1. Report in Assoun case to be released today

Tim is over at the courthouse this morning where a report from the Department of Justice will be released today, giving the public a first look at information that led to Glen Assoun’s release.

I’m  sure Tim will have more on this later today.

Glen Assoun. Photo: Halifax Examiner

2. Woman to post sticky notes with abortion resources at screening of Unplanned

Nicole Munro at The Chronicle Herald spoke with Laura Slade, who plans on sharing resources and information about abortion at the opening of the movie Unplanned at the Dartmouth Crossing Cineplex today.

Slade told Munro she’s not protesting the film or trying to shut it down, but rather wants to let women know about their options. She got sticky notes from Halifax activist Rebecca Faria. Each note includes information on resources, websites, and phone numbers. Slade says she wants women to have the information she didn’t have when she had an abortion 15 years ago.

These notes, and I have several hundred, will go just about everywhere in Cineplex Dartmouth Crossing over the next week.

Trying to stop people from entering a theatre or something like that, people aren’t going to respond to that because that’s a violation of their rights and rights is what this is all about.

Earlier this week, Cineplex released a letter detailing the reason behind its decision to screen the movie. The showing at the Dartmouth theatre is the only one in Atlantic Canada.

Unplanned is about Abby Johnson, who leaves her job as a Planned Parenthood clinic director* to become an anti-abortion activist.

3. Plan for downtown Dartmouth street ready for review

Residents will get a chance this summer and fall to have their say on planned changes to streets in downtown Dartmouth. Pam Berman at CBC Nova Scotia reports that the latest draft of the plan to realign Portland Street, Prince Albert Road and Alderney Drive is ready for public review. The plan also involves creating more trails in the area, opening up another part of Sawmill River, and creating a bridge over Dundas Street.

Sam Austin

Councillor Sam Austin says the plan is “transformational.”

If we slim up (Alderney Drive) we make room for the trail and the river, and then Dundas can cross via a bridge across the canal into Dartmouth Cove. So there’s a lot of change going on in this little two blocks of Dartmouth.

The project is estimated to cost $7 million and work could start next year.

4. Beach closed after sofa dumped in lake

A popular beach in Hatchett Lake was closed and swimming lessons for kids were suspended after a sofa was illegally dumped into the lake several days ago, reports Alexa MacLean of Global Halifax.

Residents called 311 to have the sofa removed, but Ella Fleet, a resident who uses the Campbell Point Beach with her kids, says it took days to hear back. Residents and the lifeguards eventually took the sofa out of the water. Municipal staff arrived to helped with the removal and used a metal detector to find nails and other debris on the beach.

Fleet says there is a lot of illegal dumping in the area.

It’s pretty disgusting that a lot of people just don’t care. I hope that some of these people learn in the future that this can affect their own children and how it affects other people.  It is ruining people’s fun time at the beach.

5. “Duncity” is killing the character, livability of Halifax, Jones says

Cathy Jones, from This Hour Has 22 Minutes, spoke at City Hall Thursday. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Cathy Jones of This Hour Has 22 Minutes took to the steps of City Hall Thursday to speak against some of the proposed developments in downtown Halifax, reports Francis Campbell with the Chronicle Herald.

Jones talked about a number of developments, including four towers to be built at Robie Street, Spring Garden Road, College Street, and Carlton Street, and three others that were approved by Council during a late-night session on Wednesday. She says many of the new developments are “off base” for the city, calling them “duncity” rather than density.

The city is losing all of its livability and its character and its practical community quality because of these monoliths that the city council is approving left, right and centre, going up without consulting properly the people who live here.

When all the nice neighbourhoods are destroyed, the walkability and livable quality, nobody who used to live there will be living in these buildings. I have been on TV for 30 years and I couldn’t afford to live in one of these buildings. All over this city are people looking for housing, families who want to stay downtown.

Jones was joined by a group called Development Options Halifax, which is calling for council to reconsider developments at Carlton Street. They have a petition as well.

Neither Mike Savage nor anyone from Council stepped outside to comment on the protest.


1. Taking a dip into the history of swimming in the city

Last week, I was in on a Twitter thread started by Sarah B. MacDonald, who wants to see more pools in the city.

