In the harbour


1. Fuel shortage

Monday, the Service Nova Scotia Minister Mark Furey issued a statement basically saying the government wasn’t going to do anything about the gas shortage. Yesterday, he issued another statement doubling down on the inaction.

The CBC yesterday reported definitively that:

The gas shortage began Friday after two shipments that were sent to the Dartmouth Imperial Oil terminal — one from the Gulf of Mexico and the other from Europe — did not meet the quality specifications to be sold in Canada.

But I can’t pin that down to any reliable source. I asked Dave Collins of Wilson’s Fuel who is it that would have inspected the fuel; he responded via email saying:

The supplier [Imperial] checks theior own fuel against the CGSB [Canadian General Standards Board] specs (Which was developed and agreed to by the Auto Cos. and the refiners and Environment Canada.)

There are strong financial penalties for non-compliance (EC has fines that are up to $1Million per day plus jail time)

So lots of incentive to make sure one stays onside.

That may be, but I also asked Environment Canada about the gas shortage in Nova Scotia, and about Collins’ suggestion that tankers had been turned away because the fuel didn’t meet specifications. Spokesperson Jirina Vlk replied that:

Environment Canada or the enforcement of Environment Canada regulations has not prevented ships from unloading. No ships have been turned away because of Environment Canada’s regulations. While Environment Canada does have benzene in gasoline regulations which have summer and winter limits, these requirements have not contributed to the supply problem. The regulations provide flexibility to import fuel that may be otherwise non-compliant and to blend and treat the gas before bringing it to market.

A couple of hours later Vlk emailed back to complain that there’s been “lots of erroneous reporting about tankers being turned away when they were not.”

CBC reporter Leizabeth McMillan tweeted yesterday that the problem was at the oil depot:

Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 7.44.43 AM

So: no ships were late. No ships were turned away. Apparently, the fuel simply needed to be blended before it could be trucked to service stations.

The problem was a delay at the Imperial operation here in Dartmouth.

2. Legionnaires’ disease

Four people who live in a Dartmouth apartment building have contracted Legionnaires’ disease, says the Health Authority via a release:

Halifax, NS — Public Health has met with residents of a multi-unit apartment building in Dartmouth following a positive case of legionella (legionnaires’ disease) in a resident. Three other potential cases are being investigated, awaiting lab results. All four individuals reside at the apartment building. They are currently being treated in hospital.

Public Health is working to identify the source of the bacteria. Initially, the investigation is focussing on the apartment building, but the cause or location of the problem has yet to be confirmed.

“Most people have little or no risk of catching the disease, which is not contagious and can’t be spread from person to person,” said Dr. Gaynor Watson-Creed, Medical Officer of Health. “The source of this small cluster appears to be localized and it’s unlikely that the broader public is at risk. At the same time, it’s important that people are aware and know the symptoms.”

Legionannaires’ disease occurs after a person breathes in small droplets of water or mists contaminated with bacteria called legionella. The bacteria is found in the soil and can make its way into air conditioning cooling towers, whirlpool spas, and showers. People can be exposed to these mists in their homes, workplaces, hospitals or public spaces.

Symptoms can include fever, chills, dry cough, muscle aches, headache, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and in severe cases, difficulty breathing or pneumonia.More information on Legionella can be found at

3. One NS


One NS, the agency created to implement the recommendations of the Ivany Report, has apparently accidentally published its draft action plans. I’ve loaded them all up to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine so they can’t be disappeared.

Here’s the main page. And each of the seven plans, as follows:

Early Years

A New Deal for Youth

Nova Scotia’s Universities and NSCC as Innovation (EVERYONE DRINK!) hubs — Nowhere in the action plan about universities does the word “tuition” appear.

ICT Momentum

Ocean Advantage

Going Global — the word “innovation” appears 44 times in this section. On the plus side, “world-class” appears only twice.

Apparently, there’s going to be an “important stakeholder event” today. I’m told that the “important stakeholders” were selectively determined by some unknown vetting process, and if you’re not one of them, well tough luck, I guess, you don’t get a say in the future of Nova Scotia.

I don’t have time to read the drafts this morning, but I thought I’d publish them so my forever-smart readers can have a crack at them and tell me what they find interesting, meaning ridiculous. Email me at with “One NS” in the subject line.

My quick scan of the draft documents shows that they’re fairly heavy on bullshit phrases, although some are tied to “KPI”s — “key performance indicators” — but of course there’s no indication as to who will be held responsible should the KPIs not be met.


