News

1. Port Wallace Gamble, Part 2

The Port Wallace proposal. From p 23 2016 Port Wallace master plan presentation

Tim Bousquet wrote this item.

Joan Baxter’s investigative series “Port Wallace Gamble” continues with “Part 2: the suburb proposed to be built in the shadow of Montague Gold Mines.”

Baxter is making the connection between the toxic legacy of historic gold mining in Dartmouth, and how that affects those living in the area today, especially given that very large and connected corporations are trying to develop the area, potentially stirring up the toxic mine tailings. In Part 2 of her series, she writes:

On June 5, 2014, HRM senior planner, Paul Morgan, gave a presentation in Port Wallis United Church, called “Port Wallace: Planning for Growth.” It said that Port Wallace was one of six areas slated for development in the 2016–2031 Regional Plan, and this was an “opportunity for a fully-services, mixed use, complete residential community.”

On the same day that the HRM planner was making his presentation, a company called 3276441 Nova Scotia Limited was signing an option agreement with Frank Whebby Limited and W. Eric Whebby Limited to purchase 12 parcels of lands in Port Wallace…

A month later, 3276441 Nova Scotia Limited changed its name to Port Wallace Holdings. It shares an address and many board members with Clayton Developments, a subsidiary of The Shaw Group.

Then in January 2016, Clayton Developments and Port Wallace Holdings acquired a new president.

The new president wasn’t just anybody. He was very much somebody.

He was Richard Butts, who had just left his position as HRM Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), which he had held since 2011.

At the time of its appointment, some questions were raised about his controversial record as deputy city manager in Toronto, as Tim Bousquet reported for The Coast (in pre-Halifax Examiner days).

When Butts announced in December 2015 that he was leaving HRM to join Clayton Developments as its president, Bousquet was again quick on the Butts beat, this time in the Halifax Examiner, writing:

Butts jumping from City Hall right into the presidential office at Clayton Developments raises serious questions of conflict of interest and undue influence.

And:

In fact, there is no restriction on municipal employees taking jobs at companies they regulated at City Hall. It’s a recipe for corruption, or at least ineffective regulation: if bureaucrats know they can go to work for the developer whose application they’re considering, the incentive is to cut corners, give favours, and stamp approvals with a wink and a nod.

It is certain that while acting as Halifax CAO, Butts, now head of the company planning a large residential development at Port Wallace, would have been intimately acquainted with development plans for the area, for which HRM had commissioned several studies and invested a lot of resources.

Minutes of the Council meeting from March 4, 2014 show that Butts brought forward the staff report that included the “public participation program for Port Wallace for the Master Infrastructure Plan Study and Secondary Planning Strategy for Port Wallace.”

Baxter goes on to show that the toxic legacy of the Montague Mine may result in considerable public cost in order to make Port Wallace open to development.

Click here to read “Part 2: the suburb proposed to be built in the shadow of Montague Gold Mines.”

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2. Fish farms

Shoreline along St. Margaret’s Bay near Hubbards, one of the bays in which Cermaq has an Option to Lease. Courtesy Linda Pannozzo

On Sunday, Linda Pannozzo watched (via livestreaming) the rally and information session organized by Twin Bays Coalition. The session was held in opposition to Cermaq Canada’s proposed industrial-scale salmon farm expansion into Mahone Bay and St. Margaret’s Bay. Cermaq is proposing a $500 million expansion to develop 20 open-pen Atlantic salmon farm sites, two hatcheries and a processing plant.

The session included a number of panelists who talked about their first-hand experiences of the risks of open-net pen fish feedlots in British Columbia, where Cermaq currently produces about 20,000 metric tonnes of fish.

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3. “Coronavirus Convention”

Protestors at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada meeting in Toronto, Mar. 1, 2020. Photo: Joan Baxter

Joan Baxter is in Toronto attending and reporting on the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDCA) convention. There are more than 25,000 attendees from 130 countries at the convention and Baxter notices that not too many people or the organizers seem too concerned about Covid-19.

