News

1. Halifax’s new appeals committee grants one convicted cabbie a new licence, denies another

License Appeal Committee members Ryan Baxter, Mark Everett, and Carine O’Brien hear a taxi licence appeal from Kirk Withrow at Halifax City Hall on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. — Photo: Zane Woodford

Zane Woodford had a busy day on Wednesday. He was at the Halifax’s License Appeal Committee meeting where one taxi driver convicted of a criminal offence got his licence back, while another will have to stay off the road.

The first driver at the meeting was Kirk Withrow, who applied for a taxi driver’s licence in August 2020. Woodford reports:

The municipality’s licensing authority denied Withrow’s application because he was convicted in 2019 of laundering proceeds of crime, conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, and trafficking in schedule substances, in this case cannabis.

Withrow was sentenced to 30 months in prison, and he told the committee he served seven months and he’s still on parole for another four months. He said he was driving a cab for Bob’s Taxi the whole time he was on bail awaiting trial, from 2015 to 2019, and now that he’s served his time, he thinks he should be able to drive again.

And the second driver was Douglas James Brine. Here’s Woodford again on his history:

Brine applied to renew his taxi driver’s and owner’s licences in March of this year, and the municipality discovered two new criminal charges, one for assault causing bodily harm in November 2020 and another for failure to comply with undertaking while at large in January 2021. As a result, the licensing authority denied Brine’s application.

He appealed the denial, writing in a letter to the committee that he’d been in a fight with his girlfriend, who he said abused him, and he ended up getting charged with assault. Appearing by telephone on Wednesday, Brine told his story again, alleging that his ex-girlfriend has substance abuse issues that caused her to lash out at him.

You can read the article here for details on the decisions. This article is for subscribers. You can subscribe here.

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2. Houston’s housing plan: rent control stays, 1100 new affordable units, interventions in Halifax planning

On Wednesday, Woodford also covered the details of the PC government’s housing plan. 

The biggest news was that the rent control of 2% annually will remain in place until the end of 2023. As Woodford writes, that’s a huge departure from Houston’s earlier stance.

“The long-term solution to the housing crisis does not rest in rent control. It’s been tried and it simply does not work long term. The only answer is more supply to meet the market demands. But for affordability to improve, availability needs to improve. But we all know more supply, more availability, it doesn’t happen overnight,” Houston said.

“In the short term, we must extend the rent cap. It simply must remain until the supply issue can start to be addressed. Tenants need help and they need certainty. They don’t deserve to be punished for historical prior poor government decision making. While the supply is being built up, we have to protect the tenants, and our government will do that.”

The government also introduced amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act to protect tenants from renovictions, announced $10 million in short-term funding to address homelessness, and said it would allow HRM and other Nova Scotia municipalities to use inclusionary zoning.

Woodford has responses from activists as well as Mayor Mike Savage on the announcements, and what they mean for the municipality.

Click here for that full story.

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3. Lionel Desmond was a victim of racism, cousin testifies at inquiry

Raymond Sheppard

Matthew Byard has a report on the testimony from Raymond Sheppard, cousin of Lionel Desmond. Sheppard wrote a letter asking to testify at the Desmond Inquiry, which is now underway after taking a break during the pandemic. In 2017, Desmond killed his wife, Shanna, mother, Brenda, and 10-year-old daughter, Aaliyah, before killing himself.

Sheppard, who wrote about Desmond’s experience with racism in the Canadian Forces for the Nova Scotia Advocate, told the inquiry about how that racism affected his cousin. Here’s some of what Sheppard said:

“The Desmond Inquiry and Canadians must remember,” Sheppard said, “that when African Nova Scotians are victims of racism it causes vicarious trauma and therefore these acts negatively affect the African Nova Scotian community as a whole.”

Sheppard said that when historical anti-Black racism and hate, or PTSD2 (Post Traumatic Slavery Disorder), is compounded with PTSD like the kind experienced by soldiers who return from war, “many are left feeling numb, disconnected, and unable to trust other people. This is especially the case for those charged with the responsibility to serve and protect.”

“In Lionel Desmond’s case racism has emerged as a parallel narrative in the discussion over PTSD. Many family members, friends and others who have served in the CAF believe he also suffered from Post Traumatic Slavery Disorder (PTSD2).”

