We’re approaching a long weekend, and there’s not much in the news.

1. Concerts on the Common

“We expect during the daytime activities, at the oval, around the commons, at least 25,000 during the day,”  Billy Comer, the Civic Events Coordinator, tells Global. “Then there’s going to be another 13,000 at Citadel Hill. We’re going to have hopefully 25,000 more here by night time.”

Sorry to dredge up old issues, but people at City Hall have been known to lie about attendance numbers for concerts on the Common. They told us 50,000 people went to see Paul McCartney. They lied. Only about 26,000 tickets were sold. They told us 50,000 people went to the Rolling Stones concert. They lied about that, too, although I still don’t know what the real number is.

I’m not actually opposed to concerts on the Common in principle, and I much prefer a free event like tomorrow’s Deadmau5 show to the high-priced geriatric rock shows of the past. But I don’t trust City Hall. Their track record sucks, and yet they seem determined to bring back concerts.

How determined? Determined to the point where a City Hall staffer named Elizabeth Taylor made the ridiculous statement that “the successful history of delivering large scale events at the Commons was a determining factor…” in putting on tomorrow’s concert.

News flash to Elizabeth Taylor: THERE IS NO SUCCESSFUL HISTORY OF DELIVERING LARGE SCALE EVENTS AT THE COMMON. Every one of them failed to bring the numbers anticipated, and every one of them failed financially. Each and every one of them.

I hope people have a good time tomorrow. And hopefully this event can be run with no major problems and within budget. But even if so, that should not be a green light to proceed with future big ticket concerts. As former CAO Wayne Anstey rued, “More and more, I am coming to the conclusion that this is just not a good concert community.”

I could go into why that is so — Halifax is not well placed geographically, demographically, or meteorologically for large outdoor concerts — but the track record should speak for itself. The concert scandal was not a one-off “mistake.” Rather, it was the inevitable result of a bureaucratic and political insistence that the impossible — successful large scale outdoor concerts — be made possible, at any cost. Once that decision was made, the long saga of bureaucratic lies, secret bank accounts, illegal loans were mere details.

I fear we’re about to go down that road again.

2. Downtown

Taking the bus downtown yesterday, traffic was backed up on Barrington Street to about Cornwallis Street, and it took a good 15 minutes to get to Scotia Square, where I decided it was quicker to walk than continue on the bus. I don’t think any one thing was responsible for the delay — there are just a lot of people wandering around to look at the ships and be on the waterfront. That’s a good thing. But I don’t at all have a good feeling about this weekend, and I wish the city would close Water Street to vehicular traffic.

3. Arctic research

“The Nova Scotia-based physicist who runs a research station almost as far north in Canada as you can get says he is preparing to mothball the facility as the expiration date for a major source of federal funding draws near,” reports Nina Corfu for the CBC:

Dalhousie University’s James Drummond is the principal investigator at the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory(PEARL) on Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, approximately 1,100 kilometres from the North Pole.

The facility is one of only a handful of research labs in the High Arctic. “It is rather like being on another planet, without having to go through the space travel bit,” Drummond said.

The laboratory, which has been operating continuously since 2005, cannot continue to function without a $1-million annual grant from the Climate Change and Atmospheric Research (CCAR) program, Drummond said.

4. Chelsie Probert murder

Chelsie Probert. Photo: Facebook

A police release from yesterday:

Investigators with the Homicide Unit of the Integrated Criminal Investigation Division are asking for a potential witness to come forward in the homicide of Chelsie Probert. 

At approximately 10 p.m. on June 6, 2017 Halifax Regional Police responded to a report of a female in medical distress on a pathway between Albro Lake Road and Farrell Street. Officers located 18-year-old Chelsie Probert who was transported to hospital where she later passed away from her injuries. The Medical Examiner ruled Chelsie’s death a homicide. 

On June 23, investigators in the Homicide Unit charged a 16-year-old male youth with second degree murder in the homicide of Chelsea Probert. 

Investigators are interested in speaking to a potential witness who may have been on the pathway or in the surrounding area between 9 and 10 p.m. on June 6. The witness is described as a white man, tall with a slender build and long curly hair. The witness may have been approached by the 16-year-old male youth who has been charged with second degree murder. 

The Icarus Report

“The premier flight of Elite Airways to Halifax, previously scheduled to depart Portland International Jetport Friday at 10 a.m., was postponed at the last minute,” reports the Bangor Daily News:

Due to a computer breakdown with the reservation system, the flight start date has been delayed two weeks, until July 13, an Elite Airways spokesperson confirmed Thursday.

“This is the worse case scenario,” said spokesperson Rebecca Ayers. “You never want to delay a start date.”

I think Ayers means “worst case scenario,” but in any event, staying on the ground is not the worst thing that could happen, ya know?

