1. Weather

There are various kinds of weather today.

2. Examineradio, episode #103

This week we speak with Simon Greenland-Smith and Cameron Lowe of Divest Dal, a student lobby group working to get Dalhousie University to stop investing in fossil fuels.

Also, Bassam al-Rawi was lost but now he’s found, Stephen McNeil takes a hit in the polls, Canso could be the next Cape Canaveral, and the New York Times hits Halifax to report on basketball and our “succulent lobster.”

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3. Bus Rapid Transit and Mobile Parking Payment

This morning, the city issued two Request for Proposals (RFP).

The first RFP is for a feasibility analysis of a Bus Rapid Transit corridor:

While Canadian transit agencies have a common understanding of BRT, implementation has varied with local context and fiscal realities. Dedicated busways are existing or planned in only a few communities including Ottawa, Gatineau, Mississauga and York Region. Most BRT systems operate on arterial roads, utilizing at-grade crossings with transit priority measures to give buses preference over mixed traffic in congestion. Some transit agencies are rolling out BRT service in stages, and planning enhancements to serve future growth in demand.

Halifax Transit’s current experience with BRT type service is the provision of MetroLink service to the Portland Hills and Sackville areas. This service has some of the characteristics that define BRT: limited-stops, Park & Ride spaces, on-street stations, state-of-the-art buses, and the limited use of transit priority signalization and queue jump bus lanes to facilitate service. However, Halifax does not have dedicated right-of-way lanes which often means that buses face the same road congestion as automobiles and meeting service schedule and reliability can be a challenge.

The recently approved Moving Forward Together Plan works to increase the proportion of resources allocated towards high ridership services in part by establishing ten high ridership Corridor Routes. Corridor Routes form the spine of the transit network, operating along the busiest corridors and provide consistent, high frequency service over the entire service day. These routes are the natural starting point for increasing BRT service including the potential provision of dedicated bus lanes.

In order to understand if BRT is a viable high-order transit system, an initial study must be complete to evaluate capital costs (infrastructure and land costs), operational costs, design and implementation considerations, performance, and economic, social, and environmental impacts.

The selected vendor will look at potential routing and ridership numbers, and give a ballpark estimate of costs of buying the land for and building a BRT corridor. The work is to be completed by November 2018.

The second RFP is for a Mobile Parking Payment Service, which will bring all the bells and whistles of modern parking systems to Halifax, including credit card payments and parking meters that hack into your smart phone and download all your credit card info to the selected vendor.

4. Cornwallis Street Baptist Church

Photo: Harriet Tubman Institute / York University

“A Halifax church, with a history of fighting against racism, has agreed to change its name in support of Indigenous Canadians,” reports Nzingha Millar for The Signal, the King’s Journalism publication:

Members of Cornwallis Street Baptist Church voted in January to begin a renaming campaign this spring, after concerns were raised about the colonial history associated with the name of Edward Cornwallis, founder of Halifax.  

Grace Skeir, the church’s licentiate minister, is responsible for collecting submissions for the new name.

“We’re simply named after a street, which doesn’t really have a lot of meaning, and also we were originally called the African Chapel,” says Skeir. “Even initially there was the knowledge of the history of Governor Cornwallis, so there was reason for us to visit the possibility of a change of name.”

5. Disaster porn

“It’s not SimCity the Halifax version, but researchers at Dalhousie University are designing a video game of sorts that could help emergency planners better prepare for a mass evacuation of the city and possibly save lives,” reports Jean Laroche for the CBC:

Ahsan Habib, one of the researchers behind the project, said Halifax’s design makes it vulnerable in the event of a disaster.


So far researchers have run scenarios based on serious ocean flooding — and the news isn’t good.

“We saw that it takes 15 hours to evacuate the entire peninsula assuming that everybody had access to a car and only taking into account congestion,” said Habib, adding he was surprised by the estimate. “Fifteen hours is a long time.”

