1. Downtown, the waterfront, and Armageddon

Canada Day is of course a very big deal this year, so I was wondering what is going on. Unfortunately, the city’s Canada Day website is confusing: on the Events page, it lists the Tattoo as the one and only community event on Canada Day:

Thinking that can’t be right, I went to the pull-down menu and chose various selections, starting with “beer garden”; here’s what I got:

When I was in Berlin, I visited a beer garden that had a playground in it. It was great — the kids see-sawed and swung and made noise and such, while the parents sat off at a comfortable distance drinking beer and having adult conversation. As far as I was concerned, it was a satisfying arrangement, but I wonder if Halifax is ready to have all-day children’s programming in a beer garden. Maybe! Probably not. Probably just no one tested the website.

And wondering about fireworks, I got this:

I doubt that’s right either. The more reliable events listings at The Coast tell me there’s a concert on the Common from 5pm to 11:30pm, with fireworks after.

It took me a while, but I finally found a March 28 city staff report to council written by Elizabeth Taylor, who is the Manager of Culture and Events at City Hall. (How great is it that we have a “manager of culture” named Elizabeth Taylor?) Taylor basically told council that fireworks on the waterfront are nixed this Canada Day because they want to try that whole concert-on-the-Common thing again, because, and I’m not kidding here:

The successful history of delivering large scale events at the Commons was a determining factor

Successful history… of what? Huh? Who? Where am I? Is this drug publicly available, or is this a special Elizabeth Taylor-only LSD? (If you’re new to town, read this.) A fuller explanation:

The newly designed festival event will begin at noon and last until midnight at the Halifax Central Common. There will be one main stage for the evening concert featuring a line-up of nationally recognized Canadian talent, and a second stage programmed during the day showcasing local multi-cultural performances as well as enhanced family and children areas. A major component of the evening will be the fireworks show planned to be released over Halifax’s National Historic Site – Citadel Hill. The view planes from the Commons make it possible to see the entire fireworks show without having to leave the event site and move to the waterfront. This event plan provides something new and exciting to commemorate Canada 150 and maximizes the audience experience on site and in the surrounding areas. With four fireworks shows currently planned for the Halifax Waterfront during the summer, including the Natal Day Harbor Fireworks Show, citizens will have many other opportunities to enjoy the popular harbour location.

Wow. Let me just quote that again:

The view planes from the Commons make it possible to see the entire fireworks show without having to leave the event site and move to the waterfront.

Of course, the view planes from Citadel Hill to the waterfront mostly no longer exist because of the Nova Centre, so this is a sort of weird “take these crumbs” kind of comment. This staffer has some attitude; I wouldn’t want to meet her in a dark alley.

The floating boardwalk that doesn’t exist.

The larger context is explained by Elizabeth McMillan, reporting for the CBC

It will be weeks before a floating boardwalk will allow pedestrians to bypass a busy construction site on Halifax’s waterfront, even as thousands of cruise ship passengers are expected to flood the downtown core this month.

The Waterfront Development Corporation said Monday it hopes to have the temporary bridge in place by Canada Day, but it could be another three weeks before it opens.

So we can’t do Canada Day 150 on the waterfront because Waterfront Development was insistent on forcing that Queen’s Marque project on us so quickly that it couldn’t wait until after Canada Day to start construction. Or, alternatively, it screwed up the planning for the floating boardwalk, which doesn’t exactly look safe by my untrained eyes in any event: can you imagine some drunken American tourists crossing it in a typical nor’wester?

But of course thousands will descend on the boardwalk anyway because it’s the boardwalk and that’s what people do. And because there will be another attraction: an Armageddon machine in the harbour.

The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower will anchor off McNabs Island for Canada Day.

I’ve been hearing rumours for months that a U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier will pull into Halifax for Canada Day, but I haven’t been able to confirm them. Both the U.S. and Canadian Navy declined to respond to my inquiries. I even sicced reporter Chris Lambie on the rumour, with no results. Yesterday, however, Peter Ziobrowski posted that the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower will come and anchor at Anchorage 1, which is just to the north of McNabs Island. Aircraft carriers anchor out there because they’re too big for any of the piers at the dockyard. Lambie tells me that that’s where another U.S. carrier anchored 15 or 20 years ago, when a drunken sailor fell off the boat, his body never recovered.

I can’t stress enough how big this thing is. It’s three football fields long. It holds 90 aircraft. There could very well be 5,000 people on it.

