1. “Public” wifi
Today, Halifax council will consider a proposal for “Public” wifi in downtown Halifax and Dartmouth (the purple-ish areas shown on the map above).
Let me first put out there that I am not the intended target of the proposal. I have a super-duper business account, and pay about $150 a month for a data limit I almost never hit on my phone, which I often use as a hotspot for my laptop. I do use the wifi in coffeeshops, the libraries, and at City Hall to search the internet and post on Twitter, but not for email or anything I might want protected.
But besides tourists, I’m having a hard time understanding who exactly benefits from this proposal. There’s already free wifi on the Waterfront (I don’t use it, so I don’t know how it performs), and at the libraries. You need a library card to access the system at the libraries, but the cards are free and so is the wifi, even if you owe money on an overdue book (I know). Also, at Grand Parade, you can already access the Halifax City Hall guest wifi system if you sit in the Adirondack chairs closest to Halifax Hall (the east side of the building).
I imagine the proposed system will have somewhat greater geographic reach than the existing systems, but judging by the map, not much. The staff report is very unclear about whether the wifi system will extend beyond the libraries, waterfront, and Grand Parade.
It feels like a switcheroo is in the works: the red lines on the map above are the “Fiber Optic Network” — does that mean people will be able to access the internet along those routes, or is it just that’s where the existing lines are, and maybe some day in the future we can extend service along those lines? I’m guessing the latter. The switcheroo came in after a secret meeting council held to discuss wifi:
The original RFP [Request for Proposals] responses included proposals for possible revenue generating marketing opportunities, but any of these opportunities would have added to the cost to the municipality and complexity to the contract(s) without providing any certainty of revenue or guaranteed return on money spent. The original responses did not achieve Council’s goal of a cost neutral solution and staff provided a private and confidential Public Wi-Fi Procurement update to Council, In Camera on May 31, 2016.
Subsequent to the In Camera Council discussion, staff were directed by the CAO to re-engage the three original proponents to submit a further best and final offer based on clarifications by the Municipality regarding a refinement of the geographic coverage and the addition of Halifax Central Library, Halifax North Memorial Library and Alderney Public Library to the scope.
Consider this “refinement of the geographic coverage” by comparing the coverage area as envisioned in the original RFP. In these maps, the red lines are not describing an unexplained “Fiber Optic Network,” but rather are showing the coverage area itself:
The original RFP was specific about the coverage areas:
The following initial target areas have been identified by stakeholders for validation and are defined as follows:
a) Dartmouth (Refer to Appendix A for Maps of proposed Dartmouth Coverage Areas)
• Waterfront Area — below Alderney Drive: bottom of North Street to Canal Street
• Ferry Terminal Park (included in waterfront area)
• Alderney Landing (included in waterfront area)
• Sullivan’s Pond — park bordered by Crichton Avenue, Hawthorn, Prince Albert Road and Ochterloney Street
• Prince Albert Road – Between Nowlan Street and Cottage Hill Drive
• Canal Greenway – Prince Albert Road between Ochterloney Street and Pine Street extension
• Dartmouth Commons – Leighton Dillman Park area corner of Park Avenue and King Street down to Alderney Drive; baseball diamond area on Thistle Street and the Halifax Transit Bridge Terminal area on Thistle Street
• Birch Cove Beach – see map
• Ochterloney Street – Alderney Drive to Crichton Avenue
• Portland St – Alderney Drive to Victoria Road
b) Ferry Route (Refer to Appendix A for Maps of proposed Ferry Route Coverage Areas)
c) Halifax (Refer to Appendix A for Maps of proposed Halifax Coverage Areas)
• Waterfront – Casino to the end of the boardwalk at the junction between the Nova Scotia Power Emera Building and the Halifax Seaport Market (there is a large arch sign that says “Halifax Harbourwalk” at this exact location. From the water to the east edge of Lower Water Street.
• Barrington Street – Duke Street to Spring Garden Road.
• Argyle Street – Duke Street to Blowers Street
• Grand Parade Square – Bordered by Barrington Street, Duke Street,
• Argyle Street, and Prince Street.
• Citadel Hill – The grassy areas bordered by Rainnie Drive, Brunswick Street, and Sackville Street.
• Spring Garden Road – Barrington Street to South Park Street
• Quinpool Road – Robie Street to Oxford Street
• The areas encompassing Saint Mary’s, Dalhousie and King’s College universities.
The current proposal, however, has almost none of that coverage. In the staff report given to council, there’s no mention of coverage on the ferries, nothing about Citadel Hill, nothing about universities. The Dartmouth Common, the duck pond, and Lake Banook have been removed. Nothing about street coverage. Just four vague purple blobs around the libraries, City Hall, and the waterfront.
It’s possible that the staff report is just horribly written, and all those details are actually in the proposed service. But I doubt it — with wide public interest in this proposal, we should expect the highest level of detail going to council and the public. Instead, it looks like we’re getting bait-and-switch.
