1. Public Accounts
Writes Stephen Kimber:
The Gormless Gang of the Fang-less Five Liberal members of the Public Accounts committee — the Liberal MLA/space-filler members of the committee are Gordon Wilson, Suzanne Lohnes-Croft, Ben Jessome, Brendan Maguire, and Hugh MacKay — would rather play reliable cheerleader for Premier Stephen McNeil than do their job.
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2. Solitary confinement
Sean Kelly, the head of the province’s jails, says the jails are getting better at following the rules about solitary confinement. But El Jones talked to prisoners, and they say nothing has changed.
3. Oil leak
On Friday, I reported that Transport Canada had detained the French cable repair ship Ile d’Aix, which had been anchored off McNabs Island since last Tuesday:
Soon after the ship arrived, the Halifax Examiner learned of a suspected oil spill from the Ile d’Aix. Thursday afternoon, Fisheries & Oceans spokesperson Stephen Bornais told us that:
On Tuesday May 29, personnel from the Canadian Coast Guard’s Environmental Response branch were notified of a large sheen coming from the vessel ILE D’AIX anchored near McNabs Island in Halifax Harbour. Upon arrival Coast Guard personnel observed an unknown quantity of synthetic lubrication oil rapidly dispersing in the water. The sheen was non-recoverable.
The Examiner asked for more information and was referred to Transport Canada. Today [Friday], Transport Canada spokesperson Julie Leroux told us that:
Transport Canada has detained the vessel, MV Ile d’Aix, following a pollution event in the Halifax Harbour on May 30, 2018 and is inspecting the vessel for compliance with applicable laws.
Transport Canada will not hesitate to take appropriate action should any safety or regulatory deficiencies be identified during the course of the inspection.
The owner of the vessel, Mer et Marine, has not responded to a request for comment.
No one at Transport Canada updated me about the situation over the weekend, but the Ile d’Aix has left port and is now off Sheet Harbour en route for Les Méchins, Quebec.
Bygones, I guess.
The city this morning issued a Request for Proposals for “High Speed Pavement Condition Data Collection.” The offer explains that:
Pavement Management has been a core function of TPW, with both an on-going pavement condition data collection program and Pavement Management System (PMS). The information is used to monitor pavement conditions, identify deficiencies and develop annual/long term capital investment plans.
HRM is currently in the process of implementing its Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) Program which is a major business and information technology initiative that is focused on unifying a number of business practices and processes associated with the management of assets. This includes implementation of a new PMS, defining a standardized rating methodology based on ASTM and moving to a more advanced data collection technology.
At this time, TPW does not have the resources or equipment necessary to perform the high-speed pavement condition data collection.
The goal of this RFP is to collect pavement condition data using a high speed data collection vehicle. The method of collection will either be semi-automated or fully-automated.
The pavement condition surveys shall be conducted in accordance with the HRM Pavement Surface Condition Rating Guide, 2018. This rating guide documents the field data collection procedures and specifications for collecting surface distress, roughness and rutting as summarized below. Please refer to the Guide, for specific requirements. The Guide is provided as Appendix E — HRM Pavement Surface Condition Rating Guide.
That Guide (found here) explains that arterial roads and major and minor collector streets are to be surveyed every two years. Evidently, there’s an entire science behind this; the Guide has lots of definitions of various kinds of pavement disintegration, including “alligator cracking,” edge cracking, longitudinal cracking, transverse cracking, bleeding, potholes, patching and utility cut patching, and then a section on “roughness and rut depth.” Here’s the part about potholes:
5. People write about Halifax
Since Haligonians have a sad and yet never-ending quest for outside attention (as with confident individual people, confident collections of people wouldn’t give a damn about what other people think of them), I’ll point them to Will Ashton’s review of sports commentator John U. Bacon’s new book, The Great Halifax Explosion: A World War I Story of Treachery, Tragedy and Extraordinary Heroism:
Vividly detailed and intensely realized, it’s through the author’s firm understanding of scope and scale and character that the text finds its strength. Told with bleak accuracy and attention to gruesome details, “The Great Halifax Explosion” is a demanding read, but fortunately it’s not a challenging one.
“The Great Halifax Explosion” is the definitive text on an overlooked subject. Through Mr. Bacon’s assured pose and fixed focus, the best-selling author of “Three and Out” and “Fourth and Long” recounts this mournful occasion with journalistic integrity and a diligent attention to humanity.
Indeed, while the Halifax explosion resulted in the loss of thousands of lives and the injuries of many thousands more, Mr. Bacon opts to look at the strength that was built in the war-torn community. It didn’t come easily, as Mr. Bacon explains with sometimes shocking clarity, but it came all the same. And it is largely thanks to that attention to humanity that “The Great Halifax Explosion” doesn’t become a devastating read, even when it is filled with death on every page.
A great deal of attention is devoted to Joseph Ernest Barss, a privileged and promising able-bodied young man who found himself tested, physically and psychologically, by the horrors of World War I and the aftermath of the Great Halifax Explosion. He is the center of the book, and while it is sometimes unclear why that is, he ultimately provides a fitfully dynamic personality to follow through Mr. Bacon’s recounting.
A type of brash, outspoken young man who never expected to be shaken, Barss successfully embodies what dangers lie in the terrors of great and sometimes never-ending misfortune, both from war and from horrific disaster. But his resolve proves fortunate. His emotional transformation toward the end feels earned and satisfying — even when it seems distracting and unnecessary.
