1. Mass Casualty Commission: Hunter Road

A roadside memorial with flowers, flags, and signs.
A memorial for Alanna Jenkins, Sean McLeod, and Tom Bagley on Hunter Road. Photo: Joan Baxter.

Tim Bousquet had this story about the residents of Hunter Road, a country road north of Wentworth that winds its way alongside the Wallace River. Sean McLeod and Alana Jenkins lived on Hunter Road. McLeod and Jenkins were two of the 22 people shot by the killer GW.

In this article, Bousquet reports on what happened the next day as the residents on Hunter Road learned what happened in Portapique the night before and how they learned their neighbourhood was the next target. Carlyle and Cindy Brown had hosted a small get-together at their cottage on the night of Saturday, April 18. Jenkins and McLeod were friends and guests of the Browns. Bousquet writes about what the Browns did the next day:

Carlyle and Cindy Brown were still in bed when they too heard a single rifle shot followed by a yelp. Carlyle told Cindy that their neighbour Sean McLeod had probably shot a coyote. The Browns shared a driveway with Jenkins and McLeod, and the two houses are about 175 metres apart, separated by thick woods.

Carlyle Brown got out of bed, started the fire, put the coffee pot on. “Within an hour,” he heard two more shots. He guessed that Sean was chasing a bear away.

Cindy Brown got out of bed around 8:30 or 8:45am, and the two were drinking coffee when they saw smoke coming from their neighbours’ property, “so I thought Sean must be burning something,” said Carlyle. Another 10 or 15 minutes passed, “everything turned dark… I looked at my wife and I said… ‘there’s too much smoke.’ So I put my boots on and my coat, still in my pyjamas, uh pyjama pants, and I just got off the patio and then I hear another shot.”

It was then around 9:30, Carlyle guessed.

“There was something wrong,” he said. “Because there was just too much smoke, gunfire. I had watched the news all morning, and said, ‘oh, you know, this guy is here.’ And just then, we received a telephone call from our neighbours — ‘get off the road!’”

Brown packed his wife and their dog into their vehicle and left their property. But rather than go directly to Hunter Road, they turned where their shared driveway forked off to the Jenkins/McLeod house.

“The whole side of the house was engulfed,” said Brown. “The flames were easily 20 feet high… I just looked at the wife and said, ‘there’s nothing we can do, we got to get out of here.’”

They turned around and headed to Hunter Road, and just then heard a loud explosion. Along Hunter Road they ran into other people coming to investigate the fire and explosion, and they told them to flee.

Click here to read the full story. 

Bousquet is at the Commission again today where there will be testimony about the events in Glenholme, and then the murders of Kristen Beaton and Heather O’Brien on Plains Road. Bousquet will be live tweeting. You can follow him here. 

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2. Budget reaction: mental health needs unmet

a smiling blonde woman and a smiling white man with a dark beard.

Karn Nichols, executive director of the Canadian Mental Health Association of Nova Scotia, and Alec Stratford, executive director/registrar of the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers, had this op-ed about the budget.  Nichols and Stratford write:

Last year, Tim Houston campaigned and won the provincial election in part due to his plan to create universal mental health care and his pledge for $102 million more in mental health and addictions spending.

On March 16 the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers and the Canadian Mental Health Association held two community forums about mental health advocacy and the social determinants of health. At one of them, we heard from Dr. Sam Hickcox, the chief officer of the Office of Addictions and Mental Health; his vision for supporting the mental health and well-being of Nova Scotians left many of us, feeling hopeful.

Witnessing the budget drop on March 29, it appears that the premier will not be honouring his commitment to Nova Scotians this year. At best, Dr. Hickcox’s vision will remain deferred. And the longer we wait, the more the social deficit of unmet needs will grow.

Click here to read the full story.

