In the harbour
1. Naming rights
Because we are owned and controlled by corporations now, the Canada Games Centre is selling naming rights to, well, everything:
The Canada Games Centre is seeking to expand its corporate partnerships by leveraging its assets for marketing and sponsorship purposes that are beneficial for the Centre and corporate partners. The first step in this process is to develop a master list of the Centre’s assets that could be leveraged for sponsorship and marketing opportunities.
The asset inventory would identify spaces, programs, services, facilities, and other marketing assets and provide a fair market value based on the audience that is reached through these properties and other identified tangible and intangible benefits. Based on this list, the Centre will then develop a strategy to implement its sponsorship program in a phased approach.
I know that many readers find nothing wrong with selling naming rights — hey, why turn down corporate money! — but this is part of an insidious reshaping of our society, which sees every aspect of life “branded” by corporations. The damn telephone company claims to own addressing mental illness. A bank throws its name on the Metro Centre in return for new seats. The monopoly that controls the electric company names the oval, and on and on and on.
These are public facilities, built with tax dollars. By naming them after corporations we are giving up the very idea of the public realm, where facilities are built and operated in the public interest, with public money, for the public, by the public. The very word “public” loses its meaning. The collective citizenry becomes atomized customers; we no longer have shared purpose or common interests and responsibilities. Our only relationship with our government is as a customer purchasing services, and like all good customers in the modern economy, our only interest is the immediate price — forget quality, long-term costs, or dog forbid such social concerns as environmental stewardship or a living wage for the people providing the services. And because we are concerned only with the immediate cost, we want a reduction of tax payments by any means necessary, and if that means selling off our literal collective soul, so be it.
Every time we brand a public facility with a corporate name, we lose. We can’t place a dollar value on the loss of the public realm, because it is priceless. A few million dollars gained here or there in return is nothing in comparison.
2. Pedestrian struck by vehicle
A police release to reporters yesterday:
At approximately 3:22 pm today the Halifax Regional Police responded to the 0-100 Block of Highfield Park Drive in Dartmouth for a report of a pedestrian struck by a vehicle. The preliminary investigation revealed that a 13 year old female was in a crosswalk at the time she was struck. She received minor injuries and was subsequently transported to the hospital by EHS as precaution. This matter remains under investigation to determine if any charges are appropriate.
3. Garbage truck
A garbage truck slid down Berwick Street in Dartmouth yesterday, crushing two cars. No one was injured. Berwick Street is one of those steep neighbourhood streets that rise up the hill to the south of Lake Banook.
I knew something was up because my garbage wasn’t picked up until very late. The last time that happened, the truck had backed over an 83-year-old woman. I have no idea if the same driver was involved in both instances.
4. Monster lizard
Sure, the last storm wasn’t anything near the apocalyptic scenario we were warned about, but the next one…
5. Feral children
A new preschool is being established in the woods behind Kearney Lake. “It scares me what’s happening with kids with the amount of time they are spending on electronics,” Sally Trower, the coordinator of the school, told Metro. “The kids don’t know how to play outdoors anymore.”
Trower is hoping to raise the kids in style of Amala and Kamala, the two girls raised by wolves in the jungles of Midnapore.
Ben Wedge takes a look at local sneckdowns. A sneckdown is the area in a street that cars don’t use. They become visible on snow days, before the plows come, when cars clear the areas of the street they do use. The picture above is the intersection of Young Street and Gottingen Street, at the little Hydrostone Park, looking north from the ugliest apartment building in Halifax (not pictured), with Wedge’s annotation.
Incidentally, Wedge also mentions the “dead” area on the north side of Spring Garden Road up from Barrington Street. He’s right about that, but his photo also shows the northwest corner of the two streets. This speck of sidewalk worries me, because it’s exactly the opposite of a sneckdown: a portion of sidewalk that’s been taken over by vehicles.
I’ve stood at that corner many times, waiting for the light to change before crossing Spring Garden towards the Old Burial Ground. This is the corner outside the old Saint Mary’s College building, which I think is now an ancillary building to the cathedral. Here’s a Google Street View photo of it; unfortunately there’s no one waiting for the light in the picture, but note the restricted area for pedestrians, bound in by the street in front of them and the building fence behind them:
The problem is that the turn for large vehicles — buses, trucks — turning right onto Spring Garden is tight. Very often, the bus drivers in particular make the turn on red, so while pedestrians are standing on the corner waiting for the walking man sign.
The Google satellite view doesn’t have great resolution, but it does happen to capture a bus making the turn in the opposite direction — from Spring Garden onto Barrington. Note how close the bus comes to the corner.
