News

1. Halifax is getting a stadium

Council voted in favour of spending $20 million on a stadium, although the Atlantic Schooners will have to find a new location, Zane Woodford with The Star Halifax reports. A staff report recommended spending the $20 million, but told Schooner Sports and Entertainment (SSE) its preferred spot of Shannon Park was out of the question. The staff report says the Shannon Park site would require new ferries and a terminal that could cost up to $40 million.

Councillors Sam Austin, Lindell Smith, Waye Mason, Richard Zurawski, Matt Whitman, Tim Outhit, Shawn Cleary all voted no.

In a story from Sportsnet, Mayor Mike Savage said the stadium project is still alive because of the work put in by city staff.

The team here at the city did tremendous work in analyzing this and saying, ‘Some of these proposals don’t make any sense to us. Is there one that does?’ And the one they came up with is certainly one I can support.

Anthony LeBlanc with SSE says they are now looking at locations at Dartmouth Crossing, Bedford Common, Bayers Lake, Exhibition Park, Woodside, and near the airport.

In Woodford’s article, LeBlanc disagreed with the staff report’s concerns that attendance assumptions were “aggressive,” and stood behind his projection of 97 per cent attendance.

I’m pretty sure I’m the only one in that room that has run a professional sports team.

The CFL released a statement on the announcement:

Today’s vote in Halifax is a giant step forward for the plan for a new stadium there and, ultimately, the launch of a new CFL franchise in Atlantic Canada. Councillors for the Halifax Regional Municipality have essentially approved the municipal portion of the needed financing. There is more work ahead, of course, for the Schooners Sports and Entertainment group and the stadium project. But today represents an important milestone for everyone who shares the dream of a truly coast-to-coast CFL.

What would you build if Halifax council gave you $20 million? I’d build a chocolate factory.

I’d say most people love chocolate because it’s delicious and sweet. Chocolate also triggers the release of endorphins and serotonin, which make us happy.

Of course, I’d pay everyone at least a living wage. We’d all be happy and paid well.

Here are some other ideas, all of which are better than mine:

You can see more of these great ideas here.

2. Fraud and the QE2 rebuild

An architectural rendering of what the newly re-imagined QEII could look like.

“The province’s auditor general released a critical report yesterday that looked at the $2 billion project to expand the Halifax Infirmary and build a new Community Outpatient Centre at Bayers Lake to replace the decrepit Victoria General and Centennial buildings,” reports Jennifer Henderson:

Michael Pickup’s strongest criticism and first recommendation declared: The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal should implement a fraud risk management program specific to the QEII New Generation Project, including a fraud policy, fraud risk assessment, and fraud training.”

Pickup said the project is simply too large to rely on the internal audit measures that the government normally follows and he referenced the recent building of Colchester East Hants Hospital in Truro where costs doubled during the construction period.

Click here to read “Auditor General: $2 billion QEII redevelopment at risk for fraud.”

This article is for subscribers. Click here to subscribe.

3. Cops investigate arrest in which man was Tasered

A screen grab from a video taken during an arrest on Quinpool Road last week in which a Black man was Tasered. Photo: Twitter.

There’s a formal investigation now after the traffic stop on Quinpool Road last week where a Black man was Tasered, reports CTV. There’s no word on who filed the complaint.

Someone on the street recorded the stop in which the man was pulled over for unsafe driving. Halifax Regional Police say an officer was assaulted during the stop. The video was shared on social media that night.

Councillor Lindell Smith who also sits on the board of police commissioners says the video was “scary to watch.”

The commission could ask for a briefing on the incident — in camera — because obviously there’s personal information that would have to be disclosed, but as a commission itself, there’s nothing we could really talk about in public.

Rob Currie, a law professor at Dalhousie, tells CTV videos taken by passersby can be a game changer.

That’s definitely providing for more incidents, more reports, and ultimately, more accountability for public authorities — and anyone else who’s inclined to get in trouble.

4. Crane falls on Sydney cruise ship berth

Photo: Twitter

Sydney now has its own collapsed crane.

