On campus
In the harbour


1. Exporting garbage

Halifax council voted 7-6 last night to allow garbage from businesses and apartments to be sent to dumps outside of HRM. This reverses a long held policy of keeping waste in the municipality. I explained the issue in detail here (behind the Examiner pay wall). Council, however, unanimously rejected an increase in tipping fees at the Otter Lake dump, which was part of the overall waste management proposal. So, tipping fees at Otter Lake will remain at $120/tonne, but that’s still far more than the $76/tonne at the Kaizer Meadow dump in Chester, more than justifying the increased fuel and labour costs for most haulers.

Several councillors — Mayor Mike Savage, Gloria McCluskey, Waye Mason, and Linda Mosher — were sick yesterday, so I suspect this isn’t the end of the issue. In light of the close vote, I think it likely that one of the missing councillors will soon table a motion of reconsideration.

2. Crappy shuttle during bridge closure

The shuttle bus for pedestrians and bicyclists during bridge closures will drop them at the sewage plant. Photo: Google street view
The shuttle bus for pedestrians and bicyclists during bridge closures will drop them at the sewage plant. Photo: Google street view

At a meeting last night in Dartmouth, the bridge commission released new details of its plans for bridge closures during reconstruction of the Macdonald Bridge, reports Metro. The project requires the removal of the pedestrian and bicycle lanes in June:

Compensation for cyclists and pedestrians will come in the form of a 24-hour shuttle service that will be offered until that section of bridge reopens, explained the bridge commission’s Alison MacDonald.

She said three 17-seater buses equipped with bike trailers that can hold between 12 to 14 bikes, will offer service between 30 Faulkner St. in Dartmouth to a tentative location of a wastewater treatment facility in north-end Halifax.

Understand what’s going on here. Any reasonable person designing a shuttle for pedestrians and bicyclists would simply pay Halifax Transit to run a bus from the Bridge Terminal in Dartmouth to the bus turning lane at the west end of the bridge. For the opposite direction, the bus would run from the bus stop on the south side of North Street back to the Bridge Terminal. At nights, when the bridge is closed completely, both Halifax stops would be at the south side of North Street, with the bus then looping under the bridge and making its way around via the MacKay Bridge. That solution would present the least hassle for commuters: they’d get on and off the bus at the closest points to the bridge, and continue their journeys as they otherwise would, as when the bridge is open.

But instead commuters will be picked up at the abandoned Bridge liquor store in an otherwise empty field, and then dropped off at the sewage treatment plant at the bottom of the hill in Halifax, close to nothing — a literally crappy shuttle. Can you imagine getting left off at the sewage plant at 1am?

Why the bizarre routing? Because the bridge commission doesn’t want to pay Halifax Transit’s union wages. With lower pay for drivers, and not having to pay the bridge tolls they charge Halifax Transit, it’s cheaper for the bridge commission to run its own buses. But by running its own buses, the commission can’t use Halifax Transit’s facilities, including both the Bridge Terminal and the North Street bus stops. The result: crap service.

3. Diesel spill

“Insurers for the city of Halifax are refusing to pay for the cleanup of the large fuel leak at the Metro Transit bus depot in Burnside last year,” reports the CBC. Expect a long court battle.

4. Various

➡ City council voted to direct staff to prepare a report on campaign finance reform for city elections.

➡ Firefighter Brian Conrad will be required to testify in court, related to a lawsuit filed by property owners in Herring Cove who lost their homes in the Spryfield fire. Firefighters responded to the fire on MacIntosh Run in Spryfield on Wednesday, April 29, 2009 but left the scene at nightfall, their hoses left on the ground. The fire flared up again that night and burned across the backlands all the way to Purcells Cove Road. The homeowners allege negligence on the city’s part.

Frankie MacDonald
Frankie MacDonald

➡ I’ve posted videos of Frankie MacDonald, the amateur weatherman from Cape Breton, in this space. Frankie, who has autism, is joyous, and I’ve been happy to simply spread that joy around. Recently, Frankie was profiled in Buzzfeed. Frankie records his videos and posts them on YouTube for free, but Gordon Stevens wants to profit off Frankie’s newfound celebrity, so has started a clothing line referencing Frankie’s “be prepared” exhortations. Some unstated portion of proceeds from sales will go to Autism Nova Scotia, says Stevens, but there’s not a word about payment to Frankie himself. Why should the guy who actually does the work get paid?


