1. Shore Club

In a gymnasium, there's a meeting set up, with a few folding tables. One of the tables is draped in a navy sheet with the HALIFAX logo on it.
Darlene O’Neil, right, speaks to the North West Community Council at its meeting in Middle Sackville on Monday, April 17, 2023. Credit: Zane Woodford

“The Shore Club is allowed to build its new patio after municipal councillors voted down an appeal from neighbours,” reports Zane Woodford.

As the Halifax Examiner reported on Friday, the owners of the restaurant and venue applied with HRM to build a new patio with a bar and washrooms. But they needed the municipality to approve a few variances to the land-use bylaw to build right up to their property line.

The municipal development officer approved those variances, but the club’s neighbours appealed. They cited traffic, parking, noise, and drunkenness among their concerns.

The North West Community Council heard the neighbours appeal during a meeting in Middle Sackville Monday night.

Darlene O’Neil spoke on behalf of herself and another one of the appellants. She told councillors the patio would create “an unsafe mixture” of more people, more traffic, and more drinking. She said she’s concerned emergency vehicles won’t be able to get through on the busy nights.

The club’s owners were also on hand to speak to the community council.

Click here to read “Community council denies Hubbards residents’ appeal, allows Shore Club patio.”

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2. Cole Harbour parkland

A woman pushes a stroller down a paved multi-use path with a yellow line down the centre on a sunny day. There are more people walking further from the camera, and a lake in the background.
People on the Bissett Trail through the rehab lands in June 2021. Credit: HRM

Woodford also has this story about a concept for a new park on the former rehab lands in Cole Harbour. Woodford writes:

The 20.4-hectare property between Bissett Road and Bissett Lake is the site of the former Halifax County Rehabilitation Centre. That facility closed in 2002, and HRM took ownership of the property. It was later used as a film location for the Trailer Park Boys and other productions, and then HRM remediated the site.

In 2019, the municipality built a trail through the property, connecting to the network on the other side of Bissett Lake. Council directed staff to consider the property for a new off-leash dog park in 2020.

The municipality collected public feedback on the site in 2021, and developed a park plan. Staff are bringing that plan to council’s Community Planning and Economic Development Standing Committee on Thursday.

As Woodford reports, the municipality, with public consultation, developed three concept plans for the lands: “a place to play,” “a place to learn,” and “a place to unplug.”

Click here to read “HRM proposes paths, off-leash dog park, disc golf, and more on Cole Harbour parkland.”

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A graph that shows the rates of death from COVID from July 2022 to March 2023
The number and seven-day moving average of COVID deaths, 1 July 2022 to 31 March 2023 (N=345). Credit: Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness

“The monthly (March) COVID Epidemiologic Summary has been released. Last month, the reported COVID death count for February was 15; that has been revised, doubling it to 30 deaths in February,” reports Tim Bousquet.

For March, the current report counts 13 COVID deaths, but as with February, the figure will almost certainly be revised upwards in future monthly reports.

The graph above shows the number and seven-day moving average of COVID deaths, July 1, 2022 to March 31, 2023 (N=345). Note that there is a newly reported death from as far back as July 2022. On average, there has been 1.26 COVID deaths per day over that period, or 38.3 deaths per month.

As I pointed out Friday, over roughly the same period, 69 people died from influenza, so according to NS official data, COVID has been five times as lethal than the flu.

Click here to read “On average, 38 Nova Scotians are dying from COVID each month, five times the number of flu deaths.”

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4. Tiny homes

Three tiny houses on a grass location under a blue sky. In the distance you can see water while trees hang overhead near the houses. A bicycle with a basket leans against one of the houses.
Could tiny homes and other small dwellings help with the housing crisis? Credit: Karl Hedin/Unsplash

The town of Westville may have a tiny house community, if a tiny home policy gets approved by council.

Raissa Tetanish with the Pictou Advocate has this story on the policy. Tetanish writes:

Council passed first reading of a tiny home policy at its March meeting, with second reading coming up April 24.

“I think this is pretty big,” said Mayor Lennie White. “We recognize we are a residential community and there is an important role for us to play in that. We have so many smaller, vacant lots and they lend themselves to the smaller home idea.”

For the past six months or so, the town has been working on its tiny homes policy. Chief administrative officer (CAO) Scot Weeres said staff looked at policies throughout Nova Scotia and Canada, but internationally as well, including Australia, New Zealand, England and the United States.

“We spent some time talking with tiny home builders in Canada, and in particular Nova Scotia,” added Weeres. “Council thinks this is a tool to help combat the housing crisis everyone is facing.”

White told Tetanish that town staff identified 20 properties in the community that could be suitable for tiny homes. According to the policy, which is online here, a tiny home is defined as “typically being a small, detached and self-contained dwelling unit intended for year-round permanent use.”

