1. City staff propose $30 million upgrade to Sackville Sports Stadium

Signage outside the Sackville Sports Stadium.
The Sackville Sports Stadium in June, 2021. Photo: Yvette d’Entremont

“Municipal staff are recommending Halifax regional council add millions to the capital budget to revitalize the Sackville Sports Stadium (SSS),” Zane Woodford reports:

Upgrades would include a full-size gymnasium; a new walking track; a boat launch and floating dock on First Lake; locker room renovations; parking lot redevelopment; retiling the pool deck; and updates to accessibility and building systems…

One upgrade missing from the plan is the inclusion of a 50-metre pool, which was identified in the engagement. The pool at the stadium is 25 metres. Russell said the larger competition-ready pool would be nice to have, but it’s not realistic.

I am strongly in favour of this kind of spending. Maintaining public facilities like this ensures (one hopes) their relative accessibility, and recreational opportunities are a core municipal service.

Click here to read “Halifax rec staff propose $30-million reno for Sackville Sports Stadium.”

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2. ‘Excited delirium’ and police killings

Slide showing a stylized drawing of a translucent human, with the heart and lungs glowing bright red. There are also images of an EKG and a clock. Text reads "Escited Delirium" all in capitals, in a font with a bit of a spraypainted stencil look.
Slide from a police training course offered by MPI Training. Credit:

Last week, I heard CBC Radio’s The Current tease an upcoming segment about “the debunking of a medical condition often cited in deadly police interactions. Oh, I thought, excited delirium. A made-up condition used to justify police killings.

On May 1, an inquest into the 2015 death of Myles Gray, in Burnaby, BC, returned a verdict of homicide. Gray was terribly beaten by police officers, some of whom claimed he had been suffering from excited delirium. This was the same claim made by Halifax police after the death in custody of Howard Hyde in 2007.

It’s taken decades, but the tide may finally be turning against excited delirium. (Although junk science is incredibly persistent, so who knows?)

I look into these issues in a new commentary for the Examiner called “Excited delirium: junk science used to distract from police killings.”

Excited delirium is hard to define because it does not exist as a real-world diagnosis. It is “baseless” in the words of a Physicians for Human Rights report.

From my story:

A landmark Physicians for Human Rights report called “‘Excited Delirium’ and Deaths in Police Custody: The Deadly Impact of a Baseless Diagnosis,” released in March of last year, outlines the various symptoms that have been considered indicative of excited delirium:

It might be described as a state of agitation, excitability, or paranoia.[331] It might include bizarre behavior, confusion, delusions, hyperactivity, incoherence, or yelling.[332] It is often, although not necessarily, associated with drug use.[333] And, ultimately, it is so broadly defined that it might include the observable manifestation of almost every psychiatric or drug-induced behavior. Beyond even this, “excited delirium” has been described by courts to include superhuman strength and imperviousness to pain.[334] While this is generally asserted to be brought on by an underlying history of drug use or mental illness, it has also been described as being initiated by “physical stress.”[335] One court even found excessive “sweating” to be indicative of “excited delirium.”[336]

Since there is no clinical definition, excited delirium is like the old “I know it when I see it” definition of obscenity.

But the fact that there is no definition, that almost no medical groups recognize the condition, that its roots lie in blatantly racist junk science, for decades police have blamed excited delirium for what they spin as seemingly sudden and inexplicable deaths in custody. What seems more likely? That someone who was beaten by police and pinned to the ground and stopped breathing died as a result of that series of events? Or that they mysteriously expired from a condition that is impossible to define?

Way back in 2010, in her report into the death of Howard Hyde — a man with mental illness who died at the hands of police — judge Anne Derrick dismissed excited delirium as the cause of his death, blaming police restraint instead. Derrick also warned of the dangers of training police to look for excited delirium, a condition that supposedly gives people superhuman strength and an imperviousness to pain, therefore requiring overwhelming force.

She wrote that the Hyde case “should sound a loud alarm that resorting to ‘excited delirium’ as an explanation for a person’s behaviour and/or their death may be entirely misguided,” and that “first responders are not qualified to make diagnoses, and may ‘see’ something that is not there; as I firmly believe happened in Mr. Hyde’s case, there is the potential for more people being subjected to the overwhelming force that is recommended as being required to rapidly subdue the individual.”

Since then, we have had 13 more years of police blaming excited delirium for deaths.

Click here to read “Excited Delirium’ and Deaths in Police Custody: The Deadly Impact of a Baseless Diagnosis.”

