1. Nova Scotia Health leaders considering more private clinics to tackle surgical wait list
Jennifer Henderson has this story on how the Health System Leadership Team appointed by Premier Tim Houston wants to “blitz” the backlog of 27,000 people waiting for surgeries, which is the highest number of people on wait lists in the last five years. How will they do that? Well, there are a few options, including the use of private clinics. Henderson writes:
Solutions could include sending patients to privately-owned surgical clinics outside the province or using public money to pay for more orthopedic procedures at Scotia Surgery — as the government is now doing to reduce the pediatric wait list at the IWK Childrens Hospital.
“We have to look at every single possibility to attack the waiting list,” Karen Oldfield, CEO of Nova Scotia Health told the legislature’s Public Accounts Committee yesterday. (Oldfield replaced Dr Brendan Carr, who was fired September 1 with $400,000 severance.) “It would be irresponsible not to look at very possible scenario to serve people who are in need.”
Oldfield said it has been impossible to extend Operating Room (OR) hours as Tim Houston promised during the election campaign because the province doesn’t have enough people (especially nurses) to staff surgical teams. Oldfield told the committee the ORs are “very close” to returning to 100% capacity but the impact of COVID-19 means there are still 460 health care workers across the province unavailable to report to work.
2. Art gallery funding, plus millions more added to municipal budget
Zane Woodford reports on Halifax regional council’s budget committee on Wednesday where councillors debated the budget adjustment list. The budget got a boost of $7 million for the new Art Gallery of Nova Scotia on the Halifax waterfront. Woodford writes:
Among the millions added to the budget for 2022-2023 was $700,000 for the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. It’s the first of 10 equal payments HRM will make toward the $130-million project planned for the Halifax waterfront.
With the provincial government paying $70 million and the federal government $10 million, the gallery’s CEO came to council to ask for a contribution of $7 million paid over five years. Councillors voted to consider the request in 2021, but the figure didn’t make it into the budget.
In January, staff recommended a smaller contribution of $3 million paid over five years. As the Halifax Examiner reported in February, a majority councillors were keen to bump that number back up.
Councillors also voted to add $825,000 to the budget for free fares for all transit on Fridays and for ferries on Saturdays in July and August, and another $1.25 million on master planning for three proposed subdivision developments.
3. Prosecutors appeal the sentence of man convicted in nail-gun shooting
An appeal hearing is set for this morning where prosecutors are seeking a harsher sentence for Shawn Wade Hynes, who was convicted who was convicted of assault with a weapon and criminal negligence causing bodily harm. Matthew Byard reports:
On September. 19, 2018, Hynes, 43, shot at 21-year-old Nhlanhla Dlamini with a nail gun and punctured his lung at a construction site in Abercrombie in Pictou County.
In April 2021, Hynes was sentenced to an 18-month conditional sentence, including a period of house arrest, followed by a year of probation and 120 hours of community service.
In the weeks leading up to the assault, Hynes, who is white, bullied Dlamini, who is Black, on the worksite and called him the n-word.
Byard also interviewed author, poet, and activist Angela Bowden, who attended the trial and sentencing, saying it “set the wrong precedent.” In an interview with Byard, Bowden said prosecutor Bill Gorman “made a conscious decision to not pursue race rights from the beginning despite our insisting and suggesting that he sought race experts to help him prosecute and understand his blind spots.”
4. Big money for health care, nothing for housing in provincial capital budget
Jennifer Henderson looks at what’s in the provincial capital budget, which covers big projects like hospitals, schools, and roads. The Capital Plan for 2022/23 is $1.6 billion, that’s one-third larger than the current year’s budget, and the province’s largest capital budget ever.
True to Premier Tim Houston’s campaign promise to focus on health care, a record $619 million is budgeted for hospital projects. (Just $309 million was allocated for hospitals in the 21/22 budget). That covers:
• $464.6 million for the QEII rebuild and the Cape Breton Regional Municipality Health Care redevelopment projects
• $122.6 million for construction, repair and upgrades of other hospitals and medical facilities
• $32 million to replace medical equipment
The list also includes spending for several big highway projects and school projects, but nothing for housing.