The crane fell in high winds at the site of the second cruise ship berth that’s now under construction.

No one was hurt, but the fallen crane caught the eye of several residents like Tyler Kennedy who noticed it after seeing a Cape Breton Post reporter pulled over, as he says in this story in The Chronicle Herald.

I didn’t know anything happened here, I was just out for a drive.

Betty MacKenzie and her mom, Lucy MacDonald were driving around waiting for the rain to let up when they saw the crane, too.

Wouldn’t they know the forecast and take precautions? Well as long as no one was hurt, that’s the important thing.

5. Dogs removed from puppy mill

One of the 35 dogs removed from a puppy mill outside Wolfville. Photo: Nova Scotia SPCA/Facebook

Thirty-five dogs were removed from a puppy mill outside of Wolfville Tuesday morning, reports Elizabeth Chiu with CBC.

The Jack Russells and border collies were living on a property inspectors had learned about via a public tip in the fall. Jo-Anne Landsburg, chief provincial inspector with the Nova Scotia SPCA, says the dogs were timid and fearful.

They seem to be very shutdown and withdrawn, so we’re very concerned about their psychological well-being.

Landsburg told CBC it was the largest seizure of dogs she’s taken part in.

On its Facebook page, the Nova Scotia SPCA says it will cost about $20 per day to take care of the dogs during their recovery.


Views

1. Recruiting doctors for Nova Scotia’s forgotten coast

Sheila Martin is a retired nurse and one of several residents in Sheet Harbour working to recruit doctors to the community.

I spent yesterday in Sheet Harbour, which is 1.5 hours from where I live in Halifax. I love this part of the province. It often feels like very few people know about the communities here. That’s lovely for a quiet getaway, but it means something more for those who live here year round.

Sheila Martin worked as a nurse in Sheet Harbour for 35 years. Martin is retired and decided to stay in the community. Now, she and a group of community members are working to recruit more physicians to the community. The Eastern Shore Memorial Hospital on Main Street in Sheet Harbour serves a catchment area between East Ship Harbour and Ecum Secum, just on the border of HRM and Guysborough. That’s about 3,000 residents.

There are lots of great people doing lots of great things, but until you’ve lived in a rural community it’s difficult to truly understand the realities of that. Most of our decision makers don’t come with a rural community background. They do their very, very best to come here and understand, but it remains a challenge. It’s hard to understand when someone shows up at your door and you’re dealing with your next-door neighbour and you’re telling them to call 911. It’s very challenging for the physicians who are here. They are treating their family, they are treating their friends, they are treating their community. The smaller you get, the more intimate that is.

There are three doctors here; two work the emergency room at the hospital, which Martin says is open at sporadic hours. Recently, the ER was closed for four days in a row. Closures are listed on the ER’s door or announced on local radio stations, which in many communities is CBC.

It’s open about 50 per cent of the time, but I wouldn’t say it’s open 75 per cent of the time.

If the ER is closed, some patients head to hospitals in Musquodoboit Harbour, Truro, New Glasgow, or the Cobequid Community Health Centre in Lower Sackville. Where they go often depends on the highways. Martin says with the Highway 7, Marine Drive, heading toward Dartmouth and Halifax, is safer than the #224 heading to Truro. Highway 374 connects to Stellarton, but runs through a game sanctuary and is very sparsely populated and has almost no cellphone service.

The committee is looking for more doctors to move and practice here. Ultimately, the goal is to have a collaborative care system like at Twin Oaks Memorial Hospital in Musquodoboit Harbour, about an hour away. There, physicians work the ER from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. while EHS works overnight shifts. A team of doctors, nurse practitioners, occupational therapists, and more work to make sure patients are seen. Martin says the committee has been in talks and they’ve attended recruitment fairs.

Certainly, we have been in conversation with the authority, we are one of many in the same situation. We need to find a physician who wants to live in rural Nova Scotia who’s on call one-third of their life.

The committee got its start in the spring 2018 during a town meeting when residents started expressing concerns about continued closures at the ER. Senator Tom McInnis, who served as the MLA for Halifax Eastern Shore from 1978 to 1993 and lives in Sheet Harbour now, serves as the committee’s chair.