1. Robie Street reservoir

A worker constructs part of the forming for the roof dome in 1945.
A worker constructs part of the forming for the roof dome in 1946.

Yesterday, I linked to Stephen Archibald’s offhand comment about the Robie Street reservoir and a fantastic Halifax Water video of the roof of the thing being blown up in 1999. Today, Peter Ziobrowski gives a detailed history of the reservoir (and of much of Halifax Water itself). The dome of the reservoir was built in 1913, but its roof was replaced twice, in 1946 and 1999. The 1946 iteration was especially noteworthy:

The roof dome at the time was the largest pre-stressed concrete shell in the world. At three inches thick, it was cast in place on forms, after the edge ring was cast. The dome took five days to pour, and work progressed around the clock, with two 12-hour shifts. The pre-stressing was accomplished by applying 180,000psi of force on a 0.162″ steel wire, and wrapping it around the ring 360 times, in five layers. A coat of gunite was applied between each layer, and in all 42 miles of wire were used.

2. Cranky letter of the day

To the Chronicle Herald:

Recently, the devastation came to our neighbourhood. For generations, the forests have provided the people and animals of this area with a wood supply, recreation and home. Select cutting has been the method used in these woods, first with an axe and crosscut saw, then chainsaws. Sustainable harvesting only, to ensure a viable forest, until last month.

For some unknown reason, the owners of these lands withdrew every speck of wealth the previous generations had left for them and their future. There is barely a tree left standing. What was not cut was smashed down by the heavy equipment. A crew came in and flattened the whole area in a few weeks.


It is clear to me that there are supposedly educated people in the field who believe the only value of a forest is when it leaves the area on the back of a truck. Someone must show some leadership and stop this madness. Our children, their children and their children have just been robbed and there is no one to call.

Peter D. Churchill, Laconia



City council (10am, City Hall)—budget deliberations continue, with council looking at the Halifax Transit budget.

Public information meeting (7pm, Rockingham United Church)—Nick Stappas wants to build a 50-foot-high mixed-use building at the site, exceeding the allowable 35-foot maximum height allowed by planning regulations. More details here.


No public meetings.

On this date in 1878, the Reform Association was formed. It later became the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia.

On campus



Closed loop supply chains (Wednesday, 11:30am, Room MA310, Sexton Campus)—engineering student Sriram Bhakthavatchalam will talk about “Quality, Reliability, Maintenance Issues in Closed-Loop Supply Chains.”

Beta-Glucosidase 2 (Wednesday, 4pm, Theatre A, Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building Link)—Aarnoud van der Spoel will talk about “For Better or Worse: Beta-Glucosidase 2, Target of Beneficial Drugs but Mutated in Neurological Disease.”

The Woman in the Window (Wednesday, 8pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery)—Fritz Lang’s classic 1944 film noir, in which Edward G. Robinson was warned about the “siren call of adventure,” but what are you gonna do, ya know?


Resistance and change (Thursday, 6pm, Room 224 Student Union Building)—the Black Student Advising Centre presents “three phenomenal diverse Black men from the Diaspora, Dr. (Rev) Lennett Anderson, Mr. Sobaz Benjamin, and Dr. George Mbamalu as they share their stories of struggles, challenges and triumphs in Canada.”

“Now or Never” six months later (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Auditorium, McCain building)—oh boy. A panel will talk about the Ivany Report. The panel includes: Susanna Fuller, Marine Conservation Coordinator, Ecology Action Centre and member of the oneNS Commission; Marty Janowitz, VP Sustainable Development, Stantec and Chair, NS Roundtable on Environment & Sustainable Prosperity; Chief Sidney Peters, Glooscap First Nation and member of the oneNS Coalition; Dr. Gaynor Watson-Creed, Medical Officer of Health, Capital District Health Authority and member of the oneNS Coalition. BYOB.