5. Paying the price for cleaning up old gold mines
Joan Baxter digs into who’s paying the price to clean up old tailings from gold mines (big hint: it’s the public). Baxter looks into the tailings that were discharged from Richardson gold mine on the edge of Gold Brook Lake in Guysborough County directly into the upper reaches of Gold Brook at the southern tip of the lake. And as we learn, a new company wants to mine there now. Baxter writes:
Kevin Bullock, CEO of Anaconda, says the two open pits will separated by about 100 metres at the south end of Gold Brook Lake. One, Bullock says, will be about 1.1 kilometres long, the other about 600 metres.
That is where, more than a century later, Anaconda Mining wants to blast rock from the earth to mine gold again, but this time not from underground seams that were heavily mined in earlier gold rushes, but from two large open pits, at least for the first six years or so.
As the Halifax Examiner reported in February, Bullock says Anaconda managed to do extensive exploration in the area without disturbing the tailings because the company didn’t drill there. Bullock is quoted extensively in that article:
“We drilled at various unique angles away from them, underneath them,” he says, and it is because the tailings are there that the company is planning two open pits, one on either side of the Gold Brook.
Another reason for the two pits, Bullock says, is that they don’t want to dam off the lake, which would “take out a watershed” and disturb the “water flow to the ocean.”
Anaconda will provide the province with a management plan for the historic tailings when it submits its environmental registration, he adds.
But, the tailings don’t appear to be Anaconda’s problem anyway.
So, why aren’t those tailings Anaconda’s problem? Baxter continues:
Anaconda Mining’s 430-page January 2022 technical report and feasibility study for its proposed Goldboro mine at the headwaters of Gold Brook, states five times that the government of Nova Scotia, “indemnified Orex in 1995 from any environmental liabilities resulting from historical mining activities,” provided old tailings areas are “not impacted during exploration or mining activities.”
Orex Exploration was a very small, Quebec-based company that held the Goldboro property for nearly three decades, when Orex was acquired by Anaconda Mining in 2017.
6. The Tideline, Episode 72: Academy Awards 2022
Sunday is Oscar night, so Tara Thorne and movie-obsessed Lisa Buchanan chat about the full-scale return to the Academy Awards for 2022. Here’s more:
They dig into this year’s attempt to bring in viewers (it will fail, it always fails) and how that decision has alienated a swath of craftspeople, Jane Campion’s record-setting nominations—and perhaps award-losing comments—Kristen Stewart and Jessica Chastain, the dominance of international films, and all manner of spoilers. Plus a new song by Keeper E.
Backyard histories of the Maritimes
Last week I read this Facebook post about Isle Haute, an island in the Bay of Fundy between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. I had never heard of it.
The island, according to the post, isn’t owned by either province, but the federal government. Samuel de Champlain made the first recorded description of the island and named it Isle Haute or High Island. But for long before that, the Mi’kmaq considered the top of the island sacred and people were forbidden to visit.
After reading the post I clicked through to find out who wrote it, and got to this Facebook group Backyard History. There’s a website here, too, which has all sorts of articles on little-known Maritime histories.
On Wednesday, I spoke with Andrew MacLean, who started the website and group as a pandemic project after he was laid off from his job as a surveyor working all over North America tracking rising sea levels. And it all started with this story about Old Ned, New Brunswick’s Sea Monster.
To pass the time in lockdown, MacLean went on hikes where he lived in New Brunswick and he started getting curious about the places he was visiting. So he started doing his own research (the good kind). He wrote about Old Ned the sea monster and shared the post on social media. Then a local newspaper reached out asking if he could write more.
“It was a surprise sea monster story,” MacLean said. “Now, I’m in 14 newspapers.”
MacLean finds many of the stories by searching records in the archives. There he says he finds “strange little notes” that get him to dig more. Once, he was working on a Christmas story and found in someone’s old diary notes a bit about the crew of a ship in the Bay of Fundy that was captured by the crew of a U-boat that was also in the bay.
“It turns out, it actually happened on the Bay of Fundy,” MacLean says.
One of MacLean’s favourite stories is about Queen Mab, a Christmas fairy who would visit children and give them presents. That was before Santa Claus became a big deal.
Some of the stories from Nova Scotia include these ones about Electric City, oysters, a favourite Maritime drinking snack, a legless mystery man who was taken in by the Comeau family, and a Cape Bretoner who walked across Canada because of a bet. And then there’s this one with the evergreen headline “Drinking in the Maritimes.”
