NEWS

1. EverWind Fuels and Nova Scotia’s “world class wind resource”

four men and one woman lined up at a podium, all smiling. Premier TIm Houston (right), EverWind CEO and founder Trent Vichie (centre), Membertou First Nation Chief Terrance Paul (2nd from left), and other dignitaries at the signing of the MOU with Uniper and E.On. Photo contributed by EverWind
Premier TIm Houston (right), EverWind founder and CEO Trent Vichie (centre), Membertou First Nation Chief Terrance Paul (2nd from left), and other dignitaries at the signing of the MOU with Uniper and E.On in Germany for “uptake” of green ammonia. Credit: EverWind Fuels

In the first of a two-part series, published today, Joan Baxter digs into (ever-changing) claims made by EverWind Fuels about its plans to very quickly build massive wind farms in Nova Scotia, in order to produce “green” hydrogen, convert it to “green” ammonia, and (mostly) ship it to Germany.

Baxter writes:

In addition to the three wind farms it has planned to build in the next 16 months to power phase one of its project, including the Windy Ridge project that will be by far the largest in Nova Scotia, and have them up and running in the next 16 months, the company also plans to build an even more massive onshore wind farm — “the largest in the Western Hemisphere” — in 28 months…

And of course, this mega wind facility in eastern Nova Scotia would have to be up and running by 2026 if it is to provide renewable energy for hydrogen and ammonia production in EverWind’s phase two.

That’s less than two and a half years from now.

The Examiner asked a wind developer in Nova Scotia how long it typically takes to get a wind farm located and then studied, approved, constructed, operating and hooked up to the grid. The developer, who asked not to be quoted by name, says it typically takes between five and eight years, and in some cases, can take up to 12 years.

A spokesperson for the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables tells the Examiner that no Crown leases have been granted to EverWind, or its partners, Wind Strength and Renewable Energy Systems (RES) Canada. 

Baxter gets deep into the numbers in this story, looking at EverWind’s claims, the idea that green hydrogen is the “swiss army knife of decarbonisation,” and the Houston government’s enthusiasm for green hydrogen.

Click or tap here to read “‘Not smart for Nova Scotia’: looking under the hood of the hydrogen hype.”

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2. Non-emergency patient air transport starts this week

Paramedics demonstrate loading a patient into an air ambulance. Credit: Communications Nova Scotia

This item is written by Jennifer Henderson.

Starting this week, patients in Cape Breton and Yarmouth county who would normally be ambulanced to Halifax for tests or treatment will have the option to fly. 

The Department of Health and Wellness has signed a five-year lease with Provincial Airlines for a specially outfitted Beech 1900 turboprop to transport patients who do not require urgent or emergency care. 

A news release from the department says “the plane will carry two to four patients per trip and begin service with three round trips daily.” That’s expected to free up between six and 12 ground ambulance crews a day, who will then be able to respond to 911 emergency calls instead of providing patient transport. 

Because of the distances — a three-hour drive from Yarmouth and a five-hour drive from Sydney to major hospitals in Halifax — these trips can consume an entire shift for paramedics. 

Provincial Airlines already supplies one fixed-wing and CHC Helicopters* supplies two helicopters to Emergency Health Services to air-lift patients who do require emergency or critical care. 

“As a paramedic of 13 years, part of that time in a support capacity at EHS LifeFlight, I am excited to go from working behind the scenes to a clinical environment in the new aircraft,” says Daniel Gee, a paramedic who works for Emergency Health Services. “This new program will not only enhance the overall patient experience and benefit the system, but it will also improve conditions for paramedics. Long-haul transport medicine takes a toll on paramedics, and this program will free up resources allowing them to respond to medical emergencies closer to home.”
   
The decision to lease and retrofit a turboprop plane for patient transport does not come cheap. In January, the Department of Health estimated the service would cost $4.5 million a year to operate and begin in late spring 2023. On Friday, the Department of Health and Wellness said the “projected operating cost is $5.9 million a year.” That’s almost $30 million over five years. 

In response to a question from the Examiner, Health Department senior communications advisor Khalehla Perrault said the cost of the makeover is included in the annual operating cost. The release from the government suggests that the aircraft may some day be able to make more than three round trips a day. Presumably, there will be a cost-benefit analysis after a full year in operation. 

When the turboprop does arrive at Stanfield International Airport, patients will be met by vans or “patient transfer units” driven by non-paramedics who can deliver to one of the hospitals in HRM. 

The two helicopters and airplane that Provincial Airlines leases to Emergency Health Services — operated by a subsidiary of Medavie Blue Cross — carries out approximately 100 life-saving flights a month, according to the Department of Health and Wellness.

Meanwhile, the latest data for ambulance response times to 911 calls, as well as the wait time to off-load their patients hospital emergency departments, are for the week of July 16. 

