1. Burnside Connector

I’ve been opposed to the Burnside–Sackville Connector from the start. As I wrote in April:

Yes, traffic in Burnside is horrible. The place was badly designed from the get-go, and none of the repeated expansions of the business park came with sensible improvements in transportation systems.

But adding more highways into the place won’t solve those traffic problems. In fact, they’ll make them worse. Far worse. We know this: every expansion of the highway system brings more traffic, not less. You think the three-cycle wait for the light at Wright and Windmill is bad now? Just wait until a thousand more drivers come to the park because of the perceived “convenience” of the Burnside Connector.

In his Metro column today, Tristan Cleveland adds another reason to be opposed to the highway — the loss of potentially developable land:

Anderson Lake Area Urban Reserve is Halifax’s most important place you’ve never heard of. It’s that empty section of trees you drive by on Highway 7 between Dartmouth and Sackville.

It’s the size of the peninsula from South Street to Africville, and could house 50,000 people or more. It is connected to the harbour just 10 minutes from downtown, would fit snugly into our transit system, and is directly next to Burnside, one of the biggest employment hubs east of Montreal.

Where would you rather put 50,000 people? More towers? Distant sprawl? Or on empty land in the middle of the city?

Cutting a highway through the centre of Anderson would be like karate-chopping a wedding cake: no matter how much of it is untouched, 100 per cent will be ruined.

The area around Anderson Lake is zoned Urban Reserve, which means it can’t be developed until after the expiration of the Regional Plan in 2033. At that point, council could decide to rezone it for development, and Cleveland envisions a compact neighbourhood where people could easily walk, cycle, or take transit to Burnside and the rest of the urban core. That wouldn’t be possible, however, if plans for the highway go through.

Cleveland teamed up with the PLANifax people (or maybe the other way around) to make a video explaining the problem. Annoyingly, the video quotes the scab writers at the Chronicle Herald, so I won’t link to it, but it basically makes the point I made back in April: you build a highway, and traffic will increase, not decrease.

The red line shows the approximate route of the original proposal for a Burnside Expressway. The yellow line shows the current alignment of the western end of the 107 corridor, referred to in the 2017 twinning/tolling study.

Underlying this entire discussion is a shift in the routing of the highway. Originally, it was to be a more or less straight shot from Burnside Drive to Duke Street, but now the plan is to build a meandering highway that wanders around Anderson Lake.

The routing change appears to be made because, well, because of Dexter Construction. The original route went through property that holds Dexter’s quarry and associated businesses, and the company demanded too high a price for the land — I’m guessing the price reflects future lost business. With the recent UARB decision awarding $8.2 million to Stephen Smith for loss of future business revenue related to expropriation of his land for the twinning of Highway 2014, it may be understandable why the province wasn’t willing to play hardball and simply expropriate Dexter’s land.

But the result of the rerouting of the highway is that pretty much the entire Urban Reserve land to the west of Anderson Lake becomes undevelopable for anything besides big box stores and industrial uses.

2. Abandoned mines

YouTube video

Reporting for the CBC, David Burke takes a look at a group calling itself the Nova Scotia Minehunters. Its members explore old abandoned mines, and then post their exploits to Facebook and YouTube:

The hunters explore mines for the thrill of discovery. But Nova Scotia’s Department of Natural Resources and a miners union said the group is playing a deadly game that needs to stop immediately.

“This is not thrill-seeking. This is something that will kill you,” said Bob Burchell of the United Mine Workers of America.

There are hundreds of ways an old mine could turn deadly for the hunters, he said. Cave-ins, falls, contaminated mine water and poisonous gas are just a few.

A friend in California went by the name Digger Dan. He found an abandoned gold mine in the Sierra somewhere along one of the branches of the Feather River — I knew the general area, but Dan keeps the exact location a closely guarded secret.

Dan would go up to the mine for weeks at a time, shoring up the old shafts with new timber, and pick-axing his way to new veins of gold. He seemed to be happiest when he was mining, and would stay in the mine forever if he didn’t need to come to town for supplies.

Dan was every stereotype of a wildcat miner: hair that had never been combed and rarely washed, covered by a ridiculously weathered leather hat that was held on with a drawstring around the chin; a full-length leather coat with dozens of pockets, worn even in the scorching California heat.

He’d pop into Duffy’s Tavern with a canyon girl he had a complicated relationship with, and we’d drink together. Once, a dozen drinks in, Dan put a sheet of paper on the bar, then slyly pulled a plastic pill bottle out of one of those coat pockets, tapping gold flakes from the bottle onto the paper,. “That’s about $200,” he said. We stared at it for a while, then ordered another drink, the small pile of gold sitting on the bar as bartender returned with two more pints. Dan then carefully picked up the paper, curved it into a funnel, and tapped the outside of the paper funnel such that the gold fell back into the bottle, which he again secreted in one of his many coat pockets.

