1. Queen’s Wharf

No one thinks this is a good idea, but hey, there’s money to be made.

Not only are Waterfront Development and the Armour Group despoiling the waterfront, they’re changing the perfectly good historic name of Queen’s Wharf into some BS marketing-schemed “Queen’s Marque.”

Anyway, construction of the monstrosity began this week, and immediately the bulldozers started revealing and demolishing ancient wharf structures buried in the fill. Waterfront Development assures me that archeologists are on the site and that there’s an archeological resources plan in place.

Undated photo of the Royal Engineers building. Photo: Nova Scotia Archives

A couple of years ago Peter Ziobrowski compiled historic information about the site:

Queen’s Wharf originally was the site of the Middle Battery that defended Halifax. It consisted of 10 guns facing the harbour, three to the north, and two guns to the south.

It later became home to the Nova Scotia Commissariat Premises. This seems to have been one of the main supply yards of the British forces, and was the wharf where the Garrison Clock was unloaded from London in 1803.


In 1925, the wharf became the home of the Atlantic Fisheries Experimental Station. The station was setup as part of a program to improve Canadian catches, processing methods and determining why stocks varied from year to year. Originally housed in a renovated structure, it moved to purpose built quarters by 1930.


The lab was responsible for the improvements in fish smoking, and the invention of frozen fish fillets in 1929. The experimental station programs were ended in the 1970s, and the facility was used by other government researchers until demolished in 1999.

Ziobrowski has lots more historic photos of the site at the link.

It wouldn’t surprise me if historic artifacts are unearthed during construction, which would be a very good thing, both for the lessons in history and because every day construction is delayed is one more day we won’t have to live with that dog-awful completed project.

What we have here is multiple institutional failures. Waterfront Development has placed profits for the agency above what should be its primary purpose — wise stewardship of waterfront lands. Halifax city councillors washed their hands of any responsibility for protecting the character of the waterfront and didn’t throw up a roadblock to the project when they had the chance. And the laughably incompetent Design Review Committee didn’t dare to do anything but rubberstamp the project.

The result:

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).

Even construction is going to muck up the waterfront experience, as Zane Woodford reports for Metro:

The project is expected to take three years and means the boardwalk between George and Prince streets will be removed. Waterfront Development Corporation announced plans Wednesday to create a temporary floating boardwalk in its place.

“We know that, putting our minds to it, we can frame this in a very positive way,” acting president and CEO of Waterfront Development Corporation, Jennifer Angel said in an interview.

And putting my mind to it, I can frame this in exactly the negative way it should be framed: You’ve destroyed the waterfront. All the mind games in the world won’t change that factual reality.

I’m not the only one who thinks so. Says Dan Leger:

So this monstrosity is under construction already on the Halifax waterfront. After years of enjoying a lovely boardwalk environment, with human spaces, we’re now going to have a massive concrete and glass bunker overpowering everything nearby. Goodbye human scale walking, hello gigantic bunker with faux access to the water. I thought this was still awaiting approval or being debated, but I guess I missed it. This city seems determined to destroy itself at times, honestly…

It’s not like we weren’t warned:

YouTube video

white space

2. Wanderers Grounds

The Wanderers Ground was a soggy mess the day before the “Battle for New Scotland” rugby match in 2015. Photo: Halifax Examiner

The city this morning issued a Request for Proposals for the designing and building of a “sand-based soccer rugby field” at the Wanderers Grounds:

The Wanderers Grounds Field located at 5759 Sackville Street is in very poor condition and requires reconstruction. The HRM would like this facility to be able to accommodate higher end competition play of both soccer and rugby. The decision has been made to convert this field to a sand base field with drainage and irrigation.

The proposed sand based field is to be 130m x80m including a 5m side line run off. Areas outside of this can be treated with typical soil and sod.

This Request for Proposals is for the Design and construction of the new Wanderers Grounds Field is to include the design of all aspects of the field, drainage and irrigation system. In addition pricing is to be included for the site specific works outside the field itself.

Two of the light standards are to be relocated and a replacement score clock is to be supplied and installed.

The project will be awarded on February 10, and the deadline for completing the project is September 1, with a $1,000/day penalty for delay.

The poor condition of the existing field was a black eye for the city in 2015, when a highly touted “Battle for New Scotland” rugby match between Rugby Canada and the Glasgow (Scotland) Warriors had to be moved to Spryfield because players refused to play at the Wanderers Grounds. I wrote at the time:

The match is wrapped in much fanfare and celebratory events are scheduled through the next few days. Friday afternoon, a “Giv’r” beer tent will be set up on the Wanderers Grounds, and a street fair takes over Argyle Street in the evening. A “Tailgate Party” is planned for Argyle Street from 10am to 2pm on Saturday, and the tipsy revellers would presumably walk over to watch the 3pm match at the Wanderers Grounds.