“Any racist bullying, racial taunts and slights in any workplace can mentally scare, but in confined quarters it is compounded.”

You can read Byard’s full story here. 

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4.  COVID update: 6 new cases

Photo: Ivan Diaz/Unsplash

That’s a much better number. Tim Bousquet had the COVID update for Wednesday. 

Here’s the breakdown by Nova Scotia Health’s Central Zone:
• 3 Central Zone
• 2 Western Zone
• 1 Northern Zone

So, there are 165 known active cases of the virus in the province right now. Bousquet has the demographics, testing information, and potential exposure advisories.

And remember: VACCINATION STATUS OF RECENT CASES IS REPORTED ON FRIDAY.

Click here to read the complete update.

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5. Online symposium brings together Disabled artists

Artist and disability advocate April Hubbard, one of the planners of the Disability Atlantic Arts Symposium. Photo: A.Y. Taylor Photography

Philip Moscovitch reports on the Disability Atlantic Arts Symposium, which takes place Oct. 22 to 24. The event is free and Moscovitch interviewed April Hubbard, one of the planners:

“Atlantic Canada has the really unique challenge of us being so spread out, as a population of disabled artists,” April Hubbard, one of the conference planners, said in an interview. “We are isolated, be it geographically or by type of disability, so there isn’t much chance for these types of connections. To have these conversations and talk about what our experiences have been, and how we can support each other, either in making art or in self-care, is big.”

Hubbard, who is based in Halifax and is primarily a circus and drag arts performer, is one of four planners (one from each of the Atlantic provinces) of the symposium. She said the fact that disabled artists took the lead in planning the conference was critically important. It meant they could focus on relevant subjects and also arrange the event so the panels and cabaret unfolded with lots of time between each event.

“For organizers who live with disability ourselves, there is only so much energy in a day,” Hubbard said. “We wanted people not to have to choose between events, to have them spread apart, allow breathing room and work that self-care into the symposium.”

Click here to read the article and learn where you can get tickets. 

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6. The Tideline, Episode 50: Fat Juliet

In this week’s episode of The Tideline, Tara Thorne invited Kat McCormack and Stevey Hunter back to the show, this time to talk about Fat Juliet.

The play is on until the end of the month. Listen to the show here. 

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Views

Fat bikes don’t fit on the ferry

Allana Loh’s fat bike, which she is no longer allowed to bring on the ferry. Photo: Allana Loh

Allana Loh and her husband, Wayne, first bought their fat bikes when they lived in Edmonton for about nine months in 2020.  Says Loh:

We saw the city was alive and vibrant with bicycles and the trail system was so extensive. Because it’s a large city, we thought why don’t we get to know our little section and what better way than to bike everywhere?

Fat bikes are all-terrain bikes with wide all-season tires. Loh says it’s a perfect bike for all sorts of conditions and she says her fat bike makes her feel stable when she’s riding. She says riding is “exhilarating.”

When they moved back to Halifax, Loh says they were amazed at the infrastructure put in around Halifax for cyclists, including new bike lanes and trail systems. So they decided to ride their bikes here, too.

Each Saturday morning they had a special route that started at their home in north Dartmouth, across the Macdonald Bridge to downtown Halifax, to Point Pleasant Park, Seaport Market, up along South Park Street and Brunswick Street. Then they’d head to the ferry terminal, exhausted by this time because, as Loh says, ‘they’re both 60 and beyond.”  Loh says the route “was so fun and and felt safe.” 

But during that trip last weekend they hit a roadblock. They got onto the ferry, but their fat bikes with their five-inch wide tires wouldn’t fit. Loh says those racks on the ferries also don’t accommodate e-bikes that have wider battery packs.  

So, they sat as close to the bike rack as they could with their bikes close to them. That’s when a deckhand on the ferry approached them and said it was the last time they’d be allowed to take their bikes on the ferry. Loh explained the fat bikes didn’t fit the racks. The deckhand said they needed to stand on either side of the bike racks and try to keep their bikes in place as best as they could. Says Loh:

I kept wondering how many other people have experienced this? I wonder if the fat bike will fit on the bike racks on the buses as well. What it does is it changes our whole opportunity to enjoy the city by bike and embrace active transportation. I can’t do that route that we’ve been doing each Saturday morning because I can’t make it back all the way to the Macdonald Bridge and pedal over. This way, by connecting with public transportation, I am able to do a whole loop from home, to all the places I need to go, and then back home. It restricts us to the Dartmouth side. That’s a little flaw in our active transportation piece. 

