1. SpaceX

Last week, I wrote about “Nova Scotia’s next dystopian tourist destination: The Moms Gone Wild Memorial Spaceport.” Yesterday’s explosion of the SpaceX rocket in Florida underscores the danger poised by space launches.

SpaceX spun the explosion of its Starship rocket as a success, and credulous media mostly went along. But now we’re getting more detailed reports about the real world effects of rockets blowing up. From the New York Times:

Near the launch site, the residents of Port Isabel, known for its towering lighthouse and less than 10 miles from the border with Mexico, were left to deal with the mess.

Virtually everywhere in the city “ended up with a covering of a rather thick, granular, sand grain that just landed on everything,” Valerie Bates, a Port Isabel spokeswoman, said in an interview. Images posted to social media showed residents’ cars covered in brown debris.

A window shattered at a fitness gym, its owner, Luis Alanis, said. Mr. Alanis, who was at home at the time of the launch, said he felt “rumbling, kind of like a mini earthquake.” He estimated that the window would cost about $300 to fix.

Closer to the launch site, large pieces of debris were recorded flying through the air and smashing into an unoccupied car. Louis Balderas, the founder of LabPadre, which films SpaceX’s launches, said that while it was common to see some debris, smoke and dust, the impact of Thursday’s liftoff was unlike anything he had ever seen.

“There were bowling ball-sized pieces of concrete that came flying out of the launchpad area,” Mr. Balderas said. The blast, he added, had created a crater that he estimated was around 25 feet deep.

The ESG Hound blog Substack has been using the freedom of information act to uncover the environmental damages caused by SpaceX rockets (even successful launches), and concludes:

The damage from SpaceX’s incursion into South Texas’ pristine coast is already real. The harm from the full launches will undoubtedly be greater than what was disclosed to the public. These damages may show up as shattered windows and the corpses of hundreds of dead shorebirds; immediate and obvious. Or they may not be entirely clear until years from now when SpaceX eventually closes shop on the Texas coast for greener pastures. The scars on the land, the people, and the wildlife won’t just disappear. They’ll linger, and hopefully, by then people will be willing to listen to the story.

Note this section:

Nearby cities Port Isabel and South Padre Island are under 5 miles away from the launch site; by comparison, the nearest cities to NASA’s Cape Canaveral 39-A launch complex, one of the only other sites permitted to launch supersized rockets, are 15 miles away.

For sure, Maritime Launch Services is not proposing to launch supersized rockets (just untested rockets either cobbled together by sketchy Ukrainian companies or rockets produced by someone enriched by the Moms Gone Wild hookup website). But consider that the town of Canso is about two kilometres from the launch site, and there are houses even closer than that. Likewise, the environmentally sensitive Betsy’s Beach and associated wetlands are two kilometres away.

You can read Joan Baxter’s reporting on the environmental issues at stake here.

As I wrote last week:

In reports Maritimes Launch Services was required to file with security regulators on March 30, the company outlines the expected risks associated with the business, including that its first intended rocket providers, the Ukrainian companies Yuzhnoye and Yuzhmash, are currently being bombed by the Russian military, and that its fallback plan is to use Skyrora rockets that have “limited or no flight heritage.”

But then it seems to contradict the above with this section:

Potential for Launch Failures

Rocket launches are inherently hazardous and there exists a potential for a launch site accident or critical launch failure which could result in damage to the Spaceport; damage or destruction of real or personal property of the Company, its clients or third parties; personal injury; or death or dismemberment to the Company employees, contractors or the general public. The risk of a launch site accident or critical launch failure, while remote, is serious. This risk increases for any launch vehicles with less flight heritage. The Company intends to account for this risk with robust launch insurance, however such insurance coverage and the scope and terms thereof have not been finalized and are subject to overall launch market success globally. The loss of a launch vehicle or satellite payload or damage to the Spaceport are covered items. The Company has selected Yuzhnoye and Yuzhmash as suppliers because of the low technical risk associated with their products and unlikelihood of a launch failure.

I don’t see that MLS has any assessment of the potential for launch failure of Skyrora rockets specifically.

I don’t know how MLS can claim that the risk a launch site accident or critical launch failure is “remote” — they happen all the time, on the order of 5% of all launches fail. So, if that average holds for the Moms Gone Wild rocket dude, we can expect a launch failure at Canso within the first 20 launches.

