1. Twinning the 103

Yesterday, the federal government announced funding for the twinning of Highway 103:

Work involves twinning approximately 10.8 kilometres of road between Upper Tantallon and Ingramport, with the construction of new bridge structures over Mill Lake, Little Indian Lake, the Ingram River, and over Highway 103 at Mill Lake.

A further 11.8 kilometres of road will be twinned between Ingramport and Hubbards, including the construction of a new interchange at Hubbards to accommodate the added westbound lanes, and 7 kilometres of access road connecting adjacent properties to the interchange.

These vital upgrades to one of the province’s major arterial highways will significantly improve traffic circulation, increase driver safety, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions resulting from congestion.

The claim about increasing driver safety is certainly true. The 103 travels through a populous area that is often fogged in; as a result, it has been the site of many head-on fatal collisions. I’d have a hard time arguing against twinning this particular stretch of road, but as Erica Butler points out, on many other stretches of highway scarce twinning budgets would probably be better spent on quicker, less expensive engineering fixes.

The claim about reducing greenhouse gases is spurious — note that it includes the qualifier “resulting from congestion.” Total greenhouse gases will increase, because the larger road will bring more vehicles travelling at faster speeds. Those additional vehicles may not be causing GHG emissions from “congestion,” but they’ll release plenty of emissions simply by zooming down the road.

These government press releases annoy me. Here’s the first sentence:

The governments of Canada and Nova Scotia are making infrastructure investments that will help create good middle-class jobs and support a high standard of living for Nova Scotians and their families.

It looks like the Liberals have adopted the NDP’s “family” messaging. I guess lower class people and people without families don’t matter.

In any event, the release goes on to explain that:

The Government of Canada is contributing up to $32.5 million for the section of work between Ingramport and Upper Tantallon, and the Government of Nova Scotia is providing up to $37.5 million. The Government of Canada will provide just over $33.1 million for the portion between Ingramport and Hubbards and the Government of Nova Scotia will provide more than $36.8 million. Both projects are being funded through the New Building Canada Fund: National and Regional Projects. 

Notes Richard Starr:

Does this good news for automobile travellers mean that a page has been turned, that the Trudeau government is rewarding Nova Scotians for their support at the last election? In a word, no. This funding comes compliments of the Building Canada Fund, initiated by the Harper government in 2007, extended by the Conservatives in 2014 and continued under the Liberals. Since its inception, Nova Scotia has qualified for up to $50 million a year under the program. The Highway 103 project will use up about $17 million a year which means there will be lots left over for other projects. Thanks Steve, wherever you are.

I disagree with Starr on this. The fact is, all claims of neutrality on federal infrastructure spending are bogus. The Harper government highly politicized it, going so far as to nix Building Canada projects in downtown Halifax in order to divert the money to Sheet Harbour, the one tiny section of HRM that was then represented by Peter MacKay. The Harper government would have never funded the 103 twinning project, for the simple reason that it is in Liberal ridings. If the Harper government had to spend $50 million in Nova Scotia, it would’ve found a way to spend it in ridings that might swing Conservative in the next election, and that’s not the South Shore.

So I think we actually can thank the Liberals for this.

2. Accessing Africville

“Because it is so close, I decided to bike to my kid’s school picnic at Africville,” writes Examiner transportation columnist Erica Butler:

Little did I know that to get there I would find myself on a 70 km/hr stretch of Barrington Street with no sidewalks, and then on Africville Road, which doubles as a throughway for large trucks coming from the Richmond Terminals, and is also devoid of sidewalks.

Even though it’s on the peninsula, located a hop and a skip from some of the city’s densest residential communities, you can’t really walk or bike to Africville Park, at least not safely or comfortably. Like many other neglected places around HRM, Africville Park and the Africville Museum are cut off from the city by decades of transportation planning that valued high-speed roads over pedestrian access to the point of destroying one for the sake of the other.

Butler goes on to propose an “Urban Renewal Remediation Fund”:

Take a few percentages off our current road budget, and dedicate it to righting the major wrongs of public infrastructure from the past 60 years. Knock on the doors of the province and the Bridge Commission and ask them to contribute their fair share. Then spend it. Fix the access to Africville. Throw some of it at the Cogswell Interchange. Put more towards reconnecting all the communities that have been bisected or isolated by high speed, vehicle-only roads and interchanges.

Click here to read “Accessing Africville: Decades of bad planning has historic museum and park cut off from the rest of the peninsula.”