1. Pictou County

{hotos: Stephen Archibald
Photos: Stephen Archibald

Stephen Archibald wanders around Pictou County.

2. Oil spills

John Davis, of the Clean Ocean Action Committee, writes the following open letter to South Coast Today:

The regulatory review process for Shell’s oil planned exploration activity on the Scotian Shelf is off on the wrong foot. If Shell and its partners are allowed to proceed under this lack of regulatory oversight then our fishing industry and our South Shore communities will never recover and will never have adequate standing in any contentious interaction with offshore oil producers.

The oil reserves available to Shell’s lease sites on the Scotian Shelf are estimated at 8 billion barrels, (Hibernia’s Estimates were about 980 million barrels) If the estimates hold then, based on Shell’s own statements they could be extracting oil at the Shelburne Gull site for 70 to 90 years.

There will be spills.

My experiences in both the North Sea and the Gulf of Mexico indicate that all sectors of the South Shore fishing industry are about to be marginalized. I don’t care whether you are a single boat owner a Comeau Seafoods or a Clearwater or whether you are a fisherman’s organization attempting to represent the best interests of your members. Once the royalties start to flow and the cash starts to pile up in government coffers the voice you once had will no longer be heard in Halifax or in Ottawa. I have worked out of Aberdeen, Scotland and out of Corpus Christi, Texas in the Gulf of Mexico. I’ve spoken with both fishermen and fish companies. The oil companies are expert at lobbying and usurping the primary position that the fishing industry once held in the offshore.

The cash they provide governments, the lawyers and lobbyists they employ and their single minded, aggressive efforts to promote their own interests over the needs and requirements of the fishing industry are well documented. This reality is to be expected. Like many in the fishing industry, Shell Canada is a corporation which is responsible to its shareholders. Their effort is to generate the highest possible profit and to do so at the lowest possible cost. Their concern for the well being of Nova Scotia’s South Shore communities and fishing industry is well down on their list of priorities.

The fishing industry and the communities of the South Shore need our Provincial and Federal regulators to step forward and to actually protect, to the fullest extent possible, the ocean environment on the Scotian shelf. I see no indication that our regulators are prepared to meet this standard without clear demands being made. It is now our responsibility to push them to do their jobs.

Let’s get to Work,
Best Regards
John Davis
Clean Ocean Action Committee

Background and more information can be found here.

3. Cranky letter of the day

To the Chronicle Herald:

Governments, politicians and senators aren’t in it for the people. They’re in it for themselves (at least most of them are). That’s easy to see by what’s going on all across the country, from the municipal to the federal level.

Schools are closing and big wellness centres are being built that small communities are helping pay for, with no say in it and no benefit to them.

Soon we will have no small rinks, centres or schools available to local people.

If the rural areas of Pictou County join up with the towns, what will we have left? Nothing. All the money will go to the towns and we’ll have no children and young people living here, and I won’t get to see the children and grandchildren of the children I took care of over the years.

Alice Sutherland, River John



Point Pleasant Park Advisory Committee (4:30pm, Office and Maintenance Building, Point Pleasant Park)—on the agenda is discussion of the Shilling Ceremony:

The original lease [of the park] was negotiated with the British Crown by Sir William Young in 1866. The lease was for 999 years, and annual rent was set at one shilling. 

Residents of HRM lease Point Pleasant Park for only a shilling, a former British coin worth about eight cents by today’s standards. Since 1866, that was the annual rent due to the British Crown for the use of the park for each year of the 999 year lease.

The Shilling Ceremony takes place every year at the Prince of Wales Tower, usually in June, when the mayor gives the Lieutenant Governor a shilling.

Presumably the Brits will take the place back in the year 2865, and build some dog-awful skyscraper on the site.

Cornwallis Park

The city this morning issued a tender for construction of the first phase of the Cornwallis Park redevelopment. This follows design work done by Esketics last year. At the time, the city explained the park as follows:

Cornwallis Park is a 0.8 ha urban park located in the historic Barrington Street South precinct in downtown Halifax. It was built by the Canadian National Railway in the 1920’s as an integral part of the new train station and hotel complex in the south end of Halifax. Very much influenced by the City Beautiful movement, the CNR developed the grounds around the train station to be a great civic space with Beaux-Art buildings set within a majestic park setting with formal path layout, trees, flowering shrubs and geometric planting beds. Ideas of nation building, the founding of Halifax, and creating a best image of the city for visitors from the railway station played into the design of the park. The park was designed as an aesthetic front lawn foreground for the train station and the former Hotel Nova Scotian (currently the Westin Hotel). The commissioned statue of Edward Cornwallis, the founder of Halifax, anchors the civic space. The park was an integral piece of the train station development providing a positive image and good first impression to travellers and immigrants arriving in Halifax.

