News

1. COVID update

Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

This item is written by Tim Bousquet.

Yesterday, Premier Stephen McNeil and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang had a COVID-19 briefing with reporters, their first in two weeks.

A few items of interest came up. First, Strang confirmed that the province is preparing to create “regional care centres” in each health authority zone to house nursing home residents who may contract COVID-19. That hopefully won’t be necessary, but nursing home operators worry that they’ll be burdened with additional costs for providing staff and equipment. Strang had no further information, but said details would be forthcoming.

Second, Strang provided some context for the situation at Irving Shipyard that I discussed yesterday. Strang said that when a company has specialized work that can only be conducted by someone from outside the Atlantic Bubble, that person is exempted from the 14-day self-isolation requirement, but it’s not a blanket exemption: specific protocols are put in place at the workplace, and off work the person is not allowed to contact other people. Further, said Strang, the employer should inform all other workers at the workplace about the exemption, so they can take appropriate action for distancing and so forth. That clearly did not happen at Irving.

Lastly, Strang put the kibosh on any notion of extending the Atlantic Bubble to Cuba or any other Caribbean island. He said he’d been approached by three different travel agencies with the request, but that Canada Health has said there should be no non-essential travel (i.e., tourism) at this time.

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2. The Tideline: Episode 3

Hillsburn. Photo contributed.

Episode 3 of The Tideline, with Tara Thorne, is out.

What happens when you make a new record, then the guy who founded the band decides to leave? Hillsburn knows — Rosanna and Clare stop by to tell Tara all about it, spin their brand-new single, and let folks know what to expect from this week’s run of sellouts at the Carleton, their first shows in a long time. Plus: A Halloween lament.

The Tideline is advertising-free and subscriber-supported. It’s also a very good deal at just $5 a month. Click here to support The Tideline.

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3. Recount for District 11

Patty Cuttell, left, won the council race in District 11, defeating Bruce Holland, right, by just 28 votes.

On Monday, there’ll be a judicial recount of the votes in District 11 to declare the official winner of the council seat. As Zane Woodford reports, Patty Cuttell won the race for Spryfield-Sambro Loop-Prospect Road, beating Bruce Holland by only 28 votes. Holland asked for a recount, saying he owed it to his supporters and campaign team.

In a press release, Cuttell says her team asked for a copy of the submission so they could understand the reason for the ask of the recount. She says they haven’t received that yet.

Monday’s recount means Cuttell won’t be sworn in with her colleagues during a ceremony at the Halifax Convention Centre tonight.

Click here to read Woodford’s complete story.

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4. One month, $8.7 million, and a plan for affordable housing in HRM

Mayor Mike Savage speaks at his re-election campaign launch at Africville Park in Halifax on Tuesday. Photo: Zane Woodford

If you had $8.7 million and 30 days, how would you spend it on affordable housing in the city? That’s what the HRM has to do after getting $8.7 million and a one-month timeline from the federal Rapid Housing Initiative. Zane Woodford reports on the initiative and talks with Mayor Mike Savage, who says “the challenge with this fund is also the opportunity.”

It’s rapid, which is that the money is going to flow very quickly, and it has to go to projects that are up and running very quickly.

The HRM was one of 15 municipalities chosen and the amounts each municipality received was based “on metrics including the levels of renters in severe housing need and of people experiencing homelessness.”

According to spokesperson Erin Dicarlo, the municipality has to create a investment plan detailing the capital projects and submit that to CMHC by November 27. CMHC is running the program.

Once the plan is approved, the municipality has a year to spend the money.

Discussions on how the money will be spent have already started. Woodford talks with Jim Graham, executive director of the Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia, who said last week they met with municipal and provincial governments, CMHC, nonprofits and private developers. Says Graham:

Sitting down and working through the possibilities and the strengths and weaknesses of all those possibilities is something we’re going to have to do and something we have to do together. This can’t just be the city and it just can’t be a nonprofit and it just can’t be the province. I mean, we really, truly need to figure out how to work together to make this work.

Click here to read Woodford’s complete story.

There’s lots of news on the lack of affordable housing in this edition of Morning File…

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5. Tenants in north Dartmouth buildings get eviction notices

254 Victoria Rd. Photo: Google Maps

Taryn Grant at CBC talks with tenants at two buildings at 252 and 254 Victoria Rd. in Dartmouth who were told they have to leave their apartments by the end of December. The new owner, Central East Developments, is starting renovations on the buildings on Dec. 1.

