In the harbour
1. Rehtaeh Parsons
Yesterday, Murray Segal released his “Independent Review of the Police and Prosecution Response to the Rehtaeh Parsons Case.” Segal is the former deputy attorney general of Ontario, and now runs his own consulting firm.
Segal’s report is 145 pages long, and I haven’t had time to read it yet. Judging from a scan of other media reports of the review, however, Segal faults the police investigation, the crown prosecutors, and even the school board. Articles about the report include:
Michael MacDonald of the Canadian Press gives an overview.
The Canadian Press lists some of Segal’s main recommendations.
Elizabeth McMillan of the CBC reports on the problems with the police investigation and the faulty advice given by a crown prosecutor.
Stephanie Taylor of Metro reports on an apology issued by Halifax Police Chief Jean-Michel Blais for the mistakes made in the police investigation of the case.
The Chronicle Herald editorializes on the review.
2. P3 schools
“The province must make a decision in the coming months on the future use of a couple of dozen P3 schools that have contracts expiring over the next few years,” reports the Chronicle Herald.
I’ve been meaning to write about this for some time. The short of it is that back in 1997, John Savage’s Liberal government entered into 39 P3 contracts valued at $830 million, with schools owned and operated by New Brunswick-based Ashford Investments and local firms Nova Learning and Scotia Learning Centres, the last owned by Halifax developer George Armoyan.
The P3 school program was a financial disaster, and the subject of a scathing auditor general report.
The contracts were for 20 years, which means the current Liberal government is in a bind. It can extend the contracts, but that just carries the problematic finances down the road. It can close the schools, but most of them are in politically important suburban and rural ridings. Or, it can buy the schools outright — I’m told Armoyan alone would get $100 million from such a buyout.
3. Chain Lakes to be fenced off
Halifax Water is going to fence off the Chain Lakes, reports the CBC’s Pam Berman:
That area of water does not have a filtration system but over the summer it became a popular swimming hole.
“It’s very important to keep that backup water supply as clean as we possibly can.” said James Campbell, a spokesman for the water utility.
“And the best way to do that is to keep people and pets away.”
“There’s an island in the middle of the lake which people seemed to like to swing off and at one point, there was actually a swinging rope,” Campbell said.
I’ve never lived anywhere where there was a back-up water supply. Is such a thing really necessary? What’s the anticipated threat to Pockwock? Someone dropping acid in the lake? A break in the main heading into town?
Maybe I’m missing it — really! — but wouldn’t it be cheaper to simply build a second water main from Pockwock than to hold the hundreds of acres in the Chain Lakes watershed in abeyance, locked away from the public forever?
4. City Hall managerial exodus
Brett Bundale at the Chronicle Herald followed up on my bit yesterday about Halifax Deputy CAO Mike Labrecque’s departure and reminds us that Labrecque is just the latest in a series of managerial departures at City Hall, including:
Darrin Natolino, Halifax’s superintendent of winter operations, shocked city hall when he resigned last week. His last day with transportation and public works is next Friday.
Phillip Herritt, manager of technical services for Halifax Transit, has also put in his notice. His last day with the municipality is Nov. 20.
Alain Tremblay previously held the position of manager of information, communications and technology operations. He took another job outside the municipality and his last day was Oct. 2. Corinne MacCormack is acting manager until the position can be filled permanently.
Tanya Davis, Halifax’s former senior traffic operations engineer, left the municipality in September.
In the spring, Chris Mitchell, manager of road operations, also left his position and took a job with the province.
The last time I’ve seen such a mass exodus of managers from a city government was immediately after Rob Ford was elected as mayor of Toronto. Anticipating the coming train wreck, the TO managers were leaving in droves, taking early retirement, going to work in the private sector, applying for government jobs out in the colonies. In that last category was the then-Toronto Deputy Manager, a fellow named Richard Butts.
1. The hate vote
Lezlie Lowe is appealing to the voters’ utter hatred for Stephen Harper’s campaign tactics:
Our alarmist leader has spewed a perfectly nuanced barf of Islamophobia and racism on the campaign trail. He’s made culture and religion election issues in the worst way possible — highlighting difference by conflating it with unfounded fear and preying on backwater xenophobia to score votes.
Harper’s waging a literal campaign of fear. And it has no grounding in day-to-day life in Canada.
These dodges aren’t just irrelevant, they are out of step with the values of Canadians. As a friend put it: we are better than this. We are. In theory and in deed. The big question is: Can we get out the hate-vote to do something about it?
2. Mother Canada™
The Cape Breton Post’s letter page is a never-ending debate over Mother Canada™. Today there’s one for, one against. The comment sections sometimes get going into hilarioudom, so be sure to check those out too.
3. Cranky letter of the day
I was born and raised in Stellarton many years ago, back when Stellarton was alive! I recall a shoe repair, five and dime, a book store, the corner canteen, bustling restaurants, barber shop, buses lined up at the Acadia Corner, the first Sobeys store, a theatre and even a bowling alley.
Our population is dwindling as industry has moved out, and young people go in search of work. Where does our future lie?
We have a lovely park in the middle of town and our baseball field is well lit and active in summer. We enjoy the ringing of the town hall clock when the wind drifts in our favour, and it all contributes to the makings of a quiet, historical old town.
A neighbour and I discussed the older, established homes for sale all around us. Enterprising thinkers build easy-access rental units, to satisfy the needs of an aging population.