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3. Dashonn States

Photo: Robert Devet

About 30 people showed up at the Windsor courthouse to protest what they say is racist police and crown handling of the death of Dashonn States, reports Robert Devet.

On June 22, the RCMP issued the following release:

Windsor District RCMP is investigating a fatal motor vehicle collision on Bog Rd.

Just prior to 1 a.m. this morning, RCMP responded to a single motor vehicle collision involving four occupants. As a result of the collision, a 22-year-old man who was a passenger in the vehicle was pronounced dead at the scene. Two female passengers — a 16-year-old and a 20-year-old — were transported to Valley Regional Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The driver of the vehicle, a 25-year-old man from Hants County, fled the scene prior to RCMP arrival and was arrested without incident around 9 a.m. Charges are pending in relation to this collision.

Windsor District RCMP, RCMP Police Dog Services, an RCMP Collision Analyst, EHS, the Windsor Fire Department, the Hantsport Fire Department and Nova Scotia Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal attended the scene. The road will remain closed for a period of time. Our thoughts are with the victim’s family at this difficult time.

States was the 22-year-old man who died. States was black.

The car was driven by Andrew Rafuse, a 25-year-old white man. According to Devet, Rafuse has been released on his own recognizance while he awaits trial on charges of impaired driving, criminal negligence causing death, dangerous driving causing death and fleeing the scene of an accident. Devet describes the protest:

“We’re here to show the world that Dashonn’s life mattered and that we are willing to fight for justice,” Nicole States, Dashonn’s stepmother, tells the Nova Scotia Advocate. “When Dashonn was before the court he was held without bail for a misdemeanor offense. Why is Andrew Rafuse out on his own recognizance after causing a death?”

“I definitely feel anti-Black racism is part of the story. That’s what my guts tell me when I compare  the treatment that we are getting with how I see other people being treated,” Nicole States says.

Neither police nor prosecution services have been forthcoming with information, the family charges. “The Crown hasn’t even talked to us, or offered condolences,” says Nicole States.

States is also upset that Dashonn was tested for blood alcohol content after his death. “That wasn’t necessary, he was a victim, not a criminal. Whether he was drinking or not doesn’t matter,” she says.

4. The Lobster Wars of Bird Islands

Bird Islands, the site of the lobster wars, are off the Eastern Shore, in the middle of nowhere. Google Maps

Given all the media attention given to the so-called murder for lobster case in Cape Breton a few years ago (in reality it wasn’t so much about lobster as it about a town dealing with a particularly loathsome bully, but still), it surprises me that warring lobstermen off the Eastern Shore haven’t hit the news. Well, until now, here.

The case involves a pair of father and sons: 57-year old Philip Gammon and his 31-year old son Mitchell Gammon; and 46-year-old Leonard Jewers and his 23-year-old son Cody Jewers. Each man owns his own boat: Phillip Gammon the Lois Lee 111; Mitchell Gammon the Morgan and Roy; Leonard Jewers the Knot Enough; and Cody Jewers the Fancy This. And if you think this is already confusing, just wait.

The drama, as recounted in court documents by RCMP Constable Daniel Ronaghan, started on April 23. That day, Leonard Jewers reported to police that “Philip and Mitchell Gammon cut some of Leonard’s trap lines and stole some of his lobster traps. This was reported to be captured on video by Cody Jewers.”

Philip Gammon told the RCMP that Leonard was lying, and that “before daylight on April 23, 2015, 125 of his [Philip Gammon’s] lobster traps were cut or taken by Leonard. Mitchell Gammon called Philip to tell him that he was missing gear as well. Leonard was heard on the UHF boat radio during this time [saying] ‘Cody, I guess we solved our problem.’”

“Threats of death were exchanged amongst the fishermen” for several hours over the radio, continued Constable Ronaghan. “Since then, according to statements obtained, Philip Gammon has been seen cutting trap lines and stealing lobster from lobster traps belonging to Leonard Jewers.” The RCMP also got DFO involved.

As part of their investigation, the RCMP interviewed Dylan Naugler, who was a deckhand on Philip Gammon’s boat, the Lois Lee 111. Naugler told police that on the morning of April 23, when they were fishing off Bird Islands near Harrigan Cove, Leonard Jewers pulled up alongside in his boat and said “I thought I told you last year not to be fishing up around here.”

The next day, Naugler told police, he and Philip Gammon went back to Bird Islands to get the GPS co-ordinates of their lost traps in order to give them to police. When they were there, Cody Jewers pulled up in his boat, the Fancy This, and said, “I’m gonna kill you Philip Gammon.” According to the report, Cody followed them around for about five minutes before “steaming off.”