I don’t think Dan made much money with his illegal gold mine — I remember once telling him he’d make more money working at Taco Bell. But he had grandiose plans of going legit, staking a claim on the mine and being able to open it up with hydraulic equipment and dozers. We both knew that was a load of bullshit.

3. Timber Lounge

Drink and throw axes at the Timber Lounge. Photo: Facebook

The Timber Lounge is a new-ish bar on Robie Agricola Street that taps into the hipster woodsman aesthetic with an axe-throwing theme. Hey, whatever people like. Seems harmless enough.

Until the racists show up.

“The owner of a Halifax axe-throwing venue is speaking out after his business received numerous negative reviews following an incident Saturday night,” reports Sean Previl for Global:

Marc Chisholm, owner of Timber Lounge Halifaxe, said he received a call Saturday about a group of customers, some of whom identified themselves as being affiliated with the “Proud Boys” group.


He said staff contacted him, and one of them expressed he was uncomfortable with coaching them.

“We have Native members on staff and [they] just didn’t feel right coaching them and didn’t feel safe coaching them so I made the decision and backed up my staff,” Chisholm said. “Based on their present actions, we didn’t feel that it was safe for our staff or other patrons — there was another group throwing as well — so we just refunded their money and asked them to leave.”

He said there was “no scene” when the group left.

After they were kicked out of the bar, supporters of the Proud Boys started posting nasty comments on the Timber Lounge’s Facebook page; that, in turn, has resulted in a flood of supportive comments.

4. Sia Van Wyck

Sia Van Wyck. Photo: GoFunndMe

“A community is rallying around the family devastated by a farm tragedy that killed a seven-year-old girl,” reports CTV:

Sia Van Wyck was struck and killed by a piece of farm equipment on July 19 while visiting family in Clementsvale, N.S., near Digby.

“Your heart breaks and then when you find out it’s someone in the community that you’ve all known and loved and embraced over the years, it becomes a double whammy,” says fundraiser Terry Gilbert.

The family is from Maine but was visiting relatives in the area for summer vacation.

A cutline on a photo of the field where young Sia died explains that “police say the grass was about a metre high and the girl wasn’t visible right before the collision.”

5. Court decisions

There were two interesting Small Claims Court decisions published yesterday.

The first is The Great Donair War.

Nabil Toulany, owner of Billy Stick Food, sued Jack Khoury, owner of a donair restaurant in Saint John, for $1,566 Khory refused to pay him for donair meat. The adjudicator, Eric K. Slone, noted that a 20- 25 pound cone of costs $68. Khoury says he goes through 20 cones a week.

Khoury complained that the donair meat fell apart on stick. “This is not ideal,” wrote Sloane, “as it is the rotisserie-style roasting that is the signature feature of donairs.”

Toulany, for his part, said Khoury might be transporting it without refrigeration, or maybe doesn’t know how to cook it in the first place.

Slone, the adjudicator, split the difference:

Both parties appear sincere and the matter is likely mostly a point of pride for both of them.

On balance, I accept that Mr. Khoury had trouble with some of the cones, but not to the tune of $1,566.00. I believe that he was frustrated and simply chose not to pay this amount. There is no evidence that any of the food was thrown away, just that some of it didn’t hold together properly.

I believe that the fair result is to split the difference. I will award the Claimant [Toulaney]  $783.00.

The second case involved Lily the Duck Toller, a family pet caught up in a custody battle after a broken relationship. Noted Slone:

In a more perfect world there would be special laws recognizing pets as living, feeling creatures with rights to be looked after by those who best meet their needs or interests, and there would be specialized accessible courts to determine the “best interest of the dog,” as there are for children in the Family Courts.

In this less perfect world, there is the Small Claims Court operating on principles of property law, treating pets as “chattels” not very different — legally speaking — from the family car.

Sally Kemp sued her former boyfriend Laurie Osmond over the dog. As Kemp explained it, she and Osmond had two dogs — Lily the duck toller and another dog named Cooper, breed unstated, but undoubtedly less intelligent and endearing than a duck toller. It was always understood, said Kemp, that Lily was her dog, while the less intelligent, less endearing Cooper was Osmond’s dog.

After the pair split, they had varying dog visitation rights and dog walking practices — Kemp and Osmond disagreed on the particulars of the arrangements, but “both parties agree that the two dogs are very bonded with each other,” wrote Slone.

Then came a dramatic day in March of 2017 (the exact date is contested) when Osmond showed up at Kemp’s residence to retrieve Lily, but that devolved into “a physical altercation” between Osmond and Kemp’s new boyfriend. The cops were called, and convinced Osmond to let it be; he drove away but later came back to the neighbourhood. Lily was out in the front yard doing whatever duck tollers do when they’re not tolling ducks; Osmond whistled, Lily came running and jumped into his car. Off they went, and so Kemp went to court.

Slone referred back to previous rulings he had made in pet custody cases, then weighed the evidence before him.

