In the harbour
1. Local Xpress
Local Xpress, the online news publication produced by striking Chronicle Herald journalists, has expanded.
“We’re taking the Herald on head-to-head,” said Martin O’Hanlon, president of CWA Canada, the national union that supports the local Halifax Typographical Union.
The revamped site will have national and local news, sports, entertainment, obituaries, event listings, weather and online flyers.
The national news is content purchased from the Canadian Press. Other content will be produced locally by journalists represented by the union.
I explained the details of the new Local Xpress here.
Part of the new effort includes a Patreon campaign to raise money through donations. I committed to a regular monthly contribution, and I would encourage anyone who supports quality journalism to do the same.
And this just in: This morning, I’m told that a meeting between the union’s bargaining committee and Chronicle Herald management, arranged by the provincial Mediation Services, has been tentatively set for next Friday.
2. Tidal power and fish
“What is five stories high, weighs 1,000 tonnes, and sits at the Pictou shipyard right now?” asks Andrew Wagstaff in the Cumberland News. “The next tidal power turbine to be installed in the Minas Channel near Parrsboro”:
The first of two turbines built by Aecon Atlantic Industrial Inc. in Pictou for Cape Sharp Tidal will be deployed at the FORCE (Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy) site off West Bay in late June or early July, according to Cape Sharp Tidal project manager Kevin Boudreau.
The turbine is 21 metres high and 16 metres in diameter, and will produce enough electricity to power 1,000 homes.
It is scheduled to leave Pictou during the first week of June on the Scotia Tide, a barge that is 68 metres long and 37 metres wide. That trip is expected to take about two weeks, after which the barge will return to Pictou and pick up the second identical turbine, and then transport it to the site for deployment.
Meanwhile, “[i]nshore fishermen want all tidal power development in the Bay of Fundy stopped until they are consulted or informed,” reports Jonathan Riley for the Digby Courier:
The Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishermen’s Association (BFIFA) sent out a petition to port reps and stores up and down the Bay of Fundy on May 17.
“Fishermen and community members of the Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishermen’s Association want to urge our government leaders and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to halt all tidal power activity in the Bay of Fundy until such time that we have been properly informed of the costs and effects to our fishing industry, our environment, our coastal communities,” reads the petition.
“We’ve never been consulted down this end of the bay, no one is telling us what’s going on, what effect, what cost it might have on us,” says [BFIFA president Chris] Hudson. “We don’t know what effect it will have on the larva floating, will the turbines beat them up? When there’s hundreds of turbines, what’s the effect going to be?
“There’s a whole load of unknowns.”
Hudson says the unknowns need to be cleared up before risking the fishery.
“You can’t displace a whole industry that pumps hundreds of millions of dollars into the local communities, and for what? A whole bunch of unknowns and what is that going to do for the local communities dependent on the fisheries?”
“The province announced Thursday its public housing organization will no longer be the developer of Bloomfield,” reports Rachel Ward for the CBC:
The province has spent $1.4 million on its involvement with the Bloomfield project, according to community services spokesperson Heather Fairbairn.
It will forgo a $764,800 deposit paid to Halifax Regional Municipality for the land and that cost will be absorbed in Housing Nova Scotia‛s budget, she said.
Nova Scotia also spent around $650,000 on other costs, including for development work and concept design by Lydon Lynch Architects firm to the tune of around $225,000, she said.
The problem, in a nutshell, is that the province’s bid for the property, $15 million, was far too high — the second highest bid was $8 million. It was impossible to recover that purchase price and also provide a meaningful number of affordable housing units.
4. Joan Jessome
Let’s start with a question: Is Joan Jessome the most hated woman in Nova Scotia?” asks Stephen Kimber in The Coast:
Google “Joan Jessome” and “hated,” and you’ll get 5,630 hits in less than a Google second. The top three results are news stories following the December 11, 2015, announcement she would be retiring as president of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union, the NSGEU.
Kimber goes on to profile Jessome at length, and the article is worth a read.
The horse escaped from the barn about a decade ago and has been trampling the flowerbeds and crapping all over the yard ever since, and now Peter Ziobrowski, Matthew Halliday, Angela Henry, and Ian Watson have formed a group that wants to do something about it.
The Action Group for Better Architecture in Nova Scotia (AGBANS) is dedicated to, well, better architecture in Nova Scotia. But it also has high criticism for groups like the Heritage Trust. Says the AGBANS:
Recent events in Halifax have brought to light an inadequacy in existing Heritage and Community groups. Specifically they are narrowly focused on the protecting the very old, at the expense of more recent important structures, or they are directed at opposing the very tall. By their inability to compromise, they have lost their seats at the table, and by too narrowly focusing on a specific issue have allowed communities to suffer.