We all expect there are various people working in the background to be planning for the most unlikely of scenarios, but this is ridiculous. A tidal event or tsunami that swamped the entire Halifax peninsula, all the way up to the top of Citadel Hill, would indeed be some “serious ocean flooding,” but getting off the peninsula would be the least of our worries, as pretty much everywhere we could possibly run off to, including the entire eastern seaboard of North America, would also be under water, so what’s the point?

If we’re going to go down this disaster porn wormhole, there are two basic kinds of disasters. The first is the immediate death for everyone: a sailor on a US warship drops a socket wrench and a nuclear missile fires into the never-completed Nova Centre and the city vaporizes instantly (although the architecture improves). Or we get a slow-moving disaster: genetically modified turtles who like to eat dogs and small children are released in Point Pleasant Park, and they ever-so-slowly march on the urban area, in which case we’ll have like weeks to get out of the way (in the disaster movie, Gus will save us with some not-so-fast talking to his evil cousins).

There’s not much in between.


1. Go Public and public broadcasting


Stephen Kimber reviews the commitment in time, money, resources, and risk that went into CBC’s Go Public investigation into “the many and nefarious ways in which Canada’s big banks have routinely forced their own employees to ‘up-sell’ customers, including seniors and the vulnerable, with services they don’t need and often never asked for simply to further burnish the banks’ already profit-bloated bottom lines.” And he notes:

Committing that single act of journalism required one hell of a lot of labour-intensive investigating, reporting, and editing — not to mention, I’m certain, countless hours of lawyering — simply to prove, or disprove, the allegations of three disgruntled, anonymous TD employees. It was worth it.


The story is important on its own, of course, but it’s important too as an example of why we need properly funded, independent journalism that is not beholden to the interest of bills-paying advertisers.

Click here to read “Journalism: banking on public broadcasting.”

This article is behind the Examiner’s paywall and so available only to paid subscribers. Click here to purchase a subscription.

2. Where is Stephen Archibald?

When I haven’t heard from Stephen Archibald in a while, I start to worry that he got permanently stranded at the Mumford bus terminal or that a crate of photos of boot scrapers fell on him in Aisle 157B of Hangar 51. So, this morning I nervously went to his @Cove17 Twitter account to see if there’s any news, only to discover that he has quite sensibly left our perpetual Gethenian struggle for warmer climes, specifically, Mexico. And so we get photos and commentary like this:

Yesterday a Mayan buzzard. Today a Christian buzzard. What do they really know? #Yucatan

— Stephen Archibald (@Cove17) March 13, 2017

3. Cranky letter of the day

To the Cape Breton Post:

Several months ago I had a conversation with Ray Stapleton regarding the placement of the Never Forgotten National memorial at Green Cove.

My take was that the monument would be out of place in a national park, especially Cape Breton Highland Park.

Since the bulk of the Canadian military contingent sailed out of Halifax Harbour during both world wars and those fortunate to come back returned to Halifax Harbour, logically that is the ideal place for the monument’s location.

As well, since Tony Trigiani’s parents probably arrived at Pier 21 in Halifax, this location would not only honour those who never returned, but also his parents. It would also be an open arm welcome to any and all future immigrants.

New York City placed their gift from France, the Statue of Liberty, in their harbour so …

I know Ray Stapleton doesn’t agree with this, but, as a RCAF veteran, it makes perfect sense to me.

Simon Gillis, Sydney




Executive Standing Committee (Monday, 10am, City Hall) — Melody Pardoe, COO of Volta Labs, will regale the committee with tales of geeks who bring prosperity forever, amen.

Board of Police Commissioners (Monday, 12:30pm, City Hall) — a busy agenda. I’ll try to attend.

Accessibility Committee (Monday, 4pm, City Hall) — former councillor Jerry Blumenthal, who is now with the Canadian Association of Retired Persons, will talk about Segways on sidewalks. The agenda doesn’t say if he’s agin ’em or fer ’em, but either way, this should be great fun.


This gigantic piece of crap will be built on the waterfront because Halifax councillors don’t have the backbone to say no to a gigantic piece of crap.