This thread started Thursday last week and the conversation was still continuing this week. There was a pretty good discussion about access to pools in the city that covered everything from the costs of operating public pools and the current hours of the public pools. A lot of parents said they preferred splash pads because they’re safer. Someone — okay, it was me — suggested we have a splash pad for adults with alcohol (joking!). A few commentors asked for more fountains in parks. We’re allowed to swim in those?

Waye Mason pointed out there were other places to swim than pools.

19 municipal beaches +11 provincial beaches…. for a total of 33 free swimmin holes in a city of 430K.

I didn’t really think about pools in the city, but I used to take my daughter to Northcliffe in Clayton Park before it closed down and then to the Canada Games Centre. We also visited the splash pad at Westmount Elementary when she was little. When you need to cool down, pools are a big deal, and not just for kids.

I was at the Halifax Municipal Archives in Burnside this week thinking I could find some interesting old photos of summer in the city, when my phone was buzzing with notifications from this thread. With the help of archivist Susan McClure, I found some old shots of pools and beaches in the city. (Thanks, Susan!)

This pool was at the Dartmouth Common at the corner of Windmill and Park Street. (101-80C-8-1.1)
A 1960 photo of an abandoned pool owned by Herbert “Bert” Cooper. This pool was at the corner of Lady Hammond and MacIntosh. (102-39-1-174.2)
This model of proposed pools for the Central Common was created by Public Works in the 1960s. Look at the four pools! (102-39-1-695.1)
Swimming at Black Rock Beach at Point Pleasant Park in the 1970s (102-104-L-7)
Jumping from the seawall below the Dingle at Sir Sandford Fleming Park in the 1970s (102-104-L-7)
Swimmers at Northwest Arm at Horseshoe Island on Regatta Day, 1912 (102-106-1-7)
The pool and wading area at the Halifax Common (CR 6-062.2)
The pool and wading area at the Halifax Common (CR-6-062.1)
Proposed bathing house for Halifax. Photo Suzanne Rent.

This is a 1898 plan of one of two bathing houses that were proposed for construction in Halifax, one in the north end, one in the south end of the city. The archives holds a number of plans for bathing houses dated from 1870s to 1890s.  Really, the municipal archives has so many interesting bits of history on the city.

The pool at the Halifax Common is now closed for repairs. Back in May, Council approved a plan for more pools and splash pads around the city.

I guess this weekend we can all jump in a lake.


Andrew Spinney-Hutton lives in Upper Tantallon and is working to change the name of a local pond. Spinney-Hutton was reading Ijeoma Oluo’s book So You Want to Talk About Race and doing his own research on race issues in Canada when he came across a blog by Edmontonian Bashir Mohamed, which included an entry called “Canada’s racist geography and what we can do about it.”

Mohamed searched the Canadian Geographical name database and entered racial slurs and came up with a list of communities, rivers, lakes, ponds, and more, whose names included those slurs. Several of those places are in Nova Scotia, including in Shelburne County, Annapolis, and HRM. Spinney-Hutton recognized the location of one.

It turns out one is in my neighbourhood.

Coon Pond is located near Westwood Hills Subdivision in Upper Tantallon where Spinney-Hutton lives. The pond can be accessed by those living in homes on a few of the streets, including Oceanstone Drive. A few realtors, here and here, use the pond as a selling point for the homes on that street. St. Margaret’s Bay Hydro plants use water from the pond, as well as from Five Mile Lake, Big Indian Lake, Sandy Lake, Wrights Lake, Mill Lake, and overflow from Pockwock Lake (if you’ve driven Highway 103, you’ve seen the towers and plants).

It’s this one. Map from Google.

Spinney-Hutton says he talked with friends about the name and getting it changed. He says in her book, Oluo says it’s important to act on issues of race, and not just talk about them.

That’s what inspired me to do something and not wait for someone else. It’s a commonly known slur and that’s not how people refer to raccoons. There’s basically one usage for it. People shouldn’t have look at a map and be reminded of how they were thought of as less than.

He reached out to MLA Ben Jessome, who he says was very responsive and had his staff do some research on the pond and its history. That research, Spinney-Hutton says, was inconclusive on the origins of the name.

