1. Development agreement approved for preschool at Halifax councillor’s house

Shawn Cleary

Zane Woodford reports on the approval of a development agreement for councillor Shawn Cleary’s house Wednesday night during a virtual public meeting.

Cleary and his wife, Michelle, have been running a preschool, Maple Tree Montessori, from their home at the corner of Quinpool Road and Poplar Street since 2012. The school has spaces for 14 students ages three to five. The Clearys applied to expand the number of children to 20 with a development agreement under the city’s municipal planning strategy.

As Woodford reports, the R1 zoning on Cleary’s property only allows up to 14 children in detached one-family homes, but the planning strategy allows the community council to consider allowing more capacity by development agreement — “to encourage the establishment of child care centres in a variety of locations to meet the varied needs of families, and to allow the consideration of the specific circumstances of an individual location.”

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2. Researcher: “feel no shame — sext your quarantine away,” but be safe

The possibility of sexualized violence is very real–even in a virtual setting–so exercise caution while using online dating apps. Photo: Contributed

The Halifax Examiner is providing all COVID-19 coverage for free.

Yvette d’Entremont talks with Nicole Doria, who’s pursuing her PhD at Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Health, about sexualized violence and online dating during the pandemic. Doria wrote a blog with tips on how to stay safe using dating apps during COVID-19.

“In addition to STIs, add COVID-19 to the list of infectious diseases you are going to want to protect yourself against these days, and a condom will not help you here,” Doria wrote in her blog.

Doria tells d’Entremont sexualized violence includes sexual exploitation, sexual coercion, and distribution of sexually explicit images without consent, to stalking, sexual harassment, unwanted sexualized attention including sexist remarks, transphobic remarks, and sending unwanted images and videos.  Doria’s looking at how online interactions transition offline and that includes consent online and offline. Says Doria:

A lot of people talk about how sometimes we engage in discussion online and you’ll be sexting and you might be getting carried away or you’re in the moment and you say things.

And then when you meet in person, that can be perceived as consent has already been given to participate in that sexual act or to engage in a behaviour that you might have changed your mind about or really are not comfortable participating in offline because it was different when you said you were into it online.

I felt really old reading this article.

Read the full story here.

3. Strang backpedals on self-isolation exemption for Irving execs

Irving Shipyard. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Tim Bousquet reports on those Irving Shipyard executives, who travelled to the United States on company business and returned to Canada, but received an exemption from the 14-day self-isolation requirement. An Irving spokesperson confirmed that exemption with the Examiner on Wednesday.

But as Bousquet reports, people were pretty angry with Irving getting that exemption because here we all are following the rules, while some execs get to ignore them.

Bousquet learned later on Wednesday that exemption for the Irving execs came from the office of chief medical officer, Dr. Robert Strang. He changed his mind later yesterday and revoked the exemption.

Strang and Premier Stephen McNeil will be having a COVID-19 briefing today at noon. Bousquet will be on the call.

Read the full story here.

4. There’s still confusion over who will get the “pandemic premium” and when they will get it

The Northwood nursing home on Gottingen Street in Halifax. Photo: Halifax Examiner

The Halifax Examiner is providing all COVID-19 coverage for free.

More than 45,000 healthcare workers worked during the COVID-19 pandemic from March 13 to July 12, but many are still not sure who will get the $2,000 taxable pandemic premium or when they will receive it.

Jennifer Henderson reports on a briefing Wednesday afternoon when the Department of Health and Wellness told unions and employers on how the $94 million premium will be disbursed.

A the briefing, a communications officer with the health department said, “Workers receiving the bonus include those at the Nova Scotia Health Authority and IWK Health Centre and in long-term care, home care, home support, residential care workers in the Disability Support Program, transition houses, shelter workers, and emergency health services”.

Lab workers, public health staff, and 811 operators will also get the premium, but a union official contacted by the Examiner says only workers who had direct contact with patients will get the pay. That leaves out staff like those who prepared food in kitchens.

Read the full story here.

5. Council approves 12-storey Halifax development after virtual public hearing

BANC Investments’ 12-storey proposal for Joseph Howe Drive. Rendering: Lydon Lynch Architects Credit: Lydon Lynch Architects

A new 12-storey development proposed for Joseph Howe Drive in Halifax. Zane Woodford reports that council approved the bylaw amendments that will allow the project to go ahead.

