In the harbour
1. Harbour City Homes
Tenants living in the Harbour City Homes houses that have been put up for sale have suggested that there was a buyback provision when the city transferred the properties to Harbour City Homes. Yesterday, I researched that suggestion, and found that in fact when Halifax council agreed to the sale of 2275 Brunswick Street in 2007, one of the provisions was that:
Another staff report from 2007 deals with the three Artz Street properties. That staff report makes no mention of a buyback agreement. I can’t find any staff reports regarding the transfer of the other Brunswick Street properties.
I also stopped by the property office yesterday and looked at the deeds for each of the properties. So far as I could determine, there were no buyback agreements filed as part of the property records for any of the properties now for sale.
Fears that the properties will be torn down and replaced with condos are realistic, and such a proposal is explicitly spelled out in the sale announcements by Harbourside Realty. The same description is given to each of the properties; here’s the one for 5221 Artz Stret:
5221 ARTZ STREET, HALIFAX – Here’s an opportunity to invest in the exciting redevelopment of a historic but neglected Halifax neighbourhood. Strategically located across the street from HMC Dockyard and a short walk from both Downtown Halifax and Irving Shipbuilding, this property has strong future potential as part of on-going North End revitalization. Astute developers might look beyond this one dilapidated property and see in the package of properties currently being offered an opportunity to extend the enhancement of once stylish Brunswick Street begun several years ago. Call today to discuss possibilities.ABOUT HALIFAX CENTRAL
This rapidly changing area is the hottest neighbourhood in town with lots of new construction, restaurants, microbreweries and cool new condos being built. Urban renewal make this area great for younger buyers who want to be on the peninsula and enjoy community living and an active lifestyle.
That’s pretty much gentrification defined. We can argue about the merits of new people moving into the neighbourhood, but this sale is about kicking the people who live there out of their homes, tearing down affordable housing, and putting up housing that the former residents can’t afford. Given the location of the Artz Street houses specifically — directly across the street from Uniacke Square — this is a bigger threat to the neighbourhood than the sale of St. Pat’s–Alexandra school; at least the redevelopment of the school property doesn’t involve evicting current residents from their homes.
“Irving Shipbuilding is facing four charges under Nova Scotia’s Occupational Health and Safety Act after a worker suffered a serious head injury at the Halifax Shipyard in 2014,” reports the Canadian Press:
The company was arraigned on the charges in Halifax provincial court on Tuesday and the case was adjourned until Nov. 12.
An information to obtain a search warrant filed with the court says the charges relate to work that was being done on Canadian Coast Guard patrol vessels on Jan. 3, 2014.
An occupational health and safety officer alleges in the document that a wire rope loop attached to a ship’s cradle broke as it was being pulled by a winch, striking a worker employed by Irving Equipment Ltd. in the head.
The ship was being moved along a series of tracks at the shipyard during a launch attempt when the loop broke.
The document says the worker suffered a fractured skull and brain injury.
“The charges were laid under 74(1) of Nova Scotia’s Occupational Health and Safety Act and carry a maximum fine of up to $250,000 on conviction,” reports the Chronicle Herald.
3. Taylor Samson
Police issued a press release yesterday afternoon:
Officers are continuing to advance the investigation into the homicide of Taylor Samson and are currently searching property in Lower Truro.
The investigation remains very active, with investigators pursuing various avenues of investigation, continuing to canvass for information, and following up on tips that are coming in.
With respect to tips from the public, we’ve had some information come in that’s based on speculation and opinion. We ask the public to call us with credible information that is based on someone having seen or heard something suspicious related to this homicide case. We are specifically looking to talk to anyone who saw anything out of the ordinary in the early morning hours of Sunday, August 16 in the area of South and Henry Streets. Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 902-490-5016.
The property is owned by the family of William Sandeson, who has been charged with the first-degree murder of Samson. Presumably, police are searching for Samson’s body.
4. Ship of Theseus
“Sailings on board the Bluenose II in Lunenburg have been cancelled for today and Wednesday due to more steering issues,” reports the CBC. “The province says a technician, the steering system designer and a consultant have been called in to assess and fix the problem.”
The photo above, of the Ship of Theseus as it appeared in a break in the fog as it limped back to Lunenburg on a backup steering system was published on the government’s Facebook page.
