1. Vicky Levack to move into a new apartment

Two women sit in front of a microphone
Vicky Levack (left) and Kariellen Graham, members of the Disability Rights Coalition. Photo: Jennifer Henderson

“Vicky Levack will move to an apartment later this month after living in a nursing home for 10 years. Levack, 31, a writer and activist who has cerebral palsy, has been a strong advocate for the inclusion of people with disabilities,” reports Jennifer Henderson.

Although Levack needs someone to provide 24/7 assistance, she is not unwell and has fought hard to convince the government she and many other young adults should be moved out of institutions.

“It’s basically like a tiny hospital,” Levack said about Arborstone Enhanced Care. “I didn’t fit the rules and I won’t be going back to visit. Moving to an apartment on the peninsula means my door won’t be locked at 8pm. I can go to bed when I want and eat what I want. If I want to have a boyfriend or get a job, that will be my choice. And the sidewalks are so much better. I will be able to get out more instead of having to book the Access-A-Bus a week in advance.”   

Click here to read “Disability rights activist Vicky Levack to move into new home this month

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2. Police board

The main sign that reads Police Headquarters on the HRP building on Gottingen Street in June 2021.
Halifax Regional Police headquarters on Gottingen Street in June 2021. — Photo: Zane Woodford

“A working group of a board has decided against creating a subcommittee. It instead wants a committee to implement the recommendations of a nine-month-old report,” reports Zane Woodford.

Dr. El Jones presented Defunding the Police: Defining the Way Forward for HRM to the Halifax Board of Police Commissioners in January. As the Halifax Examiner reported, the report made 36 recommendations toward its four-pillar definition of defunding.

A month later, the board voted in favour of a motion from Coun. Lisa Blackburn to strike a subcommittee to look at the recommendations and determine how to implement them. In May, the Examiner reported the subcommittee still didn’t have terms of reference and its role had changed.

As Woodford reports, a working group met four times between July and September, assessing each recommendation and looking at who should be responsible for them.

Also from the police board, concerns about a new budgeting process and cops don’t have much confidence in their chief.

Click here to read “Halifax police board: slow rolling defunding recommendations, new budget process, confidence in chief”

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3. Provinces could use ‘imagination’ when it comes to spending surpluses 

A red and green carpet of Canadian $50 and $20 dollar bills
A new report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says provinces have surpluses they could spend on social programs for Canadians. Credit: Dreamtime Stock Photo Credit: Dreamstime Stock Photo

“A new report says provinces have enough surplus funds to pay for the programs Canadians rely on “to survive and thrive,” and choosing to spend them is a matter of political will,” Yvette d’Entremont reports. 

“I think it’s taking some time for people to catch up to the fact that the provinces are in great fiscal shape. They’ve got plenty of money to spend on priorities that might have been highlighted during the pandemic, things like improving a health care system or long-term care,” Canadian Centre for Policy Alternative (CCPA) senior economist David Macdonald said in an interview. 

“They’ve got the money to do it now, and so it’s not really a fiscal question. It’s very much a political question now as to what they want to do with these surpluses.”  

In his report published on Wednesday titled Flush With Cash: The provinces are richer than they think, Macdonald examined the long-term impact of the pandemic on provincial finances. He highlights that all 10 provinces have experienced surpluses since the onset of the pandemic. 

The result of these surpluses, he wrote, is that nine out of 10 provinces are anticipating a larger fiscal balance than before the pandemic.   

Macdonald goes on to explain why provinces have surpluses (hello, inflation) and that we really should use our imaginations on how to spend that cash to support Canadians. 

Click here to read “Provinces have surpluses, need political will, to support programs for Canadians, report finds

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4. Port Wallace Gamble: Part 4

An "Advisory" sign put up by HRM on the shores of Barry's Run, a still pond-like bog in Port Wallace with a backdrop of forest, warns against swimming, wading or fishing in the water here. Photo: Joan Baxter
HRM Advisory sign on the shores of Barry’s Run in Port Wallace. Photo: Joan Baxter

We’ve taken part 4 of Joan Baxter’s series Port Wallace Gamble out from behind the paywall.

This series looked at Clayton Developments’ proposed new and massive subdivision for Port Wallace in Dartmouth, and serious concerns about the mercury and arsenic contamination from historic mine tailings in the area, and also traffic congestion on Waverley Road. This article revisits the proposed development, now that Nova Scotia’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing has designated Clayton Developments’ Port Wallace property one of nine “special planning areas” slated for fast-tracked development in Halifax Regional Municipality.

You can read the first three parts of Baxter’s series here, here, and here.

