1. South Park Street bike lane
“Halifax is going to build its longest protected bike lane sometime in the next year on South Park Street,” reports Erica Butler:
The 1.2 kilometre lane will run from Sackville Street all the way to Inglis Street in the south end, near Saint Mary’s University.
With council’s approval yesterday, staff will move on to detailed design, and plan to start construction of the Spring Garden Road to Inglis Street stretch within this fiscal year. The section between Sackville Street and Spring Garden Road will wait for construction to wrap up on the new YMCA/Pavillion development, which is currently taking up a lane of the street.
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Butler reports on the Spring Garden Area Business Association’s (SGABA) objections to the plan — SGABA’s concern was about the loss of parking spaces — going on to note:
This is not the first time that SGABA has tried to ruin something potentially good and progressive for the city and for its own district for fear of losing a handful of parking spots.
Almost a decade ago, city planners created a streetscaping plan to transform Spring Garden Road into a pedestrian paradise. The SGABA, worried about the loss of parking spaces and restrictions on loading, lobbied hard to hobble the plan which would have dramatically widened sidewalks. It did this despite the fact that Spring Garden was one of Halifax’s most crowded pedestrian routes, and city staff were recommending almost doubling sidewalk widths just to meet 2004 pedestrian counts.
Business groups everywhere seem stuck in a 1950s attitude that everyone drives a car, and that everything should be constructed to facilitate those cars — loser pedestrians, transit users, and cyclists be damned.
The Spring Garden Road area is built into my everyday life — my credit union and dentist are in the shopping district; I see movies at Park Lane; I regularly go to Pete’s, the drug stores, and the library; I stop in the restaurants, coffee shops, and bars; I buy clothes. Why, I’m not so different than those vapid women SGABA celebrates:
And while I have a car, I don’t think I’ve ever driven to Spring Garden Road. Why would I? It’s more convenient to take the bus from my home in Dartmouth, or to walk to the street from the universities (where I also spend a lot of time). I’ll likely be buying a bike this spring, and I’ll probably start riding it to the street too. A protected bike lane will make that much more likely.
I don’t know if I’m the representative citizen, but I know how I go about transporting myself around the city isn’t so different than how many, maybe most, people who live in the urban area get about. And yet, so far as SGABA is concerned, we just don’t matter.
(And yes, we can and should build the streets to accommodate people with mobility issues, including people who must travel by car or taxi, but that’s a far cry from building the streets to accommodate only drivers.)
I was thinking about this last night when a friend and I were discussing the province’s plans for the VG hospital, which include moving some services out to Bayers Lake. The hospital rebuilding will have a thousand times the effect on the Spring Garden business area than will the South Park bike lane, but so far as I know, SGABA hasn’t uttered a word about it.
2. Abdoul Abdi
“Family and friends of a Somali refugee who came to Nova Scotia as a child 17 years ago were at Province House Tuesday morning trying to get the Nova Scotia government to intervene in his deportation case,” reports Paul Palmeter for the CBC:
Social worker Robert Wright said he and Abdi’s supporters are calling on Nova Scotia Community Services Minister Kelly Regan to advocate on his behalf with the federal public safety and immigration ministers.
The federal government has refused to pause Abdi’s deportation proceedings, but still has the power to do so. It appears that is not likely to happen.
“We believe that Abdoul deserves a chance,” activist El Jones said at a press conference held in the foyer of Province House. “He wasn’t given a chance as a child, it’s been 17 years of Abdoul facing abuse in many different ways.”
The NDP will table legislation in Province House on Wednesday that would require the province to advocate for citizenship for any children in the care of the province who are not Canadian citizens.
Regan and Premier Stephen McNeil would not comment specifically on Abdi’s case.
Other events were held Tuesday in Ottawa and Toronto as Abdi supporters demonstrated their feelings on what they are calling an inhumane deportation process.
3. Convention Centre lease
I woke up yesterday and got all excited about the city staff report about the convention centre, but somehow missed the details announced Monday about the convention centre lease. From the province’s press release:
Now that substantial completion has been met, funds from three levels of government, totalling $169.2 million, will begin to flow to Argyle Developments.
The federal government has contributed $51.4 million, in a lump sum.
The remaining $117.8 million will be split 50-50 between the province and Halifax Regional Municipality and will be paid out in monthly payments over the lifetime of a 25-year lease.
The province and Halifax Regional Municipality will collectively pay Argyle Developments a little more than $10.76 million per year over the next 25 years in annual base rent.
I don’t know what “a little more than” means, but over the course of 25 years those annual payments will total “a little more than” $269 million. The $10.76 million payments reflect a 4.1 per cent interest rate on the $117.8 million, reports Michael Gorman for the CBC, adding that:
The developer [Joe Ramia] will also be paid monthly operating costs of $82,188 for the life of the lease.
Those monthly operating payments are a little less than $1 million a year — $986,256 annually, to be exact, or $24,656,400 over the 25 years.
