1. BP spill

The Seadrill West Aquarius has been approved to drill for BP on the Scotian Shelf.

On Friday, BP reported a small spill of synthetic lubricating mud at its West Aquarius drill site on the Scotia Shelf drill site. The government regulator has ordered drilling suspended until an investigation is complete. News of the spill is posted to the incident page of the Canada–Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board website. The incident report reads:

Unauthorized Discharge of Drilling Mud

BP Canada Energy Group ULC (BP Canada) reported on June 22, 2018, an unauthorized discharge of synthetic based drilling mud (SBM) from the West Aquarius Drilling Unit.  A preliminary estimate of the volume discharged is approximately 136 cubic metres.

The discharge has been stopped. A remote operated vehicle was launched to determine the source of the discharge.  Preliminary indications is that it is from piping that forms part of the mud system approximately 30 metres below sea level.

The well is secure and drilling has been suspended while the cause of the discharge is investigated. Drilling of the well will not resume until BP Canada receives approval from the CNSOPB that it may proceed.

CNSOPB staff have been monitoring the situation since first notified earlier today. The Canadian Coast Guard was also notified.

Synthetic based mud is a heavy, dense fluid used during drilling to lubricate the drill pipe and overbalance reservoir pressure. Because of its weight, the mud sinks rapidly in the water column to the sea floor. The synthetic based oil used in SBM is of low toxicity. Because of this, effects of SBM spills are typically limited to the area immediately surrounding the well site and are associated with physical smothering of the seabed due to coverage by the mud.

The West Aquarius is currently located approximately 330 kilometers from Halifax.

2. Shawn Cleary

Shawn Cleary

Writes Stephen Kimber:

Shawn Cleary is the chief flag-waver for the city’s most unpopular high-rise proposal — and its developer. But he refuses to accept campaign donations from developers, and is promoting municipal campaign finance reform. He dismisses the significance of the fact the developer’s chief lobbyist is a good friend, yet he is spearheading a proposal for a municipal lobbyist registry. Only in Halifax you say…

Click here to read “The contradiction of being Councillor Cleary.”

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3. Glitter Bean Cafe

“Former employees of Smiling Goat who say they’re still owed money are launching a coffee shop of their own,” reports Emma Smith for the CBC:

Glitter Bean Cafe was created by workers who lost their jobs when the embattled business moved out of the Spring Garden location this spring. Suppliers, landlords, lawyers and former employers have filed lawsuits against Kit Singh totalling tens of thousands of dollars.  

They say the owner of the Smiling Goat Organic Espresso Bar failed to pay them. 

The new cafe will open in the very same spot in the middle of July, says manager Lorelei Carey.

The cafe will be a “worker-owned co-op” where employees can buy-in and have a say in how things are run. There will also be a small board that oversees operations. 

This is an exciting turn of events. I never understood why Just Us couldn’t successfully run the location — they had the perfect spot with a dedicated clientele, and always seemed busy. Singh’s failure was less surprising, but I worry that the determining factor is high rent. Regardless, I hope the new co-op is successful.

4. Buses 1

Maritime Bus has applied to the Utility and Review Board (UARB) for permission to operate a bus service between Lunenburg, Bridgewater, Mahone Bay, and Halifax. As proposed, the service will be an 18-month pilot project starting September 1, with three round-trip routes daily, seven days a week. The proposed schedule would be:

Early morning to Halifax
6am: leaves Lunenburg
6:20am: Bridgewater
6:40am: Mahone Bay
En route: Exit 9 Park & Ride (Chester)
En route: Exit 6 Park & Ride (Chester/Hubbards)
7:35am: Young & Robie Streets Halifax
7:40am: Infirmary, Summer Street Halifax
7:45am: Scotia Square
7:50am: bus station, Westin Hotel Halifax