Here are recent air events that are worse than staying on the ground:

• On May 31, a pilot reported a drone flying at 9,000 feet near the Calgary airport. Cops were called.

• On June 1, a U.S. Air Force C-130 flying from Keflavik, Iceland to Halifax reported an engine had shut down; the plane landed safely in Halifax.

• On June 8, a U.S. Air Force C-130 flying from Ramstein Air Base, Germany to St. John’s reported a burned out engine; it landed safely in St. John’s.

• On June 13, a WestJet flight 8893 from Dublin, Ireland to St. John’s reported that a passenger was causing problems, yelling at flight attendants, smashing a tablet in the bathroom, and saying bad shit about WestJet. On landing at St. John’s, the passenger was arrested.

• On June 14, WestJet flight 3423 from St. John’s to Halifax had to abort a landing at Halifax “due to a gear issue.” The pilot went through a gear check list and then landed safely. Turns out a light bulb in a panel had burned out.

• On June 16, people were walking around on the runway at Kugluktuk, Nunavut.

• On June 16, the airport terminal in Calgary was evacuated due to a report of a “security incident.” The call was determined to be a hoax.

• On June 19, Jazz Air flight 8895 from Halifax to Boston reported that 60 miles out from Halifax, its windshield had cracked. The plane returned to Halifax.

• On June 21, a corporate jet on a flight from Tirstrup, Denmark to Montreal declared “PAN PAN” because an engine burned out. The plane made an emergency landing at Goose Bay.

• On June 21, a DND Bell 412 helicopter on a training flight above Gagetown reported it had been hit by a green laser. The crew had to make a turn to avoid the laser, and then reported the source of it to the airport tower, which in turn reported it to the RCMP and Military Police. The laser came from the Burton Trailer Park in Oromocto. The investigation continues.

• On June 23,Jazz Air flight 8506 from Montreal to Fredericton reported a “laser attack” 22 miles west of Fredericton, while flying at 7,000 feet. The pilot said the plane was hit by a green laser at 2am over a course of two or three miles, with the plane being flashed for two to three seconds at a time.

• On June 24, after takeoff, the cabin on Air Canada flight 619 from Halifax to Toronto “reported a pressurization problem,” and had to return to Halifax.

• On June 26, an airport worker at Gander discovered a pair of long nose pliers and an extendable magnetic retriever on the centerline of the runway. No one knows how the tools got there.

• On June 27, a general aviation pilot flying above Whitson Lake, Ontario reported a UFO, and said that a government research helicopter flew beneath the object. The helicopter pilot said they saw nothing. The reporting pilot said the object was too big to be a conventional drone, but didn’t say whether it made that spooky music like in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

• On June 28, JazzAir flight 8152 from Calgary to Edmonton landed in Edmonton and started taxiing to the gate, but the pilot had to stop the plane because a couple of coyotes were crossing the taxiway.


No meetings scheduled.

On campus

No events today.

In the harbour

3:30am: Zim Antwerp, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for Kingston, Jamaica; at 114,000 tonnes, this is the largest container ship to have called in Halifax
5am: Brevik Bridge, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Fos Sur Mer, France
7am: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 36 from Saint-Pierre
7am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Autoport to Pier 41
10am: YM Modesty, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Colombo, Sri Lanka
10:30am: Brevik Bridge, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
11:30am: Vera D, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for Mariel, Cuba

Atlantic Cartier. Photo: Halifax Examiner
Atlantic Cartier. Photo: Halifax Examiner

4pm: Atlantic Cartier, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
4:30pm: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Pier 36 for Saint-Pierre
9:30pm: YM Modesty, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York

2am: Atlantic Cartier, ro-ro container, sails from Fairview Cove for Liverpool, England

Reykjafoss. Photo: Halifax Examiner
Reykjafoss. Photo: Halifax Examiner

4am: Reykjafoss, general cargo, arrives at HalTerm from Argentia, Newfoundland
6am: Maersk Palermo, container ship, arrives at HaTterm from Montreal
10am: CMA CGM Tancredi, container ship, arrives at HalTerm Colombo, Sri Lanka
10:am: Celebrity Summit, cruise ship with up to 2,100 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Saint John
5pm: Celebrity Summit, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Portland


Except for getting El Jones published tomorrow morning, I’m going to unplug this weekend, take a break from the internet. See you Tuesday.

Tim Bousquet

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

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  1. Thanks again for the Icarus report. I have a trans-Atlantic flight coming in 4 weeks, and this fills me with confidence. Also thanks for educating me with regard to “Pan Pan”, which I then looked up on Wikipedia, and came one step closer to soiling myself. This flight is going to be a treat.

  2. My son, who was born 13 years after the Rolling Stones formed, invited me to the their concert on the Commons. Despite the rain, we both had a fabulous time. The event remains one of our favourite shared memories. The sound system was the best I’ve ever experienced. The stones were brilliant. Heaven knows my generation owes the world a huge apology for the fact that *our* parents had a ton of babies after WWII, but the fact remains, tens of thousands of Nova Scotians had a wonderful time at a city-sponsored event on the Commons. How upsetting for you.

