1. Kasian report

An architectural rendering of the proposed VG replacement.

This item is written by Jennifer Henderson.

The bill from a consultant hired by the province to develop the master plan to replace the crumbling Victoria General Hospital has come in at $3.4 million — a whopping 78 per cent higher than budgeted.

Toronto-based Kasian Architecture was awarded a $1.9 million contract to advise the province on the locations to build four new medical buildings and provide a preliminary cost estimate and construction schedule.

Kasian met a December 2017 deadline to deliver that report; it was not made public until this week, with cost and scheduling information still blacked out or redacted.

But then came the extras.

The largest part of the additional cost is $826,000. In March, two months after receiving the initial Master Plan, the province asked Kasian to investigate the feasibility of building a stand-alone Cancer Care Centre to deliver treatment presently offered at the VG and Dickson Building.

“Kasian’s work identified new and additional avenues we wanted to explore to ensure our Master Plan was as comprehensive as possible,” explained Marla MacInnis, a spokesperson for the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. “Exploring that major change cost an additional $826K over a two-phase approach. The first phase confirmed this concept would work and the second phase was to build on the concept to complete the full Master Planning work with Cancer Care on the Halifax Infirmary site.”

The bill to the taxpayer and cost of the work would presumably have been lower had the province made its decision on Cancer Care a year earlier, when the consultants could have factored the request into their preliminary work.

In an email, MacInnis said the Kasian report received last December spawned a number of additional requests and studies which account for the remainder of the $1.5 million.

For example, after the initial report was issued, Kasian went on to examine whether the current parking garage could be disassembled and moved to a new location, and the parking potential in the neighbourhood of the Halifax Infirmary. As well, it examined the possibility of making the physical plant a co-generation facility and what type of “enhanced” clinical services could be delivered out of the outpatient facility to be built at Bayers Lake beginning in 2020.

2. Bike projects

The Ahern Avenue multi-use trail is now under construction. Photo: Erica Butler

“I first wrote about bikes in Halifax back in 2003 when the city’s first bike plan, the ‘Blueprint for a Bicycle Friendly HRM,’ was released and approved,” writes Erica Butler. “Fifteen years and a half-dozen plans later, there is something that looks like momentum in the building of bike infrastructure in the city.”

Butler goes on to review the state of various bike projects around the city, the first in a two-part series.

Click here to read “Update on ongoing bike projects, Part 1.”

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3. Ports

This week, Mary Campbell gives a good overview of Halifax port operations and the prospects for container terminals in Sydney or Melford.

Click here to read “Why Won’t the Feds Fund Halterm?”

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I’m a port skeptic. As I see it, in the short term, Halifax and Nova Scotia are off the beaten path, almost incidental to the global shipping industry. Port traffic is driven mostly by local demand — the ports of New York and Long Beach are transhipment points for goods going to Ohio and Arizona respectively, sure, but they’re also supplying New York and Los Angeles, where tens of millions of people live and work. The east coast of Canada has no real demand in and of itself, and so the local ports are trying to justify themselves as transshipment points. The problem with that is that for most products, it’s cheaper to get the goods as close as possible to their ultimate destination by ship and reduce the comparatively pricey truck or train part of the voyage, and that means getting to New York or Norfolk or Charleston. That doesn’t mean there aren’t niche opportunities for Nova Scotia; it’s just that those opportunities are limited, and so the ports will never be the megaports people dream about.

In the medium term, everything is going to be made by 3D printers, and the only stuff being shipped will be oil, grain, drugs, and the raw materials feeding the printers.

In the long term, climate change will destroy everything humans do, so it won’t matter anyway.

4. Equity Watch

Yesterday, Equity Watch, a group formed to press the Halifax Regional Municipality on issues of harassment and discrimination in the workforce, held a press conference to call on the city to bring in an independent investigator to examine those issues in the wake of what Equity Watch says is the city’s failed response with the Safe Workplace report issued earlier this month.

Equity Watch envisions an outside — perhaps the auditor general, or perhaps an academic with no ties to the city — to conduct interviews and examine cases of alleged harassment and discrimination. They held out Constance Backhouse’s report on the Dal Dentistry School as an example of what they’d like to see happen with an investigation.

Zane Woodford has a good backgrounder of the issues at play.

At the press conference, Equity Watch displayed the above sign, which is now the subject of a workplace disciplinary arbitration between the NSUPE and the city. The sign was created for the police department’s anti-bullying campaign, but was never used for that purpose.

