News

1. Women and housing

The Sunflower. Photo: Adsum for Women and Children

“A 25-unit affordable housing complex in Lakeside, NS called The Sunflower that will provide housing for women, families, and gender-expansive people is almost complete. But women and gender-diverse people, who are vulnerable in a housing crisis, need more to keep them from facing homelessness and housing insecurity,” reports Suzanne Rent:

Cheryl MacIsaac is a program coordinator with Adsum for Women and Children, which will manage The Sunflower. She said many women and gender-diverse people are invisibly homeless.  

“Often women are couch surfing, staying with family or friends, or maybe staying with a partner only in order to obtain shelter,” MacIsaac said. “And often they’re living in households where they are vulnerable or subject to family conflict or violence or maybe they’re staying somewhere that’s not fit for habitation.” 

“Sometimes that’s because they’re more often single parents than men are and they’re worried about having their children apprehended.”

Click here to read “Women and gender diverse people are disproportionately affected by the housing crisis. Are we doing enough?”

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2. COVID

The weekly COVID death count since January. Note that due to a change in the reporting period, the week ending April 11 has just six days.

Seven people are reported to have died from COVID during the week June 16-22. All of the deceased are aged 70 or older.

Over the same reporting period, there were 37 people hospitalized because of COVID. That’s compared to 28 the previous week and 49 the week before that.

By age cohort, the 37 hospitalized are:
• under 18: 0
• 18-49: 5
• 50-69: 8
• 70+: 24

Nova Scotia Health reports the following COVID hospitalization status as of yesterday:
• Currently in hospital for COVID-19: 22 (5 of whom are in ICU)
• Currently in hospital for something else but have COVID-19: 115
• Currently in hospital who contracted COVID-19 after admission to hospital: 73

Weekly new case count since January. Again, note that the week ending April 11 has just six days. The gap reflects a temporary change in testing protocol that makes weekly comparisons impossible.

Also, there were 1,420 lab-confirmed (PCR testing) new cases over the same reporting period. This does not include those who test positive with only the rapid take-home test, or those who don’t test at all. This is a slight improvement from the previous two weeks.

The table above shows the age-adjusted hospitalization and death rates by vaccine status, December 8, 2021 to present.

“Person-years” means the number of people over a set period of time. So, if you study 100 people over one year, there are 100 person-years, and if you study 10 people over 10 years, there are also 100 person years. In this case, the people are being studied over six months (Since December 8), and the “crude rate” is the number of people who were hospitalized or died in each category, per 100,000 in each vaccination status.

“Age-adjusted” recognizes that Nova Scotia’s population skews elderly and is better vaccinated than other jurisdictions in Canada, so to make meaningful comparisons, the data reflect what the rate would be if Nova Scotia reflected the “standard” Canadian age and vaccination distribution.

“Risk reduction” means simply that — for the population as a whole, those who have three doses are 92.6% less likely to die than those who are unvaccinated.

Note that some of the hospitalization data in the above chart are missing.

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3. Biomass

Brooklyn biomass energy plant and wood yard – December 21, 2021. Photo:Simon Ryder-Burbidge

“The Ecology Action Centre is urging the provincial government to rescind or revoke a directive to Nova Scotia Power to maximize the burning of biomass to generate electricity,” reports Jennifer Henderson:

That instruction was first given by the McNeil government in May 2020 after ongoing delays in receiving renewable energy from Labrador.

“In January and again in March, Nova Scotia Power reported to the Utility and Review Board that they were now receiving the Nova Scotia block of hydroelectricity from Muskrat Falls,” says Raymond Plourde, senior wilderness coordinator with the EAC. “As a result, NSP has been given permission by the UARB to start charging ratepayers for the $1.7 billion cost of the Maritime Link between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. 

“And yet,” continues Plourde, “the biomass plant in Port Hawkesbury is still running at full capacity and so was the one in Brooklyn until it was damaged in a storm this spring. Burning extra biomass is no longer needed for Nov Scotia Power to meet its Renewable Energy Targets and should therefore be discontinued.”

