1. Coal plants open until 2050


Jennifer Henderson reports:

The recent deal struck between Ottawa and the Province of Nova Scotia to shrink the province’s carbon footprint has been touted as a “win-win“ by Premier McNeil. Consumers will dodge a direct and visible Carbon Tax bullet on electricity, gasoline, and home heating oil in favour of less visible (and purportedly smaller) price increases under a cap-and-trade system to be set up by 2018.

We’ll see.

The big win for Nova Scotia Power is Ottawa’s decision to allow limited use of the Province’s coal-fired plants up until 2050.

Yes, 2050.

Click here to read “Carbon Deal: Nova Scotia’s coal plants will stay open until 2050.”

This article is behind the Examiner’s paywall and so available only to paid subscribers. Click here to purchase a subscription.

2. “Indian status”

An 1818 land grant from Britain’s King George III. Photo: Credit Andrew Testa for The New York Times
An 1818 land grant from Britain’s King George III. Photo: Credit Andrew Testa for The New York Times

Reporting for the New York Times, Craig S. Smith examines the struggle of indigenous people in Nova Scotia wanting to obtain “Indian status” under the Indian Act:

LITTLE BRAS D’OR, Nova Scotia — John Brennick opened a box in his antique-filled house here to reveal a sleek sealskin pouch that a forefather stuffed with precious papers more than a century ago. On a nearby table lay the most important document: an 1818 land grant from Britain’s King George III, its wax seal still bright orange and largely intact.

There is no doubt that Mr. Brennick’s ancestor, Francis Young, existed, and there is little about who he was: a prosperous resident of Indian Village, as Nova Scotia’s Little Bras d’Or was once known, who Anglicized his name in order to win the land grant.

Assuming a British identity helped him avoid the fate of his indigenous kin who were being crowded onto reserves. But erasing his native heritage also deprived generations of his line from enjoying treaty rights as Indians, the name by which Canada’s First Nations are still legally called today.

Many of Mr. Young’s descendants are lobbying now for recognition as Mi’kmaq, the indigenous nation on Canada’s Atlantic coast to which Mr. Young had ancestral ties.

3. Waterfront destroyed


“The municipality’s Design Review Committee approved the massive Queen’s Marque project for the Halifax waterfront during its meeting on Thursday, despite concerns from municipal staff about multiple aspects of the project,” reports Zane Woodford for Metro:

The developer requested 13 variances to land use bylaws in the area, and the committee allowed all of them to go forward, unanimously approving the development with no conditions. Municipal staff recommended all but one, for streetwall height on Lower Water Street.


“We’re very pleased with the Design Review Committee’s learned and thoughtful consideration of the entirety of the project,” [Armour Group CEO Scott] McCrea said after the meeting.

No doubt.

At 450,000 square feet, Queen’s Marque will be about half the size of the Nova Centre, but twice as ugly. Worse still, it essentially privatizes the boardwalk by way of two “expansive gates” that will guard a tunnel through the building (à la the Grafton Street glory hole).

Members of the Design Review Committee are:
Rick Buhr, Chair — director of design at Bird Construction
Rob Leblanc, Vice-Chair — CEO of Ekistics
Malcolm Pinto — namesake of Malcolm PINTO Engineering
Catherine Courtney — project engineer at the DND
Kevin Conley — Landscape Architect at PWGSC
Noel Fowler — architect, who also worked to bring us the beauty of the Nova Centre
Anna Sampson — architect
John Crace — a designer at the appropriately named Drastic Measures Design + Communcation
Matt Neville — urban planner
Emmitt Kelly — according to his LinkedIn page, he manages the Nova Scotia government

History will record that these are the men and women who facilitated the destruction of the Halifax waterfront, bringing Upper Canadian concrete and glass right down to the waterline:

YouTube video

4. Elmwood also to be destroyed


Were that not enough, the same Design Review Committee members yesterday also OKed the demolition of the 1820s-era Elmwood apartment building across from Cornwallis Park, because we really need another shitty six-storey condo complex. As I predicted yesterday, the committee members stroked their chins, OKed the plan but suggested a few minor changes, and then congratulated themselves for how wise they are. Reports Woodford:

As a result, the developer made some changes to the streetwall and building façade on South Street. Those changes included removing a canopy that hung over the sidewalk and replacing it with awnings over what will be patio-like spaces in front of whatever businesses move into the ground-floor commercial space.