And here I thought Janet Maybee wrote the definitive text on the Halifax Explosion. Maybe it has multiple definitions.
6. Cabot Links financing
“Cape Breton’s famed Cabot Links golf resort has received a $2-million federal loan, bringing total government funding for the luxurious links to almost $17 million,” reports Brett Bundale for the Canadian Press:
The interest-free “repayable contribution” will go towards spa facilities, upscale culinary services and tennis courts at Cabot Cliffs at Broad Cove, the sibling golf course to Cabot Links, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency said Friday.
The latest loan will help the picturesque Inverness resort broaden its appeal for families, non-golfers and corporate groups, the agency said.
It’s also part of an effort to attract more visitors to the remote resort and bolster tourism in the province, it said.
“The expansion will strengthen Cabot’s international reputation as a luxury golf destination, bringing more visitors to Cape Breton,” the federal agency said in a news release.
In all, Cabot Links has received $8.5 million in interest-free loans from Ottawa, while the Nova Scotia government has contributed an $8.25 million low-interest loan.
Let’s stipulate two things up front:
1. Government should be in the business of helping struggling communities, and Inverness is especially struggling.
2. $17 million is an appropriate level of government financing to help the struggling community.
(Others might argue either or both points, but I’m good with them.)
The question that screams out at me, however, is: Is this the best path for that help?
Why golf? Why this golf endeavour? If through some accident of geography, available property, and billionaire golfer whimsey, Ben Cowan-Dewar had decided to build his course across the Strait on PEI, would the government financing agencies simply had left Inverness hanging out to dry?
And what if golf is a passing billionaire fancy? What if next decade, every asshole stock trader and oil company exec on the planet decides they’d rather spend their leisure time on African safaris, Thai temple explorations, or deep sea diving, and golfing is seen as passé?
Sure, it can be argued that the $17 million is leveraging untold millions in outside capital pieced together by Cowan-Dewar, but even with that, $17 million is a lot of money — shouldn’t we be confident that it’s the highest and best use of public money?
Consider that $17 million is just over $12,000 per man, woman, child, and lustful look residing in Inverness. That’s money that could go a long way to establishing all sorts of other initiatives — free college and university tuition for young people, small business and micro loans for the imaginative and creative, high speed internet, energy efficiency retrofits for people wasting much of their incomes heating the outdoors, the creation of a municipal utility to keep local money in town… add your own idea here.
We have governments that place immense value in the wealth that’s either owned outright or accessed by people like Cowan-Dewar, but which place no value at all on the initiative, hard work, creativity, and potential of the average person in Inverness. The message is that people can be helped so long as the rich get even richer and people can be employed at low-wage jobs so long as it is framed as part of an initiative serving the wealthy, but let’s not get the idea that the government should serve everyday people directly.
I’m not even arguing that the golf “investment” isn’t “worth it” — I have no way to judge it — but rather, I’m pointing out that governments have no other way of looking at the situation except “give the rich guy more opportunity.”
Public information meeting (Monday, 6:30pm, St. Andrews United Church, 6036 Coburg Road, Halifax) — the Rouvalis family wants to build two towers — one 26 storeys, the other 20 storeys — at the northeast corner of Robie and College Streets, stretching back to Carlton Street. The application involves moving a couple of houses that are registered historic properties.
This proposed development is adjacent to a Dexel Developments proposal of two more towers — one 28 storeys, the other 16 storeys — on Spring Garden Road between Robie Street and Carlton Street.
That block could be a mini-Manhattan in a few years.
City Council (Tuesday, 10am, City Hall) — here’s the agenda. There’s a thing about sister cities I meant to write about; I’ll get to it tomorrow.
No public meetings.
Community Services (Tuesday, 10am, One Government Place) — Nancy MacLellan, the associate deputy minister at the Department of Community Services, and Leonard Doiron, the executive director of Child, Youth and Family Supports, will be asked about foster care funding.
Patient Engagement in Primary Health Care Research (Monday, 7:30am, Double Tree Hilton, Dartmouth) — it’ll cost you 50 bucks, or 130 bucks if you have real money, if you want to attend. If you have that kind of dough, you can learn more about the event here.
Deep Reasoning About Big Code (Monday, 7pm, Goldberg Auditorium, Goldberg Computer Science Building) — Peter O’Hearn from Facebook and University College London will speak.
Patients as Partners in Research and Health Care (Tuesday, 6:30pm, Central Halifax Public Library) — panelists are Maret Felzien from Northeastern Junior College; Jack Westphall from High Plains Research Network; Frederick Burge from Dalhousie University and Nova Scotia Health Authority; Tara Sampalli from Nova Scotia Health Authority; and Kylie Peacock, a patient advocate.
In the harbour
5:30am: Siem Cicero, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany
6am: Bomar Rebecca, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Philipsburg, Sint Maarten
6am: Atlantic Star, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
7:30am: YM Essence, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Rotterdam
7:30am: Norwegian Gem, cruise ship, with up to 2,873 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from New York
7:30am: British Sailor, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for Saint John
8am: Maasdam, cruise ship with up to 1,510 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Bar Harbor
9:30am: Vera D, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Lisbon, Portugal
4:30pm: Bomar Rebecca, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for sea
5:45pm: Norwegian Gem, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Saint John
5:45pm: Maasdam, cruise ship, sails from Pier 20 for Sydney
9pm: Vera D, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for Mariel, Cuba
I have no observation worthy of your valuable time. Also, not yet enough coffee to come up with such an observation.