1. Aboiteau to remain closed, for now
“A Nova Scotia Supreme Court justice has dismissed a fisher’s bid to reverse a government state of emergency and reopen the Avon River aboiteau,” reports Zane Woodford:
John Lohr, the minister responsible for the Office of Emergency Management, declared a state of emergency for the area around the Windsor causeway on June 1. That allowed Lohr’s government to override a 2021 order from the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans requiring the province to keep the aboiteau under the causeway open.
[Fisherman Darren] Porter’s lawyers filed an application for judicial review of Lohr’s decision in Nova Scotia Supreme Court. They included an affidavit from Juteau saying he’d made no such request. And Porter’s lawyers filed for a stay of Lohr’s decision. They hoped to get the aboiteau opened quickly while waiting for the longer judicial review process.
Justice Scott Norton heard the stay application in Nova Scotia Supreme Court on Tuesday.
Ultimately, Norton agreed with Smith. The justice dismissed Porter’s application, and ordered him to pay the provincial government $1,500 in costs. Norton didn’t give his reasoning on Tuesday, reserving that for a future date.
The two sides are back in court on Aug. 21 for a hearing, potentially to set dates on the judicial review.
Issuing a judicial order overturning an emergency order would have been an extraordinary event, but using a state of emergency as cover for political action was also an extraordinary event, and an abuse of power.
2. Fire investigation
It’s been nearly two months since the start of the wildfires that destroyed 150 houses in Nova Scotia, so Jennifer Henderson has been asking the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables about the state of the investigation into the fires: are the RCMP involved? Are criminal charges being considered? When might the investigation wind up?
Yesterday, Henderson got this non-response from department spokesperson Patricia Jreige: “Investigations are ongoing. There are no other details we can provide at this point.”
Yesterday, while on the bus, I listened to part of a podcast about Richard Jewell, the man who discovered a bomb at a public park during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Jewell was wrongly suspected of planting the bomb himself, and was hounded by media for weeks.
Which is to say, “everybody” thinks they know the source of the fires, but rumours just don’t cut it. Nothing I’ve learned so far reaches to the point of reportable.
Besides that, however, overly concentrating on the cause of the fires misses the point. There will always be people starting fires, inadvertently or not. What matters isn’t so much how a fire ignites, but the conditions that allow it to spread, the shape of the neighbourhoods that put people at risk, and the emergency responses.
“Stacey Gomez and the landlord of the south end Halifax apartment where she lived have settled the dispute over her renoviction,” reports Suzanne Rent:
Neither Gomez, her lawyer, or the landlord would comment on the terms of the settlement.
On Tuesday, Gomez held a press conference where she announced the dispute had been settled. The Halifax Examiner spoke with Gomez Tuesday afternoon.
“I feel happy to close this chapter of my life because it has been about a year and a half now. It really has been quite a long time coming. I am satisfied with the resolution and happy to move forward with my life,” Gomez said.
“At least two federal Liberal MPs are expressing reservations about the prospect of a new deep-water container port in Nova Scotia, a break in party unity that could make it more tricky for the government to sell Canadians on the merits of the project should it move ahead with taxpayer money,” reports Nicolas Van Praet for the Globe and Mail:
“It’s mind-boggling to think that we would entertain a third port in the region” in addition to Halifax and Saint John, said Wayne Long, a Liberal MP for the riding of Saint John-Rothesay. “I don’t know where one would deem this a good political move,” he told The Globe in an interview.
Andy Fillmore, a Liberal MP representing Halifax, is also voicing concerns about the prospect of public aid for the project.
“I worry an investment of this magnitude would only undermine previous investments the government has made in existing ports in our region,” Mr. Fillmore said in a tweet Sunday. “Before any decision is made, Canadians deserve to know what value Melford will provide that our other government-supported ports cannot.”
I admit to being amused by the controversy.
The port of Melford never made any sense, and never will. It’s absurd to spend hundreds of millions of public dollars to construct Melford for a private operator, and then hundreds of millions more public dollars for the highways and rail lines necessary to connect the port to the rest of the world, when the port of Halifax already exists and is already connected to the rest of the world.
So Fillmore is correct, but he is of course protecting his own turf. I don’t think, however, that’s it’s solely about supporting the Port of Halifax. At least some of Fillmore’s opposition to Melford probably reflects his desire to protect development interests in Halifax.