Still, Baxter heard from others, including geologist Andy Abraham, who cancelled his plans to go. Abraham tells Baxter:

There will be people who stay away this year and there are many who will attend and, hopefully, hand sanitize their way through the event and festivities. In the end nothing may happen, the bullet will be dodged, organizers and attendees will breathe a sigh of relief and head home satisfied they made the right decision.

The other prospect is what if one or a few people attending are infected and contagious. What happens if one attendee becomes ill? Tracking thousands of people here and back to their home countries becomes a much bigger problem. What happens if many attendees become ill or die? Who takes responsibility?

James West, author of Midas Letter Live, dubbed the event the “Coronavirus Convention.”

Personally, I’m not going anywhere near PDAC this year. In an age where information and face-to-face discussion is easily and seamlessly (usually) enabled by modern technology, throwing a massive party for 3 days in the midst of a burgeoning pandemic is just idiotic.

I’m sure the swaggering tough-guy set out there are already mocking such sentiment, but that is precisely the mentality that viruses like Coronavirus exploit to achieve population growth. Stupid human beings, it will one day be noted in the historical ledger, are the greatest cause of premature death among the species.

Baxter, meanwhile, is taking lots of precautions, but she says the organizers don’t seem to have the same concerns:

I went from washroom to washroom, washing my hands long and hard and noticing that only a few others seemed to be doing the same (although the vast majority of attendees are men, so I don’t know what was going on in their washrooms). I looked for signs of the “increased cleaning,” and saw no sign of it.

Read “Coronavirus Convention” here.

4. MacKay says he’s innocent of DUI

Hugh MacKay

MLA Hugh MacKay released a statement yesterday saying he was innocent of the drunk driving charge from November 2018, saying the legal system, not the public forum, is where this issue should be handled, reports The Chronicle Herald.

These allegations have unfortunately caused disruption to the important work taking place in the Nova Scotia legislature. I am also saddened to learn that this situation has been exploited for partisan political purposes by some members of the opposition. Last year, I disclosed the fact that I have been struggling with alcohol addiction issues for some time – and I continue to aggressively seek treatment for this disease. However, I maintain my innocence with respect to this charge. The legal system is the proper place for this matter to be settled, not on the floor of the legislature, nor in the court of public opinion. I will continue to serve my constituents as an independent member for the riding of Chester St. Margarets.

MacKay pleaded guilty to a similar charge from Oct. 2019. He received a $2,000 fine and a one-year driving suspension.

Chester-St Margarets Liberal Riding Association has written to the group’s president detailing the November 2018 incident, and accusing the board of a cover-up.

5. Police union president calls out Kinsella’s decisions in email

In an email, Dean Stienberg says management decisions by Halifax Regional Police Chief Dan Kinsella are “inconsistent, rash, and unpredictable.” Photo: Zane Woodford

CBC reports it got a copy of an email from Dean Stienberg, president of the Halifax Regional Police Association, and sent to Mayor Mike Savage, CAO Jacque Dubé, and the board of police commissioners, saying calls being made by chief Dan Kinsella are “inconsistent, rash, and unpredictable.”

CBC’s Elizabeth McMillan reports that in the email Stienberg says frustration with Kinsella has been growing amongst officers for some time, but came to a head when two cops were put on administrative duty after the arrest of a Black teenager in Bedford.

Stienberg says the union was not informed before the officers were put on administrative leave.

It has never been our practice to suspend members with absolutely no investigation or even an allegation laid.

Stienberg also said many officers have told him they are worried comments from the public on specific cases could impact the independent oversight process, adding they feel they are “being managed by Twitter.”

The priority can’t be ‘I’m concerned about what’s on social media, therefore I have to act right away.’ The department is getting out too quickly in the media, not getting the opportunity or the benefit of having all the facts before they start making comments.

The mayor’s office wouldn’t comment on the email, calling it a “personnel matter.”