“I like what [is] happening at the street level better than before,” said committee member Anna Sampson.

Next up for destruction: two more of the historic buildings on South Barrington.

I lament the loss of the historic buildings, but more so because there’s no upside to this destruction: the crappy buildings going up in their stead won’t last even 30 years. Nobody is going to get off a cruise ship or take the ferry over and stand in awe of a six-storey schlocky concrete monument to quick money.

Good-bye historic Halifax. I’m glad I caught the last of it.

5. Dead herring

Photo: Joan Comeau via CBC
Photo: Joan Comeau via CBC

“Waves full of dead herring have washed up on more and more beaches in Digby County, N.S., over the past week and a half as the mystery continues about what is killing the fish by the thousands,” reports Paul Palmeter for the CBC.

5. Scotsburn sold

“Nova Scotia ice cream company Scotsburn Cooperative Services Ltd. says it has reached an agreement to sell its business to Quebec dairy giant Agropur Cooperative,” reports the Canadian Press.

6. Student walkout

Students at over 50 high schools in Nova Scotia will walk out of their classes today at 12:45 in support of their teachers, who start a work-to-rule job action Monday.

I interviewed student organizer Kenzi Donnelly for today’s Examineradio, which will air on CKDU, 88.1 FM, at 4:30pm, and will be published as a podcast at about the same time.


1. Elizabeth Watson

Supreme Court of Nova Scotia — Halifax County judgement books Nova Scotia Archives RG 39 J Halifax County vol. 6 p. 103″
Supreme Court of Nova Scotia — Halifax County judgement books Nova Scotia Archives RG 39 J Halifax County vol. 6 p. 103″

Christina Macdonald points us to the 1779 ruling of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia in the case of Watson alias Phillis v. Proud:

Elizabeth Watson was born free in the United States. She was brought from Boston and sold as a slave under the name of ‘Phillis’ in Nova Scotia. Abused by her owner, William Proud, a butcher, she sued for unlawful confinement and £100 in damages. Watson’s witness, Elizabeth Read, gave a signed statement that she had known her as a free woman in Boston, and her parents as free people also. Proud’s witness was Samuel Laha, a previous owner. He swore that he had bought ‘Phillis’ in Boston and sold her to Elias Marshall in Halifax, prior to her being purchased by Proud. The court returned ‘Phillis’ to Proud.

2. Natural gas

Richard Starr raises an important point related to the federal-provincial deal over coal plants and carbon emissions (News, #1 above):

The Nova Scotia Liberal doomsday scenario — higher gas taxes — could also come into play even if the government fails to embrace the more ambitious NEG/ECP goals. The fly in the ointment would be liquefied natural gas. If both of the already approved LNG plants in the Strait areas go ahead, the province’s annual emissions would increase by 25%, jeopardizing both the 2020 provincial target and the 2030 federal goal.

The odds of these two LNG facilities becoming real are long. But as the province works out the details of cap and trade it will be interesting to see where LNG or other new major emitters would fit in, and how the government squares its promotion of LNG with its aversion to carbon pricing of petroleum products. The process will also be a test of the Liberals’ commitment to cutting GHG emissions. Will they be content to stand pat on the success of policies introduced by Conservative and NDP governments or will they set new targets and introduce credible policies to achieve them?

The proposed Canso Strait plants aren’t directly related to the Alton Gas dispute, but I’d argue that the same issue is at play. As I said to Bill Turpin the other day:

I don’t know anything at all about the specifics of the Alton project, so can’t speak to the merits of the band’s case pro or con.

However, I fall in Bill McKibben’s camp. He writes:

In other words, if our goal is to keep the Earth’s temperature from rising more than two degrees Celsius — the upper limit identified by the nations of the world — how much more new digging and drilling can we do?

