News

1. Scotiascapes

A view looking out from the weigh station at the fill operation. Photo: Halifax Examiner

On Monday, truck driver Michael Wile died while depositing a load at the Fairview Cove Sequestration Facility. Wile was driving for Scotiascapes Landscaping, which was issued a Stop Work order by the Department of Labour. An investigation is ongoing.

In 2013, another Scotiascapes employee was the driver of a Ford F-350 pickup truck that killed a five-year-old boy.

Details of that heart-breaking incident are found in a court settlement I reviewed yesterday. In order to spare the boy’s family members further pain, I’m using aliases for the names of all involved.

On January 22, 2014, John Smith was driving down Highway 103 in his Ford Escape; his sons Todd and Mark, eight and five years old respectively, were in the back seat. John Smith took the Timberlea Parkway exit.

In an affidavit filed with the court, Smith says as he approached the Timberlea Parkway/Brunello Drive intersection, he saw a Scotiascapes vehicle “driving toward me in the opposite direction. [The Scotiascapes driver] began to fish tail, then overcorrected and came left of center, striking the front quarter panel of my vehicle.”

Mark, the five-year-old, was killed. Both Todd and his father also suffered physical injuries. Todd was taken to the IWK, where he was treated for two and a half days.

Beyond his physical injuries, Todd was diagnosed with anxiety and acute stress disorder.

The Fatal Injuries Act precluded Todd from receiving compensation for the loss of care, guidance, or companionship from the loss of his brother. Both Todd and his father received financial settlements for their respective injuries, and the father additionally received compensation for wages lost while he was recovering from his injuries. But neither settlement is particularly large, in my opinion. Todd’s settlement comes in the form of a trust that is managed by his parents.

No criminal code charges were filed against the Scotiascapes driver, but RCMP spokesperson Dal Hutchinson confirms with me this morning that the driver was issued a summary offence ticket for driving to the left of the double solid line.

2. Illegal quarry

Laura Coupar, VP at Elmsdale Landscaping. Photo: LinkedIn

Another landscaping company, Elmsdale Landscaping, is being investigated for operating an illegal quarry.

According to a search warrant document filed with the court that was obtained by the Halifax Examiner, the Nova Scotia Department of Environment first received a complaint on June 10, 2016 about an illegal quarry operation on Elmsdale Landscaping’s property on Dutch Settlement Road and Old Trunk Road. Two inspectors visited the site that day and saw blasting wire and blasting maps; there were large blasted rocks next to a rock outcropping. According to the court document, one of the inspectors spoke with Elmsdale Landscaping’s vice president Laura Coupar; Coupar told the inspector that the company had indeed blasted, but only in order to build a road to the back portion of the company’s property. The inspector wrote up a report that basically said it was illegal to operate a quarry without a permit and don’t do it again.

But a year later, in October 2017, the Department of Environment received another complaint about blasting on Elmsdale Landscaping’s property, and that the rock was being sold to construction companies building nearby roads. The inspector confirmed that Halifax City Hall had issued a blasting permit, but Elmsdale Landscaping had no provincial permits for operating a quarry. The inspector went out to the Elmsdale Industrial Park and spoke with a supervisor from Avondale Construction, which was working on a foundation for a new building in the park. The supervisor confirmed that his company was buying rock from Elmsdale Landscaping, and almost as if on cue, just then an Elmsdale Landscaping truck showed up with a load of rocks. The inspector took photos of the truck unloading the rock.

The inspector went back to talk to Coupar, the VP at Elmsdale Landscaping. Coupar “confirmed that they conducted a blast on the subject property and provided the aggregate from this property to a development, but that they were only blasting because they needed to remove a rock outcrop for a road/ parking lot/ potentially a building construction,” wrote the inspector in his application to the court.

Later in the month, the same inspector noticed a big construction operation right next to the RCMP station in Enfield. He spoke with the supervisor of Tri-Ex Construction, which was doing the work, and the supervisor said, yep, he was getting the rock from Elmsdale Landscaping.

Same story a few days later for a road being constructed in Lantz.

On November 21, 2017, the inspector “collected a cautioned statement” from Coupar, the Elmsdale Landscaping VP, and Jason Rogers, of Northeast Drilling and Blasting. The pair admitted to blasting a rock outcrop on Elmsdale Landscaping’s property and selling the resulting rock to local construction companies. “He [Rogers] stated that blasting of rock had taken place in these locations owned by Elmsdale Landscaping for approximately 10 years.”