Morning loop
8:15am: leaves Westin Hotel
8:20am: Scotia Square
8:25am: Infirmary
8:30am: Young & Robie
En route: Exit 6 Park & Ride (Chester/Hubbards)
En route: Exit 9 Park & Ride (Chester)
9:25am: Mahone Bay
9:40am: Lunenburg
10am: Bridgewater
10:20am: Mahone Bay
En route: Exit 9 Park & Ride (Chester)
En route: Exit 6 Park & Ride (Chester/Hubbards)
11:15am: Young & Robie
11:20am: Infirmary
11:25am: Scotia Square
11:30am: Westin Hotel

Afternoon loop
12:30pm: leaves Westin
12:35pm: Scotia Square
12:40pm: Infirmary
12:50pm: Wyse Road Dartmouth (allow connections from Truro buses)
En route: Exit 6 Park & Ride (Chester/Hubbards)
En route: Exit 9 Park & Ride (Chester)
2pm: Mahone Bay
2:20pm: Bridgewater
2:40pm: Lunenburg
2:55pm: Mahone Bay
En route: Exit 9 Park & Ride (Chester)
En route: Exit 6 Park & Ride (Chester/Hubbards)
3:50pm: Young & Robie
3:55pm: Infirmary
4pm: Scotia Square
4:05pm: Westin

Evening return from Halifax
4:30pm: Westin
4:35pm: Scotia Square
4:40pm: Infirmary
4:45pm: Young & Robie
En route: Exit 6 Park & Ride (Chester/Hubbards)
En route: Exit 9 Park & Ride (Chester)
5:40pm: Mahone Bay
6pm: Bridgewater
6:20pm: Lunenburg

One-way rates will be based on Maritime’s current approved zone pricing (the application doesn’t specify what those rates would be). Monthly commuter passes will cost $425 from Lunenburg and Bridgewater, $375 from Mahone Bay, and $325 from Chester.

Maritime Bus also wants to purchase two 15-passenger minibuses, which will be equipped with wifi.

Earlier this month, Liberal MLA Suzanne Lohnes-Croft, who represents Lunenburg, said she would be proposing a two-year pilot program and would be asking for provincial funding of $300,000 to subsidize that program.

5. Buses 2

Rissers Beach. Photo: Nova Scotia Parks

Also, there will be a new beach bus connecting Pentz, Bridgewater, and New Germany to Rissers Beach, a beach in Petite Rivière, reports Katy Parsons for the CBC:

The free bus to Rissers Beach is being piloted on Saturday, July 14 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Whether the free beach bus to Rissers will be offered again this summer or next year will depend on demand, resources and cost.

Now, the budgeted cost to charter one bus to Rissers Beach is $1,092.50.

The United Way will cover $900 of that cost and the remainder will be shared by the Town of Bridgewater and the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg, who are also donating staff time.

Parsons goes on to interview Halifax city spokesperson Nick Ritcey about getting bus service to Rainbow Haven:

Ritcey told CBC News in an email that demand for transit service is “inconsistent” and “there are no plans at this point to add new beach routes.”​

This is true. It’s hard to schedule a regular transit bus service to Rainbow Haven because on any given day it might be raining, and no one would take the bus. That doesn’t mean such a bus shouldn’t exist, however.

The problem is that the city looks at a Rainbow Haven bus as a transit service and not as a recreation service. A transit bus requires predictability, reliable passenger counts, and long-term budgeting. A recreation bus, however, can be much more flexible.

To its credit, the city’s rec department has made great strides at providing low- and no-cost recreational opportunities, and I don’t see why a beach bus can’t be worked into that programming. It would mean a bit of uncertainty: if it rains, the bus doesn’t run.

But even with the routing and scheduling flexibility the Rec Department could provide, money is an issue. The problem with the Rissers Beach pilot is that even with a full bus, the charter bus will cost over $30 per person. I don’t see how that’s sustainable for the long run. I’d like to see how HRM could bring those numbers down — using city-owned buses would presumably help reduce costs, but it’s not as simple as just using Halifax Transit buses.

