1. Pilot program would see Halifax offer financing for ‘deep energy retrofits,’ including windows and insulation

A worker wearing white leather gloves applies black acoustical sealant out to a window frame using a caulking gun. Pink fibreglass insulation is visible in the unfinished wall underneath the window, and a pair of safety goggles sits on the windowsill.
Photo: Erik Mclean/ Unsplash Credit: Erik Mclean

Zane Woodford reports on a proposed pilot program offering financing to homeowners for “deep energy retrofits.” Halifax regional council’s environment committee voted in favour of the program after municipal staff made a presentation to councillors on the Environment and Sustainability Standing Committee during their virtual meeting Wednesday night. As Woodford reports, this program is sort of an expansion on Solar City:

Uptake on that program has been decent, but not good enough. While more than 550 properties have used the financing, totalling nearly $14 million and enabling the installation of 5 megawatts of renewable energy, it’s no where near meeting the targets set out in the city’s one-year-old climate change action plan, HalifACT.

“For context, HalifACT requires nine times this amount per year to meet our targets,” municipal clean energy specialist Kevin Boutilier wrote in the report to the committee, referring to the 5 megawatts.

“In 2020, the total value of approved financing was 45% less than the financing provided in 2019. Based on industry observations and discussion, this reduction is likely due to alternative, lower interest financing options offered by some solar [contractors] and to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

To try to solve the financing issue, HRM has applied for a grant to evaluate the program.

“If successful, the study will evaluate the Solar City Program through a lens of equitable access, loan product competitiveness and the ability to scale to meet the targets of HalifACT,” Boutilier wrote.

“The intended results of this study are to develop minimum requirements for third-party lenders, private investors or utilities, to enable the investment needed to implement the retrofit goals of HalifACT.”

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2. COVID update: 1 new case

A microscope photo of a coronavirus, shown as yellow with red crowns on a blue watery background
Photo: CDC/Unsplash

The Halifax Examiner is providing all COVID-19 coverage for free. Please help us continue this coverage by subscribing.

There was only one new case of COVID-19 announced in Nova Scotia on Wednesday. That case is in Nova Scotia Health’s Central Zone and is a close contact to a previously announced case. There are now 39 known active cases in the province (it’s nice to see that number come down, even if it’s slowing.) Two people are in hospital and neither is in ICU.

Here are today’s testing locations:

Halifax Convention Centre, noon-7pm
Alderney Gate, 10am-2pm
Bedford Legion (1772 Bedford Hwy), noon-5pm

And click here to check out testing locations for tomorrow and the weekend.

Just announced: anyone 35 and older can now go to the walk-in vaccine clinic at the convention centre for their second dose (Moderna), if they need one. Click here to learn more about that.

Tim Bousquet has the full COVID update, as always. There’s also a transcription of the exchange between Bousquet and Strang about politicizing COVID from yesterday’s briefing. Make sure to read that.

The complete article is here.

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3. The Tideline, Episode 36: summer theatre

several images from posters for this summer's theatre offerings
A look at some of the upcoming summer shows from Ship’s Company Theatre, Two Planks and a Passion, and Shakespeare by the Sea.

Nova Scotia summer theatre is back (yeah!) and in this episode of The Tideline Tara Thorne learns about some of the upcoming shows. Thorne chats with Jesse MacLean from Shakespeare by the Sea, Richie Wilcox from Ship’s Company Theatre, and Ken Schwartz with Two Planks and a Passion. They share their thoughts on the province’s pandemic support for the arts, too.

Oh, this episode includes a new jam from Hello Delaware!

Listen to it all for free here. 

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4. Pizza shop co-owner declines $10 bills for purchases

A post from the Facebook page of Belly Busters Pizza and Donair that says As of today July 1st Belly Busters will no longer accept any $10 bill with John A MacDonald on them. Like an share for a chance at 1 of 3 $50 prizes.
A post from the Facebook page of Belly Busters Pizza and Donair.

Erin Pottie with CBC talks with Paul MacDonald, who co-owns Belly Busters Pizza and Donair in Membertou, about his decision to stop accepting $10 bills with the image of John A. MacDonald. MacDonald says he made the decision after the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves of children on sites of former residential schools. MacDonald tells Pottie:

The discovery of bodies brought it more to the surface. It was always there, but that really opened people’s eyes now.

MacDonald’s told Pottie his mother was forced to go to the residential school in Shubenacadie and she shared some of her stories with her son before she died in 2004. MacDonald says many residents in Membertou also went to residential schools and he thought this would be a chance to educate others.

