1. Willow Tree

The latest version of the proposed Willow Tree Tower. (credit: APL Properties Limited)

“Can we trust the Armoyans to act in the public interest?” asks Stephen Kimber:

No. That’s not their job. But it is councillors’ job. Their eagerness last week to say yes to the Armoyan scheme to trade approval of a 25-storey tower for a few affordable housing baubles tells you more than you want to know about council oversight.

Click here to read “Can we trust the Armoyans to act in the public interest?”

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And I should have mentioned this before, but are the Armoyans actually proposing to build a completely see-through building, where even the interior walls are made of glass? Because that’s what their architectural rendering shows.

They’ve also removed (or greatly reduced, it’s hard to tell) the pedestrian island on the northwest corner of the Willow Tree intersection. The existing channelized right turn is dangerous enough for pedestrians, but to also remove the bit of refuge is a step too far, especially since the people walking across Robie Street are apparently supposed to land in the middle of the intersection and then stand there, cars whizzing by, until their next light changes.

Here’s a Google Street View photo of the existing intersection, with the pedestrian island.

They’ve also managed to plant a tree in the middle of Quinpool Road, where another pedestrian island is. That may be a nice idea, but I’m sure the roots would screw with the fire hydrant that’s on the island now:

Also, they’ve placed all the existing utility poles and wires on both Quinpool Road and Robie Street underground. I haven’t seen that APL is going to be required to place the wires underground, but maybe since they drew a nice pretty picture of it, we can now require it, eh?

And is that a fully grown forest over on the St. Pat’s site?

2. Homicide

I’m reluctant to report on “suspicious deaths” because quite often they end up being suicides and I think the victim and family should be accorded privacy. But one suspicious death over the weekend has been ruled a homicide, according to a police release from Saturday:

The suspicious death that occurred yesterday [Friday] in Dartmouth has been ruled a homicide.

At approximately 4:25 p.m. on January 19, 2018 Halifax Regional Police responded to an apartment in the 0-100 block of Pinecrest Drive to report of a 42 year old man in medical distress. The man was pronounced deceased at the scene.

Based on today’s autopsy, the Medical Examiner has ruled the death a homicide and identified the victim as 42-year-old Derek Miles of Dartmouth.

Pinecrest Drive is ground zero on the Murders in North End Dartmouth map, which I’ve added Miles to:

And, police reported another suspicious death elsewhere in HRM over the weekend. I’ll hold off on the details until more is known.

3. Sexual assault

“A former student support worker with the Halifax Regional School Board stands accused of sexually assaulting a female high school student,” reports Jack Julian for the CBC:

Blake William Jackson, 50, of Beechville, N.S., is charged with a single count of sexual assault.

According to court documents, Jackson allegedly held the student’s hand to his crotch and forced her to perform oral sex on him. The allegations have not been proven in court.

Police say the assault is alleged to have occurred in December 2015 and, “after an investigation, the charges were laid of sexual assault against him,” said Const. Carol McIsaac of the Halifax Regional Police. 

That trial is scheduled for February 2019.

4. One Great City!


Anyone know? Who’s the franchise owner who has so much political mojo? I’m assuming it’s a connected Liberal…

5. Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin

Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin is the MLA for Cumberland North, and is considering a run for the Leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party, which would make her (I think) the first woman in the race.

A reader points me to an odd Facebook post Smith-McCrossin made last night:

Stories of a Nurse

I became a Registered Nurse in 1991 after graduating from Dalhousie University with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

As a student I worked in long term care at East Cumberland Lodge in Pugwash and also at Northwood Manor in Halifax. It was at a time when HIV was first becoming known and there were a lot of fears. Many nurses, even once educated, had fears of taking care of someone with AIDS. One of my first patients that I provided one on one nursing care was a gentleman with AIDS. He was kind and was so appreciative of the care.

I never had patients die while I was a student…. I often wondered if I was being protected by a higher power as I had fear of death after losing my Mom at the age of 5 and then my grandmother at the age of 12.

My first patient that died was during my first 6 months as a nurse. I was practising at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto. I worked on several units, all casual since I was new. On the Infectious Disease unit I took care of a man who was dying from AIDS. His family had abandoned him because of his sexual choices. He was alone. He was in pain. He was my first patient death. It broke my heart to see him die alone. He was young, only in his twenties. He was angry at God. He was angry at most everyone but we loved him and cared for him and when he died we cared for his body like he was one of our family.

I share this story with you because I am strongly leaning towards running for the leadership of the PC Party. One of the leadership candidates are spreading stories that I am a “religious fanatic” and that I am against homosexuals. I want everyone to know that I have always treated people equally regardless of their sexual preferences right from my first work as a nurse to now when my day to day work is with people of different backgrounds, race, religion, sexual preference, age and ideologies.