Apparently the company had been misleading the inspector by saying the blasting was two one-off incidents, when in reality the blasting had been going on for 10 years.

The inspector issued a directive ordering the company to apply for a quarry permit to bring them into compliance with provincial laws. That application was to have been submitted by March 14, 2018, four months later. But the company has failed to submit an application, so the inspector went to the court to ask for a search warrant, which was granted. The warrant allowed the inspector to go to Elmsdale Landscaping’s property to search for records related to blasting and the sale of aggregate, and to photocopy those records. The search was successfully executed on July 5.

Elmsdale Landscaping last made the news in April 2017, when it placed a help wanted ad that went viral:

“Please do not apply if you oversleep, have court often, do not have a babysitter everyday, have to get rides to work later than our work day begins,” the ad states.

Getting regular flat tires is also an instant deal-breaker.

Prospective employees can look forward to competitive wages and health plans, but will have to “remember to come back to work after lunch.”

3. Stephen McNeil on the issues

Stephen McNeil. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Premier Stephen McNeil was cornered by reporters after yesterday’s cabinet meeting. Jennifer Henderson reports on some of the back-and-forth.

Question from reporter: Has the Province been asked for money by the CFL team considering setting up in Halifax?

Answer: Not yet, but the premier anticipates an “ask” will be coming soon. McNeil says he has had a meeting with a proponent of the team and expressed in clear terms the province will not be writing a cheque.

“I am not reaching into general revenue to build a football stadium,” said Stephen McNeil. “That will be used to build capital infrastructure in the Province such as the QE2 hospital, the recent announcements in Cape Breton, schools, and the Art Gallery.”

The Premier did indicate he left the door open to a request for non-financial support, but he offered no clue as to what form that could take. That leaves a lot of possibilities, including tax breaks, financing help, land, changes in regulations…

Question from reporter: Is the taxpayer really and truly on the hook to cover any “lost profits” Northern Pulp incurs as a result of any change or delay to replace the effluent treatment plant at Boat Harbour after January 2020?

Answer: “We are going to continue to deal with the environmental challenge associated with Boat Harbour that was rooted in racism and discrimination against that First Nation,” said McNeil. “And we will meet our financial obligations however that is required, whether it is that or if there are penalties, we will deal with those as well. But we are continuing down the road to ensure we deal with Boat Harbour.”

Sounds like a yes. The contractual agreement between the province and the mill’s operator runs until 2030 and specifically mentions “lost profits” if there is a delay or change to the treatment facility. Taxpayers can rue the day Supply and Services Minister Gerald O’Malley (after a long underwhelming stretch as a Halifax city councillor) signed a deal which continues to obligate the province to backstop any loss suffered by a huge multinational company.

“I will follow the letter of the law,” said McNeil. “I have responsibilities for decisions made by past governments and I have to make sure I follow the law. Our plan is to have a solution so the mill will continue to operate but that has not been finalized at this point, and there is still lots of stuff that has to happen. We are closing Boat Harbour nine years early so there is obviously some responsibility for us. How do we deal with that now that we have set the deadline?”

You tell us. Sounds expensive. Maybe it would cost the province less not to reopen the mill.

Question from reporter (paraphrased): Now that Premier Doug Ford has abandoned cap-and-trade in Ontario, doesn’t that leave Nova Scotia with potentially fewer North American trading partners, i.e. only Quebec and California? Former environment minister Iain Rankin had said the fact Nova Scotia could “link in” with Ontario provided flexibility if a big carbon emitter such as a proposed Liquefied Natural gas (LNG) plant decides to set up in Guysborough County. The LNG company might gobble up most of the free credits the province is planning to give other companies to prevent saddling taxpayers with higher costs to pay for lowering their carbon footprint.

Answer:  Don’t worry.

“We will deal with any new company at the time,” said McNeil. “There are all kinds of ways to deal with that through regulations. If you look across the country, caps on carbon have been changed and how it is dealt with depends on where you live. We will have something to announce on cap-and-trade in about two weeks. I can’t tell you at this time what the cap or limit on carbon emissions will be but it won’t be a carbon tax. Staff have been working on our approach for 20 months. I can tell you it will protect our pocketbooks.”

