1. Halifax approves plan for designated tent sites; police will handle situations as last resort
“The last thing that we want to do, the very last thing that we want to do, is physically remove anyone from their site,” Halifax Regional Police Chief Dan Kinsella told the municipality’s councillors Tuesday.
“I think we’ve all come to the place where if we don’t have somewhere to send anyone we are not asking them to leave.”
Kinsella was at City Hall Tuesday to answer questions about the municipal plan to allow people to shelter in eight designated spots around Halifax. As the Examiner reported Monday, municipal staff are recommending Halifax Regional Police be called in to enforce the plan by ensuring tent-dwellers across the city move to set up their camps exclusively on the soon-to-be sanctioned sites.
Last month, councillors had been wary of police enforcement when it came to moving people in tents. They asked HRM staff to create a timeline for a plan that would be led and delivered by civilian staff, not police.
“In my opinion,” said Coun. Tony Mancini at that time, “having overnight camping and then having someone — police or bylaw, whomever — shake that tent and say, ‘OK you’ve got to leave’ at 8am is problematic.”
“It’s a potential for conflict to occur.”
Obviously the appalling way police and the municipality handled the tent evictions of last August has been on everybody’s minds in the lead up to implementing the new plan for permissible sites.
No one wants a repeat of that day, when homeless people who’d set up camps on public land were evicted from their temporary shelters even though many had nowhere else to go in Halifax. Police also arrested protestors trying to protect shelters, pepper spraying a child in the process.
But Tuesday, as Zane Woodford reports, councillors voted unanimously on a plan that would see police intervene when a person refuses to move their tent from an unsanctioned area, though only as a last resort.
One would hope police interaction with tent-dwellers is kept to a minimum based on the events of that August day. The safety of the Halifax’s homeless people, and the public’s trust of the police, will depend on how law enforcement is engaged once the plan truly gets underway.
Click here to read Woodford’s story.
2. IWK emergency department in “unknown territory”
“The volume in our department is literally off the charts,” the chief of the IWK Health Centre’s emergency department, Dr. Katrina Hurley, told Yvette d’Entremont Tuesday. “It is much higher than is typical for this time of year, and in fact it’s almost the highest volume we’ve ever experienced.”
This Monday, 178 patients visited the emergency department at the IWK, two patients shy of its busiest day ever. Dr. Hurley said she’s confident that number is “beyond what we are capable of doing, even on our very best day.”
“It’s higher than what we experienced in the fall when we had that surge of RSV (respiratory syncytial virus). It’s the highest volume we’ve ever seen in spring, and the only time busier than what we have right now is January, February of 2020 when we had influenza that predated COVID.”
Now Hurley says she’s worried about what’s coming, already calling the current patient levels “unknown territory.”
Yvette d’Entremont wrote a brief report about the volume of emergency department visits yesterday, but this morning she has a more comprehensive piece that looks at what’s causing this spike in emergency visits, how it’s affecting health care workers and patients, and just what can be done to ensure the system is able to provide adequate care to those who need it urgently.
3. Bill 75 an “unconstitutional abuse”
This item written by Yvette d’Entremont
The head of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU) said on Tuesday that teachers have been validated by a Nova Scotia Supreme Court ruling that found Bill 75 was “an unconstitutional abuse” of the province’s legislative authority.
The NSTU challenged the constitutionality of Bill 75, also known as the Teachers Professional Agreement and Classroom Improvements Act. The bill was passed by the former Liberal government under Stephen McNeil in February of 2017.
The contentious piece of legislation imposed a four-year contract on the province’s teachers. During the debate in 2017, hundreds of teachers loudly protested outside the provincial legislature.
On Feb. 16, 2017, the legislature’s law amendments committee sat for 12 hours as a fraction of the 400 teachers from across the province who wanted to speak addressed the committee about what they face daily in their classrooms. They also wanted to highlight why the bill wouldn’t help teachers or the students they served.
“Most of the 400 people who signed up to plead with the Liberal government to throw out Bill 75 will not be heard. Education Minister Karen Casey was nowhere to be seen,” Jennifer Henderson wrote for the Halifax Examiner that day.
