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.

Click here to read “Halifax council OKs South Park Street bike lane.”

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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:

YouTube video

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.

Strange, that.

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

The Grafton Street Glory Hole, with the convention centre and empty hotel above it. Photo: Halifax Examiner

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.

Please see @slpng_giants for how to modify your ad buy to block sites like this and #DefundHate

— 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.

5. Planning

Speaking of Twitter, I got a kick out of this:

The search for @hfxplanning‘s next Chief Planne…erm Director of Planning and Development seems a bit less aspirational this time around.

— 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.

On campus



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 S100A​10 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.


Nancy Rubin. Photo:

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.

Kuei-Nuan Lin.  Photo:

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:

Learn more:

Three-minute Thesis Competition (Thursday, 6:30pm, McInnis Room, Student Union Building) — Twenty Dal grad students get 180 seconds each to explain their research.

Detail of Spring 2003 from Water Flowing to the Sea Captured at the Speed of Light, Blast Hole Pond River, Newfoundland 2002-2003, by Marlene Creates. Image courtesy of the artist.

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.

Saint Mary’s


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.

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

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  1. What could be better than a second convention centre?

    What could we do with $200-500m?

    Here’s a dozen plus ideas:

    1/ Move the airport closer to the city saving over 10 million a year in wasteful transportation and energy costs and hundreds of thousands of wasted person-hours of travel time.

    2/ Underwrite student debt for the top 20% of all students to free them to build a better Nova Scotia.

    3/ Create mirco-financing to create 10,000 new small business jobs

    4/ Create an entrepreneurship accelerator franchise to start-up 400 new small businesses a year

    5/ Teach kids math, civics and business so the next generation will have a real entrepreneurial class

    6/ Build a water park/ aquarium that will redefine our vision of Halifax in Nova Scotia and around the world and reconnect our citizens with the sea.

    7/ Build a hub based transit system that would organize HRM into a constellation of small walkable communities

    8/ Buy enough solar cells to power Nova Scotia

    9/ Import enough entrepreneur immigrants to kick-start a whole new economy

    10/Create a Nova Scotia Youth Corps that would pay 4000 kids for four years work in cash and university years tuition to improve Nova Scotia and help out where we can around the world.

    11/ Re-establish a farm system that could feed Nova Scotia year round with hundreds of millions of dollars left to export.

    12/ Reduce the HST by 2% for a full year to stimulate the economy.

    13/ Use the money to eliminate poverty in Nova Scotia thereby saving us 10’s of million per year in infrastructure and support costs.

    15/ Close down the pulp mills, replant a proper forest and protect it for 100 years.

    16/ Create a localist investment bank

    17/ create a sovereign wealth fund to invest in and influence the global businesses that could have the most impact on Nova Scotia

    And of course crazy idea 18… keep the money in pocket and let businesses take care of whatever real demand there is in Nova Scotia for convention space.

  2. Tim,

    I know it’s a pain but you gotta talk to a finance person.


    “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”

    … does not make a speck of sense no matter how you say it.

    1/ It conflates a lease to own with a “bargain” purchase option, and ‘base’ rent, which also implies… you know… that there is more rent unreported.

    2/ It seems to say there is both rent and a lease.

    3/ I don’t know where you got it, but you’ve added the bit that says the lease/base rent/whatever payment is not any of those things but it is in fact a Loan from the developer on which the province and municipality pay interest. That thinking makes NO sense and would come as a surprise to anyone who has ever rented anything.

    4/ The calculation is just totally wrong. Even if it were a loan of $117.8m from the developer to be paid over 25 years at 4.1%, there is no possible amortization method that gets you even close to the $10.76 million per year figure.

    Please man, be different than all the other media in this region. Find someone to properly do the math and then report what is really going on.


  3. You ask “$294 million; what else could that have bought?” … The obvious answer is lots of stadia (stadiums?)

  4. It’s unlikely anyone at Tourism Nova Scotia made a deliberate decision to “place ads with repugnant organizations like Breitbart.” Almost certainly, the province purchased an ad placement service and neglected to insure its ads were not placed on offensive sites. This is a mistake, but not the kind of reckless moral failing you impute to anonymous provincial tourism officials. I suspect you know this, but as usual, you just can’t resist making moral judgments about civil servants you’ve never met, interviewed, or asked for their side of the story.