Thus a new group is required that is capable of preserving both our built heritage and working for better buildings and Neighborhoods.
The Action Group for Better Architecture in Nova Scotia (AGBANS) was formed to advance the public purposes of architecture and planning. AGBANSs aims include preservation and advocacy.
Here’s the first development proposal addressed by the group:
Principal Developments Ltd and Paul Skerry Architects have announced plans to demolish the historic Elmwood Apartments at 5185-5189 South Street and replace it with a six-storey mixed use development consisting of 42 residential units and 8,000 sq. ft of retail. Though not registered as a historic property, this building is one of the most architecturally significant within the city’s proposed Old South Suburb Heritage Conservation District.
The existing structure was built as a house, and in 1896 converted to a hotel, and later apartments. The building is worn, and needs some cosmetic work, and comments from former tenants suggest upgrades to the building’s mechanical systems are also needed. As it is still inhabited by tenants, we believe it is safe and structurally sound.
The proposed replacement building is bland, and appears to be of low architectural quality. It possesses no features that tie it specifically to that site — it would work equally well on any similar lot in the immediate neighbourhood, where many much more appropriate development sites exist. The developers’ website provided the above rendering which cuts off the street and appears in black and white. A prominent corner requires a signature structure — the Elmwood already is such a structure, unlike the proposed box.
6. Innovation watch
A friend who thinks I’m just lounging around doing nothing at 7am, sent me an email this morning with the subject “read!” alerting me to a job posting for a position called “Clerk 4 (Training and Orientation Coordinator) (Permanent) (Halifax)” at the provincial government.
Weirdly, the education requirement for the job is not a high school diploma, but rather completion of Grade 11; however, the successful applicant must also have five years experience. So I guess if you dropped out of school to become a Clerk 4 Training and Orientation Coordinator at your mom’s Training and Orientation business and now mom isn’t paying you enough, this job is for you.
Anyway, there’s an additional job qualification:
Must possess research and innovation awareness with respect to training and orientation techniques and the use of technology.
“I assume they meant to say, ‘Must be able to research the latest and most effective training techniques…’” writes my friend. “But they had to get that ‘innovation’ word in there somewhere.”
Envision the committee meeting called to write the job ad. Now hold that vision… Those are the people running our government, and possibly your bosses.
But hey, pay is $43,986 to $48,652. Not bad for a high school drop-out.
1. Wheelchair racers
“If the Scotiabank Blue Nose Marathon Society ran Major League Baseball, Jackie Robinson might be allowed to participate in a ‘base-stealing showcase’ on the sidelines of the World Series or the All-Star Game,” writes Parker Donham:
That’s the kind of circumscribed role the Blue Nose Society has grudgingly afforded wheelchair athletes at this year’s event: a 5K, invitation-only, “showcase” for elite wheelchair racers.
But, seriously, is this baby step the best our sports establishment can do? The Boston Marathon has had a wheelchair division of its main event since 1975, London since 1983, New York City since 2000. Tokyo, Germany, and Chicago all have wheelchair divisions for their full 26-mile, 385-yard main events.
Nearly half a century after the breakthrough in Boston, Halifax will hold a 5K “showcase.” All the other events this weekend — men, women, old people, children, 2K, 4K, 5K, 10K, half and full marathons — are called “races.” Wheelchair users, including one of the finest athletes in the world, are consigned to a “showcase.” And you have to scour the Blue Nose website to find any mention of it. How fitting for North America’s most inaccessible city.
Enough patronizing! Scotiabank and the Blue Nose Society must move to full wheelchair participation in time for next year’s races.
2. Minimum wage
“By failing to address poverty, governments are ensuring that we spend more and more money on health care, social services and incarceration and perpetuate an underclass whose members will never have the spending power to boost the economy for the benefit of all,” writes Claire McIlveen for Local Xpress:
But the worst thing is that we are consigning another generation of children to lives of poverty and deprivation.
That alone should be enough to spur government to act.
The NDP’s push for a $15 minimum wage in three years is perhaps too fast for Nova Scotia, but raising the minimum wage substantially would help thousands of families.
No public meetings.
Legislature sits (9am to midnight, Province House)
It’s Friday. It’s summer, supposedly. No campus events today.
