1. Convention centre costs increase
The new convention centre isn’t even built yet, and we’re already paying for “upgrades” to it. From a provincial government press release:
The total value of the upgrades is $10 million which is cost-shared with Argyle Developments paying for 50 per cent and the province and Halifax cost-sharing the other 50 per cent.
As I detailed Tuesday, part of the convention centre deal includes a requirement that the province put That Crappy Old Office Building on Argyle Street up for sale. The city has first rights to purchase the building at its appraised value, which the CBC reports is $13.5 million. I’m not sure why the city would pay $13.5 million for that piece of junk, but if Halifax council really wants to, it has 90 days to do so. After that, the building goes on the market, where likewise no sane person would buy it, and then, on the day the new convention centre opens, the city will be required to buy That Crappy Old Office Building on Argyle Street at book value.
If there were proper accounting for the building, book value would be a negative number, and the province would have to pay the city to take over the building. But putting a value on the building was probably what council discussed in closed session Tuesday; I’m guessing the final purchase price will be between $1 million and $3 million. Then the city will spend something like $10 million renovating the place.
I suggest we turn Stephen Lund’s old office into a Museum of Delusional Thinking. We could sell tickets to tourists and advertise the attraction to cruise ship passengers. The economic impact from the museum would be $14 trillion dollars.
Since the Irvings have arrived in Halifax in a big way, we must all read Are the Irvings destroying New Brunswick?” Part 1 is an overview of the family and its interactions with government. Livesey quotes Don Bowser, an expert on corruption:
You have a corporation that has completely captured the province… which is absolutely Third Worldish. This whole province-living-in-fear stuff is just absolutely crazy. Nobody can imagine in Canada that this sort of stuff goes on.”
The National Observer is a new online publication produced by the Vancouver Observer. It “focuses on news through the lens of energy, environment and politics,” and evidently wanted to come out swinging.
Bruce Livesey is an investigative reporter with impeccable credentials. He was fired from Global News last year after he gave an interview to Canadaland about how the network killed his investigation into the Koch brothers.
3. Petulance, defined
If you want to see grown adults acting like toddlers, throwing tantrums, and otherwise behaving like brats, go here, scroll down, and click on 14.1.6 Regional Council Compensation Committee Final Report — for the full effect, take a few hours and watch both parts 1 and 2.
Anyone thinking of challenging an incumbent for a council seat in October would do well to take clips from the video for campaign ads.
4. Amherst, unraptured
“More than half the kids at a school in Amherst, N.S., spent Wednesday at home over what police are calling ‘social media misinformation,’” reports CTV:
Many parents of students at Spring Street Elementary School had read comments online attributed to someone worried about three specific children, stating something terrible would happen and “the hell with everyone else, they can die.”
In a police statement, Chief Ian Naylor of Amherst Police says, “We are aware there is a lot of conversation about this matter on social media which has resulted in a great deal of misinformation and speculation.”
“Our investigation has not identified any threat to anyone, and the school is a safe place,” said Naylor.
The investigation has identified a man living in the community who believes Amherst will soon come to an end, and no one in the area when the “end of the world event” occurs will survive.
1. Local Xpress
“Chances of a six-day-a-week print edition of the Chronicle-Herald existing in 2020 are next to nil,” writes Parker Donham:
Everyone involved—workers, owners, readers, community leaders—must adjust to this new reality.
That’s the one shining light in this dispiriting conflict. When they aren’t wasting their time on picket lines and posting gratuitous insults, the striking journalists have been producing a creditable daily news website.
News stories in Local Xpress have consistently set a higher journalistic standard than the strike-breaker copy that fills the Herald’s pages. No surprise there. The best Herald writers and editors are very good at what they do.
Local Xpress could be so much more. A professionally produced news website aimed at the interests and temperament of traditional Herald readers poses a bigger threat to the Herald’s owners than pickets at the local Ford dealership, or Facebook insults directed at the mayor.
There’s a thought out there in the world, and Donham shares it, that picket lines and public protests are somehow unseemly or a waste of time, but I’m a fan of them. One of the foundational goals of the neoliberal agenda is to break society apart and atomize us as mere individuals, utterly disconnected from each other except as competitors for consumer goods, for jobs, for government services. There’s nothing the 1% want more than to disabuse us of the notion that we can have each other’s backs. The public protest is an appeal to the opposite; it insists that there is a shared public sphere with shared responsibilities and shared benefits.
