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This date in history
On campus
In the harbour


1. Richard Butts quits

Richard Butts. Photo: Halifax Examiner
Richard Butts. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Yesterday, Halifax CAO Richard Butts abruptly resigned, and announced he has taken a new job as president of Clayton Developments.

There are a lot of things wrong with Butts going to work for Clayton, I wrote last night:

but perhaps the conflict of interest is so obvious we can finally get meaningful regulation of lobbyists.

We need two things:

  1. a law preventing municipal staffers from going to work for the companies they regulate; and
  2. the creation of a municipal lobbyist registry

This article is behind the Examiner’s paywall and so available only to paid subscribers. To purchase a subscription, click here.

2. Fire

Via Parker Donham, Sydnee Banff posted a video on YouTube of the Maitland Street fire Monday morning.

There is a lot of drunk people talk in the video (what’s with the dude repeatedly asking for a cigarette?), with lots of “fuck”s and “holy shit”s, so sound off if you work at the Catholic Archdiocese’s preschool or whatever:

YouTube video

Also, please, as Donham notes, if you find yourself in front of wildly burning building or a cop beating the hell out of an innocent person or a man biting a dog, TURN YOUR PHONE HORIZONTALLY, dammit. It’s like the first rule of the internet.

3. Bayers Road/ BiHi widening

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 6.38.23 AM

The provincial Department of Transportation this morning issued a tender for the demolition of 7034 Bayers Road, pictured above.

The province bought the property in June for $240,000. The house is at the pivot point where Bayers Road leads to the ramp that becomes the BiHi:

Google Maps
Google Maps

It appears this is the first house to be razed as part of the Bihi/Bayers Road expansion project. Which is odd, because the project doesn’t work without both components — it’s pointless to expand the BiHi without also expanding Bayers Road, and vice-versa, as doing just one part of the project builds in a bottleneck, making traffic even worse. But the city is responsible for the Bayers Road part of the project, and there’s been no decision made to move forward with it.

And for good reason. Total costs of the entire expansion project will be in the neighbourhood of a billion dollars. That’s a billion dollars in sunk costs into infrastructure primarily devoted to cars, a sprawl-on-steroids scenario. It’s a billion dollars that could otherwise be put into transit projects like commuter rail or a ferry, or simply more and better bus service.

Moreover, one aspect of the Bayers Road widening in particular is that dozens of affordable housing units will be razed to accommodate it. I don’t know what the rent is on the small house the province is tearing down — it might be a step above the “affordable” market — but it represents the larger issue.

4. Cumberland Regional Development Authority

I chronicled the collapse of, and charges of fraud at, the Cumberland Regional Development Authority here (behind paywall).

The case got complicated as police became involved, however. As the CBC’s Shaina Luck reported in October:

The RCMP wants the Nova Scotia Office of the Ombudsman to turn over everything it has related to its 2012 probe of questionable financial reporting at the now defunct development agency.

Much of the information is already in the hands of police, however, the ombudsman is resisting a formal production order that seeks what’s left. 

The office, which reviews and investigates public concerns about provincial and municipal organizations, argues it is governed by “unique” legislation that allows people to come forward in complete confidentiality.

If police are subsequently able to seize all files dealing with a particular case, then it “undercuts the entire premise of the office,” according to Roderick Rogers, the lawyer representing the ombudsman at Thursday’s hearing.

Yesterday, the ceeb’s Richard Cuthbertson (I don’t know why they don’t keep the same reporters on a story) followed up:

An Amherst provincial court judge has ruled a production order — one that forces the office to turn over to RCMP fraud investigators all the information it has on the Cumberland Regional Development Authority — must either be revoked or varied.

“I accept that many individuals who contact the Ombudsman and agree to provide information, do so with the expectation and understanding that their information and the fact that they provided information will be kept private,” Judge Elizabeth Buckle said in a written decision.


The ruling is an interim one. Buckle said she needs further information from both sides before deciding whether the production order can be varied, rather than revoked.


Acting ombudsman Christine Delisle-Brennan said Wednesday her office is “fairly firm” in its position that it does not want to “open the highway” for confidential information to be disclosed to police without parameters.


1. Cranky letter of the day

To The Coast:

I am a bit concerned about the pessimistic nature of your cover story on bedbugs (“While you were sleeping,” feature by Hillary Windsor, November 19). It seems to suggest that people who live in more modest apartments should be seen as “lepers” by the rich people who matter. As an autistic, I know that there are sometimes very limited jobs available to us, and those jobs do not guarantee we would have enough to afford “proper” housing which is becoming far too cost-prohibitive. It is bad enough we sometimes get marginalized by being labelled “freaks” without suggesting that people “forced” to live in more modest housing should be considered lepers. 

I also feel that giving the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now any credence was a mistake. They are a collection of professional agitators who have a very swollen idea of people’s “rights” without responsibilities. Too often The Coast is a rag which gives a voice to people who want to be so mad at the world, and you can do better than that.

Allistair Fraser, Halifax



Appeals Standing Committee (10am, City Hall) —  the meeting agenda doesn’t include anything much new, but Amanda Halliday has asked the committee to reconsider the Bassam Al-Rawi matter.

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 9.49.50 PM

Design Review Committee (4pm, City Hall) — the committee will look at WM Fares’ proposal for the “Margaretta” block at 1447 Dresden Row. Evidently, the developer wants to blow up a couple of blocks of houses across the way, so we can get the view represented in the architectural rendering above — otherwise, that view would be impossible.


