1. Zach Churchill

Zach Churchill

“Former Education Minister Ramona Jennex remembers the exact date of the “altercation” — April 13, 2012,” reports Jean Laroche for the CBC:

In an email to Speaker Kevin Murphy, which she shared with CBC after a reporter requested it, the former New Democratic Party MLA for Kings South claims Zach Churchill, the Liberal MLA for Yarmouth, confronted her outside the chamber after he questioned her about her department’s spending.

“Following an exchange in budget estimates, Mr. Churchill approached me when I exited the chamber and, using profane language, berated me verbally.”

“Mr. Churchill poked me in the shoulder pushing me backwards while threatening me with his face very close to mine,” she wrote.

“I reported the incident to the appropriate people in my caucus, and the decision was made to inform the leader of Mr. Churchill’s party, the current Premier, and allow him to deal with the matter.”

I’m so old I remember when the cops were called when an MLA was poking and pushing another MLA.

Mr. Wortley, white courtesy phone please.

2. Wifi on buses

“Regional council has given the green light to a pilot project testing Wi-Fi on buses, though some councillors scoffed at adding bells and whistles to a transit system that could use upgrades in frequency and reliability,” reports Zane Woodford for StarMetro Halifax.

I explained this issue here:

Remember when city council decided like a decade late to enter into a contract with Bell to provide free wifi on Grand Parade and the waterfront and some libraries? Well, it turns out the libraries wanted nothing to do with it, as they have their own wifi systems that work perfectly well, thank you very much. And so now city staff is suggesting that the contract with Bell be amended so the library wifi part be replaced with a transit terminal wifi part — meaning that wifi will be installed at the Alderney Ferry Terminal, the Halifax Ferry Terminal, the Lacewood Bus Terminal, and the Dartmouth Bridge Bus Terminal.

There appears to be enough left over from the contract to also add wifi on some buses. Reports Woodford:

Staff can’t guarantee which routes will be wired but said they’d likely deploy Wi-Fi to the long, articulated buses that service popular routes like the 1, 3, 10 and 80. Outfitting the whole fleet with Wi-Fi would cost about $500,000 up front and $300,000 annually. The one-year pilot will cost about $40,000.

The #80 is the obvious place to start. That’s the bus that runs from Sackville through Bedford, down the Bedford Highway and winds around the peninsula to downtown. It takes an hour and 20 minutes to traverse the entire route; if you’re going to be on the bus that long, you may as well be able to check your email and such.

I’m lucky in that the Halifax Examiner pays for my data (which is to say, you subscribers pay for my data; thanks!), but I recognize that a great many people can’t afford large data plans for their phones, and internet connectivity is pretty much a basic need in our society. So I’m more than good with this; it’s way past time. However, people being people, it’s only a matter of time before someone starts watching porn on the bus while seated next to a child, or some such. The libraries have figured out how to deal with this, pretty much, but I’m not sure if Halifax Transit is prepared for it. Somebody should start thinking about that now.

3. We’re buying Nova Scotia Power a new $1.6 million roof

Of course everyone knows about Nova Scotia Power’s shiny new/old building on the Halifax waterfront. The building was constructed as a power generating plant in the early 20th century, which sat decommissioned for a long while before being reconstructed into the present office building. Nova Scotia Power was proud of the work, and published lots of pretty pictures like the ones above, and issued a press release crowing about its work:

Nova Scotia Power’s office building located on the Halifax waterfront became the first building in Atlantic Canada to achieve the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification from the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC). The CaGBC is one of the nation’s most well-recognized certifications in green building design and construction.

“Achieving the LEED Platinum certification for our office building in Halifax is a significant milestone – and we are proud to share this success with our neighbours and our entire city,” said David McGregor, General Manager, Technical and Construction Services for Nova Scotia Power.  “With its location on the Halifax waterfront, the most important part of this success is the value it helps brings to our community, our local businesses and our city.”

Ratepayers paid $53.4 million towards the project, but additional capital costs came from Emera (which would not reveal its costs), Nova Scotia Power’s parent company. The building was opened in 2012.

But now the roof is falling apart, and ratepayers are being asked to pay $1,672,596 to fix it.

“On January 3, 2018 during a high wind storm, sections of the Lower Water Street roof started to delaminate,” relates a NSP report to the Utility and Review Board. “Patio stones and sand bags were used to secure those sections of the roof to reduce further damage. Various repairs to delay further delaminating and stop leaking into the building have been ongoing.”

