News

1. North Mountain residents take concerns over glyphosate-based aerial spraying to municipalities; add more camping protests

A sign protesting the proposed spray of a site near Paradise. Photo: contributed, Don’t Spray! Nova Scotia/Mi’kma’ki

As spraying season approaches its end, locals from the Annapolis Valley’s North Mountain are continuing to pressure local governments to stop the use of aerial glyphosate-based herbicide spraying around their communities.

Yesterday, dozens of North Mountain residents were present at a Kings County Municipal Council meeting, asking councillors to write a letter to the province requesting a moratorium on the spraying practice and to raise the issue with the province’s Federation of Municipalities.

The potential harms of glyphosate, a “probable carcinogen,” which the Examiner has reported on thoroughly (in 2016 and 2020), are of serious concern to residents when it comes to “aerial spraying.” The practice involves dumping a massive amount of herbicide containing the chemical on forested land from a helicopter. The herbicide then kills any hardwoods growing in the area, leaving conifer trees for clearcuts.* Residents are especially worried that dropping the herbicide from such a height could contaminate water and wildlife habitats beyond the borders of the approved sites.

In a presentation to Kings County council, led by Nina Newington, residents asked that more research be done and a formal report be requisitioned by the province; they wanted all aerial spraying stopped in the meantime. 

Glyphosate is currently approved for herbicide use by Health Canada, and the province has told the Examiner it will follow the lead of the federal body.

As the Examiner reported September 2, North Mountain residents in Annapolis, Kings, and Digby Counties are currently trying to block sprays near their communities on the North Mountain until the season ends after September 30. In August, the province approved 2,306 hectares of forested land across mainland Nova Scotia for aerial spraying with glyphosate-based products.

ARF Enterprises Inc. holds the approvals for all spray sites on the North Mountain. As of this morning, the company has still yet to respond to Examiner requests for comment or an interview.

The presentation to Kings County municipal council was met with a motion to send the proposed letter to the Department of Environment and Climate Change. Councillors passed the motion unanimously. Though municipalities have no jurisdiction over herbicide spraying, residents say they hope pressure from Kings County and Annapolis County — that municipality’s council has passed a similar motion — could help lead to a province-wide ban on glyphosate.

Beyond government pressure, the community-led group, Don’t Spray Us! Nova Scotia/Mi’kma’ki put out a release this morning, saying protest camps have now been set up at 10 of 12 proposed aerial spray sites across the Annapolis Valley. Some of these, like the the Burlington site the Examiner reported on this month, have been set up for some time in order to prevent sprays from taking place.

Protestors camped out at the “Victoria Harbour” site on the North Mountain in Kings County on September 2. Photo: Ethan Lycan-Lang

The release mentions a number of sprays that have already been delayed due to regulatory oversight. In Baxter’s Harbour, ARF Enterprises didn’t give a homeowner required notification that her home was within 500 metres of a spray site. Residents also pointed out that ARF Enterprises hadn’t sent a contingency plan to local fire departments, as is required for spray approval. Nova Scotia’s Environment and Climate Change department ordered the company to create and send those plans out after it was brought to their attention.

Lastly, a lack of public notice in Annapolis County prior to the start of spray season in September delayed spraying in that municipality until yesterday. Though inclement weather has also prevented spraying now that ARF is approved to spray there again.

“People have moved to the North Mountain as a place where they can grow their own food and raise their children in a way that is healthy for them and for the planet,” said Laura Bright, a Hampton resident on the North Mountain, in the release. “The terms and conditions laid out in NSE’s Approval Notice are a mess. They are vague and inconsistent. I would have been fired if I had written regulations like that.”

“Nobody I have met [at the Kings County council meeting] wants the spraying to go ahead.”

The Department of Environment and Climate change didn’t respond to emails from the Examiner in time for this publication.

*Note: This sentence has been changed to clarify the purpose of the glyphosate spraying.

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2. Province announces new energy target: five gigawatts from offshore wind

Left to right: Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston, Nova Scotia Energy Minister Tim Halman, Halifax MP Andy Filmore, and Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship (COVE) CEO Melanie Nadeau, at the Nova Scotia wind announcement, September 20, 2022. Photo: Halifax Examiner / Tim Bousquet

Joan Baxter has a report out this morning on the provincial government’s newly announced target “to offer leases for five gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030 to support its budding green hydrogen industry.”