6. Dartmouth is rockin’ again

Earthquakes Canada says there was an aftershock in Dartmouth early this morning that was magnitude 2.6, the same as the earthquake people heard and felt Sunday night.

Photo: Earthquake Canada

Seismologist Nick Ackerley tells Halifax Today the phenomenon is called an “earthquake swarm.”

They sort of fade in and fade out with time, but it’s a bit early to say what we’re dealing with here. We haven’t recorded, as far as I know, any other events other than the two that were widely felt.

Oh, Earthquakes Canada is asking, “Where did you feel it?”

In other Dartmouth news, Good Times Magazine selected Dartmouth as one of Canada’s top retirement destinations. The magazine says Dartmouth is a good place for seniors to live because of its mix of culture, access to recreation (including all those lakes,) a walkable downtown with pubs and restaurants, and its community spirit.

Like earthquakes, seniors are also rockin’ Dartmouth.

The article does note the shortage of doctors in the area, but Margaret Ann McHugh, a Torontonian who moved to Dartmouth to retire, tells writer Wendy Haaf, “acute health care is good.”

If you have a heart attack or car accident, you’re going to get quickly where you need to be.

Good times, indeed.


Views

Making connections and reducing social isolation

In a Morning File a couple of weeks ago, there was a piece about self-checkouts. I thought the comments on this were quite interesting (the only time I enjoy reading the comments are in the Examiner). There was a good discussion about what self-checkouts (and the increase in technology in general) means for workers, jobs, the ways in which we connect with people, and the rise of loneliness.

Self-checkouts may be convenient, but are we losing our connections to people?

I often think we’re living in a more disconnected world, even though we’re more connected by technology. And it seems concerns about social isolation and loneliness are on the radars of others.

In Nova Scotia, the Community Health Boards have included social inclusion as one of their priorities.

This spring, the Central Zone Community Health Board, which covers HRM and parts of Hants County, is launching a Social Connectedness Campaign that will gather information on how people are connected in their communities and create an awareness campaign that will show the ways in which social inclusion has health benefits. Each board in the network is will gather its own results and will share ideas with other boards on how to get people connected with others.

Monique Mullins-Roberts, who is the coordinator with the Dartmouth Community Health Board, says they have their own ideas to address social isolation, including benches where neighbours can connect with and chat to their neighbours. The idea is based on a similar concept in the U.K. called Happy to Chat benches. They’re also looking at a Hey Neighbour campaign like this one in Vancouver that has resident animators in apartments buildings and other properties organize events like game-board nights and walking tours to connect residents with each other.

These Happy to Chat benches encourage people to talk with each other, reducing social isolation in communities. Photo: Altrincham HQ/Facebook

Another project in Cape Breton has an impact on socially isolated residents there. Last week, I spoke with Michele MacPhee, who is the seniors’ safety & social inclusion coordinator, Dr. Kingston Memorial Community Health Centre in L’Ardoise, Richmond County. Richmond has the second oldest population in the province with more than half of its residents over age of 55 (Guysborough has the oldest population). That’s also the group at the highest risk for social isolation. Richmond County also has a lot of the risk factors for social isolation, including poverty and being a rural area. MacPhee says while social isolation and loneliness go hand-in-hand, they studied social isolation rather than loneliness, because social isolation can be measured, whereas loneliness is more of a feeling.

MacPhee led a project in which people shared their stories about being socially isolated. Some of the people who were isolated took part in a photo project in which they took pictures and wrote captions that described their isolation. One woman who lives alone took a photo of her empty oil tank, candles on a table when the power went out, and another of a freezer with a loaf of bread, the last bit of food she had in the house. MacPhee says all of the photos showed how poverty isolated that woman from the community.

It was a very visceral display for people in the community to get an idea of what social isolation looks like. You see a picture and it cuts through that.

MacPhee says those who took part in the photo project were then connected to other services in the community. For example, that one woman was connected with programs to help heat her home and another program that addressed food insecurity through workshops that taught how to store root vegetables year-round. She was also connected to transportation options in the community.