1. Wage freeze
When Finance Minister Randy Delorey announced his “new approach” to labour relations, I called his proposal a “wage freeze,” as what he was proposing cannot in the real world be anything but. For his convoluted and obscuring rhetoric, I awarded Delorey the Bullshitter of the Summer award, and explained:
Delorey’s specific proposal is to freeze the total amount spent on employee compensation for each of the next five years. But, he says, that doesn’t mean there can’t be pay increases:
Funding for compensation increases, over the amounts set out in the fiscal plan, may come from budgeted and achieved cost reduction, budgeted and achieved cost avoidance, service redesign or other efficiency initiatives (Savings must be real, measurable, and achieved before being allocated to compensation increases)
And who will find those cost reductions, cost avoidances, service redesigns and efficiencies? The unions. This is an utter abandonment of managerial responsibility — the Liberals are throwing up their hands and saying, “fuck it, we don’t know how to save money, it’s up to you guys.” Moreover, it’s a bald attempt to destroy union solidarity, to pit public employees against one another. Workers over in Department A can get raises, but only if they figure out a way to get workers over in Department B fired.
Soon after I published, Delorey issued a press release saying “Anyone suggesting that we are demanding a five-year wage freeze is wrong…I want to assure Nova Scotians we have not demanded a wage freeze over the life of the agreement.”
A few minutes later, Delorey’s spokesperson, Darcy MacRae, sent me an email saying that “You are incorrect in your Morning File today in writing ‘Delorey has proposed a five-year wage freeze.’ Minister Delorey made no such proposal.”
I wrote back:
I was clear about the proposal, and how the minister is hiding behind this “the unions can make suggestions for saving money, and we agree with it the saved money can go to wage increases” dodge. It IS a dodge. It’s not serious, as anyone who works for the provincial government will tell you. I’ve had dozens of people tell me that suggestions for saving money, efficiency, etc. are completely ignored by managers, and are not at all welcome.
So yea, it’s bullshit.
Yesterday, former Finance Minister Graham Steele explained more diplomatically:
In an unusual move, the minister issued a statement the next morning. The minister was at pains to state that what he is proposing is not, in fact. a wage freeze.
In my own CBC web column, I looked at one aspect of that claim, and dismissed it. The minister suggested that any savings discovered by union members could be partially applied to wage settlements. For reasons given in my column, that’s a total non-starter.
But wait, says the minister. I’m really not asking for a wage freeze. All I’ve said is that the settlements have to be consistent with the fiscal plan. The fiscal plan, too, is posted on the government website. Each percentage point in wage increases will permanently add roughly $52 million to annual expenses.
Here’s the problem: you can look at the fiscal plan, and still have no idea how much room there is for wage settlements of more than zero.
The fiscal plan is, essentially, a five-year projection of revenue and expenses. As a former finance minister, I know exactly how these projections are put together, and how reliable they are (or aren’t). The further out you go, the rougher they are. Assumptions are crucial.
The fiscal plan shows expenses in 2015-16 (this year) as $10.024 billion. In 2018-19, expenses are projected to be $10.594 billion. That’s an increase of $570 million over four years. That sounds like a lot, but it isn’t really. That’s an increase of 5.7% over four years, or roughly 1.4% per year.
The other crucial bit of information is that the fiscal plan projects a surplus of $25 million in 2017-18, and $66 million in 2018-19. If wages go up by as little as 1% over four years, costing $52 million, then there will be a deficit in 2017-18. That’s not in accordance with the fiscal plan.
The only escape hatch left for the minister is this: the projected growth in expenditures MIGHT already include an assumption about wage growth.
If there is such an assumption, it must be really small.
Why? Expenses always go up, every year, especially in health care. It would be semi-miraculous for the government to hold its expenditure increase to 1.4% per year, every year, for four years running. Health expenditures, especially, routinely outpace that level.
So ordinary growth in the cost of running government, especially health, is probably enough to chew up all the expenditure growth that is forecast in the fiscal plan. Despite the minister’s protestations, it doesn’t look to me like there’s any room in the fiscal plan for wage growth.
So now we get to the point of this post. The fiscal plan is based on an assumption about wage growth. That assumption is not stated anywhere. If the minister wants us to take his position seriously, he should make that assumption explicit.
So the question Randy Delorey needs to answer is: What wage growth, if any, is assumed in the fiscal plan?
If he won’t answer that simple question, then we’re all quite entitled to assume that what he is proposing is, in fact, a five-year wage freeze.