Here’s the answer: zero.

That’s right: If we’re serious about preventing catastrophic warming, the new study shows, we can’t dig any new coal mines, drill any new fields, build any more pipelines. Not a single one. We’re done expanding the fossil fuel frontier. Our only hope is a swift, managed decline in the production of all carbon-based energy from the fields we’ve already put in production.

McKibben didn’t specifically mention digging caverns in salt deposits to facilitate moving natural gas, but surely he would agree that the Alton project adds to the fossil fuel infrastructure that is destroying the planet.

3. Eastern Passage high school

Graham Steele defends his decision, as NDP Finance minister, to approve the Eastern Passage high school, which was criticized in the most recent auditor general’s report:

For better or worse, we exercised our political judgment on the Eastern Passage high school. We knew the costs and consequences of our decision. Everything in Wednesday’s [auditor general] report was discussed at length around the Treasury Board, cabinet and caucus tables.

As I wrote yesterday on Facebook:

I’m kinda fascinated by the Eastern Passage example. I (somewhat) know the local politics, unlike the situation in the valley and Tatamagouche, where I have zero knowledge of local issues. I think the NDP does deserve criticism for EP: the local politicians at both the city council and MLA level were NDPers (Becky Kent in both positions, and then Jackie Barkhouse at council), and undoubtedly there were caucus conversations about the school. But I don’t think that completely explains the school. There is also the simple fact that it’s a long drive (for the urban area) from EP to Cole Harbour, and EP is a growing community with a growing sense of identity, and so wanted its own school. Far more important, however, were the race and class dynamics involved, and nobody much wants to talk about that. So I guess I’m saying that in order to get the school, all three had to come together — the race & class issues, the sense of resentment and self-identity in a growing community, and the party politics. I wonder if there are similar local dynamics in the valley and Tatamagouche cases.

Other commenters pointed at the absurdity of the much earlier decision to build two high schools essentially two blocks away from each other in Cole Harbour. That’d be a wonderful subject for a student thesis. (Maybe it’s already been written?)

4. Canadian smug


Canadians shouldn’t be smug about events happening south of the border, says John DeMont.

5. Cranky letter of the day

To the New Glasgow News:

Anyone living in rural Nova Scotia must be very discouraged with the lack of response from the DOT for the latest snowstorm (Nov. 30).

My company is on a 100-series road and as of 9:15 a.m. Wednesday we had not seen any more than one plow go down the road – at 6 a.m., not to return.

Besides the snow build-up there are areas that are down to one lane due to trees blocking the road from lack of tree cutting within the road boundaries.

If I hear one more lecture that companies need to step up to the plate and generate growth from a minister or government think tank (I use this term loosely) I am going to lose it!

How dare they dictate to business on health and safety mandates when they can’t look after their own responsibilities for road maintenance!

How dare they tell industry we must create economic growth when we can’t get customers to our door due to poor road conditions!

I suspect that most if not all industry does not and cannot afford to pay their staff for snow days. Furthermore, the workers cannot afford to take a day off if they are unable to get to work due to road conditions.

No work, no pay, no taxes, no growth! Pretty simple!

Absolutely fed up in Pictou County.

Andy MacGregor, RR4 New Glasgow


No public meetings.

On campus


Thesis Defence, Interdisciplinary Studies (10am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — John Davie will defend his thesis, “A Methodology for Classifying Factual Research Problems.”

Ebola (12pm, McCain 2198) — Edward Zvekic of the Bo District Ebola Task Force and Shelly Whitman of Child Soldiers Initiative will speak on “Development in Times of Crisis: The 2014/15 Ebola Outbreak in Sierra Leone and its Legacies.”

The Case Against Medicare (12:10pm, Room 104, Weldon Law Building) — Colleen Flood of the University of Ottawa, will speak on “The Constitutional Case Against Canadian Medicare and Why It May Succeed.”