I am a woman of Christian faith and from that I will never deny. My faith is my strength. My faith is built on the life of Jesus who lived compassion, humility, kindness, and love to everyone.

Whether I am working as a nurse, as a businesswoman, as a MLA, as Leader of the PC Party or as Premier of Nova Scotia, I will treat all people equally with respect.

“My job legally required me to treat all patients with respect and I touched a homosexual and didn’t die” isn’t much of a defence against anti-gay sentiments, in my opinion, but there it is.

Mostly, I just wanted to post that photo, which I assume is 1970s-era Smith-McCrossin.

6. Lafarge

The Lafarge plant in Brookfield. Photo: Media Co-op

“Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Denise Boudreau has rejected a motion from a citizens group opposed to burning tires for fuel at the Lafarge cement plant in Brookfield,” reports Jennifer Henderson:

The motion was that new evidence from a toxicology expert be admitted as part of a judicial review this March of Environment Minister Iain Rankin’s decision to approve the one year pilot project.

Click here to read “Judge rejects motion against Lafarge’s tire-burning plan.”

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7. Examineradio, episode #143

The latest version of the proposed Willow Tree Tower. (credit: APL Properties Limited)

Maybe you’re for the latest version of the Willow Tree development; maybe you’re not.

Well, a lot has happened regarding this proposal for the corner of Robie Street and Quinpool Road, so we brought in reporters Jayde Tynes and Jacob Boon to walk us through it.

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Check out Erica Butler’s piece from earlier this week for more background.

Plus, we talk about Halifax not making the short list for Amazon HQ2, the future of tolls on the Cobequid Pass, and the latest on the federal government’s attempt to deport Abdoul Abdi.

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8. Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness

Hobsons Lake at night. Photo: Chris Miller

“Surveyors have been working along a property line in the Hobsons Lake area behind Kearney Lake, raising speculation that Hobsons Lake is part of the land the city is buying for the proposed Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Park,” I reported last month.

Sure enough, on Friday the city issued a press release confirming the purchase:

On January 18, the Halifax Regional Municipality purchased approximately 197 acres of lands to form part of a Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes Regional Park. This important acquisition marks the first parcel of land to be acquired by the municipality towards the creation of the regional park, which is proposed in the municipality’s Regional Plan. 

Given the size of the parcel the city says it bought, the sale apparently includes both the 25-acre parcel nearest Collins Road and the south half (south of Black Duck Brook) of the adjoining parcel.

The city did not disclose the sale price, and the sale has yet to be recorded. As soon as I have that information, I’ll report it.

9. Elmwood Hotel

The Elmwood Hotel. Photo: Google Street View

“Galaxy Properties is working with HRM’s heritage team to try and save the Elmwood, and it looks like it might actually happen,” reports Jacob Boon for The Coast.

10. Mr. Big

“The prosecution intends to drop the first-degree murder charge against a former Lunenburg County man accused of killing his mother,” reports Keith Corcoran for Lighthouse Now:

The Crown’s case against John Robert “Jack” Buckley crumbled January 19 in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Bridgewater when Justice Josh Arnold ruled pre-trial evidence pertaining to a so-called Mr. Big sting operation and an April 2016 caution statement Buckley gave to authorities were inadmissible.




Executive Standing Committee (Monday, 10am, City Hall) — Halifax is going to become a “smart city.” We would’ve been smart before but were too stupid to think of it.

Audit and Finance Standing Committee (Monday, 1pm, City Hall) — nothing much on the agenda.

Halifax Peninsula Planning Advisory Committee (Monday, 4pm, City Hall) — the Robie/Cunard proposal is finally coming before the committee.


Halifax and West Community Council (Tuesday, 6pm, City Hall) — here’s the agenda.



No public meeting.


Veterans Affairs (Tuesday, 2pm, One Government Place) — discussion of a proposed Veterans’ Memorial Medical Centre.

Special Committee to Review the Estimates of the Auditor General and the Chief Electoral Officer (Tuesday, 4:30pm, One Government Place) — I don’t know what this is about.

Management Commission (Tuesday, 5pm, One Government Place) — no agenda is published as yet.

On campus



Social Inequalities in Health (Monday, 12:30pm, Room 409, Centre for Clinical Research) — Michel Grignon from McMaster University will speak on “Convergence or Divergence of Social Inequalities in Health Across the Life Course: A Review of Empirical Findings.”

Bitcoin and Blockchain – The Impact on Existing Business Models (Monday, 1pm, Room 2600, Killam Library) — Joshua Gans will speak.

