1. Kayla Borden
“Nova Scotia’s Police Review Board has dismissed Kayla Borden’s complaint against two Halifax Regional Police officers and declared that race ‘could not have been and was not a factor’ in the case,” reports Zane Woodford:
The board even derided Borden for believing she was a victim of racial profiling, noting her testimony that nothing could change her mind.
“This position is untenable, particularly in the face of not only officer testimony, but the radio transmissions throughout. This is not a case of their word against hers,” the board wrote.
“There is not an iota of evidence that conscious or unconscious racial bias/systemic racism had anything to do with the pursuit and arrest of July 28, 2020.”
The board pointed to Halifax Regional Police Chief Dan Kinsella’s testimony, and apology to Borden, as proof there’s no issue with systemic racism within HRP.
“At the outset of his testimony, Chief Kinsella offered an unsolicited apology to Ms. Borden, and expressed empathy for what she had experienced. The Board is satisfied that this was completely sincere,” it wrote.
“He also acknowledged the existence of racial bias in policing as with any other field of endeavour. He detailed steps that HRP is taking to train its officer, to recognize, and avoid, the intrusion of bias in its work.”
‘There can’t be racism because we acknowledge that there is racism’ is a hell of an argument.
Click here to read “Board concludes race ‘was not a factor’ in Kayla Borden’s arrest by Halifax Regional Police.”
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2. Tom Miller
In the second of Joan Baxter’s two-part series looking at post-Fiona forest cleanup, she speaks with woodlot owner Tom Miller:
I ask Miller about arguments I’ve heard at meetings since Fiona that brought together woodlot owners, forestry contractors, and industry spokespeople in northern Nova Scotia, that they need the Northern Pulp mill back in operation. Without it, some said, they had no place to send the waste or low-grade wood that Fiona blew down.
“Here’s the question to ask them,” Miller replies. “Why, after 50-plus years of what they call ‘scientific forest management’ [that came with the pulp mill], are our forests full of low-grade material?”
In his view, the province decided decades ago to go with “pulp mill forestry” that involves shorter and shorter periods between clearcuts, replacing natural hardwood stands with softwood plantations, and smaller and smaller trees.
“If we had sawmill forestry, we’d have no problem,” Miller says. “Our woods would now be full of timber. Where you could go in with a power saw and pick through the trees and make a decent living off your land.”
Click here to read “Post-tropical storm Fiona decimated Nova Scotia’s woodlots. These ecological foresters tell us what cleanup should look like, Part 2: Tom Miller.”
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3. School support workers, hospital cleaners
“It’s Day 5 of a strike by educational program assistants at schools in the Halifax region,” reports Jennifer Henderson:
That means students with disabilities who rely on the support of these workers are not attending school and not receiving an education. Several of these students arrived at a picket line in Fall River Tuesday to show their support for the striking adult workers who usually support them.
Henderson also reports that workers who clean the Halifax Infirmary and Victoria General hospitals will not get the $5,000 bonus that cleaners at the province’s other hospitals will receive. The reason: cleaning at the Infirmary and VG has been contracted out to a private firm, and so those workers are not directly on the public payroll:
“The Houston government shouldn’t be picking and choosing which public health care workers get the thank-you bonuses,” said CUPE Nova Scotia President Nan McFadgen. “If they work at a publicly funded hospital, performing the same duties as other workers employed directly by Nova Scotia Health, they should be included. It’s shameful that the cleaners working in the QEII were excluded in the first place.”
Click here to read “Union news: school support workers on Day 5 of strike; QEII hospital cleaners won’t get bonuses.”
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4. Gibson’s to Selby’s
“A Cole Harbour café will be expanding to the Halifax side of the harbour and replacing an old landmark,” reports Zane Woodford:
Jason Selby, owner of Selby’s Bunker, a coffee and gift shop on Cole Harbour Road, applied for a development agreement for 6319 Chebucto Rd. That’s the Gibson’s Antiques building, vacant since 2015. Selby bought the building in 2021 for $385,000.
Click here to read “Gibson’s to Selby’s: Halifax community council approves Chebucto Road café development.”
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5. Maritime Launch is great for the economy says study paid for by Maritime Launch
I’ve long been a critic of economic impact reports: they are based on inputs that are uncritically assessed, plugged into formulas that can’t be tested, produce very large dollar amounts that the average person misunderstands, and never, ever consider potential negative impacts.