City Council (Tuesday, 10am, City Hall) — the Queen’s Marque development on the Halifax waterfront is a gigantic piece of crap:

At 450,000 square feet, Queen’s Marque will be about half the size of the Nova Centre, but twice as ugly. Worse still, it essentially privatizes the boardwalk by way of two “expansive gates” that will guard a tunnel through the building (à la the Grafton Street Glory Hole).

Moreover, at 10 storeys, the gigantic piece of crap will cast a perpetual afternoon shadow on the boardwalk. That stretch of waterfront will have a post-apocalyptic vibe to it, a sterile concrete monolith hanging over a soulless alley, with pedestrians scuttling through as quickly as possible to avoid the funeral aesthetic.

But Tuesday, council actually has the ability to at least throw a wrench in that gigantic piece of crap project by refusing to give up a tiny portion of the Water Street right-of-way for it, which would at least delay construction of the gigantic piece of crap a bit and cost the developer a bunch of money to redesign the gigantic piece of crap, which should be looked upon as a fine for imposing that gigantic piece of crap on us in the first place. But will council stand up to that gigantic piece of crap project and the developer of the gigantic piece of crap and the Waterfront Development Corporation that is profiting off the gigantic piece of crap? Of course not, because councillors don’t see it as their duty to stop the construction of gigantic pieces of crap, but rather to approve and applaud gigantic pieces of crap wherever they may be proposed, and so council and each individual councillor who votes for the right-of-way abandonment will, like the Design Review Committee members and bureaucrats before them, also be responsible for the gigantic piece of crap known as Queen’s Marque. Remember that, when you get to vote against gigantic-piece-of-crap-enabling councillors next election.

Speaking of which, Beverly Miller writes:

I looked up the meaning of the word “marque,” as in Queen’s Marque, and guess what I found. The obsolete definitions are “reprisal” and “retaliation.” “Letters of marque” refers to “written authority granted by government to seize the subjects of a foreign state” or a  “…licence granted to a private person to fit out an armed ship to plunder the enemy.” It can also refer to a model or brand of a manufactured product…usually a car. (Meriam Webster). Anyone else see any parallels here? Perhaps the developer should have been more careful in his choice of words?



No public meetings.


Veterans Affairs (Tuesday, 2pm, Province House) — On the agenda: the Nova Scotia Health Authority and the Nova Scotia Operational Stress Injury Clinic. Derek LeDuc, the Health Services Manager, will be asked questions.

On campus



Thesis defence, Medical Neuroscience (Monday, 9:30am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Po-Shan Luke will defend her thesis, “The Influence of Neural Cell Adhesion Molecule on Age-Related Changes in Vision.”


Machine Learning (Tuesday, 11:30am, Room 430, Goldberg Computer Science Building) — PhD candidate Stephen Kelly speaks on “Emergent Solutions to High Dimensional Reinforcement Tasks with Tangled Program Graphs.” Iris says I have to mention that Kelly’s bio note explains that he “has maintained an art practice throughout graduate studies at Dalhousie, crossing art and science within public installations and ongoing research projects in art and artificial life.” I don’t know what artificial life is (unless it’s like a poser Imposter Syndrome thing), but then again, I don’t know what a tangled program graph is either. Maybe we should all do smack and watch trains.

Symmetric Lenses (Tuesday, 2:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Bob Rosebrugh will speak on his joint work with Michael Johnson, “Universal Updates for Symmetric Lenses.” Here’s the abstract:

Asymmetric” lenses provide a strategy to lift updates in a model domain along a morphism of model domains. A “symmetric” lens between two model domains has state synchronization data and resynchronization operations. When the model domains are categories we speak of delta-lenses (or d-lenses). In previous work we showed that (certain equivalence classes of) spans of asymmetric d-lenses represent symmetric d-lenses. Asymmetric c-lenses are a special case of asymmetric d-lenses whose updates satisfy a universal property which can be construed as “least-change’.” So it was natural to hope that symmetric c-lenses characterize the symmetric d-lenses which satisfy a natural universal property. Instead, we’ll explain why we do not expect all symmetric c-lenses (viewed as  equivalence classes of spans of c-lenses) to be central to developing universal properties for symmetric d-lenses. We consider instead cospans of c-lenses and show that they generate symmetric c-lenses with a universal property. That property is further analyzed towards obtaining universal, least-change, properties for symmetric d-lenses. We also explore how to characterize those symmetric d-lenses that arise from cospans of c-lenses.