MacPhee says other projects in the area have addressed social isolation in other ways. Students in the area’s pre-primary program went to Richmond Villa in St. Peter’s. MacPhee says the children spent time with the seniors there, including taking part in play-based yoga.

I think it was a magical experience for everyone. The young people were inquisitive and engaged.

Now, they’re also working with local employers to learn about and address social isolation in the workplace. MacPhee says those workers who feel disconnected are more likely to take sick time.

In Louisdale, another project there has people getting out of their homes more in the winter. On every Wednesday at the Louisdale Parish Hall, The We Care Days event offers a meal, along with activities like crafts, cards, and music. The program started out slowly, but MacPhee says there are about 50 people attending each week.

It’s such a fantastic example of what people can do when they get together, when they are provided with a safe space.

The idea of getting to know your neighbours and reinstating a community is going to go a long way to bringing some of those people back into the community. I think that’s a piece of the puzzle that’s missing.

What I love about these ideas is they are so simple and effective. But they also remind us to watch our for our neighbours, and not “see” them just through social media posts.

The Jumbo Supermarket in Vlijmen introduced a chat checkout for seniors who want to take their time and talk to the cashier. Also, notice the cashier gets to sit down! Photo: Jumbo Supermarket.

So, what about those self-checkouts? Well, the Jumbo Supermarket in the Dutch city of Vlijmen is going the opposite direction with a Chat Checkout, as well as an All Together Coffee Corner for seniors in that city experiencing social isolation. The checkout doesn’t move as fast as the self-checkouts, but the cashier is there to offer conversation to seniors buying their groceries. At the All Together Coffee Corner, seniors can meet with others or also find people able to help them with errands and chores.

See, such a simple way to connect.


Noticed

Over the weekend I learned not all men are washing their hands when they leave a public washroom. Some statistics from the Center for Disease Control were circulating on Twitter that said only 31 per cent of men wash their hands after using a public washroom, while only 65 per cent of women do. The tweet that included those stats was posted in 2018, but was making the rounds again. 

This is not a picture of hot dogs, but there are a lot of weiners out there not washing their hands after they pee. Photo: Twitter

Now, I’ve seen women leave a public washroom having not washed their hands, so those 35 per cent of women not washing their hands need to step up their game, too. But the replies from the men to this post were disturbing. Many of the men said they don’t need to wash their hands after they urinate (or only do “Number 1,” as some of them said) because they aren’t touching themselves while they pee. Therefore, their hands are clean and don’t need to be washed.

How is this even an option? There’s a lot of junk to unpack here.

Because Twitter can be gross on any given day, I decided to find out more on this, um, trend in hand washing. So, I Googled, “Why don’t guys wash their hands after they pee?” and found people have asked the same question.

In 2018, Pol Rodellar with Vice talked to several people, including women, who said they didn’t wash their hands after using the washroom. The reasons were varied, and men’s included because “most penises are clean,” they don’t have time to be constantly washing themselves, and concern about wasting electricity and water to wash after handling a “tiny bit of my incredibly boring penis.”

Last year, Quinn Myers at Mel Magazine asked men this, too. Their responses ranged from “people are too phobic about germs,” “germs are good to help fight immunity,” “my hands get too dry from washing them so often,” to “I don’t feel like it” or “I don’t care.”

Gross.

Hand washing is a simple way to prevent getting sick and here are some men not taking the 20 seconds needed to wash their hands.

These men clearly need a lesson in basic hygiene. Here’s a poster from the province on hand washing and when you should wash your hands. Notice you SHOULD wash your hands “After using the toilet. It’s not, “After using the toilet, but only if you didn’t touch your spotless penis.”

Don’t know when or how to wash your hands? Here are some tips. Photo: Department of Health and Wellness

But some men have shunned hand washing for a long time. In the 1840s, Hungarian doctor Ignaz Semmelweis created a rule about hand washing after noticing more women in the maternity ward in his hospital were more likely to die than those who gave birth at a nearby midwifery ward. (Doctors in his maternity ward often delivered babies after performing autopsies, exposing them to germs the midwives weren’t exposed to). Deaths in the maternity ward dropped dramatically, although many of Semmelweis’s colleagues stopped washing their hands in protest, believing the cause of disease was water itself, not the lack of handwashing.

