November subscription drive
On Saturday, I drove to Advocate Harbour to do interviews with a few folks in that small community in Cumberland County, about a 45-minute drive from Parrsboro.
The story itself is still in the works, and I am excited to tell it to you all. Last week when I was emailing back and forth with one of the people I interviewed, I suggested I visit Advocate Harbour to do the interview in person. I wasn’t sure that would work since Saturday was a holiday. But fortunately for me, they did invite me to go in person.
We may be called the Halifax Examiner, but we cover important issues that affect the entire province. I personally enjoy the chance to put on real pants, get outside, and meet people from any part of Nova Scotia. Not only do I get to learn about their communities and their stories, but I also learn how we’re all connected. And in the case of this story, how decisions made in Halifax can greatly affect much smaller communities, and not always for the better.
Besides, during these trips I get to see another part of our beautiful province. The drive to Advocate Harbour is a lovely one, with its winding roads and hills. I especially enjoyed the views of the red and burgundy wild blueberry fields that dotted the landscape all along Highway 2 and Highway 209. Those interviews were so good, I basically had the story written in my head by the time I got back home Saturday night. Now I just need to get back to the keyboard to do the actual writing.
All of my colleagues have covered stories from well outside of the city. One fantastic example of this is Joan Baxter’s work on the forestry industry in Nova Scotia, including her Deforestation Inc. series, which you can read here.
In May Baxter also wrote this story about the Pictou County Forest School. She had the chance to spend some time at the school interviewing teachers and students.
Baxter and Tim Bousquet cover many other issues in rural Nova Scotia, including gold mining, green hydrogen, and the Canso spaceport. And they cover those stories in more depth than other media do (if they cover those stories at all.)
Philip Moscovitch wrote about Parrsboro, and in particular Ship’s Company Theatre, in this Morning File in July. Moscovitch interviewed Laura Vingoe-Cram, the company’s artistic director, about keeping theatre alive in a small town and how the lack of art reviewers affect their bottom line.
The versatile Yvette d’Entremont covers many different beats for the Examiner, including health care, COVID, and much more. In December 2022, d’Entremont took a trip to Dalhousie Mountain in Pictou County to see the devastation Hurricane Fiona wrought on the maple syrup industry.
Jennifer Henderson also reports on stories that affect everyone in the province, including ambulance offload times, nursing shortages, and what’s happening in the legislature. When wildfires hit the province this past spring, Henderson headed to Shelburne County to report on the fires, evacuations, and more.
So when you subscribe to the Halifax Examiner, know that you’re also supporting our telling of stories from across Nova Scotia. We may have Halifax in our name, but we always have Nova Scotia at the top of our minds when reporting.
Thank you all for subscribing. If you’re not already a subscriber, you can sign up here.
And if you have a story you think the Examiner should cover, just know I’m always up for a road trip.
1. Bayers Lake Community Outpatient Centre
“Premier Tim Houston cut the ribbon yesterday on a $260 million health care facility that expects to see 280,000 visits a year,” reports Jennifer Henderson.
The land for the Bayers Lake Community Outpatient Centre was purchased from Banc Developments by the McNeil government in 2017. In 2020, that Liberal government signed a contract with EllisDon to build and maintain the facility for the next 30 years after an external consultant’s report suggested the deal should save about $35 million.
While initiated by the previous Liberal government, Houston took credit for seeing the outpatient clinic come to fruition. “We are moving the needle on health care,” he said. “Nova Scotians elected us to fix health care. We’re doing it by chipping away — one solution at a time. We’re also pushing longer-term solutions.”
Dr. Alex Mitchell, the vice-president of healthcare infrastructure at Build Nova Scotia, told the audience attending the official opening the facility was built “on time and on budget.”
The clinic’s doors open to the public Monday, as reported last month by the Halifax Examiner. The outpatient facility allows patients to pre-book xrays, ultrasounds, and blood work as well as consults with physiotherapists and orthopedic specialists.
Click or tap here to read “Premier Tim Houston cuts ribbon on the Bayers Lake Outpatient Centre, Nova Scotia’s first P3 health clinic.”
