NEWS

1. Beaver Dam mine

Yesterday, the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada announced that Atlantic Gold, a subsidiary of Australia-based mining conglomerate St Barbara, has told the agency that it wants to terminate the environmental assessment of its Beaver Dam Mine Project, and the agency obliged.

Atlantic Gold had already terminated its Cochrane Hill project on the St. Mary’s River, and the Touquoy mine has been placed under “care and maintenance.”

That leaves just one Atlantic Gold project in the works in Nova Scotia — Fifteen Mile Stream. For the time being, anyway.

The apparent end of the modern-day gold rush in Nova Scotia is a testament to citizen action, and in particular to the Beaver Dam project, to the efforts of the Millbrook First Nation, which refused to endorse it despite the efforts of Atlantic Gold to get Indigenous buy-in.

And, of course, reporter Joan Baxter has followed the issue throughout.


2. Riley trial

A Black man with wire rimmed glasses, wearing a dark shirt.
Randy Riley in the lobby of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, Sept. 14, 2023. Credit: Tim Bousquet

Yesterday, in the murder trial of Randy Riley, defence lawyer Trevor McGuigan called one witness — Garth MacIntosh, the only actual eyewitness to any of the events surrounding the murder of Chad Smith on Oct. 23, 2010.

MacIntosh is an immensely likeable fellow, congenial and forthcoming on the stand. An Indigenous person, he took an oath using an eagle feather, the first time I’ve seen that happen in court.

MacIntosh lived at 3 Farthington Place, an apartment building on the opposite side of Jason McCullough Park from where the murder happened (on Joseph Young Street). He was sitting at home, on the computer, when he heard some rustling in the trees outside. He looked out and saw a man wearing white pants running through the trees in the park, down into the parking lot of his building, and around the building, out of sight.

Sometime later, MacIntosh saw police leading a police dog, or I guess the other way around — a police dog leading police. But the dog was heading in the wrong direction, said MacIntosh, and so he pointed the canine and human cop in the right direction.

MacIntosh’s testimony is important because he saw just one man running, not two, and because that man was wearing white pants, the same colour pants that Nathan Johnson was wearing that night. Nathan was found guilty of the murder of Chad Smith in 2015.

On Oct. 23, 2010, the confused police dog initially led officers to an island in Albro Lake, but after a search of the island found nothing, they brought the dog back to the intersection of Crystal and Leaman Drives, where the animal picked up the trail again and led his handlers to the house of one of Johnson’s relatives on Leaman Drive, where they found Johnson’s white pants.

For Riley’s defence, the implication of MacIntosh’s testimony is that Riley was not seen running from the scene of the murder.

After MacIntosh’s testimony, the defence rested.

For the rest of the week, the jury won’t be present at court. The Crown and the defence will argue over various matters, which a publication ban prevents me from detailing, but anyone familiar with criminal trials will know the sorts of issues at play. There’s nothing out of the ordinary going on. I’ll be there, but won’t be able to report on it until after the trial is over.

Yesterday, I was allowed access to the evidence presented at trial, and so I will incorporate that into an article in the next day or two — frankly, I’ve been too tired to write the kind of detailed article that is required, and as I’m the only reporter covering the trial, I figured I may as well wait and take the time to do it right. Hopefully I’ll get something out tomorrow.

Justice Josh Arnold told the jury that they won’t return until Tuesday (Monday is a holiday), and on that day, they’ll hear closing arguments from the Crown and defence. On Wednesday, Arnold will give instructions to the jury, and then they’ll go into seclusion to deliberate Riley’s fate.

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3. Poverty

A person wearing a green sweater and a blue mask sorts through bags of food in a food bank surrounded by shelves of canned and dry goods.
A food bank volunteer Credit: Aaron Doucett/Unsplash

“A new report by Food Banks Canada has given Nova Scotia a failing grade on its poverty reduction efforts,” reports Yvette d’Entremont:

The province of Quebec scored highest, with a B- ranking. Nova Scotia was the only province to receive an overall grade of ‘F.’ 

“This is not a surprise at all. And if anyone is surprised, particularly those that are in the halls of government, then they’re not paying attention,” Feed Nova Scotia’s communications manager Abby Crosby said in an interview Tuesday.

Click or tap here to read “Feed Nova Scotia ‘not surprised’ after report gives province failing grade for poverty reduction efforts.”

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4. Ambulances

Ambulances line up outside the QEII Health Sciences Centre in January 2022. Credit: Tim Bousquet

Jennifer Henderson reports:

“It is taking ambulances longer, on average, to respond to emergency and urgent calls, putting Nova Scotians at risk.” 

