1. Northern Pulp

Northern Pulp Mill. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Yesterday, the Department of Environment sent out a short release:

Northern Pulp has informed the Department of Environment that it will continue the environmental assessment process for its proposed effluent treatment plant.

“Since the company has chosen to carry on with the environmental assessment process, we are legally required to continue,” said Environment Minister Gordon Wilson. “I want to assure Nova Scotians that, as Premier McNeil has confirmed, the Boat Harbour Act will be enforced as of Jan. 31.”

The company must submit an environmental assessment report. Draft terms of reference for the report were released today, Jan. 8.

The public and government reviewers have 30 days to comment on the draft. Once that happens, the company will have a chance to comment on the draft. A final terms of reference will be provided to the company by early April. Once the terms of reference are final, the company will have up to two years to complete the environmental assessment report.

What does it mean? Joan Baxter, Linda Pannozzo, Jennifer Henderson, and I had a chain email conversation after the release, and while it’s mostly speculation, here are some points raised:

Jennifer Henderson: Northern Pulp appears to intend to operate as a business, even if the pulp mill is not going to operate in the near future.

Linda Pannozzo: I’m not aware that layoff notices have been sent out.

Joan Baxter: I am guessing that Northern Pulp has yet to officially inform the province it is shutting down. The Industrial Approval, which expires on January 30, 2020, states that NP is supposed to submit a rehabilitation and closure plan a full year in advance of shutting down the facility.

All of which is to say, who knows? We’ve got the Examiner team looking into it today.

2. Iranian plane disaster

Mandieh Ghavi (Left) and Masoumeh Ghavi (Right). Photo: Instagram via Global

“At least five people with ties to Nova Scotia are among the 176 people killed in a plane crash near Iran’s capital, Tehran, early Wednesday morning,” report Alexander Quon and Aya Al-Hakim for Global:

Masoumeh Ghavi, an engineering student at Dalhousie University, and her sister, Mandieh Ghavi, were on the plane, according to Sadra Kord-Jamshidi, president of the Dalhousie Iranian Student Society.

Kord-Jamshidi said Mandieh Ghavi had recently been accepted to study at Dalhousie and Masoumeh Ghavi was accompanying her sister back to Canada for the new semester.

[Farhad] Raeisi has also confirmed that Dr. Sharieh Faghihi, a dentist who has worked in Halifax for several years, was also on the plane.

Faghihi and her family came to Canada in 2011 and attended the Dalhousie University qualifying program for foreign-trained dentists, according to an alumni magazine article.

Raeisi confirmed that Maryam Malek and Fatemeh Mahmoodi were also on the plane.

Both Malek and Mahmoodi were attending St. Mary’s University as masters of financial management students.

3. Recycling

“A new recycling model aims to make manufacturers responsible for processing products at end of life, rather than taxpayers,” reports Victoria Walton for The Coast:

Extended producer responsibility (EPR) has already been put into legislation in five out of 10 provinces (Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba), and has been used in Europe for over 30 years.

But, Nova Scotia is still months or even years away from seeing EPR implemented.

4. The Hotel Barmecide

The Grafton Street Glory Hole, with the convention centre and empty hotel above it. Photo: Halifax Examiner

In July, Kayla Hepworth, the communications manager for The Sutton Place Hotels, told Star Metro reporter Yvette d’Entremont that its Nova Centre hotel would open “in the first quarter of 2020,” or before April, 11 weeks from now. But aside from a general manager position (which was advertised with a closing date of February 11, but is no longer on the site), Sutton Place has not yet advertised any other job opportunities at its Halifax location.

Way back in 2017, Jan deRoos, a professor of Hotel Finance and Real Estate at the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University, told me that it would ideally take a year to get hotel staff trained and the hotel properly publicized before opening:

“You’d want that long to work with the convention centre operator for joint promotions and advertising.”

It would be possible, said deRoos, to get a hotel up and operating in less than a year, but he estimated that the Nova Centre hotel would require at least 150 employees. “You don’t want to poach most of those from competitors, and management positions will take time to recruit the right people. I’d say it’d take at least six months.”

Even then, he said, once a hotel is opened it will take about two years before all marketing can bring in enough guests to make it successful.

I kinda doubt this thing will open by April.

I explained the “Hotel Barmecide” thing here.

5. Yarmouth ferry terminal

Back when the Yarmouth ferry actually sailed.

The Town of Yarmouth has issued a tender offer for a rehab of the ferry terminal. Some of the work includes the demolition and replacement of portions of the Main Terminal Building roof, and:

…complete abatement, demolition, removal and appropriate disposal of the following structures:

1. Stevedore Building, including complete removal of building utilities (power and communications) to the respective service panels.

2. Passenger Gangway, including complete removal of hydraulic lift system and utilities (power and communications) to the respective service panels.

The successful bidder will also have to deal with hazardous materials, “including but not necessarily limited to asbestos, lead and mercury containing materials.” A hazardous materials survey of the ferry terminal complex is attached to the tender.

The tender closes on January 23, and the work is to be completed by April 30, just in time for the Alakai to start ferrying passengers to Bar Harbor. Or not.