On Tuesday Baxter reported on Nova Scotia’s “budding green hydrogen industry,” which at this point consists of a single project, the one that EverWind Fuels is proposing for Point Tupper, near Port Hawkesbury in Cape Breton. (Part one of that two-part series the Examiner co-published with the Energy Mix is available here).

Baxter looks at whether this offshore wind will support the greening of Nova Scotia’s grid, whether the energy produced from the project will even be available to Nova Scotians, and just how long it will take to reach that five-gigawatt target. Baxter also questions how much this announcement has to do with bringing “green energy” to the province, and how much it has to do with attracting business.

Click here to read Baxter’s story. 

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3. Nova Scotia Power wants more money from ratepayers to cover storm costs

Drivers navigate deep water on the Bedford Highway during a rain storm in 2019. A proposal by Nova Scotia Power for an extra charge to cover storm costs could mean ratepayers will pay up to an extra 2% each year.— Photo: Zane Woodford

The big squeeze by Nova Scotia Power continues, Jennifer Henderson reports:

It’s hurricane season and with the prospect of a lashing from Fiona this weekend, Nova Scotia Power explained to regulators on Tuesday why the company wants a new way to get money from ratepayers if big storms exceed its annual budget. The mechanism is called a “storm cost recovery rider” and would apply only to large storms and hurricanes. Consultants hired by the consumer advocate, the province, Dalhousie University, and large businesses have all expressed concerns about what would amount to an additional charge for consumers above the 11.6% proposed increase in power rates.

If you want to get your heart rate up this morning, check out Henderson’s full report on Nova Scotia Power’s proposed “storm cost recovery rider” mechanism here.

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4. Eisner Cove Wetland: developers go to court to clear protestors

Signs are seen on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022 at one of the entrances to the Eisner Cove wetland, along Highway 111, where Defend Eisner Cove Wetland has set up camp to slow development. — Photo: Zane Woodford

At Eisner Cove Wetland, where protestors have clashed repeatedly with developers to stop construction on the large green space in Dartmouth, Zane Woodford reports that developers have sought an injunction through the courts to stop protestors from blocking workers’ access to the site.

It’s been a long, bumpy, often blocked off road to get to the point where the courts are getting involved. Protests led to a dangerous altercation in August and the arrest of four people earlier this month.

For the province and developers, the Eisner Cove Wetland is a prime place to build desperately-needed new housing in a dense urban area. For locals who’ve been protesting it, it’s the potential loss of 15 hectares of carbon-sequestering, biodiverse green space in their community.

Click here to read more about the court application from Clayton Developments and AJ Legrow Holdings to prevent protests from blocking construction, and what it could mean for the development timeline.

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5. ArriveCAN coming to an end

Photo: Detroit-Windsor Tunnel

God be praised, the ArriveCAN app could be coming to an end by October.

According to Joyce Napier at CTV, the federal government plans to make ArriveCAN optional for all future travellers driving into Canada after September 30. It also plans to drop COVID-19 vaccine requirements and random COVID-19 testing at the border, fully reopening the country for land-border travel.

Back in June I wrote about my personal heart-stopping experience using (or neglecting to use) the border-crossing app on a trip from Buffalo to Niagara Falls. I almost lost $5,000 and two weeks of freedom for failing to submit some travel info on this well-meaning but ridiculous app.

The app was brought in as a COVID precaution for Canadians travelling back into the country by land. For those who never had to engage with this nightmare, let me brief you on how it works:

You first upload your passport information — we had our passports on us. Then upload proof of vaccination. We had that on us, too. Then answer a few quick questions. You know, questions. Things that can be asked by a person, like say, I don’t know, a border guard. Maybe they’re too time-consuming to be asked in person, you might be thinking. Judge for yourself:

  • What’s the reason for your entering Canada?
  • What’s the address where you’ll be staying?
  • Did you travel outside of Canada and the USA in the last two weeks?
  • Do you have any COVID symptoms?

Fail to do that and you risk a two-week quarantine and $5,000 fine.

I was ultimately let off with a warning. That’s because there were so many complaints about the app, and the arbitrary penalties related to it, that the Canadian Border Service Agency has given all first-time offenders who failed to fill out the app a free pass since May.

