1. Halifax wants federal money in order to change the housing bureaucracy
“Halifax is still waiting on a response to its application for millions in federal funding to speed up the construction of new housing,” reports Zane Woodford:
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced last week that London, Ontario is getting $74 million from the federal Housing Accelerator Fund “to fast-track the creation of over 2,000 additional housing units over the next three years alone, and build thousands more in the years to come.”
Halifax regional council approved an application for the program in June, endorsing a plan from municipal staff to spend $73.32 million over four years to create an extra 2,600 homes. That’s on top of the average of about 4,200 new units permitted in HRM annually.
Municipal staff proposed 11 actions to spend the money. Those include streamlining permitting process; facilitating residential conversions; encouraging development along future rapid transit corridors; expediting heritage development agreement; encouraging small scale residential construction; and expanding the affordable housing grant program.
It appears that the program is caught up on some funding treadmill.
It also appears that even if received, none of that $73 million will build actual housing. It’s just a tad over $28,000 per perspective residential unit, all dedicated to bureaucratic changes meant to pump the private market.
Even the part about “expanding the affordable housing grant program,” is money given to non-profits, not public housing directly.
As I’ve noted before, as well-meaning and dedicated as those non-profits are, they simply don’t have the “capacity” — the capital, the ability to access debt financing over the long term, the economies of scale needed to operate units efficiently, and the pay rates necessary to draw and keep talented employees — to successfully make a meaningful dent in the housing shortage.
As well, the “affordable” part of the affordable housing grant program is a moving target, defined as a percentage of overinflated market rates and not by, you know, what people can pay. And even then, the units maintain this watered down version of “affordable” only for a set number of years, usually 20, before rental rate restrictions are lifted completely — imagine how much worse our present crisis would be were The Pubs, Uniacke Square, and Mulgrave Park put on the open market 20 years after they were built.
Undoubtedly changes are needed in the regulatory regime. It makes sense to encourage the private construction of granny units and (especially) zoning for high densities around transit terminals. But that’s bringing a squirt gun to a forest fire.
What’s needed is a massive government-financed and government-operated public housing program.
2. Riley trial
I’m currently at the courthouse, and I’ll have an article later today.
“In a report to [HRM] council’s Audit and Finance Standing Committee, meeting on Wednesday, budget and reserves manager Tyler Higgins recommended councillors approve $25 million in spending on costs associated with Hurricane Fiona, the Tantallon wildfire, and flooding this summer,” reports Zane Woodford:
Those costs, so far, total $20.5 million: $4.4 million for Hurricane Fiona, $13.7 million for the wildfire, and $2.4 million for flooding… Higgins recommended adding $15 million to the municipality’s Risk and Resiliency Reserve and then approving the use of the full balance of $25 million.
So the “Risk and Resiliency Reserve” will be topped up and then tapped out. That doesn’t sound like much of a “reserve” for the next round of climate disasters.
Suzanne Rent continues her excellent series of profiles of women over 50 who, in their own often quiet ways, make significant contributions to our society outside of the corporate world.
Today, she speaks with Françoise Baylis, Deb Woolway, and Lisa Vaughan about their success in dragon boat competitions.
5. Glyphosate spraying
“On August 15, the Department of Environment and Climate Change issued [Glyphosate] spray permits to JD Irving and ARF Enterprises of Tatamagouche which will remain in place until September 30,” reports Jennifer Henderson:
The approvals were posted online, as well as new rules concerning signage and improved notification of the public.
At the outset, a map was attached to each approval, showing the area which would be sprayed within the much larger area defined by a Property Identification Number.
However, if you go to the ECC website where the approvals are still posted, you won’t find this spray map — or any others, for that matter. By September 1, they had vanished.
Mikaela Etchegary, a spokesperson for the Department of Climate Change, confirms the maps were taken down following a complaint from Forest NS, a group which says it is the largest organization in the province representing “forestry interests.” These interests included the largest pulp and sawmill companies in the province, as well as contractors and woodlot owners.
6. Selling plasma
“Representatives from several organizations concerned about a for-profit blood plasma clinic opening in Halifax held a rally Tuesday to protest and demand the province put a stop to it,” reports Yvette d’Entremont:
Members of the Nova Scotia Health Coalition (NSHC), NSGEU, CUPE, and a handful of concerned citizens gathered to express their concerns in front of the future location of a Canadian Plasma Resources (CPR) clinic in Bayers Lake.
According to the CPR website, a qualified donor can donate plasma no more than twice in each seven-day period, and can receive “up to” $70 per donation.
“We’re here because paid plasma is coming to Nova Scotia. We’re here because we think that that is not just a bad idea, but a wicked idea,” NSHC chairperson and former physician Bob Barkwell told the gathered group of 12 people.