And at a cost of $2,631,665, I’m having a hard time seeing value for money in this proposal.
Moreover, as I told Sam Austin, I’ve read the staff report, but still can’t figure out if this will be supported with advertising. I’m worried about a complex user experience — giving away mom’s maiden name to get in, that sort of thing, and then being bombarded with ads. There’s not a word of explanation in the staff report.
Austin said he’d ask.
Like other Pride organizations around North America, Halifax Pride is wrestling with how to be true to its radical roots and yet open to all communities. The issue became pointedly visible when a group of people associated with Black Lives Matter, which draws attention to police violence against Black people, shut down the Toronto Pride parade, in part because of the participation of police in the parade.
While there haven’t been any recent high-profile police shootings of Black people in Halifax, the same issues are at play, especially in light of documentation that Black people are three times more likely to be stopped by police than are white people.
Yesterday, Halifax police released the following statement:
With the support of Halifax Pride, Halifax Regional Police will revamp its participation in the Halifax Pride Festival this year.
HRP, following discussions with Halifax Pride, will increase its participation in the 2017 Halifax Pride Festival but not participate in this year’s parade. The decision came after ongoing discussions with Halifax Pride about HRP’s involvement in the festival in consideration of a national debate about police participation in pride parades.
“We feel that stepping away temporarily from the parade will best support the LGBT2Q+ community by helping to allow for meaningful discussion of this divisive issue,” says Chief Jean-Michel Blais. “After several months of discussion with Halifax Pride, we recognized that our participation in the parade may contribute to divisions in the LGBT2Q+ community which is contrary to our intent of building a strong and sustainable relationship.”
Halifax Pride Executive Director, Adam Reid, supports HRP’s proactive decision. “To my knowledge, HRP is the first police service in Canada to take this community-minded approach to its pride participation,” says Reid. “Halifax Pride works with all of its community partners to discuss how they wish to participate in the Pride Festival, and we’re very happy that HRP is committed to growing and strengthening our relationship.”
HRP’s participation in the 2017 Pride Festival will be shaped by input from the LGBT2Q+ community and HRP employees. Ideas being explored include a community barbecue, public lecture and a plenary session. HRP will continue to support the parade by providing traffic duty and ensuring the security of those participating and attending.
Pride has been in a reflective mode ever since Queer Arabs of Halifax objected to “pinkwashing” at last year’s Pride celebration content. Pinkwashing, explained El Jones, is “content from governments or corporations that uses LGBTQ+ friendly content to gloss over human rights violations or corporate misconduct.” Queer Arabs of Halifax’s initial complaint was with a display that promoted Israel, but the motion the group put forward was more expansive, seeking a policy from the Pride committee that would address all such future concerns.
What followed, wrote Jones, was a “coup at the Pride meeting“:
The short version of what happened at the Halifax Pride Society’s AGM is that cisgendered straight people organized to vote down motions by LGBTQ+ people, leading to the walkout of most of the BIPOC (Black/Indigenous/People of Colour) community and many members of the Queer and Trans community.
These are issues for Pride to deal with and solve on their own terms, or not. It’s possible Pride is irrevocably splintered, but with the cops backing out of the parade, maybe there’s a bit of breathing room at least on that issue.
“A Nova Scotia doctor has lost her privileges to treat opioid users at an inpatient detox unit in Pictou because she refuses to prescribe methadone, or what she calls a ‘medical monster,’” reports Angela MacIvor for the CBC:
Dr. Cathy Felderhof said people need more options, including long-term counseling, when trying to overcome their addiction other than resorting to the controversial synthetic opioid.
“It’s taken the spotlight off of some of the root causes [of addiction],” said Felderhof of methadone.
A CBC Nova Scotia investigation has learned the Nova Scotia Health Authority shut down treatment for opioid users at the Pictou withdrawal unit last spring, after learning Felderhof had been operating without methadone for two years. The facility continues to treat people who are addicted to alcohol and other drugs.
Last week, Chris Lambie reported (behind paywall) on a study of 20 Halifax-area primary care physicians surrounding methadone treatment. That study found that some physicians were weary of prescribing methadone, for some of the same reasons articulated by Felderhof. Other doctors were enthusiastic about methadone, echoing comments made in the CBC article.
4. Public art
The city this morning issued a Request for Proposals for public art at the new Charles P. Allen High School / Bedford–Hammonds Plains Community Centre complex on Innovation Drive. Up to $25,000 is available to the artist(s) selected.
5. Wild Kingdom
People are seeing a lot of rare animals in Cape Breton, including a redheaded duck. The duck is often accused of being a witch, is falsely said to be going extinct, and is irresistibly alluring. It’s probably dyed, tho.