Click here to read “Port Wallace Gamble: the real estate boom meets Nova Scotia’s toxic mine legacy”

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Let’s get physical: learning to enjoy exercise

Dear readers don’t expect to see me pole dancing at any clubs anytime soon. Back in July, I wrote about the pole dancing lessons I was about to take. I don’t know what the hell I was thinking, but I clearly wasn’t made to swing around poles. I made it through a few classes, with my thighs far more bruised than my ego.  

I did, however, switch to ballet classes. And while I’ll like never dance Swan Lake (not outside my living room, anyway), I am far more coordinated in this class than I was at pole dancing. I’ve taken several ballet classes to date, and while I’m a work in progress, I can see how I improved. 

My attempt at pole dancing and now ballet are part of a larger effort to get fit and get moving. I’ve never been into exercising, really. Sure, working as a bartender and server kept me in decent shape for most of my adult life. But being a woman in middle age meant I was slowing down a bit. I decided to find ways to move more so I’d feel better. But I wanted something that’s fun and that I could stick with.  

Ballet is one way I got moving, but I also started lifting weights and doing Pilates at home, and I go horseback riding every weekend. I also cut back on desserts (not all of them; let’s be realistic here) and eat more vegetables. No fad diets or tracking points or calories. Definitely no “wellness” routines. And no getting on the scale all the time (I don’t even own a scale).

It was a matter of trial and error to find exercise routines I like, but I have since lost weight, feel stronger, and am seeing the results. Even better, I’m sleeping well, getting out and away from computer, and keeping my brain working by learning something new. 

I was never an athletic kid but seeing the results I’m getting now at almost 52 (!!!) makes me wonder if I could have been more interested in working out when I was younger had I had better guidance.  

At the risk of having every Phys-ed teacher in the province sending me hate mail, I have always said gym classes have long set up generations of kids to hate exercise. I went to school in the 70s and 80s, back when your peers picked the teams (I was often chosen last). We played awful games like dodgeball that seemed to be designed to humiliate your classmates. (At my school, most of the top athletes were bullies. I don’t think that was an accident). 

Round patch with a swirly pattern in the middle and the words Canada Fitness Award / Prix D'Efficience Physique around the outside of the circle
The dreaded Canada Fitness Awards. Photo: Joad Henry/Flickr

And then there were those Canada Fitness Awards where kids had to do pull-ups, speed situps, and flexed-arm hang (Philip Moscovitch wrote about the Canada Fitness Awards here). I got a participation pin for the first year and was so pissed off and mortified, I worked my ass off the next year and somehow managed to get a bronze badge.  

My kid who is now out of school also disliked gym glass. There were no Canada Fitness Awards, but she told me about the “beep” test, a multi-stage fitness test used to find out your aerobic ability. I looked it up and it sounds just as horrible. No wonder kids still hate gym class. 

Besides the horrible experiences of dodge ball and changing in the locker rooms, back in the 80s my class also had to calculate our body mass index (BMI), now known (I hope) as a terrible and inaccurate way to calculate body weight and overall health (I was always under weight and didn’t like it). This was when we were teenagers and in many ways embarrassed by how we looked. None of this helped us.

It wasn’t that I wasn’t active. My friends and I spent our time at home on our bikes, swimming, ice skating, at the playground. None of this felt like exercise; it was play that encouraged us to move. It was easy, fun, and it worked.  

Humiliation should never be the motivator to get kids to moving. It’s certainly not going to get them to like to move, yet gym class seems designed to make kids hate exercise. Alia Wong, a staff writer at The Atlantic has this great video about why gym class can be detrimental for kids and how it can be better:

YouTube video

I suspect a lot of adults who discovered exercise later in life did so even though they disliked gym class when they were kids. Gym glass should be about encouraging kids to move and learning what their bodies can accomplish. And kids shouldn’t be graded on what they learn in gym class (I’ll get more hate for this, too). I always hated that my poor performance in gym class brought down my overall average from other classes.  

Let the kids choose a workout for the class. Give them lots of choices. Sure, keep the intramurals for the kids who want to do competitive team sports, but find fun and creative ways to get kids to want to move. Show them what their bodies can do. Don’t make it about competition or humiliation. And teach them how to keep them healthy in other ways, too. Teach classes on nutrition, mental health. There are lots of possibilites. 

There were a few things I liked about that pole dancing class. Our instructor, Tara at Trena’s Dance Studio in Bedford, was fabulous. While I sucked at pole dancing itself, right from the beginning I liked the way she taught the class. I laughed when Tara explained that anyone who told us there was an “ancient” form of pole dancing was full of shit. This pole dancing we were doing was invented by strippers, she said, so give the strippers the credit.  

And Tara had two rules for her class: We weren’t allowed to disparage our own bodies. And there’d be no disparaging our classmates’ bodies either or you were out.  

