In the harbour


1. Wyses Corner murders

All three of the people found dead in the Wyses Corner house fire were murdered, say police. Reports the CBC:

RCMP said Codey Reginald Hennigar, 30, of Wyses Corner, has been charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Clifford William Ward, 81, and Mildred Ann Ward, 54, both from Wyses Corner.

RCMP said they have no other suspects in the third death. They must first identify the third person before they can lay any further charges.

Several media outlets report that Codey Hennigar is the grandson of Clifford Ward and the son of Mildred Ward. CBC reports that the unidentified body is likely that of Codey Hennigar’s grandmother, Ida Ward, Clifford Ward’s wife. Mildred Ward also had a 15-year-old daughter, who is now an orphan.

2. Pedestrian struck by vehicle

Police release to reporters:

At about 6:20 pm Halifax Regional Police responded to a car pedestrian accident on Wyse Road near civic 241 in Dartmouth. A van was travelling North on Wyse Road when an elderly male dressed in dark clothing stepped on the road and was struck by the vehicle. The pedestrian an, 81 year old male from Dartmouth, was transported to the QE2 with serious injuries. The 35 year old female driver of the vehicle and her passenger were not injured. Accident Investigators  and the Forensic Identification Section attended the scene to assist in the investigation. It appears the weather conditions may have contributed to the accident, the pedestrian was not in a crosswalk when struck. At this time there are no charges anticipated to be laid against the driver of the vehicle.

The Chronicle Herald is reporting that the man’s injuries are “life-threatening.”

This happened in front of the Sobeys on Wyse Road. There are design problems around the store, which was opened just last year. Drivers exiting the parking lot wanting to go south on Wyse (a left turn) have to go to the right end of the parking lot, where they face their right, southbound Wyse traffic turning left into the same driveway, and to their left, other drivers leaving the parking lot turning right onto Wyse. Drivers exiting the parking lot to travel north on Wyse almost immediately face southbound exiters appearing immediately in front of them. It’s confusing, and exactly backwards. Instead, drivers exiting the lot to travel south on Wyse should exit from the left driveway, while drivers exiting the lot to travel north on Wyse should exit from the right driveway.

Adding to that confusion is the rotten placement of the pedestrian crosswalk—it’s not right at the store, where it would be useful to all pedestrians, but rather a half block south, where it’s only useful to southbound pedestrians. I suspect (don’t know) that the 81-year-old man was heading north, not south, and was therefore avoiding an extra block walk in the rain by crossing at what should be the sensible place for a crosswalk. He’s 81, after all; a block is a long way.

Putting the crosswalk at the proper location would be, well, proper, but it would also place the pedestrians in a favoured position relative to cars. Evidently that’s not allowed.

3. Fish farms

Reporter Chris Benjamin explores issues related to fish farms in Nova Scotia in his newly published article, “Something fishy: new report stops short of calling for a moratorium on fish farms.”

This article is behind the Examiner’s pay wall, and so available only to paid subscribers. To purchase a subscription, click here.

4. Parallel classes

Dalhousie President Richard Florizone has announced that the 13 men involved in the misogynistic Facebook group will not sit with their classmates, but will rather have parallel classes. “Although he did not provide logistics or the length of time the classes will be separated, Florizone said the men will be able to view lectures using technology or will meet elsewhere on campus,” reports Metro.

In a statement, Florizone said the restorative justice system will continue:

The DDS Class of 2015 has demonstrated strong support for proceeding, with 28 members of the class, including 14 women and 12 of the 13 Facebook page members electing to proceed with Restorative Justice.  The process will therefore continue, consistent with university policy.

Restorative Justice isn’t a process that can satisfy a desire for swift resolution. I understand that can be frustrating. However, its focus on reconciliation, reflection and understanding is a powerful tool for change and reflects the values of our institution. 

Additionally, Florizone announced a third-party investigation of the situation, to be led by Professor Constance Backhouse of the University of Ottawa.

5. Snow

Twenty-one high school students from Brazil visited Nova Scotia and for the first time experienced snow. In an exchange, students from Nova Scotia will now visit Brazil and for the first time experience heat.


1. Younger

The bizarre leave of absence taken by Energy Minister Andrew Younger is a “mess,” says Graham Steele. “The premier should have asked for—and gotten—Younger’s resignation, and appointed someone else to take his place.”

