NEWS

1. Golf will save us from the climate crisis

West Mabou Beach Provincial Park. Photo: Communications Nova Scotia Credit: Communications Nova Scotia

Yesterday morning, Jennifer Henderson reported on the Cabot Group’s announcement that it will soon ask the province for a lease of much of the West Mabou Beach Provincial Park in order to build a golf course — the company’s third, after the two in Inverness.

Yesterday afternoon, Henderson asked Premier Tim Houston about it:

Houston said if a proposal comes forward “we would look at that.” 

“Obviously, it would have to go through extensive public consultation and other analysis. I think that’s what was missing in the Owls Head situation. I think with Owls Head the government of the day had struck some agreement with someone without going through the process. I can assure you that’s not the case here.” 

The Examiner asked what’s the point of having a provincial park if a developer can make such a request.

“No request has been made,” Houston said. “The provincial parks are a valuable part of the Nova Scotian experience. If something comes forward, we will look at that but there will be extensive public consultations before anything would even be considered.”

Click here to read “Houston says any request from Cabot to build golf course in Mabou park will get due process.”

This whole thing is dispiriting. One the one hand, the argument goes: Golf courses bring tourists who spend money and hire local people and revive the economy and that’s good, now shut up.

And yet… Can we talk about the end of the world? We’re in a climate crisis, which is fuelled in large part by people jetting around to do shit like vacation and golf in remote places. Ever-stronger storms are slamming against our shores, but we’ll take serious a proposal to alter a shoreline buffer in order to install golf greens. Economic disruption is occurring everywhere, but rather than talk about self-reliant local economies we shill ourselves as servants for a globe-trotting wealthy elite, with perhaps fickle travel desires.

Sure, in some circles, including my own, golf is unfairly singled out as an outsized ogre. I accept all the caveats: It’s only a matter of degree that separates some corporate CEO flying to Inverness for a weekend golf outing from my flight down to the states to visit my dying mom. After decades of being the exemplar of environmental destruction, the golf industry has come a very long way towards something resembling on-site environmental stewardship (if you ignore all those jetting CEOs). People do need jobs, and the employment opportunities and other economic spinoffs shouldn’t be ignored.

But again: end of the world.

I’m not kidding when I say “end of the world.” I don’t know the analogy. Nero fiddling doesn’t really do it because that was just one man; here we have an entire society that sees the horsemen galloping our way, and seemingly no one gives a shit. Sure, the pursuit of golf is just a symbol of the disregard, but so was the fiddle.

And save me the bullshit about “the world won’t end, it will continue on without us, blah, blah, blah”; “the world” is defined by us, not some abstract non-human construct. Humanity ends, the world ends.

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2. Po-po budget

Halifax Regional Police cruisers lined up behind headquarters on Gottingen Street in June 2021. — Photo: Zane Woodford

“Halifax will use a new process to build the police budget for next year, giving council more control,” reports Zane Woodford:

During its meeting on Tuesday, Halifax regional council approved a plan and schedule for the municipality’s fiscal 2023-2024 budget deliberations. Budget committee meetings will start next month, with the final budget approval scheduled for April 25, 2023.

Corporate planning manager Michael Pappas outlined the new two-step process in a report to council.

First, Chief Dan Kinsella will work with the municipal finance department to “prepare a staffing proposal” for the board’s review. That presentation is scheduled for Dec. 7. The board will recommend a staffing level, presumably a number of full-time equivalent positions, to council.

“Council would then decide on any changes to the staffing complement, which would facilitate the budget process,” Pappas wrote in the report.

With council’s approval of the staffing level, the board will then craft a total budget recommendation.

“Given that the decision on staffing will have already determined most proposals for budget increases, this should greatly reduce the potential for confusion, or the budget being returned to the BoPC,” Pappas wrote.

Click here to read “Council to follow new process to build Halifax police budget.”

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3. Mass Casualty Commission

The Mass Casualty Commission, with (left to right) commissioners Leanne Fitch, Michael MacDonald, and Kim Stanton, in February 2022. Pool photo by Andrew Vaughan/ Canadian Press

Yesterday, the Mass Casualty Commission (MCC) dropped reporters an email with a link to 2,000 documents that will be tabled for tomorrow’s virtual session of the commission. Obviously, I won’t have time to read 2,000 documents.

The session is called to address the response of the RCMP for requests from the MCC for documents — notably, but not solely, related to the April 28 phone call between RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki and her staff in Ottawa and the “H” division team here in Nova Scotia. At issue is why certain documents and recordings were withheld from the MCC so long, and as usual, the coverup is worse than the original event.

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4. District energy

The Cogswell interchange is shown in a 2015 long-exposure photo. — Zane Woodford

The razing of the Cogswell interchange appears to be proceeding to plan. I’ve been watching the movement of dirt and concrete from the pedway above, and wonder sometimes how those stranded ramps stay up when so much of the dirt behind them has been removed, but I’m confident the engineers know what they’re doing.

