In the harbour
1. Higher power bills
“Ballooning construction costs and longer delays associated with building a dam at Muskrat Falls will hurt electricity consumers — not just in its home province of Newfoundland and Labrador, but also in Nova Scotia,” reports Jennifer Henderson:
That’s because the longer it takes to deliver the promised clean green hydroelectricity from Muskrat Falls, the more money consumers here will have to fork out to buy power to replace it, according to Nova Scotia consumer advocate John Merrick. The last estimate provided by Nova Scotia Power to the regulator suggests the cost might be in the range of $87 million a year.
“What is clear is that there is going to be a delay in receipt of power; as a result, there will be costs incurred that will have to be recovered from ratepayers,” wrote consumer advocates John Merrick and Bill Mahoody in a submission this month to a hearing before the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.
It’s anyone’s guess as to how much rates will increase, but Henderson notes that:
Just this month the Utility and Review Board was asked to approve Nova Scotia Power’s estimates of fuel costs that would comply with the three-year rate stabilization period ordered and legislated by the McNeil government. McNeil’s Liberals have staked their political future on keeping power rates “stable” for the next three years and last November, NS Power CEO Bob Hanf promised “rates would increase by no more than 1.5 per cent a year” through to 2019. That’s a promise that will be difficult to keep unless costs are deferred and pushed forward to a later date, which is often the practice.
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2. Examineradio, episode 67
In the 1990s, the Nova Scotia government entered into public–private partnerships in order to facilitate the construction of 39 schools across the province. Over the intervening years the total cost of those leases has been about a billion dollars. Over the next few years the 20-year leases are expiring and the province is faced with some tough choices: extend the leases another five years, walk away from the schools, or buy them outright for about $230 million.
This week we speak with Christine Saulnier, Nova Scotia Director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. The CCPA recently released an in-depth examination of the P3 process for building schools and concluded it was a flawed process and that much of that billion dollars served to line the bank accounts of a handful of private developers with no real value to taxpayers.
Also, a man died in police custody last week, but the HRP aren’t disclosing his name or any of the circumstances surrounding his death, and we discuss the public consultation on the preservation of Blue Mountain/Birch Cove Lakes.
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(Subscribe via iTunes)
3. No charges in Cameron homicide
A Halifax police release from Saturday:
The 17-year-old male youth arrested in relation to the homicide of Joseph Douglas Cameron was released without charges yesterday at 7 p.m.
4. Dogs in hot cars
Metro can’t decide if people are getting the message or not:
Stubborn dog owners still aren’t getting the message.
Sgt. Nancy Rudback told Metro she was happy to see the message of leaving animals in hot cars appears to be getting across to people.
“An Act to provide for the support of Bastard Children, and the punishment of the Mother and reputed Father” is found in chapter 19 of Nova Scotia’s 1758 Statutes at Large,” writes Christina Mcdonald:
A mother giving birth to a child “who shall be chargeable or likely to be chargeable to the Province” could apply to a Justice of the Peace to charge a person with being the father of her child. That man would be required to present proof to the court that he could support the child. The mother and reputed father could be subject to a court order requiring them to reimburse the town or parish for costs of supporting the child–or they could cough up £20 and be done with the order. If they could do neither, they would spend up to six months in jail or a house of correction.
The law would not apply if the charged father could prove either that he was wrongfully charged, or that the mother was “a woman of ill fame or a common whore” (s 4). If the mother of the child was not really pregnant, or if the court decided the man she had charged was not really the father and that she had “[contrived] to defame the person or cheat him of his money” (s 3), she would be whipped and sent to a house of correction for six months.
Liane Heller completes her survey of each of the 66 Halifax Transit bus routes with a trip on the #402 to Sambro, where she visits Mishoo’s:
[Heller’s friend] Tim and I get coffees at Mishoo’s, a one-stop shopping experience that conjures up images of another era with its mix of groceries, takeout treats, liquor-store offerings and a counter big enough for folks to chat around — two families are doing just that as we head outside to the sunny deck.
A petite woman in denim jacket and jeans hears us talking about how friendly the place is and comes over to introduce herself as Diana Elcheikh, owner of Mishoo’s for 10 years. (“I made sure we could keep the great name!”)
Right now, she’s working overtime because her husband, Kasper, is in Lebanon looking after his ailing mother. But their children Rida, 20, and Niam, 15, both help out in the store, while Layla, 5, “asks everyone to play,” she says with a merry laugh.
“We’ve been embraced by the community,” Elcheikh says. “We’ve been made to feel like family, and we all feel fortunate to be among the best people on the face of the Earth here.”
3. Chronicle Herald
Local Xpress continues its series profiling striking Chronicle Herald journalists, this time introducing us to web editor Pam Sword.