Queer Invisibility (12:30pm, Room 2021, Marion McCain Building) — Lisa Goldberg will speak on “Using Caring Science as a Framework for Understanding Queer Invisibility in Nursing.”

In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 9:15am Friday. Map:
The seas around Nova Scotia, 9:15am Friday. Map:

6am: Itea, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
7am: Great Eastern, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from Port Arthur, Texas
7am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Autoport to Pier 41
11am: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 36 from Saint-Pierre
Noon: Breaux Tide, offshore supply ship, sails from the old Coast Guard base for the offshore
3:30pm: Itea, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
6pm: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Pier 36 for Saint-Pierre
8pm: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, sails from Pier 41 for St. John’s

7am: CMA CGM Dalila, container ship, arrives at HalTerm from Port Klang, Malaysia


The November subscription drive was very successful! We got about twice the number of new subscribers than I had hoped for.

I can’t thank all the new (and continuing!) subscribers enough. Your subscriptions will help us to continue the work we’ve done for the past two and a half years and increase the offerings in coming months. The larger budget will allow us to hire more freelancers for a range of issues and, starting in January, expand the Examiner’s coverage of campus issues — more on that soon.

For the approaching holiday season, we’re going to offer various premiums for gift subscriptions to the Examiner. I’ll work on that over the weekend and have details on Monday.

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

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  1. Why does the Design Review Committee not have as its majority membership designers and architects who are experts in historical design and architecture for a city which prides itself and distinguishes itself by reason of its history and historical built form legacy?

    No wonder there is so little consideration given to adaptive re-use and to ensuring harmonious integration of the new with the old.

    And, No! in my mind the massing of the new building is not sympathetic to the Historic Properties nearby.

  2. Just noticed the cranky letter, something which rarely interests me. But I just happened to notice the author’s name in passing, and bam, whadayaknow, Andy MacGregor. The same Andy MacGregor who no doubt penned this gem of an opinion in 2014. Back then, safety meant nothing to him when his cash cow was poisoning the locals. Oh right, he doesn’t live in pictou or pictou landing, so why would it.

  3. I don’t understand the false dilemma repeated across social media today that the ‘choice’ is between an empty parking lot and the current proposal. This false dilemma and the mediocre thinking that got us here is the problem articulated perfectly.

    The choice, it seems to me, is between this proposal and the notion of stopping and beginning again with a clear end goal of finding the highest and best use of the property as an investment for the rising generation of public to whom this property belongs with our duty of care being to follow a process and system of accountability that can leave a fair and reasonable record of how we arrived at our decision that could be defensible to future generations in the face of any varied future outcomes that may present themselves.

  4. Amen to Savannah. A port city that has GOT IT GOING ON. NSCAD administrators might consider some kind of exchange program with the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).
    For too long, Savannah has stood in the shadow of Atlanta which is an architectural mess, its rich black culture notwithstanding.

  5. I have recently resigned from the Heritage Advisory Committee out of sheer frustration. Simply put, it just takes too long to do things. The developers know this and it’s open season.
    The volunteers who are the HAC are all good, smart, caring people but they serve in an advisory capacity only and have been unfairly castigated by some for the ongoing loss of our heritage buildings. The real issue here is that it’s taking far too long for city staff, Regional Council and the Province to move and approve documents that will amend the Heritage Act or city bi-laws relating to demolition permits. In my opinion, these processes should have happened 30 or 40 years ago.
    Let reality be reality.
    In the meantime, what kind of city do we want to live in? Anyone who’s been to Charleston, Jamestown, Savannah, Portland, Williamsburg, Quebec City, etc. knows that heritage can be big business. Do we want cold corridors of generic glass and steel facades or precincts of beautiful heritage buildings that are self-sustaining? Some enlightened cities can do both but it’s getting late for Halifax.
    This city is losing its soul.

    1. Amen. We’ve stepped up from brutalist architecture to suicidal. That QM building is as inspiring as the parking lot it is replacing.

  6. Wonder if the new buildings will be accessible. Truly accessible. Bet they won’t. BECAUSE WE HAVE NO REQUIREMENT TO MAKE THEM SO.
    Sorry. This just never seems to be part of the issue, and yet it is so important.