According to the Global Handwashing Day campaign, 19 per cent of people globally don’t wash their hands after using the washroom (GHD points out those figures aren’t just for developing countries, adding, “Even in places where hand washing is a comparatively entrenched practice and both soap and water are plentiful, people often fail to wash their hands with soap at critical times.”) There’s all kinds of information on the benefits of hand washing at their website.

What this campaign makes clear is that for hand washing to be effective, it needs to be done consistently and sustained over time. Even a Raccoon on Twitter pointed this out.

Global Handwashing Day is celebrated on Oct. 15. (Guys, that doesn’t mean you only wash your hands that day and you’re set for the year).

What else can we do for those men who don’t think they need to wash their hands after they pee? Maybe this sink-urinal design can help, although I think it’s icky to have a sink and a urinal that close together.

Could this sink-urinal encourage more men to wash their hands? Photo: NPR/Twitter

Or what about this reminder on the door that men can see when they leave? (The Global Handwashing Day campaign calls a sign like this a “nudge” that is part of improving the rates of hand washing).

This sign is also a good nudge.

We should all probably be washing our hands more often, including when visiting a family with a newborn or when we’re around seniors. And maybe we should call out those people who don’t wash their hands before leaving a public washroom. 

And builders, employers, and operators of public facilities should be responsible for making washrooms more accessible for those in wheelchairs or who have mobility issues. That includes adding some lower and easier-to-reach sinks. For little kids, add a couple of stools so they can reach the sink and start the habit of washing their hands properly from a young age. I’m sure there are all kinds of ways to make facilities more hand-washing-friendly. And keep the soap and paper-towel dispensers filled and the washrooms themselves clean!

I’m going back into my bubble now, but again, wash your hands. 


Government

City

Tuesday

Regional Centre Community Council (Tuesday, 6pm, HEMDCC Meeting Space, Alderney Gate) — this is the first meeting of the council, which was established by the full city council in December. Councillors will simply approve their meeting schedule.

Wednesday

Community Design Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 11:30am, City Hall) — the committee will rubber stamp each and every page of the Centre Plan.

North West Planning Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 7pm, in the building named after a bank, 61 Gary Martin Drive, Bedford) — no action items on the agenda.

Province

No public meetings for the rest of the week.


On campus

Dalhousie

Tuesday

Guitar Recital (Tuesday, 11:45am, MacAloney Room, Dal Arts Centre)

iCrimes and Misdemeanours: [Presti]Digit[iz]ation, Analogue Photographs, and their Digital Surrogates (Tuesday, 5:30pm, Room 3089, Rowe Management Building) — Joan M. Schwartz from Queen’s University will talk. More info here.

Wednesday

Voice Recital with ORA Ensemble (Wednesday, 11:45am, Sculpture Court, Dal Arts Centre)

Probing the intersection between natural competence and transduction in Streptococcus (Wednesday, 4pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — Gerd Prehna from the University of Manitoba will talk.

Jungle Flower. Photo from the event’s poster.

Reclaim Your Voice (Wednesday, 7pm, Room 303, Dal Student Union Building) — “Warrior Poet, Fear Facer, Frequency Raiser” Jungle Flower will talk. More info here.

Saint Mary’s

Tuesday

Greek Culture and Roman Imperialism at a Latin City (Tuesday, 4pm, MM 227) — Jason Farr will talk.

International Education Art Exhibition Live Event (Tuesday, 5pm, , Arts Commons, MM 214) — Students, staff and faculty perform art pieces inspired by their international experiences.

Wednesday

Telephone Accessibility (Wednesday, 9am, Room SC309D, 3rd floor, O’Donnell-Hennessey Student Centre) — Until 3pm, customized telephones with enhanced audio and visual accessibility features and specialized software will be available to test and make a call. More info here and here.

