News

1. People’s Park

A cardboard sign placed on the spot where volunteers and residents tried to construct a food tent on March 4. Photo: Leslie Amminson

“An encampment at a Halifax park, where unhoused people have lived in makeshift shelters since August, could soon be dismantled,” report Ethan Lycan-Lang and Leslie Amminson:

People have been living in tents in Meagher Park, on the corner of Chebucto Road and Dublin Street, all fall and winter. Known to volunteers, residents, and community members as “People’s Park,” the site became a refuge to those forcibly evicted from other public parks on August 18, 2021.

In an email to P.A.D.S. Community Network on Tuesday, Halifax’s top-ranking bureaucrat, CAO Jacques Dubé, told volunteers he was “optimistic that in the coming weeks [they would] participate in a process to peacefully close the park and move those in need of shelter to safe housing.”

In its response to Dubé’s email, P.A.D.S. said they would not assist with dismantling the park, and that they have “no say over the People’s Park and do not determine how those who reside there may react to HRM operations to close the park down.”

Instead, P.A.D.S. told Dubé they would do what they could to support unhoused people as they transition into permanent housing.

Click here to to read “Volunteer network says it won’t help dismantle People’s Park after CAO Dubé asks for group’s help to ‘peacefully’ close park.”

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2. Silver Sands Beach

Signage at the gate of the public easement to Silver Sands Beach Park in Cow Bay on Thursday, March 17, 2022. — Photo: Zane Woodford

“Halifax Regional Municipality is headed to court to restore the public’s access to a shrinking beach in Cow Bay,” reports Zane Woodford:

Silver Sands Beach is a municipal park accessible only by a right-of-way across private property, starting from the parking lot off Cow Bay Road — the one with the big moose.

In 2003, HRM bought the land for the moose parking lot and the beach from a company called Silver Sands Realty Ltd., and it negotiated a right-of-way across the company’s property in between to join the two, allowing public access to the beach. It also negotiated an easement with another property owner on the opposite side for emergency and maintenance access.

At that time, Ross Rhyno was vice-president of Silver Sands Realty, and a year later, he conveyed the property ownership to himself. In 2018, Rhyno added his spouse, Amall Hanna Massey, to the deed. Massey died in January 2022, so the property now belongs solely to Rhyno.

Over the past few years, as coastal erosion has thinned out the beach property, public access via the right-of-way over Rhyno’s property has become an issue.

Click here to read “Halifax sues over Silver Sands Beach access.”

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3. Ultra-large ships and megaports

The CMA CGM Alexander Von Humboldt being docked by three tugs at Pier 42, on March 17, 2022, 12:55pm. Map: Marine Traffic

Yesterday afternoon, I watched via the Marine Traffic map as the container ship CMA CGM Alexander Von Humboldt was being maneuvered by three tugs to dock at Pier 42. It took about an hour to get the massive ship in place at about 1:10pm. Weighing in at 176,546 tonnes, I believe this is the largest container ship yet to call in Halifax.

The pilot isn’t scheduled to return to the ship to start steering it back out of port until 3:30pm today — and even that is a “tentative” time — so it will take at least 27 hours to process the ship in Halifax. That’s not because a huge number of containers are being dropped here, but rather because removing even just a few containers means the ship has to be rebalanced, moving the containers staying onboard around. These ultra-large ships involve complex logistics. The typically sized container ship that calls in Halifax, weighing in at maybe 40- or 50,000 tonnes, is usually processed in six to 12 hours.

At one time, the Von Humboldt was one of the largest container ships in existence, but it has since been eclipsed by a few dozen other ships, and most notably those operated by the Evergreen Marine Corporation.

You’ll recall that one Evergreen ship, the Ever Given (220,940 tonnes), became stuck in the Suez Canal last year.

The Ever Forward has run aground in the Chesapeake Bay. Photo:
Sal Mercogliano, @mercoglianos / Twitter

This week, another Evergreen ship, the Ever Forward (220,000 tonnes), ran aground in the Chesapeake Bay. Reports the Virginian Pilot:

The ship ran aground in 24-foot-deep waters off the coast of Maryland Sunday night after leaving the Port of Baltimore’s Seagirt Marine Terminal. It was set to arrive in Norfolk Thursday, according to MarineTraffic.com.

