1. Northern Pulp bankruptcy
“Northern Pulp — the mill in Pictou County — has gone into hibernation. And Northern Pulp — the company — is ‘insolvent,’” reports Joan Baxter:
It is one of seven related companies petitioning for creditor protection in the British Columbia Supreme Court, while it seeks “a plan of compromise or arrangement.”
The petitioners seeking relief from debt payments, described in court documents as “persons,” are:
1057863 B.C. Ltd., Northern Resources Nova Scotia Corporation, Northern Pulp Nova Scotia Corporation, Northern Timber Nova Scotia Corporation, 3253527 Nova Scotia Limited, 3243722 Nova Scotia Limited, and Northern Pulp NS GP ULC.
Two more affiliates, Northern Pulp Nova Scotia LP and Northern Timber Nova Scotia LP are not petitioners, but are “the main operating entities of the petitioners” and are “indirect subsidiaries of 1057863 B.C. Ltd and Northern Resources Nova Scotia Corporation.”
The total debt from which the petitioners are seeking relief — the “financial difficulty” in which they find themselves — is about $311 million.
Of this, Northern Pulp & Co. owes $4.4 million to 245 creditors, mostly small companies, contractors, and individuals here in Nova Scotia.
Employee-related liabilities — pensions and severance payments — amount to $7.1 million.
The petitioners owe the province of Nova Scotia nearly $86 million.
But the bulk of Northern Pulp’s debt — $213.3 million — is owed to one of the petitioners’ owners, Paper Excellence Canada Holdings Corporation.
So what, exactly, is Paper Excellence Canada Holdings Corporation? And who, exactly, owns it?
Baxter goes on to disentangle the corporate ownerships of all these companies.
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“Corporate shell game” is the first of a two-part series. Part 2 will be published either later today or tomorrow morning.
Writes Stephen Kimber:
It’s easy to understand why the government’s school-opening plan is still more hope than certainty. What’s less easy to understand — or forgive — is its business-as-usual secrecy, which has created unnecessary anxiety among students, parents, teachers, and business.
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“A dozen anti-mask protesters who gathered on the Halifax Waterfront Sunday afternoon were met by an equal number of mask-wearing counter protesters determined to push back on the messaging,” reports Yvette d’Entremont.
It appears that Americanus ignoramus is facing difficulty in establishing a foothold in Canada. The species seems unlikely to have mating success in these latitudes, and those individuals who do come ashore are prone to prey on each other. Meanwhile, more mentally adept species have filled most of the productive ecological niches.
4. Nova Scotia massacre
Paul Palango provides many more details about the RCMP’s actions during the mass murders of April 18/19.
Today, a court hearing starts for an application to unseal search warrants related to the investigation into the mass murder. That application is filed by a media coalition that includes the Halifax Examiner.
The hearing could last as long as four days. But today and tomorrow, the hearing is in camera, and only the judge and the crown lawyers will be present; Judge Laurel Halfpenny MacQuarrie will hear the crown lawyers’ explanations for wanting to withhold parts of the documents. On Thursday, the media coalition lawyer, David Coles, will cross examine RCMP officers who signed affidavits in the matter. I plan to be present in the Port Hawkesbury courtroom for that public hearing, which could last into Friday.
5. Prince Albert Road
Dartmouth councillor Sam Austin tells us that Prince Albert Road will be narrowed:
Prince Albert Road from Sinclair to the Parclo is very overbuilt. It’s a four-lane street that becomes two lanes at Sinclair, and none of the side streets divert off a lot of traffic, which means that whether the road slims to two lanes at Sinclair or at the Superstore doesn’t make any real difference. The traffic capacity in either case is the same. The whole area seems to have been built on the assumption that we would one day run four lanes all the way down to Alderney.
While Prince Albert’s extra two lanes provide no additional traffic capacity, they do create conditions for speeding, which makes the area more dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists, and for motorists entering or exiting from side streets. There is also an opportunity cost to the current four-lane design since the land lost to all that wasted asphalt is space that could be used for other things, such as additional greenspace along Lake Banook.
The redesigned Prince Albert Road will become two through lanes at Prince Albert and Braemar. A third lane will remain at intersections to allow for left turns onto Sinclair, Celtic, Glenwood, and into the Banook Shores parking garage, but otherwise the street will be two lanes. The slip lane where Prince Albert Road joins onto, well, itself, will disappear and instead Prince Albert Road will have a proper T intersection with Braemar.
