1. Kasian Report on VG Redevelopment

An architectural rendering of the proposed VG replacement.

“Finally, the province has released a massive amount of information from a consulting firm hired to draw up a Master Plan to replace the Victoria General Hospital,” reports Jennifer Henderson:

You can read what Kasian Architecture has recommended the proposed new facilities should look like and what services they will deliver here.

Some of the info is quite exciting — we’ll get to that in a minute. But first it should be noted the province received the report back in December. The Halifax Examiner filed a Freedom of Information request in January to see the contents of the $1.9 million report but we were denied on the basis it was “advice to government,” which could be protected for up to five years.

Yesterday, the McNeil government released a version of the December Kasian report (and subsequent reports) which were posted on the website which tracks the progress of the province’s biggest megaproject in decades. That’s a start.

However, according to Hunter Grant who works at The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy office, the reports from the consultant are incomplete because they have been scrubbed to delete some key information that the Examiner requested.

“The documents are not published in full as I have been advised that some info relating to the timelines and estimated costs have been redacted,” reads the email from Hunter Grant to this reporter.

Click here to read “A highly redacted version of the Master Plan to replace the Victoria General Hospital has been released.” 

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Page 202 of the April 2018 report notes that:

Four separate buildings allows for a shorter construction period enabling patients to be decanted from the Centennial and Victoria buildings sooner, therefore reducing clinical exposure.

“Decanting” means “moved out,” hopefully as cured, healthy people, but also possibly by, you know, dying from “clinical exposure” in the existing ancient, crumbling, flood-prone building.

It sounds like the actual argument for constructing four separate buildings rather than one is that fewer people will die in the meanwhile.

2. Refinery explosion

Irving refinery. Photo: Bruce Livesey

“A week after a fiery explosion at Canada’s largest oil refinery rocked the east side of Saint John, N.B., investigators say they have yet to examine the blast site because it remains a ‘hot zone,’” reports the Canadian Press:

At least four workers received minor injuries on Oct. 8 as swirling flames and black smoke rose into the sky above the sprawling Irving Oil refinery, which produces more than 320,000 barrels of refined products every day.

Workers hit by the explosion reported hearing a loud hissing sound from a diesel treating unit before they were engulfed in a wall of fire.

WorkSafe NB, the Crown corporation that oversees the province’s Occupational Health and Safety Act, was called in to determine the cause of the blast.

“We haven’t been able to get right to the site yet,” an agency spokeswoman said Monday. “It’s still a hot zone.”

She said it remains unclear when the site will be safe to examine.

3. Cannabis pricing

The NSLC has announced the retail price of cannabis in its stores tomorrow, as follows:

Those prices, say the announcement, “include all applicable taxes and will be adjusted as required based on market conditions.”

Those market conditions include supply problems:

Pre-rolls and accessories will also be available at a variety of price points. Seeds and cannabis oil will not be available on October 17 but will be added to inventory as soon as they are available from cannabis producers.

“We are pleased to offer a safe and secure supply of recreational cannabis to our customers at a variety of price points that we feel are competitive and reasonable,” said Dave DiPersio, NSLC’s Senior VP and Chief Services Officer.

The NSLC issued an Expression of Interest to secure arrangements for product with 14 cannabis suppliers. Previously, the NSLC stated it initially expected to offer approximately 300 products representing 78 strains. Due to a variety of challenges experienced by cannabis licensed producers, it is anticipated the NSLC will have less than 40% of requested quantities on hand on October 17. The NSLC currently has 97 products representing 52 strains in inventory. Based on estimated sales projections, we expect to have a three-week supply of inventory on hand this week. The supply challenges are being experienced nation wide and are not exclusive to Nova Scotia.

“Competitive” is an odd word for a retailer with a monopoly to use, but I guess it recognizes the existence of the black market.

4. Designated smoking areas

The designated smoking area at the Bridge Terminal

I believe the city put the first nine designated smoking areas at transit terminals in order to accommodate bus drivers, and not passengers. The drivers have a union, the passengers have no one, and no one cares about bus passengers.

Or anyone else, for that matter. And because there are so few designated smoking areas, councillor Waye Mason says the city owes smokers an apology. “I do feel we’ve let down the citizens that there aren’t more smoking places,” Mason told News 95.7 reporter Meghan Groff. “That’s not what I felt was going to happen. I was led to believe staff had the capacity to do this faster. I am disappointed and I do feel like an apology is in order to people. We said we’d do something and it didn’t happen.”

In Porters Lake, councillor David Hendsbee simply picked up and moved the designated smoking area sign from one side of the transit terminal to the other. ““I got some chatter on Facebook and a phone call asking me why it was put there in such an obvious spot in view of an elementary school,” he told Global News, referring to Porters Lake Elementary school across the street.