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3. COVID in the house

The front of Province House in June 2021. In the front is a very clean sidewalk and wrought iron fence; in the background, rising high above the roofline, are more modern buildings.
Province House in June 2021. — Photo: Zane Woodford

Jean Laroche at CBC has this story on how another case of COVID-19 — the fifth among MLAs — sparked debate on how proceedings should continue. As Laroche reports, the PCs want an immediate change to allow some members to take part virtually. The opposition, however, want to pause debate to allow for a smooth transition. Laroche writes:

But rather than do that, the government pushed ahead with debate on the budget as planned on Wednesday night, setting extra-long hours for Thursday to ensure the line-by-line examination of the budget could continue uninterrupted.

“We’re in a pandemic and you’ve got to be willing to roll with it,” Premier Tim Houston told reporters Wednesday afternoon. “Very strongly in favour of a hybrid session to make sure that every voice, every Nova Scotian has a chance to be heard through their MLA.”

PC House leader Kim Masland echoed that sentiment and suggested going virtual could happen within a day.

“We’re not reinventing the wheel here,” said Masland. “We’ve done this before.”

NDP House leader Claudia Chender wanted to pause debate, saying, “Because we won’t do things on their timeline, because we take seriously our responsibilities to our caucus, our constituents, the speaker and this assembly, they keep us here longer, as cases are rising,” said Chender. “They would rather flex (their) ability to control their agenda than work productively across parties to determine how to go forward in this session.”

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4. The Tideline, Episode 73: Jah’Mila

A young Black woman wearing sunglasses and a pale orange t-shirt

This Friday and Saturday, Halifax reggae queen will perform the works of her hero Nina Simone with Symphony Nova Scotia — a progression across the past few years of one-off SNS appearances into her own headlining show. Jah’Mila stopped by The Tideline this week to talk with Tara Thorne about growing up in Jamaica, how she became part of the Halifax scene, the way the pandemic has pushed her to look at her music career, and what she’ll be wearing on stage at the Cohn.

Listen to the episode here.

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Community Facebook groups: these are the people in your neighbourhood

A cartoon image of a character from the Simpsons with a raised fist with a headline that says "Old Man Yells at Cloud"

Last week on my community Facebook group, someone in the neighbourhood shared a post complaining about another neighbour whose kids and dogs are too noisy, and their music is too loud and played far too often. The allegedly noisy neighbour in question responded. Here’s part of the post, with names blurred out.

This wasn’t the end of the discussion, of course. There were dozens of comments to the post, most of them in support of the family, telling the original poster to stop being a whiner. The parent shared photos of the children and dog in question. A few people told the original poster to call the cops or 311. A couple of commenters shared that both neighbours need to meet in person, talk it out, and learn mutual respect. But far more commenters offered to bring their own children and dogs over to the family’s house for a rip-roaring party. So much for that mutual respect.

This carried on throughout the day until the group’s administrator deleted the entire thread because, you know, junior high wanted its drama back.

If you want to get to know your neighbours, forget about those old-fashioned ways of gossiping over the fence or hosting a street party. Simply go to your community Facebook page to find out how people really feel. Unlike social media groups dedicated to hobbies, interests, or career paths, in which members all share something very specific in common, the members of community Facebook groups only share one thing in common: where they live. You’re bound to get a huge diversity in opinions, and many people are willing to share their thoughts in these groups.

To be fair, most groups are useful and filled with posts about local businesses, events, lost pets, and photos of sunrises and sunsets from local perspectives. But then sometimes the worst of your neighbours come out to play in these groups. And it seems community social media groups everywhere have the same issue.

I shared the above post with the Examiner team and Tim Bousquet told me about Best of Next Door, the Twitter account and blog where people submit the “best” — meaning the worst — posts they read in their own online community groups. This account is a hoot to read, and some of these posts I could have found in groups in Halifax. These really are the people in all of our neighbourhoods.

There’s this guy who was suspicious and angry someone left a sandwich on his truck. That sandwich does look suspicious.

A social media post in which a man says who left this on my truck. This is not funny. I called the cops. this is a violation of privacy and the First Amendment. If I ever see another sandwich on my property again I will call the police.
Man doesn’t like sandwiches place on his truck. Photo: Best of Next Door

And there’s more suspicious behaviour, again involving a truck.

Then there are the suspicious animals. In this case, it’s possums. Janice does not like possums.