1. Three Sisters
“The recent designation of the ‘Parrsboro Shore’ as a UNESCO Geo Park is a big, wonderful deal,” writes Stephen Archibald:
The use of the Three Sisters sea stacks as an icon for the park makes me particularly happy. It also provides an opportunity to tell some little stories of discovery.
Archibald recounts the trip his grandmother Mary Davis made to the Three Sisters in 1870.
Police Commission (12:30pm, virtual meeting) — lots on the agenda (Zane Woodford previewed of many of the items here). I note body cameras for police officers is back on the agenda; I’ve long opposed them — see item #3 here, where I conclude:
Lots of people seem to think body-worn cameras are a simple solution to police violence. What could it hurt? they argue. But given the unproven effectiveness of the cameras, we should consider the costs associated with them, which are enormous: it’s not just the initial camera purchase, but additionally the costs of storage (for how long?) and maintenance of video files; processing, editing, and redacting for court use; complying with privacy legislation; and responding to freedom of information requests. In fact, after a rush to employ body-worn cameras, many police departments in the US have abandoned them because of the costs.
But the urge to put cameras on every cop is a reflection of the prevailing neoliberal framing of society: every problem can be solved with more technology, more surveillance, and more money dumped into both technology and surveillance.
Camera advocates I’ve spoken with don’t say we shouldn’t talk about “root causes” or the sociology of police violence or even better approaches to addressing crime, but they want cameras now, and we’ll deal with those other issues later. Problem is, later never comes.
I can see how this might play out: putting cameras on cops will actually lead to an increase in the police budget. First for the purchase of the cameras, then for the costs of maintaining them, then for ongoing training of officers (via a contract to some connected insider), all in the name of “improving trust” or some such bullshit.
Along the way, there will be cultural sensitivity training for cops and the like, ballooning the police budget even more.
Regional Centre Community Council (6pm, virtual meeting) — this is a special meeting called only to hear an appeal of the approval of a six-storey, 141-unit apartment building on Seymour Street, between Coburg Road and University Avenue.
The proposed building fit into all zoning requirements for the area, so could be approved by a development officer without going to council. Well, all zoning requirements, save one: a variance “so minimal it is considered inconsequential,” according to the staff report.
Specifically, given a very small decline in the street adjacent to one end of the property, the variance allows the building’s streetwall height to exceed the maximum 11.0 metres — to 11.04 metres, or about 1.6 inches greater than the code calls for, as shown on this graphic:
However, as the variance was granted by staff, that gives anyone in the public the right to appeal the approval to the community council. And a property owner who lives on the corner of Coburg and Seymour — the staff report doesn’t name them — did just that.
The appeal letter is a wonderful example of someone whose neighbourhood has been completely transformed by the growing university in its midst. It begins:
In recent years the neighborhood that includes Vernon street, Le Marchant, Seymour Street, Coburg Road, Henry St. and parts of the Dalhousie campus has been upset with a series of construction projects. The first was a new Dalhousie building on the corner of Coburg and Le Marchant followed by a six-story apartment building now under construction on the corner of Coburg and Seymour. This in turn has been followed by the start of construction on an extension to the Cohen Auditorium on Seymour Street. To add insult to injury yet another project, the construction of a six story privately owned student dorm, has been approved for Seymour Street. This is a small one block street with parking permitted only on one side. The nuisances of construction, the increase in population density and the type of building will totally destroy the street scape, the environment, will lower property values, and will destroy the quality of life. It will have a negative impact on the entire area.
I’m not sure property values will go down. Regardless, the letter goes on to list 15 complaints, including:
2. Vermin: The tear down of existing buildings will cause an infestation of mice and rats throughout the surrounding neighborhood.
5. Noise and damage: The excavation for the basement will be done with pneumatic hammers that will operate day long for three months or more. Also blasting will be necessary. The noise is so loud that it permeates the entire neighborhood on all sides. It is as if it was operating in our basements. This also brings dust, debris and dirt, large front end loaders clearing the dirt, and huge trucks coming through the streets trucking away the dirt. In the case of my own house on the corner of Coburg and Seymour vibrations from the Pneumatic hammers, front end loaders and the comings and goings of the large trucks and other vehicles shook the house, loosened the windows and damaged the inside walls. The continuous noise was like being put under torture.