I’m not too proud to admit I had to look up “delaminating,” and learned it “is a mode of failure for composite materials and steel. In laminated materials, repeated cyclic stresses, impact, and so on can cause layers to separate, forming a mica-like structure of separate layers, with significant loss of mechanical toughness.”

IRC Building Sciences Group (IRC) was hired to “inspect the roof, determine the cause of the roof failure, prepare a detailed roof assessment report, to document the existing condition of the roof and to make recommendations on repair or replacement options.” And that report is, shall we say, damning.

“Preventative maintenance on the existing roof systems has been relatively minimal and based on our visual review it appears that repairs have been primarily reactive and in response to leaks as they occur,” reads the IRC report.

IRC explains that the roof is constructed of Thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO), a compound of ethylene and propylene. TPO membranes are “a newer product” and that “little is known about their durability characteristics.” But that uncertainty aside, TPO “is a popular choice for ‘Green’ buildings. It is widely available in white and by using white roof material it helps reduce the ‘heat island effect’ and solar heat gain in the building.”

Specific to the Nova Scotia Power building, IRC details the damage to roof with dozens of photos like these:

IRC then recommends that five roof sections be replaced completely and replaced with “a new 2-ply roof system to better withstand freeze-thaw cycles. The existing 1-ply TPO roofing system is not adequate for Atlantic Canada’s climate.”

Blame salty fog!

Not only can’t Nova Scotia Power keep the power going in this climate, they can’t even keep the roof on their own building.

The five roof sections are numbered 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 4.1 and 5.2; NSP assures us that “this project includes only those costs associated with the regulated portion of the Lower Water Street building,” seemingly suggesting that Emera will be paying for some other roof replacement costs, but then notes that those regulated portions of the roof are sections 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 4.1 and 5.2 — that is, the entirety of the roof replacement as recommended by IRC.

4. Boer War memorial

The Boer War monument outside Province House. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Halifax has not one, but two Boer War memorials. There’s one outside Province House, and then a second in the Public Gardens.

I wrote about the Province House monstrosity last year:

The Boer War exemplified everything horrible about humanity, about imperialism, about the British Empire, about Canada, about Halifax, and about the boys and men who fought it. It was shameless slaughter conducted by vile people for despicable reasons.

The statue is a festering boil on the grounds of Province House and on the reputations of everyone employed there. I say keep the cars around long enough that one of them indadvertedly knocks the damn thing down, or at least the collective soot from the vehicles dirties the thing beyond recognition.

The next day, El Jones elaborated at length about the Boer War, under this headline:

White-washing the Boer War

In 1901, Lord Alfred Milner was “lamenting” the “fact that the death rate among young children in the [Boer War concentration] camps was still not dropping. ‘The theory that, all the weakly children being dead, the rate would fall off is not so far borne out by the facts,’ Milner wrote. ‘The strong ones must be dying now and they will all be dead by the spring of 1903.’” On October 14, 1901 the cornerstone for the Boer War monument was laid at Province House.

This morning, the city issued a tender offer for “rehabilitation” of that second Boer War memorial, the one in the Public Gardens; this one:

The Boer War Memorial in the Public Gardens. Photo: Tim Bousquet

Can I just note that this memorial is, well, schlock? Here’s how it’s described in a city staff report:

This classic Victorian style garden fountain is complete with symmetrical base with classic figures of cherubs and a central, upper bowl. The top, central figure is that of a Canadian Mounted Rifleman soldier…

Water is designed to spout from the cherubs’ conch shells and from the secondary shaft lilies.

Before we even get to what the statue is celebrating, we ought to blow the thing to smithereens simply on artistic grounds.

The report goes on to say that the memorial has been failing apart since at least 1981, when Clarke Ellis, “a NSCAD technician” was hired to repair the thing:

His treatment proposal indicates four areas of ‘repair’ including superficial repair of the concrete base, repair and re-casting of missing/damaged iron mouldings and other elements, removal and repair of the four cherubs and repairs to the iron basin. There is no record indicating they type of paints Mr. Ellis employed. His partial 1981 report for the Boer War Fountain suggests that he used “paint used on ship’s hulls.” The final colour scheme was a slightly copper/metallic finish with light green overtones. It reads as glossy but not shiny in photographs.

Photographs taken at the time of repairs show much damage to the cherubs and evidence of port part repairs. The overall surface appeared to be quite corroded.

City staff occasionally splash some paint on the thing, and every year they bleed the lines for the winter, when, incidentally, “the coins are swept out” (no word on who keeps the money).