    1. Agreed Parker, I’m pushing retirement age and despite the rain, we had a great time. The Stones were in great form and I would expect the 50,000 estimate was fairly accurate. Also, the system of busses set up to whisk concert-goers off the peninsula was very well planned. I have attended concerts of similar size at Magnetic Hill and despite the advantage of being with the Stones security detail, getting to and from the venue was a nightmare. Halifax has a good site, just needs more capable planning personnel.

  3. the traffic/pedestrian situation in downtown Halifax now is absolutely insane, and in my opinion bordering on criminal negligence. Because of construction and failure to accommodate easily predictable increased pedestrian traffic, the Lr. Water St. crosswalk at Prince Street is funnelling all the pedestrian traffic from the waterfront. Yesterday at rush hour, there was only one or two cars at a time getting through as larges masses of pedestrians took the crosswalk. A moron in a sports car pulled into the left lane, blasting a horn and drove through a crowd. While this kind of situation is in place, with developers calling all the shots on what moves and doesn’t, the City should post a traffic cop there at rush hours to help keep traffic flowing and pedestrians safe. What is there now is totally unacceptable. Someone is going to get hurt.

    1. I agree. I walked past there 4 times today, and the mass of pedestrian traffic just brings the vehicular traffic to a standstill for minutes on end.
      They need a light/controlled crossing there.
      OR open up a sidewalk on the water side of the street (that would be novel!)
      Sheer lunacy forcing thousands of pedestrians to cross the street for, what, 70 yards??
      The current log-jam was SO predictable!

  4. An acquaintance just completed her PhD in a branch of oceanography. Her thesis concerned tidal power, but she’s getting out of tidal research and leaving Nova Scotia because there are no jobs. All the investment is going into things, not people – i.e. infrastructure & equipment rather than employment. Why? Because it takes less money & less commitment to construct a building or buy instruments than to support salaries. We can see this trend everywhere.

  5. I can’t understand the antisocial stupidity of people who shine laser beams onto aircraft. I mean, we live in antisocial and stupid times, but I just can’t wrap my head around why that would be interesting. I can understand doing things like blowing up balloons full of propane with a laser or something but the aircraft thing is just dumb.

    A laser powerful enough to light up an aircraft that’s flying several kilometers away from you costs $150-200. It seems like the kind of thing that only a stupid, impulsive person would buy considering how useless and dangerous they are.

  6. I wonder if these kinds of concerts disappoint because they always seem to get dinosaur Boomer bands. I’m 57 and I probably wouldn’t go to hear some rock band that was its prime 30 or 40 or 50 years ago, even if it were free.

    Blues and jazz performers usually improve with age, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with rock bands. It’s rather sad, actually, to see some decrepit geriatric pretending to be a teenager.

    I suspect that a municipal-run show of more current bands may have too many rules for their audience’s liking, too much red tape, but for whatever reason, those kinds of shows rarely seem to happen anyway.

  7. How many for the McCartney concert? Only 26,000? You probably could double that if you include all the friends and friends of friends who decided to visit friends living in the neighbourhood + others who boasted afterwards of getting in free. Whose counting? It was a party!

    1. Ian,

      I’m counting all the tax dollars wasted just so P Kelly could introduce his Idol Paul, andd all the politically onneccted boomers could hang around back stage. I’m also counting all the corruption around Kelly and the entire commons concert series. Hope you had fun, it was a complete failure by any measue other than was it a “party”.

  8. It is only the section between Prince and George that is being closed. Vehicles are to use Bedford Row. Yesterday I saw a tour bus turn up Prince, cutting in front of pedestrians trying to cross. There will soon be an accident. And adding a theme park train to the mix has not helped.

  9. The Halifax Common has successfully hosted large-scale events in the past, for example Pope John Paul II in 1984. Rumoured to be 80,000 people but for the sake of argument let’s say it was half that. The recent history of corrupt concert deals is not the entire history of the common. With tomorrow’s rain, who knows whether they’ll get the projected attendance. Either way, I suspect we’ll be seeing a big crowd. Bigger than any other space in the urban core can hold.

    1. 80,000 people would come to see the pope anywhere on Earth: Antarctica, Syria, the top of Mt. Everest, wherever. It’s just not comparable to a concert.

  10. I seem to recall seeing a mention that Lower Water Street will be closed to vehicular traffic this weekend. It was in either the CBC or Metro story about the floating dock not being ready for the Canada Day weekend.

    1. If so, good. I haven’t been aware of it. It’s possible there was a press release or some such, and I just missed it.

        1. Jeeze… I feel like that will just make traffic worse. “Yes, please drive down Lower Water… oh wait! Detour!”