One potential cost-reducing factor would be to run a van from the existing route #61 stop at Cole Harbour Road and Forest Hills Parkway to Rainbow Haven, about a 10-minute drive each way. That’s not ideal, of course, because the #61 only runs hourly on weekends.

6. Pedestrian struck

A police press release from Friday evening:

At approximately 5:05 pm this evening Halifax Regional Police responded to the report of a motor vehicle accident involving a man in a wheelchair. The man in the wheelchair was in a marked crosswalk travelling from Bedford Highway onto Rocky Lake Drive. A vehicle was turning onto Rocky Lake Drive from the Bedford Highway striking the man in the wheelchair. A 56 year old man was transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The driver of the vehicle was issued a summary offence ticket for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.


1. Media & the Law

The courts have published a webcast of the Media & the Law conference held in May. You can watch the entire conference here. I was on the “Anatomy of a Journalist” panel, and probably should’ve combed my hair before showing up.


Silver Sands Beach, c. 1916. Photo Dartmouth Heritage Museum

Rainbow Haven hasn’t always been the closest large sandy beach to the urban area. Through most of the 19th and 20th centuries, Silver Sands Beach was the go-to ocean beach designation for people in Halifax and Dartmouth. Silver Sands is the subject of a thesis written by Magen Lilli Hudak for her MA degree from Saint Mary’s in 2014. It’s a fascinating read.

Hudak writes:

Silver Sands Beach, in Cow Bay, Nova Scotia, has been an integral landmark for many generations for locals and non-locals alike. Known as Cow Bay Beach until the early 1920s when it assumed its present name, Silver Sands was once touted as one of the Halifax area’s most popular beaches. A “long stretch of fine white sand,” it was flanked by a tree-lined picnic area, situated against a lake. It boasted various sundry amenities — including an open concept pavilion, in the early decades of the twentieth century, and by midcentury, it was equipped with modern style beach canteens and a dancehall.

Lying approximately fifteen kilometers east of Dartmouth, many would make the journey there via horse and wagon — or even via steamboat in the late nineteenth century — before the days of the automobile, in order to escape the “dinginess of a garrisoned city.” The beach was then known far and wide for its unparalleled beauty, figuring not only in local materials, but within publications in New England, as well. Silver Sands sustained this resort fame for nearly one hundred years — from about 1866 until the mid 1960s.

Silver Sands Beach, c. 1950. Photo: Nova Scotia Archives

So what happened? Why don’t we have this wonderful beach just a short drive from town?

Hudak continues:

However, from as early as the 1940s, the beach was also the site of commercial resource extraction. Because of this, by 1966, it had ceased to operate as a fully functional recreational site. Rapid and dramatic changes to its geomorphological formation, due to the large-scale removal of its sand and gravel, saw the gradual reduction of Silver Sands’ once ‘silvery’ crest, into a predominantly rocky shoal. Particularly between the latter half of the 1950s and the mid 1960s, but all the way until 1971, its material was being used for various government construction projects around the Halifax Regional Municipality.

The beach is now just a short strip of gravel. You can access it through the “Moose” parking lot on Cow Bay Road.

Sand and gravel being excavated from Silver Sands Beach in the mid-20th century. Photo: Chronicle Herald

As I was reading Joan Baxter’s “Fool’s Gold” series about “Nova Scotia’s myopic pursuit of metals and minerals,” I kept thinking of Silver Sands Beach. We have a history of destroying our natural heritage in pursuit of short-term mining profits, and if we’re to protect our environment into the future, we should take those lessons to heart.




Executive Standing Committee (Monday, 10am, City Hall) — nothing much is on the public part of the agenda.

White kids will play soccer behind the Wellington Street apartment building while straight white couples walk by ignoring them.

Halifax Peninsula Planning Advisory Committee (Monday, 4:30pm, City Hall) — the Wellington Street development proposal is back before the committee.