Reporters working from home
Last week, Torstar laid off over 600 people at its 71 Metroland weekly newspapers, and ended print publication of those weeklies — they are now online only. And yesterday, the CBC reported that another Torstar property, the Hamilton Spectator, is vacating the office space it rents, meaning that it will no longer have a newsroom.
The loss of so many jobs is a tragedy. Besides the personal suffering from any loss of employment, it’s particularly unsettling for me when reporters and others in journalism lose their jobs. Especially in these troubled times, we need all the reporters we can get, and I hope many of them can stay in the industry.
There’s no “but” here. I don’t want to diminish the loss to people’s personal situation or to journalism. Yet when I consider the Halifax Examiner, which has always been online only and has never had a newsroom, it’s difficult for me to understand the impact on reporters (those who weren’t laid off) when their publication gives up its print edition and newsroom, but I believe them when they say it’s a “gut punch.”
The Examiner crew works well independently, and working remotely gives the flexibility for employees to provide child care and the like. We talk constantly with each other on Slack, and try to have a weekly Zoom meeting just to touch base, but I don’t need to constantly check up on employees; I respect them as professionals who can work on their own without direct supervision, and they return that respect with excellent work.
Still, I sometimes think that a bit more in-person collaboration could be helpful. Sometimes we feel adrift and uncertain, and just having some face-to-face experience would benefit us all.
I just don’t know how to make that happen. I could rent a small office space and ask everyone to show up, what, every Tuesday and Thursday? That seems forced, and why should those employees who live clear across the province be required to drive to Halifax? We can’t afford office rent in any event. Maybe I’ll just host a semi-regular staff party at my house.
Regardless, this is the future of news: online only and without newsrooms. The latter part is anathema to CEOs bent on hierarchical control of workers, so doesn’t translate very well to the Borgs that control the legacy media.
In the end, the attempted extortion of Facebook and Google is mostly a backdoor to further enriching the investor class and its oppressive workplace structures. I hope the Halifax Examiner is a counter-example.
Audit and Finance Standing Committee (Wednesday, 10am, City Hall and online) — agenda here
Board of Police Commissioners (Wednesday, 4pm, HEMDCC Meeting Space, Alderney Gate and online) — agenda
Public Information Meeting: Case 2023-00484 (Former Case 24378) (Wednesday, 7pm, Centennial Arena, Halifax) — application to construct a 4-storey apartment building on Main Ave., Halifax
Active Transportation Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4:30pm, online) — agenda
Youth Advisory Committee (Thursday, 5pm, Power House Youth Centre, Bell Road) — agenda
Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, One Government Place and online) — committee business
Using AI approaches to analyze unstructured datasets: Introduction and applications (Thursday, 1pm, Rowe Management Building) — Gene Moo Lee from the UBC Sauder School of Business will talk; info and registration here
Empowering Occupation: The bumpy road to wheelchair provision in under-resourced communities(Thursday, 6pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — Amira Tawashy will talk
In the harbour
05:30: MSC Shristi, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for sea
06:00: Silver Cloud, cruise ship with up to 302 passengers, arrives at Pier 23 from Louisbourg, on a 12-day cruise from Reykjavik to Halifax
06:30: One Blue Jay, container ship (145,251 tonnes), arrives at Pier 41 from Norfolk, Virginia
07:30: Acadian, oil tanker, moves from anchorage to Irving Oil
07:30: Silver Shadow, cruise ship with up to 466 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Boston, on a 10-day cruise from New York to Quebec City
08:30: Mein Schiff 6, cruise ship with up to 2,700 passengers, arrives at Pier 22, on a 14-day cruise from Hamburg, Germany to New York
09:00: Morning Claire, car carrier, arrives at Pier 9 from Goteborg, Sweden
10:30: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from St. John’s
14:30: Silver Shadow sails for Sydney
15:30: Morning Claire moves to Autoport
16:30: Silver Cloud sails for sea
19:30: Mein Schiff 6 sails for New York
21:00: Morning Claire sails for sea
06:00: The World, cruise ship with up to 200 passengers, arrives at Sydney anchorage from St. John’s
06:30: Zuiderdam, cruise ship with up to 2,364 passengers, arrives at Liberty Pier from Charlottetown, on seven-day cruise from Quebec City to New York
08:30: Maritime Valor, oil tanker, sails for EverWind for sea
08:30: Carnival Venezia, cruise ship with up to 5,145 passengers, arrives at Sydney Marine Terminal from Halifax, on a seven-day roundtrip cruise out of New York
09:00: SFL Trinity, oil tanker, sails from EverWind for sea
16:30: Zuiderdam sails for Halifax
18:30: Carnival Venezia sails for New York
23:00: The World sails for sea
As all my time is spent at the Riley trial, the Examiner crew is even more self-directed than usual. They’re doing an excellent job.