Jill Heinerth.

Expedition Files: Stories of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence (Monday, 5:30pm, MacMechan Auditorium, Killam Library) — Jill Heinerth will talk about risk management, technology, and “synergism” as she recounts “her exploration inside of Antarctic icebergs and making movies deep inside submerged caves and wrecks around the world.” Bring your own synergism.

YouTube video

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Monday, 6pm, Halifax Central Library) — free screening followed by a panel discussion composed of talking apes.


Kleisli Dougle Categories (Tuesday, 2:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Bob Paré will speak.

The Woman Condemned (Tuesday, 7pm, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — a screening of Dorothy Davenport’s 1934 film.

Saint Mary’s

SMU has a series of events for its Sexual Violence Awareness Week.


Hotter Sex (Monday, 11:30am, Room 227, McNally Main Building) — Venus Envy is running a workshop titled “Confidence, Consent, and Communication: How Sex-Positivity Makes for Hotter Sex.”


Quiz at the Colonnade (Tuesday, 11am, Loyola Colonnade) — test your knowledge regarding sexual violence myths and facts.

In the harbour

7am: NYK Artemis, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
8:30am: YM Evolution, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Bremerhaven, Germany
10am: Asterix, replenishment vessel, sails from Pier 9 for sea
6pm: Parsifal, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from New York
6pm: Acadian, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for Saint John


Sure, wrong city, but same sentiment:

YouTube video

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

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  1. Galaxy’s proposal to preserve the Elmwood site along with their further development plan is fantastic! Please HRM don’t screw this up. Thanks Jacob Boon for the big picture ????

  2. Just keeping the plastics discussion alive:

    One must also recognize that if/when retailer supplied plastic bags are banned, that they will need to be replaced with an alternative… paper bags in some cases, cardboard and box-board for some, and in some cases consumer supplied bags or containers appropriate in nature. If these alternate containers are not reusable, then they must likewise be recyclable or energy recoverable when post-consumer processing occurs, else they will likewise end up in our landfill. Food fouled paper can be composted if not waxed to prevent seepage of liquids. Cradle to grave solutions that ensure maximum reuse and recycling should always be the priority.

      1. True; but elimination of plastic grocery bags without creating a comprehensive film-plastic recycling solution does not correct the dilemma now facing HRM and other jurisdictions.

        The situation we have today gives rise to an opportunity to create a solution and provide local jobs in the process. EPR has the potential to help fund a recycling facility; but this cannot happen without the Municipal and Provincial will to seek such a solution.

  3. When I was a kid, half the church left to make their own church because they didn’t approve of ordaining gay ministers. Some of them were in health and hiv care. It always struck me as odd. Maybe there was more to it than I appreciated at the time.

  4. How is Halifax going to win a Smart City Challenge for beneficial use of advanced technologies when it can’t manage a website?

  5. Lots of people will probably mention this Halifax fun-fact.

    When I was a kid there was a big tree right in that spot at the Willow Tree by the fire hydrant where the architectural drawing has a small tree.

    It was an ongoing mater of discussion when my family and I traveled from Waverley to see our family Doctor on Robie Street in Halifax because the intersection was called the Willow Tree and there was a big tree in the middle of the intersection… but it wasn’t a Willow Tree.

    Here’s a picture…


    1. I remember a later, smaller version of that tree. If you look closely in the Google Streetview image there’s a black tube behind the fire hydrant which I believe has a tree (more accurately a stick) growing in it. My understanding was always that the original Willow Tree was where public hangings took place for the city, and that grafts have been taken so that the current tree is a descendant of the original – but that may be urban legend. It never occurred to me that it wasn’t a willow.

      1. As far as I know, the hangings were at the rear of the courthouse on Spring Garden Road. Never read about one anywhere else.

        1. My parents used to speak of the original willow, as the saying in the 1930s and 40s was “Meet me at the willow tree”. In the 80s there was a younger willow tree there, planted I don’t know when. I never heard about hangings…the expression I understood came from it being a convenient place to meet up.

    1. Interesting. In the U.S., it was more 1970s-era; 1980s was all punk and short hair for women. Maybe Nova Scotia was just behind the times.

      1. That’s 80s hair anywhere. I’d say early to mid-80s, before Really Big Hair became popular for women.

        Classic 70s hair was more Farrah Fawcett Majors style, the girls in ABBA, sleek and blown by unseen winds. Well, OK, there were perms too, but we won’t get into that…

        Punk haircuts were rare in 80s (even rarer in 70s when original punk was still around) and only seem to have got mainstream in the 90s.