The provincial target for ambulance off-loads is within 30 minutes, 90% of the time.

Three weeks ago, on average, ambulance crews (paramedics) responded to 2,393 calls across the province. The average response time was 29 minutes. Once paramedics arrived at emergency departments, the average wait time to offload their patients was 77 minutes. In HRM, the wait time was nearly two hours — 110 minutes.  

Concerns around timely access to emergency health care continue. An extra plane may ease some of the strain but long-term improvements are likely to require more staffing at emergency departments, not just new equipment. 

*As originally published, this item incorrectly stated that helicopters were operated by Provincial Airlines.

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3. Deborah Trask

A white woman with long grey hair tied back and wearing a purple winter coat over a blue shirt, beige scarf, and dark pants stands in a cemetery. She's holding a cane and standing next to a tomb and two old headstones. There are buildings along a city street and tree without their leaves.
Deb Trask at the Old Burying Ground in Halifax Credit: Suzanne Rent

Suzanne Rent continues her series on women over 50 making significant contributions outside the corporate world. Today, she profiles Deborah Trask, and her passion for gravestones and cemeteries. Trask serves on the board of directors of The Old Burying Ground, and that’s where she met Rent for an interview (before the wind forced them to move to a coffee shop).

Trask’s strongly held feelings about the importance of cemeteries shine through in this piece, which touches on history, education, and more — including ghosts:

Trask gets a lot of questions about cemeteries in Nova Scotia, and not all have to do with the stones or who’s buried under them. She recalls getting a phone call from a local reporter who left a message for her and wanted to talk about The Old Burying Ground and ghosts.

“I called her up and said I will meet you down there,” Trask said. “We’re not going to talk about ghosts. These are gravestones that commemorate real people. You don’t have to make this up. There are 10,000 people buried in that two-acre site and only a fraction of those graves have markers. I have run into ghosts in cemeteries. It’s not fun, but it’s not something you promote. Ghosts are not the story. People’s memories of other stories, that’s the story. When I was done, I said ‘now, what is your story going to be about?’ and she said, ‘Well, it’s not going to be about ghosts.’ Success.”

Click or tap here to read “Deborah Trask: Carving her expertise in Nova Scotia’s cemeteries and gravestones.”

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4. Adjudicating truthiness in politics

A sign reads: “DUMP THE DUMP Houston's Conservatives have done nothing to stop the dump We must stop them Vote Carlo Simmons”
A campaign sign in Preston Credit: PC Party letter to the elections officer

It’s byelection day in Preston, and in his weekly opinion column (produced even on holidays!), Stephen Kimber weighs in on two recent Elections Nova Scotia decisions: one involving partisan ads against the carbon tax, paid for by taxpayers, and the other ruling on the truthfulness of statements on signs and leaflets distributed by Liberal candidate Carlo Simmons.

“The problem with trying to police truthiness in political debate is where should it begin and where will it end?” Kimber asks. Good question.

He continues:

As part of his campaign, Liberal candidate Carlo Simmons has posted signs and distributed leaflets declaring, “Dump the Dump: Houston’s Conservatives have Done Nothing to Stop the Dump. We Must Stop Them.”

At issue is a potential construction and demolition disposal site in the constituency.

For all sorts of well-founded racism reasons, dumps are hot-button issues in Nova Scotia’s Black communities.

But the status of this particular proposal is murky.

After the Liberals refused to remove signs and leaflets related to the dump issue, Elections Nova Scotia decided to call in the RCMP.

Oops. One hopes the Mounties will quickly conclude this is one political squabble they should steer clear of, that the election campaign will end however it ends, and that Elections Nova Scotia will learn its own lesson about trying to police political debate.

Click or tap here to read “Preston byelection: Dumps, carbon taxes, truth, lies, politics and realpolitik.”

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5. Flooding and hidden rivers

Painting of a stream cutting across a field with city buildings and ocean visible in the background.
“View from the Bridge on the Common, Halifax,” by Alexander Cavalié Mercer, 1842, shows part of Freshwater Brook, which once cut across the Halifax peninsula. The image is in the Library and Archives Canada collection.

Over the weekend, I saw some discussion in local Mastodon circles about the hidden rivers running under Halifax, and how they can emerge and reassert themselves when we have heavy rains. One person commented that at least some of these rivers, including Freshwater Brook, should be daylighted. But archaeology professor Jonathan Fowler, who teaches at SMU, said it’s no longer possible to completely daylight it, because it would involved tearing up buildings.

All this made me think I should re-up a piece I wrote for Morning File (which quotes Fowler) back in 2020. It’s called “The hidden rivers of Halifax.”