2. No timeline for Coastal Protection Act
“Ensuring reliable cellular service during extreme weather events and the Coastal Protection Act (CPA) were among several issues discussed during the legislature’s standing committee on public accounts Wednesday,” reports Yvette d’Entremont.
The meeting’s focus was on climate change adaptation, the Emergency Management Office (EMO) funding and preparedness for emergency disasters in Nova Scotia, and output-based pricing systems for industry.
One issue raised several times by committee members from both opposition parties concerned the Coastal Protection Act. As reported here, 12 Nova Scotia municipalities joined the Ecology Action Centre (EAC) earlier this month in demanding the province implement the act’s regulations. The EAC has accused the provincial government of shirking its responsibilities with the Coastal Protection Act and of passing them on to municipalities.
In a September media release, the Department of Environment and Climate Change announced the province was for the first time contacting coastal property owners for their input on how to plan and adapt development along Nova Scotia’s coastline in response to climate change.
That online consultation survey closed last Tuesday. Both the EAC and NDP leader Claudia Chender have suggested the delay was out of concern for private property owners who wanted to build before new regulations come into effect.
On Oct. 24, Environment and Climate Change Minister Timothy Halman told reporters that wasn’t the case.
Also up for discussion at the meeting Wednesday were water bombers and Bill 329.
The notice of intent for the meeting states that if the amendments are approved, there will be “no new development license applications for wind turbines in the county before December 2024, when a county-wide Municipal Planning Strategy and Land use by-law is completed.”
Together those projects would see a total of 74 turbines erected on more than 32,000 acres of mostly forested land in the Cobequid Mountains.
The company is counting on those wind projects, along with a third one at Bear Lake at the intersection of West Hants, Chester and Halifax municipalities, to produce green energy to power the first phase of its green hydrogen production in Point Tupper. The plan is to convert the hydrogen to green ammonia for shipping to Europe.
Click or tap here to read “Crucial vote by Colchester Council is crunch time for EverWind’s proposed wind projects in the county.”
“The province will allow the Donkin Mine to reopen. That reopening is contingent on its owner, Kameron Coal, meeting the terms of two work orders issued Tuesday.” reported Tim Bousquet on Wednesday.
The province issued a stop work order on July 15, after a “significant” roof fall in the mine corridor known as Tunnel 2. That came eight days after another, albeit smaller, roof fall in the same tunnel.
In September, the Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration contracted Andrew Corkum, a Dalhousie professor and geotechnical engineer, to study the mine. Corkum completed his report on the mine Monday, but while the resulting work orders are public, the report itself hasn’t yet been released. The Department of Labour says it is conducting a privacy review of the report in order to redact what are termed proprietary details that supposedly could put Kameron at a competitive disadvantage should those details be made public.
Corkum’s study of the mine consisted of a review of 45 documents and a site visit in late October to inspect Tunnels 2 and 3.
“Based on the review, the issue at the tunnels is primarily related to the presence of a mudstone rock in the roof in many locations,” Corkum said Wednesday. “And this clay-bearing type of rock has a tendency to degrade with the presence of water and is very sensitive to water weathering and so on. And so it’s particularly sensitive to the humidity inside of the tunnel. And that’s why there’s a tendency for problems to occur in the high humidity seasons. And there’s really little, if any, record of any problems in the low humidity seasons like the winter.”
For that reason, Corkum suggested a two-phase approach to reopening the mine.
5. RCMP want money for more cops
“The RCMP’s Halifax detachment wants money from the Halifax Regional Municipality to help pay for seven more officers, including two intimate partner violence investigators,” I reported this morning.
Chief Supt. Jeffrey Christie, Darrell Harvey with the RCMP, and Insp. Jeff Mitchell made a presentation about the funding request to the Halifax board of police commissioners on Wednesday night. The request includes funding for four general duty officers, an assistant detachment commander, and two intimate partner violence investigators, which are new roles for the Halifax detachment.
Harvey noted changes in policing in HRM, including increased calls for extreme weather, the Tantallon wildfires, and calls in connection to homeless encampments in the city and Lower Sackville.
The funding request was also based on findings from the Policing Model Transformation Study published earlier this year.
Click or tap here to read “RCMP want more cops, intimate partner violence investigators for Halifax.”