Saint Mary’s

Town Hall meeting (Wednesday, 4pm, Loyola Conference Hall)—The “here’s your new prez” dog and pony show. It’s perverse that a top-down announcement of a decision made with little input from faculty or students is named after the most democratic bottom-up decision-making process invented in the US, but we’re all about poking people in the eye nowadays, so shut up and sit down.


Following yesterday’s discussion of drug lords using the Bank of Nova Scotia to launder their money, a reader sent in this photo he took last year of a still-existing Bank of Nova Scotia building in Havana.


“I wonder if Scotiabank even knows that it’s there?” asks the reader. Oh yes, yes they do. Scotiabank is looking at Cuba with lusty desire, reports the Globe & Mail:

Amid economic reforms on the island, Bank of Nova Scotia has reportedly applied to Cuban authorities to set up a representative office in the capital. Royal Bank is also considering opening an office in Havana, the report said.

Scotiabank, which has extensive operations across South America and the Caribbean, and RBC, Canada’s largest bank, both had branches in the country before the 1959 Cuban Revolution ushered in Communism, and a subsequent U.S. embargo, which slowed foreign investment.

However, economic reforms in Cuba, stemming from the handover of power from long-time president Fidel Castro to his brother, Raúl Castro, are changing the country as the government looks for ways to boost Cuba’s economy.

Just as the biggest cultural phenomenon of the 1980s was 1950s nostalgia, I predict that Cuba in the 2020s will be all about 1950s revivalism. The mafia will move back in to their old haunts, splash a new coat of paint on the casinos and have Michael Bublé do his best Frank Sinatra impression. Havana will once again become “a mistress of pleasure, the lush and opulent goddess of delights.” And Canadian banks will revive their drug money-laundering operations.

Heck, Castro’s still alive, maybe he can take to the hills again.

In the harbour

The seas off Nova Scotia, 8:15am Wednesday. Map:
The seas off Nova Scotia, 8:15am Wednesday. Map:

Cielo di Guangzhou, oil tanker, Dartmouth, England to Imperial Oil
Dallian Express, container ship, Damietta, Egypt to Fairview Cove
Zim Tarragona, container ship, Valencia to Pier 42, then sails for New York
Asphalt Sailor, tanker, Philadelphia to McAsphalt Dock, Eastern Passage
Oceanex Sanderling, con-ro, St John’s to Pier 41
Onego Trader, container ship, Ostermoor, Germany to Pier 27.


I’ll be on the Sheldon MacLeod Show, News 95.7, at 4pm.

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

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  1. The big lift: Re the cheapskate and potentially dangerous bus shuttle for pedestrians and cyclists – I understand that the main reason they are not considering also (or instead) having around the clock ferry service is because of the cost. How about looking at how extremely inconvenient this whole exercise is for everyone and factoring in costs that will ameliorate things for those of us who actually like or need to cross the harbour outside daytime hours? Also wondering just how long the project would take if they just shut the bridge down for the duration, and, yes, gave us good bus shuttle and ferry service in lieu.

  2. The response to the closure to the bridge could have been, as you point out much, organized it is progress. In the seventies when similar work was done they made no provision for pedestrians or bicyclist. The result was that if you were on one side of the harbour after the ferry stopped at midnight there was no way to get to the other side. At the time I was chair of the Ecology Action Centres transportation committee and one night I found myself trapped in Dartmouth. What to do, i didn’t have taxi money and you weren’t allowed to walk across the New Bridge. So I climbed over the barriers on the Old Bridge and after a short conversation with a security guard continued across. Half way across I heard a noise behind me. It turned out to be a cop car. I explained my situation. They helpfully put me in the car and took me back to Dartmouth explaining that they could either keep me in jail for the night or let me out to fend for myself. After a bit more adventure I got back to Halifax. The next day I went on Information morning to explain what had happened pointing out the disregard for local pedestrians. Nothing changed and the situation remained until the bridge re-opened.

