1. Walmart incident

“When a young black woman accused the Halifax police of racially profiling and abusing her in connection with an alleged shoplifting incident at Walmart last week, officials did what officials do,” writes Stephen Kimber. “They obfuscated, they passed the buck, they pretended to take it seriously.”

Click here to read “Can we expect truth about the Walmart incident from police or the store? Nope.”

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The police commission will be discussing the Walmart incident at its meeting today, but in secret. Zane Woodford will be reporting on the meeting for the Examiner.

2. Waterfront art gallery

The waterfront site of the future Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Photo: Halifax Examiner

This item is written by Jennifer Henderson.

The province has kicked off a six-month international competition to design a new art gallery along the Halifax waterfront that will act as both showcase and hub for a “vibrant” arts district. The boardwalk already attracts more than 2.5 million visitors a year and Develop Nova Scotia (the former Waterfront Development) believes the proposed $100-million art gallery will bring even more people to Nova Scotia.

“The arts district will be a welcoming place for people from all communities to access art and experience cultural activities on their waterfront,” said Jennifer Angel, the CEO of Develop NS, which now manages waterfront real estate in Halifax and Lunenburg, in the news release that launched the competition. “Working together, we will create and grow a dynamic new public place…”

The Request for Proposals (RFP) issued by the lead Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal (TIR) is looking for a team that will design and manage the first phase of the art gallery project. The art gallery will be built on the Salter parking lot and beach volleyball court on Lower Water Street across form the historic Keith’s Brewery building.

“The pre-determined consultant fee is $10.2M,” said TIR spokesperson Marla MacInnis, in response to questions from the Examiner. “Consultant teams will be led by an architect and include engineers, landscape architects, and other building design specialists. Consultants will be responsible for design, tendering support, contract administration, and warranty services for the building and public space project.”

MacInnis says the consultant team will also lead the public engagement process at the end of June when “conceptual designs” for the new art gallery will be unveiled and on display from the three bidders. A jury of professionals will make the final recommendation to government.

The first stage of the competition — to pre-qualify consulting teams who want to bid on the $10.2 million job — opened last week. The second stage of the competition is expected to get underway early in April. It will begin with the presentation of design competition documents.

As reported by the Examiner last week, the current 91-page RFP makes no mention of climate change nor the need to design a building that will withstand rising sea level and more frequent flooding predicted by many scientific experts including the International Panel on Climate Change. Designers must be told what standards they have to meet in terms of how high to build above the high-water mark (the minimum vertical allowance) as well as the set-back distance from the coast.

“It is TIR’s intention to provide as much information as possible about building and site-related criteria during stage two of the design competition,” continued TIR spokesperson Marla MacInnis in an emailed response. “Information regarding setbacks and building elevations will be determined as per applicable acts, standards, codes and regulations. We are hiring a team of experts who will be asked to design to the site conditions and the selected team will be providing recommendations on siting issues.”

By April, TIR, Develop NS, and the Art Gallery of NS expect to have pre-qualified and short-listed three teams of consultants eager to compete to design the new art gallery. Hopefully by then regulations will be defined in the newly minted Coastal Protection Act. And, the Digital Elevation Models being created from 2018 LIDAR (infra-red) coastal surveys will finally be available to inform decision-making around  building standards.

Last fall, the senior planner for Develop NS (Peter Bigelow) said the province can “mitigate” or make adjustments to defend the Halifax waterfront although that could cost taxpayers more money.

The Examiner asked TIR if it has any estimate of the extra cost associated with locating the art gallery on the waterfront as compared to choosing a location farther inland. “At this point we have cost per-square-foot estimates for the project and will be working with the selected consultant team to incorporate their recommendations and prepare detailed cost estimates,” responded MacInnis. “Considerations of the implications of climate change are critical in developing responsive public space and a sustainable building design for the site. Hardening the site in response to climate change, and storm surge, is required to support any development and future use of the site, Arts District or otherwise.”

For now, though, it’s still business as usual.

3. Puzzling developments with Cape Breton’s non-existent container terminal

I’ve been negligent in recently linking to Mary Campbell in the Cape Breton Spectator, and for this I apologize, especially because she’s been doing such great work lately. I’d like to especially point to her work on the port file:

Each week, I pick a subject and do my research and try to give some sort of coherent account of what I’ve learned but this week — I give up.

I’ve been trying to make sense of the latest developments in the Sydney container port saga and I am utterly baffled. So there will be no coherent narrative, just a collection of facts — like the pieces to a jigsaw puzzle I’ve given up trying to assemble.