Given the long history of complaints from travellers and border businesses alike, and the weak reasons for keeping it around, I’m surprised it took this long for it to go.

Photo: Hermes Rivera/unsplash

Perhaps the oddest impact of this regulation change: the Toronto Blue Jays will now have to face off against unvaccinated players traveling to Canada for the postseason. That is, assuming CTV sources are right and the regulations aren’t extended.

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6. COVID bivalent (Omicron) booster vaccines are now open to Nova Scotians aged 18 and up

Photo: Jeremy Bezanger / Unsplash

While we’re on the subject of loosening COVID regulations, let me remind you that the virus is still very much out there.

If you’d like to further inoculate yourself against it, and help stop the spread, you can register for the new bivalent booster by heading to this link.

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7. Wages up across some sectors in Nova Scotia. But does it mean anything?

Show me the money. Photo: PiggyBank/Unsplash

“New data from Statistics Canada shows that wages in the Atlantic provinces grew at almost double the national rate between April and June of this year due to wage increases in key sectors across the region,” reports Danielle Edwards at CBC this morning. “But despite the growth, some experts say the buying power of wages is still falling because of inflation.”

Dalhousie University economist Lars Osberg told the CBC that “wages haven’t kept up with inflation, so real wages have been trending down.”

According to the report, Nova Scotians are actually in a worse financial spot than they were before the pandemic, despite the wage increases, due mostly to — you guessed it — inflation.

Most Nova Scotians don’t need an article to tell them higher wages haven’t made anything easier on the money side. A simple trip to the grocery and gas station will suffice. If you pay rent, the financial struggle should be hammered home in 10 days.

The jobs leading the increase in wages, according to the CBC, are in “the professional, scientific and technical services include those in legal services, architecture and engineering, computer systems, scientific research, advertising and public relations.” None of those, you’ll note, were low wage jobs to begin with.

Luckily, Halifax native Nathan Mackinnon just became the highest paid man in hockey. As part of a new eight-year extension with Colorado’s hockey club, he’ll be making $12.6 million a year starting in 2023. Maybe that’ll help raise the median wage in this province. For whatever that’s worth.

Nathan Mackinnon, before he had a professional salary. Photo: Halifax Mooseheads

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Views

Jomboy Media and my pitch for enjoying the grand old game

It’s the last day of summer. Let’s talk baseball.

(If I’ve lost every reader except Philip Moscovitch by this point, so be it).

Photo: Lesly Juarez/Unsplash

The New York Times ran a small feature this week on Jomboy Media, a popular YouTube channel that’s exploded over the past two years for their videos breaking down the weird, peculiar, and oddly entertaining moments that pop up in nine innings of play. Pitchers trying to hide illegal substances in their hair, brawls that start from runners literally stealing signs, teams cheating with trash cans, players puking on the field, cats run amok… not the usual home run, game-winning play highlights you see on SportsNet.

Bolstered by the silly graphics, editing, and zoom-ins you’ll find in the average TikTok video, as well as some of the funniest lip reading you’ll find online, the videos manage to capture the fun moments you might miss if you’re struggling to stay awake for a full nine innings.

“He’s a great storyteller,” Andrew Patterson, the former senior director of new media at MLB Advanced Media who was hired in July as Jomboy Media’s first chief executive, told the Times about the channel’s founder, Jimmy O’Brien. “What he finds aren’t always highlight moments. They’re often the little moments that are overlooked. And he draws out a story that people find compelling.”

You might be familiar with the channel already. I’ve referenced one or two of their videos in previous Morning Files. But if you don’t know their videos, For a real introduction, check out this breakdown of the bizarre conclusion to a game from the 2020 World Series.

Man. Baseball is fun. Wow.

I first got into their videos in the spring of 2020, when the baseball season was still uncertain and all I could watch were old highlights.

What makes sports appealing? And why do some people hate them?

One of my earliest memories of dorm life at University of King’s College ⁠— a school for people who don’t watch sports ⁠— was walking from room to room, asking for someone, anyone, who wanted to watch the first game of that year’s World Series. Organized sports were unofficially categorized a fascist pursuit, dangerous to any Foundation Year student keen to maintain their hipster cred.

I promise I wasn’t just an unpopular kid no one wanted to hang out with. I have to believe that.