Standing Committee on Private & Local Bills (10am, One Government Place) — under consideration:

Bill No. 144 – Antiochian Maronite Catholic Church–Our Lady of Lebanon–Corporation Act (amended) (no representation)

Legislature sits (1–6pm, Province House)

This date in history

On December 10, 1954, the Strait of Canso was permanently blocked by the construction of the Canso Causeway. The roadway and rail bed would continue to be constructed, and the link was officially opened on August 13, 1955.

On campus


Geoengineering the planet (3:30pm, Room 240, Life Sciences Centre) — Philip Boyd, from the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies in Hobart, Tasmania, will present on “Geoengineering the planet: a view from 2050 of how things turned out.”

In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:20am Thursday. Map:
The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:20am Thursday. Map:

ZIM Shanghai, container ship, New York to Pier 42, then sails to sea
Tokyo Express, container ship, New York to Fairview Cove, then sails to sea
ZIM Luanda, container ship, Valencia, Spain to Pier 41, then sails to sea
Chicago Express, container ship, Savannah, Georgia to Pier 42
Aquamarine Ace, car carrier, Antwerp, Belgium to Autoport

Carmen 4 sails to sea


I’ll be on The Rick Howe Show, News 95.7, at 9am, talking about Richard Butts.

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

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  1. Why pay $1billion for a Bi-Hi expansion…. for a little more one could have that third bridge or a tunnel, eh? This blurb is from a wiki:

    In February 2008, consultants McCormick Rankin Corporation of Halifax released a report on the need for a third harbour crossing, commissioned by the HDBC. The report shows that cross-harbour traffic is nearing the capacity of the existing two bridges, and concluded that a third harbour crossing would be required by 2016-2026.[3] The report suggested either a six-lane bridge, costing $1.1 Billion, or a four-lane tunnel, costing $1.4 Billion, from the southern terminus of the Circumferential Highway to the CN Rail cut on peninsular Halifax. The bridge option would allow for two dedicated lanes for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), in keeping with HRM’s regional planning goal of increasing public transit use

  2. I feel weird LOLing at a video depicting a dangerous and destructive event, but damn, that narrator! I hope to have a beer with her some time, whoever she may be.

  3. Re: Butts
    A dark cloud has been lifted. Let’s hope for someone with a looser collar and at least an acknowledgement that the creative left exists.

  4. Different reporter, same story:
    Might be because if it’s a significant enough story, the media outlet (owners) can’t allow one person to be aware of the whole picture. People (and people who provide news to people) are much easier to control if they only know bits and pieces. It’s a template (or a code sub-routine) like many others. War has a template: 1) start vilifying, 2) create a false flag and implicate the vilified, 3) incite propaganda through media, 4) gather the more-than-willing troops and attack. Works every time.

  5. Thank you Tim, for highlighting the IDIOCY of the BiHi expansion proposal. Having DELIBERATELY CHOKED access to the peninsula beginning with the ridiculous Clayton Park BLOCKADE of the natural and efficient path onto the Peninsula through the Fairview Ravine, and the continual approvals of traffic artery choking «development» ringing the Arrmdale Rotary — the proper design of which was blocked by «concerns for the viewplane» [!!!] now obliterated by a ring of high-rise buildings…. well on, and on, and on…

    NOW we peasant taxpayers are expected to blow a billion in a FUTILE attempt to correct these idiocies, which, BTW, made many a well-connected «fine upstanding Nova Scotian» exceedingly rich..

    The entire BiHi entrance was a thoughtless compromise to protect the SHAW interests, dumping the entire traffic of two of the province’s busiest highways onto narrow and already traffic-choked residential streets, exacerbate by the approval of the idiotically located Halifax Shopping Centre which is the MAJOR contributor to the Bayers Road traffic snarls. That travellers on Route 103 have to torturously wind their way through a plethora of jammed-up intersections, with multiple left turns demonstrates the intellectual capacity of those who profess to know how to design traffic routes. The Billion Dollar Debacle will be just another chapter of More of the Same.

  6. Reading about Butts in The Herald and how good he is at building relationships. In the end the relationships he has built have done only to improve his own job prospects. He cared not a whit of relationships with employees or the greater community outside his own circle.

    Apparently he can quite easily dismiss conflict of interest because he’s building “relationships”. Council, and by democratic extension, we let this happen.

    Conflict of interest guidelines at the very least. Then let’s talk about open snd transparent contracts for senior managers paid with taxpayer money and then actual salary.

    $350,000 for this man when the CAO of Toronto (a city 5x the size of Halifax) is paid $330,000? Halifax can do better and for less money.

    Council do your job.

    1. Joe Pennachetti, City Manager in Toronto made $407,146 in calendar year 2014, and he doesn’t tell the police chief what to do and he doesn’t tell the Transit manager what to do.

      In his first 2 years HRM had a surplus of $33,700,000 followed by deficits of $12,000,000
      In the 2 years prior to his arrival HRM had a surplus of just $5.6 million.
      He brought order and discipline to the management of the city, something that was lacking for many years before.

      1. So HRM had surpluses before Butts and within his first 2 years and then deficits after that? Something wrong there.

        1. Property sales declined significantly over the past 2 years and Deed Transfer Tax and building permit fees also declined.and were much lower than forecast. The cost of pension contributions rose.

  7. Re: the Bi-Hi expansion. As a valley dweller who comes into town now and then I’ve noticed the huge increase in traffic volume over the past 10 years. I wonder if anyone is really counting how many people are commuting in from the nether-regions of the HRM and beyond. It seems to me this expansion would worsen the problem because at non-peak traffic that extra 5-30 minutes on the highway doesn’t seem so bad. I also wonder if this problem with be exacerbated by twinning the 103. We need a comprehensive transit strategy for the whole province, improved buses, trains, ferries, etc. Instead we sink billions into bunker crude.