1. Power outages

A reader tells us the power outage in Lunenburg began Saturday night, not Monday morning as depicted on outages Map on NSP’s website.

“Three-and-a-half days after Dorian knocked out power for more than 400,000 homes and businesses in the province, Nova Scotia Power issued a news release Tuesday evening, Sept.10, saying it had restored electricity for 75% of these customers,” reports Jennifer Henderson:

“We have the most crews working in Nova Scotia history,” boasted the release.

Meanwhile, more than 60,000 people still literally in the dark with food rotting in their freezers were being told it would be 11 pm Wednesday or possibly as late as 11pm Thursday before their service will be restored.

The elephant in the room is whether this is the best we can hope for in a province where the transmission lines are owned and maintained by a private company which has a monopoly on service. It rankles to know that in the week prior to Dorian hitting Nova Scotia, two top executives with Nova Scotia Power’s parent company Emera — Emera CEO Scott Balfour and Tampa Power CEO Nancy Tower —  cashed in their stock options worth a couple of million dollars when the share price was just below its 52-week high and before it would drop $2.50 post-Dorian. Emera also owns 100% of the Grand Bahama Electric Company on the island decimated by Hurricane Dorian where 50 people died.

Nova Scotians still waiting for service to be restored may be upset to learn NS Power declined an offer of assistance from PSEG (Public Service Enterprise Group) based on Long Island, New York. PSEG is the contractor that does much of the work for the Long Island Power Authority, which serves over two million customers.

Henderson goes on to detail the confusion sowed by Nova Scotia Power’s outage map.

Click here to read “Power is still out for thousands, and the power outage map is sowing confusion.

Is it just me, or does anyone else continually read “outage map” as “outrage map”? They may be one and the same.

2. Climate change adaptation

“In an era when the intensity of hurricanes is expected to increase across Atlantic Canada, experts say major changes are needed to utility grids, shoreline defences and even the types of trees being planted,” reports Michael Tutton for the Canadian Press:

Erni Wiebe, former director of distribution at Manitoba Hydro, says Atlantic utilities have to rethink the conventional wisdom that burying lines is too expensive.

Philippe Dunsky, president of Montreal-based Dunsky Energy Consulting, said that so-called “micro grids,” where neighbourhoods have access to stored or locally produced power, could also be a part of the solution.

Blair Feltmate, head of the Intact Centre on Climate Change at the University of Waterloo, says Atlantic Canada’s pace of adaptation to climate change needs to pick up.

He is calling for clear standards for coastline resiliency due to predictions of rising sea levels combining with the storms. He says that would mean a more rapid refurbishing of sea walls and dike systems, along with more shoreline vegetation.

Feltmate also calls for an aggressive tree-trimming program to limit power outages that he says “will otherwise continue to plague the Maritimes.”

3. Another crane incident

The collapsed construction crane on South Park Street. Photo: Tim Bousquet

Kelly Toughhill sends along this Global News article from February (I think I was out of town), which describes yet another construction crane incident:

Dramatic video of a towering construction crane bursting with electrical sparks lit up the sky in Halifax on Tuesday and was the talk of the town come Wednesday morning.

A crane was left spiralling in the high winds at 1447 Dresden Row when bright bursts of light exploded towards the top of the tower, which lit up the area and caught the attention of nearby residents.

This was about two blocks from Saturday’s crane collapse on South Park Street.

That makes three construction crane incidents on the Halifax peninsula in four years.

4. P3

“As the Liberal government negotiates a contract for a 20-year private partnership to expand and maintain a stretch of Nova Scotia highway, officials are keeping mum on many of the project’s details,” reports Taryn Grant for Star Metro:

The government made it a priority to turn the two-lane section of the 104 into a four-lane highway based on public consultation done in 2017, but LaFleche said it wouldn’t be possible to complete the twinning project quickly under a traditional procurement model.

Instead, the province has been looking to strike up a public-private partnership (P3) — a decision that has raised the ire of some critics. LaFleche and his department colleagues defended their plans during a meeting of the public accounts committee Wednesday at the legislature.

5. Bar Harbor ferry terminal

The Alakai, docked at Yarmouth. Photo: Suzanne Rent

“Senior transportation department officials from Nova Scotia visited Bar Harbor, Maine, last week to see for themselves what remains to be done to bring the town’s ferry terminal back to life,” reports Jean Laroche for the CBC:

The department’s chief engineer, Peter Hackett, said Wednesday that exterior, plumbing and electrical work have all been completed, and IT systems are installed.