I was older than the other women in that class by about 11 years. The women in the class were all ages and body types. And they were much better at the class than I was. Some had taken the class before and had serious skills. Pole dancing is athletic. There’s a lot of strength, flexibility, and grace required to do this. I wish I had been better at it, although it wasn’t for a lack of effort on Tara’s part, who said I was overthinking it.

But watching the other women doing so well made me realize we women are so frequently taught we should look a certain way and we’re not taught what our specific bodies can accomplish. Maybe you won’t be great at pole dancing, but you’ll be great at something else. Knowing this could make a big difference in what we will try in terms of exercise.  

This is how gym class and exercise for most of us should be, too.  

As for my own workout efforts, I’m looking to mix things up. In my head, I picture myself running. And no, not after the ice cream truck. I have a treadmill in my living room. It’s a start.  

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Looking at the real issues behind shoplifting

Photo by Brett Sayles on

Over at Unravel magazine, Chris Benjamin writes about the issue of shoplifting and how retailers should speak with the people who are most affected by store policies.

Jim Cormier, the Atlantic Canadian director of the Retail Council of Canada, says all those barriers and cops on duty at stores are about “constantly balancing a safe and welcoming environment for customers, with a safe and comfortable enviroment for staff, and at the same time protecting your product.”

I wouldn’t label cops at the grocery store as “safe and welcoming.”

Benjamin also interviewed Susan Ayles from the Elizabeth Fry Society, who also runs Stop Lifting, a non-judgmental program that looks at what’s behind shoplifting, theft, and fraud. Ayles talks about the link between shoplifting and poverty, and how it’s the most marginalized people — poor people, people of colour, people with addictions — who get caught most often.

Ayles also said for some, shoplifting is a coping strategy. Benjamin writes:

She says many people try shoplifting as youth, but those who keep doing it usually suffered a significant personal loss within the six months of the first time they stole.

There’s a psychological release involved, a seratonin boost. “A little joy bump. If you’ve grown up in a system that tells you you don’t count, or you’re not good at things. It’s a big ol ‘fuck you’ to the system.”

Ayles points out that in many cases, the penalities for those who are caught are far worse than the loss for the retailers. She said she has some clients who are doing federal sentences. The Stop Lifting program looks at root causes and offers a harm-reduction model.

Benjamin also spoke with Ann Divine, a “proud woman of African descent,” who is the CEO of Ashanti, an equity, diversity, and inclusion consultancy, about her experiences being racially profiled at stores. “You prepare, you dress well, you make sure you have money in the bank,” she told Benjamin.

As a white woman, I have never been followed or profiled in a store, but friends of colour have told me experiences that are very similar to Divine’s.

It’s a good, thought-provoking piece. You can read it here.

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Environment and Sustainability Standing Committee (Thursday, 1pm, City Hall) — agenda

Women’s Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4pm, City Hall) — agenda



Legislature sits (Thursday, 1pm)


Legislature sits (Friday, 1pm)

On campus



Applied Biomechanics for Innovation in Orthopaedics (Thursday, 12pm, online) — Janie Wilson will talk


Operationalizing Health Justice Through the Health Capability Profile (Friday, 12pm, online) — Jennifer Jean Prah from the University of Pennsylvania will talk

The Third Identity: Pregnancy and the Rapable Body (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1170, Marion McCain Building and online) — Mariah Cooper will talk

In the harbour

06:30: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Fairview Cove from Saint-Pierre
07:40: East Coast, oil tanker, arrives at anchorage from Saint John
08:45: Enchanted Princess, cruise ship with 4,402 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Saint John, on a seven-day roundtrip cruise out of New York
10:00: BSL Elsa, oil tanker, sails from anchorage for sea
10:00: Rt Hon Paul E Martin, bulker, sails from Gold Bond for sea
10:30: Don Carlos, car carrier, arrives at Pier 9 from Southampton, England
11:45: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Autoport to Pier 36
17:00: John J. Carrick, barge, and Leo A. McArthur, tug, sail from McAsphalt for sea
18:00: East Coast moves to Irving Oil
19:30: Enchanted Princess sails for New York

Cape Breton
06:00: CSL Tarantau, bulker moves from Port Hawkesbury anchorage to Aulds Cove quarry


I am off to work on my pipes now.

A white woman with chin length auburn hair and blue eyes, wearing a bright blue sweater

Suzanne Rent

Suzanne Rent is a writer, editor, and researcher. You can follow her on Twitter @Suzanne_Rent and on Mastodon

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  1. In my gym class, we did the CFP as part of the curriculum, which means your grade depended on part upon performance in the CFP.
    To get the participation award you didn’t have to just participate, you had to perform at a certain level. Effort and willingness did not enter the assessment.

    So, as The Fat Kid with lifelong joint problems already well in motion, try to imagine what this meant for my grade, AND for how I got treated by peers.

    Whomever invented that program enabled thousands of cases of institutionally-sanctioned bullying.