YouTube video

The Long Road to Justice: The Viola Desmond Story (Tuesday, 6pm, Room 307, Dalhousie Student Union Building) — a screening of the documentary followed by a panel discussion on the legacy of Viola Desmond.

Saint Mary’s


No public events.


YouTube video

Lagaan (Tuesday, 7pm, McNally Theatre) — A screening of the Oscar-nominated film.

In the harbour

11:30pm: Atlantic Star, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk


Watch out for turtles.

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

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  1. I believe the Queens Marque structure points to the fact that the Waterfront DEVELOPMENT Corporation has outlived it’s mandate. Yes, it turned a relatively derelict waterfront into an interesting, dare I say it, “vibrant” and appealing place to be. Queens Marque actually goes against that progress. But as long as WDC considers “development” to be its reason to be, and as long as “development” means building big structures for the benefit of private business, then we are going to be in trouble Let’s decommission the corporation and create a Waterfront Protection Agency.

    1. I think this deserves a good, “oh snap”. <3

      In addition to the giantness of giant pieces of crap (including Quinpool) are two things:
      – what is the actual public interest? Can we please start with sun, protection from wind, great public places and access, local character, and a shared economy.
      – Are these developments actually consuming most of the market demand for what they offer? Shouldn't planners and politicians be asking this?

      Purdy's Wharf sucking up 100% of Class A office space for thirty years and removing all related economy is part of what I mean. Sterilizing other' properties due to a lack of market demand post-build is another one.

      I would implore the City to IDENTIFY THE PUBLIC INTEREST at the beginning of each proposed project, publish its objectives and show how these developments meet the objectives as identified through policy, precedent and public input when the project goes before Council.

      I would also hope that they use the Canadian Oxford Dictionary in the process.


  2. Re Queen’s Marque

    I really hope Council sticks to the rules and refuses encroachment by the development on the already too narrow stretch of Lower Water street. The unfathomable arrogance of this developer to insist on narrowing that route which is the major artery out of Halifax and includes the commercial traffic from the container pier. The street was there before he dreamed up this scheme so he should have used the common sense of a ten-year-old and planned around it instead of looking down his nose at all of us and just flicking our needs and concerns to the side with a pompous flick of his Rolex wrapped wrist.

  3. On the theme of Gigantic Pieces of Crap…George Armoyan’s APL proposal for either 20 or 29 storeys at the corner of Robie & Quinpool comes to council tomorrow. Six Community councilors “thought” 20 would be a compromise. But as permitted height is what’s there- 10 storeys. 20 storey is twice what is allowed (2-storeys higher than the convention centre), not sure what their definition of compromise is. The building will create wind, shade on the Common Roots Urban Farm, the Oval, and the neighbourhood. And its the beginning of a tower take-over along Quinpool Road. Got something to say? write clerks at halifax dot ca

    1. Common Roots Urban Farm is to the southeast of the APL proposed tower and the shadow effect is so minimal as to be not worth considering. Perhaps a proper illustration of the shadow effect on the Oval would be more effective; I could work it out but I think it is a weak argument – the wind effect is a greater concern.

      1. Yeah, the additional shade on the farm and the oval will be experienced only briefly, immediately before sunset or right after sunrise. The large bulk of the day will be as sunny as ever for most of the surrounding area.

        Anyway, regardless of what happens on Tuesday (I hope it’s rejected, not because it’s too tall but because we need to stick to our own rules), the Centre Plan has very reasonably identified this spot as a suitable location for up to 20 storeys, rather than the 10 currently permitted under the LUB.