Alex and Besim Halef’s BANC Investments Ltd. proposed the project, which will include commercial space, four-storey resident space, and two seven-storey towers. There’s a one-storey commercial space on that property now, which will be torn down.

Woodford reports that no one signed on to speak for or against the project. Councillor Russell Walker says he heard from only one resident against the project.

This project is in my neighbourhood. I guess we’ll see the rents go up (see below).

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Stop shaming people for renting

There’s no shame in renting and you have my permission to tell people to buzz off when they do. Photo: Morning Brew/Unsplash

First off, I’m Suzanne Rent writing about renting, so let’s get all the jokes out of the way (haha).

Okay then.

After we published the story I wrote on Kimberly Rankin and the 45% rent hike she got a couple of weeks ago from the landlord of the building where she lives in north Dartmouth, I got thinking about renting and home ownership.

I have never owned a place and have been paying rent for a long time. I don’t think of this as a big deal, but other people do and let me know it. When people suggest I buy a place, that advice is always unsolicited and definitely not welcomed. I always hear that I’m wasting my money, which I don’t get, because I’m paying money in exchange for a place to live. People will say, “With what you pay in rent you could buy a house.” That’s real estate math and it’s used to sell houses. There are more costs to owning a home that renters don’t pay.

I don’t want a house for many reasons. I don’t want to spend all my time off on the upkeep, certainly not on my own. I’m not especially handy and don’t feel like learning how to fix things. Any time I think about owning a house I think about having to maintain it all the time. That makes me cranky. I like the freedom of renting. I don’t need a backyard for my kid because I think of the city, and even beyond, as our backyard. Not owning a house means we have time to get out of the house. That I have to explain those reasons here show how damaging that shaming can be for renters.

There are even sites like this one dedicated to answers renters can use when someone asks why they don’t own a house. The last one is my favourite: It’s nobody’s business.

Being a renter is not a moral failure and we’re not second class citizens. When I hear stories like Rankin’s, I see a lot of responses about how people should just buy a house, rather than shaming terrible landlords for jacking up rents and evicting tenants. Why aren’t we shaming the awful landlords more often?

Let’s face it: Owning a home is one of those middle class milestones that lets others know how successful you are. It’s like marriage and parenthood. Consider how often women are shamed for being single and/or childless. Those comments come from the same place as the comments renters get about their choice to rent.

Why are houses/marriage/children the milestones of middle class success? Because other people can see them. You could have $1 million sewn into your mattress (I don’t), but if you rent the place where you live, you’re seen as less successful than the homeowner down the street.

Here are some more stories I found on this site, Budgets are Sexy, which published a piece about people being shamed for paying rent:

“Being already buried in ton of debt didn’t even shield me from the house shaming. It doesn’t stop. The stress of getting out of my existing debt has soured me on taking out a mortgage so I’ve developed Teflon skin about it now.” – @DoubleDebtWoman

“This is so true. Everyone wants you to buy a house. But guess what? Only YOU are paying for it. Your rent is the most you’ll pay per month for shelter while your mortgage payment is the least! Taxes, reno’s, repairs, taxes — homeowners have costs beyond a simple rent payment.” – @SquawkFox

“Please keep preaching this message. A house does not make you wealthy. Money and net worth makes you wealthy. Can a house purchase be a part of a good financial plan? Yes. Is it essential? No. You need a roof over your head. I know lots of winners who rent. Lifestyle choice!” – @BuildFMuscle

“We get so much about this from family and we own a large two bedroom condo in an expensive city! It’s not just rent shaming – it’s non-house shaming too.” – @LeighPerFin 

“We pay a shit ton for a furnished rental and we’re happy as larks. Amazing neighborhood, awesome landlord, amenities we’d never pay for on our own (saltwater pool, hot tub, prof home gym, chickens), and ZERO RESPONSIBILITY. Freeeeeeeeeedom!!!” – @HardlyWarckens

“I was totally #houseshamed into buying my house way back when…. now we live in an Airstream. Apparently we have thicker skin now ;)” – @AStreaminLife

So how about instead of shaming renters, we figure out a way to make renting better for renters?

Generation Squeeze, a national research, education, and advocacy organization for Canadians in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, is actually looking at ways to level the playing field between renters and home owners.

As Generation Squeeze points out on its website here, people in their 20s to 40s are dealing with a different situation than that of previous generations. Earnings are down for those between the ages of 25 and 34 ($49,000 vs. $55,000), student debt is higher ($23,000 vs. $16,000), and, of course, housing prices are higher ($490,000 vs. $210,000).