Still, I agree with Donham that Local Xpress is a quality publication, and can be even better.
If Mark Lever and Sarah Dennis had any sense, they’d be working to turn the Chronicle Herald into something that looks a lot like Local Xpress. The model of a web-only news site has been out there for some time. I’m told David Bentley offered to sell allnovascotia.com to the Herald four or five years ago. Rather than taking that sensible offer, Lever instead tried to beef up the business section of the Herald and compete directly with allnovascotia.com; that effort was another of Lever’s miserable failures, albeit we got a couple of good reporters out of the deal who have moved on to other beats.
Lever fills the pages of his dead tree paper with praise for “innovation,” then continues to try to make the hopelessly dated dead tree business model work. This is the classic Innovators Dilemma. Compared to the profits generated by the Herald’s printing presses, the potential profits from an online-only news site are puny, and so Lever has made his choice: better to abandon any notion of quality journalism, and go with the profits gleaned from printing fliers, throwaway tabloids, and an advertorial-filled daily, for as long as that lasts.
I think there are enough readers out there who care about quality journalism that the numbers come together to make an online news site work. Well, I know there are — the Halifax Examiner is proving the point.
I’m conservative when it comes to business matters. I won’t take on debt to expand this operation, and so I’m scaling the site up only at the rate that new subscriptions come in. I think there’s still a lot of potential for growth, and I have goals. Those goals, however, are modest — hire a handful of reporters at good wages, provide a decent freelance income for others, and be known as the local site for deep analytical articles like Linda Pannozzo’s Feeding the Fire and investigative pieces like the DEAD WRONG series. There’s a market for this.
Can Local Xpress become even bigger? Can it overnight give employment to a few dozen reporters at the wages they were making at the Herald? Donham suggests that Local Xpress hunt for advertising revenue. I’m philosophically opposed to advertising-supported news, for reasons I’ve explained in great detail. But besides that, I think chasing advertising dollars is sticking to part of the broken business model of the Herald — there’s even less money in web advertising than there is in dead tree advertising.
But again, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. There is an existing business model of a large online news site that doesn’t overly rely on advertising. I’m talking about The Tyee, the Vancouver-based site that continues to produce high-quality independent journalism.
The Tyee cribs together several financing sources, including selling shares to community members, union funding, and even renting out desk space. Right now the striking Herald workers have the unions’ ear, and this would be a good time to get some discussion going.
2. Cranky letter of the day
For the most part I read with interest the articles published in The Coast. However, I am very confused over what community you serve. I live in Dartmouth, a community in HRM. Dartmouth is not part of Halifax, nor in Halifax in any way, shape or form. I noticed you have a city editor. Question is, what city? I’ll assume you refer to Halifax as a city from the content. This is a grave error.
Halifax lost its city status along with Dartmouth (and all other communities in Halifax County lost their incorporated status) when amalgamation was forced upon us in 1996. HRM’s new logo, while in my view a bit childish in design, is not representative of the whole region and certainly does not change the name of our municipality.
We don’t like it, do not accept it and would very much appreciate the media—print, TV, radio and online—would respect the people of Dartmouth by not lumping them in with “Halifax.”
Dartmouth is a community separate from the Halifax community but an integral part of HRM; please do not refer to Dartmouth people, places, businesses and other things as from Halifax. I, and thousands of Dartmouthians, would very much appreciate your due diligence to this matter.
I am looking to reading more accurate news and reports from The Coast.
Liz Campbell, Dartmouth
Design Review Committee (4pm, City Hall) — proposed changes to the Nova Centre will be discussed.
Public Information meeting (7pm, Black Cultural Centre) — Right and Ready Homes Inc. wants to build “a multi-use recreation facility” at 1224 Highway No. 7 in Westphal, which is at the corner of Highway 7 and Ross Road (see Google satellite view above) . The facility will include:
- approximately 11,148 square metre (120,000 square foot) in size;
- the realignment of the Ross Road and Hwy. No.7 intersection;
- two ice rinks;
- two indoor turf fields;
- interpretive centre;
- fitness facilities;
- viewing stands;
- restaurant; and
- other related amenities.