In the decision released on Tuesday, the Honourable Justice John A. Keith said, in part:
At best, Bill 75 was an over-zealous but misguided attempt at fiscal responsibility. At worst, Bill 75 was punitive or a vengeful attempt to gain unrelated, collateral benefit with other public sector unions at the expense of the NSTU.
Whatever the motivation, by selectively dismantling Tentative Agreement 3, Bill 75 failed to fully respect the process of good faith collective bargaining and was terribly wrong.
In a media release Tuesday morning, NSTU president Paul Wozney said that five years after its imposition the bill continues to impact teacher morale. He added that he hopes the decision helps provide “some additional closure.”
“The imposition of Bill 75 by the McNeil Government facilitated the only province-wide teachers strike in the history of Nova Scotia, and today’s ruling justifies the unprecedented actions educators took at the time to defend their collective rights and public education,” Wozney said.
Wozney also said in the media release that Bill 75 “created a complicated mess” and the NSTU will carefully review the decision over the next few days before providing “a more robust response.”
“Bill 75 was both vindictive and petty and unfortunately has had far reaching implications for our members,” Wozney said.
“It’s only prudent that we engage with our legal counsel as we try and process today’s decision. We will have more to say in the near future.”
4. Province’s conservation officer shuffle presents possible conflict of interest
In 2016, Stephen McNeil’s Liberal government brought all the province’s conservation, inspection, enforcement, and compliance officers under one roof: Nova Scotia Environment and Climate Change.
Then-Environment Minister Margaret Miller explained that Nova Scotia Environment enforced “the Acts of other departments and more than 100 regulations as they relate to water, designed protection areas, and industry regulations.”
The purpose of moving these officers to one department, Miller said, was to separate “the sector development roles from the province’s regulatory role,” and “support improved services to Nova Scotia.”
Now, as Joan Baxter reports, they’ve been moved again. On April 1, Premier Tim Houston’s government shuffled conservation officers, as well as other “inspection, enforcement and compliance officers from several departments” back to the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables. There was no announcement or press release.
DNRR spokesperson Erin Lynch gave this reason for the change:
Conservation officers already work closely with Natural Resources and Renewables staff and, in many cases, share the same office space. This change in reporting reflects the close relationship conservation officers have with the broader Natural Resources and Renewables team. They will continue to do the same important work in the offices where they are currently located.
It might seem like some dry bureaucratic shuffling, but there are issues to consider. Baxter asked Lynch if there is a conflict of interest when the department that promotes forestry and mining and other resource-based industries is also responsible for conservation and enforcement of regulations that govern conservation of those resources.
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5. Owls Head is a provincial park
That poster really paid off.
Or maybe it was the organized community effort to demand the government hold onto Owls Head, a rugged piece of coastal land near Little Harbour in Halifax Regional Municipality, rather than sell it to a golf course developer.
Whatever the case, the 266 hectares of Crown lands that make up Owls Head are now finally, officially protected. The province designated it a provincial park Tuesday.
The designation comes more than two years after the provincial Treasury Board quietly removed Owls Head from a list of provincial properties awaiting designation. While Owls Head was long known as Owls Head provincial park, it didn’t have official park status. Michael Gorman at CBC broke the story about the removal of the Owls Head from the list, which took place after months of lobbying by a private developer, G. S. Beckwith Gilbert, the president of Lighthouse Links Development, who wanted to build up to three golf courses in the area.
If you’re a little foggy on the details or you wouldn’t mind a refresher on the timeline that got us here, Rent recaps the story from the beginning in her full report. It’s a story a number of Examiner reporters have covered as it progressed over the years. One that captured the attention not just of the local community, but of Nova Scotians from across the province.
I think a lot of people thought Owls Head had been saved when Lighthouse Links withdrew its offer to purchase the land last fall. But a new buyer could have stepped in and had another go at buying the land. Not anymore. Owls Head Provincial Park is now guaranteed to stay in the hands of the public for years to come.
To see why this story struck a cord with so many Nova Scotians, and what the future of Owls Head looks like now, read Rent’s article on the end of this saga.
