sure those people who unquestioningly tow the line will be financially rewarded.
How else could they possibly live with themselves unless they were suitably remunerated.
What is the job description for a whistleblower and does it fit in the crrent management structure?
I agree that Dalhousie is rubbish at advertizing public events, so here I am, doing my bit!
· On Thurs, Sept 17, 2:30-4:30pm, there will be a panel discussion on the refugee crisis in Syria and Canada’s response to it, featuring Glenn Davidson (former Canadian ambassador to Syria), Amal Ghazal (Dal History), and Ruben Zaiotti (EUCE, Dal Poli Sci). Co-sponsored with EUCE [network of European Union Centres of Excellence, if you were wondering]. Please note there has been a venue change and this event will now take place in the Potter Auditorium, Rowe Building (room 1028)
I should write an entire post about the failure of “communications” at the university. They seem to hire dozens of people specifically to keep information from the public.
Thanks for the info.
It is obscene that, amidst a revolt at Council and amongst the public because of dreadful service delivery performance, the CAO is focused not on fixing those problems but instead on increasing the pay packets of himself and his colleagues. That is especially true given the plan to reduce pension benefits for the rest of the staff.
How much longer will Council allow this ridiculous fiasco at City Hall to continue? Council is not powerless. It just chooses not to exercise its power.
The HRM pension benefits are better than any other city or province in Canada, and more expensive for taxpayers.
Work at HRM for 35 years and at age 65 and in retirement your net income will be higher than when you worked.
The other option at HRM was to implement another increase in the contribution rate.
The contribution rate was increased on January 1 2014 to 11.96% of regular earnings
From April 1 2004 the contribution rate was 10.36% of regular earnings of regular.
Prior to that the rate was 8%. Police and Fire rates are higher.
Over at the province : ” The Plan is funded by investment earnings and employee and matching employer contributions of 8.4% of salary up to the Year’s Maximum Pensionable Earnings (the “YMPE”) and 10.9% of salary above the YMPE.”
Halifax Water employees pay in $1 for every $2 the taxpayer puts in.
Rough translation : The HRM pension provides better benefits and costs almost 50% more than the provincial plan.