“I think it still needs a bit of work to get the walls in and some of the security features in there as well. But as far as construction, they’re moving along fairly well in the building,” said Hackett.

Security booths and overhead canopies are installed but not completed, according to Hackett.

“I don’t know when the security, like the X-rays and that sort of stuff, are coming in.”

I seriously doubt the terminal will be ready by the start of next year’s sailing season. We’ll see, I guess.

6. Hitting up your “friend” for an airport

Ben Cowan-Dewar

The Cabot Links airport proposal appears to be dead, but maybe someone should drive a stake through the corpse lest it resurrect itself.

Still, it’s interesting to see how the proposal got as far as it did. One data point is provided by some unnamed member of the public who filed a Freedom of Information request for Tourism Nova Scotia’s involvement on the file. There’s not much there, but I found an email from Ben Cowan-Dewar to the agency telling.

The name of the recipient of the email is redacted, but it’s clearly Irene d’Entremont, the chair of the board of directors of Tourism Nova Scotia. Here’s how Cowan-Dewar begins his email:

I wanted to update you on this, as a friend, as Chair of TNS and from your role in One Nova Scotia … I would love your opinion and if you are willing to support the project, I would greatly appreciate it.

The email goes on with a bunch of boilerplate plugging of the airport, mostly with links, and d’Entremont doesn’t appear to have done anything with it.

And, I should note, Tourism Nova Scotia took a neutral position on the project: “Tourism Nova Scotia is not in the business of evaluating infrastructure investments and we’re not supporting one [airport] operator over another” reads a document titled “Inverness County Airport Proposal — Key Messages Approved for External Audiences.”

So no foul done.

I just find it interesting to watch the process play out. Remember that Cowan-Dewar was chair of Tourism Nova Scotia before d’Entremont, and resigned in order to become chair of the federal Crown corporation Destination Canada. It’s a very small province, and people join these various boards in order to “network” for their own advantage. It’s good it didn’t work in this instance.

Click here to read the documents.


1. Micropayments

I wrote a thread yesterday that got a lot of traction on Twitter dot com. Click through to read the whole thing:

I’ve addressed this a thousand times. Here comes 1,001. /start

— Tim Bousquet (@Tim_Bousquet) September 11, 2019


I’ve binge-listened to both seasons of the In The Dark podcast. It’s very good.




Appeals Standing Committee (Thursday, 10am, City Hall) — here’s the agenda.

Regional Watersheds Advisory Board (Thursday, 5pm, HEMDCC Meeting Space, Alderney Gate) — here’s the agenda.


No public meetings.


No public meetings Thursday or Friday.

On campus



Newfangled Rounds: Funding Sources for Health Research and Innovation (Thursday, 8:30am, Bethune Ballroom, Victoria General) — “Come learn about health research and newfangled funding opportunities available through Innovacorp, ACOA, NRC, MITACS, NSERC, Springboard, NSHA, IWK and more.” Register here.

Thesis Defence, Biology (Thursday, 1:30pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Xavier Bordeleau will defend “The Post-Spawning Ecology of Iteroparous Salmonids: Basis of Variability in Migratory Behaviour and Survival, Ecological Importance and Conservation Implications.​”

Altered Inheritance (Thursday, 6:30pm, Halifax Central Library) — Françoise Baylis will read from her new book, Altered Inheritance: CRISPR & the Ethics of Human Genome Editing, followed by an interview with Costas Halavrezos, followed by a moderated open discussion and book signing.


Anti-Black Racism, Homophobia and Canadian Blood Donation Practices (Friday, 12:30pm, Room 104, Weldon Law Building) — OmiSoore Dryden​ will talk.

Successful Drug Discovery: Combining Excellence in Design and Excellence in Synthesis (Friday, 1:30pm, Chemistry Room 226) — Jeffrey Albert from IntelliSyn Pharma Inc will speak.

