News

1. New development proposed for former Penhorn Mall location

An overhead view of the former Penhorn Mall site from Google Maps.

Zane Woodford reports that Clayton Developments Ltd. and Crombie REIT are looking for a development agreement for the lands in Dartmouth where the old Penhorn Mall was located.  

Woodford writes: 

It’s the first half of the planned redevelopment of the area, with the existing commercial space — a Sobeys corporate office, grocery store and gas station, and a few restaurants and other businesses — remaining untouched for now. 

The proposal includes eight development blocks with 11 buildings between three and 12 storeys tall on 25 acres of the site. There’d be 950 units total, 45 of which would be townhouses separating the high-rises from the low-rise neighbourhood in behind. 

An overhead view of the concept plan for the former Penhorn Mall lands. HRM/Clayton Developments

The site was designated as a “future growth node” under the first half of the Centre Plan. In Clayton Developments’ application, more 2,000 people would live in the area, and another 1,900 could live there down the road, in spaces that are currently commercial spaces. The site is also being prioritized as being “pedestrian friendly.” 

Click here to read Woodford’s complete story.  

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2. COVID-19 update: vaccination clinics, and a look ahead to summer

Dr. Robert Strang at the COVID briefing, Feb. 3, 2021. Photo: Communications Nova Scotia

Tim Bousquet has the latest COVID-19 update. There’s one new case of the virus and it’s in Nova Scotia Health’s Central Zone, and is related to travel outside Atlantic Canada. There are 11 cases known active cases in the province.  

A graph of the new daily cases and seven-day rolling average (today at 1.0) since the start of the second wave (Oct. 1).

There was a COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday with Premier Stephen McNeil and chief medical officer, Dr. Robert Strang. Strang said the province’s first vaccination clinic will open late this month at the IWK and will serve Nova Scotians over the age of 80. About 300-400 randomly-selected people will get their vaccinations there. 

As Bousquet reports, this is Phase 1 of the vaccination program. Large deliveries of the vaccine will come in after late April and mass inoculation will start then. It’s expected everyone will be vaccinated by September.  

Bousquet’s update also includes an exchange he had with McNeil and Strang at Wednesday’s COVID briefing about the tourism industry, what operators should expect, and vaccination passports for tourists.  

Click here to read Bousquet’s entire story.  

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3. Council looking to spend on anti-Black racism initiatives

‘Black Lives Matter’ is projected onto Halifax City Hall during a film screening in Grand Parade in June. — Image by Stacey Gomez

Halifax councillors are looking at adding money to next year’s budget to spend on anti-Black racism initiatives in the city.  

As Zane Woodford reports, the councillors want to add $ 72,500 to the budget for those projects. That amount would be added to the $300,000 that was supposed to be spent on an armoured vehicle for Halifax Regional Police. When that purchase was cancelled last year, council voted that most of that money would be spent on anti-Black racism initiatives. Tracey Jones-Grant, the municipality’s diversity manager, told council they voted to recognize the Decade for People of African Descent.

Woodford writes: 

At a budget committee meeting on Wednesday, Tracey Jones-Grant, the municipality’s diversity manager, outlined the need for an extra $72,500 during her presentation on the budget for the city’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion. 

Jones-Grant reminded councillors they voted to recognize the Decade for People of African Descent. 

“We also have made a commitment as a municipality to address anti-Black racism, and I have limited resources currently within my existing staffing and supports in the African Nova Scotian Affairs Integration Office,” Jones-Grant said. 

Click here to read Woodford’s complete story.  

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4. Staying at home is not a recipe to learn how to cook

A new report released today examines whether Canadians are more food literate now than before the pandemic. Survey says? Slightly. Photo: Max Delsid

With all this staying at home, you’d think many of us would be cooking more and experimenting with new recipes. Turns out we’re not. Yvette d’Entremont reports on a new study that finds those trying out new recipes are in the minorityD’Entremont talks with researcher Sylvain Charlebois, who is the co-author of the report from Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab and Ontario-based research firm Caddle. That report found only 35.5% of Canadians have learned at least one new recipe since the pandemic began. Says Charlebois:  

We actually went into this project thinking that probably people know more about food than ever before. We’re way more domesticated, we have spent more time at home collectively. 

But I’ll be honest with you, I was a little bit disappointed…There’s clearly an interest there, but I’m not entirely convinced that Canadians have actually taken or considered COVID as an opportunity to learn more about food because really, changes were not as significant as we were expecting. 

D’Entremont spoke with Jackie Atwood who lives in Barrington, who is in that minority. Since the pandemic began, Atwood’s been trying all kinds of recipes, including lobster quiche and lobster mac and cheese. She also makes biscuits twice a week. 

I’ll be going to Atwood’s house for dinner.  

Click here to read d’Entremont’s entire story.  

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5. Preston residents want racial slur on transit app investigated

Residents of the Preston area are condemning the transit app Moovit after a racial slur was used to describe the community.  