These words from Nova Scotia auditor general Kim Adair’s review of ambulance response times in 2022-23 support her conclusion that the emergency health system is in “a critical state.” 

The auditor general’s report continues:

This is true for ambulance responses in large urban areas such as Halifax and in the rural parts of the province as well. In 2022, it took paramedics in Nova Scotia on average 25 minutes to reach patients, including those suspected of having serious medical issues such as heart attacks, strokes, or breathing issues. Of particular concern is the rapid 79% increase in response times during 2022 (from 14 minutes in 2021 to 25 minutes in 2022).

Click or tap here to read “Ambulance service in ‘critical’ state, says Nova Scotia auditor general.”

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5. Mi’kmaw fishers

Three men look at a boat on the ocean, two holding their fists up.
Sipekne’katik fishers in St. Mary’s Bay, N.S. on Sept. 17, 2020 Credit: Stephen Brake

“More than 50 Mi’kmaw fish harvesters from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are currently before the courts in Nova Scotia on fishery-related offences,” reports Maureen Googoo:

The charges range from fishing for lobster or elver eels without authorization, failing to use lobster tags issued by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, or DFO, and obstructing a fishery officer in his or her duties.

Trials for 23 fishers are currently underway or are set to begin in provincial courts in Annapolis Royal, Bridgewater, Dartmouth, Digby, Pictou, Port Hawkesbury and Yarmouth.

Nearly half of the harvesters charged have informed the courts they intend to defend themselves by arguing they have a treaty right to catch and sell fish to earn a moderate livelihood.

Naiomi Metallic, an associate professor at Dalhousie University’s Schulich School of Law, said the number of Mi’kmaw fishers currently before the courts is unusually high.

“This is the stuff that ought to be dealt with in negotiations and not through the courts,” Metallic said.

Charging more than 50 Mi’kmaw fishers and holding trials is a lot for a court system that’s already under-resourced, she explained.

“It’s a massive amount of judicial resources being thrown at this for what is effectively a political negotiations issue,” she said.

Separately, Googoo has published the names of all 54 Mi’kmaw fishers now in court.

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6. School evacuations

A sign is seen in front of a parking lot. It says Madeline Symonds Middle School. In the background is a forest.
Madeline Symonds Middle School is seen on Monday, Aug. 21, 2023. Credit: Zane Woodford

“Councillors want a staff report on plans to evacuate schools in the municipality in response to community concerns following the wildfire in Tantallon,” reports Zane Woodford:

Hammonds Plains-St. Margaret’s Coun. Pam Lovelace brought a motion to council on Tuesday asking for a staff report “with details on and recommendations for emergency preparedness for CSAP and HRCE schools in HRM.” That report is to include:

1/ emergency evacuation plans or timeline to deliver evacuation plans for each school;
2/ roles, responsibilities, and resources expected of HRM to implement and support those plans;
3/ timeline for tabletop exercises and Command Post/Full Scale exercises and training for evacuation involving students and staff leaving school property and relocating; and,
4/ school community communications plans.

The wildfire that started in May threatened two schools: Hammonds Plains Consolidated Elementary School and Madeline Symonds Middle School.

“Those schools were saved, which is good. The schools weren’t in session because it was a weekend which is good,” Lovelace said.

“Sounds to me that we’re relying on luck here.”

Click or tap here to read “Halifax councillors ask for report on school evacuation plans in wake of wildfire.”

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7. Four units

Workers are seen on scaffolding putting siding on the last of a row of similar houses.
New homes under construction in a subdivision in Beechville on Monday, Oct. 31, 2022. Credit: Zane Woodford

“Housing Minister Sean Fraser asked for a storey. Halifax councillors weren’t willing to give a metre, calling height a ‘distraction,'” reports Zane Woodford:

Instead, they focused on allowing four units on every serviced lot in the municipality, hoping that would satisfy the minister’s requests….

As the Halifax Examiner reported, Fraser made four requests of council: legalize four units per lot across the municipality; legalize four storeys everywhere in the regional centre; create and staff a non-market housing strategy; and increase housing near universities.

Woodford gets into the details, and while I agree Fraser’s demands aren’t unreasonable, they miss the larger point, drawn out by Kathryn Morse:

Coun. Kathryn Morse expressed concerns that making the allowances Fraser requested won’t help create more affordable housing.

“Where I’m struggling a little bit is to try to understand how this, how the letter and what’s being proposed will actually address the urgency of the below-market housing that we need,” Morse said.

Morse asked how many below-market units are needed for Halifax. Greene said HRM is waiting on the province to release the findings of a housing needs assessment for the municipality, along with its housing strategy.