In the interchange’s place will be a streetscape opened up for development. And the city has decreed that new buildings constructed in the area will not be allowed to use conventional oil- or gas-powered heating and cooling systems; rather, the buildings must connect to a district energy system (DES) that will take advantage of waste heat from the sewage plant and deep cool harbour waters to alternately heat and cool the buildings.

This will be the first large-scale DES in the Halifax area — the same basic principles are used in heat pumps for single houses and for Purdy’s Wharf’s deep-water cooling system, but this will be the first DES across an entire neighbourhood of separately owned buildings. As such, there’s a complex weave of engineering, regulatory and financial procedures that need to be worked out.

That’s the subject of a recent Halifax Water filing with the Utility and Review Board (UARB). In an overview of the project, Halifax Water explains that the UARB has previously allowed Halifax Water to proceed with the DES as a separate regulated utility, in addition to the existing services of water, sewage, and storm water.

The Cogswell DES will cost $6,645,082, but $4,682,171 of that will come from the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (“CIP) funding, leaving Halifax Water to cover the remaining $1,972,198. That cost will be recouped through a “Revenue Deficient Account” (RDA) that will be paid down through payments from the buildings’ owners, once the buildings are up and operating.

One complexity is that the DES needs to be built now, while all that dirt and concrete is being moved around, because the costs would skyrocket should all the streets be built and then have to be torn up and repaired in order to install the pipes for the DES. But no one can be certain of the revenue that the DES will bring in, because the buildings haven’t been designed, much less constructed.

The city has planned for a certain mix of building heights and square footage, but the actual end products will be up to the whims of the developers and the market — despite assurances from Halifax Water that “given the prime location of this land, there would seem to be little to no risk that this area will not be developed,” maybe people won’t want to live across the street from a sewage plant, or at least not as many as the city hopes.

Another complexity is that the primary source of heat for the DES will be waste heat from the sewage plant, but Halifax Water is required to upgrade the plant to meet more stringent discharge standards by 2040. How will that affect the long-term financing of the DES? Halifax Water assures that it will not, but even if it did, the DES would still be less expensive to building owners than using conventional fuels, which it notes, are increasing in price. Besides that, says Halifax Water, there are other considerations, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with conventional fuels.

Lastly, there’s the issue of who owns the equipment rooms inside the new buildings. A reviewer said that Halifax Water should own them, but that’s a position Halifax Water rejects, saying it doesn’t have the expertise to operate such equipment, and the capital costs of the equipment wasn’t covered by the ICIP funding, so if Halifax Water were to own them, the capital cost of the entire DES would increase, as would the rates charged to building owners.

In any event, I expect the UARB to quickly approve the remaining DES issues.

Sadly, there’s nothing in the filings about blowing up the casino.

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VIEWS

1. HaliFolks

HaliFolks Credit: Nimbus Publishing

HaliFolks is out. HaliFolks is the work of Jack Scrine, who in the spirit of Humans of New York, went around and photographed and local people and let them tell their stories in their own words.

Scrine has an astounding ability to capture people’s essence with his photography, and the skill to draw out their character. I had great fun flipping through the book — recognizing so many people I’ve seen out on the street, and then getting a bit of a glimpse into their souls.

You can order the book through Nimbus, here, but it should also be showing up in local bookstores soon (Scrine says it’s already at the Dartmouth Chapters).

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2. Abolitionist Intimacies

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Pexels.com

Since I’m plugging books, let me again remind readers about El Jones’ forthcoming book, Abolitionist Intimacies.

The blurb from Fernwood Press:

In Abolitionist Intimacies, El Jones examines the movement to abolish prisons through the Black feminist principles of care and collectivity. Understanding the history of prisons in Canada in their relationship to settler colonialism and anti-Black racism, Jones observes how practices of intimacy become imbued with state violence at carceral sites including prisons, policing and borders, as well as through purported care institutions such as hospitals and social work. The state also polices intimacy through mechanisms such as prison visits, strip searches and managing community contact with incarcerated people. Despite this, Jones argues, intimacy is integral to the ongoing struggles of prisoners for justice and liberation through the care work of building relationships and organizing with the people inside. Through characteristically fierce and personal prose and poetry, and motivated by a decade of prison justice work, Jones observes that abolition is not only a political movement to end prisons; it is also an intimate one deeply motivated by commitment and love.

You can read Evelyn C. White’s review of Abolitionist Intimacies here.

Fernwood has very kindly extended a special offer for Examiner readers: You can get a 20% discount by preordering the book here, and using the discount code HFX20 on checkout.

There will be a launch party on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 7pm at Alumni Hall on the University of King’s College campus.

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NOTICED

Twitter is not your friend

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com Credit: Twitter

People on Twitter share too much. I regularly see people posting details of their intimate relationships and such that make me cringe. Call me old school, but I don’t write about those close to me because first of all, it’s no one else’s business.

But secondly, simply because I have a relatively large public profile, I attract the worst sort of personal attacks — people who have never met me and don’t know the first thing about me have decided I’m a terrible person, and even evil. Sometimes the attacks can be incredibly over-the-top, and hurtful. So, why would I want to bring that upon people I’m close to? Better that they remain anonymous.