6. Africville Museum making case for UN designation
UNESCO created the Routes of Enslaved Peoples Project nearly three decades ago to research and better our understanding of the complexities and lasting consequences of the transatlantic slave trade. This past weekend, a committee from that project came to Halifax for its first meeting in North American. Matthew Byard was at the event on the weekend and had this report on a presentation to make the case for Africville to get designation as an UNESCO international site of memory.
In their presentation, Carm Robertson, an educator at the Africville Museum, told the UN scientific committee about the unresolved harm that remains for the community’s descendants, and the future of the site, which is now a park.
“Today reparations have not been made to the people and the ongoing years of repeated dialogue between the city and the community about how to proceed leaves the site vulnerable to further erosion and erasure,” Robertson said in their presentation.
A UNESCO designation, which the project committee consults on, could help preserve the memory of that once living, breathing community. Though Canada’s federal government declared Africville a national historic site in 2002, Robertson said having it declared as an international site of memory by the United Nations would be “a just tribute and a powerful statement of validation and recognition.”
Still, Robertson said in their presentation that a UN designation wouldn’t remove the need for reparations to former Africville residents and their families.
“Where are the scholarships for the descendants? Where is the economic support? Why is the Africville saga not part of the regular school curriculum? And even elementary stuff — how come there are no sidewalks to get to Africville (Park/Museum)? Where are the bus routes? What about the bathroom at the park? Elementary, rudimentary stuff. Where is an active commission focusing on establishing a program of reparation for the survivors and their descendants before they indeed do all die off?”
Click here to read Byard’s full story.
Ramblings on growing up in the 21st century: not all anxieties stem from phones
It was a sunny spring day, as I recall.
I was biking with a friend up a busy, narrow Toronto street near Ontario Place when I got an eerie feeling. As cars whizzed by, a dark thought entered my head. What if one of these passing vehicles swerved into us on purpose? It had been about a year since I’d been in a big city and I couldn’t help thinking about recent terrorist attacks in Manhattan, Berlin, and Nice, where motorists had plowed into public spaces, killing innocent bystanders without warning.
As it turned out, the timing of that involuntary anxiety turned out to be chilling. When we reached my friend’s apartment for lunch, we saw a flurry of social media posts saying a young man had done what I’d (irrationally, I thought) feared.
A few kilometres north of us, on Yonge Street, 10 people were dead after a motorist had gone on a hate-fuelled rampage in a white van.
I was reminded of that day, and that seeming premonition, this week. But not by Monday’s court decision that sentenced that man to life in prison with no chance for parole for 25 years. It was a few days earlier, while I was standing on a crowded sidewalk outside a hockey arena in Buffalo (more on why I was there in Noticed).
That’s because, in that open public space, in a city that had just been shaken by a hate-fuelled shooting — a city that belonged to a country continuously shaken by shootings — I got a similar eerie feeling.
What if someone opens fire on us right now?
Despite all the news lately, I assured myself the odds were against it. And this time, that feeling was just a feeling. No tragic killing spree occurred in Buffalo while I was there. My powers of ESP were non-existent. The anxiety I’d felt in Toronto four years ago had just been a crazy coincidence.
But it got me thinking about a reality of growing up in the new millennium.
For people like me, born at the end of the 20th century, the internet, social media, and smart phones are often the defining characteristic associated with our unique adolescence. Only two generations have grown up with this level of technology, and while the digital world affects all ages, only a handful of us have never known a world without high-speed connectivity. The way it’s shaped our lives, and the anxieties associated with it, are a constant source of discussion and study.
There are other, less-discussed anxieties — or maybe I should call them realities — that I think are unique to young people today, though. And Buffalo, and the memories it stirred of that day in Toronto, got me thinking about them.
I was born at the end of history — just a few years after Russia forever buried the hatchet with the West — and I came of age just as history started up again. I was in elementary school when the Twin Towers fell, and as such I’ve grown up in a world of increased security where every public place is under the perceived threat of attack.
Go to a museum, library, sporting event, business conference, or government building in a big city and I doubt you’ll enter without passing through at least one layer of bag-checking, metal-detecting, or ID-checking.
I’ve never personally experienced a terrorist attack or a shooting. And until I do, it’s not something I seriously fear. It doesn’t keep me up at night or paralyze me in a crowd.