The emergency room at Eastern Shore Memorial Hospital is open only sporadically. Photo: Suzanne Rent

The Sheet Harbour and Area Chamber of Commerce and Civic Affairs is working on a marketing program including a website that can be used as a recruitment tool at healthcare job fairs. Martin says they understand a lot of youth don’t want to live in very rural communities and it’s a specific person who will want to practice here. This is a very rural lifestyle that would appeal to those who love the outdoors, she says. There are plenty of opportunities for kayaking, hiking, and several white-sand beaches along the shore.

There’s also a new P-12 school that will open September 2020. A new lifestyle-community centre is expected to break ground that same month. Sheet Harbour got sidewalks in 2010. A beautification project added trees and new lampposts on Main Street in the village. The province replaced the East River Bridge in the last few years. There are services like banks, credit unions, a Foodland, pharmacies, some restaurants and motels, and a branch of the Halifax Public Library.

Sheet Harbour is part of the HRM and served by councillor David Hendsbee, but shares more in common with Guysborough County (its MLA is Lloyd Hines of Guysborough-Eastern Shore-Tracadie). Federally, the area is represented by MP Sean Fraser, Central Nova. Martin says that means Sheet Harbour gets lost in the mix.  Sheet Harbour and the Eastern Shore is often called Nova Scotia’s forgotten coast.

Politically, what’s happening in Guysborough is taking up the energy of our MLA. What’s happening in New Glasgow and Antigonish is taking up the energy of our MP. What’s happening in downtown Halifax and Dartmouth is taking up the energy of our mayor. Everyone is too busy putting out fires to pay attention to us. We are pretty good at putting out our own fires.

Another complication is that because Sheet Harbour is part of the HRM, they say they aren’t considered rural. Some of the benefits other rural communities get, Sheet Harbour won’t, particular federal funding for locums who might cover shifts when other doctors are away. That applies to other communities in the HRM like Middle Musquodoboit, too.

When people talk about rural communities, when they use that term, they are talking about places like Windsor, they are talking Antigonish, they are talking New Glasgow. But to us, that’s not rural. Their population is condensed whereas ours is spread out.

People who live here work in the fishery, the port, or at the services like the banks or grocery store. Martin says the fishery brings in new money that if it were brought in to downtown Halifax would ensure new services to residents there.

Sheet Harbour and other communities are cut off from the rest of the municipality in many ways. Other young healthcare professionals, along with teachers and RCMP officers, put in a couple of years early on in their careers and then leave. Sheet Harbour no longer has any Nova Scotia Power employees here. Now, those workers come from Truro.

I think in a lot of ways they feel devalued. I live here as a lifestyle choice. I don’t have to live here. I’m retired. I came here to retire. If you’re a fisherman, you need to live here. For those people, it’s not an option to move. You need those services.

There’s poverty here, too, which she says goes unnoticed and unstudied because they are part of the HRM.

Many of the homes that go up for sale are purchased by retirees like Edith Marshall, who is also on the committee. She and her husband moved here from Ontario, although she started her career in Halifax. She says she knew nothing of the Eastern Shore beyond Lawrencetown. When they checked out Sheet Harbour, they noticed and joked there was a hospital, the seniors’ apartments with assisted-living options, the nursing home, and the funeral home. In a way, that makes Sheet Harbour a popular retirement community.

So, we had a four-step process. We all thought about that, the total care in Sheet Harbour.

But, she adds, retirees will stop considering Sheet Harbour if the ER isn’t open more often.

Martin says rural medicine offers physicians challenges not found in urban hospitals. Doctors here often have a chance to practice a larger scope of medicine because they have to treat everyone.

No, you’re not a specialist. You’re a generalist and your skill set is unbelievable. It has to be. You never know what’s going to come through the door. And when they do, you’re it. There’s a belief that because it’s a small community you’re boring, that there’s no excitement, no glamour.