2. Pedestrians

Photo: Nova Scotia Archives
Photo: Nova Scotia Archives

Starting with my observation that pedestrians once ruled the streets and removing them required a well-funded PR campaign from automobile companies, Stephen Archibald dug through the Nova Scotia Archives to find 19th century photos of Halifax streets that illustrate the point. These are great shots, showing people using the streets as they had for thousands of years: businesses storing their goods on the street, people walking willy-nilly up and down and across the streets on the way to doing their business, big social congregations right in the middle of the intersections, etc.

Archibald also links to this long (11 minutes) film taken in 1906 from the front of a trolley car making its way up Market Street in San Francisco, towards the ferry terminal:

YouTube video

That’s an amazing film for lots of reasons: pretty much all the buildings seen, except for the ferry terminal (tower in the distance), were destroyed a few weeks later in the great earthquake, as were undoubtedly many of the people. People in the film seem to be aware they were being filmed, and the same handful of cars, a novelty at the time, are driving up and down the street repeatedly passing the camera, making it seem like there were more cars than there would be otherwise. And, as Archibald says, the film is “absolutely mesmerizing as people and vehicles share the road in an intricate ballet. Once upon a time Halifax would have performed a miniature version of this dance.” Note also the speed of the tram and the vehicles, maybe 10 km per hour; any faster and it would be intolerably dangerous. While that would slow down the commute, there is a near-continuous stream of trams coming the opposite direction; I doubt those San Franciscans needed a tram schedule. And again, pedestrians can go wherever they want.

Now, of course, strict rules control pedestrians, turning them into second-class citizens. In Halifax, pedestrians are required to push a button in order to activate the walking man light, effectively lengthening the commute by many minutes. Yesterday, I filmed the pedestrian light at the corner of Victoria and Thistle in Dartmouth. Remember, by law, any pedestrian wanting to cross Victoria has to first press this button. The video is short, 15 seconds, but check out the challenges involved:

YouTube video

This morning, as I type this, a giant sheet of ice surrounds the button, which by the way is a good 10 feet from the intersection. After a snowfall, the button is often blocked by three feet of snow, and impossible to get at by all but the most nimble, but never mind that, it’s the law to push it.

This is the intersection where Judy MacIsaac-Davis was killed last year. She died while crossing towards the corner shown in the video, so about 20 feet behind where I was standing when I shot the video. She was using a motorized chair and had to press a similar push button on the opposite corner in order to activate the light. The police say the walking man light was not on. It’s not clear if that means the don’t-walk sign had started flashing or if she had not pressed the button at all before crossing. Regardless, a driver of a pickup truck coming up Victoria (where the pickup truck in the video is) turned left onto Thistle and struck her. I suspect that, like the cars seen stopped in the video, the driver of the truck was waiting for a break in the oncoming traffic, then quickly darted through the “hole” in the traffic and hit MacIsaac-Davis.

I don’t know what MacIsaac-Davis’ physical abilities were. She was using a motorized chair, so it’s entirely possible she was not physically able to press the pedestrian button. Maybe she was carrying something and didn’t have a free hand to both drive the chair and press the button. Maybe the breadth of her chair was wider than the reach of her arm, and she couldn’t reach the button. The point is: before the button was installed about four years ago, the walking man light would’ve come on automatically, and MacIsaac-Davis would’ve had the right-of-way.

As I related about a week ago, I was nearly hit by a car at this same intersection, walking home from the Bridge Terminal. I was crossing from the corner in front of Dartmouth High to the corner in front of Bicentennial School. I had pressed the button for the walking man light, and got it, looked all directions before crossing, and then made my way across the intersection, in the crosswalk. But a driver coming up Victoria made a quick left turn, nearly hitting me. Were I not physically able to jump out of the way—suppose I was using a motorized chair—I surely would’ve been struck, and very possibly killed.

Reader Gus Reed sends this reconstruction of the intersection and adds his thoughts:

Untitled copy

Attached is the Google street view I get from your description:

  • Why is there even a marked crossing to a place with no sidewalk?  Seems kinda crazy…
  • Streetlights well back from the crosswalks
  • The usual criminally stupid fan-shaped curb cuts so pedestrians can wander off into the middle of the intersection.
  • A very busy scene —badly located poles and posts masquerading as pedestrians
  • Hedge
  • Parking lot behind Bicentennial School exits onto Victoria without signage
  • No traffic-calming—speed bumps, raised crosswalks—here or anywhere in HRM
  • Just on the other side of Thistle, where the two cars are facing you, you get an idea of the nearly invisible parallel stripes on a crosswalk.  And that from a Google camera 15 feet up.
  • All in all
    • lousy design
    • no standards
    • poor execution

Although pedestrians and drivers share some responsibility, they are entitled to well thought out, modern and well executed infrastructure.