But can you blame me, when pieces like this keep turning up:

How am I supposed to fit former New Brunswick Premier Frank McKenna into the container port picture? It makes no sense — and yet, there he is, chair of the board of directors of Brookfield Asset Management, the Toronto-based buyout firm that (along GIC, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund) just bought rail operator Genesee & Wyoming — and with it, the Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway (CBNS).

Suddenly, Frank McKenna could be deciding whether the province of Nova Scotia will continue subsidizing the Cape Breton portion of the CBNS — the section from the St Peters Junction (near Point Tupper) to Sydney that G&W applied to abandon but agreed to “maintain” it in return for the (up to) $60,000 a month the province has been paying it since 2017. The stretch of line without which, our port promoter Albert Barbusci says, there will be no $1.5 billion container terminal in Sydney harbour.

I can’t decide whether McKenna obviously knows all about the rail situation because he’s been talking to his old friend (and Sydney Harbour Investment Partners international adviser) Jean Chrétien or if he was entirely unaware that the $8.4 billion, 120-line, three-continent G&W deal included a 158-km stretch of disused rail in Cape Breton. Both sound plausible to me.

Campbell goes on to explore several other puzzling developments related to the port — including statements from Geoff MacLelllan, the Membertou First Nation’s purchase of a stake in the company promoting the container port, and a series of bizarre press releases — before concluding:

Do you know what I think my problem is? It’s that I’ve been assuming that Barbusci’s puzzle will end up looking like the picture on the box — a container terminal — when that’s not the way [port promoter Albert] Barbusci rolls at all.

He’s not quietly and doggedly assembling a consortium of companies that could build and operate a container terminal, he’s signing anything he can with anyone who’ll sign.

The final product (if there ever actually is one) will probably look just as crazy as the process that created it.

Click here to read “Puzzling Over the Port File.”

As with the Examiner, the Cape Breton Spectator is subscriber supported, and so this article is behind the Spectator’s paywall. Click here to purchase a subscription to the Spectator, or click on the photo below to get a joint subscription to both the Spectator and the Examiner.
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4. Facebook ads

“Facebook is backtracking after blocking ads promoting a Nova Scotia Health Authority survey about vaccines and a book event in Halifax with journalist Desmond Cole about his experience as a black man in Canada,” reports Jack Julian for the CBC:

The company said it erred when it refused to promote the ads. 

This week, Facebook cited to the health authority and the university bookstore relatively new rules pertaining to events that are deemed to promote social issues, elections or politics. In each case, it gave the Facebook page’s administrator the option of submitting identification to be verified. 

Paul MacKay, who manages the King’s Co-op Bookstore and its Facebook account, said he would’ve been fine submitting an address and phone number but drew that line at a photo ID.

“I just don’t want to put all my information on the Internet,” he said. “Facebook has proven to not be a terribly trustworthy company on top of that.” 

In a statement to CBC, Facebook said it instituted a policy last year it said was aimed to create more transparency. It said it now requires people running ads about social issues, politics or elections to be identified and that the ad includes disclaimers on who or what entity paid for it. 

It says anyone submitting ads regarding civil and social rights, environmental politics, economy, health, immigration, political values and governance and security and foreign policy must be authenticated by the company.

Facebook’s policies are all over the map. They require all sorts of personal information from the manager of a cooperative bookstore, but the Russian Internet Research Agency seems to be able to post without controls, and it says bald face lies are allowed for political advertising regardless.

If Facebook can control for pornography — which it does, even if perhaps overly aggressively, banning photos of mothers breastfeeding and the like — then it can certainly control for political lies and misinformation. It simply chooses not to, because political advertising is just too profitable for the company.

5. The YMCA bait-and-switch

The artist’s rendering of the new development at South Park and Sackville Streets that will include the new YMCA fails to show the buildings behind it and removes the parking meters and utility wires on the street. Graphic: Southwest Properties

“After almost three years of construction, the new John W. Lindsay YMCA in Halifax is gearing up for opening day this spring,” reports Emma Davie for the CBC:

On Wednesday, the YMCA opened a community hub on Spring Garden Road to give people a chance to try out some of the equipment, learn more about the facility and sign up for a membership.

The general manager says 300 people have already joined.

“It’s really important so that people have a sense of belonging,” Jim Pomeroy said. “We want to make sure people are out of their houses.

He said they will have adaptive fitness classes, like chair yoga, there’s a two-lane walking track, an aquarium and a family and child community centre that can be booked for events.

“Family and child community centre,” eh? What does that even mean? It appears to be the Y’s attempt to paper over its broken promise to the city. As Jennifer Henderson reported in December 2018:

The new Y will include both a swimming and a therapeutic pool, a gym, an indoor track, meeting space, and childcare services.

But unlike the former YMCA, those childcare services will not feature a daycare — a service included in the original proposal that won significant zoning variances and overall approval from HRM Council.