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3. HRCE support workers reject deal

A bright blue sign in front of Charles P. Allen High School and the adjoining Bedford Hammonds Plains Community Centre welcomes visitors.
The sign welcoming visitors to Charles P. Allen High School and the adjoining Bedford Hammonds Plains Community Centre in July, 2021. Credit: Yvette d'Entremont

Last month, the union representing school support workers and the Halifax Regional Centre for Education reached a tentative deal. But the workers have voted to reject it, Frances Willick reports for CBC:

The workers include early childhood educators, educational program assistants, assistive technology support workers, child and youth care practitioners, Mi’kmaw and Indigenous student support workers, African Nova Scotian school support workers, SchoolsPlus community outreach workers and school library specialists.

CUPE Local 5047 represents more than 1,800 workers in the HRCE.

This means the union and HRCE go back to bargaining, with the possibility of the workers going on strike as early as Wednesday.

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4. The rising cost of period products

A store shelf with colourful boxes of tampons and pads.
Photo: Yvette d’Entremont

Writing for SaltWire, Meghan Dewar looks at the impact of inflation on period products.

Dewar writes:

Period poverty is worsening with current inflation.

For women like [Rachel] Durno-Allen, the cheaper option isn’t always safe, so she has to swallow the costs of name-brand products in order to stay healthy. On average, the 29-year-old from New Minas, N.S. spends between $300 and $400 on menstruation products each year…

“It feels pretty shameful because it’s not like I’m going to get my nails done. It’s not something that I’m choosing to do, it’s something I can’t go without.”

I would argue that for many people getting their nails done isn’t an option either.

The story also looks at reusable products, and has a nice bit about a Canadian company with gender-fluid marketing and inclusive products.

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5. Elvers

A swarm hundreds of silver baby eels or elvers swimming in the sea.

Paul Withers continues his work on the baby eel beat for CBC, with a story about DFO seizing half a million dollars worth of the little suckers in Enfield. He writes:

[DFO] said the seizure included 113 kilograms of elvers, worth approximately $500,000. A truck, trailer and $15,792 in cash were also seized…

Some commercial elver licence holders — who were forced off the water by the closure of the legal fishery — say enforcement has been pitifully small compared to the scale of the illegal fishery.

Atlantic Elver Fishery, which fishes rivers south of Halifax, has used trail cameras to document poaching 21 times since the shutdown. It has sent the images to DFO daily.

Stanley King of Atlantic Elver said Friday’s bust comes too late in the season to have a meaningful impact. He says only 10 kilograms was seized before that point.

“Although welcome news, the 123 kilograms reportedly seized pales in comparison to the several metric tons illegally harvested and shipped out of the country since the fishery was closed,” he said.

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Against No Mow May

animal bee bloom blooming
Photo by Pixabay on

Perhaps you have heard of No Mow May. The idea is to avoid mowing your lawn for the month of May, in order to help bees and other pollinators. So, let a thousand dandelions bloom, save the bees, feel good.

The Municipality of the District of Lunenburg has a No Mow May Challenge. Sign up and you could win a $100 gift card to a garden centre. (You’re supposed to upload a photo of your lawn at the end of the month.)

In the community monthly Masthead News, municipal employee Sarah Kucharski writes:

No Mow May is a call to help wild pollinators and other wildlife in the greenspaces where we live. Habitat loss and degradation are the major cause of wildlife decline. By letting spring flowers (yes, including dandelions) bloom you can provide an important source of nectar and pollen for wild bees, butterflies, and other pollinating insects.

In Pugwash, residents are encouraged to participate in the second annual local No Mow May initiative. A Facebook post by Norene Smiley says:

This spring Pugwash Communities in Bloom is again encouraging residents, organizations and businesses to join our No Mow May movement in anyway that suits their comfort level and way of life.

There were 34 participants last year.

Look, I like dandelions. I grew up eating dandelion greens, and I’ve made dandelion wine and dandelion jelly. I’ve drunk dandelion tea. Dandelions are pretty little things, and having a lawn full of them is just fine by me.

But let’s not pretend that not mowing lawns is a solution to the disappearance of pollinators. This is the kind of bogus environmental initiative that allows us to feel good about ourselves without the messy business of pushing for the broader kinds of change that would protect habitat. There is a compelling case to be made for the role of banning neonicotinoid pesticides and banning them to protect bees, but I’m not going to claim to have the expertise to assess the claims.