And another animal post. Tiffany the cat is not feline combative.

Obscene drawings in the snow? Honestly, this just sounds like a good time. Plus, snow melts, right? Then you can draw obscenities in the spring mud.

An online post that says "Urgent alert: Two people drew obscene images and expletive words in my snow. I can tell if was two people from the footprint."

From Tinder to your community: A warning from the mom of a freeloader.

I wouldn’t trust the answers to this from anyone in any community Facebook group.

An online post that asks, "Hey out of curiosity, does anyone know when COVID ends?

And then there are the complaints about fireworks. Evergreen community Facebook group content!

A social media post that says "Trending: Fireworks. STOP!!!!!!"

And I am pretty sure these randos live in my neighbourhood.

An online post with the question "Was that fireworks or gunshots that just went off? Someone responded and said, "I was shooting at my fireworks."

If you want to know who the diplomats are in your community, look no further than the administrators and moderators of your community Facebook group. I am sure they create these groups with the best intentions, just trying to share some community news, events, and nice little stories. No one signs up to moderate anyone’s drama. Who has the time? Many groups have rules asking that members don’t bully, harass, and keep the conversations pleasant and civil. I won’t share the group name here, but another local neighbourhood group recently reshared its rules after members were posting pro-trucker convoy posts, which were deleted after the threads got out of hand.

Unfortunately, community Facebook groups will bring out the worst in your neighbourhood. I follow another Facebook group for a community I like to visit. There was one fellow who was always posting jokes, none of which had anything to do with the community. Those jokes and memes kept getting worse. One day he shared an incredibly misogynistic meme and several women, including myself, complained. He was blocked from the group for good.

Three days after the post about the noisy family, someone else in my local community group shared a meme about “kids these days” and how society has lowered its expectations of them, how there’s no discipline, and we all just accept disrespect from children, who need boundaries, rules, and limits. For a couple of days, commenters enthusiastically agreed with the poster’s meme, responding with “Totally agree!!” or “Very true!” or “perfectly said!”

Some of those in agreement were the same people planning on bringing their dogs and kids to the big ol’ party to annoy the neighbour who asked for peace and quiet in the now-deleted post from earlier that week. Someone else wrote this in all caps: “IF TRADEAU HAS HIS WAY, PARENTS WILL HAVE NO SAY IN YOUR CHILDREN AT ALL. STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHTS AND MAKE SURE CRT IS NOT TAUGHT OR PREACHED TO YOUR KIDS.”

Finally, two commenters jumped in with thoughtful responses that said kids are the same as they’ve always been, and maybe even more accepting of differences than kids of generations before them. Another poster said there were entitled, spoiled people with no boundaries in our own neighbourhood in the 60s and 70s. Fortunately for Facebook community groups — and our neighbourhoods — there are some reasonable members out there.

But this is not a Facebook phenomenon. These people have always lived in our communities. Now they just have another platform where they can share their rage, complaints, and gossip. And someone shared a video for the song I Don’t Look Good Naked Anymore by Snake Oil Willie Band.

Oh, adults these days.

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The round apartment building on Willett and Dunbrack is coming down. You can watch a video of the demolition here. 

A round red brick apartment building being demolished
Screenshot from video taken by Rick Wilson, posted on facebook.

It will be replaced with this building that will have two 17-story towers with a total of between 500-540 rental units.

A rendering of two 17-story towers with a total of between 500-540 rental units

Meanwhile. The Coast shared this Facebook post about the eight century wooden homes being torn down Robie Street between Bliss and Binney Streets. The post says:

Most of the demolished flats were rented by university students but they should have their housing needs absorbed by the in-construction development around the corner on Seymour Street, slated to be open by August. But in the meantime the block, including mature trees with a big canopy, are coming down creating another maw in the downtown. It’s another example of the change happening in the city with the extermination of the classic Halifax over-under rental flat—just feels shitty to lose another row of the old Halifax aesthetic.