Martin recalls working at the hospital when there was a serious car accident in the community. She and other nurses worked on one victim who was brought in to the hospital by a school bus driver because the ambulance was elsewhere in the community. Together, they stabilized the patient until they could be transferred to another hospital. She remembers walking into the waiting room where dozens of community members were waiting for news from the RCMP officers waiting there, too. Everyone in the community knew someone in that accident.

You draw on those resources in a way that would never happen in the city. You need those skills, but they don’t happen every day. We think of what’s sexy like a big, urban emergency department. It’s different but it’s not boring.

But practicing medicine here is not just about the skill. Martin says it’s more about the relationships. And those don’t develop unless you stay in the community for some time.

It’s important healthcare providers develop relationships in rural communities. Our doctors are very effective. They have been here a very long time. People know them and they trust them. There’s no incentive for them to stay. It’s a stepping stone. We just need to convince people, young people in our community, how do we support you to become a healthcare provider?

The committee had one lead on a physician who ended up choosing Twin Oaks. But they’re still looking, working on that marketing program, and spreading the word about Sheet Harbour, its lifestyle, and opportunities to practice medicine. Marshall says it takes time.

The kind of work you do is just putting out seeds and sometimes it takes years for that to sprout and grow. It’s just making people aware of opportunities in rural areas, in particular.

They know the challenges. Younger single doctors don’t want to come here because they’re often isolated. For those with spouses and children, there’s the issue of making sure the community has something to offer them, too. The committee is looking at those issues as well. They know there are few doctors whose character and lifestyle will fit the place.

For me, I grew up in a rural fishing community. I moved all the way to Sheet Harbour for another one and I spent my whole life on the Eastern Shore. I don’t regret it and don’t feel I miss anything. It’s challenging as we become more urbanized and those decision to centralize really affect our ability to be a community, a healthy, vibrant community and provide those services. I don’t have any answers, but we keep plugging away.


Noticed

It’s winter in Nova Scotia and my favourite seasonal annual tradition is watching the replies on the Halifax Regional Centre for Education Twitter account when a decision is made about school closures.

Yesterday, I awaited those responses as the wind and rain whipped throughout city. And I knew what was coming. The HRCE Twitter account was bombarded with comments from parents. It’s really quite a shitshow. I don’t recommend it to anyone.

The comments are often more vicious than the weather itself. Parents seem to forget there is an actual person behind that Twitter account. It’s like yelling at and berating the cashier at the store for its refund policy the cashier didn’t create. I won’t share the comments here, but they range from telling HRCE officials they are endangering the lives of children to those comments including profanity. I especially love the section at the very bottom of the account that says, “Show additional responses, including those that may contain offensive content.” Those are always a treat.

Me watching the HRCE Twitter account when it makes a decision on school closures.

Do I agree with the HRCE on every decision it makes regarding school closures? No. Had they closed all schools yesterday, parents would have berated them for that decision.

The HRCE can’t win with its decisions on school closures. Making the decision is not an exact science, and I’m not sure I’d do any better, but how the decision is made is outlined on the HRCE website. That information starts to get gathered at 4:30 a.m. from several sources, including:

  • Weather forecasts from Wood Group consulting service which provides radar and satellite imagery, real time road conditions and any weather warnings
  • Consulting with a meteorologist to discuss details of forecast, level and type of precipitation and impact on road conditions
  • Stock Transportation which consults with company bus drivers to determine local road conditions throughout the municipality
  • Municipal and provincial transportation staff for an update on road and sidewalk conditions throughout the municipality; and (Halifax Snow Clearing Standards) (TIR Winter Maintenance Standards)
  • Other local weather services, including Environment Canada and the Weather Network

By 5:30 a.m., that information goes to the regional executive director, Elwin LeRoux, or a designate. A decision is sent out to parents around 6 a.m., usually by text, the HRCE website, information line, social media, and radio.

I am a parent, too, whose kid’s father works a job he can’t leave or not show up for because of school closures. This has often meant I had to stay home when schools were cancelled or leave work early when schools closed early. I recognize, too, I have been fortunate enough to have jobs where I could work from home, if needed. Not every parent can do this. On occasion, we had relatives pick our kid up when we couldn’t.

