1. Touquoy mine

Aerial view of a deep open pit at the Moose River gold mine with gravel roads spiralling down to the depths that are filled with turquoise coloured liquid, treed landscape in the foreground, and the grey waste rock hill in the upper right.
One of St Barbara’s “non-core” assets is its Touquoy open pit gold mine in Moose River, Nova Scotia. Credit: Raymond Plourde / Ecology Action Centre

“It’s been months in the making, and for shareholders of Australia’s St Barbara Ltd it looks like one hell of a great deal,” reports Joan Baxter:

At the end of June, St Barbara sold off its most lucrative gold mining property — the Gwalia mine near Leonora in Australia — to Genesis Minerals, another Australian miner, for about $327 million.

With the sale of its lucrative mining properties in Australia, St Barbara is now left with just two operations. One is the troubled Simberi gold mine in Papua New Guinea. The other St Barbara calls its “Atlantic operations” in Nova Scotia.

But what does all this mean for the Touquoy mine, where a massive tailings facility and open pit will have to be dealt with at some point?

Click or tap here to read “St Barbara sells off its Australian gold mine, but what happens to its mines in Nova Scotia?”

(Send this item: right click and copy this link)

2. People poop at popular Kinsmen Beach

A group of parents and children sit on the shores of a sandy beach at sunset, with signs in the forefront warning that the beach is unsupervised and water quality is not tested.
Kinsmen Beach on First Lake on July 6, 2023. Credit: Yvette d'Entremont

“A report has found high concentrations of human waste in the water at Lower Sackville’s Kinsmen Beach on First Lake,” reports Yvette d’Entremont:

The bacterial analysis study on First Lake was on the agenda Thursday at Halifax regional council’s Environment and Sustainability Standing Committee as an information a report. A consultant measured elevated e. coli bacteria concentrations exceeding the national recreational guideline at several stormwater outfalls in First Lake and Kinsmen Beach between June and September 2022.

The majority of collected samples were found to be from humans.

The report notes that despite this, the beach, surrounding parks, and walking trails are regularly used by the community. In addition, the local canoe club offers programming on the lake throughout the summer when the problem most often rears its head. 

Click here to read “Human waste to blame for e. coli at Kinsmen Beach on Lower Sackville’s First Lake: report.”

Relatedly, last night the city closed Kearney Lake Beach and Albro Lake Beach due to high bacterial counts.

(Send this item: right click and copy this link)

3. Common pool is open

Well, if you can’t swim at the beach, you can go to the new pool at the Halifax Common, which opened yesterday.

I haven’t been by yet, but by all reports it’s a nice facility.

This is what city governments should be doing: building and maintaining nice facilities for the people who live here, not throwing millions into a money pit for visiting conventioneers.

4. Cole Harbour development

A pixelated rendering shows a development proposed nestled among existing homes, seen from an aerial angle.
A rendering of the proposal for 1268 Cole Harbour Rd. Credit: Zzap Architecture + Planning

“Councillors on the Dartmouth side of the harbour have approved a development proposal adding 46 new homes to Cole Harbour Road,” reports Zane Woodford:

The Harbour East Marine Drive Community Council held a public hearing Thursday night on the proposal from A.J. Giles Investments Ltd. for 1268 Cole Harbour Rd., just past Bissett Road.

The company, owned by Alfred J. Giles, J. Andrew Giles, and Janice M. Bayers, applied via Zzap Architecture and Planning for a development agreement. They want to build a four-storey, 30-unit building and a three-storey, 16-unit townhouse-style building on the property.

Click or tap here to read “Community council approves Cole Harbour Road development.”

(Send this item: right click and copy this link)

5. No billionaires killed in Canso rocket launch

YouTube video

This item is written by Joan Baxter.

Last we heard, they’re still looking for stage two of the 1.5-metre long “Goose 3” rocket that Arbalest Rocketry, a student rocketry club from York University, sent into the sky from a concrete pad in Canso, which Maritime Launch Services (MLS) likes to call the “launchpad” of “Spaceport Nova Scotia.” 

