News
Views
Government
On campus
Noticed
In the harbour
Footnotes


News

1. Investigation crowdsourced

Police are crowdsourcing their investigation:

RCMP and Halifax Regional Police conspiracy to commit murder investigation involving the Halifax Shopping Centre on Valentine’s Day is continuing.

Police have received several tips related to the two people facing charges – a 23-year-old female from Geneva, Illinois, and a 20-year-old male from Halifax – as well as the deceased 19-year-old male from Timberlea and their online content/activity. To make it easier for citizens to submit photos, videos or tips, police have established an email address and website so information and images can be easily submitted directly to the investigators.

Information (text only) can be submitted via RCMP.threatsinvestigation.enquetesurlesmenaces.GRC@rcmp-grc.gc.ca. Video, photos and screen shots can be uploaded here http://www.services3.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/ut/index-en.php . 

The RCMP and Halifax Regional Police continue to investigate every avenue related to this incident and investigators will review every piece of information that citizens submit. 

Please note that if you submit information, an investigator may contact you for follow-up.

2. Crane

Photo: @watchCTVNews

A crane at a construction site at the corner of Almon and Isleville Streets dropped a load on power lines yesterday, taking out power to the Hydrostone and Agricola Street area for about five hours. No one was injured.

I hope regulators are inspecting the plethora of construction cranes rising above the city.

Here’s a short video of the “Big Blue” crane collapse at Brewer’s Ball Park Stadium in Milwaukee on July 14, 1999, in which three people died. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel explained the multiple causes of the disaster, which resulted in criminal charges against Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of America, the operators of the crane.

http://youtu.be/slEWQQ6TGr4

This was not an isolated event. “No one seems to track tower crane accidents world wide,” notes one of the many blogs dedicated to the subject. “Annually we see 30 plus major accidents world wide with around 50 deaths. It’s a dangerous game and we all need to be vigilant in the construction world.”

3. Construction site death

Parkland Construction and an unnamed supervisor for the company have been charged in the death of Alan Fraser, the 21-year-old man who fell to his death at a Clayton Park construction site in 2013, reports the Chronicle Herald:

Alan Fraser

It’s believed Fraser was working alone at the time, dumping debris off the roof with a wheelbarrow, when he fell to his death.

The charges against Parkland Construction are failing to provide fall protection for an employee working at an elevation of three metres or more, failing to provide fall protection training, not having a safe work plan and failing to ensure a chute or other safe method was used to lower debris to the ground.

A supervisor with the company, whose name was not released, was charged with failing to take every precaution to protect an employee’s health and not providing fall protection when working at an elevation of three metres or more.

4. Pedestrian deaths

Six hundred and fifty-eight pedestrians were struck by vehicles in Halifax between 2012 and 2014, and 10 of those pedestrians were killed. Those are some of the statistics released by the police yesterday. Here’s the tabulation of incidents; an SOT is a Summary Offence Ticket, i.e., a ticket that could be issued to either the driver or the pedestrian:

And a breakdown of incidents per month:

Two maps show the geography and frequency of incidents:

The two locations with six pedestrian incidents were the Willow Tree intersection and the intesection of Willet and Lacewood in Clayton Park. The parking lot of the Sobeys on Queen Street had five incidents.

The map splits them into two groupings, but there were seven incidents around Halifax Shopping Centre. “Pedestrians were in crosswalks in all but one of these incidents,” reads the report. “Three of the four which took place nearer the main shopping building involved school-aged pedestrians.”

5. Sidewalks

People disagree about sidewalk clearance responsibilities, but at yesterday’s council meeting the Linda Mosher–Steve Adams tag team argued that Waye Mason shouldn’t be discussing it at all. Reports Metro’s Ruth Davenport:

One should not disagree with Linda Mosher, says Linda Mosher.

“If we’re going to keep this, the budget implications should be that we’re going to make the contractors buy the brush equipment…and get it down to clear concrete in 12 hours,” [Mason] said. “Not two inches of ice and snow and slush.”