Now imagine a bus turning from Barrington onto Spring Garden, with roughly the same orientation, except there’s a car stopped at the red light waiting to travel south on Barrington and there’s a car on Spring Garden turning north onto Barrington. My annotation skills aren’t great, but here’s the best I can depict the situation. The bus is the two-part thick red rectangle (symbolizing an articulated bus); everything else is labeled:
Necessarily, to complete the turn without hitting the other vehicles, the driver of the bus has to make the turn very tightly, sending the rear tire of the bus over the curb and onto the sidewalk at the corner. That situation happens quite often; I’ve found myself many times having to step back as the bus travels across the portion of sidewalk I had just moments before been standing on.
Worse still, there can be a lot of pedestrian traffic at the corner, sometimes a dozen or so people, waiting to walk across Barrington to the Maritime Centre or across Spring Garden to points south, all hemmed in by the fence. Throw in some inattention — people talking to each other as they wait for the light to change, whatever — and there’s real danger. I fear someone is going to find themselves pulled under the wheels of the bus.
This is a dense urban area. There’s no easy solution to the problem, but it could perhaps be made a bit safer if right turns on red were prohibited. At least then the southbound pedestrian traffic would cross before the bus turns right. There would still be those pedestrians waiting to travel across to the Maritime Centre, however.
I very much wish city traffic engineers would have a good look at the intersection and contemplate pedestrian safety, before something tragic happens.
2. Mulgrave Park
Peter Ziobrowski gives the history of the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation, which created the “small house” program for returning vets in 1947, but morphed into a “slum” clearance program in later years:
The Small House program was explicit, in that the designs were for modern suburban houses. The housing program was attempting to be distinctly Canadian, and while borrowing from British modernism, American inspiration was rejected. This meant embracing the garden city ideals and modern planning principles. CMHC was now powered by an amended national housing act encouraging clearance of blighted urban slum areas, and a program to develop and encourage affordable suburban homes.
By March of 1968, there were thirty-seven renewal projects at an estimated cost of $180 million. CHMC Architects and planners were responsible for the design of many of the projects, including Mulgrave Park in Halifax, and its prototype, Regent Park in Toronto.
While looking for a photo to illustrate this section I stumbled upon a 2013 post by an unnamed writer in the Needham News, which discusses the CMCH’s predecessor agency, the Wartime Housing Limited, “which built around 32000 rental properties in various cities from 1941 – 1947 for servicemen, their families and veterans, relieving some of the housing shortage. The prefabricated homes in Halifax were assembled along the old dirt streets including Albert and Vestry, Duffus, Rector, and Lynch beginning in 1941.”
3. Cranky letter of the day
I am heartbroken.
$20 million for the Bluenose II. $26 million for the Nova Star. $17 million for an underpass.
Yet Rylee Sears (”Bereft dad glad vaccine coming,” Jan. 29) had to die for the want of $160,000.
We should all be ashamed of ourselves.
Nicholas Carson, Halifax
No public meetings.
Thesis defence, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (Friday, 2pm, Room 3-H1, Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building)—Masters student Alexandra Reda will defend her thesis, “Structural Characterization of 20 KDA Lipid-Binding Fragments of Apolipoprotein B100.”
Whaling (Friday, 3:30pm, Marion McCain Building, Room 1170)—Historian Hillary MacKinlay will talk on “On the Far Side of the World? The Whaling Journal of Thomas Creighton, 1843–46.”
The above is a map of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, which the Europeans are visiting via an orbiting spacecraft and a dead (so far, it might come back to life if sunlight hits it) landing vehicle. The 19 regions mapped on the comet are “separated by distinct geomorphological boundaries. Following the ancient Egyptian theme of the Rosetta mission, they are named for Egyptian deities. They are grouped according to the type of terrain dominant within each region. Five basic categories of terrain type have been determined: dust-covered (Ma’at, Ash and Babi); brittle materials with pits and circular structures (Seth); large-scale depressions (Hatmehit, Nut and Aten); smooth terrains (Hapi, Imhotep and Anubis), and exposed, more consolidated (‘rock-like’) surfaces (Maftet, Bastet, Serqet, Hathor, Anuket, Khepry, Aker, Atum and Apis).”
Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/ID
In the harbour
British Integrity, tanker, Providence to anchor for bunkers
Adriatic Highway, car carrier, Emden, Germany to Autoport, then sails for New York
Fusion, con-ro, Saint-Pierre to Pier 36
Oceanex Sanderling sails for St John’s
I’m looking to hire an education reporter. Details here. As you can see, it’s a short term project because I want to see how it works out and refine the position as we go along. If it works out the way I hope it will, I might reoffer it in the fall.