Suppose, for example, that in the pursuit of jobs! and prosperity forever, amen! the Nova Scotia government gave Toxic Wastes R Us, Inc. $300 million in payroll tax rebates to open a toxic waste dump in Burnside to accept all the most polluted everything from around the globe. An economic impact report would uncritically accept Toxic Wastes R Us’s numbers, add up all the construction and operating jobs, and tell us the toxic waste dump will have $1,232,894,745.28 in economic impact.
But what about all the people who die from handling toxic waste? Fear not, because the economic impact analysis will consider the pay of the emergency workers responding to the toxic waste spills, the doctors and nurses with more work, the funeral directors and hearse drivers fully employed.
From an economic impact standpoint, a toxic waste dump and all its associated spills and deaths and injuries are a huge positive.
I’m not at all kidding when I say we could retroactively do an economic impact analysis of the Halifax Explosion and find that it brought big benefits to the local economy. Rebuilding after the Explosion kept the local construction industry humming for years. But think also about all the money those doctors and nurses coming in from Boston spent here — that’s money from tourists who would never otherwise have come to Halifax.
And so when this morning I received a press release titled, “Conference Board of Canada Report Confirms Economic Potential of Commercial Space Launch Innovator, Maritime Launch Services,” my immediate response was: Here we go, again.
The “key findings” of the Conference Board report are:
- Maritime Launch is building Canada’s first commercial spaceport in Nova Scotia. We expect project spinoff benefits to sectors such as construction, transportation, and professional, scientific, and technical services from Spaceport Nova Scotia to spread to other regions throughout Canada.
- In total, we expect the construction of Spaceport Nova Scotia to contribute $171 million to Canada’s GDP and boost employment by an average of 1,608 annual full-year jobs across Canada, with 748 of those jobs within the province of Nova Scotia.
- Once Spaceport Nova Scotia fully ramps up its operations, we project it will add around $300 million to Canada’s GDP annually, boost revenue to governments by more than $100 million, and create close to 1,000 annual full-year jobs across Canada.
- All told, the projected tangible benefits associated with the construction and operation of Spaceport Nova Scotia will provide a much-needed boost to the broader Atlantic Canada region.
- While outside the scope of this project, it may not be far-fetched to expect that the additional tourism demand associated with Spaceport Nova Scotia will attract new tourism infrastructure in the region.
- The possibility also exists that Spaceport Nova Scotia will be seen as a hub for research and innovation activity in the space industry, leading the expansion of Canada’s expertise in this growing area.
These are very exact figures: $171 million — not $169 million, not $173 million — in GDP. And 1,608 construction jobs, not 1,609 or 1,607.
As I’ve said before:
The bottom line is: if someone gives you an exact economic impact figure, know that they are completely full of shit.
So, what’s all that based on? How’d the Conference Board come up with those numbers?
Let’s drill down into the report (you can read it here).
For construction, the report notes that “We expect construction to span three years and to cost $275 million.”
Who is “we”? Oh, a footnote explains, “Source: Maritime Launch Services.” There’s no analysis of whether that figure is correct or how Maritime Launch came up with it; the Conference Board just blindly accepts the claim of a self-interested party.
Besides that: three years? I thought they were going to start launching stuff like next month?
The “Operations” section of the report also is uncritically based on information provided solely by Maritime Launch, this time with “full project ramp up” by 2027.
The “Tourism” part of the report is interesting, if by “interesting” we mean “laughably implausible”:
We have estimated four potential sources of visitors after Spaceport Nova Scotia becomes operational:
• School trips
• Launch viewing
• Visits to an (optional) “Experience Centre” (this source is based on Maritime Launch establishing an Experience Centre, to be modestly scaled relative to that of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex)
• Business travellers who are directly involved in space launch activity
Nowhere does the report actually say how many tourists will come to the launch facility. You’d think that would be the starting point for any analysis, but apparently it’s a state secret; the reader is completely uninformed. I mean, how can I decide whether to open a hotdog stand on Highway 16 if I don’t know how many rocket tourists will be driving by?
And whatever the number is, the economic impact of those tourists is simply rolled into the overall economic impact, with no breakdown whatsoever.