Click here to read “Despite receiving Muskrat Falls power, Nova Scotia is still burning biomass for electricity.”

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4. Hants Community Hospital

Hants Community Hospital. Photo: Nova Scotia Health

“Residents living in and around Windsor can expect to see frequent closures of the emergency department at the Hants Community Hospital over the next two months,” reports Jennifer Henderson:

Dr. Cathryn Smith, chief of staff at the Hants Community Hospital, said there are 27 shifts for which no emergency department doctor is available and that will mean closing on certain days and evenings through July and August.

Already, the emergency department is experiencing closures. It was closed on Wednesday night after a doctor reportedly tested positive for COVID-19, and it will be closed overnight tonight.

Click here to read “Frequent closures of emergency department at Hants Community Hospital expected this summer.”

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5. Crosswalks

A protected left turn signal at Duke and Brunswick streets in downtown Halifax. — Photo: Zane Woodford

“New turn signals at intersections in Halifax could protect pedestrians from careless drivers, but the municipality’s engineers aren’t willing to risk added congestion to make it happen,” reports Zane Woodford:

Last year, Coun. Waye Mason moved for a staff report, “to be completed prior to the start of 2022/23 budget discussion, that outlines options for a program for establishing protected left-turn movements and protected right-turn movements at signal controlled intersections.”

Mason brought the motion forward in the wake of the death of 75-year-old Dr. David Gass at the intersection of Kempt Road and Young Street. A pickup driver, who was ticketed for failing to yield to a pedestrian, was making a left turn from Kempt onto Young, and hit Gass, who was crossing Young.

Woodford goes on to relate a bizarre (to me, anyway) discussion among bureaucrats, including this part:

[Deputy traffic authority Roddy] MacIntyre said if traffic is too congested, people get angry.

“Some of these changes, if they’re not done properly, they can actually be relatively catastrophic,” MacIntyre said. “And what happens is now you’ve got a lot of people making bad choices because they’re very frustrated with being held up and that’s what we want to avoid.”

Translation: “if we slow down people driving cars, they’ll get mad and kill people.”

Click here to read “Halifax engineers want to widen roads before implementing pedestrian-protecting turn signals.”

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6. Is the Canso space port dead?

They made a pretty picture of a rocket in space, so everyone in Nova Scotia thought it must be real.

On Tuesday, Ceres Acquisition Corp. issued a press release saying it “has identified targets for a potential qualifying transaction and is engaging in active discussions with one or more of these targets with an aim towards entering into definitive agreements and announcing a qualifying transaction for Ceres’ shareholders in the near future.”

Here’s how I read that: Ceres has given up hope on formerly announced potential acquisitions and therefore is shopping around for new acquisition targets. If so, that means that it is no longer considering acquiring Maritime Launch Services. (Background here, at #6.)

That might explain why Maritime Launch Services’ lobbyists became active at the end of last month. On May 27, Liam Daly with M5 Communications spoke with MP Mike Kelloway, and on May 27 Daly spoke with Isa Topbas and Bianca Hossain, who are special assistants to François-Philippe Champagne, the minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.

Ceres will likely release a statement in coming days that will specifically address the status of the Maritime Launch Services’ proposal.

Even if Ceres backs out (or has already backed out), that doesn’t mean MLS is done for. The company will still exist, but being rejected by a suitor of Ceres’ profile will be a huge reputational hit — other potential investors will wonder what Ceres investors saw that scared them away.

In any event, I’m thinking the Canso space port may not be dead, but it’s on life support.

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Noticed

We value musicians who evolve over time. We don’t want a band to put out the same album over and over again; we want to see them grow, experiment, take on new challenges.

Consider, for example, Tom Waits’ evolution, or Paul Simon’s career path, which went from melodic ballads to world music to giving up music completely and devoting himself to painting. Bob Dylan has continually poked and prodded and explored such that he has gone entire decades when everyone thought he sucked, but he kept at it, finding critical acclaim again with still more evolution.