I pointed out on Twitter on the weekend that our parents’ generation had access to co-op housing programs that allowed them to buy or build their first homes. Those families could survive (and even thrive) on one income. You didn’t need a university education to get a good job, so you didn’t have student debt.

Younger people are simply more burdened at the starting point than their parents or grandparents were. They’re graduating with levels of student debt that would have paid for the house their parents built or purchased. But they need that education to get the jobs that pay less than what their parents made. And jobs are less secure and offer no benefits or pensions. People are getting laid off in their 30s and 40s, and some are starting over, going back to school and getting new careers, taking on new debt when they want to save for retirement. Many are still renting and, like Rankin, face steep rent increases.

Generation Squeeze also has a campaign called We Rent. As the campaign mentions here, housing and tax policies favour homeowners with capital gains exemptions, RRSP tax breaks, and exclusionary zoning. The We Rent campaign’s big-picture goal is to create a welcoming community for renters, stabilize the existing market by protecting existing purpose-built rentals, understanding and regulating the secondary market, encouraging landlords to get certified, and ensuring strong tenant relocation policies.

As well, We Rent suggests building lots of new rentals, including market and non-profit, eliminating exclusionary zoning, building non-profit housing on public and institutional land, and making it easier and cheaper to finance and build. (The We Rent campaign isn’t focused on rent control).

I’ve been very fortunate in that I haven’t received letters telling me my rent was going up 45%. In fact, the rent I’ve paid has been quite affordable. And the landlords have been okay, except the last one who ignored repairs and took weeks to send me my damage deposit when I moved. I now live in a neighbourhood where renovictions are common and the rents in some new builds are almost twice what I pay in rent now. My luck may be short-lived and I may consider moving next year. Maybe I will buy a house at some point. But there are many others on income assistance or fixed incomes who have far fewer choices. We need to look out for and support them.

There are people smarter than me who have ideas on how to fix all of this and stop the shaming that renters face, while also giving them safe and affordable places to live. What I do know is shaming renters into buying houses they don’t want, need, or can’t afford is not the solution to the rental crisis in the city. Stop the shaming. It’s long overdue.


Tim Bousquet tweeted this out last night.

So what does Irving know? Well, according to its Facebook page, Irving-owned Kent Homes is sending these portable classrooms to Nova Scotia.

Was the order for these classrooms in before the COVID-19 pandemic? Or is this part of the return-to-school plan for September? Parents — myself included — haven’t heard about plans for the school year, which starts September 8. A lot of unhappy and confused parents were commenting on the post.




Special Board of Police Commissioners (12pm, virtual meeting) —  agenda here.

Special Community Design Advisory Committee (1pm, virtual meeting) —  agenda here.


No meetings.


No meetings.

In the harbour

03:30: Thunder Bay, bulker, sails from National Gypsum for sea
06:30: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Fairview Cove from Saint-Pierre
07:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
11:00: CSL Tacoma, bulker, sails from Anchorage #13 (off Wrights Cove) for sea
11:00: Taipei Trader, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from New York
12:00: Oceanex Sanderling moves to Anchorage #5 (off McNabs Island)
18:00: Oceanex Sanderling moves to Pier 41
18:00: Wilson Mistral, cargo ship, sails from Pier 27 for sea


Ahhhh, writing that rent story gave me a new lease on life.

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

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  1. Speaking of stock photos … at that link, is the stock photo for the rent-shaming article showing us a White house-owning woman rent-shaming a Black woman? Just wondering :/

    1. Or is that my cynical / subconsciously racist interpretation?? I guess it could be the other way. but I’m thinking the renter would be the more annoyed person in that conversation.

  2. No one should feel shamed for not being a property or home owner.

    The government are the ones who should feel the same, along with the developers — for putting no effective price control regulations in place to prevent the demand spikes, which in turn drive up the overall market price in some towns and rapid development zones around cities.

    Allowing speculators to easily accumulate all the housing stock in an area is a big part of this problem. These are people who buy and flip homes, making their profits on the continued fear that comes from the very price hikes their monopolizing of homes can create.

    I know that some Hedge and Pension Funds seem to be adding to this by getting into the real estate asset market directly (because they mistakenly see this as way to turn a quick profit too) but that is not helping either.

    Our economy is designed to be a “free market” only when those at the top of the investor food chain get to manipulate and inflate prices. There is not enough little concern for how this impacts the other 90% of us.