Even if, as Steele suggests, Delorey makes his math public, showing the assumptions that went into the “not a wage freeze” claim, those assumptions will be, yep, bullshit.
Delorey seems to think he can make transparently false claims and not be called out for them if he says, “no, you’ve got it all wrong, black is white and up is down.” But some of us work in a universe where a government minister’s claims are not just transcribed uncritically, but rather can be tested for their actual truth.
And when we test those claims for their truth, we find that not only is Delorey the Bullshitter of the Summer, he’s doubled down on the bullshit, issuing statements that are full of even more bullshit, and sending his spokesperson out to spew meta bullshit.
But no matter how you slice it, Delorey’s proposal is, in fact, a wage freeze.
2. Peggys Cove
Another government minister, Tourism Minister Mark Furey, gets right to the heart of the safety issue at Peggys Cove, as Paul Schneidereit explains:
Echoing the Ivany report, Furey said the aim is to double tourism revenues over the next 10 years.
“That doesn’t mean doubling tourism numbers, although there could be a correlation, but we recognize inherently that if we’ve going to double our tourism revenue, we’re going to bring more visitors to Nova Scotia. And Peggys Cove, if it’s not the most visited site in Nova Scotia, it’s second only to the Halifax waterfront … We can only anticipate more visitors to Peggys Cove.”
Another reason to enhance public safety at the picturesque fishing village.
We cannot promote Peggys Cove as the perfect picture postcard moment, ship busloads of tourists out to the tourist trap, collecting their money at every turn, and then wash our hands of any responsibility for their safety. Are the tourists “morons“? Yeah, well, maybe. But we don’t have any problem with them being so moronic as to pay 35 bucks for lacklustre lobster at Murphy’s, or putting out coin for the made-in-China keepsakes sold on the boardwalk; we only have a problem with tourists being morons when it comes to looking out for their lives.
Ridiculing people for dying is a hell of a tourism promotion tactic.
3. Cranky letter of the day
In his Aug. 22 column, Roger Taylor asserts that the Yarmouth ferry is vital, that giving up on it would be devastating and that the Nova Scotia economy is better off with it than without it.
But do these claims stand up to the numbers? The ferry runs for five months of the year and is operating at 30 per cent capacity for those months. It seems to have maxed out at around 35,000 U.S. visitors and it will need ongoing subsidies of $13 million per year. That’s getting on for $400 per visitor.
Let’s suppose the average visitor drops $100 in Yarmouth as he or she transits the area. That would be $3.5 million. If most of that, say $3 million, goes to wages, it would support the equivalent of 80 full-time jobs at an average wage of $37,000.
Those are numbers that make it difficult to see why a ferry that is not needed seven months a year, and is a pure summer tourist attraction, is “vital.”
While 80 full-time-equivalent seasonal jobs are nice to have, they represent less than one per cent of the jobs within half an hour of Yarmouth. Losing them would hardly be “devastating.” With numbers like these, it would not be unreasonable to bet that the ferry service will not last much beyond the next provincial election.
To a large degree, the term “ferry” is inaccurate. The ship is primarily a tourist attraction and the alternative routes into the province via Digby or Amherst are competitive without provincial subsidy. Those towns have as fair a claim to provide gateway services to tourists as does Yarmouth.
It is all too likely that by the time we recognize that the “cruise ferry” is really little more than a quite modest (if highly visible) private tourist operation, we will have sunk $80 million into it and done little more than drag out the demise of a tourist promotion scheme doomed from the start.
Michael Poulton, Halifax
No public meetings.
In the harbour
ZIM Haifa, container ship, New York to Pier 42, then sails to sea
Paganini, car carrier, Civitavecchia, Italy to Autoport, then sails to sea
Nothing left to say.
Tim for Mayor/Premier/Prime Minister! You know your facts & figures and I like your basic, common sense approach to bullshit.
I have voted in the 2015 federal election.
Went down to the office in Woodside, presented my citizenship card and drivers licence, was told my proof of citizenship was not required, signed my name on a form which listed my name address and ‘Yes’ I am a Canadian citizen, was told the registered candidates are Robert Chisholm, Jason Cole and Darren Fisher and then given a stub on which to write the name of the candidate I wished to vote for and told to place the stub in an envelope and return to the clerk after using the privacy of a voting booth, and upon the return the clerk placed the sealed envelope in another envelope which I signed and dated and then placed it in the ballot box.