If yesterday’s wind was mixed with snow, I think all schools would have been closed. But yesterday’s closures were called because of power outages, which were random and ongoing around the HRM throughout the morning. Many schools didn’t lose power until after the 6 a.m. deadline by which the HRCE usually sends out a text about closures. Should the HRCE have closed all schools because the power might go out? They likely had no better information about power outages than most of us did. So, throughout the morning school closures were announced as HRCE officials learned power was out at various schools. This is frustrating, for sure, but the HRCE was likely sharing the information as they received it. Still, the nasty comments kept coming.

I doubt the HRCE will ever make a decision all parents will agree with. I suggest they post the decisions and turn off their notifications on Twitter. I hope they do already.

On the HRCE website that details how the centre makes decisions on school closures during inclement weather is a list of ways for parents to be prepared when bad weather is on the way. Advice includes having a backup plan. This is all reasonable advice.

I’d like to call for more civility in the responses on social media when the HRCE does make a decision, even if you hate it.

In the end, the best advice we can all take is listed at the very bottom of the page of the HRCE website:

Please remember: As a parent or guardian you always have the choice of whether or not to send your child to school.


Government

City

Wednesday

Community Planning and Economic Development Standing Committee(Wednesday, 10am, City Hall ) — Nancy A. Noble, the CEO at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, and her sidekick Colin Stinson, the “director of marketing and visitor experience,” will give a presentation titled “New Ways of Thinking,” maybe using some body part that isn’t the brain. And, staff is going to give an update on the Culture and Heritage Priorities Plan, but as of 8am Tuesday, there’s no update posted on the website.

Halifax and West Community Council (Wednesday, 6pm, City Hall) — relatively minor items on the agenda.

Thursday

Appeals Standing Committee (Thursday, 10am, City Hall) — for a change there are no taxi drivers appealing being denied licences because they’re rapists.

Transportation Standing Committee (Thursday, 1pm, City Hall) — staff is suggesting that the city allow Uber to operate in Halifax, albeit regulated.

Province

Wednesday

Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, Province House) — Auditor General Michael Pickup will be asked about his Fall 2019 Report.

Thursday

Human Resources (Thursday, 10am, One Government Place) — a lot of questions about immigration.

Natural Resources and Economic Development (Thursday, 1pm, One Government Place) — a guy from BIRD Construction will be talking about the use of wood in public buildings.


On campus

Dalhousie

Wednesday

Thesis Defence, Process Engineering and Aoolied Science (Wednesday, 9am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Jonathan Rolin will defend “Identification and Aspects of Commercial Production of Anti-Diabetic Peptide(s) from Salmon Protein Hydrolysates.”

Thesis Defence, Biology (Wednesday, 1:30pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Montana F. McLean will defend “Secrets of the Ultimate Trophy Fish: The Physiological Ecology and Behaviour of White Sturgeon (Acipenser Transmontanus Richardson, 1836) after Angling.”

Thesis Defence, Biomedical Engineering (Wednesday, 2pm, Room 430, Goldberg Computer Science Building) — PhD candidate Elysia Davis will defend “Knee Mechanics of Healthy and Osteoarthritic Joints.”

Thesis Defence, Psychology and Neuroscience (Wednesday, 2pm, Room 1014, Rowe Management Building) — PhD candidate Jillian King will defend “Contributions of Genetically Defined Interneuron Subtypes to Contrast Coding in Mouse Primary Visual Cortex.”

Thursday

Newfangling Rounds (Thursday, 8:30am, Bethune Ballroom, VG) —  Orlando Hung will talk about “Development of a lightwand intubation device for patients with a difficult airway.” More info and registration here.