‘There are some incredible minds in this room’: Lecture series to honour Dr. Brian Hennen
Tonight a special event at the Sir Charles Tupper Building at Dalhousie University will honour Dr. Brian Hennen, who worked for decades promoting inclusive education, housing, and employment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
On Wednesday I spoke with Wendy Lill and Dr. Karen McNeil, just two of the several organizers behind the inaugural Brian Hennen Inclusive Community Lecture.
McNeil, who practices family medicine and whose research interests involve people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, met Hennen in 2005 when he came back from Manitoba after serving as dean of the medical school in that province. McNeil said Hennen was determined to bring topics around developmental disability to the curriculum at Dalhousie’s medical school.
“As a physican, he really changed the way I practice because I got heavily involved in the care of this population, and I have never regretted it,” McNeil said.
Lill got to know Hennen when she served as a member of Parliament in 2004. She said her main goals was to advocate not only for arts, but also on behalf of people with disabilities, including her own son. She said that’s given her an “up close and personal” understanding of the issue.
Lill and Hennen served on several non-profit boards together, including the Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities and Independent Living Nova Scotia.
“We were always working towards trying to keep people with intellectual disabilities in the framework,” Lill said.
“We were advocates. We worked together to make life possible, more inclusive lives possible, for people with disabilities. Brian, he just had a vision right from the get-go. He always knew that this was an area that had to be explored and medically it had to be improved.”
McNeil said Hennen worked on issues around people with intellectual disabilities from the time he was a medical student.
“I remember him telling me stories about working at Rideau [Regional Centre] and he was one of the staff there as a medical student. When he came to Halifax…he was one of the first physicians to graduate with their family physician degree,” McNeil said.
“He was very well respected in the medical community, both by family physicians and specialists alike.”
Lill said when Hennen passed away suddenly in August 2021, his colleagues were shocked. Lill, McNeil, and a small group got together to plan something to honour his memory. Lill said it was Steve Estey, who was also a prominent advocate for people with disabilities and who passed away in September, who had suggested the group organize an inclusive annual event to bring everyone together and inspire and challenge others.
Lill said the event will also be a “joyous time” with a performance by the Club Inclusion Choir, which Hennen started, and art displays.
McNeil said the event speaks to Hennen’s ability to bring people together, and called him a “connector.”
“I know Wendy because of Brian. I know people from multiple walks of life because of Brian. He just had a way of connecting you with the people you needed at the time you needed them. That was one of his gifts,” McNeil said.
“As you can see, he’s still connecting us.”
Lill said two committees — a lecture committee and a fundraising committee — took on the work of planning this event. She said the goal of the fundraising committee is to get a $50,000 endowment fund to carry through for future events.
For a theme, the group decided to focus on “inclusive employment.” And a panel of people with disabilities, including Katie Eisner, Andrew Byrant, Andrew Thornes, Jennifer Richardson, and Halifax’s town crier Will Brewer, will share their experiences with employment.
Keynote speakers include Frank Fagan, assistant national director of Ready, Willing and Able (RWA) and Brian Foster, national manager, policy and resource development for RWA. Ready, Willing and Able is a national organization that promotes an inclusive labour force.
Hennen’s family has been involved since the beginning. One of his daughters, Nancy, will be a co-emcee with Brewer.
Lill and McNeil said they also invited employers from the community who can connect with people with developmental disabilities who are looking for work.
Lill said a lot of Hennen’s colleagues from around the world will join in online via Zoom. Lill and McNeil said Hennen had an expression he often shared: “there are some incredible minds in this room.” They said he would say the same about the lecture series tonight.
“His memory is staying alive in that respect,” Lill said. “It will be ‘there he goes again’ just having a really positive impact. After all our meetings, we’re exhausted, but still like, ‘hey, that’s good.’ It feels like he’s in the room.”
McNeil and Lill said after Thursday’s event wraps up, the committees will get planning for next year’s lecture, which may focus on inclusive education.
Lill said her son has worked in the community for years, and while he’s non-verbal, in that time he has also made plenty of connections in the community.
“He’s one of the people out there working. He’s doing good work,” Lill said. “A lot has changed, but a lot more still has to change.”