This is from the piece:

Fowler thinks it’s a sign of how disconnected we’ve become from the history of the land that people were taken by surprise when the southern end of Barrington Street flooded on October 5. He said:

“You create an illusion of an order that exists almost outside of longer-term history, landscape history, and I think it it doesn’t prepare us well for when Mother Earth takes a turn… This kind of unbridled construction without due regard to to history and to the landscape, to ecological history, has a way of making us all a little bit naive about the place we live in. And hence you get these surprising moments like that one a few weeks ago when the bottom part of Inglis and Barrington flooded. That’s just Freshwater River popping up to say hello.”…

Fowler isn’t sure about daylighting, saying “the thought has crossed my mind” but he wonders “if it would be feasible” given how much of it is built over privately already. And as for public areas, “I wouldn’t want to remove people’s ability to get out on the Common and stretch their legs and play baseball and cricket and everything else.”

Still, he thinks it’s important that we consider what we lose when we bury rivers and otherwise drastically alter our environment in the name of development and profit.

“We see how the individual decisions from the 19th century up until now, based on short-term profit-motive thinking, have led to a rewriting of the landscape and this kind of profound ignorance about the nature — the fundamental nature of this place that we all live in. It’s as if our ideology, our worldview, has blinded us to something essential about this place. And it’s in that way that I that I find this broader philosophical connection interesting. We can live here in this illusion of culture that we’ve grafted on top of this landscape, without a very significant appreciation of what this place really is like.”

Click or tap here to read “The hidden rivers of Halifax.”

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6. After CBC sues, Halifax police finally agree to release internal discipline records

Three Halifax Regional Police cars parked in a lot, surrounded by a tall chain link fence.

Last year, CBC took Halifax Regional Police to court, after the department refused to release any disciplinary records to the broadcaster as part of an access to information request.

Shaina Luck of CBC News writes:

In Nova Scotia, CBC News used access-to-information laws to ask for 11 years’ worth of discipline decisions from every municipal police department in the province.

Every force provided the records, except for Halifax, which in July 2022 declined to release any information at all.

As is the right of access-to-information applicants, CBC appealed to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia.

Luck notes that when HRP eventually released some of the documents, they were so redacted as to be useless. (Redactions included pronouns and inanimate objects.)

Now, the police and CBC have come to an agreement on release of the documents, and the case has been dismissed:

CBC continued to press until it believed the police and city’s obligations had been sufficiently met and enough information had been revealed. When that happened, both parties agreed to a consent order dismissing the case.

With the signing of that agreement, the legal case between the public broadcaster and the municipal police is over. The Halifax police agreed to pay $1,500 in costs to CBC.

The department declined to do an interview after the case ended…

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7. The anti-Oppenheimer: Joseph Rotblat and the Pugwash Peace Conference

A young girl looking intensely at the camera. She has long brownish-blonde hair, and a peace symbol is painted on her face.
Publicity still from The Strangest Dream. Credit: National Film Board of Canada

Over the weekend, CBC published a story by Nick Logan about Joseph Rotblat and the Pugwash Peace Conference. CBC remains enamoured by early 2010s clickbait-style headline writing, so the story appears under the headline, “There’s no flashy Oppenheimer cameo, but this scientist helped start the disarmament movement in Canada.”

From the story:

Of all the scientists involved in the Manhattan Project, only one walked away from the plan to build a nuclear bomb. But you won’t hear the name Joseph Rotblat — or the story of how he brought the fight for nuclear disarmament to a small Nova Scotia village — in Christopher Nolan’s hit film Oppenheimer.

Rotblat, a Polish-Jewish physicist, was a member of the British delegation to the top secret U.S.-led mission to develop nuclear weapons known as the Manhattan Project. He left on moral grounds when it became clear that the U.S. would continue to develop an atomic bomb even after Nazi Germany had abandoned its own plans for such a weapon.

Rotblat became a founder of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, named for the picturesque fishing community situated on the Northumberland Strait, where the first meeting was held in July 1957. 

The story of Rotblat, the Pugwash Peace Conference, and the roots of the disarmament movement are told in the excellent documentary The Strangest Dream, released by the NFB in 2008. The film was directed by Eric Bednarksi, who was then living in Halifax, but is now based in Poland.

It was unavailable to stream for years, but now, if you are in Canada, you can stream it free from the NFB here. (I have a credit on this film as marketing manager, and it was produced by Kent Martin, my father-in-law. I have no financial interest in the film.)

Kent also tells me Oppenheimer seems to have given The Strangest Dream a new lease on life; European broadcaster ARTE just bought a licence to stream it in six languages in Europe.

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8. Rhino dilemma

gray rhino in macro photography
Photo by Frans van Heerden on Pexels.com

I was interested in this little story I came across, published by environmental non-profit Mongabay, about the challenges facing two rehabilitated female rhinoceroses in Nepal. (Note that these are not the rhinos in the photo above.)

