1. Power rates could increase far more than 3.2% each year, depending on UARB ruling
Nova Scotia Power says there are a lot of reasons we should hike power rates in a province with the highest electricity bills in the country: Spending on renewable energy projects, replacing coal-fired plants, rising fuel costs around the globe.
In her latest report for the Examiner, Jennifer Henderson writes that several questions have been put to the province’s Utility and Review Board (UARB) by experts about the proposal before the body rules on it.
The UARB, which regulates how much Nova Scotia Power may charge to cover the cost of service, will hold a public hearing this September on the company’s request for more money.
Here’s some context. For the past three years, rates in Nova Scotia have been relatively stable, increasing by 1.5%. Last year, Nova Scotia Power earned $152 million dollars profit on $1.5 billion in revenue. The company is asking the UARB to approve a rate hike for consumers, as well as changes that would increase how much profit shareholders could earn — estimated by one consultant to average around $186 million a year over the three-year period.
The proposed increase in power rates would provide Nova Scotia Power with $162 million in additional revenue from 2022-2024, an increase of 7.2%.
There are lots of issues raised by the power company’s rate hike application. Henderson goes over the major questions in her article this morning, found here.
2. Community says controversial Eagle Head Beach development permit revoked
“Residents near Eagle Head Beach in Queens County are trying to stop construction at an oceanfront site owned by former Halifax mayor Peter Kelly,” Tim Bousquet reported on June 23.
Locals in the community were concerned about environmental destruction resulting from the development such as pond infilling, wildlife displacement, and the loss of seagrass. The planned development is sandwiched between a large pond and the publicly-owned Eagle Head Beach, a popular swimming spot in the area where Kelly had put up “no trespassing” signs.
Now, an update.
A community news release this morning says residents in the area were told Tuesday that the Queens County municipality has withdrawn Kelly’s development permit. From the release:
“The development permit previously issued has been revoked based on the legal advice received by the municipality’s legal counsel,” according to a Facebook post from Vicki Amirault, the area’s municipal councillor.“I am sorry, but because this is now a legal matter I cannot provide any further comments at this time but once the legal issues have been resolved I can comment further.”Ms. Amirault’s post is the only public acknowledgement of the stoppage that members of the grassroots group Protecting Eagle Head Beach have received.“We’re cautiously optimistic,” said local resident Peter Leslie. “Because the municipality is sharing very little information, we don’t know very much. And we fear that a new development permit could be issued at any time. The fight is not over.”
3. People’s Park: evictions coming
People’s Park, the tent encampment that sprung up in Halifax’s Meagher Park following the violent homeless evictions of August 18 last year, will soon be evicted itself.
As CBC reports, Halifax Regional Municipality has told park residents they have until July 17 to leave, giving out notices on Tuesday. Officials say alternatives are available now that the municipality has designated outdoor spaces around HRM for legal tent encampments.
Halifax councillors, fearing a repeat of last August, have debated how to remove residents from non-designated campsites on public grounds without using the police, but as the Examiner reported last month, officers will still be called to remove those unwilling to move their temporary homes.
CBC reports those who resist eviction could face arrest or upwards of $10,000 in fines. Assuming you’re living in a tent on public land, I’d assume that fine will be a bit out of your price range; a bit excessive, to say the least.
People’s Park is still used by a number of residents, though it is home to far fewer than it was at its height in the winter of 2021 when upwards of 30 people were staying nightly on the small lot of grass in a residential neighbourhood off Chebucto Street.
Although there are more designated sites available for tenters, and the city’s modular units are up and running, the municipality’s track record on these evictions is terrible. As noted above, People’s Park is the direct result of the city’s mishandling of the homelessness crisis. Yet it’s being dealt with in an eerily similar way.
That’s not to say this camp should last forever, but the threat of arrests, and reliance on police to evict, doesn’t bolster public trust.
4. Signage coming to Queen’s Marque waterfront stairs
Forget about Peggy’s Cove.
Signs are coming to discourage people from using the steps off Queen’s Marque on the Halifax Harbourfront from swimming off them. (To be clear, it’s a much safer activity than going to the wet rocks at Peggy’s Cove).
As Karla Renic reports for Global, the signs are prompted by activity over the weekend:
The steps, named Queen’s Landing, were part of the Queen’s Marque project built by Armour Group Limited at a pricetag of nearly $200 million. The complex’s public space, including the stairway, opened to the public in late 2021.
Though the steps were intended as a place to sit near the water, people are now using them to go for a swim.
Over the Canada Day long weekend, several videos of people jumping into the ocean on those steps became trending online.
One video posted to TikTok on Sunday showed two people standing knee-deep on the steps right before hopping in for a swim. The video went viral on the app with more than 230,000 views.