MacDonald suggested having more positive role models on the $10 bills, such as Terry Fox.

Moving forward, we can’t erase history, but we can definitely come up with a better future than a nightmare.

There are a lot of comments on Belly Buster’s Facebook page, many of them supportive, but others saying they’d take their business elsewhere. MacDonald said he wouldn’t tell staff to decline taking a $10 bill from customers.

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Rankin’s DUI confession warrants a bigger discussion on problem drinking

Iain Rankin and Robert Strang sit at a table in front of Nova Scotia flags.
Premier Iain Rankin and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang at the COVID briefing on May 7, 2020. Photo: Communications Nova Scotia

The talk continues over Premier Iain Rankin’s confession about his DUIs 18 years ago. For the past couple of days I was thinking about writing about this, and I can feel my reluctance in doing so now. But this line from Rankin’s talk during that COVID briefing stuck with me: 

“And this is all I will be saying about this.”

Rankin, of course, did say a bit more after questions from reporters during that briefing. He talked about it again during the COVID briefing on Wednesday after reporters asked more questions. And Nova Scotians are still talking about it. 

I read lots of comments about Rankin’s privilege, and how a DUI or criminal record would prevent many others from getting work, let alone becoming premier. A criminal record check is pretty standard for lots of jobs and even volunteer gigs. That’s a huge barrier for many people looking to move on from their past and contribute to society. It says a lot, too, about who we’re willing to forgive. 

Others talked about the need for better transit so anyone out on the town for some drinks can safely get home without putting others on the road at risk. Sure, that’s definitely worth a discussion.

And then people were disappointed that Rankin didn’t use his admission as an opportunity to talk about drinking and driving, which is a public health issue, and problem drinking itself. On Twitter, Sarah White wrote this: 

A tweet from Sarah White that says You know what I find is missing from this Rankin DUI discussion? The culture of drinking in NS. He announced it sitting next to Dr Strang, who is responsible for public health. It could have been a good moment to talk about it, and the harm it does. Just a thought.

It wasn’t lost on me that Rankin made his confession while he sat next to Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer. Did Strang know Rankin was going to talk about his DUIs?  Prior to the COVID pandemic, Strang, you may recall, often talked about the dangers of alcohol and especially excessive drinking. In 2018, Strang was concerned about new rules that would allow people to drink on Argyle and Grafton streets during special events and how that would send the wrong message to young people in Nova Scotia where we have a “well established” “culture of overdrinking.” 

In 2016, Strang expressed concern over the popularity of drinking games after 18-year-old Brady Grattan died after playing the drinking game beer pong.

And then there is this piece called The Real Cost of Booze by Darcy Rhyno in Saltscapes in which Strang said “It’s not the fact we’re drinking, it’s how we’re drinking.” Strang added:

There’s a much larger segment who aren’t addicted, but use in a way that creates risk to themselves, their families and all tax payers — the binge drinkers.

As I saw from White’s Twitter thread, you can’t have a discussion about problem and excessive drinking without someone suggesting you must be organizing a temperance movement with your friends at your kitchen table. I’m not anti-alcohol, but it’s worth a discussion on how booze — and especially excessive drinking — affects us all.

There’s more than drinking and driving, of course. There’s domestic violence, child abuse, the violence that spills out of bars after hours, and, of course, a number of health conditions, including cancer. (Back in May I read this Twitter thread how the temperance movement was likely made up of survivors of domestic violence who wanted to stop the violence against them and lived in a system that didn’t give them support).

Rankin’s unwillingness to speak about his past says a lot about the secrecy around addiction, including for the family, friends, and coworkers of those who struggle with alcoholism. We live in a culture where it’s not accepted for those affected by what Strang has called second-hand drinking to talk about how it affects their lives.  

While many argued a COVID briefing wasn’t the place for Rankin to discuss his past and DUIs, discussing alcohol use during a pandemic certainly is a public health issue. Back in April 2020, (still early days of COVID-19) Yvette d’Entremont wrote about how it’s not a good idea to drink your way through the pandemic. d’Entremont talked with Halifax addictions researcher Mark Asbridge about alcohol consumption during the pandemic:

“Alcohol is historically a coping drug and so we’re going to see elevated states of anxiety and depression during these times, so it would be very easy to expect we’ll see higher rates of alcohol use disorder or related drinking as a function of coping,” he said.

“That does make a lot of sense from what we know historically. And alcohol-related harms also rise during periods of unemployment. Historically that has been the case. We’re facing that economic uncertainty, and there’s a long history of the relationship between alcohol consumption and economic uncertainty globally.”