The next step, Spinney-Hutton says, is to work with the Westwood Hills Homeowners Association. He says he hopes they can work together to get the name changed. Spinney-Hutton reached out on Twitter looking for more support from his community.

Ashley Morton was in on the conversation about the name, too. He first noticed it when he was searching local maps for new camping spots for the Beaver Scouts troop he volunteers with. Like Spinney-Hutton, he expressed his concern about the name on Twitter almost a year ago, but he couldn’t find any information about the origins of the name of the pond. Morton doesn’t live in the neighbourhood, but says the name should be changed.

I would be a shitty neighbor and fellow community member if I treated racial insults to my neighbours as acceptable geographic labels.

Bruce Nunn, a spokesperson with the Department of Service Nova Scotia and Internal Services, says the province refers to the Principles and Procedures for Geographical Naming (2011) when people send off submissions for name changes in geographic features. Those guidelines are here.

Nunn says anyone looking to change a name should review those guidelines before they submit a proposal to GeoNOVA here. A new name or a name change has to have strong local support or longstanding local use (Spinney-Hutton says this is why he wants to work with the homeowners association to change the name). Any historical data, including deeds, maps, and so on, should be included with the application. If the application is approved by the Geographical Names Board of Canada, the applicant has to have a petition or plebiscite to prove community support. New names or those of a sensitive nature may need cabinet approval. All the details on the process are found here.

The petition or plebiscite has to be submitted to Council for a motion. The application has to include a letter of support from the MLA. The petition, council minutes, the letter from the MLA and any other information goes to the Geographical Names Board of Canada at GIS  where it’s reviewed by the Nova Scotia representative. A Report and Recommendation is created and may go to cabinet for approval, although the report and recommendation is not needed if the change is minor. In that case, the change is approved by the Nova Scotia representative.

Nunn says name changes are infrequent, but do happen. He sent along a few names that were changed:

  • Stump lake: Formerly approved as Bishop Lake (1956) and changed to Stump Lake (1976).
  • Fox Point: Originally approved as Doucettes Point (1976) and changed to Fox Point (1993).
  • Lochiel Lake: Two Mile Lake was adopted (1939) and changed to Lochiel Lake (1995).

Spinney-Hutton is meeting with Jessome today and says he hopes they can connect with the homeowners association in the fall to move ahead with the process of getting the name changed.

I’m hopeful. I do have my doubts about the processes and know people are resistant to change.

In his blog, Mohamed talks about the history behind some of these names, including the history of a rapids in Quebec named after a Black couple who drowned there. That name has since been rescinded. Mohamed says when we see these names, we should demand they be changed because they dehumanize the people they’re named after.

Also keep in mind that these names only include natural geographical places. They do not include things like street names, buildings, or parks. So take some time to look into your city and see what else is out there.

And if you find something, demand that the name is changed and use this new knowledge to fight against defenders of this practice. If you face difficulties just consider the Quebec example. Instead of resting in rapids named after a racial slur, they’ll be resting in a site that humanizes them and honors their name.


No public meetings.

On campus

No public events.

In the harbour

06:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 36 to Pier 41
06:00: ZIM Monaco, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
08:00: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Fairview Cove from Saint-Pierre
10:00: AIDAvita, cruise ship with up to 1,582 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Sydney, on a 14-day roundtrip cruise out of Montreal
16:30: ZIM Monaco sails for New York
18:30: AIDAvita sails for St. John’s


I’ll be in Truro next week meeting with women with disabilities who’ve experienced domestic violence as part of the Not Without Us project I’m working on with Easter Seals Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities. If you want to know more, or know anyone who’d like to attend, email me at

*As originally published, this article misstated Abby Johnson’s job.

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Suzanne Rent

Suzanne Rent is a writer, editor, and researcher. You can follow her on Twitter @Suzanne_Rent and on Mastodon

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  1. Crystal Crescent Beach in Sambro is a popular beach for folks from the urban part of HRM. IF there were a bus to Sambro and if the bus made a 3km jog done to the beach, guaranteed the bus would be viable, at least in the summers.

    Oh wait we DID have a bus to Sambro, but nobody thought to bring it to the beach!