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No meetings

On campus



The Crucible (Thursday, 7:30pm, Dunn theatre, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — directed by Nigel Shawn Williams; masks required, $10/$15, info here

Charlotte Mendel (Thursday, 5pm, Room 219, MacRae Library, Agricultural Campus, Truro) — the author reads from her YA novel Reversing Time

Inclusive Social Work Thrives Within and Beyond COVID-19 (Thursday, 5:30pm) — virtual panel discussion with CART transcription; featuring social work students Jenn Horne and Sammy Koladich, Dalhousie University; Adam Farhat, Carleton University; moderated by Nadia Haleeb, Dalhousie University

Engineering for Health in a Pandemic (Thursday, 7pm) — virtual event; the Dalhousie Women in Engineering (WIE) Society is hosting their third “Women of Today” Panel Event series, which will focus on how the pandemic has changed the profession of engineering and how it will impact the lives of engineering students and professionals. Guest speakers: Amina Stoddart, Dalhousie’s Department of Civil and Resource Engineering; Jade Farr, Dalhousie Electrical Engineering student; Tyra Obadan, high school student

Urban Forestry and Wood Waste in HRM (Thursday, 7pm, Potter Auditorium, Rowe Building) — also via Zoom; A team of six interdisciplinary ESS students (Justin Andrews, Breanne Johnson, Jessica Pawlovich, Erica Porato, Jack Quirion, and Samantha Sandu) worked with Kim Thompson and Charles Williams of The Deanery Project to conduct an assessment of urban forestry and wood waste in HRM. This lecture summarizes their findings, and will include a panel discussion with Christopher Googoo, Linda Pannozzo, James Steenburg, and Charles Williams. More info here.


The Crucible (Friday, 7:30pm, Dunn theatre, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — also Saturday, April 2, at 2pm; directed by Nigel Shawn Williams; masks required, $10/$15, info here

Double Date: A Reading Series of Writing Couples (Friday, 7pm, Room 101, Rowe Building) — featuring Truth Is… and Beth Anne Ellipsis, spoken word artists visiting from Guelph, Ontario

Saint Mary’s

The Neurobiology of Trauma & Supporting Survivors (Thursday, 1pm) — Zoom workshop hosted by Dee Dooley

Startups – How to, and too-honest answers with Jonny White (Thursday, 6pm) — online event

The Triune Summit: Speaking their Truths (Thursday, 6pm, McNally Auditorium) — also online; three African-Nova Scotian trailblazers will read from their memoirs, share their experiences, and speak to their journeys, followed by a Q&A; with George Elliot Clarke, Mayanne Francis, and Donald H. Oliver

In the harbour


Steve Lawrence at CBC took this drone footage of the lineup at the Larry Uteck exits off Highway 102 to the new Popeyes that opened yesterday. I drove past this yesterday just before 5pm and figured there was an accident or stalled car in one of the many roundabouts.

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

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  1. One of my favourite local group moments was someone saying racist things, then suggesting the person whose post they were commenting on should move away, then saying they were just being nice.

  2. The Royal Institute of British Architects has a campaign to stop all demolitions because it is fuelling the climate crisis,
    The Centre Plan is fuelling the affordable housing crisis by up-zoning in two ways.
    1. incentivizing demolitions rather than in-fills, add-ons, distributed density etc that builds on what is already there (ie check out the coast’s comments from a local who refute’s Waye Mason’s notion that these were student housing. There were many long term residents living in the multi unit buildings- they were bullied by the developer and then told he was moving his family in.) HRM has permitted and promoted the demolition of thousands of affordable units that will never be replaced.
    2. Promoting high-rises that have proportionately many more GHGs associated with the building materials and products because of structural necessity (steel, aluminum, cement, glass) These do not achieve higher density than high-density low rise and are notably unable to be energy efficient for heating lighting or cooling, despite hype/various certifications. They inflate local land values, property tax, rents.
    We’ve taken a serious wrong turn in buying into the desires of private developer’s and their commodification of housing rather than developing planning policies that work for society.

  3. If he had foreseen how nasty neighbourhood Facebook groups would be, Al Gore wouldn’t have invented the internet.