Don Bayer Park – Potential Off-Leash Area (Monday, 7pm, East Dartmouth Community Centre) — a public information meeting to talk about turning part of Don Bayer Park in Burnside into a free-for-all for ferocious canines. Just kidding! Dog parks can be great social centres. I know a couple who met at a dog park, and their relationship progressed through house training, spaying and neutering, on to simple commands like roll over and fetch, and then to marriage. Then again, there was that serial killer who used a dog park as part of his scheme to get ransom money from his victims’ families, so I guess it could go either way.


The site of the proposed mobile home park near Enfield. Google Maps

Enfield mobile home park (Tuesday, 2pm and 6pm, Riverline Activity Centre, Dutch Settlement) — this is the public information meeting for Cygnet Properties’ proposal to build a 525-unit mobile home park on 1,100 acres on Old Truro Road in Enfield.

Special Halifax & West Community Council (Tuesday, 6pm, city Hall) — PF Properties wants to build a subdivision consisting of a four-storey apartment building, six single-family homes, and 27 townhouses on 10.6-acre site at the end of Lynette Road and McIntosh Streets in Spryfield. The development would back up on McIntosh Run, and the proposal calls for a 2.3-acre greenway along the stream.



No public meetings.


Human Resources (Tuesday, 10am, One Government Place) — Fernando Nunes, the chair of the Department of Child and Youth Study at the Mount, will be asked about increases in numbers of children in the province’s Early Childhood Education system.

On campus



Chemometrics in Analytical Chemistry Conference (Monday, 8am, in the auditorium named after a bank, McCain Arts & Social Sciences Building and McInnes Room, Student Union Building) — info here.

Thesis Defence, French (Monday, 9:30am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Jean-Marie Watonsi will defend his ​​thesis, “La Tribune des Artes et Lettres: Une Production du Savoir Littéraire Africain Analyse des Chroniques de Camerooon Tribune 1975 à 1984.”

Thesis Defence, Psychology and Neuroscience (Monday, 9:30am, Room 430, Goldberg Computer Science Building) — PhD candidate Christopher Cowper-Smith will defend his ​​thesis, “What’s Your Next Move? Multiple Spatially Defined Response Biases Affect Consecutive Eye and Arm Movements.​​”

Epigenetic regulators in learning and memory​ (Monday, 4:30pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — Jamie M. Kramer from the University of Western Ontario will speak.

Community Open House (Monday, 7pm, LeMarchant Place Welcome Centre, 1246 LeMarchant Street) — people who live in the neighbourhood are encouraged to drop by and complain about student parties.


Board of Governors Meeting (Tuesday, 3pm, University Hall, Macdonald Building) — the board will discuss the proposed sexualized violence policy, and also a Masters of Science degree in Business.

In the harbour

5am: Mary, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
5:30am: Tugela, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southampton, England
6am: Asian Sun, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Philipsburg, St. Maarten
6am: Catharina Schulte, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Lisbon, Portugal
7:30am: Norwegian Gem, cruise ship, with up to 2,873 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from New York
8:45am: Seven Seas Navigator, cruise ship with up to 550 passengers, arrives at Pier 23 from Bar Harbor
4:30pm: Mary, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Dubai
4:30pm: Seven Seas Navigator, cruise ship, sails from Pier 23 for Sydney
4:30pm: Asian Sun, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for sea
5:45pm: Norwegian Gem, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Saint John
10pm: Algoma Integrity, bulker, arrives at National Gypsum from New York


I’m going back to school all week, taking a mapping class at the journalism school. That means guest writers for most of this week’s Morning Files, and not much from me unless something horrible (or less likely, wonderful) happens.

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

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  1. When I first moved hear in the early 90s I had been told about Silver Sands and the attraction it had been back in the day. Part of the story was that large amounts of material for making runways at Shearwater was extracted from that beach.