David Burke at CBC spoke with residents about the app and the slur. Archy Beals, who grew up in North Preston, told Burke, “It’s totally disgusting and whoever did it should be investigated…it’s bordering on a hate crime and we should treat it as such.” 

Beals reported the app to Halifax Regional Police, who tweeted that they were investigating, although they didn’t name the app in the tweet. 

I saw the page making the rounds on Facebook on Tuesday night. A number of people reported it and said they got responses from Moovit saying the page was taken down. Moovit told CBC it removed the language from the app. 

A spokesperson with Moovit told CBC they get some of their route information from users, which they say happened in this case. They told Burke the language, “is highly inappropriate and racist content, and should not have happened. We deeply apologize.” 

Philip Mai, the co-director of Ryerson University’s Social Media Lab, said even though the slur was posted by a user, Moovit should be moderating content.  

The fact that they didn’t catch this particular version of the N-word makes it very troubling simply because even if they don’t know this version of it with the ville at the end, they should have caught the first part of it.  

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Views

Rose Fortune: a treasure in Nova Scotia’s Black history

Micha Cromwell is an actor from Annapolis Royal. She’s a descendant of Rose Fortune, who is often regarded as Canada’s first policewoman.

As part of its events celebrating Black History Month, the County of Annapolis is sharing readings from Finding Fortune: Documenting and Imagining the Life of Rose Fortune (1774-1864) by local author Brenda Thompson. The readings are by Micha Cromwell, an actor from Annapolis Royal, who’s appeared in the play Chasing Champions: The Sam Langford Story, as well as the TV series Diggstown. Cromwell is a descendent of Fortune, a Black woman who lived in Annapolis Royal in the 1800s and is often regarded as Canada’s first policewoman.

Cromwell is connected to Fortune on her mother’s side of the family. It was her mother, Lolita, a history buff who knows the family’s genealogy, who told Cromwell stories about Fortune. The Cromwells are just some of Fortune’s descendants who live in Annapolis Royal. Fortune has descendants around the world. Says Cromwell:

One of the first things I heard was that she worked on the docks, that she had her own business lugging people’s baggage from the ferry to the hotels. She was a very strong, independent woman. My mother would always say, “Look at this ancestor you have to be proud of.”

Brenda Thompson’s book, Finding Fortune.

Brenda Thompson first heard about Fortune when she moved to the Annapolis Royal area in 1996. One of the first people she met when she moved to the town was Daurene Lewis, who served as mayor of Annapolis Royal, and was the first Black female mayor in Canada. Lewis was also an descendent of Fortune. Thompson learned about Fortune through Lewis, and she wanted to know more.

Thompson searched historical newspapers and gathered oral history from Fortune’s descendants. Some of the family even did DNA tests to connect them to Fortune. Says Thompson:

She didn’t fit the status quo, but she had the respect of the whole town. She had everything going against her, but she made her own rules and her own path in life and she did what she wanted. I tried to reflect that in a book.

Fortune’s family were Black Loyalists. She and her parents arrived in Nova Scotia when Fortune was about 10. Thompson says Fortune’s father died not long after they arrived in Nova Scotia. She says the family likely lived in Brindley Town, a large Black community outside of Digby, and Fortune probably made her way to Annapolis Royal for work.

I think she saw an opportunity where she didn’t have to be in anybody’s house, follow anybody’s rules, she could make her own money. She was in her 50s when she started her wheelbarrow business.

Fortune was known as the “baggage smasher” because she’d load as much luggage onto the wheelbarrow as she could. She also had a business providing wake-up calls for guests at local hotels. And she patrolled the wharves, too, enforcing curfews. Fortune’s grandchild carried on the baggage business and the wheelbarrows were replaced with horses.

Thompson approached Cromwell and asked her to do the readings, which are now online for viewing. There’s this one which describes how Fortune started her business.

This reading is Thompson’s fictional take of Fortune meeting then-lawyer Thomas Haliburton, when he moved to Annapolis and he asked her to be his family’s maid and nanny. Fortune refused.

And then there’s this one of Cromwell reading a newspaper ad for two runaway slaves. Thompson found that ad in her research of old newspapers. The slaves in the ad were Fortune’s parents. Says Cromwell:

That one really hit me, especially since I’ve learned more about slavery in Nova Scotia. It’s not something that’s mainstream. We often think of it as an American thing. Reading that section did make me feel quite emotional, but it’s also fascinating. It helps me feel more connected to the past.

The readings are emotional for Thompson, too.

Having a descendent of those two people read that made me tear up. It gives me goosebumps. It’s my book being read by a descendent of this fabulous woman. I feel very privileged. I feel very privileged I could get this written and published. I feel very privileged her descendants are appreciative of the work.

Fortune is remembered in the town through a plaza and a section of a boardwalk named in her honour. Cromwell had a chance to speak at the ceremony. Sculptor Brad Hall designed a monument that looks like a wheelbarrow, which now is at her gravesite.