In terms of the economic impact of those unknown number of tourists, a half-page appendix on Assumptions explains that:
We assumed 90 per cent of the Launch Viewing and Experience Centre tourists will be from Canada and 10 per cent from international locations. Moreover, we assumed that 75 per cent of the Launch Viewing and Experience Centre tourists will stay overnight and that 25 per cent will be same-day travellers. Of the tourists who will
stay overnight, we assumed that 75 per cent will indicate the launch and/or the facility was the primary reason for their trip (thus we allocated the full three-day average trip expenditures) and that 25 per cent will indicate the launch and/or the facility was not the primary reason (thus we allocated only the expenditures related to one day of their trip). We assumed the inflation rate from 2023 to 2027 will be 2.5 per cent and that the ticket price for the Experience Centre will be $55 (for 2027). For the low-estimate and the high-estimate scenarios on the Experience Centre, we assumed the tourist volume to be 4 per cent and 8 per cent of the Kennedy Space Center tourist volume, respectively. The scaling down of the volume was done based on the comparison between Halifax and Florida cruise ship passenger volume and on the comparison between Kennedy Space Center and Maritime Launch employee numbers.
For business travellers, we assumed that after every launch, not all members of the 77-person team will go back to their base locations and that there is 25 per cent turnover between launches. We assumed the one-way flight cost between Ukraine and Canada to be $1,000 and that 75 per cent of the flights will be through Canadian airlines.
For both Canadian and international tourists, for the one-day or three-day period, the expenditure on sports, recreation, culture, and entertainment is not added. We assumed that the recreation and entertainment cost will be spent on the Maritime Launch Experience Centre ticket price. We also assumed same-day travellers and schoolchildren will not spend anything on accommodation.
That’s a lot to assume. Fifty-five dollars to enter an “Experience Centre”? The Kennedy Space Centre’s visitor center (US$80.25 entry fee) has historic weight to it — manned flight, all that stuff — and Canso at best will be launching tiny rockets carrying tiny satellites.
A better comparison would’ve been Wallops Island, which is still a thousand times more interesting that the Canso launch facility will ever be. Here’s how the Wallops Flight Center plugs its visitor center:
Tucked away on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility plays an incredibly important role in our understanding of earth and space science. Since its beginnings, Wallops has launched more than 16,000 rockets carrying science experiments, technology, and satellites.
Established in 1945, Wallops Flight Facility is NASA’s premier location for conducting research using aircraft, scientific balloons and sounding rockets-known as “suborbital vehicles”. A partnership with the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) allows for the launch of orbital vehicles.
The public is invited to explore the history and future of Wallops and NASA at the Visitor Center through a variety of exhibits, videos, events, programs and tours. All Visitor Center offerings are free of charge. [emphasis in original]
So, you can go to the truly interesting Wallops Center for free but Maritime Launch expects visitors to pay $55 to visit its boring “we’re making money by tossing throw-away satellites into orbit” centre.
And why on Earth should visits to a space port reflect cruise ship traffic?
And same-day visits? Does the Conference Board of Canada know where Canso is?
I will agree, however, that $1,000 air fare from Ukraine sounds about right. But I thought Plan A was to not use Ukrainian rockets. So confusing.
And what about launch failures or, dog forbid, environmental disasters or loss of human life? As with my fictional Burnside toxic waste dump or the Halifax Explosion, such disasters will be an economic net gain, but maybe that’s not the only concern?
The Conference Board’s report is not a serious document. It would be rejected were it sent to a peer-reviewed journal. It’d be laughed out of any room full of real economists.
Rather, the Conference Board’s report is a political document, intended as PR for Maritime Launch Services.
The last page of the report notes that “This data briefing was completed by The Conference Board of Canada’s Economic Research Division with funding and support from Maritime Launch.”
Maritime Launch got what it paid for.
