1. Lohr and Bill 329
“Housing Minister John Lohr says he is “absolutely committed” to moving forward with a new law that will give the minister sole control over the pace of housing development in HRM,” reports Jennifer Henderson.
“The crisis in housing is profound,” Lohr said on Tuesday.
Bill 329 will proceed “with minor tweaks” despite a barrage of criticism from HRM mayor Mike Savage and several councillors who claim a two-year freeze on water and other fees to lower costs for developers will raise taxes for people living and working in HRM.
Savage called that measure “egregious” while opposition leaders have expressed concern that another part of Bill 329 that fast-tracks building by “trusted developers” could lead to the kind of scandal that exposed backroom dealings involving Doug Ford’s government in Ontario.
“I am concerned when I hear comparisons to the Ontario greenbelt. I reject that totally and, in fact, I would say the opposite,” Lohr said.
“What we see happening is when HRM Council receives a project that is compliant with the Municipal Planning Strategy (MPS) and is recommended by staff, and then council, for whatever reason votes it down. Six or seven months later the decision goes to the Utilities and Review Board and, in a number of cases, HRM doesn’t call witnesses or provide a defence for their reasons. This is a concern for me. I think HRM has to respect their own process and their own Municipal Planning Strategy.”
Bill 329 could be passed as early as Friday.
Henderson also reports on an anti-Semitic tweet a PC staffer said she didn’t send, and a Truro woman awarded a provincial literacy award.
2. Homelessness report
“Halifax Regional Council approved recommendations in a report about homelessness in the city after hearing that “people will die” if shelters and other options aren’t put in place for those currently living outside,” I reported this morning.
Max Chauvin, director of housing and homelessness with HRM, made a presentation on a report regarding the current status of homelessness in the city during the meeting of council on Tuesday.
According to figures from July, Chauvin said there were 178 people sleeping rough in HRM. He said 1,014 people are on the HRM ‘By Name’ list as of Oct. 10, adding the number of people sleeping rough is expected to double within the next eight months. Chauvin said that number also doubled last year, between November and July from 85 to the current 178.
The By Name list records people who are homeless and looking for stable housing in HRM.
“We don’t see any reason why that won’t continue again,” Chauvin told council.
Chauvin also provided a bit more details on the tiny home project for Sackville, noting that each of the tiny homes will include a washroom and kitchen area. He said the Pallets that will be set up in HRM and across the province will be ready for moving in this February.
But Chauvin was also frank about what will happen if HRM doesn’t get more shelters for the growing number of people living outside:
Right now, we have almost 200 people who have nowhere to go. If you’ve been outside, you see they are in summer-only tents,” Chauvin said. “We have people building fires just to keep warm. We will have people die, if we don’t have a place [for them] to go.
Some councillors expressed concerns about using parks for tent encampments. Coun. Paul Russell asked that Grand Parade and Victoria Park be removed from the list of tent encampment locations, while Coun. Trish Purdy didn’t think municipal parks should be used at all for people living in tents.
“Halifax regional council is considering its options on a controversial housing bill, including taking the province to court over the proposed legislation,” I reported this morning.
Bill 329, which was introduced in the legislature last Friday, would give Housing Minister John Lohr power to approve any development in HRM.
As Jennifer Henderson reported Wednesday, Housing Minister John Lohr is “absolutely committed” to pushing Bill 329. That legislation could be passed as early as Friday.
At the legislature’s law amendments committee on Monday, Halifax Mayor Mike Savage called Bill 329 “egregious overreach.” CAO Cathie O’Toole, municipal solicitor John Traves, and other HRM staff were also present.
Tuesday’s regular meeting of council was the first time all councillors had a chance to discuss and ask questions about Bill 329. Several staff from HRM’s planning department and Halifax Water were on hand to talk about Bill 329 with council and answer any questions.
Coun. Tim Outhit was the first councillor to suggest HRM take the province to court over the bill.
“If we are convinced that this flies in the face of the spirit of Joe Howe and what others fought for, let’s do a court challenge,” Outhit said. “Don’t tell me they can do this under the legislature. I know they can do it under the legislature, but are they following the spirit and the intention of the legislation? That’s what courts decide.”
Some councillors also wanted to know how Bill 329 will impact density bonusing, which is used to fund affordable housing projects.
Yvette d’Entremont has this very informative story about heart disease and strokes, including an interview with Marilyn Mills about her own heart health:
A healthy 50-year-old, Mills assumed it was a cold. But when she returned home to Kentville and the congestion persisted, she worried that it might be a chest infection. Although her breathing difficulties and overall sense that “something wasn’t quite right” resulted in 12 visits to see physicians between the end of April and August of that year, she was repeatedly assured that all was well.