  7. The old Elmwood building will be a great loss, both from the perspective of architectural fabric and diversity in the south end, but also from the perspective of architectural history generally. How many wooden buildings of this sort (small apartments/rooming houses) built in the 1820s are still standing anywhere in the world today? I assume that there are very, very few. I do not know the case presented to the Design and Review Committee by the owner/developer of the property, but, based on what I have seen elsewhere in the city, I imagine that it included statements about the prohibitive expense of maintaining, restoring, or renovating the existing structure. It seems to me that other cities around the world create a system of financial incentives for the renovation and continued use of such heritage buildings. Is there any such system in place in Halifax of NS that would ‘incentivize’ (what an ugly word) the continued use of such structures, or could such a system be developed? With respect to the Queen’s Marque project: I am not sad to see the parking lots along the waterfront disappear. The design doesn’t seem that bad to me, although the scale is difficult to ascertain from the images I have seen, but I do think that the ‘tunnels’ over the boardwalk may be a mistake. I hope that I am wrong. Finally, I hope that it doesn’t further marginalize Lower Water Street, which seems more like a very busy back-alley in places rather than a major thoroughfare in a vibrant city.

  8. What’s the point of that building on the waterfront? It adds nothing aesthetically.

    Also John DeMont, we ain’t me. Stop dragging others into your ignorant little circle.

    1. To say it adds nothing aesthetically is a little unfair. The location is currently a vast parking lot; in terms of aesthetics, I don’t think you can go anywhere but up from there.

  9. Regarding the Smug Alert: All the modern left has remaining is emotional manipulation & the self-interest of its client groups.

    If all they have is “but what about this really sad thing that happened, doesn’t it feel good to agree with us?” and the modern right has “We will keep you employed and safe” then the modern right will win outside of urban bubbles and among young people in those bubbles who are confronted with the realities of being a young person in Canada.

    1. Disagree. The Modern left also has Healthcare, affordable education, fairer tax policies, child care spaces, … basically everything that looks after people.

      The modern right has tickle-down economics, which has yet to have one example of working, and fear-tactics claiming THEY are the only ones who can keep you SAFE, not MAKING you safe.

      I do agree, though, that the modern right does win people who are in “bubbles”. I just disagree that it has anything to do with confronting realities and more to do with playing to old and disproven fantasies, that just happen to see work because they have a new boogie man to scare people with, Syrian Refugees.

      I think the politics of ignorance and scare tactics will eventually grow bored with people, especially given the extreme mis-information campaigns that have been successful lately. Eventually, people will realize BS when they see it or enough people will call it out that it will not be tolerated.

  10. Re the Elmwood.

    The Regional Plan includes as a Guiding Principle … not a oh it would be nice but a Heritage and Culture ‘guiding principle’

    “Ensure lasting legacies (buildings, open spaces and streets) are maintained and new ones are created”

    Defn of “Ensure” – to secure or guarantee; to make sure or certain

    It certainly appears plans and principles mean nothing.

    Given this why should anyone believe the proposed Centre Plan will be any different?

  11. Oh, and: The Design Review Committee is indeed a joke. It’s a bunch of smart people, but they’re all peers and colleagues, working in a small city. Maybe we should create bring in outside-the-city/outside-the-region expertise to the review process. People who aren’t going to be worried about offending their friends.

  12. Yeah, the Queen’s Marque project is actually a rather eastern seaboard building. You would never see it in Ontario. The wharves, the stone and granite cladding, etc. It’s very much designed with an eye to east-coast architecture. And Mackay Lyons is a a great firm, one of the best we have. Their whole raison d’etre is specifically NOT creating anonymously generic buildings, but playing upon local vernacular. I’m a bit disappointed in elements of this building (and I’m not convinced that the “porous” elements will actually be very people-friendly) but it’s hardly some waterfront-destroying disaster, and it’s definitely not Upper Canadian concrete and glass, etc.