“Aircraft carriers never travel alone,” Ziobrowski reminds us:

The Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group Currently consists of the Ticonderoga Class Cruiser USS Normandy, and Destroyer Squadron 26; USS Stout, USS Mcfaul, USS Oscar Austin, USS Roosevelt, USS Mason, and USS Nitze. These are AEGIS and Arliegh Burke class Destroyers, though the entire squadron doesn’t always travel with the carrier.

So figure an aircraft carrier and up to six support ships, with maybe ten thousand U.S. sailors roaming around the waterfront and downtown.

This is where I say we shouldn’t allow nuclear aircraft carriers in our harbour, and where a bunch of readers call me a stupid communist because there’s nothing unsafe blah, blah, blah. But make no mistake: this boat has nuclear weapons on it. The U.S. won’t say where it deploys nuclear weapons, but there’s no chance at all that a Nimitz class nuclear carrier doesn’t have them on board. We could (and should) argue about the safety of both the nuclear generator that powers the ship and the nuclear bombs on it, especially in this centennial year of the Halifax Explosion, but barring utter destruction of the city, the real concern is symbolic. To his credit, Mayor Mike Savage has joined Mayors For Peace, which seeks to rid the world of nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons don’t even serve a military purpose in this time of box cutter terrorists and car-driving suicide attacks — even the war criminal Henry Kissinger recognizes this — but beyond that, they’re simply abhorrent. They represent the absolute worst in humanity. We shouldn’t allow them in our harbour, and if the powers-that-be can’t prevent them from coming, we should be making a very large noise about them nonetheless.

On the other hand, if the nuclear bombs are here in Halifax, at least for the moment the lunatic in the White House won’t be able to lob those particular bombs on North Korea or Iran.

Queen’s Marque construction has closed the boardwalk. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Anyway, back to downtown… we’ve now got multiple construction projects in the works. Queen’s Marque construction has utterly destroyed the boardwalk. The detour around the construction consists of a tiny sidewalk that leads to a blind crosswalk at Water and Prince Streets and then past the other construction site at the AGNS, then back across Water Street at the ferry terminal. It’s only a matter of time before a pedestrian or eight get struck in that narrow corridor, and with tens or even hundreds of thousands of people walking through the area on Canada Day, I don’t see how the city has any choice other than closing Water Street to traffic, at least for that weekend, if not for the duration of the summer.

Last week, there was construction not only at Queen’s Marque but also at The Roy building, closing Barrington Street, and at that ugly thing being constructed across from the Library, closing Spring Garden Road for long periods. At various other times, there’s construction at The Maple and The Alexander, and now (I’m told) on Quinpool Road. And of course, all the streets around the Nova Centre are being torn apart.

If the nuclear bombs don’t destroy Halifax, the construction will.

All this construction will supposedly lead us to some glorious future where Halifax looks like every other cookie cutter blue and green glass city, but I’m not feeling it, ya know? If I wanted a soulless downtown, I could move to Calgary.

How’d we get to this point? The urge to destroy the old city and rebuild it as Calgary East reflects a provincial mindset of inadequacy. We’re not a “real city”  until we’ve got lots of tall buildings. So over the past decade or so, people who dared to question or suggest that we slow down the development steamroller were vilified, characterized as “naysayers” and monsters. Government constraints on unbridled development were thrown out and replaced with planning rules that allow just about anything to be built. Ministers and consultants gave us lying reports that told us that handing Joe Ramia hundreds of millions of dollars in public subsidies would translate into “prosperity” for the rest of us. Add in a political class that identifies with the aspirations of the wealthy with their utterly banal sensibilities (hello, 1980s blue box buildings!) and bureaucrats more concerned with the next step on the career ladder than with serving the public interest, and this is what we get: a downtown that looks like Armageddon.

The skyscraper forum wankers have won. Enjoy your Canada Day.

2. Deep Panuke

Encana Corporation’s Deep Panuke project drills for natural gas off the coast of Nova Scotia. Photo: SBM Offshore

“Nova Scotia’s offshore natural gas industry is about to take another hit, as Encana Corp. prepares to close its Deep Panuke project,” reports Frances Willick for the CBC:

The Calgary-based energy producer published an expression of interest last month seeking companies to plug its five subsea wells. The request for bids closed June 8.

Now we’ll have to get to our wondrous post-Apocalyptic future by fracking.

3. Recounts

“Nova Scotia’s governing Liberals have retained every seat they won in the May 30 election, after a third judicial recount Monday confirmed a tight win on the province’s south shore,” reports the Canadian Press:

Liberal Hugh MacKay’s victory over NDP incumbent Denise Peterson-Rafuse in Chester-St. Margaret’s grew by one vote, to 91 votes.