2. Saint Bernard

An aerial shot of a church made from grey granite stones. The church has three red doors and a stone cross on top. In the background is the ocean while a two lane highway runs in front. There is a lineup of cyclists driving on the road. A few pickup trucks are parked in a grassy area across from the church. Houses are located along the road.
Saint Bernard Catholic Church. Credit: Trevor Jones/La Société Héritage Saint Bernard

“On Thursday, Nation Prospère Acadie announced it was partnering with La Société Héritage Saint Bernard to launch a campaign to raise funds to save Saint Bernard,” reports Suzanne Rent:

Michel JC Cyr is the chair of Nation Prospère Acadie. The Bouctouche, NB-based registered charity started in 2018 to develop and implement sustainable solutions that allow the Acadian culture and community to prosper in the 21st century. The group has four “fields of action”: sustainability of French culture and life; protection and enhancement of heritage; conservation of Acadian folk art collections; and protection of the natural environment of Acadie.

Cyr said the group was reading news stories about Sainte-Marie, another church a short drive away from Saint Bernard, which was at risk of demolition. Another community group had worked for years to save that church, which is the tallest wooden church in North America. Then an anonymous donor came forward with a $10 million offer to save that church, provided it remains as a functioning church. Cyr said that story was the inspiration for this current campaign. 

“It basically gave us a wakeup call saying, well, if that little miracle happened for one community, why not give it one last kick in the can for the wonderful structure of Saint Bernard,” Cyr said.

Click here to read “Charity, heritage society partner on 32-day campaign to buy, save historic Acadian church.”

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3. Sackville shelter

A white man with grey hair, glasses, and wearing a blue jacket and jeans, stands next to a small shelter with metal siding, red trim, and a white door. A another shelter with blue trim is in the background.
Jim Gunn of Beacon House Shelter next to one of the microshelters on site. Credit: Suzanne Rent

“A shelter in Lower Sackville received another round of funding from the province to keep its doors open until May 2024,” reports Suzanne Rent:

The overnight shelter on Metropolitan Avenue in Lower Sackville is in the former St. Elizabeth Seton Church and initially started as a warming centre that was open for two hours each night. The shelter is operated by the Beacon House Interfaith Society.

But as the unhoused population in Lower Sackville and surrounding areas grew, so did the need for an overnight shelter with more supports. The shelter has also since changed its name from the Sackville Area Warming Centre to Beacon House Shelter.

Click here to read “Lower Sackville shelter gets funding from province to operate into 2024.”

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4. Cole Harbour park

A map with a legend above shows the plan for the rehab lands. The area for the planned park is coloured in green and is located near a body of water.
The preferred concept plan for the park (right click and open in a new tab for detail). Credit: HRM

“Councillors are recommending in favour of a plan for the rehab lands in Cole Harbour, but there are concerns the money won’t be there to make it happen,” reports Zane Woodford:

Halifax regional council’s Community Planning and Economic Development Standing Committee considered the Rehab Lands Park Plan during its meeting on Thursday.

The 20.4-hectare property between Bissett Road and Bissett Lake is the site of the former Halifax County Rehabilitation Centre. The municipality decided to use the land for a park and conducted public consultation in 2021.

As the Halifax Examiner reported earlier this week, municipal parks staff recommended a network of multi-use paths, and features like look-offs, a meditative labyrinth, a fenced-in off-leash dog park, a nine-hole disc golf course, mountain biking skills trails, and a sledding hill for the winter. 

“I love all of the different options that you have for this parkland,” Cole Harbour-Westphal Coun. Trish Purdy said.

“I think it’s going to be the best park in HRM. We have everything here.”

“Except a budget,” interjected another councillor.

Click here to read “Committee recommends Cole Harbour rehab lands park plan despite budget concerns.”

The Rehab lands started in 1887 as part of the Poor Farm, which was created to house indigent people, but their poverty was often a side effect of disease and mental illness. An institution specifically for the mentally ill was built and called the County Home, and that operation lasted under several different names all the way until 2002.

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5. No golf course on West Mabou Beach park

a sandy beach with green scrub land behind and blue water in front
West Mabou Beach Provincial Park. Photo: Communications Nova Scotia Credit: Communications Nova Scotia

“The owners of the Cabot golf courses on Cape Breton Island will not get access to part of West Mabou Beach Provincial Park for another development,” reports Michael Gorman for the CBC:

In an interview on Thursday, Natural Resources Minister Tory Rushton said officials from his department informed the company last week that even if it submitted a formal request, the government would not consider it.

“It was determined over the last few weeks that there’s actually no pathway or mechanism in the Provincial Parks Act to allow a golf course to be developed within a park,” said Rushton.

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6. John MacIsaac

A white balding man with red eyebrows and glasses wearing a black suit jacket over a white shirt. He is sitting in front of a blue background.
John MacIsaac — Photo: Nalcor via CBC

I’ll just post here the headline and subheadline to Jennifer Henderson’s article:

John MacIsaac has problems holding a job. But he doesn’t have any problem getting paid.