But officials with Rugby Canada and the Glasgow Warriors have deemed the playing field unsafe and refuse to play on it, confirms a spokesperson for Sports & Entertainment Atlantic, the event management firm that is producing the game at a cost of $90,000.

So now the tipsy revellers will have to somehow make their way to the Grave-Oakley Memorial Park in Spryfeld, where the match has been moved to.

A source tells the Examiner that the Wanderers Grounds playing field is a mess, waterlogged and full of rocks.

“This is some seriously embarrassing bush league kind of stuff,” says the source. “I can’t see how you could get 5,000 seats, and a beer garden, and a TV broadcast setup, and changing facilities, and transportation infrastructure set up in 72 hours with no advance planning. Not to mention the Argyle Street tie-in.”

Sports & Entertainment Atlantic president Derek Martin says his group wants to build a 5-6,000-seat stadium on the Wanderers Grounds for a soccer team he hopes to start in Halifax. The RFP issued this morning contains no mention of a potential stadium, however.

3. Skateboarders


“The HRM hasn’t written any bylaws on skateboarding,” report Jillian Ellsworth and Kieran Leavitt for The Signal, the King’s Journalism Program’s web publication:

According to skateboarders across the municipality, many of whom have been skateboarding for years, the laws have never been made clear to them. In addition, they say the rules against skateboarding on the road penalize alternative transportation and put pedestrians at risk.

Remember when we were going to rebuild all our cities for the Segway? Or when the province changed the laws to accommodate Segways? Thousands of times as many people use skateboards than will ever use Segways, and yet we can’t seem to draw up a simple set of regulations for them.

4. Pedestrian struck

A police email to reporters from last night:

Halifax Regional Police were called to the intersection of Kearney Lake Road and Parkland Drive shortly before 6pm to a report of a 22-year-old woman who was struck by a vehicle in a marked crosswalk.

Officers arrived and spoke to the 26-year-old driver of the vehicle and witnesses that were in the area. At the conclusion of the investigation officers issued a Summary Offence Ticket to the driver of the vehicle for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

No serious injuries were sustained by the pedestrian.


1. Craft beer

Boy, just mentioning that ACOA has spent over $10 million financing Maritime craft brewers set a bunch of beer enthusiasts off yesterday. (See the comments to yesterday’s Morning File.) Anyway, my friend Jeff Pinhey got so worked up about it he wrote an entire “Voice of the City” for The Coast.

The merits of craft beer aside, the larger issue for me is that many industries in the Martimes can’t seem to get adequate private sector financing. There’s become a lazy celebration of Canadian banks — they weren’t as so thoroughly deregulated as US and European banks and so couldn’t get on the finance gravy train that led to the global financial collapse — but today, those banks are profitable as sin, are sitting on billions of dollars in cash, and yet aren’t lending out money to the degree necessary to support Maritime industries. Government has moved from being the lender of last resort to becoming the primary lender. Relatedly, I don’t have the figures right before me, but as I recall, governments at various levels fund something like two-thirds of the R&D in Nova Scotia. That’s a broken system.

2. How to ride the bus

The #1 at rush hour.

“On buses, why don’t people get on at front and get off at the back?” asks a Redditor. I’d add: Why, when the bus is standing room-only, do people stop halfway back, forcing everyone to cram into the front half of the bus? I admit to being rather rude about this, forcing my way through the mass of standing people to get to the back of the bus, where there is not only lots of room to stand but also often even empty seats. I just don’t get it: move back, dammit!

3. Cranky letter of the day

To the Cape Breton Post:

Why are patients who legally acquire medical marijuana being illegally charged sales tax on this medicine? Correspondence to get clarification on why this is so included federal Health Minister Jane Philpott, Finance Minister Bill Morneau and our two MPs – Mark Eyking and Rodger Cuzner.

Health Minister Philpott replied that “tax policies fall within the purview of Hon. Bill Morneau” and forwarded my inquiry to him. MP Eyking replied with what are the existing regulations on marijuana that represent outdated information considering the ongoing changes with medical marijuana.