I think there are a lot of reasons sports aren’t for everyone. Locker room culture can range from questionable to morally and legally reprehensible. Organized sports are exclusive, professionals are entitled and overpaid, the idea of playing a game or following it is childish.

Some people take the same approach to sports as they do politics. They pick a team, dig in their heels, and consider every call and play made against them an injustice, and every victory an inexplicable personal achievement and indicator of their own superiority. All that matters is that your team won, or you got robbed. The rest is irrelevant.

The worst sports movies take this approach. Whatever the story, the climax to the forgettably formulaic sports film is the big game. The struggle is for a championship, or a bet, or pride, The classic archetype being the rag-tag group of misfits coming together to defy the odds and play for the championship. Sometimes, for a twist, they lose the big game.

What these screenwriters fail to understand is the drama of underdog championships and miracle plays is that they happen spontaneously. They aren’t drafted, edited, and produced in a studio. That’s why Bull Durham is the best baseball movie ever made. While Major League, though at times equally hilarious, is not. It’s why Moneyball appeals to people who don’t know or care how to calculate a batter’s on-base-percentage.

My girlfriend became a baseball fan this summer. Thank goodness for her, since she couldn’t help but be exposed to the sport, living with me. She understands the game well enough now, and loves to see the Jays win. But what’s really made her a fan are the idiosyncracies of the players. Vladdy Guerrero Jr’s loveable antics, Teoscar Hernandez’s dance moves, Alejandro Kirk’s athletic performance in a beer-league body, Bo Bichette’s hair, and so on. These aren’t frivolous things. They’re a part of the narrative that shapes the season, keeping the game fun and us fans connected. They’re just as important to the score. And Jomboy Media, unlike sports talk radio, understands that.

No, I’m not reducing sports to “it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.”

Although, yes I am.

If you hate baseball, and simply tolerate some of the baseball writing we drop in Morning Files now and then, check out some Jomboy videos. It’s my last ditch effort to win over a few new ball fans before October.

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Noticed

Catio season

Two felines enjoy some recreational activity on a “catio.” Photo: Halifax Catio Tour

“A tour of cat patios returned to the Halifax area on Sunday after a two-year absence caused by the pandemic,” writes Vernon Ramesar in a CBC article from Monday.

“The tour gave cat owners the chance to enjoy refreshments and socialize at so-called catios installed at private residences in Fall River, Bedford and Cole Harbour.”

Before you roll your eyes and start wondering what else we in the luxurious West can waste our money on, I’ll point out that these cat patios have some logic behind them. Keeping cats indoors keeps feral populations down and bird populations up.

My childhood cat Patches, for example, was a stone cold killer back in the day. My parents’ home sits up against a corn field and a forest, both of which provided amply for a bloodthirsty feline with a patchwork coat of camouflage and lightning-quick, life-taking claws.

When Patches was in her bird-hunting prime, my mother got a knock on the door. A group of girls, in tears, told her that a robin’s nest had fallen to the ground and our cat was picking off flightless hatchlings one by one. They asked my mother to do something. She told them, that’s nature for ya.

My mother: ruthless as my old cat.

So, I understand keeping your cat inside. But they still need the stimulation they’d normally get from their traditional neighbourhood beats. Hence, the cat patio.

I admit though, I still hate the idea of indoor cats.

I don’t have any pets at the moment, but I’ve always considered myself more of a cat person. I hang out with dogs more often nowadays, and they’re great for walks and a little rough-housing. But they’re so needy. So in your face. An extremely well-trained, well-behaved dog, I’ll admit, is probably the best pet and companion going, but how many dogs like that are out there? Yes, cats can be callous, bitchy, and borderline sociopathic, but I’ve always liked that they do their own thing. A lot of dogs are like big, hairy, dependent children that never grow up. Loveable, yes, but a lot of work. Cats are more like a roommate you get along with well enough, and hang out with sometimes. But you’ve got your own lives.

That’s why I’ve never been a fan of the indoor cat. If you can’t throw your tabby outside and forget about them for awhile, what’s the point? That cat should be out on the prowl, feeding itself half the time. That’s the arrangement our ancestors agreed upon. I hate to renege on it.