“It is telling and ironic that the immediate, and perhaps ultimate decision was made by Lily herself,” wrote Slone. “The Defendant called her, and she came to him and jumped into his car twice. After the first time, she was returned because of police involvement. The second time, she heard the Defendant’s call from a distance and took off to be with the Defendant and her buddy, Cooper.”

True love prevails.




City Council (Tuesday, 2pm, City Hall) — I’ll be live-blogging the meeting via the Examiner’s Twitter account, @hfxExaminer.


No public meetings until September.

On campus



No events.


Thesis Defence, Pharmacology (Wednesday, 10am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Milind Muley will defend his thesis, “Role of Neutrophil Elastase and Proteinase-Activated Receptor-2 in the Joint Inflammation and Pain Associated with Experimental Arthritis.”

Thesis Defence, Process Engineering and Applied Science (Wednesday, 10am, Room 1014, Kenneth C. Rowe Management Building) — PhD candidate Yannan Huang will defend her thesis, “Characterization of Microbial Communities, Disinfection and Removal of Human Pathogenic Bacteria in Arctic Wastewater Stabilization Ponds.”

Thesis Defence, Physics and Atmospheric Science (Wednesday, 2pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Jon-Paul Sun will defend his thesis, “Organic Photovoltaics: Integrating Non-Fullerene Acceptors into Solution-Processed Devices.”

In the harbour

The Tall Ships’ Parade of Sail starts at 10am.

1am: Itea, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York


Er, I dunno.

Tim Bousquet

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

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  1. I don’t see what’s wrong with people exploring abandoned mines. We let people drive all the time who shouldn’t be and you don’t see any finger wagging there. People risk the lives of emergency personnel every time they think they need to go buy a big mac in a storm or drive distracted.

  2. and what happens when the axe goes flying backwards out of your hands? uhhh people? ok, so it only happens to me. fine. I will go on quiet days.

    of course the dog would jump in the car, that’s not an either/or choice for a dog. loves the guy, loves the woman. loves car rides. custody decision by a gerbil owner perhaps.

    1. I’ve been to the Timber Lounge and it’s safe. There are two throwing lanes separated from each other and from the tables for those in the throwing group by wire fencing. The whole throwing area is is separate from the lounge area. Each lane has a coach who teaches each person about safety and how to throw. Throwers go up in pairs (1 pair/lane) and throw on the coach’s command. Axe retrieval doesn’t happen until both people in the lane have thrown.

      I think there might be a limit on the number of drinks someone can have before throwing as well.

  3. Heard the gold mine story several times this morning on CBC. I hate to break it to these well-meaning experts, but saying it is “very risky and dangerous” in that stuffy “I’m on the record so I’m trying to sound authoritative” way is unlikely to dissuade anyone who would seek out gold mines and post videos of themselves exploring them. They are embracing risk. That’s their thing. You’re validating it.

    Better to have some attractive young people point out that it’s stupid and icky.

    Like that classic anti-smoking campaign, “Smoking makes his teeth yell-ow. Smoking makes his breath smell-o….”

  4. This statement is silly, and completely ignores the Municipality’s ability to control land use.

    “But the result of the rerouting of the highway is that pretty much the entire Urban Reserve land to the west of Anderson Lake becomes undevelopable for anything besides big box stores and industrial uses.”

    Your statement falls into basic scare mongering generalization. Why not simply point out the fact that new lands will be opened up, and identify the need for the Municipality to establish development controls so that we have the type of development we want? Although I have to wonder what big box outlets are left anyway, aren’t they all in Dartmouth Crossing already?

    There does not even have to be an exit on that route. It’s just to get from B to B. Is there even one shown? Those are expensive.

    Maybe those lands should be opened up just for reporters to hike, mountain bike, and explore, hopefully identifying all the unexploded ordinance while they are at it!

    1. The Municipality can control permitted land use, but it can’t force the market to build something it doesn’t want to build. The land uses that make sense, from a market POV, likely change a lot with the highway routing. With the straight run you end up with a big, continuous block of land. Property internal to the block would be well away from the highways, and could be desirable for actual urban development. The lake is also accessible. With the proposed route no one will want to build anything other than more business park, even if the Municipality says they should build something else.

  5. When someone told me about the Timber Lodge and it’s axe-throwing “theme” I couldn’t believe it. Am I the only person who thinks drinking alcohol and throwing axes is about one of the stupidest ideas ever ? How can this even be legal ?? Or maybe the owner is seeking fame through a William Burroughs moment. Ooops.

    1. I went for my friend’s birthday. The drinking isn’t an issue. Bookings are early in the night, and they’re for an hour long. It’s more the kind of thing where you might have one drink while throwing axes, and then go out for drinking after. And as Tim said, it’s supervised. They have someone on each lane standing literally next to the axe thrower.

  6. Who are the dumbasses who make the decisions like the Burnside connector?

    Probably the same dumbasses who are putting a hospital in a business park.