  2. I was going to say what trc said before me and well, you only have access to all these beaches etc if you have a car. When you have to use the bus, it’s forget you, you don’t count. Shame on you Waye Mason for that comment! If we want to get away from everything centralized around car culture, more, not less has to accessible by bus.

  3. Thanks for the archival pictures.

    There are lots of nearby beaches IF you have a car. None of the ocean beaches, and few of the lake beaches, are accessible by bus. The few that are can be a challenge, due to the locations of stops, lack of crosswalks, and infrequent service. Rainbow Haven is only 3 km from a major bike trail, but that 3 km is a hazardous ride. Waye Mason’s response is tone deaf to people without cars, or who’d like a dip to cool off without driving an hour. And as Michael Bowen notes, a pool (or good splash pad) is something that helps build a neighbourhood.

    There is so much we could do to improve pools and beaches in the city, if we were willing to look at other cities. For example, Vancouver has beaches in the downtown core, as well as a huge waterfront pool. Edmonton has a large wading pool with fountains in front of city hall, which welcomes people playing in the water. Toronto and Ottawa have beaches readily accessible by bus. These are not necessarily costly approaches – how hard would it be to remove the fence from the commons fountain, or extend route 60 to Rainbow Haven during the summer? But councillors seem uninterested in making Halifax a good place to live.

  4. Coon Name Meaning
    Irish: possibly an Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Cuana (see Cooney). Americanized spelling of German Kuhn. Americanized spelling of Dutch Coen or Koen.

    Source: Dictionary of American Family Names ©2013, Oxford University Press

    Possibly a mis-spelling of the name Kuhn, a well known name in HRM.
    Knowledge of local history is a great way to avoid a wild goose chase.

    ” Similar surnames: Coons, Coan, Koon, Cool, Coone, Coen, Cook, Goon, Moon, Corn

    You can see how Coon families moved over time by selecting different census years. The Coon family name was found in the USA, the UK, Canada, and Scotland between 1840 and 1920. The most Coon families were found in the USA in 1880. In 1911 there were 247 Coon families living in Ontario. This was about 82% of all the recorded Coon’s in Canada. Ontario had the highest population of Coon families in 1911.
    Use census records and voter lists to see where families with the Coon surname lived. Within census records, you can often find information like name of household members, ages, birthplaces, residences, and occupations.
    In 1881, the most common Coon occupation in Canada was Farmer. 40% of Coon’s were Farmers. Farmer, Son and Carpenter were the top 3 reported jobs worked by Coon. A less common occupation for the Coon family was Labourer.

    1. I’m not saying the lake’s name shouldn’t be changed – but for the sake of pedantry, ‘Coon’ was only popularised as a racial slur in the English-speaking world in the 1830s.

      1. I have some sympathy for resistance to changing names because of rapidly evolving language – it’s hard to keep up with emerging slang, catchphrases, memes, etc. But surely we can all agree that a term that has been popularized as a racial slur for 189 years but is still used to refer to an insignificant pond should probably be quietly changed?

  5. I grew up fishing from and walking along Coon Pond Lake to get to Wright’s Lake, where the fishing just below that dam was really good. First, most of it is artificial, flooded land from the hydro dam. Second, we always just thought it was named after the racoons that used to wash their food at the little beach area to the left of the dam. Oh, the innocence of youth…

  6. Westwood Hills – the very definition of urban sprawl with 1 acre lots. Little Indian Lake is close to the south of Coon Lake.
    ” coon (n.)
    popular abbreviation of raccoon, 1742, American English. It was the nickname of Whig Party members in U.S. c. 1848-60, as the raccoon was the party’s symbol, and it also had associations with frontiersmen (who stereotypically wore raccoon-skin caps), which probably ultimately was the source of the Whig Party sense (the party’s 1840 campaign was built on a false image of wealthy William Henry Harrison as a rustic frontiersman).” source :

  7. One of my favourite memories as a kid was about going to the outdoor municipal pool on hot summer days. There were always other kids from my neighbourhood/school that I knew there. I’ve not really thought about it, but that kind of “neighbourhood” experience doesn’t really exist in Halifax.