New Glasgow has developed its Riverfront, Pictou has redeveloped its beautiful little Harbour – so what is left for Stellarton? We have no waterfront, no view – only our access to the 104.
The coastal provinces need to admit that tourism is the way of our future. If we had an attraction to complement the likes of the Museum of Industry, we could draw busloads of people. But what on earth could that be?
What if the government, in conjunction with Sobeys, were to build an art gallery in the middle of town? Crombie House hosts and exhibits a valuable art collection one day a week during summer, but it’s in an isolated location. What if that Sobeys art collection was exhibited in a gallery (imagine, works of the Group of Seven)? A gallery would pay tribute to Sobeys history and commitment to Stellarton, and draw public attention to their magnificent works that could be shared with a visiting public.
The spinoffs for local businesses could be amazing, empty buildings would be re-leased and the main street would come to life. It could become a little gem for Pictou County. No longer would the tour buses whiz past as they charge towards Cape Breton – there would be a reason to stop.
They say tourism is our future, and in light of the state of our economy today perhaps its time to get on board!
Carolyn Duncan, Stellarton
Community Facility Master Plan Information Meeting (6:30pm, Captain William Spry Community Centre) — more info here.
No public meetings.
Land Reform in South Africa (3:30pm, Marion McCain Building, room 1170) — Barbara Pearce will speak on “‘They want the land back!”: Assessing the Link between Land Reform and Farm Attacks in South Africa since 1990.”
Dynamic Sounds (3:40pm, LSC 5260) — Michael Schutz will speak on “Dynamic Sounds and Perceptual Processes: The surprising role of amplitude envelope in auditory perception.”
In the harbour
CSL Argosy, bulk carrier, Canso to anchorage for bunkers (fuelling), then sails to sea
STI Seneca, oil tanker, New Orleans to Imperial Oil
Atlantic Compass sails to sea
Atlantic Conveyor sails to sea
Dinkeldiep sails to sea
Oceanex Sanderling sails to St. John’s
The cruise ships Silver Whisper (up to 382 passengers) and Brilliance of the Seas (up to 2,501 passengers) are in port today.
Episode #30 of Examineradio will be published today.
“In that last category was the then-Toronto Deputy Manager, a fellow named Richard Butts”
Perhaps Butts had more to do with the Toronto fiasco? He just moves on to new naive municipalities to reek his havoc. How many other mass exodus’ have happened when he wad the CEO?
Wasn’t just a while ago that the unbeatable team of our CAO/mayor was a huge draw for talent to our fine municipality?
Oh how times have changed.
The backup was used at least once I am pretty sure. But I am also guessing that no one has done a risk analysis to aupport the cost of the fence, the loss of recreational resources, and the actual public health risk even if people were swimming in the lakes while we were using it. Filtration is not disinfection. And the reason I recall the backup supply being used is that I recall how (over)chlorinated the water was.
That chlorination would render the water safe from the sorts of health concerns swimming would bring to drinking water.
This is most likely a result if that famous Halifax reflex of saying no. Then doing and saying whatever it takes to justify and support that reflex position.
Remember, Halifax Water is not acting in anything other than a selfish motivation for anything. Recreation is not their mandate and it matters less than zero to them regardless of the minute immeasurable risk to the public. They are almost certainly more
Motivated to protect themselves from lawsuits resulting from drowning in “their lake”.
As an aside it’s interesting to read, this morning, a suggestion online about HRM needing to build a parking lot there to keep people from parking in the bike lane while swimming.
Portland, Oregon is one of many other cities that react this way to human incursion into the watershed. It would be extremely myopic to characterize it as a Halifax issue.
Long Lake Provincial Park is located in Halifax, accessible from Northwest Arm Drive and by at least two bus routes. It was established in 1980 by then Premier John Buchanan when Halifax’s water supply was shifted from the Spruce Hill/Long Lake/Chain. Locked away from the public forever? Hardly. The park is a great boon to Halifax and would have been developed long ago as a large subdivision of business park had it not been reserved for clean water and then available as a recreation preserve. http://novascotia.ca/natr/parks/management/longlake.asp
Long Lake is wonderful. But it’s on the other side of Highway 3. Chain Lakes are up the watershed, something else. See the map.
Halifax Water has already fenced off the lower end of First Chain Lake, which abuts a pleasant little park that includes a rarely-used soccer pitch. The whole area is a really nice place to walk, cycle, play with your dogs and so forth. When they fence it, what will they do about the old railbed, now a paved trail, that runs right along the side of the lake? Convert it into a chain-linked corridor? I’m sure the deer and the ducks crap all around the watershed, so why are a few human bathers — there aren’t many — a big issue in a water supply that surely goes through purification facilities anyway before it reaches users?
They’ve already installed a fence between the rail trail and the water. They did a good job of putting it close to the water so it’s obscured by trees and bushes so as not to disrupt the natural feel you get along the trail.
I think you could interpret the protection of the Chain of Lakes area as locked away FOR the public forever.
There is a great benefit to prudent planning for clean drinking water. We are lucky to have the resources that we do and there are many places to swim around town. Wise resource use is subjective but I think this seems reasonable.
Chain Lake was the first water supply for Halifax. The city out grew it in the 1960’s and pockwalk was commissioned. I believe the city just installed a Second main from pockwalk, in part because (iirc) they need to shut down the original one for repairs.
City Archives has the original plan of the system online http://www.halifax.ca/archives/documents/W-8-3298WaterWorks.pdf