Develop Nova Scotia is responsible for the steps and the safety around them. Spokesperson Deborah Page told Global they’re concerned about swimming around vessels and the obvious safety concerns of swimming without lifeguards present. But the signs are only meant to deter people, not stop them.
“We’re not encouraging swimming per se, but we know it will happen.”
In a December Morning File, I noted some of the tweets people were posting about the newly unveiled stairs to nowhere. Here’s a callback to two of my favourites.
Something tells me pubs were involved in this weekend’s swim meet. Doesn’t look like the stairs are closing though.
After a year off from Canada Day celebrations, I spent this year’s national holiday partaking in that most Canadian of pastimes: baseball.
On Friday I was at Rogers Centre in Toronto, watching the Blue Jays defeat the Tampa Bay Rays in front of a hometown crowd decked in red and white cheering on Canada’s only American League club. The Jays, like most of the rest of the country, were holding Canada Day celebrations for the first time since 2019. Given the sombre tone of last year’s First of July, I was curious what the mood would be.
It had the usual patriotic fanfare. There was a promotional Canada Day jersey giveaway, red-and-white bunting everywhere, and plenty of Canadiana on the video scoreboard throughout. Before the game, military personnel paraded out a ridiculously large flag, waving it to a rousing rendition of O Canada.
It was a pleasant return to — what’s that word again? — normalcy.
There was something different in the air this time around, though. After all, COVID isn’t the only thing that’s put the past few Canada Day celebrations on hold.
That’s particularly true of last year, when the discovery of an unmarked residential school grave made a national celebration unthinkable for most Canadians. As Stephen Cooke put it for SaltWire, last year was “a time for sober reflection and a call to action on reconciliation,” not a time for fireworks.
Canada Day 2021 forced many of us to truly grapple with the complete history of this nation, a past full of inhuman actions perpetrated by a colonial government that impact Indigenous communities to this day. Perhaps even more than the 2015 report from the Truth and Reconciliation Committee, or any government apology, it brought reconciliation to the forefront of the national consciousness and shattered outdated myths about this country. Our past and its lasting ramifications — shattered families, cultural destruction, isolated and under-resourced communities — could no longer be compartmentalized.
A lot’s happened since then. A national day of reflection was created, an Inuk woman was appointed Governor General, colonial place names were reconsidered and replaced and the Catholic Church apologized for its role in residential schools (the Pope will soon deliver that apology in person). Just this week, Ottawa signed an agreement with the Assembly of First Nations and plaintiffs in two class-action lawsuits, promising a total of $40 billion to compensate First Nations children and families harmed by chronic underfunding of child welfare on reserves, as well as to reform that welfare system.
I think it’s safe to say the discovery of unmarked graves, and the cancellation of Canada Day festivities last year, helped spur all those actions.
I’m happy to see the holiday return all the same, though I understand those who don’t want to celebrate it.
“Canada Day celebrates 155 years of genocide and colonial violence,” Ezra Forest, 24-year-old from Treaty 6 territory who helped organize a Cancel Canada Day gathering Friday told CBC last week.
“This is really important to cancel, because there are those before us and those after us who need to be honoured and respected in the indigenous communities.”
Fair enough. I personally think there’s some merit in having a day to come together as a country. To incorporate new ways of celebrating that include and promote reconciliation with Indigenous people, and lose the colonial history of the holiday. I think a healthy pride, void of jingoism or whitewashing, that’s good for the national community. But I understand those who didn’t celebrate again this year.
It’s why I kept my Canada Day simple with a trip to the ballpark.
However, I was disappointed by one aspect of the festivities there that day. Before the national anthems and the flag waving, there was a minute-long video presentation of an unceded land acknowledgement displayed on the big screen. No one from the local Indigenous community took the field to lead it. No PA announcer drew attention to it. And the crowd continued to murmur through it all, showing more reverence and silence for the Star Spangled Banner than a simple acknowledgement of our country’s colonial past.
These land acknowledgements are sometimes ridiculed. The Baroness von Sketch show critiqued the semi-meaninglessness of them better than I could here.
But if we really want to celebrate Canada Day again, reconciliation needs to become more than a mention in the festivities. It should be the norm in all future celebrations. I’m sure there was more respect shown in many of those held across the country this past Friday. It should become uniform though. If the holiday, and the way we celebrate it, doesn’t evolve, it deserves to be cancelled.
More baseball. I’m sorry.
This week, the Major League summer-long slog hit the halfway point. You don’t need to be a fan to enjoy a day at the park. Dazzling defensive plays and moonshot home runs are exciting to most anyone, sure, but there’s also the simple pleasure of sitting back on a sunny day and admiring a well-manicured field with a cold (overpriced) drink and some peanuts.