MacKay took 3,112 votes in the recount, overseen by Justice James Chipman in Halifax, while Rafuse took 3,021, one fewer than the official count.

Tory candidate Julie Chaisson gained a vote, to 2,230, while Green party hopeful Harry Ward’s vote was unchanged at 413.

4. Bees

The destroyed bee hives.

“Severe vandalism of a youth-led beekeeping social enterprise in Halifax over the weekend may have a sweet ending,” reports Yvette d’Entremont for Metro:

At least 20,000 bees in one hive were killed. As many as 40,000 to 50,000 more from a second hive are still in peril after vandals used basketballs and sticks to open and knock over the two hives sometime before Friday night’s heavy rain.

The beehives belong to the BEEA Honey with Heart youth social enterprise, an initiative of Family SOS…

“But I think that we can build from this and it just makes us stronger. We’re coming together,” [said Donna Morrison, executive director of Family SOS]. “We had somebody call and donate $500 (as soon as word got out). Other people have said they want to help however they can. The community is rallying.”




City Council (1pm, City Hall) — I’ll be live-blogging the meeting via the Examiner’s Twitter account, @hfxExaminer.


Regional Watersheds Advisory Board (Wednesday, 5pm, Alderney Public Library) — the committee will have a look at the Green Network Plan.

Campaign Finance Accountability (Wednesday, 6:30pm, City Hall) — info here.


No public meetings.

On campus



Thesis Defence, Electrical and Computer Engineering (Tuesday, 10am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Colin O’Flynn will defend his thesis, “A Framework for Embedded Hardware Security Analysis.”

Both dogs & ponies!, pt. 2 (Tuesday, 11am, Riverview Room, Jenkins Hall, Agriculture Campus, Truro) — a repeat of Monday’s performance.


Thesis Defence, Philosophy (Wednesday, 12pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Katie Stockdale will defend her thesis, “Oppression and the Struggle for Hope.”

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Seminar (Wednesday, 4pm, theatre A, Tupper Building) — Antonietta Pietrangelo will speak on “Bridging the Gap: OSBP-related Protein 4 (ORP4), Membrane Contact Sites and Lipid Transfer.”

“Contentment with Imperfection” (Wednesday, 7pm, Halifax Central Library) — Cheshire Calhoun, from Arizona State University, will speak.

In the harbour

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

3am: NYK Terra, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for the Suez Canal
5:45am: Queen Mary 2, cruise ship, with up to 2,620 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Southampton, England
6am: Bess, car carrier, arrives at Pier 31 from Southampton, England
7:30am: Evridiki, oil tanker, arrives at anchorage from Trieste, Italy for inspection
9am: State of Maine, the training ship of the Maine Maritime Academy, sails from Pier 23 for sea
11am: Bess, car carrier, moves from Pier 31 to Autport
11:30am: Evridiki, oil tanker, sails from anchorage for sea
5pm: Bess, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
6pm: Queen Mary 2, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for New York


I’ve been rant-y lately.

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

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  1. Regarding, “the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower will anchor off McNabs Island for Canada Day”, Tim Bousquet wrote that this huge aircraft carrier is nuclear powered and nuclear armed and will visit Halifax harbour. Tim is so right about the difficulties of confirmation and details. Getting information on the subject is shrouded in military secrecy.

    However, according to Hans M. Kristensen, Director of the Nuclear Information Project, Federation of American Scientists, the USS Eisenhower does not carry nuclear weapons. Indeed Hans Kristensen wrote “All non-strategic nuclear weapons were offloaded from ships and attack submarines in 1991-1992, and all US surface ships were denuclearized by the 1994 Nuclear Posture Review. They neither carry nuclear weapons nor do they have the capability to do so.”

    This is indeed good news: there are no nuclear weapons on board the Eisenhower, even though there is a nuclear power plant on board, which is a safety issue for public discussion. Denuclearization begs the question about where the off-loaded nuclear weapons went.

    Despite the decrease in numbers of nuclear weapons in the world since the peak in 1985, there are still 15,000 operational nuclear weapons in the world, with 93% of them belonging to either USA or Russia. The scary part is that USA is ‘modernizing’ its fleet to make them ‘tactical’ and hence more ‘useable’.

    It turns out that most of the nations of the world, in fact 132 countries, consider the existence of nuclear weapons to be an extreme threat to all of humanity and at this very moment are working diligently at the United Nations to hammer out an agreement called a ‘Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty’. Canadians haven’t been hearing about this momentous event perhaps because Canada, along with most NATO countries chose to follow USA’s behest and not attend the meetings.