Any tiny homes in the town must meet Nova Scotia Building Code Regulations, as well as comply with relevant land use bylaws, safety requirements and fire codes.

Tetanish writes that the town is also looking to rezone properties to allow for granny or garden suites, too.

On Friday, a friend and I were talking about tiny homes, just before I read this article. I think tiny homes are getting bigger, better, and are more suitable for families. Still, I don’t think it’s a solution for the housing crisis. Tiny house living is not for everyone.

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5. CUPE strike and online learning

A row of school buses in a parking lot.
School buses are seen in the parking lot of a hockey arena in Dartmouth on Wednesday, July 22, 2020. — Photo: Zane Woodford Credit: Zane Woodford

Students across Nova Scotia could be back to online learning for a bit, if thousands of CUPE workers go on strike this week, as CBC reports here:

Thousands of unionized workers — including bus drivers, cleaners, maintenance staff, educational program assistants and early childhood educators, along with other roles — could soon walk off the job after wage negotiations reached an impasse last week.

“It was our biggest fear for a while,” said Emma Wilkie, a Portapique, N.S., parent with a teen in Grade 11.

“Our 17-year-old is not thrilled about going back to online learning having just gotten out of it.” 

Wilkie said it’s too bad the strike could be coming so close to the end of the school year.

“Our other option previously was to drive Jade ourselves, now it’s going to go to online learning. We’ve got emails from the teachers saying anyone in Grade 7 to 12 would be switching to online in less than a week from now, so that’s a surprise for teachers; it’s definitely a surprise for us,” she said. 

The earliest a strike could begin is Friday, April 21, but the union is required to give at least 48 hours of notice.

This story details the plans for each regional centre for education across the province.

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Rethinking our relationship with drinking

Two white women and a man of colour sit around laughing and enjoying some drinks. The drinks are cocktails served in tumblers.
Credit: Michael Discenza/Unsplash

I don’t know Pete McMartin and have never met him, but over the weekend he put into words something I’ve been thinking about for a while, especially since earlier this year.

McMartin is a former columnist with the Vancouver Sun. But on the weekend while nursing a hangover, he decided to write this column, “Reconsidering my relationship with alcohol.”

McMartin attended a birthday party on the weekend where the booze was flowing freely and generously. He gave up drinking (for the most part) months before the publication of the study from the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Addiction.

The study, which was published in January, included guidelines for drinking after it assessed thousands of studies on the effects of alcohol to our health. As a press release on the study said, its guidelines provide a “continuum of risk” for your health, which says basically the more you drink, the higher your risk. Here’s an outline:

  • 1–2 standard drinks per week is low risk,
  • 3–6 standard drinks per week is a moderate risk and
  • 7 or more standard drinks per week is an increasingly high risk.
  • No matter where you are on that continuum of alcohol use, for your health, less is better.
  • If you’re going to drink, don’t exceed more than 2 drinks on any day.
  • When pregnant or trying to get pregnant, there is no known safe amount of alcohol.

McMartin writes that he was inspired to back off on his drinking when his adult son and daughter, who are nurses, expressed concern for his health.

But McMartin had more reasons to be concerned about the effects of alcohol. He comes from a “family of drinkers.” His father, a chemical engineer who was a star athlete in his youth, died from alcoholism. McMartin’s siblings died in their 70s from drinking and smoking, a “combination that proved lethal.”

McMartin said when the CCSAA study was published in January, he read and watched some of the “virulent” reactions to the new guidelines. He writes:

Those reactions had the same tone of the anti-vaccination crowd that howled about bad science and ivory-tower experts causing undue alarm among the public.

What went unmentioned in those criticisms was the long-term generational destruction alcohol causes. Alcohol corrodes more than livers. It can destroy families, as it destroyed mine. It can alter the entire course of a life, including that of the non-drinker. It inflicts the innocent, and not just the thousands killed by drunk drivers or babies born with fetal alcohol syndrome. Its effects persist in a hundred different invisible ways that someone who had not grown up in an alcoholic household could ever imagine.

I saw a lot of those reactions as well. I remained rather quiet on the findings of the study, although just a month before in December, I wrote this Morning File about the sobriety movement and the market for mocktails.

Many of the articles and comments on the CCSAA seemed to be related to its findings on alcohol and its links to cancer and other diseases. But I could find little discussion about alcohol and its connection to violence. But the CCSAA studied that, too. Here’s what it said:

Alcohol is frequently associated with violent and aggressive behaviour, including intimate partner violence, male-to-female sexual violence, and aggression and violence between adults. Alcohol can also increase the severity of violent incidents. No exact dose–response relationship can be established but consuming alcohol increases the risk of perpetrating alcohol-related violence. It is therefore reasonable to infer that individuals can reduce their risk of perpetrating aggressive or violent acts by limiting their alcohol use. Based on consistent evidence, it is highly likely that avoiding drinking to intoxication will reduce individuals’ risk of perpetrating alcohol-related violence.