    Government policies and regulations cannot simply be about making opportunity for those with a lot of money already. There are way to set some simple regulations in place to prevent these abuses — but where is the will to do so??

    Maybe a question you need to start asking of any Municipal Candidates in what ever area you live in the province.

  3. Two of those portable classrooms were placed in the parking lot of Westmount Elementary School just last week.

  4. I’ve rented and owned, and prefer renting, despite the second class treatment from many. I remember a parent-teacher conference where the teacher assumed my child’s struggles with schoolwork were due to my renting a house in a new neighbourhood. She was much more deferential after I mentioned I had bought the house.

    My biggest complaint about renting is the tax treatment, especially for apartment residents. As taxes are included in rent, cities can take advantage of this to charge rental properties a higher rate than homeowners, even though the higher density means savings on services like road construction and maintenance. There are many programs to help people buy homes and stay in them. For example, the Heating Assistance Rebate program gives money to help cover heating costs, unless your heat is included in your rent, which is it for many apartment dwellers. If their rent is increased to cover heating costs, they are out of luck. The net result of these programs is a significant contribution to social inequality – low income urban apartment dwellers subsidize the wealth accumulation of higher income suburban home owners.

    1. Not to mention that subsidizing home purchases, renovations, etc just makes housing more expensive.

      The problem is that most voters own homes or want to buy one soon.

  5. We sold a lovely property on Mont Blanc Terrace in North end Halifax 4 years ago and have been renting since. This was a choice we made because we didn’t want the hassles of homeownership any more. We have a beautiful apartment still in the North end and love it. We have great owners and incredible on-site supervisors. For us, it was the right choice with no regrets.

  6. Portables! Shades of the 60s-70s. Wearing a coat to go to gym or the library or the office, cold feet in class, in tiny buildings shuffled to the back of the playground…. Maybe they are better now.

  7. Thank you for that story on rent, Ms. Rent. Housing is a crucial issue in this and most Canadian cities. Our vacancy rate is 1% and this puts enormous upward pressure on rents because landlords can get away with it. Housing is a human right but it is not treated in this way. If we assume a perfect world, then renters would pay rent that was enough to cover expenses for the owner and little more. But we live in a neo-liberal world where everything is fair game for profiteering and greed. Landlords literally take money that people earn from working, and use the surplus money that isn’t needed for covering the property expenses for whatever they feel like. This is wrong.
    There should be strict rent control, renters should have recourse to an agency with teeth to deal with complaints against landlords that don’t maintain their buildings properly. Oh, but what about the renters who don’t pay and damage the buildings they live in and blah, blah, blah, I can already hear from the rentier supporting class. Well, my response to that would be, nobody is forcing you to be a landlord and literally taking people’s wages for your own profit without yourself having done a damned thing to deserve that money, other than being well off enough to afford to own more property than you need to live in. So sell your headache. This would also have the nice side effect of lowering real estate prices so that more people could actually afford to buy. Real estate should not be the means by which people secure their wealth for retirement.
    It’s remarkable to me that we have allowed housing to become a market in the way it is. As with all markets in a capitalist system, those with means will use their money and power to dominate and monopolise the market for their own benefit, at the expense of, for example, people who have to rent.
    Governments are empirically on the side of landlords. People have to start demanding that housing be treated very differently from other goods in society, and that all people have access to affordable, quality housing, and it has to government, through legislation, that ensures this. The market sure as hell will not.

  8. Great piece on rent-shaming, Suzanne!

    While i do own a house (well, not really, i do have a mortgage), i agree that owning a house is HUGE. I sometimes long for the days when i had no up-keep responsibility and all that extra cash. I hate the arguments people make in rent-shaming and i resisted buying for years.

  9. The Kent Homes FB page has this update:

    Kent Homes
    23 hrs ·
    CLARIFICATION: Sorry everyone, it was not our intention to alarm families and educators waiting on news from school boards. This specific project was ordered last January prior to the pandemic shutdown. It was only our intention to share the ways the products we build here in the Maritimes CAN be used to help with pandemic response. Thank you for all your feedback on the modular classrooms

    1. Actually the use of smaller portable school house models may ironically be our future, if this disease issue gets worse, due to mutation or long-term need for better social isolation practices.

      Schools are one of the big transmission vectors for flu and cold like diseases. It would stand to reason that the SARS style virus outbreaks are the same (or higher) risk in schools as we currently have them set up.