The cause for Ever Forward’s running aground is unclear, according to Lehmann. The ship is located just off Gibson Island near the Craighill channel.

Unlike the Ever Given — which halted traffic in both directions — the Ever Forward is not blocking other ships from reaching the Port of Baltimore, according to William P. Doyle, executive director of the Maryland Port Administration.

It’s not clear why the ship left the channel — whether there was a pilot error, a mechanical problem, or some combination of the two. Whatever the cause, it’s now looking like it will take weeks, at least, to get the ship afloat again.

A nautical chart of the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Source: NOAA

At the mouth of the bay is the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, which connects Virginia Beach to Cape Charles, on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. As you drive north from Virginia Beach, the first tunnel (a parallel tunnel is now being built) goes under the Thimble Shoal channel, which is the route for all the military and commercial ships sailing between the Atlantic Ocean and the terminals and piers at Hampton Roads, including several very large container ship container terminals operated by the Virginia Port Authority in and around Norfolk.

Driving farther north from the Thimble Shoal tunnel, about halfway to Cape Charles you come to a second tunnel beneath the Chesapeake channel, which is the shipping route up the bay to all points north; the Craighill channel is the channel into Baltimore.

For the Ever Forward to travel from Baltimore to Norfolk, it would have had to leave the bay completely via the Chesapeake channel and then turn around and reenter the bay via the Thimble Shoal channel.

Which is to say, the logistical complexity continues. It would take four days simply to sail from dock to dock, Baltimore to Norfolk. A truck can make the trip in about four hours.

So think about this: the ship took an entire day entering the bay and sailing all the way to Baltimore, where it took another day to offload and rebalance, then was to take four more days to make it back to Norfolk near the mouth of the bay. You might wonder: Why not skip Baltimore all together and just unload at Norfolk, and bring the containers to Baltimore by truck?

There’s a simple answer: compared to the cost of the sea voyage, truck drivers are expensive. Even trains are expensive compared to the cost of the sea voyage. The economies of scale provided by putting containers on gigantic ships and getting them as close to their final destination as possible are enormous.

And that is why ships keep getting bigger and bigger, why the shipping companies are willing to accept time delays for the ships to be rebalanced in port, and (evidently) why they can incur the astronomical costs of having a ship run aground once a year.

All of which is to say: No, there will never be a “megaport” in Nova Scotia — not in Halifax, not in Sydney, not in Melford, not anywhere else in the province. The economics of it make no sense whatsoever. That shippers aren’t willing to save a day or two by making a four-hour truck drive from Norfolk to Baltimore demonstrates that off-loading containers here in Nova Scotia and putting them on trucks or trains for a days-long journey to the US is far, far more costly to shippers than keeping the containers on ships and getting them as close to their final destination as possible.

I can’t believe that megaport proponents here in Nova Scotia are incapable of understanding this basic point. It’s demonstrated tens of thousands of times every day as containers make their way around the world. The only reason I can see for ignoring the foundational logic of shipping is that there’s more money to be made in promoting a megaport (some!) than in actually operating one (none!).

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4. COVID

Reader Laura Kenney created a Maud Lewis-inspired hooked rug with a COVID theme.

As I reported last week, the province of Nova Scotia has abandoned meaningful reporting of COVID data, and even the meagre data now being reported are limited to a weekly release on Thursdays. But we’re just one week into the weekly reporting and already even that has been delayed — the weekly report that was to come out yesterday won’t come out until sometime today.

Meanwhile, except for some controls in health care settings, all Public Health restrictions related to COVID will be lifted Monday, despite record weekly COVID death counts here in Nova Scotia and ample evidence from around the world that lifting restrictions leads to increased case counts, hospitalizations, and deaths.

We’re “living with COVID,” see. Well, unless we’re dying from it.

Yvette d’Entremont reports on “What it means to live with COVID”:

On Thursday, the IWK Health Centre published an open letter written by the NS Pediatric Pandemic Advisory Group. Its members — physicians working in pediatrics at the IWK and other parts of the province —”strongly recommend” mask wearing in schools until at least mid-April.

