1. Development agreement approved for preschool at Halifax councillor’s house
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.”
2. Researcher: “feel no shame — sext your quarantine away,” but be safe
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
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 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
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).
Stop shaming people for renting
First off, I’m Suzanne Rent writing about renting, so let’s get all the jokes out of the way (haha).
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.
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.