However, Veena Bhullar, senior special assistant – operations, for Morneau, replied on Nov. 4 the following:

“Under the GST/HST, the general policy objective governing the tax treatment of drugs is to eliminate the tax on those drugs that are needed to deal with illness, disease or disability. It is for this reason that tax relief is generally limited to drugs prescribed by a medical practitioner.

“The minister understands that their longstanding position, which has been upheld by the courts, is that medical marijuana/cannabis is not acquired pursuant to a prescription, therefore sales are taxable.”

On Nov. 4, I sent the following reply to Minister Morneau:

”According to your special assistant’s reply, medical marijuana is not acquired pursuant to a prescription and is therefore taxable. 

“The medical marijuana I have been able to obtain had to have a legally licensed medical doctor (not an easy task) prescribe it by forwarding his prescription to one of the government-licensed producers in New Brunswick. I then have to register the patient with this government-licensed producer to purchase this medical marijuana. The producer will not sell this medication without the doctor’s prescription that he had to forward to this government-licensed producer.

“Therefore, I don’t understand your assistant’s comment that this medical marijuana is not acquired pursuant to a prescription and is taxable.

“Am I correct in interpreting your assistant’s comment that medical marijuana is available to purchase from a government- licensed producer in Canada without a prescription from a legally licensed doctor?”

Minister Morneau has not replied. Nor has anyone else responded that explains this situation.

Apparently this government’s policy activation and this government’s updating regulations regarding medical marijuana cannot be updated simultaneously. This needlessly and reprehensibly results in those patients paying an unjustified tax on a legally doctor-prescribed medicine because of government incompetence.

Charles W. Sampson, Sydney Forks



Community Planning & Economic Development (9:30am, City Hall) — the committee is being asked to run the “mobile food market” — the fresh produce on a bus thing — through the winter.

Active Transportation (4pm, City Hall) — there’s nothing at all interesting on the agenda.


Resources (9am, Province House) — all about lobsters

On campus


Architecture Lecture (9am, Auditorium, Medjuck Architecture Building) — Grant Wanzel will speak.

Transparent Computing (11:30am, Room 430, Goldberg Computer Science Building) —  Jonathan Anderson, from Memorial University, will speak. His abstract:

Today’s operating-system security primitives are focused on individual moments in time. System calls and access control decisions are made “in the moment”, but malicious actors known as Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) work stealthily over significant time periods to evade detection and analysis. Transparent Computing is an ambitious DARPA research program to radically transform the visiblility of security-relevant events in large networks of systems, exposing data-provenance information to detect the stealthiest adversaries. This talk will describe work on the Causal, Adaptive, Distributed and Efficient Tracing System (CADETS) as part of the Transparent Computing program. A collaboration among BAE Systems, Memorial University and the University of Cambridge, CADETS employs DTrace in the FreeBSD kernel, LLVM-based program transformation and distributed tracing to improve OS tracing and data provenance both vertically (across kernel and userspace) and horizontally (across hosts in a network).  

Bruce Lourie

Coal Phase-out (4pm, Room 105, Weldon Law Building) —  Bruce Lourie, who was involved in the phase-out of coal-fired electricity in Ontario, will talk, and a panel will react. The panel consists of:

Meinhard Doelle – Professor of Law, Schulich School of Law
Jason Hollett — Executive Director of Climate Change Team, Nova Scotia Department of Environment
Michael Sampson – Director of General Asset Management, Nova Scotia Power Inc.

Architecture Lecture (4:30pm, Auditorium, Medjuck Architecture Building) — Ted Landsmark, attorney, architect, and past president of Boston Architectural College, will speak.

Intelligence Analysis in the Age of Trump (Room 1020, Rowe Building) — Mark Stout, from Johns Hopkins University, will speak.

Resettler Society:  Private Sponsorship of Refugees and the Making of Citizenship (7pm, the theatre named for a fucking bank, McCain Building) — Audrey Macklin, from the University of Toronto, will speak.

World’s Challenge (7pm, Ondaatje Auditorium, McCain Building) — Six Dalhousie semi-finalist student teams will present their “innovative solutions to solving global challenges.” They are:

Alicia Roy, Danielle Skuy, and Robyn Follett — Establish Female Business Owners in Prosthetic Limbs Production in Developing Countries

Keisha Jefferies, Nadine Ezzeddine, and Yue Yuan — Create an Educational Program for Tanzania on the Benefits of Breast Feeding

Kyle Gardiner, Ryan Zigrossi, and Conor Daily — Reduce Methane Gas Production by Changing Livestock Feed

Graeme Anson-Cartwright, Derek Zigrossi, and Natasha Irich — Establish Renewable Energy Facilities in Developing Nations

Scott Young, Naveen Khanduri, and Nicholas Popp — Develop Model for Phosphate Production for Use in Biofuel Production

Caitlin Grady, Jasveen Brar, and Caroline Merner — Harness International Expertise to Support Climate-Vulnerable Communities

Architecture Lecture (7pm, Auditorium, Medjuck Architecture Building) — Gavin Renwick, from the University of Alberta, will speak.