With my respect for ever-evolving musicians in mind, as I was driving down to Eagle Head Beach Wednesday to report on the latest Peter Kelly thing, I was telling myself, “Self, you really need to find a new schtick. You’re really doing yet another article on that guy? Shouldn’t you get a life?”

I meekly defended myself: “Listen here, me, I tried to resist. When people in Charlottetown contacted me to do that story, I made one trip, but then I decided that repeated six-hour drives and $40 bridge tolls were an unrealistic expense to follow that pinhead around, and so I dropped it. Sure, it took  two years for another reporter to find the story, but it came out eventually, and I did other things.”

I looked in the mirror and saw a look a disappointment. “And a three-and-a-half hour drive to Eagle Head and back is doing other things?”

“Sigh, I’m right,” I told me. “This really is pathetic. But see here, I’m not Tom Waits or Paul Simon or Bob Dylan, I’m just you. I mean me. Tim.”

Disappointment turned to anger. “The banality of low expectations, eh?”

I wasn’t going to let me get away with this.

“Hey!” I yelled at myself. “This isn’t art. It’s not about my personal growth or some bullshit like that. I’m just reporting. And there’s value in staying on the story over time, bringing historic knowledge and context to the story. It’s beat reporting.”

“It’s like the curse of fucking Sisyphus,” I said back to myself. “Except the boulder is a two-bit grifter.”

With that, I parked on the side of the road, picked up my camera, and walked out to Eagle Head Beach.

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Government

No meetings


On campus

Dalhousie

Dalhousie Art Gallery Planting (Friday, 11am) — Volunteers will be completing a major transplanting of strawberries from within the glyph to the peripheral parts of the pollinator garden. More info here.

Orientation maps in visual cortex: phylogenetic origins (Friday, Room 4260, 1355 Oxford Street) — Michael R. Ibbotson from the National Vision Research Institute of Australia will talk.

The spatial relationships within an image are preserved in the primary visual cortices (V1) of mammals in the form of retinotopic maps. In eutherian cats and primates, neurons viewing each, small region of visual space also segregate into pinwheel-like structures, where each pinwheel segment codes a particular edge orientation. Therefore, each pinwheel codes all orientations in each region of space in an ordered pattern. Eutherian rodents and rabbits also have retinotopic maps in V1, but orientation selective neurons are intermingled randomly, so there are at least two different visual feature mapping strategies in mammalian cortex. What is the phylogeny of these coding strategies in V1? I will describe how we have for the first time studied orientation maps in marsupials, which split from the eutherian mammals 160 million years ago, and how we have combined our findings with investigations in other mammalian branches to create a theory on the origins of orientation preference maps in mammals.


In the harbour

Halifax
05:00: Atlantic Sky, ro-ro container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
06:00: MSC Hong Kong, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Montreal
06:0: Oceanex Connaigra, ro-ro container, moves from Anchorage #5 (near Dartmouth Cove) to Pier 41
08:00: Holland Pearl, bulker, arrives at outer harbour from New York to pick up pilot, then on to Sheet Harbour
00:80: Atlantic Osprey, offshore supply ship, sails from Naval Dock (Eastern Passage) for sea
12:00: Acadia Desgagnes, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 9 from Belfast, Northern Ireland
16:00: CSL Tacoma, bulker, sails from Gold Bond for sea
22:30: MSC Hong Kong sails for sea
01:30 (Saturday:) Atlantic Sky sails for Hamburg, Germany

Cape Breton
17:30: Rt Hon Paul E Martin, bulker, arrives at coal pier (Sydney) from Point Tupper


Footnotes

TGIF.


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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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  1. How many people would know about Eagle Head Beach and the devastation in progress if not for you? About 400, according to your article. Whether Peter Kelly or Anonymous Joe, it’s an important story of people with money ignoring the law and surrounding community for their own entitlement. Stopping that is in the public interest, and therefore newsworthy.