6. Alert

I’m a dual citizen, holding both US and Canadian passports. Last night, I received a security alert from the US embassy in Ottawa:

Location: Worldwide

Event: Heightened Middle East Tensions

There is heightened tension in the Middle East that may result in security risks to U.S. citizens worldwide. U.S. citizens around the world are reminded to be mindful of their personal security.

The Embassy and Consulates General will continue to monitor the overall security situation and will provide additional information as needed.

  Actions to Take: 

· Keep a low profile.
· Be aware of your surroundings.
· Avoid demonstrations.
· Stay alert in locations frequented by tourists.
· Review your personal security plans.
· Have travel documents up to date and easily accessible.

I’ll stay away from the boardwalk today and wear dark sunglasses, I guess.

I watch with despair as the American political system is unable to manage or (preferably) remove the petulant, ego-driven man-child who is destroying everything he touches.

Hopefully, the Iranians take the long view and the present crisis will recede, but there will be some other inane debacle by day’s end, no doubt. And then another and another and another. This will not end well.


Back in November, when Torstar announced it was closing its Star Halifax operation and laying off the five journalists who worked there, the company also said it would be hiring a single “digital journalist” for Halifax. The Star Halifax operation was shut down on December 22, but there has been no word about this digital journalist position. The ad for it has been removed.

Somebody — maybe a robot — is running the Star Halifax twitter account, posting links to Canadian Press and Toronto Star articles, so I asked the account about the local digital journalist position. I got no response.

Who knows? Maybe some lucky Torontonian has been hired to move to the Maritimes to fill the position and is this very moment stuck in a snowbank on the TransCanada in New Brunswick. It’d be nice if someone said something, however.

Looking into this, I scanned the journalism job situation in Canada. (No, I’m not looking; I already have two jobs; I don’t need another.) The best place for such job announcements is Jeff Gaulin’s Job Board; I don’t know who Jeff Gaulin is or why his job board is the best, but it just is.

This morning, the top four job announcements come from non-traditional news organizations: Black Press Media (two positions), (for a labour reporter), and Native Communications Society of the NWT/CKLB Radio in Yellowknife. That speaks to the changing nature of media, and is hopefully a good sign.

There’s also a job offer from the Westlock News in Alberta, with the requirement that you have “a car that runs.” I’d stay away from that place; like Charlottetown, they apparently don’t even have Google.




Police Commission (Thursday, 1:30pm, City Hall) — a special meeting to consider the next police budget.

Harbour East – Marine Drive Community Council (Thursday, 6pm, HEMDCC Meeting Space, Alderney Gate) — whatever King’s Wharf wants, King’s Wharf gets.


No public meetings.


No public meetings today or Friday.

On campus



Historians and the Evolutionary Approach to Human Behavior (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1170, Marion McCain Building) — Greg Hanlon will talk.

Kitchen Table Talks (Friday, 5pm, University Club Games Room) — Democrats Abroad Atlantic Provinces’ first panel in a series discussing issues in American politics, featuring panelists from Dalhousie’s Department of Public Administration, the MacEachern Institute, and others. Tonight’s topic: US political culture in the Trump era.



Housing Hunt 101 – How to find your next home in Halifax (Thursday, 5:30pm, Wilson Common Room, new Academic Building) — for students of King’s.

In the harbour

02:00: CSL Tacoma, bulker, sails from National Gypsum for sea
05:00: YM Evolution, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
06:00: Skogafoss, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Argentia, Newfoundland
11:30: Skogafoss sails for Portland
16:00: YM Evolution sails for Rotterdam
16:00: Hansa Meersburg, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from New York
22:00: Augusta Sun, cargo ship, sails from Pier 31 for sea


Snow day yesterday, so slow news day.

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

Join the Conversation


Only subscribers to the Halifax Examiner may comment on articles. We moderate all comments. Be respectful; whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims. Please read our Commenting Policy.
  1. Northern Pulp has a timber license with WestFor Management Inc. and their own license with the province to cut on Crown land. I wonder, when they stop using Boat Harbour – what will become of the fibre allocation in those licenses?

    Many of us have been concerned about the clearcutting in Nova Scotia. In 18 months, from June 2018 to December 2019, over 34,100 acres of clearcuts were approved by the Department of Lands and Forestry, even though the Lahey Report recommended multi-aged forestry practices – and the Minister, Iain Rankin, claims that they are moving towards ecological forestry. The numbers speak for themselves.

    Will Northern Pulp be able to sell their fibre allocation to Irving? To Port Hawksbury Paper? To Great Northern Timber who had two shipments of wood pellets leave Nova Scotia in December – one bound for Denmark for their biomass plant – and the other going to Germany.

    So “the company” still – exists – they are just unable to use Boat Harbour…it’s not like they have gone bankrupt. They still have a signed Timber License with the province. They still have their own land (that we financed) that they can cut on…Makes me question what’s next.

    I honestly wish they would just get out of our province.


  2. Extended Producer Responsibility is hardly new. I discussed it 25 years ago during a presentation to a provincial consultation panel on solid waste management.

    Nova Scotia has been dragging its heels on it, however. The CFIB has been effective in convincing the government not to implement it.

    In the meantime, we are all paying twice for recycling, as the referenced article explains.

    1. Agreed. When I was in my Master of Public Administration back in 2009 I was hired as a summer intern for the Dept of Environment to undertake a jurisdictional analysis of EPR for the department as part of their work to move towards that model.