I have seen and experienced this connection between booze and violence for myself, both in working 20 years in bars and elsewhere. I have no problem being out for dinner where people are enjoying drinks with dinner, but will avoid places where people drink to excess.

And while I think we’re coming around to learning more about how drinking affects our bodies, I think there’s still a cone of silence around how drinking affects our behaviours to others. But there are people who won’t speak about this because they’re often called prudes or losers trying to ruin everyone’s fun.

As McMartin points out in his column, the way alcohol is marketed doesn’t help, writing that drinking “had been burnished by connoisseurs and ad agencies to give it the high sheen of sophistication.”

But I will say the situations I’ve seen would clearly have been much different if booze weren’t involved. In many cases, the situations would have been avoided entirely.

Drinking is such a part of our local culture it’s hard to get our heads around the dangers of it all. Drinking to excess or binge drinking is talked about as if it were a sport.

A couple of weeks ago, Charlene Boyce shared this interesting post, “Drinking Culture and White Identity: Some Thoughts” on LinkedIn. If you recall, Boyce wrote her masters thesis on the history and cultural impact of the downtown Halifax cabaret, Misty Moon. (I wrote about that here).

Boyce’s thesis was fascinating, so, of course, I was intrigued by this more recent post of hers. Boyce said when she was working on her thesis, she was also researching the phenomenon of street parties. You know, the ones that happen near Dalhousie University and cause quite a ruckus in the neighbourhoods surrounding the campus.

Boyce writes:

When I was a university student in the late 80s, most of the people I hung out with listened to a lot of guitar rock, often from the 70s. We all drank a lot. A couple of my friends were from Ontario. We went to frat parties. We pre-drank, went downtown and barhopped, and went to see bands like Trooper (who were still playing live shows regularly on a Canadian circuit) and concerts by Alice Cooper, Skid Row, and Bryan Adams.

We defined ourselves by decor and music — posters of Skynyrd, Pink Floyd, AC/DC, Zeppelin, or the Imaginus prints of Lord of the Rings; Guns and Roses, Aerosmith and Bon Jovi on full blast. We listened to Q104, a jock-rock station, and at the time found it very amusing indeed. We went to the Misty Moon, and identified as a ‘rock crowd’.

Everyone in this group of friends was white. University was a less multi-cultural experience then.

Flash forward to a recent work project into the culture that creates and promotes large scale street parties. Neighbors and university officers commonly described the students responsible as well-off. White. Ontario. Privileged. Many have been sold on “Halifax’s party culture” by their alumni parents, who probably look a lot like the folks I hung out with. The social media posts of their party exploits look a lot like the memories I have of various gnarly drinking parties.

Thus, experience, observation and research came together to help me realize that the binge-drinking-centered, and out-of-control street parties are my culture. I guess this means my cultural rituals include keg stands.

Boyce goes on to write about how all of this fits into white culture and she asks some good questions about how we might give young people another way and place to feel like they belong that doesn’t involve or encourage binge drinking:

What if we approached these parties with an understanding that they are about creating collective identity and connection, and looked at what the rituals of binge drinking and defiant gathering are aiming to achieve? How can we model better ways to find collective identity?

How can we help the young people, who wear defiance they pulled out of their Gen X parents’ closets along with the hand-me-down Mexican blanket hoodies, channel their exuberant and energetic search for belonging into more (of what we consider) pro-social behaviours?

I think the culture is changing a bit. I’m the parent of a young person and she and her friends go out to clubs, but they don’t seem to be as obsessed with the drinking culture like my generation was at her age. And as I wrote in December, sober parties and mocktails seem to be finding a sizable audience.

Like McMartin, I’m not a prohibitionist. Clearly, prohibition never worked and never will. Still, I think it’s important to take a look at our habits and how they are affecting others around us.

As McMartin writes, drinking is a personal choice and it’s been such a huge part of our culture for a long time. Drinking can be fun, for sure, and many of us have memories that involve having a few or a few too many.

But drinking is also a choice that comes with consequences for others around us, too. We really can’t ignore the studies and be silent about that anymore.

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The stigma about marriages in which the woman earns more than the man

A cake topper of a Black bride and groom dancing. The bride is wearing a white strapless gown and holding a bouquet of red roses, and the groom is wearing a black tuxedo. The topper is on the top layer of a cake with white fondant.
Credit: Alicia Zinn/Pexels

Venessa Wong at Buzzfeed had this article on Monday about wives who earn more than their husbands, what their marriages are really like, and the stigma they face.