“I felt like I was congested and I couldn’t breathe and I was very fatigued. I couldn’t walk my normal route to work anymore and had to call for a ride to work or to home,” Mills, now 58, recalled. “The doctors kept saying that my lungs were clear and I kept asking for an x-ray just to confirm that it was clear.”
Mills was also diagnosed with cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart muscle). Doctors also eventually determined she had sarcoidosis (an inflammatory disease) in her heart and lungs. Shocked and devastated, Mills began wondering what she’d done wrong. She exercised, ate well, and had no family history of heart disease.
It turns out most Canadians don’t know the risks for heart disease and stroke: seven out of 10 of us, to be exact. Those figures are from a new poll published by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. d’Entremont’s story outlines some other details about heart disease and stroke, including the warning signs we all need to know, plus what to do if you feel you’re having a heart attack or stroke. Hint: don’t drive yourself to the hospital.
5. Drug alert for Cole Harbour
On Tuesday, Nova Scotia Health (NSH) issued a drug alert for Cole Harbour.
In a media release, NSH said that between Oct. 15 and 16 there had been a “cluster” of suspected opioid poisonings in the community. A number of substances — including MDMA, cocaine, dilaudid, and “liquid xanax” – were reported to have been used by multiple groups of people”which resulted in poisonings.”
NSH advised people to not use substances alone if possible. If using alone, they can call the National Overdose Response Service (NORS) phone line at 1-888-688-NORS. Available 24/7 for anyone in Canada, an operator on that line will “spot” people while using. For more information visit www.nors.ca.
Alternatively, people are advised to call a trusted support person, provide them with a location, and let them know they’re using alone.
Even if they aren’t intentionally using opioids, people are advised to have naloxone on hand.
“Although naloxone only works to reverse opioid overdoses, there is no harm in administering it,” the release said.
“if you are unsure what kind of overdose you are witnessing. Naloxone is available for free from most community pharmacies and other community locations, including needle distribution and disposal organizations.”
More information about where to get free naloxone kits and how to use them can be found here.
Overdose prevention sites are equipped to respond to overdoses and to connect people to important health and social services. They also support harm reduction by providing equipment and a safe and caring space for people to use drugs. Note the addresses below for sites in Halifax and Sydney.
ReFIX Halifax Overdose Prevention Site:
Address: 2107 Brunswick St. Halifax; Phone: 902-209-9370
PeerSix Overdose Prevention Site
Address: 75 Prince St. Sydney; Phone: 902-567-1766
People are advised to call 911 in the event of an overdose and to know their rights under the Good Samaritan Act.
St. Andrew’s United Church creating a Pride place to listen to Halifax’s 2SLGBTQIA+ community
On Oct. 24, St. Andrew’s United Church on the corner of Coburg Road and Robie Street in Halifax will host an all-day event called Pride place roundtable where members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community can come to talk about what they need from the church, exchange ideas and supports, and discuss how the community and church can heal together. Registration for the event is open to 2SLGBTQIA+ organizations.
That event will be moderated by Robert Wright, a social worker who is also an activist for the Black community and the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. A group of volunteers, including members of the church’s congregation, will be on hand to lead small discussion groups during the day. The event will include a free lunch.
On Monday, I spoke with Rev. Shaun Fryday from St. Andrew’s, who is also a member of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, about the event, the church’s history with the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, and what he hopes the Pride place event next week will accomplish.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Halifax Examiner (HE): Why did the church want to host this event?
Rev. Shaun Fryday (SF): The church is looking to its future, along with other churches, and it wanted to hear from the LGBTQ community as to what their specific needs are, where the needs of the community intersect with the church, and then how the church can respond to those specific needs. I am from Nova Scotia. I was raised in St. Margarets Bay, but I just returned to Halifax. I’ve been in Montreal for 34 years and while I was in Montreal, the church I was serving opened a large LGBTQ centre that offers programs for seniors, youth, trans youth, trans adults, parents of trans kids, all kinds of programs, and a designated space that was a queer space. So, we know that the churches now on the [Halifax] peninsula are looking at their future, and we’re saying as you look at the future, you have to keep us [the LGBTQ community] in mind in terms of future development. Personally, during the day the question of reparations will come up. So, that is how does the church begin to repair relationships with the LBGTQ community because of the way it has oppressed and breached human relationships with the community for centuries and continues to do so.
HE: Why is an event like this important? You’ll probably understand there is skepticism in the LGBTQ+ community right now given the rise in hatred and discrimination toward the community.
SF: All the more reason that we get together and talk things through as to what our needs are. The community is under growing pressure and growing homophobia. We need places and spots to come together that are safe spots where we are able to become activists for our own welfare, for our own future.
HE: What does your congregation think about this event? Some of them will be involved, right?