I’ll give you a needs assessment: More. That’s how many below-market units are needed. More. Lots more. More than the zero that government plans to build and operate itself.

We simply cannot address this housing crisis by merely fluffing the private market. It requires old school socialized housing.

Anyway, click or tap here to read “Halifax council votes for four units on serviced lots, hopes to satisfy federal housing minister.”

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8. Cost overruns at Cogswell?

A construction site is seen from above on a sunny day. In the background, there's a bridge.
Work on the Cogswell interchange redevelopment project is seen on Monday, Sept. 25, 2023. The trench in the centre shows the new alignment of Barrington Street. Credit: Zane Woodford

On Monday, Zane Woodford reported about upcoming transit delays related to the Cogswell interchange redevelopment project.

I would expect that projects of this complexity would involve periods of inconvenience for commuters, so even though it will affect me directly as a bus user, I’m not complaining about it. But this part caught my attention:

The original plan was to leave a new transit terminal on Barrington Street unfinished until the third phase of the project, in 2025.

“We somewhat naively thought that we could actually do that while the buses are still there, while the people are still there, and it wouldn’t be all that disruptive,” [project manager Donna] Davis said.

The project team realized it was going to be “really disruptive, and probably quite dangerous for people to be trying to catch the buses.”

The new transit hub, with transit-only lanes and heated bus shelters, will now be complete a year early, by the end of 2024.

The changes also keep the whole project on schedule, and on budget.

On budget, eh?

I have my doubts.

I’m somewhat conversant with the literature on megaprojects — Cogswell isn’t technically a megaproject, which is defined as a project over $1 billion (last I checked, the budget for the Cogswell redevelopment is about a tenth that) — but the same general rules apply to all large projects, I think.

And the megaproject literature says that one of the determining conditions of cost overruns is that the construction phase of the project isn’t planned out well — too much is left in the air until construction actually begins, and as a result there are so many changes, so many missed connections between contractors and supplies, and other such sand in the gears, that the project balloons in cost.

It’s better to delay construction, even in the face of inflationary building costs, and meticulously plan the entire construction phase, down to every detail.

But with Cogswell, planners didn’t even get the detour around the construction site right. This is a big red flag, in my opinion.

We’ll see, I suppose.

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9. Bedford library

A map with illustrations added shows an area on the water, with a ferry terminal noted in white, with a connecting roadway.
An overhead view of the planned Mill Cove ferry terminal property in Bedford. — Screenshot/HRM Credit: Screenshot/HRM

“Council wants to move ahead with a new, larger library at the planned Mill Cove Ferry Terminal in Bedford,” reports Zane Woodford:

The 21,000-square-foot library would be similar in size to the Keshen Goodman Library, “with much improved performance and community programming spaces to support waterfront cultural engagement,” Halifax Public Libraries CEO Åsa Kachan wrote in a report to council.

The whole project is contingent on federal funding for the ferry service and terminal, too. If the federal government doesn’t approve the funding, the municipality will have to build a new library elsewhere.

Click or tap here to read “Councillors in favour of new Bedford library in proposed Mill Cove Ferry Terminal.”

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Government

City

Today

No meetings

Tomorrow

Transportation Standing Committee (Thursday, 1pm, City Hall and online) — agenda

Province

House of Assembly Management Commission (Wednesday, 12pm, One Government Place) — info here


On campus

Dalhousie

Today

Voice Noon Hour (Wednesday, 11:45am, Joseph Strug Concert Hall) — free performance by students of the Fountain School of Performing Arts

Tomorrow

Illuminating the heterocellular heart: optogenetic approaches to assess non-myocyte contributions to cardiac electrophysiology (Thursday, 12pm, online) — Franziska Schneider-Warme from the University Heart Center Freiburg will talk

Sciographies season five returns for a fifth season (Thursday, 5:30pm, online) — podcast shares the lives, stories and research of Dalhousie scientists; weekly episodes air on Thursdays at 4:30PM on CKDU 88.1FM; or listen on most podcast apps (Apple, Spotify, Soundcloud) from September 14 – November 2, 2023.