One tenant, Cathy Young, tells Grant she’s looked at other apartments, but the rents are much higher than the $550 she pays now. So, she’ll be staying with her sister until the spring and will start looking for a place then.

Grant talks with Darcy Gillis, who’s with the non-profit Welcoming Housing, which has helped tenants in this building and others in Dartmouth find new places to live.

They weren’t kept in the best condition. Unfortunately, they do need to be repaired. But they were 32 homes for individuals who are now scrambling to find something during the holiday season.

Gillis tells Grant he and his colleagues are worried many tenants forced out because of evictions and increasing rents may end up on the streets and they are “quite fearful that people are going to die on the street due to exposure (this winter), whether it’s the weather or the pandemic.”

Central East Development co-owner, Adam Barrett, didn’t respond to Grant’s request for an interview, but as she reports, Barrett evicted tenants from another building this past spring and others from a building in Fairview last year.

On Twitter, Tim Bousquet talks about the connection between 252 Victoria Rd. and Brenda Way. 

David Way, Brenda’s father, lived in 252 Victoria Rd., which is located about 50 metres from where Brenda was killed. As Bousquet says, the footpath between the apartment building on Victoria Road and the building near where Brenda’s body was found played an important role in the Dead Wrong series.

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6. Fairview tenant gets rent increase of 90%

A letter Grace Fogarty got from her landlord, GNF Investments, telling her the rent at her apartment at 3670 Dutch Village Rd. was increasing by $650 starting April 1, 2021.

Heidi Petracek with CTV Atlantic talks with Grace Fogarty, who was told this week her rent would increase by $650 a month starting April 1, 2021. Fogarty lives at 3670 Dutch Village Rd. in Fairview.

“It’s simply a matter of greed,” Fogarty tells Petracek.

Fogarty works not far from where she lives and when Ryan MacLean, one of her customers, heard about her situation, he shared the letter about the rent increase on social media. MacLean says he’s since heard more stories about people whose rents were increasing.

The landlord at 3670 Dutch Village Rd. is Navid Saberi with GNF Investments, who tells Petracek that Fogarty was offered another unit in the building or a subsidized unit in another location. But Fogarty says she can’t afford moving expenses and the rent increase will mean she has to choose between paying rent or getting food or her heart medication. “Rent control needs to be in place,” Fogarty says.

I live in this area and the neighbourhood is changing quite a bit, including the rents. The building at 3670 Dutch Village Rd. is close to a newer development with the obnoxious name The Boss Plaza on Supreme Court. The Boss is owned by United Gulf Developments, whose president is Navid Saberi. I often see ads for apartments here and the rent is quite steep. Here are a few from Kijiji:

A studio apartment sublet for $1285.

A one-bedroom for $1495.

A two-bedroom/two-bath for $1730.

So much for Fairview being an affordable neighbourhood for working people and families.

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Views

1. COVID & Us: Immigrant women share pandemic stories

Marwa Kuri of Halifax was one of several immigrant women who shared their pandemic stories through The Shoe Project. Kuri recorded an essay she wrote about how COVID-19 helped her discover her inner baker.

Marwa Kuri and Victoria Shulga are two immigrant women now living in Halifax who had a chance to share their pandemic stories through a project called COVID & Us. Kuri and Shulga both connected with the organizers through The Shoe Project, which was started in Toronto in 2011 by novelist Katherine Govier, who, in a small-world connection, was my magazine professor at Ryerson in 2000. That project has immigrant woman share their immigration stories through a particular story about a pair of their shoes. Women from across the country take part. Since then, more than 250 women have shared stories, some of them at live events, including at Pier 21 in Halifax. But the pandemic put an end to that idea. Still, Kuri and Shulga and many others had stories to share. So, Shulga, along with two other organizers in Halifax, found immigrant women in the city who wanted to write stories. Then they recorded them at a local studio. Those stories are now all online (click here to listen to all of them).

Marwa Kuri is Palestinian and arrived in Halifax just over two years ago with her husband and two children. She heard about the COVID & Us project through a friend and former colleague back home who took part in The Shoe Project a year ago. She suggested Kuri contribute to the COVID and Us project. In her story, Kuri talks about how the pandemic brought out her inner baker (click here to read/listen to Kuri’s story).