Still, “the Boer War Fountain does not require extensive restoration at this time,” reads the report. “The cherubs do require immediate attention…”

Fuck the cherubs.

I say blow the damn thing up.




No public events.


Environment and Sustainability Standing Committee (Thursday, 1pm, City Hall) — councillor Richard Zurawski wants a report on reducing GHG emissions from city buildings.

Accessible Parking Public Engagement (Thursday, 2pm and 6pm, Halifax Central Library) — info here.

Harbour East – Marine Drive Community Council (Thursday, 6pm, Gym, Lake Echo Community Centre) — the site of the old country bar/ strip club/ animal hospital on Wyse Road has a new development proposal, much scaled down from the previous but failed proposal. The new proposal calls for a six-storey building on the site.

It’s surprising to me that there’s so much vacant and under-utilized property on the Wyse Road corridor. Within easy walking of the Bridge Terminal and therefore to the peninsula over the bridge, I would think developers would be chomping at the bit. Wyse Road is about the same distance to downtown as is the Young Street corridor, which is seeing lots of mega developments.


No public meetings this week.

On campus



BRIC NS Student Seminar Series (Wednesday, 12pm, Room 315, Collaborative Health Education Building) — PhD candidate Logan Lawrence will present “Developing a tool for assessing policy capacity: A case study of nurse practitioners in primary care in Nova Scotia.” PhD Nursing student Rachel Olliver will present “Exploring Postpartum Sexual Health in Nova Scotia Using Feminist Poststructuralism.”

Thesis Defence, Electrical and Computer Engineering (Wednesday, 12:30pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Rashed Alsakarnah will defend ​“Enhancing the Performance of Multicast Systems with Layered Transmissions.”

Annual FASS Publication and Performance Launch (Wednesday, 3pm, Fireside Lounge, Marion McCain Building) — Dal faculty members will show off their published books, published research in peer-reviewed journals, and performances held over the course of the last year.


Sandra Meier. Photo:

Social Interaction and Youth Mental Health (Thursday, 10am, OE Smith/Cineplex Theatre, IWK Health Centre) — Sandra Meier will speak.

ESS Student Showcase (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Theatre, Marion McCain Building) — students, alumni of the ESS program, and TAs will show off their social action initiatives, undergraduate theses, and experiential learning projects from the College’s internship and capstone courses.

Dal Jazz Ensemble Featuring Mike Murley (Thursday, 7:30pm, Dunn Theatre, Dal Arts Centre) — info here. $15.

Saint Mary’s


Leadership and Confidence (Wednesday, 12pm, McNally Main 320) — Malcolm Butler will speak. More info here.

Why is Tolerance in Trouble? Thirty years after the fatwa against Salman Rushdie (Wednesday, 7pm, in the auditorium named after a bank) — a talk by Frank Furedi from the University of Kent, UK. Author’s website here.



Night FYP Lecture: Prince and the Revolution (Thursday, 7:30pm, KTS lecture hall) — Eli Diamond will speak. Followed by a dance party in the Wardroom.

In the harbour

The Pilot Authority reports no ship movements today.


I have no kopyeditr today.

Rain today, they say.

I’ll be on The Sheldon MacLeod Show, News 95.7, at 2pm.

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  1. Could someone submit a proposal for that mother canada statue to go on the potential stadium site? Hillarity ensues…

  2. fyi, the site of NSP generation plant goes even further back to the 1840 when it was the site of production of ‘town gas’ from ship-borne coal burned and housed in a gasometer which expanded upwards according to the pressure of the gas inside.

    As such it was the first visible fixed asset which was associated with the Industrial Revolution’s arrival in the town of Halifax – an historic location which is not memorialised as such!

  3. Who among us has not been sold some super cool thing from SoCal that lasted a season in this slusy wasteland we for some reason have decided is habitable?

  4. So what then is your view on the Crimean War lion in St. Paul’s graveyard (admittedly not in a space owned by the public)? Or Churchill in front of the old library?

  5. I tend to agree with your argument to dispense with Boer War memorials. It was not a conflict any of us should be remembering fondly let alone celebrating with statues festooned with cherubic highlights. We have accurate history books now which detail the true story which was of zealous British imperialism and willingness to sacrifice the lives of many for the benefit of a few.
    But have a little heart for the cherubs…

    1. So Boer War memorials (erected just after the war, and not decades later through nostalgia) are not OK, but WWI memorials are OK?