1. Joe Ramia does Dartmouth
“Developer Joe Ramia wants to add more than 2,000 residential units to the site of the big mall in Dartmouth,” reports Zane Woodford:
In a report headed to council on Tuesday, municipal planner Kathleen Fralic lays out the concept plan from WM Fares, on behalf of Ramia’s Rank Inc.
They’re proposing seven residential towers between 30 and 36 storeys tall, with 1,660 units; five nine-storey residential buildings with 240 units, and retail space in the ground floor; a 12-storey “retirement facility” with 400 units; and a six- to 14-storey addition to the mall with commercial and office space.
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Since we’re getting around to finally renaming things (see #5 below), any approvals for development of the mall should be conditioned on renaming it. As well, the city should rename the street, and the province should rename the lake.
And let’s talk aesthetics. If this proposed development is as dog-ugly as Ramia’s Nova Centre project, it should be a non-starter.
That’s not just my assessment. Residents throughout the peninsula complain about the purple glow coming from the Nova Centre at night, and the building has never fit into the downtown gestalt. Walk along Barrington Street and look up at St. Paul’s Church and you’ll see the Borg hovering above in a truly frightening fashion.
Like Donald Trump, Ramia seems stuck in a 1980s-Houston architectural sensibility that the rest of the world left behind, well, 40 years ago. Why would we want to Enron Dartmouth?
And there’s transportation.
Transportation is going to be an issue regardless of where the increased urban population resides.
The province wants to double the population by 2060, and most of those million more people will live in HRM. Yet the newly announced Climate Change Action Plan is predicated on simply moving people from gasoline-powered cars to electric cars — there is no goal to increase the percentage of people who use transit. Likewise, city officials wave their hands at increasing transit, but the needle hasn’t moved on transit ridership.
In their defence, government officials are simply following citizens’ lead. Taking the bus is widely seen as déclassé, the domaine of losers and chumps. Supposedly, taking the ferry or a fancy light rail train is a step up in prestige, but not really.
Consider the three dozen or so dignitaries and bureaucrats who showed up for the announcement of the Climate Change Action Plan at COVE in Dartmouth. Almost all of them work in downtown Halifax, a potential commute of a short ferry trip and 10-minute walk away, but they all drove, and most of them independently. These are the people who say they are dedicated to getting us off fossil fuels. Evidently, for them, getting off fossil fuels doesn’t mean anyone besides losers and chumps taking transit; it just means all our cars will be electrified.
So more cars.
Which brings us back to Ramia’s mall development proposal.
Two-thousand residential units translates into, say, 4,000 adults. Employment is diffused, so some of those people will work in Burnside, some in Woodside, some in other places accessed via the Circumferential Highway corridor — Westphal, Cole Harbour, and so forth. So figure 1,000 more cars will be dumped onto the Circ every rush hour.
And what if just 10% of the new residents work somewhere on the peninsula such that they need to cross the Macdonald Bridge? That’s 400 more rush hour cars not just on the bridge, but on Crichton Avenue and Thistle Street, both of which are two-lane roads in residential neighbourhoods.
And that’s just commuter traffic from the development. Consider all the induced traffic going to the development — Amazon vans, visiting friends, service calls, cleaners, sex workers, etc. All cluttering up the Circ.
But what if we presume that against all social indicators and government policy, suddenly the 4,000 adults in the development are all transit enthusiasts? OK, but even then, we’re talking something like 50 more rush hour buses on the Circ, and 20 more rush hour buses on Crichton-Thistle-Macdonald Bridge. Probably a lot more. And besides the road network, Ramia’s plan shows no meaningful increase in the size of the already too-small transit terminal at the mall.
I just don’t see how a development of this size at this location can work at all without turning Dartmouth into a parking lot.
As I say, transportation is going to be an issue no matter where the increased population lives. It’s long past time politicians and bureaucrats get past mealy-mouthed platitudes about transit and start put real, substantial money and planning into it. And that needs to come long before the population increases.
As is, the city can’t maintain the existing street infrastructure. The street lights along Thistle Street between Victoria Road and Wyse Road were taken out during Fiona — almost three months ago — and they’ll still out.
This is the major pedestrian route to and from the Bridge Terminal. Hundreds of people walk along or across Thistle Street every evening, and it’s completely dark. Like, spooky dark. There are no lights on the adjacent Dartmouth Common or the Dartmouth High football field, so it’s nearly pitch black walking along the street. There are lots of bushes and landscaping along the street that present safety issues, and now we’re in ice season when being able to see your footing is imperative.