Too bad if my choice dies before election day.. Deadline for other persons wishing to be a candidate is September 28.
I advise early voting, election day will be a zoo.
Early voting shouldn’t start until at least after the deadline for declaring candidacy
RE PEGGY’s COVE, could we PLEASE stop flagellating ourselves over the DEATH-WISH MORONS (repeat DEATH-WISH MORONS!!!) who flout common sense and a forest of warning signs to cavalierly put the lives of well-in tentionedNova Scotian «rescue» people at risk — and for WHAT?
Having lived in several parts of the world where brain-dead thrill-seekers tend to congregate I can assure our guilt-ridden citizenry that short of CHAINING these morons it is IMPOSSIBLE to prevent them from exercising their DEATH WISH.
Year after year, month after month, day after day MORONS, despite heroic efforts by sensible people: surf at Breakneck Beach; drive cars into the Kilauea caldera; trek over active lava flows; ski out of bounds; hike dangerous trails with NO preparation…. the list is l-o-n-g indeed. It is NOT society’s duty to cocoon these MORONS — they will find a way to continue their MORONIC activities despite the most-heroic of attempts to stop them. So PLEASE — let’s just make them happy and let their death-wishes be fulfilled.
With regard to the «Not-in-Yarmouth Floating Casino Tourist Trap» masquerading as a FERRY, I hate to admit defeat, and don,t want to rain on Roger Taylor’s parade, BUT, that current ridiculously subsidized overpriced CIRCUS needs to go.
When we had proper rail service down both sides of the southwestern end of the province, and when we had FISH which was not being air-lifted to China for processing in filthy sweastshop factories, it made sense (in fact it was SUSTAINABLE!) to maintain a proper FERRY between Yarmouth and New England. Having destroyed the fishery, destroyed the railroads, and shipped off local jobs to China to break the unions and fatten the stock portfolios of the Family Compact, we are now faced with the3 grim reality that it’s no longer possible to justify a ferry.
So, troughing politicians give us a sinkhole substitute and tell us: «you HAVE a ferry [sic.] now shut up and let us get back to the business of destroying more lives in Nova Scotia by giving awasy all our hardwood so they can buy electricity fattening the already egregious profits of Emera’s entitled «managers» and its greedy «1%» shareholders.
So… a Halifax web publication reproduces a snotty letter to a Halifax newspaper by a Halifax resident complaining about how absurd it is for the province to spend money maintaining a transportation link in rural Nova Scotia.
If federal and provincial governments ever stopped showering money on Halifax, the city would vanish like snow on the harbour.
I’m not against spending money to help people in rural areas. I’m against STUPIDLY spending money to help people in rural areas. The ROI on the ferry is underwhelming, to put it mildly. It’d make more sense to build a convention centre.
And this alleged “ROI” is based on what evidence, exactly? Some snotty Haligonian’s estimate that the typical ferry tourist spends $100 in Yarmouth, a figure he pulled out of his arse? A figure that does not include money ferry tourists spend in Clare, Shelburne, Publico, Digby, Long Island, Briar Island, Barrington, Metaghan, Lockport, Keji, Liverpool, Annapolis Royal, etc., etc. It’s pretty obvious the Nova Star is mismanaged and too expensive, but the public-teat-sucking hypocrites in Halifax who insist the only solution is to abandon that end of the province altogether have the heads up their asses.
I’ll just say what I always say on this: tell us how much would be too much. There’s got to be some upper limit, some point where we can all say, $X is a bridge too far. But supporters of these projects, whether it’s a convention centre in Halifax or a ferry in Yarmouth, never give us that figure, and so we’ll spend forever, apparently, with no restraint, no check, whatsoever.
Imagine what $41 million (and counting) could do for the rural economy if spent wisely. All of Yarmouth could’ve been given free high speed internet. A scholarship fund could’ve paid for university or trade school for all the town’s young people. Etc.
Point being, $41 million is a shitload of money. And it’s being spent to acquire mostly minimum wage seasonal jobs. There are better uses for that money, right there in southwest Nova Scotia.
Nice of the C-H to publish Poultln’s largely fact free letter. Since when does giving Bay Ferries s $65 million ferry (inadequate as it is) not count as a subsidy? And don’t we pay Bay Ferries a bunch of money every year?