  2. Re: Crosswalks
    The intersection of Boland and Wyse in Dartmouth was reported on previously on this site. There is a bike lane on both sides of Wyse. The traffic signals were updated twice in the past year or so (not sure of the exact dates). First, there was a leading pedestrian interval going in all directions. Next, right turns on red lights were forbidden (in all directions) and there were separate times for walkers & users of the bike lane (in just two directions). As someone who walks past this particular intersection almost daily, I can tell you that many there are frustrated. Many drivers ignore the no right on red;not all, but way too many for comfort. Too many walkers and bikers don’t want to wait their turn and cross before their signal. Also, people caught in the intersection when the signals change often cut off those who wish to walk and/or bike. So far as I know, there have not been any accidents; but I fully expect that to change over the coming months as more people get out and about to enjoy the warmer weather. Do the people who plan these changes actually ever walk, drive, or cycle through these intersections at any time of the day? And why aren’t there any traffic cops present to catch the drivers (and walkers/bikers) who violate the signals? If I jaywalk and get caught, I deserve to pay the fine; that said, should I do so I am unlikely to do much damage to a car. If a car turns right when it shouldn’t, it could definitely do a great deal of harm to me!

    1. I regard cyclists as a greater hazard to my health than any motorist. Walking in the Dartmouth Common I have had more threats to my safety than many years of crossing road intersections.I can hear a vehicle, I cannot hear a cyclist who is unable or unwilling to obey the legislation that gives priority to pedestrians in Dartmouth Common.

      1. A motorist is more likely to kill you. I agree cyclists who don’t announce they are coming up behind you, or do so too late for you to react, are a pain, but they are very unlikely to cause you mortal damage. Beside, they aren’t burning fossil fuels and that’s a good thing, too. There should be way more cyclists and far fewer drivers, particularly of outsized SUVs and pickup trucks. And fewer motorcyclists too, especially the ones who drive around and around at all hours of day and night making a racket, apparently with the express purpose of annoying the hell out of residents and deafening pedestrians. I don’t know how these days they can afford the gas, but apparently they don’t have anything better to do.

        1. I have PTSD. It doesn’t help me when thoughtless cyclists whizz by me from behind. They are more of a danger to my mental and physical health than a vehicle on the road or at an intersection. And a thoughtless young fool on an electric scooter silently speeding past me in the Dartmouth Common. Cyclists are not allowed in Public Gardens but there is no by-law or other legislation prohibiting them, just signs. There is legislation governing the use of Dartmouth Common and it is contained in the HRM Charter.

  3. Sorry Tim, but if I paid for the Halifax Examiner Platinum VIP Experience with Backstage Meet and Greet Tim (No Touching Permitted) Laminated Pass, I’m not going to happy until I hear the opening chords of “What Has Peter Kelly Been Up To This Time”. Love your new material, but still want to hear the hits.

  4. SISYPHUS WAS A PUSSY!

    Carry on regardless. (That’s a great Van Morrison song.)

    https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwj6gfC6qcb4AhV2AjQIHTyfDQsQ3yx6BAgTEAI&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DUYtqZdiGKow&usg=AOvVaw14Q_dQmWdsMSwZCE2hDxPS

    You should also check out another great Van song: “Keep mediocrity at bay”.

    https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwj3lZmHqsb4AhUgAzQIHVY8CWQQ3yx6BAgTEAI&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DPCQ-ZW6WDBU&usg=AOvVaw2dLWpRoq3aFClHp1hiD-94

    Also this from the great Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky

    Shine always
    Shine everywhere
    To the depth of the last day
    Shine–
    And to hell with everything else!
    That’s my motto
    And the sun’s

  5. Peter Kelly – he’s not a two bit grifter (I mean he actually is but…..). He was the mayor of this municipality for 10 years – ten years of stagnation and indolence, getting paid about $200,000 a year of taxpayer money. Wasting god knows how much more.

    We need more muckraking reporters out there cuz there is A LOT of sludge and filth like Peter Kelly to be overturned and brought to light in our government and private sectors. Methinks Kelly is just the tip of a really dirty berg.

  6. AC/DC became one of the world’s most successful bands by recycling the same couple of riffs over and over again.