6. Mummies

YouTube video

“More than 100 ancient Egyptian artifacts, including mummies, painted sarcophagi and votive objects will be featured at the Museum of Natural History on Feb. 22,” reports Aya Al-Hakim for Global:

The exhibit, which is called Egyptian Mummies and Eternal Life, is being brought from the Museo Egizio of Florence, Italy to make its North American debut in Halifax. 

The exhibit runs through June.




Special Events Advisory Committee (Monday, 9am, City Hall) — the committee is hearing what should be interesting presentations, from:

The Atlantic All-Ages Chess Festival 2020 – Chess Nova Scotia Society
The Peace Tournament – NP Future’s Community Organization Society
Canada vs Italy Senior Men’s Rugby Match – Sports & Entertainment Atlantic
Eastern Elite Soccer Championships – Sports & Entertainment Atlantic
International Soccer match – Sports & Entertainment Atlantic
Sole Sisters Women’s Race – Girls Gone Gazelle Run Club
Maritime Race Weekend – Maritime Race Weekend Association
Halifax Urban Folk Festival – Halifax Urban Folk Festival

Police Commission (Monday, 12:30pm, City Hall) — El Jones will be addressing the commission about the police budget; Harry Critchley will talk about Sobering Centres; and Leah Genge will talk about managed alcohol programs. Zane Woodford will be reporting on the meeting for the Examiner.

Accessibility Committee (Monday, 4pm, City Hall) — not much on the agenda.


Special Meeting – Audit and Finance Standing Committee (Tuesday, 10am, City Hall) — the federal government is contributing $5.8 million towards the Herring Cove sewage plant.

Halifax and West Community Council (Tuesday, 6pm, City Hall) — the council is dealing with a bunch of developments.



No public meetings.


Veterans Affairs (Tuesday, 2pm, One Government Place ) — Natasha Jackson, the director of the Legion Capital Assistance Program, will speak.

On campus



Music and Medicine: George Gershwin (Monday, 4:30pm, Theatre B, Tupper Link) — with psychiatrist and concert pianist Richard Kogan.

The Legacy of MLK: Peacemaking & Justice Making in a Time of Trouble (Monday, 6pm, Council chambers, Student Union Building ) — with speakers Asha Jeffers, Rachel Zellars, Tari Ajadi, and entertainment by Zamani Miller and Amariah Bernard-Washington. More info here.

Saint Mary’s


Wordsworth in 2020 : A 250th Anniversary Tribute to William Wordsworth (1770-1850) (Monday, 10am, ME 108) — Deborah Kennedy will talk.

Sex and Alcohol Bystander Training (Monday, 4:30pm, LA 176) — Part of SMU’s Sexual Violence Awareness Week, this training module explores a harm-reduction approach to alcohol-facilitated sexual violence.


Consent Panel (Tuesday, 7pm, LA 290) — to promote the importance of and encourage conversation about consent. Part of SMU’s Sexual Violence Awareness Week.



Anne Simpson. Photo via

Live Poets! (Monday, 7pm, President’s Lodge) — the Haliburton Society hosts Anne Simpson.

In the harbour

o:30: AlgoScotia, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from Quebec City

Where are the Canadian military ships?


Thanks to everyone for their kind words, re my mother’s death. I’m heading down for a few days for the funeral, and other Examiner writers will be carrying the Morning File torch during that time.

Tim Bousquet

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

A smiling white woman with short silver hair wearing dark rimmed glasses and a bright blue blazer.

Jennifer Henderson

Jennifer Henderson is a freelance journalist and retired CBC News reporter.

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  1. Aside from the concerns about rising sea levels and flooding, what kind of Art Gallery builds a new gallery right on the water anyhow ? I think somebody should ask the braintrust if they are concerned about humidity changes and the effects that has on the collections.I am sure they will pay big bucks for climate controls …..and then pay forever for the electricity to run them. This is a bad plan all the way around. The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia has been a shitshow since Bernie Riorden (sp?) retired and went to the Beaverbrook Gallery in New Brunswick.Let them build their dream gallery with no public funds. They do not deserve public support for this project.

  2. The statement ” Hardening the site in response to climate change” expressed about the new art gallery being built in the absolute worst possible place in Halifax speaks to the incredible tone deafness and arrogance driving this project. First of all it is incredibly intelligence insulting to think that such a building can actually be designed to protect from the impacts of sea level rise. Secondly, the amount of extra money to even begin to “harden” the building would be better invested in a base building, constructed somewhere away from the inevitable impact of sea level rise. Development of the waterfront should be for spaces which would have low impact from inundations not high value public infrastructure which will be an unnecessary burden for generations to come.