Last year, a local hardware store’s outdoor sign urged customers to help save the environment by refilling their own containers with detergents and such. Really? I thought? We’re doing this like it’s something new? I remember refilling dish soap containers decades ago. I mean it’s fine, fill your boots (or your soap dispenser) but let’s not pretend it’s a major environmental initiative.

Which brings me back to No Mow May. Writing in Rewilding magazine last year, Sheila Colla, Lorraine Johnson, and Heather Holm argue the general futility of No Mow May. Colla and Johnson are co-authors of the book  A Garden for the Rusty-Patched Bumblebee: Creating Habitat for Native Pollinators: Ontario and Great Lakes Edition, while Holm, a biologist, has written multiple books about pollinators.

Their argument boils down to this: a lawn is a terrible environment for bees and other pollinators, and not mowing it for a month so that dandelions grow isn’t going to do much to mitigate that:

They write:

North American lawns, maintained with pesticides and fertilizers, don’t support native plant and native bee populations. There’s huge value in challenging monocultural lawns and the enormous ecological damage they have caused, but offering a feel-good moment of aesthetic rebellion risks obscuring, and even undermining, the bigger goal…

 month of long lawns filled with dandelions and other non-native weedy species just doesn’t cut it. It’s the ecological equivalent of opening a fast-food restaurant on every corner – for a short amount of time. At best, burgers and fries for a while, but not a sustained full-service menu of healthy nutrition and habitat for pollinators.

I do give credit to Smiley in Pugwash for encouraging people to go beyond not mowing their lawns for a month. Her Facebook post encourages residents to rewild their lawns, consider only mowing part of them, using tall grasses, and employing other strategies to create a more divers and insect-friendly environment. Good for her.

Before moving on, I’d like to take a moment to recall what a particularly absurd Terence Corcoran Financial Post opinion piece:”The dandelion is the official flower of statism.” Upset over the ban of a pesticide, Corcoran writes:

No longer on the kill list, dandelions are flourishing across Canada, spreading across fields and lawns, golf courses and public parkland.

Unfortunately, the yellow dandelion flower has a half-life of about nine hours, after which it starts cranking out fluffy white seed carriers that scatter billions of future dandelions all over the urban nation, covering street meridians and every nook and cranny of every public and private space.

We are now doomed, as a country, to decades of exponential weed growth. We might as well make it the national flower now and get it over with.

Doomed! Doomed, I tell you!

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‘My Home, My Rights’ exhibit at Halifax Central Library

A banner that reads "Human rights come from my heart, not just a piece of paper."
Banner from the My Home, My Rights exhibit at the Halifax Central library. Credit: Philip Moscovitch

Over the weekend, I stopped by the Halifax Central Library for the My Home, My Rights exhibit, which runs until May 31. The library website describes My Home, My Rights as ” an action research collective bringing together community and academic partners to imagine and advocate for disability justice. They are dedicated to promoting the rights of persons with intellectual disabilities and other disabilities to live in the community as equals.”

The exhibit features two distinct sections, one downstairs near the library’s main entrance, and the other on the top floor, in the bright sunny room with the café (aka the Sunroom). The show is largely about the need to move from disability rights to justice, and the importance of personal autonomy for everyone.

Credit: Halifax Public Libraries

The theme of the downstairs portion of the exhibition is “An institution is not a home.” From the outside, visitors see panels with photos and information on discrimination and the harms of institutionalization. As a society, we have largely come to accept that disability means poverty, and we have tolerated for far too long the notion that many people labelled as having intellectual and other disabilities live in institutions where they are not free to make the kinds of choices most people take for granted.

Walk into the space inside the panels, and now you’re in a space designed to look and feel like a living room.

A space set up to look like a living room in an apartment. There is a couch in front of a television, and hanging sheets printed with the pattern of wallpaper, a collection of jewelry and cosmetics, and a window looking out onto a fenced yard.
Inside the My Home, My Rights exhibit. Credit: Philip Moscovitch

There’s a photo of goldfish, shot by collective member Jenn Walters, representing wanting the freedom to have pets. On a TV, three films made by the collective feature its community action researchers portraying the challenges and injustices of every day situations. (The videographer is Bruce Bottomley.)

In one, Conar Clory, playing himself, gets a call from a social worker (played by Simon Snyder) who wants to speak to his parents about independent living. When Clory says he doesn’t understand why Snyder needs to speak to his parents, he replies, telling Clory he will speak more slowly so he can understand. In a follow-up call, in response to the same question, Clory replies, “My parents have been living independently since 1977.”