  3. Re Wellington Street Development

    Ruth Davenport has posted an update at Metro on the Wellington Street development:

    Interesting that Park to Park Community Association has formally requested the provincial Minister of Municipal Affairs to withhold approval and conduct a review of the application. Also interesting is fact that HRM had not yet submitted the amendments in question to the province “for review,” at least as of Feb 2nd, the date of the article.

  4. I much appreciated your take on the ABUSIVE, DYSFUNCTIONAL SHUTTLE proposed for the closure of the ALM Bridge to pedestrian and cycle traffic. However, one might suspect that the Bridge Commission knows more than we do… if Halifax Transit is so ineptly managed that it just «overlooked» the disappearance of 2,000,000 litres (am I correct in that? — or is it 200,000 — no matter a HUGE amount!) of fuel oil, perhaps they will have imploded completely by the time the shuttle is needed. What with the numerous fiascos: continuously empty double-capacity busses; non-connecting serpentine routes; 2,000,000 litre oil leaks and an easily 5-year, wasted-millions lawsuit, failed suburban transit connections, etc, etc, etc…. there’s a crunch coming. Just sayin’!

    1. Metro transit is clearly too top-heavy with useless mandarins and desperately needs change. Maybe Tim should look into why the bus system never really changes despite lots of noise about new improvements. Even the snowplows have a publically available GPS feed now, why can’t the buses?

  5. According to their website Scotiabank has a man in La Habana.

    “Scotiabank is proud to maintain a presence in Cuba, offering a broad range of correspondent banking services.”,,5812,00.html

    According to investopedia a “correspondent bank” is:

    “A financial institution that provides services on behalf of another, equal or unequal, financial institution. A correspondent bank can conduct business transactions, accept deposits and gather documents on behalf of the other financial institution. Correspondent banks are more likely to be used to conduct business in foreign countries, and act as a domestic bank’s agent abroad.”

    According to the Homeland Security & Government Affairs Permanent Subcommitte on Investgations website:

    “Correspondent banking can become a major conduit for illicit money flows”

    Correspondent banking was featured in the Guardian’s investigative report a few years ago about a US bank that laundered billions for mexican cocaine cartels.

    “On numerous occasions,” say the court papers, “monies were deposited into a CDC by a drug-trafficking organisation. Using false identities, the CDC then wired that money through its Wachovia correspondent bank accounts for the purchase of airplanes for drug-trafficking organisations.” The court settlement of 2010 would detail that “nearly $13m went through correspondent bank accounts at Wachovia for the purchase of aircraft to be used in the illegal narcotics trade. From these aircraft, more than 20,000kg of cocaine were seized.”

    To prevent money laundering, Scotiabank have a bunch of PDF forms in the Global Trade section of their website:,,5466,00.html

  6. Once again the semi-independent and oversight-free bridge commission exhibits it’s intimate familiarity with cycling. Really why do they even exist? The Seal Island Bridge doesn’t have a Commission nor does the Canso Causeway. Our Provincial Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal department, directly responsible to a Minister of the Crown, looks after them. Isn’t it time to dissolve this fiefdom, with it’s own police force, taxation system, and purchasing department, that exists in the middle of our city?

    1. There unquestionably is a larger discussion to be had. Even within “urban” HRM, you have NS TIR, HRM roads, a somewhat different group for bike lanes, pedestrians, the bridge commission, Metro Transit, and I suppose an honorable mention to CN / Via Rail, all somewhat responsible for moving people around.

      None of them ever talking to each other.

  7. Two quick #HOTTAKES for this edition of the Morning File:

    1) News Item 2 pisses me off for all the reasons you’ve outlined, and
    2) If someone’s making money off of Frankie MacDonald it should be Frankie MacDonald and/or whomever he himself decides.

    1. I asked compensation for Frankie and got the following response : @HomesteadEats he declined our offer, but was ok with us giving a portion of sales to charity – which we are doing

  8. Surely the garbage beyond municipal boundaries question has to be something for the Province to sort out?! Supplying dump space should not be solely a least cost business decision but should take into account environmental and other factors. The tipping price should reflect all of these considerations – not just the local costs.