One of the great little extracurricular thrills of the live baseball experience is the potential to catch a wayward game ball in the stands.
I’ve never done it, even though I’ve been to dozens of Big League games since I was a kid. Neither has entertainment writer Murtz Jaffer, who’s been going to games a lot longer than I have.
“[I]t has been a lifelong struggle and I have 30 years of scars, scrapes and bruises from jumping over blue seats to prove it,” Jaffer wrote last month in the Toronto Star. “In that time, I have tried sitting in every row and in every section to improve my chances, and each time it has been a resounding failure.”
It’s part of a personal essay, whose thesis is best summed up in the headline: Do I really have to give up my home-run ball to a kid?
It’s the type of attention grabbing header made to make you scoff. It certainly got that reaction out of me. But upon reading the article — one I assumed was either going to be a deliberate joke or a cringeworthy examination of a middle-aged man’s lack of perspective — I was surprised by the amount of pathos it contained. I felt for the guy.
For those who don’t know, older fans who catch baseballs in the stands will often give them away to kids seated nearby, the idea being a $6 ball will mean a lot more to them with their shiny, wonder-filled eyes and untarnished dreams. TV broadcasts sometimes highlight these interactions, and what started as a semi-frequent generous act has grown into an expectation. If you catch a ball and there’s a kid nearby, it’s up to you to make their day.
Jaffer debates the merit of this social expectation.
He considers Mike Lanzillotta, a Toronto man who received praise in May for catching a home run ball off the bat of Aaron Judge, a damned Yankee, and handing it to a kid wearing that player’s jersey. The kid, Derek Rodriguez, cried as he gratefully hugged Lanzillotta, an image picked up by media around North America. It was a classic heartwarming story of generosity and sportsmanship. One that would melt the heart of the deepest cynic.
Except Jaffer’s. He wasn’t moved. He was baffled.
For Jaffer, taking home a game ball has been a lifelong dream. One he’d never give up just to abide by some unwritten code of fan etiquette. He writes:
I have tried to catch a home-run ball for my entire life. A foul ball would suffice. I’d even take a ground-rule double.
For the better part of three decades and ever since I watched the Jays win their second World Series at the SkyDome in 1993, I have been obsessed with taking home the most elusive souvenir in sports.
Unlike Derek Rodriguez, I never had the fortune of having a stranger just hand me a ball when I was a kid.
By this point, you’ve likely put Jaffer in the villain camp. Akin to the dogcatchers in an Air Bud movie, or the grumpy neighbour who chases kids off his lawn. That’s the feeling I got at the start.
Sports have a way of turning grown men into children. Otherwise well-rounded adults cry and moan over the fate of millionaires wearing their team’s colours. They trade rationality for superstition, and shout things in bleachers that would isolate them from society in any other setting.
Read further, though, and you’ll find this isn’t necessarily a story about an immature man-child.
A shift occurs when Jaffer recounts a visit to Rogers Centre on June 17, when he came closer than ever to taking home a ball. It turned out to be a test of his initial reaction to Lanzillotti’s kindness.
Jaffer says he got to that game well before first pitch and took his seat in prime home-run-ball-catching territory in the outfield. While waiting for two friends to join him, a man, woman, and child sat down together in the row below. In the leadup to first pitch, Jaffer says the man began to badger ballpark staff to help him get a baseball for the kid. He writes:
This went on for nearly two hours before the game started. It got to the point that another random fan told him that our ‘entire section’ was rooting for him and if any of us caught it, we would all give it to the kid. Sorry lady, I didn’t co-sign that.
Jaffer had selected his seats with catching a ball in mind. Now, he was becoming tense. Should a ball come his way, a ball he’d been waiting for all his life, it became increasingly obvious he wouldn’t be able to hold on to it without facing public derision.
Sure enough, a Blue Jay hit would eventually force him to weigh his personal desire with public responsibility.
In the sixth inning, Alejandro Kirk belted a solo shot and the home-run ball that I had waited an eternity for came barrelling at me. My life flashed before my eyes: not because of the velocity of the ball that was rocketing toward me, but because I knew that this was the moment I had been waiting for. The moment that has taken 30 years to capture.
It was a moment the man in front of him had been waiting for too.
We stood up at the same time…I knew I would also have to outwit, outplay and, if it came to it, out-elbow my foe. As the ball bounced up from the floor beside us, I suddenly realized that I was in a no-win situation. If I got the ball, it would lead to an inevitable confrontation with the man who would claim it for the kid. If I took it (as every ounce of my being wanted to), I had no escape route with my faux-aisle seat. While I was in a prime position to catch the ball, it also provided a difficult exit route from a crowd that would undoubtedly be calling for my head.
So I did what any logical person would do. Despite my better judgment and my lifetime of unrequited desire, I let him have it.