At issue is a single light pole that was taken out by the storm.
Last night, I had a Twitter exchange with Dartmouth councillor Sam Austin about this. He predictably deflected blame onto Nova Scotia Power, but can you imagine the immediate bureaucratic response and inter-agency cooperation if the lights went out on, say, Young Avenue?
So we Dartmouth transit commuters remain in the dark, because the city can’t get Nova Scotia Power to replace a single light pole, but we’re going to add thousands of more Dartmouth transit commuters to the system. Got it.
2. Stepping Stone wins humans rights award
“Stepping Stone, the Dartmouth-based non-profit that supports sex workers in Nova Scotia, was honoured with an award from the Human Rights Commission of Nova Scotia,” reports Suzanne Rent:
Alex MacDonnell, the executive director at Stepping Stone, accepted the award on behalf of Stepping Stone at a ceremony in Halifax on Friday. MacDonnell said accepting the award was a chance to teach others about sex work and how Stepping Stone supports its clients.
“I think it’s amazing because sex work is such a taboo topic and I feel like this is a move in the right direction in trying to eliminate the stigma,” MacDonnell said in an interview with the Halifax Examiner Friday afternoon.
“The more that I get out there and speak and talk about what we do, it’ll help reduce the stigma around sex work and get people talking a little more about it.”
“Just three and a half years since St Barbara Ltd bought Atlantic Gold for $722 million, the Australian company is now preparing to hand off all those Nova Scotia operations to a new junior mining company that will be called Phoenician Metals,” reports Joan Baxter:
The new junior will also own St Barbara’s Simberi mine in Papua New Guinea.
It is part of a giant shake-up at St Barbara, which will merge with Genesis Minerals in March 2023, and re-name itself Hoover House Limited. Hoover House will focus entirely on gold mining in Leonora District, Australia.
St Barbara recently replaced its CEO, and it has not had a smooth year.
The shakeup means the Beaver Dam project is “paused,” but the Cochrane Hill mine will “advance,” while the Touquoy mine will be placed in “care and maintenance” in 2024.
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“More than a hundred people attended an event in North Preston marking the official opening of the latest regional office for the Office of African Nova Scotian Affairs (ANSA),” reports Matthew Byard:
The regional office, which is located at the North Preston Community Centre where the event was held on Saturday, will serve the communities of North Preston, East Preston, Cherry Brook, and Lake Loon.
“These three offices, in addition to the ones that are in Sydney, Truro, Dartmouth, and Halifax, provide good coverage across the province,” said African Nova Scotian Affairs Minister Pat Dunn at the event. “We’ve heard loud and clear that the rural African Nova Scotian communities have unique needs and concerns. So, that is why we’ve increased staffing and support.”
5. Nora Bernard Street
“The results are in: Nora Bernard Street is the recommended new name for Cornwallis Street,” reports Zane Woodford:
Bernard, a Mi’kmaw woman born in Millbrook First Nation, was a residential school survivor who became a prominent activist. She fought for compensation for all former residents of those schools, and filed a successful class action lawsuit against the federal government. She was killed by her grandson in 2007, and posthumously awarded the Order of Nova Scotia in 2008.
The new name requires a council vote on Tuesday before becoming official. Council could instead choose one of the three runners up: Nitap Street, Dr Alfred Waddell Street, or Rocky Jones Street.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that more than 20,000 people weighed in on the name change.
6. Public opinion polling
“Nobody asked me,” writes Stephen Kimber:
But among those 605 Nova Scotians who are not me but who were asked in a Narrative Research telephone survey conducted between November 2 and November 28, 2002 — it apparently takes a long time these days to find 605 people who still have phones and will not only pick up their phones but who will also agree to answer pollsters’ questions — 61% said they “remain highly satisfied” with the performance of Tim Houston’s government.
Not only did nobody ask me that question, but I’m also guessing they didn’t ask anyone on my Facebook or Twitter feeds either.
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7. Mo’ po-po
“Pointing to a growing number of suburban and rural residents, Halifax-district RCMP want to add 16 new constables to their ranks in the next three years,” reports Zane Woodford:
There are currently 183 RCMP officers in the Halifax district, and one civilian employee. The RCMP said there have only been seven officers added in the past 10 years, 1% growth, while the population in RCMP-policed areas has risen more than 8%.