    Even though the nine nuclear possessing nations have not been participating in these historic talks, the draft ban will create a framework, placing nuclear weapons in the same legal class as other weapons of mass destruction such as chemical and biological weapons.

    Scientists from around the world have emphasized the humanitarian crisis that would result in the event of accidental or intentional use of nuclear weapons. A quote from their letter in support of the ban reads “Nuclear weapons threaten not merely those who have them, but all people on Earth.” Accidents happen as Nova Scotians well remember with the 100th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion coming up.

    I want to thank Tim Bousquet for bringing up this murky subject. Facts are difficult to come by, yet essential for proper debate and political accountability. There is much more work ahead to further the cause of abolishing nuclear weapons, the most imminent one being getting Canada back on its historic track of promoting discussions of nuclear disarmament.

    Nancy Covington MD Board member: Physicians for Global Survival, the Canadian affiliate of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.

  2. Developers have spoiled our city. It has become a boring mess.You are right, those who have tried to save it have been maligned and ignored. What a shame!

  3. Only HRM would have the fireworks in the middle of the city. Unbelievable and we pay someone to make these stupid decisions??

  4. The visit is supposed to be from 28th June – 5th July with the following ships:


    Likely won’t be a full crew complement on the carrier – most of the air wing will not be on board (like the last time it visited)

  5. I really don’t understand how Halifax is this bad at mitigating the impact of construction in the urban core. I live off Spring Garden Road and the area is absolute insane right now and not likely to get better any time soon. I have never been in a city where construction of a building with a small footprint is capable of (or allowed to) shut down so much of a city’s roadspace and sidewalks.

    Other cities are capable of carrying on more or less unchanged as construction takes place, but in Halifax we somehow screw that up.

  6. There is a lovely little playground park in Zurich that has a cafe, which also serves beer, located right inside it. The kids play, parents and friends watch, and some sip an alcoholic beverage. I wish we could be mature enough to do something like that here.

  7. I don’t call the destruction of beautiful historic buildings progress. Where are the people coming from who will fill the hundreds, (if not more), empty offices and condos being built?

    It is difficult to sell a house in Halifax. No one wants to live here. I have finally sold my house for assessed value plus a small percentage. It is a desirable property down town walking distance from everything. I sold in a buyers market (but where are the buyers?), and bought in a seller’s market in Charlottetown.

    Every one wants to live in Charlottetown. Six houses I had made appointments to view were sold before by the time I got there less than 24 hours after being listed. I finally found a private sale and paid a premium. I will be living in a walkable city with lots of parks , sunshine and no wind tunnels. Can’t wait! Bye bye Halifax.

  8. Such a disappointment about the bees. I’ve reached out to the organization in order to make a donation. Bees are important and need our help.

  9. There is probably a greater threat of contamination from the nuclear-power plant’s cooling systems in the aircraft carrier than from any nuclear WMDs that surely will be carried on board. And the likelihood of nuclear contamination from a cooling water incident is very low. So should people be fearful of a nuclear incident while the aircraft carrier is in harbour; no, but there is a greater risk for unintended pregnancies in the local population during the vessel’s stay. Just putting issues in perspective; not intending to be crass. Also small harbour vessels, sailing craft, canoes, kayaks and rowboats should understand that sailing too close to the aircraft carrier while it is at anchor is not a very healthy idea, since the US takes such inquisitiveness as a potential for a terrorist attack… much better to view the naval beast from afar with binoculars. I am sure that a security perimeter will be significantly enforced throughout the vessel’s stay in harbour.

  10. Don’t forget the construction on Spring Garden – all those tourists, and none of them will want to come back. The city is an eyesore. So so sad.

    1. That is the price one pays for progress and development within the downtown core; but construction blemishes appear and disappear in a cyclic fashion, so a few years from now the eyesore will be but a distant memory. Plus, anyone who comes to Halifax expecting that the downtown core area is the best tourist attraction in our region has been reading the wrong tourist guidebooks… there are many better places to visit, see the sights, taste the cuisine and relax than downtown.

  11. Brilliant. Sadly until the “skyscraper forum wankers” get their hearts broken, they will not change. Probably same goes for the US Navy… and of course the orange creature in the White House.

  12. I skyped yesterday with a friend from Scotland who is coming with his family to visit us for a week spanning July 1. He asked what was going on over Canada Day.

    I told him that it seems to be a big deal in other parts of Canada but I didn’t think anything special was going on here in Halifax or the rest of Nova Scotia. I said “At least it shouldn’t cause any travel issues for you.”

    Looks like I was right.