But it is an abstract worry. I’ve grown up where security isn’t only prevalent in public spaces, it’s just expected as the norm. Nova Scotia, small as it is, has remained thankfully free of the encroachment of security that big cities have seen, but even we have now experienced some of the senseless tragedy we see regularly on world news reports.
Unlike the survivors in Toronto, we’ll never really know why that man did what he did that April. Though the lives lost in that van attack can never be made up for, at least survivors and the victims’ families can have some closure now.
The potential for one person to inflict catastrophic damage is something we live with now. It’s something I’ve grown up subconsciously aware of whenever I’m in public. I still have a lot of social trust, but the feeling’s there. That premonition I had before the van attack was just a logical worry that stemmed from events that I was beginning to expect. Not that I should expect that sort of tragedy wherever I go.
Not all modern anxiety can be traced back to screens and Instagram posts.
Another anxiety we’ve grown up with, one that also has nothing to do with modern tech, is that of environmental collapse.
Not only was I born at the end of history, I was also born shortly after the Kyoto Accord, the first set of climate targets Canada ever signed on to. There’s a lot to be hopeful for about the future of the earth, and I know people are trying to change and find a way to live in harmony with this planet, but it’s been in the back of my mind since I entered grade school.
Yesterday, the Globe and Mail reported on a government analysis that found Canada’s 2030 climate targets for the oil and gas industry are based on expected technological advancements and aren’t realistic. Whether that’s true, it doesn’t surprise me, seeing as I’ve grown up with federal climate targets my whole life and have never seen this country meet one.
I’m not a pessimistic person. I remain hopeful for the future of society and the planet, despite human nature. And every generation grows up with its own fears and tragedies.
But if you’re wondering about the honest thoughts troubling the mind of a young person today, this is it. In the back of my mind, always, I worry about a future where public spaces are increasingly threatened, the planet’s ailments are continuously unaddressed, and the current financial situation makes the cost of living — let alone housing — feel like a burden that’s too big to bear at times.
The consolation is, the clearer I see that picture, of what I don’t like about the current state of the world, the clearer I see what I want changed.
My condolences to the survivors and victims’ families of the 2018 Toronto attack. I hope you found some peace this week.
If you’re driving into Canada, you need to download and complete the ArriveCAN app beforehand. If you’ve been outside Canada since the pandemic, that might not be news to you. It recently became news to me, though.
After two years of limited travel, I learned about it Saturday on my first trip abroad since 2019.
It started domestically: a weekend vacation to a Niagara-on-the-Lake bed and breakfast with my girlfriend. We’d planned a little wine tasting, a show at the Shaw Festival, a trip to the Falls — pretty much everything you’d expect from a Niagara getaway — short of marriage. While we were in the area, we also planned a cross-border trip to Buffalo to catch a comedy show. John Mulaney was in town and I, a left-leaning 20-something, wanted to capitalize on being close by.
So the itinerary Saturday was to cross the border late in the afternoon, arrive in Buffalo for a quick dinner, go to the show, and be back at our B&B before midnight.
I made sure to get prepared for the US border crossing. It can be stressful even when you don’t factor in pandemic restrictions. The last time I drove into the States — my last international trip before this one, it so happens — I was held up for an hour while border guards searched my truck and grilled me about my travel plans until they were satisfied I was not coming in to stir up trouble, sow discord, or overthrow the American government. I told them I was happy to leave that sort of mischief to the American people — I just wanted to go camping — and they eventually let me on my way.
This time, I made sure to research the latest American border protocols and public health requirement. As it turned out, all we needed were our passports and proof of our vaccinations — which we ultimately weren’t even asked to provide.
That night, we were on our way into New York State within 30 seconds of greeting the guard. My smoothest ever land-entry into the home of the brave.
The return to my home, however, almost gave me a heart attack.
After a pleasant evening of comedy and an unpleasant hour of Buffalo gridlock, we got back to the Niagara border crossing around 11pm, passports and proofs-of-vaccination at the ready.
The border guard looked at our passports, asked what we’d been up to in America and the reason for our return. Easy, standard stuff. Then he asked if we’d completed ArriveCAN.