In the harbour
6am: Oceanex Connaigra, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Autoport from St. John’s
7am: Dinkeldiep, general cargo, arrives at Pier 42 from Saint-Pierre
7am: Hollandia, general cargo, arrives at Pier 31 from Marial, Cuba
7am: Pearl Mist, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 23 from Lunenburg with up to 210 passengers
8am: Decathlon, tanker, arrives at anchorage for bunkers from Canaport, the LNG terminal in Saint John
3pm: Decathlon, tanker, sails from anchorage to sea
3:30pm: Pearl Mist, cruise ship, sails from Pier 23 for some place quaint
4;30pm: Dinkeldiep, general cargo, sails from Pier 42 for Saint-Pierre
6pm: Fritz Reuter, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Leixeos, Portugal
For some unknown reason, this rather hypnotic GIF keeps opening on my computer:
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Wow. I am SO GLAD you put the link to that Joan Jessome piece up. I would otherwise have missed it. What a story!
Kimber deserves lauds for that. And Jessome deserves a medal!
How much did the province put into that monstrosity the Nova Centre – $150 millions? An investment?
Seems really unfortunate that our little neo-liberals see investing so much into mega bricks and steel as a good investment but investing in affordable housing for real live people such a bad investment.
Hey if the market sez poor people outta the peninsula then outta the peninsula it is. The peninsula is Manhattan, Dartmouth is Brooklyn and Spryfield The Bronx?
If that’s the case let’s have some rent controlled housing like Manhattan!
AGBANS could become a refreshing voice in local architectural criticism. We’ll see. They make a valid point that the proposed building on South Street could be anywhere – or nowhere. Who would suspect that it faces [Cornwallis] Park and that its neighbours include a national railway station and a grand railway hotel? Perhaps it’s time to revisit Jacques Tati’s 1967 film “Playtime,” which includes this visual critique of bland, siteless buildings: https://willowtreehalifax.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/playtime_posters.jpg
My only observation on Jessome is that she consistently had the worst hairdos.
Kudos to LoxalXpress on the site relaunch. The mobile version is particularly usable. It is also a clever strategic move.
I looked at the media kit for prospective advertisers, all the visitor stats are from Jan 1-31 2016. I appreciate the disclosure of the timeline for the stats, but they were only active for a week in January, and since then there have been three full months of stats to share. I’d be curious to know how the months since the launch spike compare; as a bit of a cynic, my obvious conclusion is they chose the best month and have seen a decline since then.
The most senior of the Marathon people are not running people, but event mucktymucks. The actual races themselves are an irrelevant aside in their project of showcasing innovation or WTF ever they think they are doing.
The additional effort to “allow” wheelchairs on a road race course should be zero. And in the 80’s there were, in fact, one or two regular wheelchair racers running in events around the province (if perhaps starting 2 minutes before everyone else). Additional cost: one or two stop watches. Additional effort: not being an asshat.
Since it requires actual physical effort, I myself don’t run, but the transition from pavement to trails, to grass in Point Plesant (and, other years, Shubi) is a pain enough for runners, I can’t imagine any racing wheelchair being able to do it. So back to the top not being runners; no runner would have “go through the park” as a criteria for the course; any course designed by someone themselves looking to run it would also just work for wheelchair athletes.
I’ve been sourcing a lot of comments about increasing the minimum wage and there really doesn’t seem to be a strong argument against it.
One interesting discussion is around inflation. If inflation really does start to occur (at least on a level we’d be worried about) wouldn’t that force the bank of canada to raise interest rates? And wouldn’t raising interest rates allow larger corporations to see higher valuations on investments? Wouldn’t raising interest rates also boost returns for individual investors?
Canadians have relatively large debt-loads so maybe raising interest rates will really hurt them. But how do we help control debt? Why do people take on debt? Part of the reason is because they don’t make enough money.
The other sticking point is with people who make slightly more than the minimum wage. They’re against raising it because they spent a long time working up to where they are and they don’t think others deserve better than what they had. A perfect example of this is the minimum vacation legislation in Nova Scotia which I don’t think has been updated in more than 30 years. I had a boss tell me once that he worked for ten years with only ten days vacation. My response was “Well, I’m glad things are getting better!”
An economic think-tank in the states suggests that even people making more than the minimum wage benefit from a higher minimum wage as it will put pressure on wages, generally, to go up.
So it’s not just people making minimum wage who benefit from an increase. It’s something like 30% of the workforce (in the states, according to that link I posted above) that see an increase in spending power.
Fighting poverty is a noble goal, but I think something like this will only become law when it can be shown/proven/argued that this benefits more than just those at the margins.
Raising minimum wage would benefit lots of people, and it’s an argument that is often overlooked in the claim that few people actually make the minimum wage, but we also need to understand that some people are doing quite well by the low minimum wage. It’s not just corporations that enjoy cheap labour, but governments too.
All three levels of government rely on contractors to provide some services, including temporary employees. Many temporary employees and employees of contractors make minimum or close to it. Thus an increase in the minimum wage would mean additional costs to government, making it harder to keep promises of low taxes to people who worry more about their taxes than paying for rent and groceries.