As Tim Bousquet reported on Wednesday this week, navigational warnings were issued for the airspace and maritime traffic around Canso for the launch of the student rocket, which was slated for either July 5, or 6, or 7 between 10am and 1pm. 

The weather didn’t cooperate on Wednesday, but the launch did go ahead yesterday.   

A breathless article by Elizabeth Howell in SpaceQ headlined “MLS, Space Community celebrates [sic] debut student rocket launch at Spaceport Nova Scotia” reports that as of Thursday afternoon, the first stage of the rocket was found “close to the shoreline” but that the “attempted recovery of the second stage — roughly 8 miles (13 km) out in the Atlantic Ocean — was ongoing.” 

We’ve asked a spokesperson from Maritime Launch Service if the missing rocket part has been recovered, but have not yet received a reply.

According to SpaceQ, a steadfast cheerleader of the MLS proposed spaceport in Canso, the two-stage rocket flew to 44,000 feet or 13,411 metres. 

An earlier SpaceQ article that the rocket would “reach a height of no more than 25 km.”

The list of high power people who showed up for the launch of the high power student-made Goose 3 rocket was impressive. 

SpaceQ reports that among those who gathered to watch the launch were former Conservative defence minister Peter MacKay, Nova Scotia’s former premier Stephen McNeil, the province’s current minister of education and early childhood development Becky Druhan, MLA Greg Morrow, and the director of the Canadian Space Agency.

Those who were not invited can watch the launch in the video above.

On Tuesday this week, we contacted Transport Canada, which regulates rocket launches in Canada, with a list of questions about the launch. A spokesperson sent a reply last evening, confirming that Transport Canada provided Launch Canada Rocketry Association with authorization for the launch on June 22. 

The Transport Canada spokesperson didn’t answer questions about how it could approve a rocket launch from a concrete pad just over three kilometres from a hospital, saying only, “A rigorous trajectory analysis has been provided which shows that the launch will meet Transport Canada requirements for the minimum safety distance.” 

The trajectory should have taken the rocket east over the water. But Curtis Munro, a carpenter in Canso who was outside working on a house about four kilometres from the launch site yesterday morning, tells the Examiner that he and the others he was working with saw the rocket heading northwest when it should have been heading southeast over the ocean. “It also did a loop-di-loop before it disappeared into the clouds,” says Munro. 

We’ve asked MLS for details of the actual trajectory, but have not yet received a reply.

Another of our questions to Transport Canada was about rocketry regulations that “refer to a “defined area of land/sea which has been cleared of all persons and third party properties which could be damaged by components of a launch vehicle impacting in the area,” and asked, “What is the defined area for this launch?”

The reply from Transport Canada was a non-reply: “This area is defined in the launch application.”

Marie Lumsden of the citizen group, Action Against the Canso Spaceport, says she has nothing at all against students engaging in rocketry and lauds them for their work. But she is less than impressed by MLS using the students and their rocket launch to promote its own cause. This is Lumsden’s take on yesterday’s launch:

Our politicians sat there and they showed their support in front of a hobby rocket to be launched by a company claiming after almost seven years of self congratulatory hogwash, to be building a world class facility. There’s been no construction there for months. No regulations for spaceports, no private investment, no launch vehicle, no revenue and according to their SEDAR reports MLS is also upwards of 8 million dollars in debt. Yet this farce continues. MP Mike Kelloway, MLA Greg Morrow and our municipal representatives are well aware of the opposition that exists in this community yet do nothing. It boggles the mind.

SEDAR is the filing system for the 13 provincial and territorial securities regulatory authorities in Canada. The audited annual financial statements for Maritime Launch Services for 2021-2022 filed with SEDAR on March 24, 2023 contain this advisory from the auditors:

We draw attention to Note 2 to the consolidated financial statements, which describes matters and conditions that indicate the existence of a material uncertainty that may cast significant doubt about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern. Our opinion is not modified in respect of this matter. 

Note 2 states: 

At December 31, 2022, the Company [MLS] had no source of operating cash flow. Operations have been funded from the issuance of share capital and convertible debentures and as such, the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern is dependent upon the ability to obtain financing to be able to secure adequate bonding for future projects. It is not possible at this time to predict the outcome of these matters. The Company incurred a net comprehensive loss of $7,450,698 for the year ended December 31, 2022 (2021 – $4,317,406). As a result, there is material uncertainty that may cast significant doubt as to whether the Company will have the ability to continue as a going concern. 