Asbridge also talked about what this could all mean long term, even though lower sales at bars and restaurants had some short-term public health benefits:

“People who didn’t know that they had alcohol use disorders are showing up in emergency departments trying to understand why they’re feeling the way that they’re feeling…So you might have a reduction on health service utilization now with respect to alcohol, but may end up getting this all back with respect to access to addictions services or mental health services for people with alcohol use disorder issues,” he said.

“Potentially we may see some other chronic related effects of alcohol consumption more in the long term, whether it’s liver cirrhosis, cancers, or these types of things.”

Rankin, for his part, said he’d work with Mothers Against Drunk Driving to combat impaired driving. That’s good news. When that election call comes, I doubt anyone wants to hear about problem drinking on the campaign trail. And while I suspect Nova Scotians will be forgiving of Rankin, we should all look at forgiving others for their past, too, while acknowledging that there is a price to pay for problem drinking, and more supports are needed for those with addictions and the people around them.  

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Noticed: Dialing in for radio funeral announcements

Inside a radio studio: a closeup of the microphone, with a lit up On Air sign in the background.
Photo: Fringer Cat/Unsplash

Sometimes Twitter can be a source for quirky stories. So it was for this one: a conversation about funeral announcements on small town radio stations:

A tweet that says They announce funerals on the radio in New Glasgow?

I remember hearing these announcements as a kid during family car trips to Sydney River. I don’t recall hearing these on city radio stations, notably CHNS or CJCH, which were often on in our house. I do remember hearing some of these announcements a couple of summers ago while travelling along the South Shore.

I was curious how common these announcements still are, so I called a few stations and learned that many stations do have these announcements. Y95.5 in Yarmouth has funeral announcements at the end of its 5pm newscast. This segment has an appropriate sponsor, too:  Sweeney Funeral Home.

101.5 The Hawk in Port Hawkesbury has funeral announcements at noon. (Their sponsor is Maple Signs and Engraving.)

989XFM in Antigonish has funeral announcements every day at noon and then again at 5pm. The receptionist I chatted with there says their local community newspaper is only published once a week, so listeners appreciate the daily funeral announcements.

I talked with Andrew Johnson at AVR, one of MBS’s radio stations in the Annapolis Valley. He says they stopped doing the announcements a few years ago as obituaries on the internet became more popular, although he told me some listeners were disappointed.

There are other radio stations across Canada that do the same, including 560 CFOS in Owen Sound, which airs the announcements twice daily on weekdays before the news at noon and again at 5pm. They also air them twice daily on weekends and holidays in the same time slots.

And as I was researching this piece, someone shared this article: The peculiar comforts of radio stations in cottage country by Alan Cross from Global News. 

Cross recalls some of his memories from his first full-time radio gig at the now-defunct 1220 CJRL in Kenora, Ont. Cross talks about trying to make segments like Swap n’ Shop sound entertaining. And how ministers used the station for their “non-stop God programs.”

And wouldn’t you know it, Cross had to read funeral announcements on air. Here’s one of his stories about that:

But nothing could beat the daily obituary at around 12:45 p.m. Sponsored by the local funeral home (who else?), an announcer read a flowery obit over some dirge-y organ music.

It became a tradition to try to get the new guy to laugh while reading this very serious piece of copy. One day as I was going through this very sad obituary, Ted, another announcer, marched in wearing an Alien T-shirt that read “In space, no one can hear you fart” and carrying a plunger. He then proceeded to direct me as a conductor would do with an orchestra. This did not end well.

Radio stations are one of the best ways to get the news from your community, especially for those with no computers and no internet access. Now, the music is another issue (see my footnote below).

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Appeals Standing Committee (Thursday, 10am) — dial-in or live broadcast not available

Women’s Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4pm) — live streamed on YouTube


No meetings

On campus

No events

In the harbour

05:00: CMA CGM Panama, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Colombo, Sri Lanka
08:15: East Coast, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for sea
12:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
13:00: Northstar Challenger, utility vessel, arrives at Pier 9 from sea
17:00: Selfoss, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Portland
20:30: Selfoss sails for Argentia, Newfoundland
22:30: CMA CGM Panama sails for New York

Cape Breton
22:30: Mars Sun, oil tanker, arrives at Point Tupper from Ras Lanuf, Libya


During my frequent road trips to communities across Nova Scotia, I often listen to whatever radio station I can get while on the road. Small town radio stations love playing the same songs over and over. They have a special fondness for songs from the 80s I never hear anywhere else.