I know Loh from some volunteer work I do. We follow each other on Twitter, where she shares positive messages of encouragement on lots of topics. But that day Loh was discouraged, so she tweeted about her experience on the ferry. She got a lot of feedback from other cyclists, including some who tagged councillors in their replies and retweets. Coun. Waye Mason responded and said, “Fat bikes were not really a thing when the ferries were replaced, so have to get staff to examine modifications to the bike racks so they can be accommodated, and meet Transport Canada requirements. Will ask.”

Loh says they had mapped out a route they both can enjoy, even though she says her husband is a better cyclist. That ferry ride was a short rest for her before finishing off the drive home. She called those Saturday rides “a wonderful day out.”

It’s quite disappointing because we enjoy Point Pleasant Park, we enjoy the Seaport Market and what not, but it will alter our direction.  

Loh says she doesn’t think it would be difficult to create accommodations for fat bikes. She said maybe that could be a lever system that would rise and hook over the tires. Or a hitching post similar to those on the sidewalks around the city.  

We aren’t asking them to rip it apart or rebuild. 

This Saturday, the Lohs will stick to biking on the Dartmouth side, although they haven’t mapped out a route. Loh says she got into biking because she wanted to show younger people that active transportation is for everyone of all ages. 

I may be grey haired and my husband may have a long, white beard, but we’re just as active as the youth. We were hoping to set an example. We are hoping to be that regular couple people see on Saturday mornings. I think they saw how much fun we were having.

Update: I contacted Transport Canada to get more details on the requirement for bike racks on ferries. Spokesperson Frédérica Dupuis sent along this statement:

There are no requirements to accommodate bicycles on ferries under the Canada Shipping Act 2001. The purpose of this Act is to regulate the safety, and the prevention of pollution from the vessel. The type of amenities provided for passengers is a commercial decision of the ferry operator.

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Noticed

The wellness industry may seem harmless but it can lead you to dangerous places outside your field.

I bet you know people who talk about the detoxes or cleanses they do to lose weight, get healthier, or whatever. I’ve seen a lot of this, and I’ve always thought of it as bunk. I mean, how can you “do a detox”? Don’t you have a liver or kidneys? Anyway, the wellness industry is a popular one, led largely by celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and her Goop site where she sells candles that smell like her vagina and jade eggs, gemstones shaped like eggs that you insert into the vagina for who knows what reasons. I don’t want to know. But Paltrow loves them, promotes them, and makes millions — Goop is worth about $250 million — selling this stuff to people.

While it sounds silly and harmless, the wellness industry seems to have created a pipeline to far-right conspiracy theories. Eva Wiseman at the Guardian wrote about this on the weekend in this piece, The dark side of wellness: the overlap between spiritual thinking and far-right conspiracies. 

There’s even a word for it: “conspirituality.” As Wiseman reported, that term was coined by two sociologists, Charlotte Ward and David Voas in 2011. They define it as “a rapidly growing web movement expressing an ideology fuelled by political disillusionment and the popularity of alternative worldviews.” Conspirituality is also a good podcast that covers this topic. 

In the Guardian article, Wiseman interviewed Melissa Rein Lively, who became Twitter famous after a video she made went viral. Wiseman writes about that video:

“Finally we meet the end of the road. This shit is over, we don’t want any of this any more!” she screams, holding the phone camera in one hand and tossing face masks with the other, in a video that swiftly became known as QAnon Karen. When two employees at the Scottsdale branch of Target confront her, she continues, “Why? I can’t do it cause I’m a blonde white woman? Wearing a fucking $40,000 Rolex? I don’t have the right to fuck shit up?”