In the harbour

05:45: Zaandam, cruise ship with up to 1,718 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Sydney, on a seven-day cruise from Montreal to Boston
06:00: RHL Agilitas, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from New York
07:30: Aurora, cruise ship with up to 2,258 passengers, arrives at Pier 31 from Charlottetown, on a 30-day roundtrip cruise out of Southampton, England
07:30: Norwegian Escape, cruise ship with up to 5,218 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Portland, on a seven-day roundtrip cruise out of New York
08:30: Asterion, oil tanker, arrives at Pier 9 from Cape Canaveral
09:15: HMS Queen Elizabeth, British aircraft carrier, arrives at anchorage
11:30: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Autoport to Pier 36
13:00: HMS Dragon, British destroyer, arrives at Dockyard
14:00: RFA Tideforce, British Navy replenishment vessel, arrives at Dockyard
15:30: Asterion sails for sea
16:15: Zaandam sails to Bar Harbour
16:30: Aurora sails to Boston
16:30: Norwegian Escape sails to Saint John
17:00: Pengalia, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Reykjavik, Iceland
18:00: RHL Agilitas sails for Kingston, Jamaica
21:30: Pengalia, container ship, sails for sea
22:00: Atlantic Star, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Hamburg, Germany

Midnight: CSL Tacoma, bulker, arrives at National Gypsum from Baltimore
05:30: Marvelous Ace, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Baltimore
08:00: Queen Mary 2, cruise ship, with up to 2,620 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Sydney, on a 16-day cruise from Quebec City to Hamburg Germany
11:00: Seaborne Quest, cruise ship with up to 540 passengers, arrives at Pier 23 from Bar Harbor, on an 11-day cruise from Boston to Montreal
11:00: Marvelous Ace sails for sea
18:00: Queen Mary 2 sails for New York
23:00: Seaborne Quest sails for Charlottetown


I’m going to hide in the library all morning. Everyone leave me alone.

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

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  1. HRM is seriously under-prepared for climate change, both in terms of adaption and in terms of dealing with the effects of hurricanes, major snow storms and other climate change disasters. HRM should look to the lessons learned by other East Coast cities, including NYC. Superstorm Sandy knocked out power well away from the waterfront because water seeped into buried conduit and shorted out buried power lines. It might be worth finding out what NYC learned.

    But more importantly, HRM needs to devise a disaster operations plan which includes keeping the streets clear so that emergency crews can function and evacuate people in harm’s way. Perhaps, we need to have a policy of no on street parking and opening garages for free right before a major storm hits. Also HRM needs to create a single emergency bus route that covers Dartmouth and the peninsula that includes the hospitals and comes close enough to residential areas that people can walk and leave their cars at home. A few years ago, I was at a seminar where a transportation guru showed a figure 8 map for HRM that would accomplish this. He suggested that HRM consider using smaller buses if it made it easier. But this route would ensure that medical and other key facilities were staffed and that people could get supplies. In short it is not just adaption that is needed….we need a post disaster plan to clear the mess quickly and efficiently.

  2. I think the idea of burying lines withiin cities and other communities is a great idea. We still must have overland transmission towers, however, can’t imagine digging up thousands of miles of countryside to bury the lines, not to mention the maintenance of those lines which are not maintenance free and are still subject to acts of nature, even if protected from wind. That requires better maintenance of the power rights of way.
    Let voters remember it was a government decision to divest itself of our public electricity company. How easily a handful of people can change things for better or worse basically on a whim.
    And the idea of smaller grids within the larger system is also good. Remember some years back when all of the Eastern seaboard was plunged into darkness? No? that’s because at the time, don’t think it’s still the case, Nova Scotia was not part of the grid!

    1. Nova Scotia’s power grid can run independently (although it rarely does because it is usually cheaper to buy electricity from New Brunswick or Newfoundland). However in a worst case scenario (cold day in January with no wind) all of our thermal plants need to be online (not shut down for maintenance) for this to work.

  3. I’m trying to figure out how a Public Private Partnership builds a highway faster than is possible under traditional procurement. The same amount of work needs to be done. Overtime work is more affordable because the workers are paid less? An early-completion bonus (increasing the cost) encourages cutting corners on design and build? Not seeing any benefit here, and not sure what the rush is.

    Regarding micropayments versus subscriptions: Thanks for clarifying the drawbacks, but are micropayments not feasible in addition to subscriptions? I miss the print model of being able to buy newspapers and magazines periodically (and anonymously), without subscriptions (even though the price of a single issue is usually high compared to the unit price via subscription).

  4. The need for climate change adaptation has never been more clearly underlined than with the aftermath of Dorian. Yet we proceed blindly and pigheadedly to invest hundreds of millions of public funds into building a new art gallery right in the middle of the worst possible place. on the waterfront. This is absolute arrogance on the part of those who are making this decision and an indefensible expenditure of scarce resources. There are other options for building this public infrastructure someplace where sea level rise and storm surge are not an issue.