Now you might already know what ArriveCAN is. But I didn’t. Not then, anyway.
Why didn’t I know about ArriveCAN, the app where travellers enter their travel and COVID info before crossing the Canadian border?
Because. I. Am. An. Idiot. That’s why.
But the penalties that come with failing to fill it out have their own kind of idiocy.
The border agent had no sympathy for our ignorance. He told us it was the law and we were each subject to a $5,000 fine and would have to go into quarantine for two weeks. And that’s how I learned about ArriveCAN.
I kept a cool head. For about two seconds. Then I processed what he’d said and started begging wildly for some lenience.
I’m all for taking responsibility for my mistakes, but if I had to sell my car and hand over my life savings, I quickly calculated I wouldn’t even be able to afford a place to isolate myself for the next two weeks. I figured there was a better, less life-shattering way for us to make things right.
We asked the guard if we could just complete the form right there, whatever it was. There were no cars behind us and we had all our travel and COVID information.
No dice. Law said it had to be done before we reached the gate.
Could we just back up 50 feet, complete it in the parking lot, and come right back?
No dice. Law said it had to be done before we reached the gate.
No matter how we tried to comply, he said we were officially “non-compliant” by not completing ArriveCAN before the border. Tough luck, he told us. We’d have to pay the fine and do the time. Our bafflement gave way to dread.
This guy was stone cold.
Maybe he’d seen our kind before. We later learned others have had similar trouble. For instance, as Sophia Harris reported for CBC earlier this month, a fully-vaccinated Montreal couple who didn’t know about it were forced into a two-week quarantine when they failed to complete ArriveCAN before returning from a day trip to upstate New York. One of them had to miss two weeks of work as a result.
People who’ve completed ArriveCAN but had technical glitches at the border, like this Winnipeg woman or this Ontario couple, have needlessly faced similar penalties.
We were more fortunate in the end. After about 10 minutes of running in circles, the guard gave us the, “here’s what I’m gonna do…” and said we’d be let off with a warning this time. He shifted out of nowhere.
Which begs the question, what is ArriveCAN? And why does the failure to complete it warrant such strict penalties? How did we go from a TFSA-emptying fine to “don’t do it again?”
As soon as we got back to the B&B, we did our research. Wiser now, I’m really not sure why ArriveCAN is still in place.
ArriveCAN launched nationally on April 29, 2020 to limit the spread of COVID-19 through travel. There are still valid reasons for restrictions that limit that spread across borders. As cases dwindle here, the US is still reporting large daily numbers. I may have pandemic fatigue, but that doesn’t mean I won’t adhere to remaining COVID restrictions if it’ll keep other Canadians safe.
But the harsh penalties, near as I can tell, far outweigh the public health benefits.
ArriveCAN is just an app. All the information we would have uploaded to it, we had right there at the ready. Yet we almost emptied our bank accounts (and then some) and spent two weeks in quarantine — longer than is necessary if you actually contract COVID, because we didn’t give that information to the Canadian Borders Service Agency (CBSA) through an app.
For those who haven’t used ArriveCAN, let me walk you through it.
You first upload your passport information — we had our passports on us. Then upload proof of vaccination. We had that on us, too. Then answer a few quick questions. You know, questions. Things that can be asked by a person. Like say, I don’t know, a border guard. Maybe they’re too time-consuming to be asked in person, you might be thinking. Judge for yourself:
- What’s the reason for your entering Canada?
- What’s the address where you’ll be staying?
- Did you travel outside of Canada and the USA in the last two weeks?
- Do you have any COVID symptoms?
That’s it. We had all the information ready for this guy and he nearly bankrupted us on a Jeopardy! technicality. All information must be given in the form of an app.
You also have to declare the date, time, and location of your planned border crossing. But you can literally register that info one minute before you cross. No advanced notice required.
I almost lost five grand and two weeks of my life so the wheels of bureaucracy could roll a little more smoothly.
Restrictions are fine, but why do we need an app? Not everyone in this society is tech-savvy enough to operate it. A business in Maine now offers to fill out ArriveCAN for people who can’t figure it out; they charge $5 for the service. Technical glitches have forced people into quarantine and caused others to pay huge fines.