If we can simply pick up the signs and move them around, I predict there will be problems. I thought the one at the Bridge Terminal was embedded in concrete, but maybe not; I’ll see if I can move it over to the McDonald’s.

Besides councillors Mason and Hendsbee, Matt Whitman said something about smoking, but no one pays attention to Whitman.

Yesterday, I said that the Bridge Terminal’s designated smoking area appeared to be about 10 metres square. In actuality, the smoking area is everything within three metres of the sign, so if we assume the sign is a single point, the area is about 28.27 square metres.

A man smoking on Spring Garden Road

Also yesterday, I walked up from the waterfront and saw that the smoking bylaw is largely being ignored. As I was walking around, Carol Off from As It Happens called me to ask about the bylaw; I ended up as the first interview on last night’s show.

5. City council

Items from today’s council meeting:


Tonight, at 6pm, there is a public hearing on the proposed Tantallon asphalt plant.

Dog park

Council will also discuss a proposed off-leash dog park in Burnside; if approved, we will have exactly the same number — nine — of dog parks as there are designated smoking areas, albeit the dog parks are somewhat larger.


Staff have identified the top 10 sites we should worry about being flooded, as follows:

“Aggregating the information provided, the overall financial implications for mitigating these top ten sites is estimated to be in the range of $6.3 to $15 million,” reads the report.

Dennis Building

The Dennis building, with the Boer War dude in front of it. Photo: Aaron Segaert/Heritage Canada

Paul Armstrong, on behalf of the Maritime Institute for Civil Society, has received a “third-party application” (meaning neither Armstrong nor the Society own it) to designate the Dennis building as a heritage property.

Capital projects

Councillor Shawn Cleary wants a staff report “that analyzes the last five years of capital project estimates (including buildings, paving, etc.) to understand if projects are generally being under- estimated at each class of estimate and, if so, by how much.” Sure, why not?

Offshore drilling

Councillor Richard Zurawski wants council “to voice opposition to offshore drilling or exploration of oil reserves.” The Town of Lunenburg has already passed such a resolution. “There is potential for spills which would be catastrophic for HRM, exploration would be deleterious to marine life especially large mammals like whales and potentially affect fisheries for the Maritimes for decades to come,” notes Zurwaski.

LED lights

Councillor Stephen Adams is complaining about LED streetlights.

The meeting starts at 2pm; I’ll be live-blogging at the Examiner’s Twitter account, @hfxExaminer.




Halifax Regional Council (Tuesday, 2pm, City Hall) — here’s the agenda. See above.


Audit and Finance Standing Committee (Wednesday, 10am, City Hall) — the committee is being asked to give $75,000 towards the St. Paul’s Church wall restoration project, which is half the cost (the other half will come from Parks Canada). The staff report explains:

In 2017, Halifax Regional Council entered into a heritage agreement with the Parish of St. Paul’s in response to a request from the church for funding to repair the 170 year old stone retaining wall surrounding the church and a portion of Grand Parade. The agreement allowed the Municipality to provide $250,000 in matching funds together with Parks Canada in support of repairing the wall. In return, the church agreed to allow limited public access to the grounds around the church, it waived its rights to demolish or substantially alter the property without municipal consent, and it agreed to provide a right of first refusal to the Municipality should the parish ever sell the property.

Together with the Parish of St. Paul’s, HRM has been offered additional funding for 2018 under the National Cost-Sharing Program for Heritage Places administered by Parks Canada in the amount of $75,000. This funding would be available on the condition that it is met with matching funds from the Municipality. Should Council agree to fund the continuation of this project in 2018, it would allow for additional portions of the wall to be repaired as a second phase to the project.

I say the contribution should be further conditioned on banning parking on Grand Parade in front of the church.

Information Session – Municipal boards and committees (Wednesday, 6pm, City Hall) — if you want to volunteer to be on a board or committee, you could go and see what’s required. Application deadline is October 21.



No public meetings.

Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, Province House) — the Liberals have limited the questioning of government employees, so who cares anymore?

On campus



Faking It: The impact of Fake News on today’s political landscape (Tuesday, noon, Room 1011, Rowe Management Building) — a panel of media representatives will explore the impact of the “fake news” phenomenon on the global political landscape. Speakers include Elamin Abdelmahmoud, Buzzfeed News; Keith Boag, CBC News, Washington Bureau; Jennifer Ditchburn, Policy Options Magazine; Lee-Anne Goodman, The Conversation Canada; and Kelly Toughill, University of King’s College, School of Journalism.