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Case 24469 – Public Drop-in Session (Wednesday, 10am, 1pm, 6pm, Mic Mac Amateur Aquatic Club) — next step in a planning process to develop the Really Big Mall lands
Audit and Finance Standing Committee (Wednesday, 12pm, City Hall ) — more info here
Transportation Standing Committee (Thursday, 1pm, City Hall and online) — agenda
Active Transportation Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4:30pm, online) — agenda
Youth Advisory Committee (Thursday, 5pm, Power House Youth Centre) — agenda
Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, One Government Place and online) — 2023 Report of the Auditor General – Provincial Fire Safety Management: Office of the Fire Marshal, with representatives from the Dept of Municipal Affairs and Housing and the Office of the Fire Marshall
Tracing the origins of complex life: genomic and phylogenetic approaches to understanding eukaryotic evolution (Wednesday, 4pm, location unknown) — Kelsey Williamson will talk
Allosteric modulation of voltage-gated sodium channels: opportunities for neuropathic pain drug discoveries (Thursday, 11am, Room 170 CHEB) — Rajesh Khanna, from New York University will talk
In the harbour
02:30: NYK Daedalus, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Fort Lauderdale, Florida
03:30: ZIM Qingdao, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for New York
06:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
06:30: Morning Charlotte, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southampton, England
07:30: Viking Polaris, cruise ship with up to 378 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from New York
08:00: NYK Constellation, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Southampton, England
12:00: Acadian, oil tanker, arrives at Irving Oil from Charlottetown
15:00: Atlantic Sun, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
17:45: Viking Polaris sails for sea
18:00: Oceanex Sanderling moves to anchorage
05:00: Pearl Mist, cruise ship, transits through the causeway
06:30: Norwegian Prima, cruise ship with up to 3,950 passengers, arrives at Sydney from Halifax, on an 11-day cruise from New York to Reykjavik
07:00: Zaandam, cruise ship with up to 1,718 passengers, arrives at Liberty Dock (Sydney) from Charlottetown, on a seven-day cruise from Montreal to Boston
15:30: Norwegian Prima sails for Akureyri, Iceland
16:30: Zaandam sails for Halifax
There’s always money in the hotdog stand.
MLS spends a lot of time lobbying all levels of government. They are looking for north of 300 million of our tax dollars to build their spaceport and develop the Ukrainian Cyclone-4M rocket. Very little construction has taken place. For years MLS has implied they had a rocket. The rocket still does not exist and so can’t possibly be a proven rocket. Developing this rocket could easily exceed 100 million dollars, to be paid for by the Canadian tax payer.
They create a lot of pro spaceport propaganda. Chances are when you read main stream media coverage of their company and project it originates from their propaganda. This includes their press releases, interviews with their CEO, and/or a combination of both. MLS pays to have favourable articles written about them. They have paid for what would appear to be interviews on YouTube and radio. Most recently they not only funded but also helped to write the study being discussed here. It is sad and telling when a company continually has to pay to have positive media coverage.
MLS owes 7.5 million dollars and has not been able to repay this loan. This year they couldn’t pay the interest owing on it. The lender had to accept payment with MLS’ penny stocks, aka MLS Bucks. At the end of this year they have to pay the interest on this loan in cash at 9%, increased from 4%. MLS has 4.4 million euros owing to an unnamed contractor in Ukraine. This is also due the end of this year. They have received 10.5 million in private financing. This will have to be re payed. Despite having no revenues and not being able to service their debt, they managed to pay themselves very well.
Maritime Launch Services still does not know which unproven rocket they might launch one day. They don’t know how many launches there will be. Was 12, then 8, then not really sure, and now they are back to 12. They were initially saying it would take over 200 people for a launch, then it was down to 8, and now they are saying 77. How could this company fund and help produce an accurate study when it is quite obvious they don’t know what they are doing.
Good piece on the economic analysis BS. Of course people would go to watch the rocket launches, but rocket launches are free to watch – watchers have to be so far away there is no means of charging admission even if you wanted to.
The idea that there would be international tourism to watch the launches – when it is far easier and cheaper to go to Cape Canaveral or Boca Chica to watch far larger rockets – is right up there with “closest port to Europe”.
I’d like to propose a cheaper and more environmentally friendly solution: Hire some NSCAD students to make paper mache rockets, fill them with cash, and “launch” them out of a helicopter at random.
Tim! The Launch Facility is the new Bricklin. https://www.thestar.com/autos/2022/04/16/the-bricklin-was-new-brunswicks-nightmare.html
But it’s a good distraction for incompetent politicians
Good critique of the economic impact nonsense Tim. It should be compulsory reading for all politicians – but wait, they already know this stuff and they throw more of our money at it anyway. Expect the CFL arena thing to raise its head again soon.