As explained, a worker posted the sign on their workstation wall, and was reprimanded by their manager, who saw it as insubordination.

Equity Watch also raised issues related to the hiring of minorities; I’ve asked City Hall for some clarification on those numbers and will report back with what I’m told.

5. House cleaning

An RCMP release from yesterday:

Just before 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Halifax District RCMP responded to a complaint involving two suspicious women in a home in Upper Tantallon.

RCMP were called by the home owner, who was not home at the time. They had been contacted by a concerned neighbour after the two women were observed in the home with a vacuum cleaner and a mop. The investigation has determined that the house was left unlocked in order for the neighbour to walk the owner’s dog, however, two women showed up, cleaned the house, and left without knowing they had the wrong address.

Although the house was cleaned for free, RCMP would like to take this opportunity to remind home owners to ensure their doors are locked at all times. As well, commend the neighbour for having been observant and contacting the home owner.

Note to house cleaners: my door will be unlooked from 1 to 4pm today.


No public meetings.

On campus


Getting Old on a Jamaican Plantation: Age and Slavery in the Colonial Caribbean (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1170, Marion McCain Building) — Daniel Livesay from Claremont McKenna College will speak.

The Basics of Conflict Resolution (Friday, 9am, Room 523, Collaborative Health Education Building) — register here.

Generalized Stern Polynomials: Their Recursions and Continued Fractions(Friday, 3pm, Room 227, Chase Building) — Larry Ericksen will speak. His abstract:

This talk describes the polynomial analogue in b variables related to the Stern number sequences which interpret the number of ways to write a positive integer as the restricted sum of powers of integer base b. We present recursions and generating functions for these polynomials which explicitly specify those hyper b-ary representations.

Lucas sequences, like those of Fibonacci and Pell, are identified within the generalized Stern number sequences. Then as polynomial analogues, the continued fractions associated with the Lucas sequences are expressed as ratios of their corresponding polynomials.

Finding function in noncoding RNAs and noncoding variants (Friday, 4pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — Chris Ponting from the University of Edinburgh will speak

Mount Saint Vincent

Haunting the Twentieth Century (Friday, 2pm, Keshen Goodman Library) — Karen MacFarlane will speak.

In the harbour

07:00: Viking Sea, cruise ship with up to 928 passengers, arrives at Pier 31 from Gaspé (12-day cruise from Montreal to New York)
07:30: Celebrity Summit, cruise ship with up to 2,100 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Sydney (14-day round-trip cruise out of New York)
13:00: Dependable, cable layer, arrives at Pier 9 from sea
13:30: AIDAdiva, cruise ship with up to 2,050 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Portland (10-day cruise from New York to Montreal)
16:00: Ardmore Encounter, oil tanker, arrives at Irving Oil from Beaumont, Texas
16:30: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Pier 36 for Saint-Pierre
18:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, sails from Pier 41 for St. John’s
18:00: Celebrity Summit sails for New York
18:30: Viking Sea sails for Boston
21:30: AIDAdiva sails for Quebec City


Seems like the Irving refinery explosion is already ancient history.

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

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

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  1. As someone who just bought a 3D printer, I can’t ever see how EVERYTHING (or even a significant proportion of things) will be manufactured by 3D printing. They’re great for making one-offs, or for complex geometries, but they have a lot of weaknesses (literally and figuratively) compared to traditional manufacturing methods. It’ll always be cheaper to injection mold 10,000 plastic pieces than print them, and it will always be physically stronger to forge a metal wrench than print one.

    That being said… there probably is a future for “re-shoring”. As manufacturing becomes more and more robotized, labour costs get removed from the equation so the incentive is greatly reduced for setting up in China or India or whatever the next cheap labour economy comes to prominence next.

    1. My thought is the 3D printers are going to get exponentially better, and will be able to mold metals and organics and complex mixtures as well.

      1. The key thing is patents. There are only a few players in advanced 3d printing. Right now the ultra-uniform metal powders needed for metal printing or the chemicals needed for advanced plastic printing are super expensive (more than 10x the price of comparable metal stock or plastic pellets). Even when these companies figure out how to make metal powders or advanced plastic printing chemicals cheaply, they will still own the patents.

        There is no reason why the explosion of cheap plastic extrusion printers we saw starting in ’09 or so had to start then – it was patents expiring.