1. Electric cars
“Nova Scotians have long assumed that driving an electric car here is the equivalent of running the vehicle on coal, because that’s what Nova Scotia Power uses to run its generators,” writes Bill Turpin:
But NSPI’s much-improved fuel mix, combined with the high efficiency of electric motors, has changed the math. Halifax-centric Turpin Labs bought a 2012 Nissan Leaf and easily cut our road emissions by more than half and, incidentally, reduced fuel costs by more than 70 per cent.
These are real-world results, based on an 18-month commissioning process that began when I spotted a used Leaf at a bargain price. The results are supported, in principle, by real research done at Dal five years ago.
Over 8,000 km, the Leaf generated 912 kg of CO2, via NSPI’s generators. Our previous car, a 2010 Toyota Matrix, would have generated 1,840 kg over the same distance. By the way, this 8,000 km cost $230 in electricity, taxes in. The Matrix would have burned through 800 litres of gasoline costing $834. Maintenance of the Leaf is low because electric motors are relatively simple.
Stephen Archibald looks at five buildings at the corner of Prince and Granville Streets that were demolished in 1983, which is interesting… but get to the postscript:
The only business I remember from these buildings was Denlock’s Acadian Grill, a wildly popular lunch place, in the Granville Building .
On March 28, 1983, a photographer (with Art College connections I believe) photographed folks having lunch. The proof sheet of the negatives was made into a poster to celebrate the restaurant, knowing that it was about to close.
Denlock’s had a big U shaped counter and you could expect to see a cross section of downtown workers and students. Politicians and press from the legislature mingled with office workers and lawyers, all after tasty soup and pie.
3. Cranky letter of the day
I want to bring attention to the huge amount of people whom feel entitled to illegally park in disabled parking spots. One in particular is the one in front of the Stratford liquor store.
There are countless numbers of people that show total disregard to the needs of disabled members of our society and it is really getting on many peoples’ nerves. I have called the RCMP a couple times to report this and they never seem to take it very seriously either.
I have witnessed a person in a wheelchair that had to park very far from the store in narrower parking spots because unpermitted drivers where filling up the designated spots. These people should be ashamed of themselves and the stores need to take more action in regards to this issue.
Bill Bradley, Johnston’s River
City Council (10am, City Hall) — I’m still sick but will drag my Ebola-ridden self over to City Hall and at least watch the wifi discussion. Live-blogging on Twitter at @hfxExaminer.
Community Services (1pm, Province House) — the committee will ask about “Work and Education Rules for Income Assistance Recipients.”
Public Accounts (9am, Province House) — Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Deputy Minister Paul LaFleche will be asked about the Ship of Theseus.
Predicting the Future (Tuesday, 11:30am, Room 430, Goldberg Computer Science Building) Travis Barlow, all-around smart guy, will speak on “Infosec Today and Tomorrow.”
Aerial Surveys (12pm, Room 3089, Kenneth C. Rowe Management Building) Dirk Werle, with the International Oceans Institute, will speak on “Setting the Sights on the Cities: Civilian Aerial Surveys in Canada During the Early 1920s.” His abstract:
This talk will examine and illustrate the civilian development and practical results of aerial photography in Canada immediately after the First World War (1914-1918). The collections of vertical air photos and their assembly in mosaic form, as well as the institutional arrangements of their creation under the Canada Air Board until 1925, represent an important part of Canada’s remote sensing and mapping heritage. Re-purposing military aerial reconnaissance for civilian applications took similar pathways in the United States, the United Kingdom and France by focusing on urban settings. The study uses as primary evidence the actual air photos and digitally re-assembled photo mosaics of several Canadian cities to reveal nature and spatial extent of urban landscape features prevalent at the time. The study also explores relationships to the present-day situation and to previous mapping efforts in Halifax. Urban surveys carried out over Ottawa, Halifax, London, Calgary! and Edmonton are highlighted. Annotated air photo mosaics are presented. It is argued that evolving format and detailed content of the largely experimental photography and mosaic compositions have retained significant scientific, heritage and educational value for comparative investigations involving more recent geospatial data and high-resolution satellite imagery of similar scale.
Miles Ahead (5pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery) — Don Cheadle’s 2015 film.
African People in Halifax: Embracing Our Diversity (6pm, Room 307, Dalhousie Student Union Building) — Veronica Marsman will moderate a panel discussion with Jason Chapman, Robert Wright, and Tyler Simmonds.
Gender Equality (5pm, Tupper Medical Building, Theatre A) Journalist and human rights activist Sally Armstrong will speak on “Women as Agents of Change.”
Ivan’s Childhood (8pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery) — a screening of Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1962 film.
Hidden Keys (7pm, Library LI135) — Andre Alexis will read from his book The Hidden Keys.
In the harbour
4:30am: Acadian, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from Saint John
I have a bunch of articles in the queue, waiting for my attention to be published. I’ll get to them, health allowing.