Right and Ready Homes is headed by Nelson Grosse of East Preston. In a letter to the city, Grosse explains that he wants to build the Preston’s Sports Heritage Centre, and “the world class facility will be a comprehensive multi sport specific training facility.”:
The vision of the development is satisfying a huge need for ice rental and soccer in this underserved area which encompasses the areas of Cole Harbour, Westphal, Lawrencetown, Preston, Cherry Brook, Dartmouth, Lake Echo, Porters Lake, Chezzetcook, Musquodoboit and others. Young and old can all enjoy a walk in the indoor track, play a game of hockey, enjoy a bite to eat, visit the sports heritage memorabilia or practice their soccer skills or get fit at the sports facility so the users and possibilities are endless.
Not only will the proposed community centre serve to provide a place where local residents can be more active, but it also will provide much needed employment opportunities. During the proposal process, we have had the opportunity to meet with local politicians and community leaders, who are very excited to welcome a facility to bring pride and employment to their area.
Veterans Affairs (9am, One Government Place) — Colonel (Retd) Kevin Camero will be asked about the Canada Company Military Employment Transition Program.
Multivariate Chemical Data (3:30pm, Colloquium Room #319, Chase Building) — Peter Wentzell will speak on “Projection Pursuit for the Exploratory Analysis of Multivariate Chemical Data.” Here’s what he has to say about that:
In chemistry, the classification of samples from multivariate measurements, such as compositional, spectroscopic or chromatographic data, is an important problem. This classification is relevant in areas such as archeology, forensics, and medical diagnostics. However, chemical data are often characterized by a low sample-to-variable ratio, which can lead to difficulties in training and validating supervised classification methods. For this reason, exploratory data analysis techniques that do not make use of class information (unsupervised methods) are often used for initial validation. Popular approaches are hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA) and principal components analysis (PCA) because they provide a visual representation of the data structure. However, approaches based on classical distance and variance metrics are often limited in what they can reveal. An alternative approach, initially proposed by Joseph Kruskal in 1969, is based on finding interesting projections of the data. This was later refined by Jerome Friedman and John Tukey (1974), who coined the term “projection pursuit” to describe the method. Adoption of this method has been limited due to some ambiguity over the definition of the term “interesting”, as well as issues related to its quantification and optimization. In this talk, an efficient projection pursuit algorithm based on kurtosis will be described, and its applications, advantages and limitations in exploratory analysis will be discussed using several chemical examples.
Permaculture (7pm, Ondaatje Auditorium, McCain Building) — Kim Thompson, who is the director of The Deanery Project in Ship Harbour, will speak on “Community Hubs and Place-Based Experimental Learning: a Permaculture Perspective.”:
Thompson is also the principal at Straw Bale Projects pioneering the development of straw bale and other natural building methods. In her role as professor at Dalhousie’s School of Architecture, Thompson leads the collaboration between Dalhousie’s Free Lab summer course and the Deanery Project.
The projects Thompson seeks focus on community strengthening opportunities and have resulted in many creative structures that sustain connections and build capacity at a community level.
Before DNA (8pm, $48 NSF Fee Auditorium, McCain Building) — Gerald F. Joyce, who is the director of the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation in San Diego, will speak on “Life Before DNA and Protein: Reconstructing the RNA World.”
Dying From Improvement (1pm, Alumni Hall) — Sherene Razack, from the University of Toronto, will speak on “Dying From Improvement: Inquests and Inquiries Into Indigenous Deaths in Custody.” Explains the event listing:
Amidst systematic state violence against Indigenous people, inquiries and inquests serve to obscure the violence of ongoing settler colonialism under the guise of benevolent concern.
Settler society is told that it is improving the lives of Indigenous people – even as the rates of incarceration of Indigenous men and women and the number of those who die in custody rises.
This powerful critique of the Canadian legal system speaks to many of today’s most pressing issues of social justice.
In the harbour
OOCL Kuala Lumpur sails to sea
We’re recording Examineradio today. And I’m reading a bunch of court documents.
Speaking of which, I found the donair angle to the DEAD WRONG series.