It’s not possible that a port in Melford would completely replace the Port of Halifax. There’s just too much port infrastructure and shipping business here. But a Melford terminal with modern rail and highway connections might make a better alternative for the ultralarge ships that now stop at Pier 41 near Point Pleasant Park. It’s just conceivable that in the face of Melford, it becomes too costly to operate the downtown piers, and so while cruise ships would continue to use Piers 22 and 21, the entire container business could be consolidated at Fairview Cove.
Were that to happen, there’d suddenly be hundreds of acres of valuable waterfront real estate available for development. I’m not making it, but there might even be an argument for it — imagine, say, 50 new residential towers constructed within walking distance of downtown, the universities and hospitals, and the park. But that would pull the rug out from real estate prices throughout the urban area, so we can’t have that.
Fillmore understands this logic. When he was a municipal planner in Halifax, he conspired to keep the Cogswell Interchange from being torn down and opened for development, thereby protecting Joe Ramia’s Nova Centre project. At a secret meeting, Fillmore told councillors that the Cogswell acreage should be considered a “land bank” that should be developed only after the rest of downtown was fully developed. In effect, Fillmore was arguing that council should adopt a policy that would inflate land prices and therefore rents in the rest of downtown.
The Nova Centre was built and Fillmore moved on to political office. There’s still plenty of undeveloped land downtown (hello, Twisted Sisters site), but never mind, now the Cogswell is being torn down and opened up for development.
And now Fillmore is essentially arguing that Melford should be considered a “port bank” that shouldn’t be developed until the Port of Halifax is at capacity, which of course will never happen.
To sum up: the interests of port managers and real estate developers in Halifax perfectly align, and Fillmore is working to protect those interests.
5. Carrie Low hearing
The Police Review Board hearing of Carrie Low’s complaint against Halifax police continues today. I’ve been attending all week, but rather then give the blow-by-blow, I’m working on several in-depth articles that give context and background to the issue. But spending eight hours every day at the hearing leaves little time for actual writing. Still, I hope to have at least one article out later today.
I can say now that at its heart, Low’s complaint is that the policing system as a whole failed her, but the mechanisms for accountability — the complaint system, SIRT, and the Police Review Board — are only capable of dealing with individual police officers, and not the department as a whole. So, there’s a lot of shuffling peas between cups, a bit of whack-a-mole, choose your metaphor. In effect, two cops — Halifax Const. Bojan Novakovic and RCMP Const. Jerell Smith — are being blamed for the systemic failures that Low experienced, while their supervising commanders and the policies they implement and follow are left off the hook.
Audit and Finance Standing Committee (Wednesday, 10am, online) — agenda
Active Transportation Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4:30pm, online) — agenda
Community Day 2023 (Thursday, 10am, Dalhousie Agricultural Campus, Bible Hill) — back after a 3-year hiatus
In the harbour
05:30: Morning Concert, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southampton, England
06:45: Viking Neptune, cruise ship with up to 928 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Boston, on a 12-day cruise from New York to Montreal
10:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
11:00: MSC Nuria, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Montreal
15:00: NYK Rumina, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Antwerp, Belgium
17:45: Viking Neptune sails for Gaspé, Quebec
18:00: Morning Concert moves to Pier 9
18:00: MSC Nuria sails for sea
05:30: Cartagena, bulker, sails from Sydney Bulk Terminal for St. George’s, Bermuda
06:15, Zuiderdam, cruise ship with up to 2,364 passengers, arrives at Government Wharf from Charlottetown, on a 41-day cruise themed as “Art,” from Rotterdam to Boston
06:30: Zaandam, cruise ship with up to 1,718 passengers, arrives at Liberty Pier from Charlottetown, on a seven-day cruise from Montreal to Boston
08:00: Algoma Verity, bulker, sails from Aulds Cove quarry for sea
08:00: CSL Metis, bulker, moves from Mulgrave to Aulds Cove quarry
16:30: Zuiderdam sails for Halifax
16:30: Zaandam sails for Halifax
18:30: Bass, bulker, arrives at Point Tupper coal pier from Sikka, India
24:00: Copper Spirit, oil tanker, arrives at EverWind from Erha Offshore Terminal, Nigeria