The rhinos have a minder, Somlal Majhi, whose job it is to ensure their safety. You see, they were rescued as injured and abandoned calves a couple of years ago, and were raised by humans. Now, they’ve been released into the wild, but still enjoy and look for human contact. They wander over to nearby villages, and tourists take selfies with them. Because they are so habituated to humans, they are at risk for being harmed or killed by poachers. And, of course, the rhinos could harm or kill humans, like those selfie-takers.

From the story, written by Abhaya Raj Joshi:

The decision to release the rhinos was made by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation after a committee recommended it over other options, such as keeping them in an enclosure, moving them to other parks or gifting them to foreign countries. The cost involved and the amount of stress the animals had to face were the deciding factors in the end.

But the release has attracted unwanted attention from tourists, who flock to take selfies with the rhinos without considering the risks. “They haven’t shown any aggression yet, but their animal instinct could kick in and hurt people,” says Shiv Raj Bhatta, former warden of Bardiya National Park.

Ganesh Tiwari, information officer at the park, says community members have set up fences to keep the rhinos away from the settlements. “They rarely come out of the jungle now. We hope they will adapt to living in the wild,” he says.

I think we like the feel-good, good news stories. And we like simple solutions. But life is more complicated than that.

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VIEWS

The Age of Average: Why does everything look the same?

photo of brown and white photo frames hang in wall
Photo by heather bozman on Pexels.com

Ι will very briefly point you to this story by Alex Murrell (“Strategy Director at Epoch”) about blandness, sameness, and lack of originality in design.

SUVs, Airbnbs, hipster cafes, skylines, logos, “Instagram face” — Murrell’s argument is that these have all developed their own forms, and they are mind-numbingly dull. In short, everything looks the same.

Amanda Mull at The Atlantic has written about this in terms of interior design.

I remember being at a trendy (and good) North End place several years ago, when I got to chatting with a guy who had opened restaurants and bars in various countries. He told me the place we were in looked exactly like one he had been to (or maybe been involved with) in New Zealand. He pulled out his phone and showed me photos. Identical. Could have been looking at the same place.

There have always been trends and fashions, but things took longer to become generic. I remember interviewing a restaurant owner in Halifax, and asked him how he stayed ahead of the trends. He said to just go to Portland or Brooklyn, see what they’re doing, and start doing that here before everyone else does.

Murrell’s piece opens with a great anecdote about two Russian artists, and even if you don’t wind up reading the whole piece, take a look at the striking images of sameness.

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Government

City

Today

No meetings

Tomorrow

Halifax and West Community Council (Wednesday, 6pm, City hall and online) — special meeting

Province

Health (Tuesday, 1pm, One Government Place and online) — Expanded Scope of Pharmacists; with representatives from the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia, and the Nova Scotia College of Pharmacists


On campus

Dalhousie

Today

No events

Tomorrow

PhD Defense, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (Wednesday, 1:30pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — Nicholas Raun will defend “Navigating memory and neuron identity with the COMPASS complexes”

King’s

Today

No events

Tomorrow

The Honey Farm (Wednesday, 7pm, online) — a talk with author Harriet Alida Lye; info and registration here


In the harbour

Halifax
07:00: Celebrity Summit, cruise ship with up to 2,100 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from New York, on a 12-day cruise from New York to Reykjavik, Iceland 
10:30: Patara, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany
14:30: FS Garonne, French naval support ship, sails from Dockyard for sea
15:00: USCGC Forward, coast guard cutter, sails from Dockyard for sea
18:00: Celebrity Summit sails for St. John’s
22:00: NYK Meteor, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Saint John

Cape Breton
14:00: Freedom Glory, oil tanker, arrives at outer anchorage (Chedabucto Bay) from Arzew, Algeria
17:45: Jean Joseph, cargo ship, sails from Mulgrave through the causeway for sea
19:00: SFL Trinity, oil tanker, sails from EverWind for sea
20:00: Pacific, oil tanker, moves from Port Hawkesbury anchorage to EverWind


Footnotes

I wrote today’s Morning File in the kitchen while baking a couple of loaves of sourdough bread. Breakfast awaits.

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Philip Moscovitch is a freelance writer, audio producer, fiction writer, and editor of Write Magazine.

Jennifer Henderson is a freelance journalist and retired CBC News reporter.

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2 Comments

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  1. The Age of Average is really treading a fine line between interesting critique and “kids these days”. I definitely agree with their criticism of design by focus group. Almost all of their examples, though, were trends that peaked around 2015, so of course they’re feeling overdone by now. That’s the definition of a trend. What’s the difference between these examples and Art Deco or mid-century modern or a thousand other styles that have come and gone? Longevity? Cost? Social media oversaturation? What trend is beginning right now that everyone is jumping on but we’ll hate it in ten years?

  2. Re: The Age of Average: File that one under “The Shittification of Everything”. 😥