Rein Lively, who is a PR executive in Arizona, was into the wellness industry, specifically yoga, ayurvedic healing, and meditation. But being online led her to some dark places and conspiracies. There was one meme that led her to make that video that went viral. Wiseman writes:

An image of Polish Jews being put on a train in 1939, edited so they were wearing face masks. The caption said: “First they put you in the masks, then they put you in the box cars.” The granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, she says, “It was the most disturbing image I think I have ever seen. Everything I was learning and everything I have ever been afraid of connected in a way that convinced me that at least some semblance of what I was reading was true.” She was becoming convinced that nothing was really what it seemed; that there was a carefully constructed narrative being told, which was designed to control society. “I was willing to expand my thinking and consider a completely alternative theory, especially during a time of unprecedented chaos. What if nothing was what it seemed?” It was shocking, she says, and horrifying, and also, “Oddly comforting. What I had felt I knew was true, and others knew the same thing. The ‘truth’ as I saw it, was infuriating and I felt compelled to help others ‘awaken’ .” Which is when she went to Target and started shouting.

Rein Lively experienced a mental breakdown after that video went viral. Her husband filed for divorce, she spent 10 days in the hospital, and told Wiseman she was close to suicide. Wiseman writes:

In hospital she worked with therapists unpicking unresolved trauma, including the death by suicide of her mother. “The instability and chaos of the pandemic brought back all of those life experiences. I was forced to re-experience them and ultimately seek help.”

These days, Rein Lively is better, back with her husband, and still online, mostly Instagram (I call it Instaglam). She’s still into wellness, but told Wiseman she tells others to take the industry with a “grain of salt.”

Fortunately, there are people online working to target that misinformation, including Timothy Caulfield, who I wrote about before, and Abbie Richard, who Wiseman writes about in her article (there was considerable backlash over Wiseman’s description of Richard — chirpy Lena-Dunham lookalike — and her work, which Wiseman called sugar-coated with a glass of Coke).

I am also listening to a good podcast from Maintenance Phase, which investigates the wellness industry, too. I started listening to episodes about Rachel Hollis, an influencer and self-help author who I first heard about back in the spring after she apologized for a now-deleted video in which she talked about her privilege, specifically about having a housekeeper — or as Hollis calls her, a woman who “cleans the toilets.” The original video that was shared online included hashtags in which Hollis, a white woman from the Midwest who first became famous for sharing photos of herself in a bikini post partum, compared herself to Harriet Tubman and Oprah Winfrey. Here’s a bit of what she said:

“You’re right,” she said, admitting that she was privileged. “But also, I worked my ass off to have the money, to have someone come twice a week and clean my toilets.”

“What is about me that made you think I want to be relatable?” Rachel said in the video while laughing. “No, sis, literally everything I do in my life is to live a life that most people can’t relate to.”

“Every woman I admire in history was unrelatable.”

There’s a lot of anger in here and I’m not sure where it comes from. But it’s interesting to see, especially in an industry known for claiming to spread “positivity.” Hollis’s Twitter account is now protected, so you can’t read her tweets. Her website is still online, though. And it’s advice about beauty, health, career, “self,” family, home, and a bunch of recipes.

What I find fascinating about the industry is first the lack of diversity, but also how exhausting it seems to put all that effort into creating a perfect life you want others to covet. Influencers call this “curating,” which is another bullshit word. You don’t curate a life, you live one, in all its messy glory.

Anyway, there is some good listening here. Check it out at Maintenance Phase.

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Government

City

Thursday

Active Transportation Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4:30pm) — livestreamed on YouTube

Public Information Meeting, Case 23224  (Thursday, 6pm) — if required, details here

Province

No events


On campus

Dalhousie

Thursday

Women in Innovation & Entrepreneurship Fall Speaker Series # 2 (Thursday, 8am, Emera Idea Hub, room 1003) — with Alice B. Aiken, Rhiannon Davies, Gabrielle Masone, and Hayam Mahmnoud-Ahmed; more info here

Live Conversation with President Deep Saini (Thursday, 9:30am) — with alumni guests; info and link here

Writing Opera, Singing Blackness (Thursday, 12pm) — Live streamed talk with Naomi André from the University of Michigan. She will outline the complications around representations of Blackness in opera and explore how the opera stage has become a space for Black narratives and social justice.

Friday

The Basest of All Modern Warfare’: Privateering and Enslavement in the Caribbean, 1739–1763 (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1170, McCain Building and online) — Chris Baldwin from the University of Toronto will talk.