Brave Black Voices (Wednesday, 6pm, McNally Main Auditorium) — panel discussion for African Heritage Month.

SMU 2020 Writer-in-Residence (Wednesday, 7pm, SMU Art Gallery) — poetry with Rob Taylor, plus Robin Metcalfe, Annick MacAskill, and Sue Goyette.

Mount Saint Vincent

Wednesday

ADVANCE: International Women’s Day Breakfast (Wednesday, 7:30am, Halifax Marriott Harbourfront Hotel) — Lisa Ali Learning, founder & CEO of AtlanTick Repellent Products Inc. who

will be speaking about how to turn limitations into opportunities, and how changing your perspective can help you face adversity and thrive as a woman in business.

Tickets $45/$60 here.

Bring your own ticks.

Pioneers in Skirts (Wednesday, 6pm, Multipurpose Room, Rosaria Student Centre) — a screening of the documentary film about ambition and the ongoing effort to achieve gender parity in the workforce. Pre-registration required, more info here. $5/$15 includes light refreshments.

King’s

Wednesday

Will You Taste Our Blood? (Wednesday, 8pm, The Pit) — Katie Clark’s play explores themes of violence, consent and hook-up culture while re-imagining the Dionysus-worshipping Maenads. Continues to Saturday. More info and tickets here.


In the harbour

05:00: Maersk Patras, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Montreal
06:30: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
10:00: Atlantic Sun, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
12:00: X-Press Makalu, container ship, arrives at anchorage from Valencia, Spain
12:00: Maersk Patras sails for Bremerhaven, Germany
16:30: Atlantic Sun sails for sea
16:30: Glovis Symphony, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from New York
17:00: Sarah Desgagnes, oil tanker, arrives at Irving Oil from Saint John


Footnotes

Wash your damn hands!

Suzanne Rent

Suzanne Rent is a writer, editor, and researcher. You can follow her on Twitter @Suzanne_Rent

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4 Comments

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  1. Of all the interesting items in this issue (gold mining, civic corruption, drunk driving, social isolation, local earthquakes) what do people respond to? Toilet habits. Sigh.

  2. Think the handwashing thing is weird? There’s a certain demographic of men (I suspect largely overlapping with MRAs and incels) that can be found in the usual places, who refuse to wipe after they take a turd because they think touching your own butt makes you gay. I wish I was joking.

  3. When I moved here from Montreal more than 20 years ago, one of the things that struck me was how much better men were about hand-washing here. I don’t doubt that there are men who don’t wash their hands (heck,they’re saying so themselves) but the hand-washing rate seems high to me here. I’ve been to events at the Forum and Metro Centre where the bathroom is packed, and guys are patiently waiting their turn at the sink to wash their hands when they are done. It actually strikes me when I see a guy walk out without washing his hands, because it seems so uncommon.

    That said, I work at home, so my experience may be skewed because I spend less time in public washrooms.

    One thing that does get me is bad washroom design or sinks that make proper hand-washing very difficult. I’ve been in public washrooms that have signs about proper hand-washing, but the sinks provide only a meager trickle of cool water.

  4. Even if you believe that your penis is squeaky clean after keeping it in underwear (or not) that also contains other body bits, sweat and potential crawlies – your hands are not clean. How do you open the door? Maybe a shoulder shove to avoid germs? What were you doing before entering the toilet? Scratching your ear? Picking your nose? Handling retail items after hundreds and thousands of other people? Touching the escalator rail or the elevator buttons or a strap on the bus? Driving your car, where the steering wheel collects all those germs you sneezed out of your body since the last time the car’s interior was detailed? The sinks in a public toilet – or your sink at home – are perfect places to take a small step towards better health for everyone, not just you. Wash your palms, the backs of your hands, between the fingers, finger tips and thumbs. 30 seconds. Dry with paper towel, and use the towel to push the door open as you leave. Dump the towel in the next trash can. Now, you can’t say no one told you.