Kuri is an avid reader and says the novel Blindness by José de Sousa Saramago inspired her.

“When COVID happened, this book kept running in my mind, when everyone went blind and the chaos happened,” Kuri says. “I was scared and when I thought about food and how to deal with this pandemic, bread was the first thing that came to mind.”

A lot of people baked during the pandemic lockdowns, but Kuri hadn’t baked before COVID-19. But with the lockdowns, she found herself with time to bake.

“I used to be a very busy woman,” Kuri says. “I used to work in many places back home and here. It was the first time I stayed home.”

Kuri called her mother for advice on how to start making bread. “I discovered that I really love it and it brought life to home. The kids say the smell is amazing. It reminds me of my grandma’s home.”

Over the months baking at home, Kuri experimented with her bread, mixing flours, and creating new recipes. Her favourite recipe is one that includes coconut flour.

“Bread is very special. I can’t live without bread,” Kuri says. “I went back to work, but I still find the time for baking.”

But for Kuri, her story was about more than her new baking skills.

“It was important that people hear the voices of immigrant women as well,” Kuri says. “To know the situation is hard, but for immigrant women it can be harder to be so far away from family, from your mother. I miss mostly my mother, to not to be able to visit her. To do everything by yourself without the support of family is so very hard. Immigrant women are capable, they’re strong. They go through a lot of challenges being here without support, especially the emotional ones.”

Victoria Shulga shared a story about living in the pandemic for the COVID & Us project, which was organized by The Shoe Project.

This was Shulga’s second time sharing a story. She shared one for The Shoe Project before and worked as one of the coordinators with the COVID & Us project. Shulga says she is usually a very positive person, but the pandemic and lockdowns brought on some painful and uncomfortable feelings. She and her husband and three children had to stay home. They even cancelled a trip to visit family in Russia. Her story is about how the pandemic changed her usually positive outlook. (click her to read/listen to Shulga’s story).

“I felt anxious and trapped,” she says. “First of all, I couldn’t believe this was happening. It’s the 21st century. How can it be? I couldn’t manage my emotions and feelings.”

She says telling her story was helpful because it gave her a chance to share her emotions. “It’s like therapy. You understand you’re not alone. There are people around you feeling the same way.”

A few months later, she says she’s learned to manage her emotions and says she feels lucky. She says in the Russian city where her family lives, the situation with COVID-19 is quite serious.

“We need to share the feelings,” she says. “When you hide all the emotions inside, it’s really destructive for yourself. It makes you feel mad. When you share, it’ll get easier. For me personally, when I started thinking about other people in the world, they are in worse situations. It’s so much worse for them. I can’t complain really.”

Marcela Cameron is one of the Halifax coordinators of the COVID & Us project. She shared her own story via The Shoe Project back in 2017.

Marcela Cameron was another coordinator on the COVID & Us project in Halifax. She’s a lawyer from Venezula and moved here 21 years ago. She got involved in The Shoe Project in 2017 and took part in a workshop where she wrote her own story about her shoes, her “lawyer shoes,” a pair of black pointy high heels.

“I think everyone has a story about shoes,” Cameron says. “I remember when I was doing it, I was talking with all my friends who are from everywhere and everyone had a pair of shoes in their mind. There’s always a story behind what those shoes brought to their lives.”

Cameron read and listened to all 20 of the COVID & Us stories from Halifax (there are also stories from immigrant women in Vancouver, and the stories from women in Calgary will be online Nov. 17). “I got so much from everybody,” she says. “There were some simple situations, but they have a lot of insights. Even though it was not in person, we weren’t meeting, there was an amazing connection. To be able to have your voice recorded and with your accent and the way you say the things, not just for us to do it, but for people to hear, it gives colour to our voice.”

Besides writing their stories in a 200-word essay, Shulga and Kuri also took training with vocal coach Samantha Wilson and then recorded their stories with the help of Halifax-based singer-songwriter Ian Sherwood at his recording studio. Sherwood edited all the recordings and performed the background music, too.

Kuri says she was nervous when she was recording her story, but her son was in the studio with her to help calm her nerves. “He wasn’t moving but I was looking at him and getting all the confidence I needed,” Kuri says.