Speaking of editing — or, rather, the lack thereof — Twitterers are amusingly collating the mistakes in the error-ridden Chronicle Herald, including this bit found in Saturday’s “paper”:
But as I see it, the biggest problem here is not the astrology / astronomy error — but come on, really? — but rather that this is “contributed content,” from the government no less. As Jesse Ward detailed in “Garbage Journalism” (behind paywall), the federal government is decreasing the amount of money it spends on newspaper advertising but government messaging is still getting out via “mat releases,” “contributed content,” and other pre-written articles given to newspapers for free.
So newspapers are losing out on advertising revenue by publishing free content instead —they’ve fired so many reporters they can’t fill the pages with honest news stories. There are all sorts of problems with accepting and publishing the government-produced articles — to begin, it is, in a word, propaganda, and a disservice to real journalism. But beyond that, it contradicts the newspapers’ business model.
This is the “innovative” future the Mark Levers of the world envision: cut your primary revenue stream so you can stick it to your employees.
In any event, Denis Ryan and his longtime collaborator Tony Quinn will be playing tonight at 8pm at Bearly’s in support of the Halifax Typographical Union.
Districts 7 & 8 Planning Advisory Committee (4pm, City Hall) — bylaw changes for the St. Pat’s high school site will be considered.
A potential site specific zone has been drafted that would implement the policy changes suggested above. The zone would regulate the following:
• Residential, commercial, and institutional uses permitted
• Maximum height requirements ranging from 7 storeys to 18 storeys
• Maximum gross floor area of 41,000m2
• Maximum building depth of 30m
• Setbacks ranging from 1m to 3m
• Streetwall heights of 3 – 4 storeys
• Maximum floor plate area of 650m2 for buildings over 7 storeys
• Parking and Signage provisions
No public meetings.
Thesis defence, astronomy (10am, Atrium 305, ) — PhD candidate Diego Castaneda will defend his thesis, “Properties of Rapidly Rotating Stars and Their Oscillation Modes.”
In the harbour
3am: OOCL Kaohsiung, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
5am: Bahri Tabuk, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Fairview Cover from Baltimore
5:30am: Titania, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southhampton, England
7:45am: Veendam, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 22 from Bar Harbor with up to 1,350 passengers
11:30am: Bahri Tabuk, ro-ro cargo, sails from Fairview Cove for Bremerhaven, Germany
5:45pm: Veendam, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Sydney
6pm: Titania, car carrier, moves from Autoport to Pier 31
6pm: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at HalTerm from Saint-Pierre
7pm: Atlantic Huron, bulker, arrives at National Gypsum from Port Cartier, Quebec
9:30pm: Titania, car carrier, sails from Pier 31 to sea
8:45am: Carnival Sunshine, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 22 from Saint John with up to 3,006 passengers
7pm: Carnival Sunshine, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for New York
6:30am: Norwegian Breakaway, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 22 from New York with up to 4,500 passengers
10:30am: Grandeur of the Seas, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 20 from Saint John with up to 2,446 passengers
5pm: Norwegian Breakaway, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for New York
7pm: Grandeur of the Seas, cruise ship, sails from Pier 20 for Baltimore
Although the busiest months are September and October, cruise ship season is starting to amp up here in Halifax, so this is as good a time as any to discuss cruise ship employees’ wages.
One of the biggest cruise lines is Carnival. Having recovered from a norovirus outbreak in March, the Carnival Sunshine arrives in Halifax tomorrow as part of a six day cruise that sails from New York to Saint John to Halifax and back to New York. Passenger tickets start at US$500 per person based on a double occupancy for the smallest lower deck cabins and go upwards, but there are also last moment discounts offered. Meals and drinks are additional, as are day excursions like a trip to Peggys Cove or the Citadel.
Hardly any of that ticket price goes to the people working on the ship. According to cruise industry critic Jim Walker:
The reality of the matter is that Carnival pays crew members like waiters, bartenders and stateroom attendants a small pittance by the cruise line (around $50 a month) and then requires them to work incredibly long hours, relying on tips for the majority of their compensation. It’s quite a business model. Carnival incorporated in Panama and registered its cruise ships in Panama and the Bahamas to avoid virtually all taxes and then requires U.S. taxpaying public to pay the bulk of the crew member compensation. But many passengers view a gratuity as reserved only for spectacular and far-beyond-normal service. These guests obviously don’t tip at all or only occasionally and say that it’s the cruise line’s responsibility to pay the ship employees.
However, passengers see an additional gratuity charge, reports USA Today:
Booked on a Carnival sailing this year? Brace yourself for higher daily fees.
Effective Sept. 1, the company is hiking the gratuity for staff it automatically tacks onto final bills by nearly 8% to $12.95 per person, per day for passengers staying in most cabins. Passengers in suites will pay $13.95 per person, per day.
With the increase, a family of four will pay more than $360 in automatic gratuities on a typical seven-night cruise.