SF: Yes, we had a training event [on Sunday] for dealing with trauma in terms of a lot of LGBTQ people have been in some form traumatized by the church experience. We were sensitizing the volunteers who will be the small-group facilitators and recorders as to what kinds of things you may see from participants. Those are all members of the congregation, basically. There are one or two who aren’t, but I think there were 22 people at the training event.
HE: What do you think the congregation needs to do to welcome the LGBTQ community and change their own viewpoints?
SF: We are going through the affirming process, which is the United Church process to look at congregations individually, look at their own levels of homophobia within their congregational life. We are in that process, and part of that process is looking at the impact of homophobia on the lives of people from the church’s perspective. I think primarily we will hear the different needs between what I call rural queers and city queers. City queers are not going to be as isolated as people in Cape Breton or Yarmouth or people coming from different parts of the province. We will also be writing a document that will serve up what are the needs of the community, and then we will work with the government and the churches to bring about substantive human change. The question is, really, in any kind of facilitating development, what is the human activity that is going to take place here? And so, we want to make sure one of the aspects of human community is the queer human community that is part of our society and how they are being welded in. Lots of congregations are deferring because it’s sort of politically correct to do so, but they don’t go on and do anything about that. That’s not true of St. Andrew’s. They have an ambition to build a partnership and a relationship with the gay community.
HE: Can you tell me about some good and bad experiences that you’ve had in the church?
SF: Good experiences would be opening the LGBTQ centre in Montreal, which has been operating for about 12 years now. It has its own staff and does excellent work. Within that work, though, there were times, twice in the past few years, we had to close the centre for periods of time because of death threats. That was a really difficult thing to deal with. I had my own life personally threatened. And that is a very disquieting feeling. It robs you of all sense of personal safety in the world. You’re always checking your environment. You’re always looking around, and it’s no way to live like that.
Another experience that would be negative, this would be back in the 90s, I was called to be the minister here in the city, until they found out I was gay, and the whole thing fell apart. At the congregational meetings, someone outed me. It was personally a devastating, devastating experience. I’ve been out as an activist in the church for years. I’ve spoken in the Philippines at human rights conferences on LGBTQ issues.
HE: Do you worry about the skepticism in the LGBTQ+ community because there is such a history of homophobia in the church?
SF: That is a healthy skepticism, one that says to question authority, and especially to question the authority of the church given our history. We’re struggling through that with registrations [for the event]. I had a wedding at St. Andrew’s this summer, in July, and it was a queer couple, and there were a lot of gay people who were attending. And there were a number of people who came up to me to say how much difficulty they were having just being in the facility because of their relationship of harm with the church. The tension was a bit eased because I identify as a member of the LGBTQ community myself. But that’s the theme we’re encountering with registrations because some people do not trust the church implicitly. They shouldn’t.
HE: Do you think some of that skepticism comes from a belief that maybe this event is being used to boost shrinking congregations as opposed to making substantive change in the church?
SF: I can’t tell you exactly what people are thinking, but I would say some people are just thinking they are mistrustful of the church. We haven’t done something like this specifically, have a roundtable together to say what are the actual specific needs of the community, and how can the church respond to those needs. It’s a different question for people to have before them.
HE: What are you most looking forward to about this event?
SF: Personally, I’m looking forward to coming together with people so we get to know each other by name and celebrate our community and the diversity of our community. I’m looking forward to all the cross-fertilization that takes place when a bunch of bees get together.
HE: Do you have any topics you’d like to see be discussed during the event?
SF: I’d like to see some discussion around the church being held accountable for what I call the spiritual abuse of LGBTQ people. I would really like to make sure that’s acknowledged because that trauma lives within the community, and you have to deal with that trauma first before you ever build a relationship.
HE: What’s your definition of spiritual abuse?
SF: Well, one example is when you are taught there is something wrong with you, there is something intrinsically wrong with you, and you need to be fixed, and Jesus can fix you somehow. That, to me, is spiritual abuse. Your spiritual life, your emotional life, your psychological life is all intertwined. The church has a huge responsibility to acknowledge they were fundamentally wrong. I will give you an example of that. When I was born in 1960, I was queer. The day I was born, I was born queer. I was also considered in the diagnostic treatment manual, psychologically ill and needed to see a psychiatrist because there was a deep perversion in the way I was constructed. In the 1960, the church considered you a sinner and you needed salvation and to change your ways. The police still put us in prison until 1971. So, in terms of changes in society, we can look at those massive changes that have taken place, but there was a lot of hurt in those years that people participated in.
HE: The day’s events will come and go, but what needs to be done after Oct. 24?
SF: The report coming out of the day will have recommendations, but I can see having future roundtables and finding funding for them through the United Church Canada Foundation, which is funding this event. They want to see the papers we’re producing. That will lead to further roundtables to refine those questions, and further conversations with whatever churches want to engage in a conversation. This is just part of a bigger strategy.