Sculptor Brad Hall created this monument in memory of Rose Fortune. It represents the wheelbarrow she used in her baggage carrying business.

Cromwell says people in the town are proud of Fortune’s legacy. She and her family are proud of it, too.

I find [Fortune] to be so fascinating and also familiar in a way because of her strength and her independence, her resilience, her tenacity. I love learning details about her. She was a businesswoman, but she also acted like a policewoman on the wharves of Annapolis. She would patrol the wharves, she had her stick, she would keep people in line. I can think of strong women in my family, she reminds me of them as well.

I feel like it anchors us, these stories of our ancestors, they ground us, and filling in the pieces of your identity. That’s what I feel personally and people in my family feel that, especially my mother.

Cromwell says Fortune’s story is an important one to tell because it’s one of hope and triumph.

We have these wonderful ancestors who are beacons we can look up to, look back to, for knowledge or inspiration and it’s important to remember that the whole Black identity doesn’t need to be defined by stories of atrocity and slavery. That’s important, but there are stories like Rose’s that are hopeful and show the strength of our community.

I think I would like people to broaden their perspective of what Nova Scotian history is and Canadian history. The fact that African Nova Scotians do have a long history here, a rich history. I would love it if people would broaden their perspectives and open their minds and learn more about history that isn’t quite as mainstream. African Nova Scotians are really proud of our heritage and we belong here. Sometimes people will ask me, “Where are you from?”

We’ve been here for a while.

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Noticed

Halifax Transit’s Love Stories contest.

Last night, Halifax Transit announced it cancelled its Love Stories contest. If you hadn’t heard of it, the contest was for Valentine’s Day and encouraged transit users to share stories of love connections they made while taking the bus or the ferry.  

Halifax Transit posted the contest on Twitter on Tuesday, but it wasn’t getting any love (Halifax Transit has since removed the Twitter post with the ad). Rather than love connections, many women shared stories about how they’ve been harassed by men while travelling on buses in the city.

There was another ad for the contest on Halifax Regional Municipality Facebook page, which has since been removed. This ad opened with “Hi cutie!”

Listen — no one wants to hear the words “hi cutie” from a stranger while on public transit. 

So many of the stories shared on Twitter would be familiar to women who have ever used transit in the city: men making inappropriate comments; men following them off the bus and down the street; men sitting too close to them on empty buses; men approaching young girls.

Many women said that this campaign was giving men permission to harass them on the bus. I like these responses.

Arthur Gaudreau at Halifax ReTales shared a poll on Twitter in which he said he heard from some people who said women don’t get harassed on public transit. The poll results — and the comments to Gaudreau’s tweet — say otherwise, and include more stories from women who were harassed.  

I sent an email to Halifax Transit Wednesday afternoon asking if they saw the comments on Twitter to their contest and if they had any response. I didn’t hear back, but later in the day Halifax Transit shared this statement:

The letter from Halifax Transit, posted on their Twitter.

That statement was met with more criticism, and few hours later Halifax Transit announced it was cancelling the contest.  

Interestingly, this research study by Natasha Juckes, an undergraduate student in the School of Planning at Dalhousie University shared its own poster on Wednesday looking for women to share their stories about street safety in Halifax. I want to hear these stories, too.

I haven’t taken the bus in years, but I remember trying to avoid creepy men by wearing headphones, reading a book, or staring out the window. Maybe some people do make love connections on the bus, but really — women just want to get to their destination safely and without being bothered.

I know Halifax Transit has a list of inappropriate conduct for passengers listed on its website, so let’s see a campaign about stopping harassment against women who take transit.

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Government

City

Thursday

Environment and Sustainability Standing Committee (Thursday, 1pm) — live webcast

Women’s Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4pm) — virtual meeting; dial-in or live broadcast not available

Harbour East – Marine Drive Community Council (Thursday, 6pm) — live webcast, with captioning on a text-only site

Friday

Budget Committee (Friday, 9:30am) — contingency meeting if required

Province

No meetings.

On campus

Dalhousie

Thursday

Marketing Tips and Tricks (Thursday, 12pm) — a College of Continuing Education webinar with Mary-Eleanor Power

Saint Mary’s

Thursday

No public events.

Friday

Navigating the Census: Working with Census Data (Friday, 10am) — learn how to select, export, and clean your data in this Zoom workshop


In the harbour

08:00: MOL Emissary, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Rotterdam
10:00: MSC Rochelle, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
12:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
13:00: CSL Tacoma, bulker, sails from Gold Bond (National Gypsum) for sea
16:00: Taipei Trader, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Kingston, Jamaica


Footnotes

When I was talking to Brenda Thompson yesterday, my kid called me three times to say she couldn’t find the large bags of those mini eggs. She eventually did find one. We’re now having a contest to see how long it takes us to eat them all.

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Suzanne Rent

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

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  1. Thanks for the interesting story about Rose Fortune. I had not heard about her before. There is a street in the Parks of West Bedford, off Broad Street, called Rose Fortune Gate. I presume that is named after her.