Carnival’s new gratuity charge will surpass the levy at sister brand Holland America ($12.50) and match the fee at Princess Cruises ($12.95). It will remain below the service charges at rivals Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line ($13.50).
But, says Walker:
The gratuity charge, which crew members tell me does not all go to the crew members but is diverted to pay salaries or is considered revenue (profit) for the cruise line, is only a suggested amount. Carnival says that passengers can adjust it, or remove it entirely, by visiting the Guest Services desk while onboard the cruise ship.
Earlier this week, a Facebook page called “Complaining Crewship” complained that Carnival passengers were not paying tips and posted about 30 pages of photographed pages showing the names and cabin numbers of Carnival passengers (from an unidentified ship) who had their prepaid tips removed. There were hundreds and hundreds of passengers who removed their tips. Some of these people may have removed the pre-paid gratuities and paid cash but I was left with an unpleasant feeling that they were largely stiffing the crew. [The photos were since removed by Facebook, but Walker reposted them with the passenger names redacted.]
So the cruise line gratuity scam continues. Carnival will create the impression that the increased gratuities are for the crew who, in reality, will never see a penny of the increase. Many passengers will remove all of the gratuities in their entirely and hide their cheapness behind their anonymity.
er, I’ve got nothing.
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” Print ad sales at U.K. newspapers last year dropped to 1.7 billion pounds ($2.4 billion) from 4.2 billion pounds in 2005, media-buying agency ZenithOptimedia says. Digital ads last year totaled 356 million pounds, leaving a shortfall of more than 2 billion pounds.
The Guardian’s circulation has shrunk by more than half over the past decade, to 169,000 in April.
Publishers have tried all manner of new ideas to keep readers from defecting. The Telegraph gives out free bottles of water with a purchase of the paper at WH Smith Plc convenience stores. Trinity Mirror Plc, owner of the Mirror, in February launched New Day, a tabloid aimed at attracting women who had deserted newspapers. The title featured an upbeat editorial line with stories about families, children, and relationships and largely skirted sports and crime coverage. The marketing slogan, “Life is short, live it well,” turned out to be prophetic. The paper closed after less than three months. ”
And this : http://www.bloomberg.com/quicktake/the-fading-newspaper
The Herald is facing the reality of producing a product that has seen a steady decline in demand and little or no prospect of a shift back established media. My guess is that immigrant newspapers are doing fine in their niche market.
People don’t want to pay for news and it doesn’t matter if the product is prepared by members of a union.
Point is: ad revenue is declining AND THEY’RE GIVING AWAY FREE ADS.
That’s just stupid. If the federal government wants to advertise Keji, make them pay for it like every other advertiser.
I am concerned that there is a very real chance that the Liberals will try to use a P3 model to replace aging hospital infrastructure. Not only will it be incredibly expensive when compared to a public option, but it also runs the risk of putting patients in very serious danger.
I believe that some of the P3 schools don’t have elevators to the second floor, making large parts of the buildings inaccessible to students, teachers, parents, staff and visitors using wheelchairs. Whether this is just architectural ignorance or the result of the province exempting itself from the building code is anybody’s guess. But the idea of a buyout of facilities that don’t meet barrier-free requirements doesn’t sit well. I wish I was wrong, but I doubt it.
I don’t know the particulars, but the cost of installing a handful of elevators must be minuscule compared to the $230 million purchase price.
I highly doubt that. Which school is your source referring to? Some of the P3 schools – those in the Valley and South Shore, are probably better than crown construct buildings.
Are users complaining about the buildings, or about the management of them?
In the end, the only reason the Government of the day went P3 was to avoid having the debt show up as a tangible capital asset obligation that would affect our Provincial bond rating, and cost us a very large amount of interest on our total debt servicing, not just that for 31 new schools.
But the next government immediately changed that anyway, and changed how the rental obligation was accounted for, thus affecting the interest rate on our total debt.
So in the end we would have been better off financing them at the rate the Province can borrow at (even with a downgraded bond rating) instead of what the private sector can.
Just for clarity: the change was made by the PCs, but they had to: it was dictated by a change in national accounting standards.
For community use in the evenings the P3 school is more difficult to book (my experience in HRM). Their caretakers leave earlier in the evenings so access is limited..They don’t accommodate changes very well and generally we have had more issues when trying to book and schedule vs another HRSB owned school.
Thanks to the CCPA for their vital work.
You would think that maybe the Herald ir CBC or someone might be doing some of this investgative work.
Oh wait, that would require journalism. Something in short supply or non existent in Nova Scotia.
Also noticed that the Halifax Media Coop is shutting down. Not good.
Re: P3 school corruption (what a shocker) – I should start a list of reasons why Donald Trump is likely to be the next president – not that he’ll fix any of these problems, but he has a lot of people convinced he will do something about crony capitalism. It really is infuriating that it is impossible for us as a society to do something as simple and essential as educating/warehousing/destroying critical thought in our children without having to line some developer’s pockets.