  2. I was very proud to supervise the Hudak thesis on Silver Sands at Saint Mary’s. It is a great study and was selected for the Governor General’s Gold medal in graduate work (which means it beat out PhD-level work). It is a wonderful example of the work done in the Atlantic Canada Studies program at Saint Mary’s. Interestingly, I also supervised a thesis by Hudak’s cousin (Stefanie Slaunwhite) which also received the Gold Medal. It was a study of Graham Creighton High School and some aspects of school integration. — Peter Twohig (peter.twohig@smuca)

  3. That “mud” is not mud in the sense most of us think about mud – dirt and water. It is an oil product used for lubrication and no matter the “low toxicity”, it is still toxic. Given the amount of offshore drilling that has taken place, we can only imagine how much of the stuff lies on the bottom of the ocean. Something of “low toxicity” may only present small problems as long as it is in small amounts, but the effect is cumulative. And, 136 cubic metres may not be much compared to the whole of the ocean but it’s still a substantial amount of pollutant. The fact that it only smothers all life where it lands on the ocean bottom – forever – is apparently not a concern to the CNSOPB or to BP.

  4. “Although automobiles appeared in the Halifax-Dartmouth area in 1909, at first their everyday use was prohibited. Seen as a “nuisance” to horses and pedestrians, originally they were only allowed on the roads on Tuesdays and Thursdays.”

    The good old days… !

  5. I lived car-less in the city for nine years and one of the things I missed most was ocean beaches! I learned to love Chocolate Lake, but it’s not the same. A van wouldn’t be as accessible to people with children under 10 as a bus, because you need car seats and booster seats for the kids. No one wants to drag those to the beach.

    1. As far as I know, any public transit vehicle, which includes taxis are exempt from requiring child seats.

  6. I can never get over how these police reports are written as though a series of unconnected events had occurred.

    There was an MVA involving a wheelchair.
    A MAN IN a wheelchair was in a marked crosswalk.
    A VEHICLE (presumably unoccupied?) was turning.
    A 56-year-old man was taken to hospital.
    The driver of the vehicle finally makes an appearance in the last sentence, in order to get a ticket.

  7. I interviewed 99-year-old Smiles Green on Grand Manan a few years ago, and he said, “We hauled gravel for the foundation of the post office for the North Head branch, and we got it all off the beach. Now you can’t take a shovelful off the beach.”

  8. That’s pretty pricey for the Rissers bus. The Acadian school bus does the same route every day with far more stops. Does it cost over a thousand dollars a day for a school bus? If so, wow.

  9. They may have figured the tides would bring in more sand. Strange it that it didn’t. Where I live there is a beach that was used to extract sand for use on roads in winter. It was used this way for decades until environmental laws banned the practice, but it is as sandy as it ever was because the tides washed more sands up from the bay. The difference may be that it is near the mouth of a large river estuary that brings silt down the river into the bay and then onto the beaches…perhaps it is not so at Silver Sands.

    1. Tim, sand doesn’t generally come up from the bay; it comes down from the land, borne by rivers and runoff and erosion from nearby headlands. The difference is precisely that your beach is near the mouth of a large river estuary. If you’re curious about various aspects of beaches, you might want to look at my book The Living Beach (he said immodestly). Tim is absolutely right; if we want good decisions in the future, we need to look back at the decisions we made in the past, and learn from those.

    2. I believe this was the case. I worked at the Cole Harbour Heritage Farm during university and they had lots of historical resources for the Cole Harbour-Cow Bay-Eastern Passage area. I remember hearing or reading there that the sand at Silver Sands would disappear in the winter and return in the spring, leading people to think that new sand appeared every year. Unfortunately once they mined it (for the MacDonald Bridge construction, if I recall), they found out it was just the same sand being washed out and back annually, and now there was none left.

      Also the beach apparently had a number of animal statues, like a theme park, the only surviving one being the moose.