This from a journalist who advocates hiring and maintaining on permanent standby at civil service wages a unionized workforce of sufficient size — hundreds? thousands? — to be able to clear HRM’s 1,000 km of sidewalks to bare pavement within 24 hours of a freak 1-in-20 year ice storm. How much is too much for maintaining a transportation link that has served 1/3 of the province’s landmass since the 19th century? I don’t know. How much should we shower on wealthy, entitled Haligonians? The sky is the fucking limit. Nothing is too good for our capital city.
You’re right! I don’t have a problem spending money… FOR STUFF THAT WORKS. Employing people to clear the sidewalks of ice by hand would actually work– we’d get ice-free sidewalks.
In the case of the Yarmouth ferry, there were two consultant reports. Heck, lemme just post straight from the report:
“Business and financial analysis in the CPCS and Gardner Pinfold studies
The CPCS and Gardner Pinfold (G-P) studies of a Yarmouth-Portland cruise ferry projected very different financial performance over a nine- year period. (The first year in each 10-year projection included one- time factors, so we have focussed on the nine subsequent years.) The CPCS assumptions imply losses of $4-$5 million(M) every year, while the G-P model projects profit from the outset, increasing from about $0.5M to $2.2M in the final year.
These contrasting results are almost entirely due to very different assumptions regarding:
• Passenger volumes—G-P assumes 110,000 to start; CPCS assumes 80,600. (Both incorporate only a 1% rate of growth.)
• Vessel acquisition cost—G-P assumes a six-month charter costing $3.8M per year; CPCS assumes purchase of a used vessel for $50M with a cost of $6.7M per year (12% financing over 20 years).
There is no objective way, without extensive market research, to provide more than a “guesstimate” of initial passenger volume and growth potential. The CPCS starting point was, by the authors’ own admission, very conservative. The G-P assumption was based on the expectation that a combination of economic recovery in the US; a new type of service (cruise ferry); and plenty of marketing, could attract at least 110-120,000 passengers annually. (In 2002, about 330,000 passengers used the two Yarmouth- Maine ferries then operating.)
Without the benefit of current market research, the panel chose for its financial projection (see below) the relatively conservative assumption of 95,000 passengers in the first year.”
Yep, we were going to spend $21 million over five years and get, ( CONSERVATIVELY estimated) 95,000 passengers per year. Instead, we’ve spent $48 million in just two years, and probably won’t break 50,000 passengers this year.
The NDP yanked the ferry when numbers fell down to about 20,000 passengers a year, corresponding with the four-laning of Highway 1 through New Brunswick.
I didn’t oppose the plan for the new ferry when it was announced. I agree that we should spend money to provide the public works and transportation links that drive economic development. BUT IT’S NOT WORKING. It’s time to cut bait and try something else.
This isn’t about hating people in rural areas or whatever, it’s about doing a good job at supporting them. This ferry isn’t doing it.
I’m pretty sympathetic with the concerns about Rural Flight and Overurbanization where the rate of urbanization outpaces actual urban economic growth. And I am convinced that Urban Bias is a real thing and a real problem. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urban_bias
The danger seems to be when we try and talk about it and it comes out in a divisive and unhelpful way.
I wonder if there’s another way of talking about it. Maybe just starting with the premise that we all love Nova Scotia and we recognize that the shape of things to come is intricately intertwined. We can’t have a happy city in an unhappy province or visa versa. And there are VERY few among us that don’t have a foot or a family firmly in both camps.
A lot of high-end intellectual horsepower got spent here today on this subject unfocused and distracted because of this false dilemma that it’s either the country or the city that succeeds. My view is that it’s either both or neither.
Yes, because rural decline is PURELY an issue of Big Bad Halifax versus the good old South Shore, and not a global issue. There aren’t thousands of former one-industry towns all across America trying to adapt to the same realities you are trying to adapt to. It’s all Halifax’s fault.
As others have stated before the issue isn’t that money is being spent outside of Halifax – it’s that it’s being spent fruitlessly pursuing an economic vision which is no longer achievable. Numerous consultants and economic agencies have said as much. It’s South Shore’s version of DEVCO and SYSCO. The money that could be used preparing for the new global economy is being spent trying to win voters over by telling them that “the good old days” are right around the corner. In reality, they’re just prolonging the inevitable.
I think what Delorey is actually saying is “I guarantee a wage increase of at least 0% for the next 5 years”