RE: Spring Garden & Barrington Intersection: I don’t typically recommend Bing for anything but the Bird’s Eye view on Bing Maps is actually a good high resolution and with the view at an angle is often easier to visualize the area. Unfortunately in this case the Maritime Centre is blocking the good view of the intersection so here is a sub-par rotation: http://binged.it/1A88WaW
On “Naming Rights,” this sentence resonates on a related aspect:
“And because we are concerned only with the immediate cost, we want a reduction of tax payments by any means necessary, and if that means selling off our literal collective soul, so be it.”
Substituting government, over which we voters have little to no sway after casting our ballots, and predatory corporations, please allow me to summarize a glaring, egregious example which occurred in Charlottetown over the past five years.
A one-storey, fifty-year-old government-subsidized seniors’ housing building named Charlotte Court existed on a prime piece of main-artery real estate. Generous green space surrounded it, much of which was nurtured and planted by residents. However, maintenance over the years was minimal (as it is in other similar Island buildings) and serious issues existed, among them mould, rotting under-structure, contaminated carpeting – blood stain from a fall remained indefinitely in hall carpeting, hazardous uneven, ruptured pavement and entrance walkway, etc.
Appeals for repair were met with platitudes, then ignored, then became public through resident protests.
Suddenly, things changed, and the progression is murky because a subsequent Freedom of Information request from a powerful union was denied, the entire government-owned building and gorgeous property were sold to a publicly-known, powerful Island corporation known to support the government.
Two grotesquely-designed, Russian/North Korean box-like three-storey buildings were erected on the property, one, in which I live, is devoted to housing low-income seniors through a corporate-deal (undisclosed also) with the buyer, the other privately rented for profit by the same corporate owner.
It’s a tale of unforeseen consequences, back-door political influence and corporate power. I’m okay with capitalism when it’s practiced on a level playing field, but that day is gone.
Governments are selling out in order to achieve revenue and consequential – though, faux, illusory – operational approval.
Have we who live in this three-year-old building gained a better standard of living? Most would say yes, though some from the old building don’t. I say at what cost? For me, an unacceptable one.
A beautiful piece of property that was held IN TRUST for all citizens of Prince Edward Island is gone forever, because enough votes on election day gave government the power to do it in secret.
Keep beating the drum on corporate activity, Tim. A balance between public and private interest is vital, and only public knowledge will balance the scale.
re “Naming Rights” If corporations paid the taxes and wages they should we wouldn’t be selling naming rights to public spaces. We need to tack dont pay enough taxes after the names of these corporations.
It isnt just the branding that bothers me, we are no longer able to use our public spaces and infrastructure to memorialize the contributions of extraordinary people.
You are absolutely correct on the issue of naming rights. It is a consequence of neo-liberal austerity which posits that there are no alternatives–a lie that benefits the owning class. Also bad is the simple tackiness of this signage. And what is with the Scotiabank sponsorship of the Bayer’s Lake movie theatre? Some strange postmodern parody or is it the monster lizard corporation eating itself?
Shouldn’t the huge public contributions to the new CC have been listed as part of Mr Carson’s Cranky Latter?!
We will never see those again!
Since corporations and brands are how we inherently seem to distill our world nowadays (especially digitally) it seems our corporate overlords have supplanted our democratic elected style of government in influence.
Since everyone seems to want government run like a business is that really a surprise? Take care as to what you wish for.
Re: ‘Naming Rights’ We musn’t forget the selling off of the commons, including the rights to all those resources on and under the ground. Think trees (lumber, pulp, and most insidious of all, biomass), and minerals (oil, gas, coal, copper, nickel, gold, diamonds, etc.). And the corporations who gain access to these former commons aren’t even required to clean up after themselves, instead leaving the public to both suffer from the pollution and pay for what cleanup can be done after the corporations make no effort beyond the bare minimum required by law, or not even that because they see fines as just another cost of doing business.
I feel the comments about naming rights that we continue to sell off, is a serious one that we need to have in our city, province, country. On the surface, I feel naming rights are not inherently bad- in theory. However, If turn a perspective to the wider lens, I agree with Tim. It is concerning that we have allowed ourselves to believe that the only way we can get public space is with lots of private corporate money.
The reality is we pay a fair amount of taxes and it is not unreasonable to expect some of our taxes to fund public space. Should we say never to corporate money- of course not. But it is about balance. We as citizens, collectively need to do better about holding our government to account and not sell everything out from under us.
Thanks for the corporate branding piece. Couldn’t agree more.
In this city, “traffic engineers” are concerned with automobile traffic, not people. Hence, why this city is built for automobiles, not people.
At Spring Garden and Barrington, we could put steel posts up protecting both corners of the curb cut. Any vehicle cutting the corner would grind the posts. I’m also all for improving the design of this intersection in other ways; it’s a busy one for pedestrians and traffic, and it doesn’t work well as it stands.
Yikes. I walk or drive down Berwick almost every day. YIKES.