They both say they listened to the other women’s stories, too, all of which are on The Shoe Project website.

“It’s not just to read the stories,” Shulga says. “The voices touch your heart harder.”

Shulga and Kuri still keep in touch with the women who took part in the COVID & Us project and both says the project is not just about their own stories.

“It’s a way to find my own voice and share my own story and to feel connections with other women, and women immigrants, and to support each other,” Shulga says. “I want to be supportive of the other women.”

Kuri continues.

“For me, I had an opportunity to know these amazing women and hear their stories. I’m so proud to be part of it and to discover how strong we are and how supportive we are for each other. It’s a beautiful community. It taught me something beautiful could come from this experience.”

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Noticed

Like postings for terrible jobs in Nova Scotia, there’s also a plethora of postings for terrible apartments with landlords asking for outrageous rent. I saw this ad on social media a few weeks ago and there was a lot of criticism around it, so eventually the posting was taken down. But I see the landlord is sharing it again. Let’s check it out.

A one-bedroom (with two beds!) basement apartment in Lakeside for $1080/month.

The living room where the sofa blocks off access to the upstairs. Do you get visits from the landlord?

The kitchen where your wet dishes dry next to the stove and just above an electrical outlet. Where’s the fridge?

The bedrooms with two beds. So far, this is the only window I’ve seen in this place. When I first saw this ad a few weeks ago, it was advertised as a two-bedroom apartment, but as you can see there’s no partition between the two bedrooms.

Ahhh, here’s the fridge! It’s in the “utlity room” with the washer and dryer. But you can’t open the fridge the same time you open the dryer. Limited utility here.

The dining room, I guess. Is that a TV on the floor?

The bathroom seems like the only normal room in the place. I still only see one window in the entire apartment, though.

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Government

City

Thursday

Halifax Regional Council Swearing in Ceremony (Thursday, 6pm, Halifax Convention Centre) — by invitation only; live webcast available. More info here.

Province

No meetings.

On campus

Dalhousie

Thursday

Primary Health Care Research Day Virtual Poster Session (Thursday, 9am) — open to anyone with an interest in primary health care research. Advance registration required; info here.

Reclaiming Power and Place Virtual Read (Thursday, 10:30am) — a group reading of Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report on the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (2019). More info here.

Changes in vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) amount in Cystic Fibrosis (Thursday, 11am) — Anna Semaniakou will talk. Info and link here.

Habitat (Thursday, 12pm) — Matthijs Bouw  from the University of Pennsylvania and Han Meyer from TUDelft will talk. More info here.

Indigenous Dance: Movement in History and Today (Thursday, 12pm) — with Sophie Pheasant, academic, artist, community engagement specialist and Shiibaashka’igan (Jingle Dress) knowledge keeper. More info here.

Arithmetic Sphere Packings (Thursday, 2:30pm) — Alex Kontorovich from Rutgers University will

describe a broad class of sphere packings generalizing the classical Apollonian circle packing, and classify those which, like the Apollonian packing, support special arithmetic structures. No prior knowledge of these topics is assumed.

More info here.

Speak Truth to Power: Living the Peace & Friendship Treaty through Netukulimk (Thursday, 6pm) — This year, Mi’kmaw history month comes amid the Sipekne’katik First Nation issue around their right to fish for lobster under the 1752 Peace & Friendship Treaty. This Zoom forum’s aim is to

provide an avenue for critical analyses and evidence-based discussions so that we can all learn, grow and take positive actions as a collective of different peoples and cultures. Panel members will include representation from Dalhousie University and the Mi’kmaw community.

More info and links here.

The Impact of the COVID19 Pandemic on Addictive Behaviors and Addictions Services: A Public Conversation (Thursday, 6:30pm) — this virtual panel will answer questions such as

What are the complexities of the relationship between stress and substance use disorders?; Did alcohol or cannabis use increase during the pandemic and who was most susceptible?; How were behavioral addictions like problem gambling impacted during COVID-19?; How has addictions care had to adapt in response to the pandemic?

Panelists include Kathleen Brady from Medical University of South Carolina; Simon Sherry, Igor Yakovenko, and Selene Etches from Dalhousie University; moderated by Dalhousie’s Sherry Stewart.

Info and registration here.