7. Impact on health: Noise from construction in a residential neighborhood creates a serious health problem for residents. Numerous health impact assessments, including by the World Health Organization, have documented the damage that noise does on individual health. It can cause problems such as hearing loss, vascular damage, Alzheimer’s disease, stress, psychological problems and an overall reduced quality of life. The construction noises from these projects add up to over six consecutive years of torture. By coincidence my wife has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, has a hearing problem and I have been diagnosed with a vascular problem. The proposed new building will add to our problems. It will create more stress, more nuisances and annoyance, further diminish our quality of life and our physical and psychological health. Ditto for nearby neighbors.
14. Impact of student behavior: The nuisance factor from this development will be a permanent occurrence. The building is to be a student dorm. The student problem in university controlled residences is bad enough but in a privately owned residence the place will be out of control. Together with the new apartment building close by it will substantially increase the density on the street but worse will create a student ghetto. The problems in this type of situation are well documented in every university community in the country. They consist of noise, parties, drunkenness, drugs and dealing, property damage, violence and attacks on neighbors.
The council will undoubtedly dismiss the appeal.
On the latter, the committee’s report is worth a read in full. On page 23, it addresses the erection of the statue:
Edward Cornwallis, by this time [the 1920s], was not a well-known historical character, even though James S. Macdonald had dubbed him in an 1899 paper presented to the Nova Scotia Historical Society as “the founder of Halifax.” As the raising of the statue was planned during the 1920s, the climate was favourable in the sense that the Canadian National Railway (CNR) was in the process of coordinating a number of new developments in the vicinity of its passenger station, constructed between 1928 and 1930. A park with a historical statue was expected to interest prospective tourists. The CNR eventually paid most of the cost of the statue, after the city had provided only a small contribution and a public appeal had proved largely unproductive. The statue was unveiled on 22 June 1931, with speeches that praised imperial values and urged faithfulness to British traditions. The statue itself bore no physical resemblance to Cornwallis, because the sculptor worked with a portrait that proved not to be of the right subject.
I wrote about that day, here:
The master of ceremonies was Dougland MacGillivray, Chairman of the Cornwallis Memorial Committee, president of the Canadian Club, and a bank manager who 14 years before had failed in his role as chairman of the Halifax Explosion relief committee and had to be removed.
MacGillivray read a short history of Cornwallis, and then the statue, which was draped by “the flags of Empire,” was unveiled by an honour guard led by the Chief Justice of the Nova Scotian Supreme Court, Joseph Andrew Chisholm, a former mayor of Halifax.
Next, 160 school children, selected from schools from around the city and “specially trained for the occasion,” were led in song by the Princess Louise Fusiliers. The Fusiliers are a Halifax regiment named in honour of the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria; the princess was the wife of John Campbell, the 9th Duke of Argyll and Governor General of Canada.
The choir sung an ode written by Joseph Howe, “All Hail to the Day“:
All hail to the day when the Britons came over,
And planted their standard, with sea-foam still wet,
Around and above us their spirits will hover,
Rejoicing to mark how we honor it yet.
Beneath it the emblems they cherished are waving,
The Rose of Old England the roadside perfumes;
The Shamrock and Thistle the north winds are braving,
Securely the Mayflower blushes and blooms.
Hail to the day when the Britons came over,
And planted their standard with sea-foam still wet,
Around and above us their spirits will hover,
Rejoicing to mark how we honor it yet.
We’ll honor it yet, we’ll honor it yet,
The flag of Old England! we’ll honor it yet!
The ceremony ended with the crowd singing the national anthem, followed by a cannon salute from Citadel Hill.
The committee suggests that the statue be put in a museum, which is just silly. The statue itself has no artistic or historic merit; put an exhibit about Cornwallis in a museum, sure, but maybe just leave the bronze out on the curb for a street collector to haul off in their shopping cart to the scrap dealer.
No public meetings.
In the harbour
04:30: CMA CGM Christophe Colomb, arrives at Pier 41 from Colombo, Sri Lanka
05:00: Atlantic Sun, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
10:00: MOL Maneuver, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Colombo, Sri Lanka
11:00: Atlantic Sun sails for New York
13:00: Boarbarge 37, semi-submersible barge, moves from IEL to Pier 9
14:00: Avalon Sea, offshore supply ship, arrives at Pier 9 from St. John’s
One more week until vacation.