Not to be outdone, the Jewers had their own deckhands, who gave conflicting reports. Billy Burgoyne, a deckhand on Cody Jewer’s boat, told police that he heard Philip Gammon on the radio saying he was going to cut the Jewers’ lines. The court document doesn’t explain which boat he was working on, but Trevor Pye told the cops that Philip Gammon told him (Trevor Pye) that he (Philip Gammon) was “out for vengeance and doomsday was near.” Farley Pye, who captains the Knot Enough for Leonard Jewers, told the cops that he (Farley Pye) “heard a bunch of arguing” after 22 of his traps were missing.

Cody Jewers said that Philip Gammon and his daughter Melissa Gammon were “cutting Leonard’s traps right in front of him” — I think the “him” here is Cody, not Leonard (police aren’t very pronoun savvy), as Cody went on to videotape the action. As Cody told it, according to Constable Ronaghan, who was citing a report written by Constable Ron Faulkner, when Philip realized Cody was filming him, he dumped all the traps. The next day, however, “Philip was on the radio losing it, saying he was going to cut all their traps” and “Philip said they were all fucking done, he was going to cut all their gear, every boat.”

Cody Jewers also said “Mitchell Gammon was cutting down Mona Fancy’s traps at the same time.” I have no idea who Mona Fancy is, but I’m guessing she’s the inspiration for Cody’s boat name, the Fancy This. There may be a love story subplot in this lobster war drama.

A guy named Eddie Hallet was also interviewed by police, and he had confusing insights.

Philip Gammon told the RCMP that all his stolen traps were at Leonard Jewers’ “compound in Ecum Secum.” At some point (Philip Gammon didn’t make it clear), Leonard Jewers sailed up next to him and said “You shouldn’t be here, you’re too far east. You know what happened last year.”

Last year? You mean there’s a prequel?

In any event, the cops got four search warrants in order to seize the GPS units on each of the boats, and from that they somehow untangled where and when each boat was and what that meant in terms of the counter-narratives.

As a result, Leonard Jewers has been charged with Uttering Threats; Cody Jewers has been charged with Uttering Threats; Mitchell Gammon has been charged with Failure to Comply with Undertaking and Possession of Property Obtained by Crime; and Philip Gammon has been charged with two counts of Uttering Threats and one count each of Failure to Comply with Undertaking, Theft under $5000, and Mischief.

None of the charges have been tested in court.

5. That hole at Gottingen and Bloomfield Streets

On Monday, I noted that the Halifax Peninsula Planning Advisory Committee was that day going to consider changes to an approved development agreement at 2776 Gottingen Street:

This is at the corner of Bloomfield, and is that giant hole in the ground that stretches behind the pizza shop on the corner of Almon Street.

Back in 2013, the Halifax & West Community Council approved a development agreement with WSP Canada for a eight-storey mixed use development, with ground floor commercial and 70 residential units above. Now, WSP is asking for changes to that agreement:

• Remove surface parking;
• Increase permitted residential units from 70 to 95;
• Increase the number of units having 2 or more bedrooms from 22 to 43;
• Decrease the number of parking spaces from 82 spaces to 72 spaces;
• Add additional penthouse level containing 3 residential units;
• Re-locate outdoor amenity space from the rooftop to a landscaped podium on the 5th floor;
• Extend streetwall on Bloomfield Street;
• Re-locate all onsite parking underground; and
• Extend building footprint to cover the majority of the lot, including the portion of the lot that fronts on Almon Street.

What worries me most about the proposed changes is the extended streetwall on Bloomfield Street. I don’t know what that means, and the staff report isn’t helpful. I fear we’re going to see the Johannesburgization we’re seeing on Maynard Street extended to the rest of the north end. (I’ll try to write more about that today.)

In any event, the proposed changes are considered “substantial,” so if the committee agrees to them, there will have to be a public hearing at the community council before they can be implemented.

I didn’t go to the meeting. Instead, I wandered around the north end and took pictures so I could finally write that Johannesburgization essay, which I’ve been thinking about for months.

But, it turns out the committee rejected the proposed changes, and passed this resolution as its message to the community council, which will next consider the development:

That the Halifax Peninsula Advisory Committee has reviewed the application to amend the approved Development Agreement for Case 20894 and recommends rejection as proposed, and notes as follows:

• The committee feels that the height and massing of the building is inappropriate. The committee is particularly concerned about the west wall facing the adjacent residential property and the increase to the street wall on Bloomfield.