These consolidated financial statements do not reflect the material adjustments to carrying values of assets and liabilities, and the reported expenses, that would be necessary if the going concern assumption was inappropriate. 

But hey, what about that student rocket launch! Wasn’t that a blast? 

(Send this item: right click and copy this link)

6. Fuel prices

A blue, red, and white gas pump that offers regular, extra, and supreme fuel options.
Gas prices are expected to increase by 14 cents a litre on July 1. Credit: Suzanne Rent

The Utility and Review Board this morning determined that the regulated price of self-service regular fuel in Halifax is now $1.731, up from $1.489/litre. That increase of more than 24 cents has nothing to do with the 14-cent carbon tax imposed last week. I’m waiting for those who railed against the federal carbon tax to damn the oil companies with the same vigour.

(Send this item: right click and copy this link)

7. Pisiquid Canoe Club

Four rowers in a blue boat, with their reflections on the water.
Rowers at the Pisiquid Canoe Club Credit: Pisiquid Canoe Club

After DFO ordered the aboiteau on the Avon river to be opened a few years ago, the artificial Lake Pisiquid behind the dam was drained, and so ACOA spent about a million dollars to relocate the Pisiquid Canoe Club to Zwicker Lake about 20 kilometres away, in Upper Vaughn.

The move, however, irritated people with houses on the lake, and so they sued West Hants Regional Municipality for issuing a permit to the club.

Supreme Court of Nova Scotia Justice Gail Gatchalian issued a decision in the case this week, explaining that:

The Applicants are Andrew Hardman, Debbie Innes, Mark Kehoe and Seamus Marriott. They own properties on Zwicker Lake. They want the court to quash a development permit that the West Hants Regional Municipality gave to the Pisiquid Canoe Club that allows the Club to operate a day camp on the Club’s property on Zwicker Lake. The Municipality’s Development Officer, Doug MacInnis, made the decision to grant the permit to the Club. The position of the Applicants is, in part, that the decision was unreasonable or incorrect because the Club’s activities on the property are not permitted by the applicable land use by-law.

Gatchalian ruled against the applicants, saying the municipality’s permit was reasonable, [update] but she allowed the applicants to make more submissions. [I had missed the full implication of the ruling when I first wrote about this.]

As we’ve reported, John Lohr, the minister responsible for the Emergency Management Office, used the excuse of the recent wildfires to order the aboiteau closed again, thereby refilling the lake. This was a clear abuse of the Emergency Management Act.

On July 18, the court will hear an application by fisherman Darren Porter to override Lohr’s order.

(Send this item: right click and copy this link)

8. Casual sexism in the workplace

I woman carrying a sign that reads "I just had sexism"
Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash

A recent Labour Board decision by adjudicator Gus Richardson provides a snapshot of the kind of casual sexism that takes place in the workplace.

Richardson was hearing an appeal from one of two jail guards who were fired in January 2022 for behaviour that took place on Dec. 2, 2021.

The two guards were transferring a prisoner from the Burnside jail (which the decision confusingly places in Bedford) to the Victoria General hospital in Halifax. The prisoner was dying — according to the guard, the prisoner had five months to live; he needed a wheelchair to get around, and needed to go to the hospital for treatment. The prisoner was no danger to anyone.

The two guards transported the prisoner to the hospital in a Dodge Durango SUV, with the prisoner behind a plexiglass barrier that had an opening so the guards and prisoner could speak with each other. The SUV was also equipped with a recording device, so Richardson knew exactly what was said during the half-hour drive:

The conversation was somewhat profane. Both the grievor and his colleague [the second guard] used the word ‘fuck’ or ‘shit’ or their derivatives many times, often simply as a form of place holder. So, for example, the colleague CO [correctional officer] mentioned another inmate who did not want “to go in a fucking cell without a sprinkler:” There were complaints about other COs who suffered from poor performance or were frequently absent; discussions of practical jokes played on new COs; mimicry of the accent of at least one CO; astonishment about another CO’s refusal to take orders from a woman (which led to him quitting); and the view, expressed negatively, about other COs ‘ratting’ on colleagues or failing to support them when there was trouble with an inmate.