Board of Governors Meeting (Tuesday, 3:00pm, University Hall, Macdonald Building) — there’s going to be a Presidential Search Committee.

Belong Forum: Angela Davis (Tuesday, 7pm, Rebecca Cohn Auditorium, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — Angela Davis is in town. How am I just learning about this on Sunday? Anyway, registration is full, but you can livestream the event here.


Bacterial modulation of virulence gene expression: flipping the switch towards pathogenesis (Wednesday, 4pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — Nikhil Thomas will speak.

Income Guarantees, Freedom and Global Security (Wednesday, 5:30pm, in the auditorium named after a bank, Marion McCain Building) — Hugh Segal, Mandy Kay-Raining Bird, and Pierre Stevens will speak. From the event listing:

There is renewed discussion and excitement over the concept of a Guaranteed Annual Income — both the left and the right on the Canadian political spectrum have vigorously debated the merits and limitations of such a government safety net that would provide a basic standard living income to all citizens. Current pilot studies across the world, including Ontario, are exploring the feasibility of a Guaranteed Annual Income. Come join Senator Hugh Segal and local leaders Dr. Mandy Kay-Raining Bird and Pierre Stevens to build our understanding of the local, national and international contexts of this important issue.

Faye Woodman. Photo: Nick Pearce

Mini Law School (Wednesday, 7pm, Room 104, Weldon Law Building) — Faye Woodman will talk about all the legal stuff around dying: wills, pets, and who to give your social media passwords to.

Faculty Chamber Series, Expressions Through the Centuries (Wednesday, 7pm, The Music Room, 6181 Lady Hammond Road) — violinist Leonard Perez will perform Bach, Janáčk, and Brahms, joined by pianist Peter Allen, violinist Philippe Djokic, violist Elizabeth Upson Perez, and cellist Ben Marmen. Tickets $25.

Getting it Right: The Ethics of Getting Clean Water (Wednesday, 7pm, President’s Lodge, Atlantic School of Theology) — Ingrid Waldron will talk. RSVP here.

In the harbour

06:00: AS Felicia, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for Kingston, Jamaica
06:30: Silver Wind, cruise ship with up to 355 passengers, arrives at Pier 23 from Sydney (nine-day cruise from Montreal to Boston)
08:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 36 from St. John’s
15:30: Serenade of the Seas, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Saint John
17:30: Silver Wind sails for Portland


Tuesdays are always the hardest day of the week for me. Not sure why.

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  1. Police at Brunswick Street Church charity breakfast and Turning Point shelter? I don’t know whether to scream or cry.

  2. I am told that the police were at the Brunswick Street church where they provide breakfast and at Turning Point this morning advising people they could not smoke on municipal property. I haven’t heard if they were also at the Glory Hole on Argyle Street.

    There seems to be no limit to stupid – at least when it comes to HRM.

  3. “the church agreed to allow limited public access to the grounds around the church” Where is public access to the grounds of St. Paul’s currently restricted? Or does that mean the church agrees to let the city hold events on that land, or rent spots out to booths selling stuff, etc.

  4. There will be much hysteria and exaggeration at the public hearing tonight. The proposed asphalt plant is 2.5 kms from the nearest home. And they all drive on asphalt roads.
    Tens of thousands of people live within 2.5 kms of Tufts Cove power plant.
    Tens of thousands of people live within 2.5 kms of the DND ammunition depot at Magazine Hill,Bedford.
    Tens of thousands of people live within 2.5 kms of the container piers and the dangerous goods thereon.
    And then there are the people who live next door to the asphalt storage tanks in Eastern Passage.
    Will common sense prevail ?
    Statistics Canada has a nice common report regarding the continuing decline in accidents on our roads, available here in a neat summary from the legal beagles at local ambulance chasers :
    ” Pedestrian Collisions
    You’ll be happy to hear that in Halifax, and in Canada in general, pedestrian collisions are relatively rare. There were 39.4 pedestrian accidents per 100,000 people in 2014-2015. But I think you will agree that even one collision is too many if it can be prevented.

    Less than a fifth of the 219 pedestrian collisions reported in Halifax in 2013 involved bicycles; the rest occurred to pedestrians on foot. The good news? Few of these accidents are fatal. In fact, there are only .63 fatalities per 100,000.”

  5. Well, I was wrong – the economy weed is actually pretty cheap and is competitive with the black/gray market as long as it is of reasonably good quality and potency. Our government did something right – hooray?

    If I wasn’t in the job market in an industry that might require me to pass drug tests, I’d be tempted to spend Wednesday night with some economy weed and the film ‘Don’t Legalize It’.