    The Elmwood thing, however, is total bullshit. This building should not be destroyed, and the proposed replacement is bleh.

    I was at the heritage advisory meeting for the Barrington buildings Dexel is proposing to tear down. Basically, Dexel’s current proposal involves keeping them both, but they’ve applied for the demolitions as a bargaining chip. It’s pretty greasy, IMO, but basically, they want to build nine stories stepped back behind the buildings, and the city wants seven. If no compromise can be reached, demolition is possible, but it’s not a done deal. There’s good reason for optimism here. Dexel can’t demolish anything until October 2018, given the three-year waiting period after application (which was last October), and the negotiations are ongoing.

    1. Couldn’t agree more with both of your points. The QM development is filling a current parking lot, not replacing anything of significance. It’s a gorgeous building, created by a great architect, that will change our experience of interacting with the waterfront and the built environment. It creates an interesting space, in a place that is currently devoid of interest. This is where BML’s design expertise really shines.

      The Barrington St buildings though should absolutely be saved. It makes absolutely zero sense to replace them with something so boring.

  13. More hideous structures replacing historic, interesting buildings. I have nothing against modern buildings, if done right, and in the right places. But this destruction makes Halifax less livable, and less attractive to tourists. I guess Saint John should try to step up.

    Meanwhile, in the city everyone wrote off, Detroit, there is lots going on with historic structures that to most eyes weren’t worth saying. Scroll through And also look at what they are doing on their admittedly ample vacant spaces.

  14. I am beyond furious at the developers, the Design Review Committee, and the silence from the Mayor and others as everything that made the built form of this city special is systematically destroyed.

    1. As our learned Mayor said in a recent Metro interview “The answer to development is not that all development is good or all development is bad. Good development is good and bad development is bad.”

      In what other city in the world is drivel like that tolerated from a high public official?

      1. Is it not true, though?

        It’s a pretty elementary statement, but hey, we have a lot of people in this city who seem to believe that almost every development is bad, or that all modern buildings should adhere to the scale of nearby historic buildings. (Such conservatism is a great recipe for skyrocketing housing prices and strangled housing supply).

        On the other hand, we have people who don’t seem to give a fig about heritage, and who embrace with open arms every single new development as much-needed “change”.

        So we have a discussion about development that is very polarized between “Don’t build anything, ever, anywhere” and “tear it all down, and be as modern as we can!”

        In that kind of environment, Savage’s statement seems like a needed reminder that development is, in and of itself, not good or bad. (And neither are tall buildings, in and of themseves, good or bad. It’s all about location, design, and making sure they don’t replace valuable historic assets),

        1. Sorry that is a stetement by someone who either doesn’t care or is ignorant about development and it’s consquences on a city’svalues.

          In what world is the destruction of a beautiful building like the Elmwood to be replaced by the non-descript piece of shit envisioned be in any way, shape or form deemed good development beyond the blind commercial interests of the developer involved?

          Everytime Halifax loses a building like that it loses more and more its soul and the more it loses what is distinct and unique from any other formless city.

          I call that bad development. Wish our public officials could see the same.

  15. Queens marque was designed by Mackay Lyons Sweetapple Architects. they are a Halifax Firm with offices on Gottigen Street. The project has issues, but generally is good. It is most definitely not an imposition of Upper Canada however, unlike alot of other recent building.

    1. The Upper Canadian concrete and glass line is a reference to the Stan Rogers’ song Fisherman’s Wharf, and not a commentary on the hometown of the architects.

      1. Exactly. It’s surprising how distracting this obvious allusion has been in the discussion today.

    2. Personally, I’ve never cared for MacKay – Lyons’ work. A visit to his Upper Kingsburg enclave a few years confirmed my suspicion that context played no part in his designs. There is a recurring theme in all of his work – boxes on hillsides, boxes in pastures, boxes in the middle of an historic streetscape. Come to think of it, perhaps he is perfect for 21st century Halifax. I do admire his talent for self promotion.

      1. Oh God, I’ve seen those buildings in Kingsburg. Your description is apt. They also don’t look very practical.