Saint Mary’s

Thursday

Venture Grade 2019 Annual General Meeting (Thursday, 2pm, in the theatre named after a bank in the building named after a grocery store) — keynote speaker is Jevon MacDonald, “the founder of a business in Halifax that was recently aquired (sic) for 70M+,” will tell us how we all will become rich forever, amen, thanks to capitalism run amok:

Venture Grade is North America’s only student raised and managed venture capital fund. We invest in seed stage-ups through the Atlantic Ecosystem. Venture Grade stems out of Saint Mary’s University and is the Canadian host for the annual Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC). Our team has an international background with over 14 different nationalities along with a diverse background, having students from the Bcomm., MTEI, ENVS and MBA programs. Companies in our portfolio include Cribcut, Trip Ninja, and Ashored, and Aurea.

The AGM will be more than a just a recap of Venture Grade’s previous year, the theme of the event will be the celebration of the progress the Atlantic Ecosystem has experienced and the amazing new initiatives being taken to advance it further.

Tickets and more info here.

Mount Saint Vincent

Wednesday

Research Celebration 2019 (Wednesday, 12pm, Elizabeth and Fred Fountain Atrium, McCain Centre) — celebrating this year’s faculty research highlights and accomplishments.


In the harbour

03:00: Avon, oil tanker, moves from anchorage to Imperial Oil
09:00: Ultra Lascar, bulker, arives at Pier 28 from Georgetown, Guyana
10:00: Atlantic Star, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
10:30: Toscana, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southampton, England
11:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
Time Uncertain: Toscana, car carrier, moves from Autoport to Pier 31
Time Uncertain: Toscana sails for sea
20:30: Atlantic Star sails for Liverpool, England


Footnotes

I want to thank Rasta over on Twitter for the tips on what’s happening on the Eastern Shore. Sometimes you meet lovely and helpful people on Twitter.

Suzanne Rent

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

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  1. Do you know what used to be on the current site off the old World Trade and Convention Centre? Moirs Chocolate. I still remember the smell downtown until it was replaced in 74

  2. I would complete one leg of the rail tunnel to cover the rail cut. Perhaps the stretch between tower and young ave. It would be a green space until the other legs could be completed.

  3. The Twin Oaks Hospital ER in Musquodoboit Harbour is fantastic, we live out this way, and once in a while, with emergencies with our kids, we have used them, day or night, and we were always extremely well taken care of by whomever was on shift, physicians, nurses, paramedics… add to that this ER is seldomly run over by patients, the wait times are rather short. And if the emergency was too big to handle, they would triage you to get to the iwk or wherever you need to be in Halifax. So, I would hope that they put the same system in place e.g. In Sheet Harbour or elsewhere in the province.

  4. Regarding the VG rebuild – why is the city council shoehorning people into high rise development on the Halifax peninsula, and then building one of the most important facilities for that population – a hospital – at Bayers Lake, distantly removed from the majority of the population it serves ???? When you are old and ill, or young and your kids are ill , in either case you may have no easy transportation to this hospital. It’s location creates further pain and suffering. IT MAKES NO SENSE to build it OUTSIDE the major population area.

    After all we have been through with the Convention centre, still largely vacant, in debt, and a loss of precious taxpayer funds! then YES – there most definitely needs to be a fraud risk management program specific to the QEII New Generation Project, including a fraud policy, fraud risk assessment, and fraud training.

    1. Bayers Lake facility will be for day surgeries and is an ideal,place for those who must come in from off peninsula communities.A friend in Halifax recently went to Windsor for orthopaedic surgery, we drove him there and back.

  5. Let us understand this – the city is unable to maintain an Emergency room and physicians on the Eastern Shore, and yet councillors voted $20 million for a stadium ?

  6. Has literally no one in the health care HR department seen Northern Exposure, or known some pacifist with a 98% average out of high school trading university for 5 years in uniform with DND, in places lot less fun than Sheet Harbour?

  7. I am against any public dollars going towards a sport business so the idea of 20 M going to build a stadium for the Schooners turns my stomach. But I think that the conditions on paying out the 20M make it unlikely SSE is going to get anything done and this is just going to die a slow death with both sides of the stadium war taking pot shot on social media until a good cat meme comes along. Perhaps if SSE had thrown a few more innovations and world class thingies into their request they would have got all their asks.