My perpetual critic Parker Donham says I ignore that the pedestrian safety issue is “mainly one of design and standards,” but of course I wrote an entire cover story for The Coast exploring, yep, how intersections could be redesigned for pedestrian safety.

Design is part of the issue, sure. But design itself is part of the culture. We design things the way we do because of certain social assumptions we bring to the design table. And the prevailing assumption is that the needs and expectations of people driving cars trump the needs and expectations of people walking. So far as the urban areas go, this has got to change.

3. #BoldHalifax

Screen Shot 2015-01-10 at 8.46.44 AM

Montreal tech blogger Jacob Serebrin lambasts whoever runs the @BoldHalifax feed for tweeting the above tweet Thursday night. I was on and off Twitter that night, and part of the general discussion that led to this tweet, I think, but didn’t come upon it myself until a couple of hours later. Anyway, says Serebrin:

Bold Halifax, a group of chambers of commerce, business development agencies and other organizations, thought it could bring the city together through a social media campaign – using the hashtag #boldhalifax – and a pledge to “be positive” and “challenge pessimism” about the city’s future.

Well, on Friday it was bringing Haligonians together, but not in the way its creators had hoped.

The social media campaign got off to a slow start until Bold Halifax Tweeted on Thursday that it was raising money to “deport the people with the worst attitudes.”

That didn’t go over well on Twitter. By Friday, the hashtag #boldhalifax was trending but it was almost all criticism of the group.

Boldly, Tweets using the hashtag are automatically posted to the Bold Halifax site, making it now a page of harsh, and sometimes hilarious, criticism and mockery.

This is all great fun, but let’s keep some perspective, shall we? I doubt anyone has been more critical of Bold Halifax than myself, but I’m not at all insulted by the tweet. There’s room for self-parody, and I think this hit it well. It’s not as if Bold Halifax was “joking” about raping women or making racist comments; at worst it was an offhand remark, perhaps made a few drinks in, that harmed no one. I give Bold Halifax a pass on this.

4. Cranky letter of the day

To the Cape Breton Post:

The long-form census was not superior, but inferior. To have someone spend an hour or more completing a census is simply not reasonable in today’s free society, other than it being on a voluntary basis by way of the national household survey.

Don’t sidetrack people from real issues in the community such as child poverty and the 16 per cent unemployment rate, which all of the data mining and studying isn’t going to help.

It’s not the census that needs to be changed. When the long-form census was in use, the Cape Breton Regional Municipality still didn’t get its equal share of the federal transfer payments. Who is responsible for that?


Andrew Gillan, Sydney Mines


One of the must-listen podcasts I subscribe to is produced by the NPR show On The Media. There’s a new edition out and I’ll listen while running errands today.

In the harbour

The seas off Nova Scotia, 9:30am Saturday. Map:
The seas off Nova Scotia, 9:30am Saturday. Map:

Kobe Express, container ship, New York to Fairview Cove
SCL Bern, container ship, Bilboa, Spain to Pier 31, then sails for Muriel, Cuba


The headline on today’s Morning File is a reference to this:

YouTube video

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

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  1. Quebec City seems to have gone a long way to solving the urban pedestrian vehicle conflict. When it’s the turn of pedestrians to cross an intersection vehicle traffic is stopped from all directions including right hand turns so pedestrians can cross safely in all directions including diagonally. Also the lights are clearly timed so you know how much time you have to get from one side to the other. Simple, effective.

  2. On the Thistle/Victoria intersection, I had an interesting conversation with the owner of the house on the corner (blue place). His idea for improving it is ditch the turning lanes and change the signals so that only one of the four lanes has a green at a time. Just like the entrance to the MacDonald Bridge where each of the four directions goes in turn. That would stop the darting lefts that have resulted in collisions when people, anxious for a break in traffic and having low visibility because of the crest of the hill, turn left from Victoria onto Thistle.

  3. Re Views, Younger
    Caught Premier McNeil’s on-camera media comments on Younger. It confirmed my developing opinion that McNeil is in over his head. Political campaigning, in which dynamics are largely within candidates’ control — or they’ll sidestep and/or ignore them to voters’ dismay — and governing are vastly different entities requiring acutely different skills. McNeil doesn’t appear to have the ability to synthesize competing issues, and continually seems adrift and out of touch. We must expect and demand more of those who aspire to govern us. We’re not being well served.

  4. “As soon as people become tributaries of transportation…the contradictions between social justice and motorized power, between effective movement and higher speed, between personal freedom and engineered routing, become poignantly clear.”

    —Ivan Illich, Energy and Equity, quoted in Asphalt Nation by Jane Holtz Kay.