There was also a certain amount of bluster or perhaps bravado about the number of times they had been assaulted or bitten by inmates; their own use of physical force in such situations; and the difficulties dealing with inmates when they were suffering from mental health issues.

Close to the very end of the drive the Social Worker’s name came up. Inmate A confirmed that she would be with them at the hospital. The colleague CO suggested she was ‘hot;’ the grievor demurred, but did not challenge his colleague on making such a comment. The ride then came to an end.

The social worker met the guards and prisoner at the hospital. The social worker had been a star on the Saint Mary’s University basketball team; the first guard (the grievor) had a daughter who played basketball, so as they were walking towards the elevator, there was some pleasant conversation about their experiences. Richardson continued:

The Social Worker testified that she and the grievor were chatting about basketball again. She recalled the colleague CO [the second guard] saying that she and he had both attended Saint Mary’s and that they had been in some of the same classes. (For context, one needs to understand that the Social Worker had been a star player on the university’s basketball team.) She replied that she did not remember the colleague CO. He in return said something along the lines of “your face is all over campus.” She then heard the grievor say “yes, probably on the back of bathroom stalls.” She was shocked and embarrassed, looked back and said “no.” She didn’t say anything more or remonstrate the grievor more than that because she was embarrassed by what she took to be “a sexualized comment.”

Then they arrived in the hospital room where the prisoner was given drugs via IV. Richardson laid out the social worker’s report of that account:

In that complaint the Social Worker noted that the nurses who were coming in and out of the room to manage the IV bags were young women. After one of the nurses came in to check on Inmate A the colleague CO looked at the nurse, “smirking, and looking at [the grievor] as he made a comment about there being two nurses and he has two hands.” She added that as other nurses came into the room to check on the progress of Inmate A’s IV treatment the colleague CO would look at the nurse, “raise his eyebrows, smirk, and look at [the grievor], where they would both laugh.”

The Social Worker then commented on the possibility that the Bedford Facility would be under lock down (where inmates were confined to their rooms) because the facility was short staffed. She reported that the colleague CO and the grievor then discussed their frustration with what they perceived to have been changes in the Employer’s hiring procedures which, they felt, had reduced the criteria for entry as a CO. The colleague CO appears, at least based on the Social Worker’s complaint, to have been the dominant force in this conversation.

The Social Worker reported that she then left the room to get some food and coffee for everyone. Upon her return she found the colleague CO and the grievor discussing another inmate whose conduct had caused many lock downs at the facility. The colleague CO then went on to discuss a mediation between him and an inmate who had allegedly made threats to him. The Social Worker had participated in the mediation. She then detailed a long conversation between her and the colleague CO about the mediation, and his feelings that it would improve matters because the inmate was “a fucking mutt.’

The discussion then moved to instances where the colleague CO had had to “suit up”—that is, done protective gear and then use force to subdue an inmate who was acting out or assaulting other inmates or staff. Her descriptions of these incidents, as detailed by the colleague CO, suggest that she had doubts as to the reasonableness of his use of force in those situations.

The discussion ended when a call came in from a female manager in the wing of the facility where Inmate A was housed to say that the two COs were being recalled early and would be replaced by others. (As it turned out, this call had been sparked by the Social Worker’s complaint to her supervisor.) The colleague CO and the grievor assumed that they were being called back “to suit up on someone.” Since the Medical TA was almost over at that point the colleague CO thought the female manager was “a fucking idiot.”

When I read this, I sense that the social worker was absolutely fed up. So fed up that she then and there contacted the guards’ boss to complain. This is a professional trying to do her job, and has to deal with all this sexist bullshit.

In addition, she understood that the conversation should not have been held in front of the prisoner: “She added that Inmate A, ‘[a]s a human being who was at the hospital for a very important medical treatment, should not have had to listen to degrading stories about his peers being violently assaulted and provoked by staff, nor should he be present for such blatant disrespect toward a female manager.’”