4. Pedestrian struck

Police say a pedestrian was struck by a vehicle at the intersection of Barrington and Prince Streets yesterday afternoon. Surrounding blocks were closed to traffic and buses were detoured for a couple of hours. Global reports that the pedestrian was taken to hospital.

5. Chase the Ace

Money does horrible things to people, example #infinity:

“A photo-op to celebrate a $1.2-million lottery win in Nova Scotia turned sour Thursday when two family members feuded over the win,” reports Susan Bradley for the CBC:

Barbara Reddick of Guysborough, N.S., and her nephew, Tyrone MacInnis, posed for the cameras with a giant cheque in Margaree Forks, N.S., after winning the Chase the Ace fundraiser benefitting two local fire departments.

Reddick then pointed at MacInnis and said: “See you in court.”

Although both names were on the winning ticket, Reddick denied that the two had an agreement.

Her nephew replied: “Yes, we did.”

“He’s lying,” Reddick said. 

“I put his name on the ticket for good luck because he’s like a son to me — he was,” she said. “He was lucky, but not for half a million dollars.”

The contact number on the ticket was for MacInnis, who lives in Glace Bay, N.S.

Reddick said she had no intention of splitting the winnings with her nephew.


Views

1. Lunenburg

Photo: Stephen Archibald

Stephen Archibald went to Lunenburg and took a bunch of photos. My favourites are the pics of the stone heads in a wall; he explains:

We also visited an extraordinary Lunenburg garden, terraced out of a steep site. The walls were built of granite salvaged from the foundations of the Home for Unwed Mothers that St. Mary’s University knocked down a few years ago. Universities are filled with smart people but sometimes they turn off their imagination.

I think the sandstone head in the garden  wall may have come from the old Art College buildings on Coburg Road. There were four heads, that originally came from a demolished building in downtown Halifax.

“One of the four sandstone heads on NSCAD when it was located on Coburg Road,” writes Stephen Archibald. “The photo comes from a poster for the 1St Artist Festival in December 1976.”
“One of the four sandstone heads on NSCAD when it was located on Coburg Road,” writes Stephen Archibald. “The photo comes from a poster for the 1St Artist Festival in December 1976.”

Government

No public meetings.


On campus

Dalhousie

Thesis Defence, Physics and Atmospheric Science (Friday, 2pm, Room 3107, Mona campbell Building) — PhD candidate Jessica Campbell will defend her ​​thesis, “Measurement of the Elastic Form Factor Ratio µGE/GM using Electron Scattering Spin Asymmetries.” Bring your own µGE/GM.

The Ecology of Holobionts (Friday, 4pm, Room 3-H1, Tupper Medical Building) — Derek Skillings from the University of Pennsylvania will speak.


In the harbour

Friday
5am: Priority, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
9:30am: AIDAvita, cruise ship with up to 1,582 passengers, arrives at Pier 23 from Sydney
10am: Atlantic Sea, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
3pm: Bilbao Bridge, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Lisbon, Portugal
5pm: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Pier 36 for Saint-Pierre
6pm: Priority, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Dubai
9pm: East Coast, oil tanker, arrives at Irving Oil from Saint John
9pm: AIDAvita, cruise ship, sails from Pier 23 for Saint John

Saturday
3am: Atlantic Sea, ro-ro container, sails from Fairview Cove for Liverpool, England
4am: CMA CGM Chennai, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Colombo, Sri Lanka
6:15am: Maersk Patras, container ship, arrives at HalTerm from Montreal
6:30pm: Bilbao Bridge, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York

No cruise ships this weekend.


Footnotes

Tim Bousquet

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

Jennifer Henderson

Jennifer Henderson is a freelance journalist and retired CBC News reporter.

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6 Comments

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  1. The Premier’s response to the cap-and-trade question makes me worry that he will apply the same logic to carbon caps as he does to class size caps: It’s a hard cap, but don’t worry – if needed we can always find a way to exceed it.

  2. I walked by the Prince St collision site yesterday after the streets reopened. Among the detritus of vehicles left behind, there was a a trail of what looked like blood left on the street (under a metre, but very noticeable on foot). None of the vehicles burning up Prince Street after the inconvenience of traffic even noticed.

    Anyhoo, traffic, amiright?

  3. The premier said ” I am not reaching into general revenue to build a football stadium “.
    I think the media missed two carefully chosen words.

    1. See bottom of page 37 for definition of ‘General Revenue’
      Journalists need to understand financial statements and definitions used in financial statements.