McNeil said there is more awareness about the challenges people with intellectual disabilities face, but said there needs to be “more rolling up of the sleeves” to do the work on inclusion and accessibility.
“I think we’re just at the cusp of bursting open, and I really hope that burst happens here in Nova Scotia because we’ve kind of lagged behind a little bit when you look at deinstitutionalization and things like that. Yet there are so many keen and effective people in Nova Scotia who can make this happen. I hope this inclusive community event highlights that and buoys it,” McNeil said.
She said she hopes the takeaway message from the lecture is that there is work to do and we have skills in Nova Scotia and “let’s get it done.”
Lill agreed. “Nothing is ever perfect, but we’re moving in the right direction.”
For more information on the lecture series, click here.
Neal Livingston and C-18
Last week Jennifer Henderson sent me a press release from Neal Livingston, a Cape Breton artisan, table maker, and documentary film producer, who has decided not to advertise his handcrafted dining room and coffee tables on Facebook. His reason? Facebook’s refusal to comply with Canada’s Law C-18 known as the Online News Act:
Law C-18, known as the Online News Act, is critical to maintaining not only news to Canadians, but the ability for news organizations, and also cultural producers like myself, to be able to produce our work. I have had a long career in media production, and the idea that news and cultural creation can be made free, and made available for free, for the billionaire owners at FACEBOOK to profit, simply destroys our ability in Canada to have quality news and cultural production.
The Facebook business model of not paying anyone for anything, but selling our information as data to others, makes billions of dollars a year for FACEBOOK. This model is extremely destructive for cultural producers like myself, and media organizations.
In that press release, Livingston said he’s encouraging others to cancel their advertising with Facebook as well:
I believe that if many of us would cancel our plans to spend with Facebook, or to cancel advertising that is currently active, that this may help to force FACEBOOK to comply with bill C-18 – known as the Online News Act.
This morning, I contacted Livingston to ask about his plans for advertising since he won’t be spending that money on Facebook. Here’s what he wrote back:
I am advertising with Google Ads, which is not blocking Canadian media stories (though they have said they may not comply — and I do not see clarity when I look into this about them paying funds to Canadian media at this time). Facebook has paid advertising available to purchase.
I am also considering other media advertising, in a couple of weeks, some smaller NS media such as you but have not researched this yet.
Community Planning and Economic Development Standing Committee (Thursday, 10am, City Hall and online) — agenda
Active Transportation Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4:30pm, online) — agenda
Youth Advisory Committee (Thursday, 5pm, Power House Youth Centre) — agenda
It’s a Small World After All and Everything’s Connected to: Victory in Ukraine (Thursday, 6:30pm, McInnes Room, Student Union Building) — the 15th Annual Halifax International Security Forum; info and registration here
Housing Engagement Series, Session 3 (Friday, 11am, in the auditorium named after a fossil fuel company) — Innovation in Housing – including brainstorming proactive solutions
Network-thinking in evolutionary biology: Can we still uncover surprising interactions involving the microbial world? (Friday, 11:30am, Room 3-H1, Tupper medical Building) — Eric Bapteste from Sorbonne University, Paris will talk
WORKSHOP: Porcupine Quillwork Medallions (Thursday, 1pm, Treaty Space Gallery) — third and final session of 3-part workshop series; info and registration here
In the harbour
13:00: One Falcon, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for Port Said, Egypt
14:00: AlgoScotia, oil tanker, sea to anchor
15:00: Zhen Hua 23, heavy load carrier, sails from Pier 41 for sea
16:00: MSC Alyssa, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Montreal
17:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Autoport to Fairview Cove West
23:15: Algoma Mariner, bulker, arrives at Pier 25 from Montreal
17:00: Algoma Victory, bulker, arrives at Quarry from Point Tupper
17:30: Phoenix Admiral, oil tanker, sails from Everwind 1 for New York City
14:00: CSL Flexvik, bulk carrier, sails from Quarry for Aulds Cove
18:30: Apache, oil tanker, arrives at Everwinds 1 from Bahamas
21:00: Algoma Value, bulker, moves from outer anchorage to alongside the Ino Horizon
I think one of my cats is a bit constipated. Worrying about my cat’s bowel movements must make me a true cat lady now.