Interesting, to me anyway, CN continued to own the park through the 1960s, but evidently let it fall apart. Halifax city council dealt with the issue on June 27, 1968, with the following action recorded in the minutes:

Letter – CER Re: Cornwallis Park

MOVED by Alderman Hathescn, seconded by Alderman Connolly that as reccmmended by the Finance and Executive Committee, a copy of the plan of development of Cornwallis Park be forwarded to the Manager, Maritime Area, Canadian National Railways together with an explanation of the proposed development with respect to development of the park; and requesting them to reconsider their decision with respect to development of the Park and to the effect that the area be used for park purposes only, in View of the fact that the children’s playgrounds will be located in the Barrington Street area; and failing concurrence of the Canadian National Railways with the proposed plan of development of Cornwallis Park that they be advised that the City is not interested in leasing the Park and requests the Canadian National Railways to maintain same in proper order.

His Worship the mayor said.that in accordance with instructions received at the Finance and Executive Committee, he had telephoned the Maritime Manager of the Canadian National Railways in Moncton whose first reaction was to oppose the plan of the development of the park by the City, a copy of which had been sent to him, but he had subsequently changed his mind and a telegran had been reaeived stating that the development is quite acceptable to the Canadian National Railways and they will be forwarding necessary leases for ccmpletior by the City.

The motion was then passed.

I read that as CN was initially opposed to putting a playground in the park, but changed its corporate mind, probably (I’m guessing) due to some bad press about the railroad company hating children. The playground was built, and at some point the park property was transferred to the city. Around the mid-1980s, the playground was rebuilt, and there it’s sat, deteriorating, ever since.

Cornwallis Park

Planners used the decrepit condition of the playground as an excuse to revamp the entire park, as follows:

The key features of the plan include:

  • Formal Park in the northern section of the site: preserve the original layout of the central promenade, diagonal pathways and plaza space around the Cornwallis sculpture. Provide a higher quality of materials, lighting, park amenities and landscaping, with more open, flexible hard surface paving that can host a variety of public activities.
  • Widen the sidewalk along Hollis Street for food vending and sidewalk activities
  • Develop an elliptical path that unifies the circulation, introduces more seating along the edges, and begins to organize future commemorative elements and public art pieces from various cultural groups (as started with the Ukrainian Immigrants Vytaiemo Memorial)
  • Special Event area – re-grade the former playground area in the southeast corner to create an amphitheater with terraced lawn seating and hard surface paving for a small scale performance area. This space is to be flexible and multifunctional for events and also be enjoyed for more passive activities on a daily basis.
  • Playground – develop a themed playground that fits with the aesthetics of the urban park and heritage area, and offers unique play experiences.


Economic Development Standing Committee (9;30am, Room 233A, Johnston Building)—the committee discuss the Yarmouth ferry. I’ll be there, if I can get this Morning File published in time.

In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:30am Thursday. Map:
The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:30am Thursday. Map:

ZIM Alabama, arrived at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain this morning, sails to sea this afternoon
Nolhanava arrived at Pier 36 from Saint-Pierre this morning

Acadian sails to Saint John
Atlantic Cartier sails to sea

The cruise ship Liberty of the Seas is in port today.


Gotta run.

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

Join the Conversation


Only subscribers to the Halifax Examiner may comment on articles. We moderate all comments. Be respectful; whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims. Please read our Commenting Policy.
  1. “Key Performance Indicators”.

    I wonder what the difference is between Key Performance Indicators and Performance Indicators. KPIs sounds cooler than PIs, or maybe just less confusing, because of TV shows about detectives.

  2. Apparently climate change is not an issue for the stakeholders. Not one mention that that I can find. Wonder what the blessed babies (Thanks, Laine) will think of that.

  3. RE the totslly-artificial «Gasoline Shortage»…


    ««BAFFLEGAB, OBFUSCATION, and yes, plain ol’ fashund LIES!

  4. So, Imperial, which basically has a monopoly on bringing gas into the province, blamed “late ships,” but that story turns out not to be true. Government’s response continues to be: we trust industry to self-regulate.