Likewise, and again, call me old school, I think charitable acts and doing kind things should be done privately, and not used to earn social credit. But in today’s world, doing a good thing is just another commodity to be traded for profit — see all the corporate philanthropy and such, and the people proudly tweeting about their contributions to whatever charity. (They could do it without advertising it.)

Yesterday, someone — I won’t say who in order to spare them the wrath of the Twitterverse — pointed me to the story of Daisey Miller, who made a rather innocuous tweet: “my husband and i wake up every morning and bring our coffee out to our garden and sit and talk for hours. every morning. it never gets old & we never run out of things to talk to. love him so much.”

I don’t know the first thing about Miller, and neither do you. But surely spending relaxing time with her spouse and talking is a good thing, no? Shouldn’t we all try to spend more quality time with those we love?

But no. Twitter came down on her. Someone tweeted: “This is cute and all but did you think of all the people who wake up to work grueling hours, wake up on the streets, alone, or with chronic pain before posting this? You should be mindful next time before bragging about your picture perfect life… You might upset someone.”

There were a bunch of other attacks, from people making assumptions about Miller’s financial situation, supposed privilege, smugness, and so forth. For saying, essentially, that she loves her spouse.

What the fuck is wrong with people?

But this is Twitter. It’s a world of social credit, one-upmanship, attack in order to be powerful. Twitter is not your friend.

I’ve learned this the hard way. I should know not to show any humanity on Twitter. No self-deprecating jokes. No whimsey. No musical tastes. No opinions about anything outside a narrow range of political issues. Because all the stuff will be weaponized against me.

Twitter is not my friend.

Today, I think I’ll contact an old friend I haven’t seen in a while, and make a coffee date to catch up. Crucify me, Twitter.

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Government

City

Today

Heritage Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 3pm, online) — agenda

Regional Centre Community Council (Wednesday, 6pm, Alderney Gate) — text

Tomorrow

Transportation Standing Committee (Thursday, 1pm, City Hall and online) — agenda

Province

Today

Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, Province House) — 2022 Report of the Auditor General – Healthy Eating in Schools; with representatives from the Department of Education and Early Child Development, and Nova Scotia Health

Legislature sits (Wednesday, 12pm, Province House)

Tomorrow

Legislature sits (Thursday, 12pm, Province House)


On campus

Dalhousie

Tomorrow

Digitizing the Ancestors: Communications sovereignty and contemporary cultural resurgence (Thursday, 12pm, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — a David Shroeder Music and Culture Lecture Series, with Mary Ingraham and Bert Crowfoot:

Digitizing the Ancestors is a community-directed project that has preserved Indigenous multimedia radio and television broadcast recordings since the late 1960s. The project makes accessible long-silent archives, re-sounding the voices of Elders and culture bearers, and revitalizes traditional teachings and lost, silenced, or otherwise forgotten practices. Powwow events, interviews with Elders, politicians, and artists, and sharing of traditional knowledge reflect the richness of the archive. As living communications, these recordings carry messages of well-being across generations, revealing their echoes within contemporary society.


In the harbour

Halifax
01:30: NYK Meteor, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Port Everglades, Florida
05:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 36 from St. John’s
06:00: Caribbean Princess, cruise ship with up to 3,756 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Sydney, on a 14-day cruise from Quebec City to Fort Lauderdale, Florida
06:00: ZIM China, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
09:30: Insignia, cruise ship with up to 800 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Saint John, on a 10-day cruise from New York to Montreal
10:00: Hyundai Courage, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Colombo, Sri Lanka
10:00: Asterix, replenishment vessel, arrives at Dockyard from Norfolk, Virginia
11:30: Oceanex Sanderling moves to Pier 42
13:00: Don Quijote, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
13:00: Ocean Explorer, cruise ship with up to 162 passengers, arrives at Pier 24 from Pictou, on a 10-day cruise from Montreal to Boston
15:30: Caribbean Princess sails for Bar Harbor
16:30: Insignia sails for Sydney
16:30: ZIM China, container ship, sails for New York
19:00: BBC Weser, cargo ship, sails from Pier 9 for sea
20:30: Ocean Explorer sails for sea

Cape Breton
04:00: Phoenix Admiral, oil tanker, sails from EverWind for sea
05:00: Marlin Santorini, oil tanker, arrives at EverWind from Odudu Offshore Terminal, Nigeria


Footnotes

I’m super tired. Going back to bed.


Tim Bousquet

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

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  1. so here we go again .. using public lands .. ie provincial park .. the truly sad part .. Houston says ” he’ll look at this proposal ” what a jerk he has become

  2. The book “Halifolks” will also be available through the Halifax Public Library system. I’ve already got my copy on hold. I look forward to seeing faces I recognize and learning the stories behind them.

    As for Twitter, what was shared here is a big part of the reason why I have almost no social media presence, other than comments here and on one other site, with this site being preferred as most here, even if they disagree, don’t resort to name calling.