In the harbour

2:30am: CSL Tacoma, bulker, sails from National Gypsum for Baltimore
6am: ZIM Barcelona, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from New York
6am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Anchorage #5
7:30am: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 36 from Saint-Pierre
Noon: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Anchorage #5 to Autoport
4:30pm: Macao Strait, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for Mariel, Cuba
4:30pm: ZIM Barcelona, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for Kingston, Jamaica


I don’t often look at the website analytics for This venture has a business model that doesn’t rely on web hits but rather on subscriptions; there’s a connection between the two, but it’s not as strong as you might think — I’ve had individual pages get hundreds of thousands of views, with no discernible increase in subscriptions, while a few articles with a far lower number of hits have corresponded with large increases in subscriptions. I long ago stopped worrying about it, and I just do what I want to do and leave it at that. It seems to be working.

But I had to get into the analytics this morning, and noticed that Erin Moore’s piece about Ezra Levant has gone semi-viral. There were a couple of hundred people reading it at 6am this morning. (Readership of the site is usually highest around 10am, just as people are settling into their first cup of coffee at the office; there aren’t often many or even any people on the site in the middle of the night.)

If anyone’s curious, the most viewed articles on the Examiner have been the Dead Wrong series, followed by several of El Jones’ pieces and Linda Pannozzo’s forestry series. There are some other spikes — going off on John Risley seems to bring in the readers, and some seemingly random Morning Files pop up high in the numbers. But again, I don’t really watch these things closely, and I certainly don’t change anything I do because of the numbers.

Er, please subscribe.

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

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  1. Regarding skateboard laws/rules: I’m pretty sure they fall under the umbrella of active transportation legislation(s), though I may be wrong.

  2. It might be interesting to contact a couple of the archaeology consulting firms who were *not* retained for the Queens Marque contract, like Davis MacIntyre and others, to see if they have any professant concerns about how the project is proceeding,

  3. El Jones pieces probably get a lot of hits when they get posted to /r/halifax, but /r/halifax has an um, mixed opinion on El Jones.

    This Queens Mess thing is just ridiculous – what about climate change? I get it, urban real estate is one of the hottest sectors of the economy right now and maybe what we need to make Nova Scotia Great again is some condos for foreigners with dubious track records to stash wealth in, but I personally doubt it.

    Given that real estate is a huge part of Canada’s GDP and the low commodity prices, it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that our dollar is to some extent backed by condos in Toronto and Vancouver. Of course, I’m not an economist and should let my betters explain to me why trading overpriced real estate and developing apps is the future of Canada.

  4. I was astonished to see the “Queen’s Marque” project approved a few years ago. I visit Halifax only once or twice per year but I always enjoy the Halifax harbourside boardwalk (and the Dartmouth harbourside trail), and I seem to recall that all of those properties were acquired over many years and at considerable public expense.

    Now. it seems that this “commons” is being privatised so that rich people can live and work right on the water and regular folks can peer through the fence at their birthright. At some point, and probably not at this point, the torches and pitchforks will come out. But the grievances that all of these small civic losses provoke will accumulate . . .

    1. I also think that Queen’s Marque is horrendous. Much prefer the human scale and hate, hate, hate how our assets seem to be sold off to those who can pay. How many people will be to take in the 8th storey view of our grand harbour? Won’t Lower Water Street be a joy to walk down?

      Why can’t anyone learn from the wonderful things that came out of the true consultation and building of the central library and the subsequent raves and accolades?

      It does still seem to have a path next to the harbour. Small consolation.

      1. I would like our local artists to tale that cursed steel rudder and build a monument outta that, we could put it where the wave used to be… yeah, failure, remember it!

  5. Jeff Pinhey should know that banks are required to be ‘sitting on billions of dollars of cash’, aka ‘reserves’. The banks are owned by all Canadians and provide steady income to insurance companies, pension plans and retirees.

    1. In the financing of small business in Nova Scotia the banks will only fund start-up if you are approved under CSBF loan program which is back-stopped by the government. The banks refuse to take any risks now. Even the credit union programs are backed by the provincial government.