A Framework for Ocean-Climate Action (Thursday, 7pm, Room 1020, Rowe Building) — Anya Waite from Ocean Frontier Institute will talk

NSCAD

Noon Talk (Wednesday, 12pm, Anna Leonowens Gallery) — with NSCAD Photography Collective exhibitors

Artist Talk (Wednesday, 1pm, Anna Leonowens Gallery) — with Becca Saunders

Saint Mary’s

Today

On Africville & Hogan’s Alley (Wednesday, 6pm, Atrium 101) — screening of two films

Secret Vancouver: A Return to Hogan’s Alley; with Modupe Bankole-Longe, Siobhan Barker, and Djaka Blais from Hogan’s Alley Society

Stolen from Africville; with Carm Robertson from Africville Museum

Tomorrow

Matria Redux: Caribbean Women Novelize the Past (Thursday, 12pm, Room LI135, Patrick Power Library) — Tegan Zimmerman will discuss her latest book; RSVP and more info here

Undoing the Colonial Double-Bind: Interpretation and Justification in Aboriginal Law (Thursday, 7pm, Conference Centre, in the building named after a grocery store) — Joshua Nichols from McGill University will deliver the 2023 Marshall Lecture in Public Philosophy


In the harbour

Halifax
05:30: Violet Ace, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Houston
05:30: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from St. John’s
10:30: Mein Schiff 6, cruise ship with up to 2,700 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Boston, on a 14-day roundtrip cruise out of New York
12:00: Carnival Venezia, cruise ship with up to 5,145 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Saint John, on a six-day roundtrip cruise out of New York
13:30: One Crane, container ship (144,285 tonnes), sails from Pier 41 for New York
16:00: Violet Ace sails for sea
17:00: Oceanex Sanderling moves to anchorage
17:30: Atlantic Sky, ro-ro container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
20:00: Carnival Venezia sails for New York
20:30: Mein Schiff 6 sails for Saguenay
01:00 (Thursday): Atlantic Sky sails for Liverpool, England

Cape Breton
06:00: Norwegian Sky, cruise ship with up to 2,405 passengers, arrives at Sydney Marine Terminal from Portland, on an 11-day cruise from Baltimore to Quebec City
12:00: Algoma Victory, bulker, arrives at Pirate Harbour anchorage from Tuzla, Türkiye
13:00: HMCS Glace Bay, military vessel, arrives at Liberty Pier (Sydney) from Halifax
17:30: Norwegian Sky sails for Baltimore


Footnotes

I’ve got nothing.

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

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6 Comments

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  1. I’ve been chasing NS Justice Dept since May re 5 questions of fact. Answers promised but nothing yet. Perhaps the Justice Dept has no idea re underfunding of the mine sites reclamation bond.

    “My five questions mainly concern questions of fact.

    Question 1 – compliance. This one might be an opinion question. If a citizen is not entitled to an opinion, they surely are entitled to facts. Facts such as when NS’s compliance was last reviewed, when it is next scheduled for review. The recent change to St Barbara’s means compliance is now a very current issue.

    Question 2 & 3 – surety versus cost estimate. It is a $41 million surety. The date, the cost estimate, and who did the estimate are facts, not opinions. I can compare the surety to the cost.

    Question 4 – the existence of a triggering event of the surety deserves at least a yes / no answer.

    Question 5 – jurisdiction. This is usually factual, and covered by the contract. Given the fiasco that a biased BC judge has caused NS re Northern Pulp, please remember jurisdiction is not an important issue until it is. “

  2. Last spring Sean Fraser announced $2.3 million toward 27 units in Pictou County. Since then, nothing has happened on the ground. The pre-existing driveway is approved for a single home. Not 27 units under 1,000 ft².

  3. I just want to echo Gordohfx’s comments about public housing. Now that Halifax is a world class city with a growing population of homeless people whose situations cannot be explained away by addiction or mental illness, what are we going to do about it?

    On the fishers, it seems like Indigenous people have been set up for failure by a treaty system that gives them vaguely defined rights without any mechanism for curtailing the behavior of those who abuse their rights.

  4. Is there a city councillor talking about what actually needs to be done to get people out of tents? Publicly financed and built social housing? I hope so.

    It would be refreshing after the Shawn Clearys on council have exhausted their sops to their buddies in the development and AirBnB industry. How many investment properties do you own Mr Cleary?

    Too bad it is actually 10 years too late. Better late than never. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good? Tell that to the citizens who are about to face a harsh, harsh winter.

    Yes councillors, even the homeless are citizens and you are supposedly representing ALL citizens of this municipality not just your moneyed friends and your personal financial enrichment.

  5. 54 on trial for expressing their Treaty rights to the land we stole from them. Would be nice to compare to how many people are on trial for the race riot and violence committed by white fishermen in 2020. Violence which started again shortly after DFO started upping their harassment last month, I should add.

  6. There are several red flags now flying on Cogswell. The original project manager no longer appears to be on “the team”.
    50% completion seems to be overly optimistic.
    I wish them good luck and good weather but brace yourself.
    Nothing can compare to the Muskrat Falls disaster but megaprojects generally go south from here.