I hear these songs so frequently, I thought I’d compile my list of the Top 10 songs I hear:

Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone), Glass Tiger
Black Velvet, Alannah Myles
The Tide is High, Blondie
Land Down Under, Men at Work 
Total Eclipse of the Heart, Bonnie Tyler 
We Belong, Pat Benatar
A Criminal Mind, Gowan
Black Cars, Gino Vannelli
Safety Dance, Men Without Hats
Pop Goes the World, Men Without Hats (I heard this song while I was listening for one of those funeral announcements on my iPhone)

I grew up with this music, so I know all the words. Really, it’s kind of my jam. Are songs from the 80s now considered the oldies? Maybe program directors can dig a little deeper for tunes and mix it up a bit.  

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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. Firstly, any list of overplayed Canadian music that doesn’t contain Loverboy hasn’t been vetted by anyone who had to listen to Q104 for more than 45 consecutive minutes at any point over the past 40 years.

    Secondly, as a Nova Scotian who’s lived in the Caribbean for many years, I can say that there is a self-defeating nature to NS’s approach to social drinking, where the combination of moral prudishness and alcohol-based celebration means that everyone develops a binge mentality.

    Drinking is bad and an immoral sign of weakness! Wait! Mom can’t see me? Gimme a double with a beer chaser, please. ASAP!

    Meanwhile the Caribbean also celebrates rum and beer, but because they are always present and accepted, young people don’t feel the need to drink as fast as they can when nobody is looking.

    Yes, there are still alcoholics in the Caribbean, but they also much better behaved and less stigmatized

  2. Your top ten list is missing anything by Blue Rodeo, who used to be (and may still be) the go-to to meet Canadian content requirements on CJLS (Y95 and formerly The Wave) in Yarmouth.

  3. Thanks for great work once again on reminding us of things (like local radio favourite songs and funeral announcements) that go on in the real world and keep us grounded and able to carry on amid all the “noise and haste.”

    Another example of this kind of thing was a long-gone show on CBC national radio that ran every Sunday morning called “Neighbourly News”. The show featured items culled from weekly newspapers all across the country. Stuff that never made national headlines but mattered to everyday folks from Joe Batts Arm, Newfoundland to Salmon Arm, BC.

    If anything keeps us able to “keep calm and carry on” it’s stuff like this. Not the white noise endlessly churned out by the chattering classes.

  4. As HRM continues to incentivize installation of solar panels it needs to offer protection for solar rights. Changes in zoning for building heights permitted by the Centre Plan can presently shadow existing installations with the only recourse to beg council to not allow the change.

  5. I once lived in a place where the only radio choices were CBC radio 1 and the marine radio station. The marine station played the automated weather forecast (read by a very robotic recorded male voice) and various information bulletins on repeat.
    I tuned in probably half a dozen times a day while driving until it had gone through a full loop and started to repeat. It was oddly soothing and sometime better programing than what was currently on CBC.

  6. Not sure if CKBW still does funeral announcements. When I worked there a decade ago, I read them after the noon hour news. I was always told (by regional radio legends John Waterman and Joan Fillmore), to call the funeral home to double check pronunciations. Funeral announcements are the worst place to mess up names…

  7. Had Rankin’s conviction not been overturned (he was NOT found innocent as he incorrectly claimed) he would have served jail time and very likely would not have been elected and not been Premier. One does not engage the highest profile and most expensive criminal lawyer in Nova Scotia without reason. He got off on a technicality and he and everyone knows that. He has mislead the public repeatedly on many things especially his phony environmental stance. He is not the person to be in this office.

    1. I agree. D.O.

      Seems to me Rankin only raised the matter when he realized he was about to be outed by Of course folks from his neighbourhood knew and he was required to inform his leader of anything in his past that might embarrass the Liberal party before he was allowed to be nominated to stand for the riding he later won.

      I found him evasive to reporters and his claim that he was found “innocent” of his second DUI charge in 2 years (how does a Premier not know that “innocent” is not verdict?) turned out to be more like his high flying lawyer saved him from jail time on a legal technicality and the case was dropped. That is not the same as being found not guilty much less “innocent”.

      Yes, that was 20 years ago and Iain Rankin may indeed have evolved and deserve forgiveness. IMHO however his recent responses to legitimate questions calls into question his trustworthiness just as he is about to drop the election writ. Put that together with the way Premier Rankin gutted the bill that set out to implement the acclaimed Lahey Report on forestry practices introduced by Environment minister Rankin and you really have to wonder.

      If you’re in the market for conservative government, how much practical difference is there between a conservative Tory government and a conservative Liberal one anyway? Coke or Pepsi?

      My $C 0.02