With technical problems beleaguering Muskrat Falls, he was shuffled out the Nalcor door with a half-million dollar settlement. After he worked for the city of Halifax for just three months, he was paid a quarter of a million dollars. Now John MacIsaac is advising the province for $2,000 per day.

Click here to read the article.

There are people walking among us who have golden horseshoes up their asses. No matter what they do or how they perform, they end up with high-paying jobs. (Hello, Peter Kelly!)

Oh, I’m sure MacIsaac is smart and talented and knows all the right people. But a lot of people are smart and talented.

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a model of a metal ball with screws coming out of it. It's supposed to look like a virus molecule with spikes
Photo by Georg Eiermann on Unsplash

Yesterday, Nova Scotia announced nine more deaths from COVID.

All nine deaths occurred before the April 11-17 reporting period, but you’ll recall that last week reported zero deaths during that reporting period, so it’s very likely that there were deaths in the April 11-17 period, but we don’t know about them yet.

So far, through the pandemic, 841 Nova Scotians have died from COVID, 354 of whom died since July 1, 2022.

Additionally, in the April 11-17 reporting period, 30 people were hospitalized because of COVID. (In the previous week, 16 people were hospitalized).

Nova Scotia Health reports the COVID hospitalization status as of yesterday (not including the IWK):
• in hospital for COVID: 13 (two of whom are in the ICU)
• in hospital for something else but have COVID: 63
• in hospital who contracted COVID after admission to hospital: 30

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8. They’re back

The 2023 cruise season starts tomorrow, when the Norwegian Dawn pulls into harbour with up to 2,808 passengers. On Monday, the Holland America workhorse Zaandam arrives with up to about 1,500 passengers, then moves on to start Sydney’s cruise ship season on Tuesday. Next weekend (April 28 and 29 respectively), the boutique cruise ships Ocean Navigator and Ocean Explorer arrive at Halifax with fewer than 200 passengers each.

Two or three cruise ships will arrive each week after that, but the season really doesn’t start in full force until late August.

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Atlantic Journalism Awards

Four white men holding awards. The awards are documents that say Atlantic Journalism Awards and are on a blue border and in gold frames. 
The men are all happy to be award winners
From left to right: Philip Moscovitch, Stephen Kimber, Tim Bousquet, Zane Woodford

Last night the Examiner crew took home some hardware from the Atlantic Journalism Awards, as follows:

Philip Moscovitch won the silver in the Any Medium/Commentary category for “Could a robot write this? Lessons on using AI writing tools, and what they mean for journalism.”

Stephen Kimber won the gold in the Magazines/Best Profile category for “Chief Terry Paul: Atlantic Canada’s first Indigenous CEO of the Year,” which was published by Atlantic Business Magazine.

I won the gold in the Any Medium/Commentary category for “The witchification of Lisa Banfield.”

Zane Woodford won the gold in the Digital Journalism/Breaking News category for “Halifax police arrest, pepper spray protestors as city evicts homeless people from parks.”

I had a great time last night. It was fun to hang out with my colleagues and visit with so many other reporters.

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No meetings

On campus


Reframed: Meet the Designers (Friday, 6pm, Port Loggia Gallery, Marginal Road) — more info here

In the harbour

00:01: Gotland, cargo ship, sails from Pier 27 for Bilboa, Spain
05:00: NYK Rigel, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Caucedo, Dominican Republic
05:30: CMA CGM Louga, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Montreal
06:30: Selfoss, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Portland
07:00: AlgoScotia, oil tanker, moves from Pier 26 to Imperial Oil
13:00: CMA CGM Louga sails for sea
15:00: Selfoss sails for Reykjavik, Iceland
16:00: East Coast, oil tanker, arrives at Irving Oil from Saint John
18:00: NYK Rigel sails for Southampton, England
20:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, sails from Pier 42 for St. John’s

04:00: CMA CGM Mexico, container ship (149,314 tonnes), arrives At Pier 41 from Tanger Med, Morocco
05:30: Norwegian Dawn, cruise ship with up to 2,808 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from New York, on a 14-day cruise from New York to Southampton, England
15:30: Norwegian Dawn sails for Saint-Pierre

Cape Breton
06:00: Algoma Verity, bulker, arrives at Aulds Cove quarry from Istanbul, Turkey


My big plan for the afternoon is to sit in the library reading microfilm.

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Tim Bousquet

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

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  1. Congratulations Tim, Stephen, Phillip and Zane for receiving the recognition you all deserve for excellence in journalism. The Halifax Examiner has really become the mouse that roared.

    Glad again that I subscribed.

  2. Elon Musk’s efforts with starship seem a lot like Fitzcarraldo, except apparently there’s money to keep buying more rockets to blow up.

  3. Congratulations one and all for your richly-deserved awards! You and your colleagues provide a great public service for all of your readers, near and far.