“Schools, like hospitals, provide an essential service. We need our students and educational staff to be healthy and able to attend so that all can benefit,” the letter states, in part.

The authors also note the importance of ensuring students aren’t bullied for wearing-or not wearing-masks.

Pediatricians aren’t the only ones encouraging the ongoing wearing of masks. In a Twitter message on Wednesday, the union representing Halifax Transit workers also asked people to continue using them.

D’entremont spoke with Dr. Scott Halperin, a professor of pediatrics and microbiology and immunology at Dalhousie University and infectious disease at the IWK Health Centre, about what the new reality means for all of us.

Click here to read “What it means to live with COVID.”

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5. Emera pay

Emera President Scott Balfour. Photo: Emera

“Emera Inc. president and CEO Scott Balfour took home a whopping $8.28 million dollars in total compensation in 2021, including salary and stock options,” reports Jennifer Henderson:

Enough to make you gag in your green beer, the figures for Emera’s top five executives were reported on St.Patrick’s Day in the company’s Management Circular.

Here a short summary of Pay Day for Emera’s Top People: 

Scott Balfour, president and CEO, $8.28 million. (6% raise from 2020)

Greg Blunden, Chief Financial Officer, $2.5 million

Bruce Marchand, Chief Legal Counsel, $2.02 million

Karen Hutt, Executive Vice-President, business development and climate strategy, $ 1.64 million

(Hutt made less than $200,000 a year during her three years as president of Nova Scotia Power. Nova Scotia Power executive compensation paid by ratepayers — not to be confused with shareholders — is linked to the top salary paid to a Nova Scotia government deputy minister)

Rick Janega, CEO, Electric Utilities in Canada and Caribbean, $1.63 million

(Janega was responsible for completing the Maritime Link on time and on budget. The Link delivers Muskrat Falls hydro by cable from Newfoundland to Cape Breton.)

The people who served on Emera Inc’s board of directors earned between $250,000 and $300,00 in compensation last year. Chair Jackie Sheppard took home more than $400,000.

Click here to read “Emera president Scott Balfour received $8.28 million in compensation in 2021.”

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Noticed

Seven years ago today, this started:

Dahlia Street, March 19, 2015. Photo: Halifax Examiner

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Government

No meetings


On campus

Dalhousie

Guardian Angels and Sacrificial Lambs: COVID-19 and Migrant Workers (Friday, 12pm) — online talk with Constance MacIntosh; close captioned

Recent Advances in the Synthesis of SF5-containing Molecules (Friday, 1:30pm) — online talk with Jean-Francois Paquin, Laval University

Saint Mary’s

Speaker Series on Women in Sport & Health (Friday) — Online student-organized speaker series featuring seven pre-made 15-30 minute videos created by women working in sport and/or health. Video posted today in which students reflect on the major themes presented by the speakers.

The “Good” the “Bad” and the “Irresponsibles”: Alexander Peter Reid and His “Utilitarian, If Sordid” Discussion of Eugenics in Nova Scotia, 1875-1913 (Friday, 12pm, Room AT 101) — Leslie Digton will talk


In the harbour

Halifax
15:30: CMA CGM Alexander Von Humboldt, container ship (176546 tonnes), sails from Pier 42 for New York
16:00: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Fairview Cove for Saint-Pierre
18:30: Horizon Enabler, offshore supply ship, arrives at Pier 8 (Dartmouth Cove) from sea
20:00: Oceanex Connaigra, ro-ro container, sails from Pier 41 for sea

Cape Breton
19:00: Limerick Spirit, oil tanker, sails from Point Tupper for sea


Footnotes

We’re five days into this and I still haven’t adjusted. I don’t care where we land — Standard Time, Daylight Saving Time, or somewhere in between — but we should set the clock at a specific time and keep it there forever. Stop this madness already.


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Tim Bousquet

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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5 Comments

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  1. Kevin de Bruyne,age 30 earns Cdn 34.5 a year for playing soccer at Manchester City. – all cash.

    1. Apples and oranges. How many people would pay a nickel to watch Scott Balfour do whatever CEOs do these days.

      1. If we need Kevin to come run a utility I guess we can’t afford him.
        Is that the point he’s trying to make? 😉