In another video, “House Rules,” Chantel Meister and Isai Estey play people living in a group-home setting in which everything from what and when they eat, to when they can use their phones, to their ability to just go out and meet a friend are controlled or constrained. Collective member Jenn Walters seems to relish the role of the house worker telling her real-life collective colleagues that they had better be happy with what they get, or else.

In each of the videos, Super Melly (Melly Thompson), a superhero dedicated to disability justice, makes an appearance to help set things right.

A drawing of a caped superhero whose head is a photo of a young woman with glasses, smiling.
Melly Thompson as “Super Melly,” fighter for disability justice Credit: Philip Moscovitch

The exhibit also includes a board where people are asked to share what home means to them, and how that is different from an institution. “A sense of found belonging,” says one. “SLEEP!” says another.

The upstairs portion of the exhibit features photos by David Simmonds. These are stunning portraits of the My Home, My Rights community action researchers in their daily lives. Where downstairs we see Simon Snyder holding up a sign saying “Still no living wage,” upstairs we see quiet, intimate images of him staring straight into the camera, and seated in a car.

Alongside the framed images are quotes. Near a particularly joyous photo of Isai playing a tabletop Pac-Man machine in an arcade, is a quote from him saying, “I want to make my own choices for where I want to live. I might want to live in a group home or an apartment someday. This makes me very excited because I want to move out and start my own life.”

There is so much I like about this project and exhibition. First, it centres the voices of the real authorities on this subject, not outside experts, policy-makers, or health care providers. Second, it uses a lot of humour. Third, it is informative and drives home the issues facing people with disabilities when it comes to institutions. Fourth, it portrays joy. And fifth, the project’s community action researchers were all paid for their work.

I hope this is changing, but all-too-frequently media related to disability falls into the tropes of inspiration porn (“You’re so inspiring!”) or trauma porn (“How terrible!”). In contrast, My Home, My Rights is about people wanting to live their lives the way they want to live their lives.

You can read about the origins of the project in three short documents called My Home My Rights – Our Story: Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.

The exhibition runs until May 31.

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Halifax Regional Council (Tuesday, 10am, City Hall and online) — agenda


Special Events Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 11:30am, City Hall) — agenda


Health (Tuesday, 1pm, One Government Place and online) — Investment in Robotics, with representatives from IWK Health and Nova Scotia Health

On campus

No events

In the harbour

05:00: NYK Romulus, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Saint John
06:00: MSC Nuria, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Montreal
06:00: ZIM Monaco, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
06:30: Hanseatic Inspiration, cruise ship with up to 230 passengers, arrives at Pier 23 from Saint John, on a 15-day cruise from Boston to Toronto 
11:30: MSC Nuria sails for sea
12:00: Acadian, oil tanker, sails from Imperial Oil for sea
16:30: ZIM Monaco sails for New York
16:30: Morning Laura, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Zeebrugge, Belgium
16:30: Hanseatic Inspiration sails for Baddeck
17:00: NYK Romulus sails for sea
18:00: IT Intrepid, cable layer, sails from Pier 9 for sea
18:00: Endurance, cargo ship, sails from Pier 27 for sea

Cape Breton
08:30: Zaandam, cruise ship with up to 1,718 passengers, arrives at Sydney Marine Terminal from Halifax, on a seven-day cruise from Boston to Montreal
09:30: Zeus, tug, transits through the causeway north to south, en route from Montreal to Boston
14:00: Sheila Ann, bulker, sails from Aulds Cove quarry for sea
17:00: Zaandam sails for Charlottetown
17:30: Algoma Verity, bulker, arrives at Aulds Cove quarry from Savannah, Georgia
18:00: AlgoScotia, oil tanker, arrives at Government Wharf (Sydney) from Halifax
19:30: Torm Timothy, oil tanker, sails from EverWind for sea


I have not mowed the lawn.

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Philip Moscovitch

Philip Moscovitch is a freelance writer, audio producer, fiction writer, and editor of Write Magazine.

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  1. I don’t really get your no-mow-May argument. There’s nothing wrong with it ecologically and it is a step in the ecological direction. Agreed, it could be combined with other steps such as overseeding with Dutch white clover, not using herbicides etc. But it still helps and it is a visible statement. – some lawn care enterprises market no-weed lawns accomplished without use of traditional-type herbicides as “ecological” but they are not. A compromise approach: mow after most flower heads are pollinated) – see Thx for bringing the topic up, ‘good to talk about it.