So rent and operating costs payments to Ramia over the 25 years will total almost $294 million. Imagine what else $294 million could buy us over the next 25 years. And that’s before operating losses on the centre, which are a potential unlimited liability. (I’ll take a wild stab at it and guess that’ll be another $50 – $100 million, but really: who knows?) And then there are plenty of other Nova Centre-related losses.. this thing is costing us something like half a billion dollars.
There’s also a bit of sleight-of-hand in the province’s release:
There are more than 100 events booked for the first year of operations in the new facility, which are estimated to bring more than 80,000 delegates and more than $50 million in new money to the province. This includes 44 national and international conventions.
But the delegate number and the “new money” aren’t the same thing. If, say, the Halifax Society of Bastet and its 4,000 members decide next year to move its annual introductory course on whips and chains from the Marriott to the new convention centre, it might be great fun, and it will add 4,000 people to the delegate count, but it doesn’t add one dime of “new money” to the local economy. So, “80,000 delegates” is meaningless. What matters is the number of people coming from out of town. Events East obviously has those numbers, but they just don’t publicize them with the release; the attempt appears to be to confuse readers and to purposefully overstate the effects of the convention centre.
Incidentally, today’s Morning File is on the short side because I’m heading over to City Hall to catch the discussion of the convention centre.
4. Tourism ads
@VisitNovaScotia, your ad appears on bigoted Breitbart that has worked to mainstream White-supremacist & neo-Nazi ideologies in the USA. Your ad money currently supports their cause.
— Seldom Seen Smith (@SeldomSSmith) March 6, 2018
Sure, we all make stupid mistakes, but I find it interesting that people in the ad-buying business are apparently unaware of the Sleeping Giants campaign. How is that possible? Sleeping Giants is all over Twitter; you almost have to work at it to miss it.
— Sleeping Giants (@slpng_giants) December 16, 2016
There’s a parallel between Tourism Nova Scotia and Nova Scotia Business, Inc, I think: there’s simply not an ethical filter. That’s not to say either organization purposefully sets out to do rotten things. No one at NSBI woke up one day and said “hey, let’s fund a company that sells quack medicine to thousands of Americans,” just as no one at Tourism Nova Scotia came into work and said “I think it’d be a good idea to advertise on a White Nationalist site that is friendly with Nazis.” Rather, it just simply never occurred to them to think about the ethical implications of their actions.
Again, we all make mistakes. We overlook things, we’re unaware of the full implications of our actions. The trick is to think about it first, to at least try to work out how our actions might flow in the real world. I worry about this stuff all the time — and still sometimes I get it wrong. But I think large organizations with large budgets ought to have processes in place to consider the ethical dimensions of at least their primary work. NSBI’s business is mostly to fund businesses (either directly with equity buys and loans or indirectly with tax rebates); shouldn’t it first consider what those businesses do, what kind of products they’re shilling, and whether or not that’s the kind of thing public money should be wrapped up in? Tourism Nova Scotia is primarily an advertising agency; shouldn’t it at least think about where those ads might show up?
I’ll go further. People I like who are in the PR biz get mad at me when I say this, but there is an alarming lack of ethics in the communications industry. That’s obviously not a blanket statement — clearly there are plenty of PR people who refuse to lie, distort information, or place ads with repugnant organizations like Breitbart. But I gotta say: they don’t seem to be able to police their own industry. Besides the laudable DeSmog Blog (it does great work; check it out!), I’m not aware of much in the way of PR people calling each other out. And there is plenty of calling out that needs doing. PR professionals are regularly writing press releases with straight-out lies in them, regularly distorting and decontextualizing government info, regularly putting profits and institutional reputation above simple morality.
In the media business, writers call each other out on their bullshit all the time. PR people need to step up and do the same.
Speaking of Twitter, I got a kick out of this:
— Neil Lovitt (@neil_lovitt) March 6, 2018
6. Racist graffiti
An RCMP release from yesterday:
Between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. on March 5, graffiti was painted on a school bus and on a sign near the East Antigonish Education Centre / Academy. The graffiti was racially and culturally insensitive and included profanity and derogatory comments about both Indigenous people and the African Nova Scotian Community.
Writing for the Chronicle Herald, Tom Ayers reports that the school was closed:
According to photos on Facebook posted by a student, phrases included “F*** Natives” and “N***** Lite.”
A message sent to parents and guardians of students on Tuesday evening advised the school, located near Monastery, would be closed Wednesday after having been “informed of a possible threat to our school made using social media.”
Jamie Samson, chair of the Strait Regional School Board and the representative for East Antigonish, said Wednesday morning that RCMP had recommended the school be closed for the day.
Budget Committee – 18-19 Budget and Business Plan (Wednesday, 9:30am, City Hall) — see above.