HE: Any final thoughts?
SF: It’s a matter of encouraging people to come out. We need to hear people’s voices to make it successful and we want to have future events as well, to develop this even more. I encourage people to come out and spend the day with some gay friends and the people who are listening.
Heidi Petracek with CTV Atlantic visited Sable Island last week. Georgie Mott, owner of Picture Perfect Tours, one of the few groups that is licenced to take visitors to the remote island, invited Petracek along. Mott’s great-grandparents met on the island during the First World War.
Board of Police Commissioners (Wednesday, 4pm, 60 Alderney Dr. Dartmouth, and online) — agenda
Community Planning and Economic Development Standing Committee (Thursday, 10am, City Hall and online) — agenda
Legislature sits — 1pm
Standing Committee on Health (Thursday, 9am, One Government Place and online), Mental Health Supports for First Nations Communities — more info
13th Annual Mawio’mi (Wednesday, 10am, Studley Quad) — culture sharing and celebration more info
Voice Noon Hour (Wednesday, 11:45am, Joseph Strug Concert Hall) — free performance by students of the Fountain School of Performing Arts
Learning knowledge synthesis methods: Understanding and overcoming uncertainty in the process of conducting systematic reviews (Wednesday, 12pm, online) — PhD candidate Robin Parker will talk
Voice Masterclass with Rachel Fenlon (Thursday, 11:35am, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — free performance
David Schroeder Music and Culture Lecture Series with Maria Cizmic, University of South Florida (Thursday, 12am, Dalhousie Arts Centre, Room 406) — free performance of “Story of an Artist”: Performing Disability and the Music of Daniel Johnston
Sciographies season five returns for a fifth season (Thursday, 5:30pm, online) — podcast shares the lives, stories and research of Dalhousie scientists; weekly episodes air on Thursdays at 4:30PM on CKDU 88.1FM; or listen on most podcast apps (Apple, Spotify, Soundcloud) until November 2, 2023.
Decolonizing and Indigenizing Health in Mi’kma’ki (Thursday, 5:30pm, online) — more info
Dr. Brent Young: Identifying and Disrupting Anti-Indigenous Racism within the Healthcare System
Michelle Peters: Pillars of Indigenizing Clinical Work in Mi’kma’ki
Jacklyn Paul and Naj Siritsky: Decolonizing Health Care in Unceded Mi’kma’ki- Reflections on a Two-Eyed Approach to Healing
Universities Studying Slavery Conference – (Thursday, all day) — more info
Making Sense of Reality: The Role of Scale (Thursday, 12pm, online) — Dr. Cristian Suteanu will talk — click to register
In the harbour
06:00: Baie St.Paul, bulker, arrives at Gold Bond from Sydney
06:00: Ocean Voyager, cruise ship with up to 216 passengers, arrives at Pier 23 from Charlottetown, on an eight-day cruise from Montreal to Portland
08:00: IT Infinity, offshore supply ship, arrives at Pier 9 from Deception Bay, Nunavut
08:15: Carnival Magic, cruise ship with up to 4,724 passenger, arrives at Pier 22 from Saint John, on an eight-day roundtrip cruise out of Norfolk
08:30: Vision of the Seas, cruise ship with up to 2,443 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Saint John, on a nine-day roundtrip cruise out of Baltimore
10:30: Pag, oil tanker, sails from Imperial Oil for sea
10:45: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Autoport from St. John’s
11:30: One Wren, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for Dubai
13:00: CSL Flevik, bulker, sails from Pier 9 for sea
14:00: Atlantic Sail, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
14:00: SLNC Magothy, cargo ship, sails from Pier 9 for sea
16:30: Oceanex Sanderling moves to anchorage
17:45: Ocean Voyager sails for Portland
18:00: Carnival Magic sails for Sydney
19:00: Vision of the Seas sails for Baltimore
19:00: High Wind, oil tanker, moves from Irving Oil to anchorage
00:30 (Thursday) Atlantic Sail sails for Liverpool, England
01:30: Algoma Verity, bulker, arrives at Aulds Cove quarry from Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania
05:30: AlgoScotia, oil tanker, sails from Sydney Marine Terminal for Corner Brook
06:30: Crystal Serenity, cruise ship with up to 1,070 passengers, arrives at Sydney Marine Terminal from Halifax, on an eight-day cruise from New York to Quebec City
09:00: Calusa Coast, tug, transits through the causeway en route from Halifax to Sturgeon Bay, Ontario
16:30: Crystal Serenity sails for Quebec City
While I was watching Halifax regional council on my computer on Tuesday, my cats were fighting in the living room. I shall report on that fight later.