In fairness to the Border Agency, the CBSA told the CBC it now “has measures in place to assist travellers with ArriveCAN. They include, when feasible, helping people fill out the app at the land border or letting them return to the US to complete it.” (They must’ve neglected to tell the agent we dealt with).
And as of May 24, the agency now gives one warning to travellers for their first time failing to fill out ArriveCAN. Wish I’d known that when I was dealing with that power-tripping ass.
They must understand what a mess this is.
Canadian businesses say it’s costing them too.
“The ArriveCAN app is particularly burdensome and causes significant delays at crossings,” the president of the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that urged the government to drop ArriveCAN to promote tourism from Americans who can’t be bothered with the app. “Unfamiliarity with the app and the technology lead to confusion among travellers and slow-downs at the border…We suggest that the difficulties which ArriveCAN creates at border crossings are not worth the limited public health benefits it offers.”
It’s arbitrary, punitive measures like this that make some people question all public health safety measures. Even the ones that have been effective in stopping the spread and saving lives.
Still, the CBSA says ArriveCAN is sticking around until June 30 at least, even as travel restrictions like COVID testing for international travellers are suspended. If you’re planning a shopping trip to Bangor this month, consider yourself warned.
District Boundary Resident Review Panel (Wednesday, 3:30pm, City Hall) — agenda
Community Planning and Economic Development Standing Committee (Thursday, 10am, City Hall) — agenda
Active Transportation Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4:30pm) — virtual meeting
Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, Province House) — 2022 Report of the Auditor General: Follow-up of 2017, 2018 and 2019 Performance Audit Recommendations Regarding: November 1, 2017 Report of the Auditor General: Chapter 3, Climate Change Management; with Lora MacEachern, Dept. of Environment and Climate Change
Structure of the Nuclear Pore Complex (Wednesday, 4pm, Theatre A, Tupper Building) — also online; public seminar by Picchione Visiting Scholar Andre Hoelz, from California Institute of Technology
See Dal’s LORIS Satellite before it’s launched into space (Thursday, 3pm, Romero Classroom, Emera IDEA Building) — from the listing:
Students from the Faculty of Engineering’s Dalhousie Space Systems Labs have designed and built LORIS, the first nano satellite in Atlantic Canada to be launched into space by the Canadian Space Agency. Once in space, LORIS will be used to gather information and data of the Halifax peninsula. Members of the community are welcome to drop by, take pictures with the satellite, and learn more about the project.
Making it Mya: A Drag Dialogue with Dillon Ross (Wednesday, 6:30pm, Patrick Power Library) — from the listing:
Mya Foxx, a Halifax-based drag performer known for her high energy performances and choreography. From live performances to dance workshops to inspirational talks, Mya strives to ensure opportunities and accessibility for the 2SLGBTQ+ and BIPOC communities.
In the harbour
07:00: Dee4 Fig, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for sea
10:00: NYK Rigel, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Antwerp, Belgium
10:30: Atlantic Sea, ro-ro container, sails from Pier 41 for Baltimore, Maryland
12:00: John J. Carrick, barge, and Leo A. McArthur, tug, sail from McAsphalt for sea
15:00: AlgoNova, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from Montreal
11:00: Paul A. Desgagnes, oil tanker, sails from Government Wharf (Sydney) for sea
11:00: Front Brage, oil tanker, sails from Point Tupper for sea
Aside from the border crossing, all in all a good trip.
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The Owls issue was about far more than saving a park. It was about punishing a government for a blatantly corrupt backroom deal to give away ( the price for waterfront property was a joke) a piece of previously recognized park to a rich developer to make him richer. If not for Michael Gorman’s story on this immoral deal, the government of the day would have gotten away with it. I believe it was a major factor in why the Liberals were so soundly trounced in the last election.
I think every generation has some sort of existential anxiety.
Not to belittle yours by any means, but growing up in the 70s and 80s for me it was nuclear war. They thought that EVERYTHING could be wiped out in a few minutes and render the Earth inhospitable for most life was pretty overwhelming. The Cold War did a number on us for a few decades.