MacLean publishes the stories each week. And now he has a podcast, which he started on Halloween 2021. He says that podcast has taken off in Ontario.
“I guess there’s a big appetite in other parts of the country for our stories in the Maritimes,” MacLean says.
Just in the past year, MacLean says 1.2 million people have read stories on his website. And the fans are across the globe, including in the US, Brazil, and the Philippines. MacLean says as a storyteller, he was always inspired by his grandfather Cecil Smith, who told long stories with lots of details. He says he’d like to write a book with all the stories he’s collected, and maybe even create a television show.
“Learning these stories myself, I always enjoy getting the whole picture, and pulling on the thread,” MacLean said. “It turns out other people like this history, too.”
“Overall theme is that the kindness and compassion of Maritimes and caring for one another is an overarching theme of who we really are,” MacLean said. “There stories are really nice, I guess. Some parts of our history can be dark but overwhelmingly it’s a fundamental story of a region populated by good people doing kind things for each other.”
On the weekend I bought a copy of this book, 305 Lost Buildings of Canada. The book, which is by Raymond Biesinger, acclaimed Montréal artist who did the illustrations, and Alex Bozikovic, an architecture critic for the Globe and Mail, who wrote each entry for the lost buildings. In short entries, the book chronicles buildings in cities across Canada, from St. John’s, NL, to Victoria, BC, that have been lost to fire, demolition, or other factors. There’s also a nice little glossary of architectural terms at the end.
Of course, I immediately flipped to the section of lost buildings of Halifax, which includes some buildings I remember and others I’ve never heard about before. Here’s what they include (I am including some of Biesinger’s illustrations, too):
- The Citadel Inn (the former low-lying building, not the current hotel)
- The Moir’s Factory and Warehouse, which was located downtown on Argyle Street from Duke to George
- The Capitol Theatre
- CBC Building
- Dalhousie Medical and Dental Library
- City Market Building
- Jost Mission
- The Trading Post
- St. Patrick’s High School
- Intercolonial Railway Station
- Leon Steed’s House in Africville
- Shannon Park
- Mills Brothers
- Octagon House
- Irving Arch
- Halifax Infants’ Home
- Sweet Basil
- Sherbrooke Martello Tower
- African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church
- Halifax Exhibition Building
Bozikovic opens the Halifax section of the book with a writeup about the city’s history — in particular, how the Halifax Explosion and urban renewal shaped the architecture of the city. Bozikovic writes, “A city that values its history has, nevertheless, discarded many of its physical traces.”
As I was reading through the stories, I wondered which buildings — ones built here recently or that are being built now — will residents write about or miss in, say, 100 years. I could only think of the Halifax Central Library.
Transportation Standing Committee (Thursday, 1pm, City Hall) —agenda here
Budget Committee (Friday, 9:30am, City Hall) — contingency date
Legislature sits (Thursday, 1pm, Province House)
On the Development of Small Form Factor Histotripsy Devices for Neurosurgical Applications and Small Animal Experiments (Thursday, 9am) — virtual PhD thesis defence by Jeffrey Kyle Woodacre, School of Biomedical Engineering
The Art of the Interview in Punk Music (Thursday, 12pm, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — with Gillian McCain and Danny Fields; limited reserved seating, masks encouraged
Sharing Circle: Indigenous Art as Pathway to Forgiveness and Healing (Thursday, 5:30pm) — online webinar with Elder Wilma Simon and Kristen Basque from Eskasoni First Nation; with AI-generated captions
Environmental Health and Epidemiology: Lessons for a more Equitable and Sustainable World (Thursday, 7pm, Potter Auditorium, Rowe Building) — also on Zoom, with Kevin Fong
Annual Conference of Dalhousie Oceanography Graduate Students (CDOGS) (Friday, 8:30am, McInnes Room, Student Union Building) — also online; masks and proof of vaccination required
Joyful Executions Aboard East India Company Ships c. 1601-1621 (Friday, 3:30pm, ) — Cheryl Fury from the University of New Brunswick will talk
In the harbour
10:00: Baie St.Paul, bulker, sails from Gold Bond for sea
15:30: Atlantic Sun, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
16:00: Oceanex Avalon, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from St. John’s
01:00 (Friday): Atlantic Sun sails for New York
12:30: Front Cosmos, oil tanker, sails from Point Tupper for sea