Saint Mary’s

Show Me the Numbers: Stats and Data Discovery Tools to Support your Research (Thursday, 5:30pm) — This online session will focus on key concepts and challenges in finding data and statistics for your research as well as several useful places and strategies to explore, particularly for survey data from Statistics Canada.

Mount Saint Vincent

Thursday

MSVU Black and Indigenous Speaker Series: Dr. Pamela Palmater (Thursday, 12pm) — RSVP here to receive a link to this event

Friday

Look through the lens of newcomer families in Nova Scotia (Friday, 1pm, the Oval, Halifax Commons) — This outdoor photo gallery organized by the Early Childhood Collaborative Research Centre aims to bring awareness to newcomer families’ experiences accessing programs for children, and to share the participants’ ideas for creating a more inclusive community. Rain date Saturday October 23, same location, more info here.

King’s

Thursday

Jungle Flower Workshop (Thursday, 6pm) — online space where people who have experienced abuse and sexual violence can share their stories

Friday

Antigone (Friday, 5:30pm, the Quad) — free performance by the King’s Theatrical Society; rain date Saturday October 23


In the harbour

Halifax
06:00: MSC Pamela, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Le Havre, France
06:30: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Fairview Cove from Saint-Pierre
07:00: Maersk Clipper, offshore supply ship, arrives at Pier 9 from sea
09:00: John J. Carrick, barge, and Leo A. McArthur, tug, arrives at McAsphalt from Botwood, Newfoundland
10:00: Atlantic Sun, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
11:15: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
16:00: Oceanex Sanderling moves back to Pier 41
16:00: Siem Dorado, offshore supply ship, sails from Pier 9 for sea
20:30: Atlantic Sun sails for New York

Cape Breton
14:30: Maria Desgagnes, oil tanker, arrives at Government Dock (Sydney) from Corner Brook, Newfoundland


Footnotes

I prefer in-person interviews, but since the COVID-19 pandemic started —what seems like eons ago — I’ve done most of my interviews over Zoom or the phone. But on Tuesday I was on the South Shore interviewing a few sources and after we wrapped up I realized we all first greeted each other without a handshake. And it was fine! We didn’t do an elbow bump. We simply said hello. Maybe shaking hands is one of the rituals of the Before Times that we can do without.


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Suzanne Rent

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

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6 Comments

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  1. I am a senior who relies upon an electric assist bike combined with a cart to do shopping and other errands which are not within easy walking distance of home. I am surprised at the number of establishments and public spaces that do not have places to safely lock my bike and cart. With significant climate change in the future and an aging Nova Scotia population, one would think that our active transit planning gurus would be planning for more fat tire bikes, trikes and electric assist cargo bikes when considering cycling infrastructure.

  2. If all the ferry operators are concerned about is that they are required to ensure bicycles are secured, couldn’t the owners of bikes with fat tires simply attach them to the existing racks somehow using cheap ratchet straps?

  3. I’m not currently a cyclist, but were I to get a bike I would be more likely to get one with tires for all seasons and I would be using mine while running errands. Perhaps our transit network needs to include adjustments for wider tires as they continue to update the fleet and the infrastructure.

    Glad to hear that rent control is staying for now at least and that there are amendments to protect against renoviction, but still wonder how much actual affordable stock will be available by end of December 2023 when some of us may see some shocking rent hikes if there are no provisions put in place to limit the hikes. For now, though, I will celebrate the small accomplishments and not stress (too much) about what is nearly two years away. Plenty can happen between now and then. 🙂

    1. I am very happy and surprised with the changes. I certainly will benefit. On the other hand, I know one person who is looking for an apartment who now will have to sign a lease with 2+ years of cap built into the prices, and another who is stuck in a bad relationship because she can’t afford not to live with her partner.

  4. With regard to handshakes I find (I am blind) that a handshake (for me) is like making eye contact for others. I find it a hard habit to stop as I am always putting my hand out when greeting someone I haven’t met or seen for a while. Oh well, I will adjust.

  5. The ferry does not accommodate cargo bikes, trikes, or bike trailers either. While it is good to see the development of bicycle infrastructure in town, it’s being done on the assumption that all cyclists are fit, single, young adults who never carry anything (they use their cars for shopping), and ride conventional bikes. I’d guess that’s because these are the cycling enthusiasts pushing for change, but, for example, older people who might be using a cargo trike as their sole means of transportation are out of luck.