        1. There will be no shade on the Oval until mid to late afternoon when the sun is in the SW and the shadow would be minor. Most of any shadow will be cast to the SW & W of the building, across Quinpool and Windsor. I know there is an online tool to calculate a shadow at at time and any day but I cannot remember the name.

  4. RE: The gigantic piece of crap.
    The definitions that Beverly Miller provided are so appropriate. I think this whole gigantic piece of crap is just somebody’s revenge. Suffice it to say, someone decided to mess up the Halifax Waterfront. I’ll let the reader figure out who. Oh, Halifax the city that thinks world class means destroying as much built heritage as possible and replacing it with giant pieces of crap. Oh well, we always have the Halifax Central Library – for as long as it’s visible, at least.

  5. I really, really do not understand the hate for Queen’s Marque. Is the marketing over the top? Sure, but I’ve come to expect that with any development and just ignore it. Is it a little too high on the Lower Water Street side? Yeah, maybe there’s a risk of that, but it’s not the end of the world.

    But otherwise I think it’s going to be firmly in the category of “net-positive improvement”. The portals are nothing new on the waterfront (Historic Properties). Shading isn’t currently an issue on the waterfront, and there are many buildings of a similar height adjacent to the boardwalk (green frog, Bishops Landing, law courts). A huge, dead, surface parking lot is getting replaced with a building. That is a good thing.

    1. >Shading isn’t currently an issue on the waterfront

      The Maple casts a shadow across the portion just south of the Queens Marque site all afternoon in the winter months, rapidly shifting the walking atmosphere from pleasant to frigid.

      >there are many buildings of a similar height adjacent to the boardwalk (green frog, Bishops Landing, law courts)

      Bishop’s is half the height, as with the green building. Law Courts are awful.

      >A huge, dead, surface parking lot is getting replaced with a building. That is a good thing.

      Agree 100% – but it could be a really good thing if we designed the building in such a way as to 1) prevent Lower Water from feeling like a total canyon, 2) limited the shadow impact on the boardwalk, and 3) ensured the boardwalk, through design, would be sufficiently wide and clearly maintained in the public realm without the threat of the developer deciding to close the gates after a few too many kids ride their skateboards or bikes through.

      1. The fact of Water Street ending up canyon-like doesn’t really bother me. Actually, I think the renderings of Water Street look pretty great. It’s the best-looking side of the building, and seems to mirror in a suitably imposing way the Dominion Building’s mass across the street. I like the imposition of a large building mass here. It feels in keeping with the historical development of the area. (After all, the old and sadly departed Customs House used to be here, and its clock tower reached higher than this will be.)

        The problems, IMO, begin on the other side, which feels overbearing and graceless. I’m surprised MacKay Lyons is behind it, especially with the odd colour palette and window alignment, and the weird boat-y looking wharf buildings.

        And then there’s the fact of the public square being mostly enclosed. There is, of course, a precedent for this kind of thing on the waterfront: the Historic Properties warehouse buildings. And that public square there is usually pretty dead, so I think there’s a real risk that this will turn out the same way. Ideally, the boardwalk passages would be taller and wider, or the wharf buildings would not even be connected to the main mass in the middle. It’s just too cloistered in the existing plans, and there is a real risk of the area coming to feel like a quasi-privatized public space. There should definitely be NO gates or other means of closing off that thoroughfare.

        Still, there’s been commentary that this will destroy the Halifax waterfront, which seems pretty extreme. I do think, on balance, there’s a good chance it will end up being a net improvement, but by a very slim margin, when it should have been much more unequivocally positive.

  6. I think it is more fully a letter of marque and reprisal. I’ve often wondered if you could still get them if you made the business right case for preying on the Queen’s enemies. Buy an old Russian warship, and away you go….

    Everything else public is being privatized, so I’m surprised some business group hasn’t argued that we should go back to licensing privateers as a way to save on navy expenses.