If it’s now too harmful to birds and other small creatures to keep a cat outdoors, though, I accept that. And if indoor cats live longer than their outdoor counterparts, I’m glad these patios can at least add a little enjoyment to their lives.

Seeing, however, as I will likely never have the right combination of time, money, or inclination to build a cat patio, I suppose the only responsible thing to do is forget about ever owning a cat and become a full on dog person.

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Government

City

Audit and Finance Standing Committee (Wednesday, 10am, City Hall) — agenda

District Boundary Resident Review Panel (Wednesday, 3:30pm, City Hall) — agenda

Western Common Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 6:30pm, online) — agenda

Public Information Meeting – Case 23617 (Wednesday, 6:30pm, 711 Pockwock Rd, Upper Hammonds Plains) — Upper Hammonds Plains Land Use Designation Review; more info at this email address

Province

No meetings


On campus

No events


In the harbour

Tim

Halifax
05:00: CSL Tacoma, bulker, arrives at Gold Bond from Baltimore
06:30: Endeavour II, oil tanker, sails from Bedford Basin anchorage for Falmouth, England
07:30: East Coast, oil tanker, arrives at anchorage from Saint John
07:30: MSC Manya, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Sines, Portugal
08:00: LÉ James Joyce, Irish naval patrol vessel, arrives at Tall Ships Quay from Portland
08:00: Siem Cicero, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
10:00: Norwegian Joy, cruise ship with up to 4,622 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Saint John, on a seven-day roundtrip cruise out of New York
10:00: CMA CGM T. Jefferson, container ship (140,872 tonnes), sails from Pier 41 for New York
11:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
16:30: NYK Nebula, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Port Everglades, Florida
19:30: Norwegian Joy sails for New York
22:00: Ipanema Street, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for sea

Cape Breton
06:30: Zaandam, cruise ship with up to 1,718 passengers, arrives at Liberty Pier (Sydney) from Charlottetown, on a seven-day cruise from Montreal to Boston
09:00: Carnival Magic, cruise ship with up to 4,428 passengers, arrives at Main Cruise Berth (Sydney) from Halifax, on a seven-day roundtrip cruise out of New York
14:00: Sea Dolphin, oil tanker, sails from EverWind (Point Tupper) for sea
16:30: Zaandam sails for Halifax
18:30: CSL Metis, bulker, arrives at Aulds Cove quarry from New York
19:00: Radcliffe R. Latimer, bulker, sails from Aulds Cove quarry for sea
19:00: Carnival Magic sails for New York
23:00: Algoma Value, bulker, arrives at Berth TBD (possibly anchored near the quarry) from Belledune, New Brunswick


Footnotes

  • I feel compelled to point out that my mother is a warm, loving, person in general. Please disregard that cat story.
  • In case you’re interested, you can calculate a player’s on-base-percentage by adding up all their base hits, walks, and hit-by-pitches, then divide that sum by their total number of plate appearances. Then you’ll know how often, in the words of Moneyball, “he gets on base.” It’s that simple.
  • Also, Aaron Judge just hit his 60th home run of the season last night, tying Babe Ruth’s old record for most in a season. He’s one away from tying the American League record of 61, set by Roger Maris 60 years ago. And Albert Pujols, who has 698 career home runs, has two more weeks to reach 700 before retiring. You don’t care? Sorry. I’m just a little excited.
  • It’s officially autumn tomorrow. What’s your favourite place to take in the first days of fall in this province?
    • The Cape Breton Highlands as the leaves change.
    • The Annapolis Valley as the apples and pumpkins become ripe for the picking.
    • Halifax during a hurricane.
  • Have you seen this new Hockey Canada survey the organization gave out to parents, volunteers, and coaches in light of the recent sexual assault scandals? Some of the questions are absolutely bonkers insulting. It takes tone deaf to another level.

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Ethan Lycan-Lang

Ethan Lycan-Lang is a Morning File regular, and also writes about environmental issues, poverty, justice, and the rights of the unhoused. He's currently on hiatus in the Yukon, writing for the Whitehorse...

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  1. Keep the baseball stories coming. I believe it was 1960 when I was in grade nine and the Yankees were in the World Series. The games were mostly in the afternoons and we were stuck in school. One boy in class managed to have a transistor radio and small earphones and passed us notes with the scores. In retrospect I am sure the teacher knew but pretended not to.