• The committee feels that the limited setbacks and nearly-100% lot coverage are inappropriate.

• The committee is concerned about the street & sidewalk interface of the proposal, and any development agreement should seek to improve this interface.

• The committee regrets the lack of street-level trees.

• The committee welcomes the increase in bike parking infrastructure, and would support a further extension of this.

• The committee supports an increase in the total amenity space. Any development agreement should seek to enhance and preserve amenity space.

6. Death in Clam Bay

Nebooktook Walk is about two kilometres west of Clam Harbour. Google Maps

An RCMP release from about noon yesterday:

July 25, 2017, Clam Bay, Nova Scotia . . . Halifax District RCMP and Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency (HRFE) were called to the scene of a house fire on Nebooktook Walk yesterday morning just before 9 a.m. Neighbours reported seeing smoke in the area and when fire crews arrived on scene they found a garage on fire and flames were spreading to the attached home. 

Emergency workers located human remains of one individual inside the home last night near 9:30 p.m. Police remain on scene, working with HRFE as part of the ongoing investigation. Officers assigned to the Integrated Criminal Investigation Division are being assisted by the Nova Scotia Office of the Fire Marshal and the Medical Examiner Service.

Police feel the cause of the fire is suspicious.

7. Gordon B. Isnor

“Extra fire safety precautions are being taken at a Halifax seniors highrise after Housing Nova Scotia found the building has the same type of exterior cladding used in London’s Grenfell Tower,” reports Shaina Luck for the CBC:

During a 2010 renovation, Gordon B. Isnor Manor on Cornwallis Street was outfitted with the same type of aluminum composite cladding as that on Grenfell Tower.

However, officials said there is no cause for alarm.

“It’s not the product itself that would cause you concern, but how it’s used in conjunction with other products,” said Ed Lake, executive director of housing authorities with Housing Nova Scotia. 


However, the fire marshal’s office told Housing Nova Scotia to get a consultant to evaluate the wall construction as an added precaution. That consultant is expected to give an independent report to the fire marshal about the building.


1. Welcoming Wheels

Photo: Bill Turpin

Bill Turpin profiles Welcoming Wheels, a project of the Ecology Action Centre that hooks recent immigrants up with refurbished bicycles:

And it turns out that sharing a passion for biking is a great way to overcome linguistic and cultural barriers. Adam estimates 80 per cent of the volunteers at Welcoming Wheels are themselves recent immigrants.

On the face of it, the project is simple: repair donated bicycles and give them to newcomers. Some volunteers are regulars on Friday nights, others take on tasks such as collecting the bikes, managing inventory, raising money, training people to ride safely on Halifax streets, translating, and organizing the distribution of street-ready bikes.




Heritage Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 3pm, City Hall) — the committee will consider “substantial alterations” to the historically registered Finntigh Mara on the Northwest Arm and the Cornwallis Baptist Church.

Western Common Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 6:30pm, Prospect Road Community Centre) — here’s the agenda.


Transportation Standing Committee (Thursday, 1pm, City Hall) — here’s the agenda.


No public meetings in July.

On campus



It’s Not Just Beer (Wednesday, 4pm, Room 170, Collaborative Health Education Building) — Katherine Strynatka, PhD candidate in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, will speak on “Using Yeast as a Tool for Drug Discovery.”


Darwin’s Phylogenetic Reasoning (Thursday, 9:30am, Room C-150, Collaborative Health Education Building) — Elliott Sober of the University of Wisconsin will speak.

Halifax Urban Forest Walkabout (Thursday, 6pm, meet at the corner of Cunard and North Park St in the Halifax Common) — James Steenberg leads the walk.

Peacekeeping in the 21st Century: Where Do We Go from Here? (Thursday, 7pm, Paul O’Regan Hall, Halifax Central Library) — Major General Patrick Cammaert, retired from the Royal Netherland Marine Corps, will speak.

In the harbour

The seas off Nova Scotia, 9:45am Wednesday. Map:

6am: ZIM Texas, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
3pm: Glen Canyon Bridge, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
4pm: Themis, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
4:30pm: ZIM Texas, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for New York
5pm: Arcadia Highway, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Bremerhaven, Germany

4am: Glen Canyon Bridge, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Dubai
5am: Atlantic Sail, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
7am: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 36 from Saint-Pierre
7am: Sycara V, super yacht, sails from Salters Seawall for sea
11:30am: Arcadia Highway, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea


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. At the risk of being controversial, why are we spending monies to twin highways which will not be completed until 2022 or later when the age of gas powered cars is coming to a close, at least in other G-20 countries. Norway has announced that they will ban gas powered cars in 2020, France in 2035 and Britain in 2040. Apparently, there are other European and Asian states that will be adopting similar policies in the near future to address air pollution concerns and climate change.