Tech Won’t Save Us
Mary Campbell of the Cape Breton Spectator recently turned me on to the Tech Won’t Save Us podcast, produced by the St. John’s-based Paris Marx. I’ve been binging on it ever since.
Marx is so refreshing, in that he approaches tech issues honestly, uninfluenced by the monied hype that directs much of the mainstream commentary on all things tech.
Remember when self-driving cars were always just two years away? That had nothing at all to do with the state of the technology or an honest assessment of R&D; it was just investment promo gone wild, and the press ate it up.
See also: the beneficial uses of blockchains and the ever-increasing value of crypto currency.
Marx isn’t anti-technology. Rather, in his interviews, he continually shows how in a capitalist society, tech isn’t used for the benefit of all of us generally, but rather primarily, and often solely, to enrich the already rich.
I was going to discuss the latest issue of Tech Won’t Save Us, but Campbell beat me to it, so I’ll just quote her:
…The reason I’m discussing Invest Nova Scotia today, I mean other than my longstanding if morbid fascination with bureaucrats playing at venture capitalist, is that I finally heard someone articulate the problem with venture capital far more clearly and and concisely than I ever could. My Eureka! moment came as I was listening to Paris Marx interview Douglas Rushkoff, “an author and documentarian who studies human autonomy in a digital age,” about his latest book, Survival of the Richest.
The conversation got around to the dot com boom of the late 1990s, during which, Rushkoff explained:
…what people would do is come up with a high concept, like, ‘digital bike lock.’ And then you write this business plan where you say, ‘Okay, there’s 500 million bicycles in America times 12 dollars, which is the margin that we get on each one of these digital bike locks, equals 2.7 billion dollars.’
Even if the entrepreneurs out to disrupt the bike-lock industry were more realistic and envisioned selling to just 20% of American bike owners, said Rushkoff, their on-paper profits were still impressive.
So they’d write this out and generate money—it was really a pure pyramid scheme, the Angel [investor] would come in and support that, and then they’d go up to a Series A for the next level investors and a Series B and you try to get it all the way up to your IPO [Initial Public Offering] where you’re selling to the public, and at that point the Angels and the Series A people get out and leave everybody else in the pyramid holding the bag until the thing dies.
Marx asked Rushkoff how the dot com era compares to the current period of investment in companies like Uber, which, as Marx points out, has made no money but earned a fortune for its early investors, who “got more investors to come in on it and cashed out at the IPO.” Rushkoff said the biggest difference is that whereas a lot of wealthy people lost money in the dot.com crash, “the early investors now understand to get out.”
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District Boundary Resident Review Panel( Monday, 12pm, online) — agenda
North West Community Council (Monday, 7pm, HRFE Station 9) — agenda
Human Resources (Tuesday, 9am, One Government Place) — Support Connecting Newcomers to the Workforce; Agency, Board and Commission Appointments; with representatives from the Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration, and YMCA of Greater Halifax/Dartmouth’s YREACH Program
Health (Tuesday, 1pm, One Government Place) — Surgical Backlogs and the Extension of Operating Room Hours; with representatives from Nova Scotia Health, IWK Health, Department of Health and Wellness, Nova Scotia Nurses’ Union, Doctors Nova Scotia, and Scotia Surgery Inc
Sing Choirs of Angels (A King’s Christmas) (Monday, 7pm, St. John’s Anglican Church, 23 Church St, Truro) — The Chapel Choir of the University of King’s College travels to Truro for a special concert of carols and anthems for the Advent and Christmas season. Under the direction of Neil Cockburn, entry by donation (suggested $20.)
In the harbour
05:00: Atlantic Sky, ro-ro container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
06:00: X-press Irazu, container ship, moves from Bedford Basin anchorage to Pier 42
06:30: Sunda, bulker, arrives at Pier 28 from Montreal
16:30: Atlantic Sky sails for New York
16:45: X-press Irazu sails for sea
20:00: MSC Malena, container ship, arrives at Berth TBD from Montreal
There should be a word for having knowledge of shitty things but being restrained from telling the world about them. That’s the life of a reporter who learns about things but can’t adequately document them or responsibly report on them for a variety of reasons, only some of which are legal or ethical.