A Major League baseball costs about $6 American dollars. You can buy them online, or pick up a comparable ball at any sporting goods store. They have little intrinsic value. On average, teams go through about 10 dozen of them a game, hitting them into the crowd or discarding them when they get dirty. That means a good number of fans across North America go home with these keepsakes each night during the summer. There are rarer collector’s items.
Yet every baseball fan, either overtly or secretly in their heart, hopes to take one home when they go to the park. From the ages of eight to 15, I can guarantee you that catching one would have been the highlight of my summer. Unlike Jaffer, I no longer care about taking one home. I’d likely give a ball away if I caught one. It’s the thrill of the catch, the unlikely serendipitous location it requires, that interests me now.
I feel for Jaffer though, who says he still questions his decision.
In the days following the game, he spoke with Mike Lanzillotta, who told him he’d made the right choice and would be rewarded with good karma. He also talked to Zack Hample, a 44-year-old man who’s become infamous in the baseball world for his prolific baseball collection (he’s caught over 10,000 balls at Big League games). Hample told him he was “weak” for giving up on the ball, and had every right to go for it so long as he didn’t outright steal the ball from the kid. He’d suffer a few boos from strangers, but it’d be worth the souvenir.
While I think Jaffer made the right choice, his piece hit me. Had he caught the ball fair and square, why should he be expected to give it up? If you want to be generous, be generous. If the ball means that much to you, why should a child’s inconsequential dreams trump your own? Growing up requires us to give up enough of the things of our youth. The goals of adult life don’t all have to be rational and serious. It’s refreshing to see someone care about something with no real monetary reward. Something only the child in us could appreciate.
Shouldn’t we laud someone for staying true to their heart despite the cries of the multitude? Am I getting a little too deep for an article about not giving baseballs to kids? Probably. Fair point. I’ll stop.
I just think this piece is a reminder that all of us take simple pleasures in seemingly useless, frivolous things in this life. Things that disillusionment, cynicism, and world-weariness can’t touch. We’re never too old to be thrilled by the little things, meaningful perhaps only to us. There’s something sweet about that. There’s no need to feel guilty.
I’m adding a lot of weight to a very light story, I know. It just struck a chord with me, I suppose.
Returning to the matter at hand, I’ll give the last word to Jaffer on the kid-vs-adult argument when it comes to catching a game ball:
Does even the thought of catching and keeping the ball make me a villain? Or is the real problem the fact that society has made ridiculing adults trying to catch balls at games the new norm? When you think about it, what’s so wrong with that? The kid who is now in possession of my ball has only been to games for the eight or so years of his existence. I have tried through the terms of six different prime ministers (who the kid probably couldn’t even name). So if this was a trial over who should have it, let’s just say I have a lot of ticket stubs as Exhibit A.
Board of Police Commissioners (Wednesday, 12:30pm, City Hall) — if required
Environment and Sustainability Standing Committee (Thursday, 1pm, City Hall) — if required
Women’s Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4pm) — virtual meeting, if required
Weave with Sharon Kallis (Wednesday, 1pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery) — from the listing:
Sharon Kallis’ work “Straddling an Island: West Coast and East Coast Intertwined” is an interactive installation featured in the exhibition Plant Kingdom, open until July 10. On the specified days and times during the exhibition, Sharon Kallis will be online and at her home loom in Vancouver, BC. Visitors are invited to join Sharon virtually using the Gallery’s wall-mounted iPad and weave along on the parallel loom set up in the exhibition.
In the harbour
05:30: Atlantic Sail, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
06:45: Queen Mary 2, cruise ship, with up to 2,620 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Boston, on a 16-day cruise from Hamburg, Germany to New York
08:30: ZIM Shekou, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
10:30: MSC Manzanillo, container ship, sails from anchorage for New York
10:30: Baie St.Paul, bulker, sails from Gold Bond for sea
16:30: ZIM Shekou sails for New York
18:00: Queen Mary 2 sails for New York
21:00: Asterix, replenishment vessel, sails from Dockyard for sea
21:30: Atlantic Sail sails for New York
06:15: Zaandam, cruise ship with up to 1,718 passengers, arrives at Government Wharf (Sydney) from Charlottetown, on a seven-day cruise from Montreal to Boston
16:30: Zaandam sails for Halifax
- At a dinner party with my girlfriend, we were making small talk with the hosts and they asked her about growing up in Newfoundland. Mid-conversation, she received a text from her parents’ neighbours in St. John’s with a video of a moose walking around her childhood backyard. I usually get upset about east coast stereotypes, but cases like this really hurt the cause…
- Comedian Bill Burr, in typically ruthless fashion, once asked if giving baseballs to kids is making them soft. It’s as silly as it sounds, but also highly entertaining.