The guard admitted his behaviour was unprofessional, but he said the social worker had misunderstood the photo comment — he was saying that the other guard’s photo was on the wall of the bathroom stall, not that the social worker’s photo was there.

He also agreed that it was inappropriate to discuss other prisoners in front of the prisoner he was transporting, but he had an explanation for that as well: he was trying to make the prisoner feel better. The guard explained that because the jail was short-staffed, when there was a particularly disruptive prisoner the entire jail had to be shut down. And there was one prisoner in particular who had caused most of the problems, and therefore most of the lockdowns, but that prisoner was recently transferred to federal prison. The guard continued:

I felt bad for [Inmate A], being given five months to live, I wanted to show him some empathy, he was sick so I wanted to show him some hope, so [the inmate being transferred] was someone who caused a lot of lock ups, so hopefully now that he is gone there would be no more lock ups.

Richardson explained that:

Confidential or personal information can be weaponized by an inmate against other inmates, or against staff or their families. It can be used to learn of weaknesses in the staff or facility that may lead to violence against other inmates, escapes or blackmail of staff by inmates. It could create a security risk for everyone in the facility, though, I hasten to add, there was no evidence before me to suggest that it did in this case. Neither the Social Worker nor the grievor suggested that Inmate A, who both characterized as mild-mannered and polite, would have used whatever he heard in that way.

I have no idea who this prisoner was or why he landed in jail in the first place, although I’d note that people who are serving sentences in jail have been sentenced to less than two years imprisonment, so whatever his crime, it likely wasn’t major. But regardless, it’s impossible to understand why a mild-mannered, polite, and moreover dying man was being kept in jail; surely some other arrangement could have been made for him.

In any event, in his decision, Richardson had some discussion about dark humour in a difficult workplace, and that it’s OK for workers to vent to each other, just not in front of the public, as was done in this case.

Richardson ultimately ruled in favour of the guard — the guard was reinstated to his job, with all his seniority, but was given a three-month unpaid suspension. You can read the entire decision here.

None of this is particularly surprising. We live in a sexist society. The people we employ to imprison other people do, in fact, have stressful and existentially draining jobs; violence is part of their job description, and it would be difficult for anyone in that position to maintain their professionalism 24 hours a day. But Christ, men, can’t we go about our workdays without demeaning the women we work with?

(Send this item: right click and copy this link)

A yellow box which links to a helpful information page. The text reads "Unable to read paywalled articles? If you're having problems signing in, click here for help."

A box with a link which reads "Sign up for our morning email. Get a direct link to the Morning File right in your inbox. Click here."


No meetings

On campus

No events

In the harbour

05:30: Manon, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Zeebrugge, Belgium
10:00: Atlantic Sail, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk, Virginia
11:00: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 41 from Saint-Pierre
15:00: CSL Tacoma, bulker, sails from Gold Bond for sea
16:00: MSC Pratiti, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Sines, Portugal
18:00: Manon moves to Pier 9
18:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, sails from Pier 41 for St. John’s
21:30: Atlantic Sail sails for Liverpool, England
04:00: Nolhanava sails for Saint-Pierre
04:00: CMA CGM Magellan, container ship (151,446 tonnes), arrives at Pier 41 from Tanger Med, Morocco
Viking Neptune, cruise ship with up to 928 passengers, arrives fro Gaspé, on a 12-day cruise from Montreal to New York

Cape Breton
06:00: Silver Shalis, yacht, moves from St. Peter’s to Canso pilot station
08:00: Silver Shalis transits through the causeway en route to Charlottetown
10:00: Algoma Integrity, bulker, arrives at Pirate Harbour anchorage from Tampa, Florida
13:15: Ardmore Seafox, oil tanker, sails from EverWind for sea


Summer has finally arrived. Have a great weekend.

A button which links to the Subscribe page
A button link which reads "Make a donation"

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

Joan Baxter is an award-winning Nova Scotian journalist and author of seven books, including "The Mill: Fifty Years of Pulp and Protest." Website:; Twitter @joan_baxter

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

Only subscribers to the Halifax Examiner may comment on articles. We moderate all comments. Be respectful; whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims. Please read our Commenting Policy.