Buzzfeed put out a call to couples where the women make more than their male partners, and they got more than 1,000 responses. Wong sat down and interviewed several wives and couples. Still many others didn’t want to be named:

Many of the women I spoke with asked not to be identified by their full names, or not to be named at all, due to worries they would upset their spouses or harm their reputations, noting the lingering stigma against men who earn less than their wives.  

Wong spoke with several women who shared what their marriages were like as the main breadwinners in their families. One woman said people think her husband must have bought the nice car she drives. Others talked about the men they previously dated who couldn’t handle that they outearned them. Other couples keep their finances separate to avoid conflicts over money. One woman doesn’t trust her husband with money. Some of the women said they deal with social stigma that says a husband who earns less than his wife is lazy.

Wong interviewed one woman who didn’t want to use her real name, so for the article she goes by Lily. Lily’s husband hasn’t worked since he was laid off from his job five years ago. She told Wong if her husband sees his name in the article “he will flip his shit.”

Lily, 39, said it was clear when she and her husband started dating that she had greater earning potential than him. She said she “was raised to be more driven,” and that his parents “coddled him” because of a health condition he had growing up. Before they became parents, their income gap wasn’t a big concern. But one of their children has a medical condition that requires supervision, so Lily worked part-time for a few years to care for them. “One year, he made $2,500 more than me, and he would not let me forget it. Every time we’d talk he’d be like, ‘I’m the breadwinner now,’” which she attributed to him being “a very traditional Chinese male.” In 2018, he was laid off, which allowed him to care for their child and pushed Lily to focus more on work. “It opened up a ton of doors,” she said. She has been the sole income earner since, and now makes more than $300,000 a year. She also remains the primary household manager — an outcome that is not unique for women earners. 

Lily still does all of the cooking, including for their child who needs to be on a blender diet. She makes sure the kids do their homework. She pays bills, saves and invests for themselves and the kids, and makes sure there is always enough in the checking account. “I will try to say, ‘Look, this is our budget: This is how much goes out. This is how much comes in. This is how much we have.’ He’s not interested,” she said. Her husband, now in his 40s, does his own laundry, but not hers or the kids’. He does the dishes but won’t do other chores. “It’s fascinating to me because these are highly educated men. He can do this,” she said. She feels male earners generally enjoy more balance at home. “As a woman, you don’t get that option. You still have to do it all,” she said.  

“I’m really tired,” she said. “Sometimes I feel like, Am I alone? Is this my fault? Am I doing something wrong?” Overall, things at home are working, and while she wants more support, “I think you get to an age, and a point in your marriage where you’re just like, I tried.” She feels, on occasion, that what he needs is a mother. “Sometimes, I’m like, ‘Am I raising three children?’”

According to Wong’s research, Lily’s situation is common among couples in which the wife earns more than the man:

Research shows that when American wives earn more than their husbands, they often end up taking on an even greater share of housework. One study showed that “the more economically dependent that men are on their wives, the less housework they do.” Pew’s analysis found that when wives are the primary earners, husbands’ leisure time increased significantly compared to those whose earnings were about equal, while the time they spent on caregiving and housework stayed about the same. Joanna Syrda, a professor at the University of Bath, stated in a report that when parents find themselves in this income dynamic, traditional gender norms are so entrenched that they might try to compensate for this “abnormal” situation by leaning into conventional gender norms at home (this was less of a pattern in couples without children). 

I know there are couples who are clearly more secure with all of this, but wow, this was a depressing read.

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No meetings


Audit and Finance Standing Committee (Wednesday, 10am, City Hall and online) — agenda


No meetings

On campus



No events


Racial capitalism and displacement/ dispossession in Black Africa: Parallels between Ghana and Canada (Wednesday, 3pm, Room 1009, Rowe Building) — Jasper Ayelazuno, candidate for Assistant or Associate Professor in Black and African Diaspora Studies will talk

In the harbour

11:00: Baie St.Paul, bulker, sails from Gold Bond for sea
11:00: CSL Metis, bulker, moves from Bedford Basin anchorage to Gold Bond
17:00: Atlantic Swordfish, barge, and Atlantic Spruce, tug, arrive at IEL from Sydney
18:00: Atlantic Sea, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk, Virginia

Cape Breton
10:00: Sheila Ann, bulker, sails from Aulds Cove quarry for sea
14:30: Sonangol Rangel, oil tanker, sails from EverWind for sea 


I bought a box of about two dozen fortune cookies yesterday. My kid and I ate every one of them. Not one of the fortunes in the cookies predicted this would happen.

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Suzanne Rent is a writer, editor, and researcher. You can follow her on Twitter @Suzanne_Rent and on Mastodon

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