Accessibility Framework Session (Wednesday, 2pm and 6pm, Tantallon Public Library) — looking to hear from people about issues around accessibility.
Public Information Meeting – Case 20936 (Wednesday, 7pm, Multi-purpose Room, Captain William Spry Community Centre) — Polycorp and RV Atlantic Holdings want changes made to a development agreement for their Long Lake Village development.
Community Planning and Economic Development Standing Committee (Thursday, 1pm, city Hall) — the United Way is presenting on its Anti-Poverty Strategy. Importantly, the United Way has signed on to efforts to create a Living Wage, and the organization itself does good work on that front. But sometimes I think we all overthink this. We can solve poverty by getting more money to poor people. That means living wages, increases to the minimum wage, and increasing social assistance payments, for starters. Everything else feels like window dressing.
Design Review Committee (Thursday, 4:30pm, City Hall) — they’re trying to make the Maritime Centre less ugly. Good luck with that.
Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, Province House ) — all about wine.
Law amendments (Wednesday, Noon, Province House) — will last as long as the Chair desires.
Legislature sits (1–5:30pm, Province House)
No public meetings.
PT Matters (Wednesday, 8:30am, Theatre B, Tupper Medical Building) — Kimbly Morgan and Rhonda Reardon will talk about “Knowledge Translation: Lessons From Two Systematic Reviews.”
Voice Recital (Wednesday, 11:45am, Sculpture Court, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — students of Marcia Swanston will perform.
Thesis Defence, Pathology (Wednesday, 2pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Ryan Holloway will defend his thesis, “The Role of the Cell Surface Protease Receptor S100A10 TN Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia (APL) and its Regulation by Retinoic Acid Therapy.”
NMR Why Bother? Studies of the p97 Molecular Machine Provide an Answer(Wednesday, 4pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — Lewis Kay from the University of Toronto will speak.
Turkey Today and Tomorrow (Wednesday, 6:30pm, Lindsay Room, Halifax Central Library) — Chris Kilford and Can Mutlu will talk Turkey.
Voice Masterclass (Wednesday, 7pm, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — Michael Schade will perform.
Dal Law Hour (Thursday, 12:30pm, Room 105, Weldon Law Building) — Nancy Rubin, who practices media and entertainment law, will speak.
Elon Musk, President of Mars? (Thursday, 1pm, Lord Dalhousie Room, Henry Hicks Building) — Michael Byers, author of Intent for a Nation and Who Owns the Arctic?, and regular contributor to the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, and Ottawa Citizen, will speak.
The Art and Science of Origami (Thursday, 2pm, Great Hall, Dalhousie University Club) — Erik Demaine from MIT will speak. Register here.
Blow-up Algebras of Monomial Ideals (Thursday, 2:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Kuei-Nuan Lin from Penn State University, Greater Allegheny, will talk about her work.
Readings in Honour of Marina Glazov’s 80th Birthday (Thursday, 2:30pm, Room 2022, Marion McCain Building) — the Dalhousie Russian Department will celebrate the achievements of retired colleague and Russian poet, Marina Glazov.
Fair Pricing for Journals: Public Consultation (Thursday, 4:15pm, MacMechan Auditorium) — from the event listing:
The “big deal” as a model for purchasing scholarly journals is no longer sustainable for mid-sized universities like Dalhousie. The five largest bundles we subscribe to have increased in cost by 78% since 2010. One bundle costs $850,000. In another bundle, fewer than 40% of the titles are being used by Dalhousie researchers, scholars and students. We subscribe to dozens of bundles. This year, we are examining over 7,000 titles in six bundles that are up for renewal. We want your input. Attend a public consultation and select which journals are important to you at: https://fairprice.library.dal.ca
Learn more: https://libraries.dal.ca/about/collection-management/budget-and-planning.html
Three-minute Thesis Competition (Thursday, 6:30pm, McInnis Room, Student Union Building) — Twenty Dal grad students get 180 seconds each to explain their research.
Marlene Creates: Places, Paths, and Pauses (Thursday, 7pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery) — opening reception for an exhibition of work by the Newfoundland-based environmental artist and poet.
The Security Implications of Climate Change: Instability, Conflict, and Adaptation (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Theatre, Marion McCain Building) — Emily Robinson, Strategic Analyst at Defence Research and Development Canada will speak.
Who Can Read My Body? Health Data, Privacy, and Control (Friday, 7pm, in the theatre named after a bank) — Anita Ho, from the University of British Columbia and the University of California at San Francisco, will speak.
Asian Robots & Orientalism (Wednesday, 7pm, Alumni Hall) — Simon Kow will talk about East Asian robots in popular culture.
In the harbour
6am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
6am: ZIM Alabama, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Algeciras, Spain
8am: YM Modesty, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Dubai
11:15am: Pegasus Highway, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
4:30pm: Viking Destiny, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from New York
I’ll be on The Sheldon MacLeod Show, News 95.7, at 2pm.