    We need a review of gas supply/distribution/retailing in this province (not just price regulation), ideally as part of a broader rethink of transportation. And we’ll probably get one after a couple more gas shortages like this past one. I’ll regret it if it leads to calling gas stations “innovation hubs” though.

    1. My guess, after learning that there were delays in testing the fuel quality and blending in the chemicals needed to bring it up to standards, is that the facility was understaffed or under-equipped to save money, or maybe had no inventory of the necessary chemicals.

      It’s entirely possible that Imperial had to bring in workers from another refinery, buy chemicals from Irving’s refinery in New Brunswick, and then mix the fuel. This is of course speculation, but makes sense to me in light of recent news.

    2. Good idea. Interesting to note that to my knowledge no gasoline shortages were reported in PEI or New Brunswick where gasoline prices were at least 5 cents per litre higher than in NS. Probably just a coincidence!!

      1. I’m hearing now (via social media) that gas stations in Moncton are running out of gas this afternoon.

    3. Imperial does not have a monopoly. Valero has storage at the former Texaco refinery in Eastern Passage. Their logo is clearly visible. A barge frequently docks there. Nustar has storage capacity in Port Hawkesbury, not sure if it is just crude storage.

  5. Regarding the points about innovation, universities and youth retention, I think that the existing programs are very often a form of welfare for at best, rich Nova Scotians, and at worst, multinational corporations. The answer isn’t of course, to scrap these programs, but at the same time, I think that we really need to take a look at making sure that these programs actually benefit the people who pay for them.

    I’m an (unemployed) mechanical engineer who went to Dalhousie, got reasonable grades, and has 3 years of work experience, and I’ve been unable to find a job all summer.

    One reason is the vast number of co-op students available as the size of the engineering program at Dalhousie (and most Canadian universities) has tripled since I started school in 2007. Half of a co-op student’s paycheck (up to a limit) is paid for by the government, so companies can hire reasonably talented people to do basic work for less than minimum wage in many cases. I did co-op too, I certainly wouldn’t want to see the program scrapped, but at the same time, 2 out of 3 employers that I worked for were large multinational corporations that could surely have afforded $20/hr for my services instead of the $10 they actually paid. Maybe the subsidy should only be for companies that actually pay taxes in Nova Scotia? Obviously, I can do a lot more for an employer than a student on a 4-month term can, but a student costs, due to subsidies, 1/3 of what an engineer costs.

    The last company I worked for had deals with ACOA, NRC, BDC, (who knows who else), that for a time, paid my salary, which I am grateful for, but ultimately, all of the IP that myself and my coworkers developed would have gone to the already wealthy CEO and his (also very wealthy) buddies. None of them are from Nova Scotia, they shopped around and found that this was the best place to have the government fund their venture so that if it failed (it did) they would not lose very much of their own money. I think there was around $150,000 in private investment. Yes, if things had worked out, they would have been obligated to pay back the forgivable loans they received with some amount of interest, but in this case, they wasted somewhere in between $500,000-$1,000,000 of taxpayer money. They also only managed to hire about 8 engineers or programmers for less than a year – a lot of money got spent on flights to and from Nova Scotia (they don’t live here, remember) and drinking.

    So I’m a little jaded, every single thing I’ve done in my professional capacity as an engineer in Nova Scotia (I moved away for my first job out of school, and took this one so I could come back) except for one 4-month period as a student has been to turn mostly-taxpayer money into even more money for very rich people from away. This is obviously not a productive arrangement for Nova Scotia, and although I think that these programs have some merit and should be reformed rather than shut down, they’re better off dead than alive in their current zombified state.

  6. I used to work at an environmental organization where we would advise people to turn down their hot water heaters to save energy and money. Legionnaire’s Disease is one of the dangers that we’d warn of if you turn your hot water heater down too low. That may not be the case here but in an apartment building, it’s one thing that sprang to mind immediately.

  7. I read the New Deal For Youth in detail. Except for the catchy slogan it’s abunch of confusing crap.


    1. “New Deal for Youth” was also the original title for the most recent IPCC report. 😉

      The report on our ‘Ocean Advantage’ pretty clearly lays out that Nova Scotia’s chances of limiting exploration and extraction of fossil fuels (a recommendation of the above mentioned IPCC report) have been completely thrown to the wayside, or covered in a pile of drool after thinking about the potential royalties.
      The plan for tidal energy exists but is convoluted when compared to the ‘explore, drill, PROFIT’ (drink!) plan on offshore gas.