Friday

Maritime and Territorial landscapes of New France (Friday, 3:30pm) — Helen Dewar from Université de Montréal will talk. Contact this person for the link and paper.

Christine Rutledge. Photo via music.iowa.edu

Bach and Historically Informed Performance Practice Strings Masterclass (Friday, 4:30pm) — with Christine Rutledge, Professor of Viola at the University of Iowa. More info and link here.

King’s

Thursday

The Golem (Thursday, 7:30pm) — live-stream performance with musical accompaniment of the 1920 German expressionist film. More info here.


In the harbour

08:00: Algoma Verity, bulker, arrives at National Gypsum from Norfolk
08:30: John J. Carrick, barge, with tug Leo A. McArthur, arrives at MacAsphalt from Montreal
11:00: Tampa Trader, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from New York
12:00: Glovertown Spirit, barge, with tug Lois M, arrives at Cherubini dock from Sydney
16:30: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 36 to Autoport
16:30: Atlantic Sail, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
22:30: Oceanex Sanderling moves to Pier 41
22:30: Tampa Trader sails for Kingston, Jamaica


Footnotes

I’ll end this Morning File with a question on one of the most divisive topics that comes up every Halloween. These Halloween kisses. Do you love ’em or hate ’em? (I love them).

Please subscribe, or drop us a donation. Thanks!

Suzanne Rent

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

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9 Comments

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  1. And beautiful Fairview! Sad to hear this area is getting sucker punched with beyond the pale rent increases. Want to keep a community great, productive and safe? RESPECT IT!! And PROTECT IT!

  2. Regarding this pandemic, The Shoe Project’s Victoria Shulga explains that others in the world are in such worse situations. So much worse she can’t complain about not flying home to visit her Mother. Cranks whining about wearing masks have no idea how lucky they are

  3. The costs of maintaining a rental property should be included in the rent. It should not be the tenants’ burden if the landlord has used past rental income to build their portfolio rather than maintain their building. But with no controls on rent increases or evictions, landlords can do as they like. The city claims the matter is out of their hands, but they could enforce building standards to prevent existing buildings from becoming run down. They could also do much more to demand affordable housing in new units, and could stop allowing new developments that artificially raise property values and drive out both residential and commercial tenants. However, the city repeatedly shows it is much more concerned about developers than residents.

    I’ve lived in my share of funky basement apartments. The one pictured does not look so bad. That doesn’t mean we should accept these, but they are more common than most folks would like to admit.

  4. How many shitty used cars now sit where some affordable housing once was on Robie Street and North? How many affordable units are being constructed on the corner of Robie and Cunard? None of course. The market rules and city council has been wholly behind that egregious trope.

    With any luck the new council will understand the seriousness of the situation and ditch neo-liberalism. Business is important but no less than every other facet of an enlightened society.

    Halloween kisses ARE Halloween

  5. re- affordable housing-ideas abound
    Vancouver has recently adopted legislation against renovictions to protect renters from being evicted due to renovations.This also helps slow inflation caused by speculative investments and money laundering. see more here: https://thetyee.ca/Analysis/2020/10/29/Vancouver-Inching-Renoviction-Ban/?utm_source=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=291020

    Toronto has a requirement that for buildings with a certain number of units a developer who demolishes it must replace those units at the same market price in the new building.

    Montreal has a requirement that every new building have 20% social, 20% affordable and 20% family housing.

    HRM’s denial of any ability to create affordable housing seems to be a trope…
    1. Shawn Cleary convinced council to approve the 5-storey increase in George Armoyan’s now 25 story willow tree project in exchange for 10 affordable housing units for 15 years. That was later bought out with $1.8 million. This was through a development agreement process.

    2. Not that long ago Tim wrote about a development on the Bedford Highway where all (?) or the majority (?) of units will be affordable. This was also negotiated by HRM through a development agreement application.

    3. Cumulatively HRM has given away millions of dollars in development rights that has and will continue to incentivize the demolition of hundreds to thousands of affordable units. This also true of the Centre Plan.

  6. Love Hallowe’en kisses!Already got one bag & planning on getting at least one more after Nov 1st. I keep mine in the freezer – that way chewing one is enough to satisfy a craving and they last (almost) all the way to the next Hallowe’en. ????

  7. Candy kisses to me are not the same as they used to be. They seem much softer. I used to love them. Now not so much.