    As to the Nova Centre, the present value of a stream of equal monthly payments stretching 25 years into the future totaling $296 million at a 4.1% interest rate is $183.7 million. This is a simply Excel spreadsheet calculation. Still a huge pile of money and, I agree with you, a terrible misallocation of public resources. But it ain’t $296 million.

    1. Parker Donham, who called teachers “squealing pigs” on CTV and routinely refuses to acknowledge when people point out factual errors in his anti-teacher tirades, accuses Tim of “making moral judgments about civil servants [he’s] never met.”

  5. I don’t know of any evidence that the VG generates revenue for Spring Garden businesses. The VG has an indoor cafeteria with plenty of choice for different tastes The eye clinic opens at 6 a.m. and patients go home to rest and recover, they don’t stop off at a restaurant or go shopping. Same for other procedures.
    The best option for improving business revenue on Spring Garden would be residential development of the VG site.

    1. I work in that eye clinic, have never been to the VG cafeteria and regularly shop and eat on SG on my lunch hour. So do many of my patients and the people driving them. Especially the ones coming from CB, PEI, NB. There is a huge volume of people going through that clinic spending money in the area. They may stop in Bayer’s lake on their way in or out but they wouldn’t head into and spend money downtown if they didn’t have to be there for medical appointments. Same goes for hospital staff working at the VG. I’m not convinced that the condos/apartments would have they same benefit.

  6. Shouldnt that Stop Deportation posted also mention the crimes he was convicted of? Or are those overlooked because he survived racist bullying and went through the foster system?

    He beat a man with a handgun and threatened to murder him.

    Im Okay with him being deported.

    1. He served his time for that crime. He’s not a citizen through no fault of his own – the government who was in charge of him neglected to apply for citizenship. There’s a decent chance he’ll die if he’s sent to Somalia. The crime was awful but he owned up to it, and deportation and a possible death sentence are not fair punishment.

    2. No.

      The core reason is that we would not even be suggesting deporting him if he were a Canadian, and the only reason he’s not a Canadian is because he was poor and was unlucky enough to be born to people in such a situation that he ended up in foster care.

      Play through his life, but this time only change the fact that he didn’t end up in foster care – or had a more supportive foster arrangement such that they bothered to apply for citizenship. At that point, he’s given a shot at rehabilitation, and we say “Well, we wish he hadn’t done that, but he’s all of our problem, now.”

      That is the attitude we should have to someone who has been failed by *our* system.

      1. The reality is that most violent crime is committed by low socioeconomic status men under 30. Abdi is 23 or 24, based on the information in this article. There’s a significant chance that he will reoffend. The problem with rights is that they are everyone else’s responsibility – in this case, to live with a person who has a much higher than average likelihood of committing violent crimes than the average person.

      1. You probably shouldn’t throw racism accusations around so easily, it cheapens it. He could be a pearly white dude from Norway and Id feel exactly the same.

      2. Yeah, I don’t think racism has anything to do with the original post, and to suggest that it does cheapens the term and takes weight away from it when the accusation is being levelled appropriately, such as in Monastery.

        The guy should be Canadian, deportation shouldn’t even be on the table. At the same time, he’s a violent criminal. I’m not sure that the nature of his crimes belongs in an argument over whether or not he should be deported, but a lot of people are coming out in support of him as purely a victim. I think it’s worth noting the nature of his crimes, even though they shouldn’t factor into the decision over whether to deport him.

        It’s my hope, and I don’t feel it to be too much of a stretch, that the spotlight he now finds himself under because of this issue will cause him to take stock of his life, and if he’s given the opportunity of another chance, that he won’t squander it. Had this not become an issue, I think that the chances of him committing further violent crimes would be somewhere close to 100%.

        Hopefully common sense and reason prevail in this case. Hopefully the guy realizes how close he came to not getting another shot and turns his life around.

    3. Serving a 4 plus year prison term in Canada for criminal acts committed as a young offender residing here was for naught?