    Now maybe we will all eventually own electric powered cars by the time the twinned highways are built or maybe Canada and the United States will be the holdouts on supporting gas powered cars.

    But in the meantime, maybe it makes more sense to divert the resources from twinning highways into alternative means of transporting people and cargo throughout the province such as regional rail lines, water borne transit and other infrastructure which is not based on gas powered cars and trucks. It takes years to construct infrastructure. To make economic sense, transportation infrastructure must be used for at least twenty five to thirty years following its construction.

    1. Non-gas (electric) cars still need roads. So do self-driving cars. Not to say I’m fully enthusiastic about twinning, but I don’t think the coming end of the ICE is an argument against twinning.

      1. Ian, I agree that electric cars need roads. But I wonder if there will be as many electric cars as there are gas powered cars. Also, the safety arguments fall away if the future is self driving cars.
        Finally, if the growth in the number of cars using the highways 10 to 15 years from now is overestimated, then we are spending monies on infrastructure that may not be required. We may be better served by putting monies into infrastructure for transportation options that currently exist and are likely to be used in the future. HIghway twinning is expensive; but so is regional rail. Given that the number of North Americans who own cars is dropping and apparently car registrations in Nova Scotia are also declining, maybe the monies are better spent on regional mass transit as opposed to infrastructure for single occupancy vehicles.

    2. Er, they’re banning the sale of electric cars – gasoline cars last 15-20 years these days.

      And second of all you can’t compare Nova Scotia to Scandinavia. The only reason Norway can afford the social programs, electric car subsidies, etc is because they have are an oil exporter. It’s pure hypocrisy.

  2. With the twinning for Hwy 103 being announced, we can expect that Scotian Materials will ramp up their efforts to get their proposed quarry and asphalt plant approved and operational in Tantallon.

    1. No reason not to approve the asphalt plant – 1.5 miles from the nearest home, and adjacent to the route expansion.

      1. Except for the fact that the old Bowater Mersey lands, when they were purchased using Public funds, were not supposed to host commercial or industrial activities. There was a grandfathered bio-fuel facility site, but that was supposed to be the only commercial operation other than some sort of community managed forest operation that never got off the ground. The NDP had a temporary permit to run the portable asphalt plant in that area; but the public has never agreed to a permanent asphalt/quarry facility on that site.

        Chester has a fully approved site that could host the Scotian Materials asphalt facility and quarry operation; but Scotian Materials wants to have a monopoly on the market by being sited in the Hwy 103 Exit 5+ location. There is no benefit to the public in having the asphalt plant located adjacent to Tantallon, and the public should have the right to veto this proposed facility being operated on Public lands.

        1. I am closer to Tufts Cove power plant than you are to the proposed asphalt plant.
          Thousands of Haligonians are closer to hazardous goods at Halterm and Ceres container terminals than any person near the Scotian site. And the most expensive homes on the peninsula abut the rails leading to Halterm.
          The risk level at Scotian is ZERO.

    2. Because we all want to drive on paved roads, but we want the gravel pits and asphalt plants located somewhere far far away. In this we are environmentalist hypocrites. In fact, we aren’t environmentalists at all; we are merely hijacking pseudo-environmentalism in pursuit of aesthetic elitism.

      1. When it comes to community planning, the Public should have a say in what industrial/commercial operations are located adjacent or within their communities. The problem is that appropriate industrial sites are not designated as a part of the community planning process. Thus chaos rules the day and real community planning does not take place. Too often industry is allowed to move into locations that solely benefit the industrial operation and not the community… this needs to change. Nova Scotia’s problem is that residential areas have been allowed to spring up where developers want them… not because such development were best for the municipality; thus our taxes are higher because we have to supply services (roads, police, fire stations, water and sewage) to communities that are not ideally placed from a sustainable municipal planning point of view.

        I will say it again, Scotian materials wants to site their facility near Tantallon because it benefits Scotian Materials, not because it will benefit the local community.

  3. Nova Scotia’s 103 should be twinned at least as far as Bridgewater, but I can understand the heavy cost involved. It’s all rock.