[…]

Mosher also chided Mason for bringing the issue up again, after asking for a review last year.

“If a councillor doesn’t like something…you don’t just keep harping on it and trying to change it every year and taking advantage of bad situations,” she said.

Coun. Steven Adams sided with Mosher, arguing the problem wasn’t with the contractors’ ability or a lack of equipment, but with the severity of the mixed weather in the last two weeks.

Understand that Mosher has been “harping” about sidewalks since she was in her mother’s womb. I found a report from 1999 the other day, where Mosher was going on about sidewalks. She has raised the issue every year, year after year, and finally got the rest of council to agree to having the city take over responsibility for sidewalks in 2013.

There was nothing wrong with Mosher repeatedly raising an issue that she found important, but to now turn around and say no other councillor has the right to ever again raise the very same issue but with a contrary opinion is hypocritical, to put it mildly.

6. Wild Kingdom

Photo: Hope for Wildlife

Quill, the owl who for some reason attacked a porcupine, with predictable results, has been rehabilitated by the folks at Hope for Wildlife. He was released back into the wild yesterday.


Views

1. Boot scrapers

Photo: Stephen Archibald

“Storm porches are adaptations to living in a northern land; boot scrapers are evidence that our streets and sidewalks were once muddy (or worse),” explains Stephen Archibald. “In the mid 19th century scrapers were often installed on a front step so you could scrape the muck off your boots before proceeding into the house.” He then goes on to show us a collection of them, with a bonus pic of Schmidtville from the steeple of the Basilica.

2. Cranky letter of the day

To the King’s County News:

The taxpayers and consumers of this country have become nothing but meal tickets for corrupted government parties, dishonest politicians and large corporations, who are in the business of getting richer each day on the backs of the poor people who are not even able in most cases, make ends meet. 

Some companies have one thing in mind, and that is making huge profits for themselves, their high paid management and their investors. The health care system scolds everyone for not eating healthy, no wonder, has anyone noticed the high cost of food lately? It is no wonder we have food banks and soup kitchens, this at least keeps people from starving by providing them with a meal.

Taxpayers are getting fed up with government overspending and politicians cheating on their expense accounts. If politicians are going to spend thousands of taxpayers’ dollars illegally, then they should be charged, made to pay back the money, kicked out of government and spend a good lengthy time in prison where all crooks should be.

The taxpayers are always on the hook to pay for political blunders, such as the cost for the repairs of the Bluenose. Who made this stupid mistake? It wasn’t the taxpayers, so let the politicians pay for it. The only thing left to do is to put this old wooden relic into dry dock as a tourist attraction to help get back our government-wasted money.

Government spending of taxpayers dollars is like the saga of Robin Hood. Robin used to rob from the rich to give back to the poor, now the political version is to rob as many tax dollars as you can from  the taxpayers to make all politicians and their rich buddies richer. I am sure the taxpayers will be keeping all of this in mind during this year’s election.

Oh, just a quick note, I was told that every taxpayer in Nova Scotia may be entitled to a free ride on the Yarmouth ferry service, due to the millions of dollars of donation of our tax dollars, made on behalf of someone in our government. No one seems quite sure yet who that might be.

Gordon Arnold, Kentville


Government

City

Active Transportation Committee (4pm, City Hall)—staff’s going to tell the committee what’s (not) going on with that University Avenue bike lane.

Province

Standing Committee on Economic Development (9:30am, Room 233A, Johnston Building)—some unnamed person or people from the Department of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism will talk about “the Community and Social Finance Landscape in Nova Scotia.” Bring your own sticky notes.

Nova Scotia Business, Inc. next “export education mission”: Brussels in the spring.


On campus

Dalhousie

Today

Kelp Bed Ecosystem (Thursday, 11:30am, 5th floor Biology Lounge, LSC)—PhD student Colette Feehan will talk about “Increased Frequency of Disease drives Community Dynamics in a Kelp Bed Ecosystem.”

Planetarium show (Thursday, 7:15pm, Room 120, Dunn Building)—a repeat of last week’s show:
“The first soap opera was not aired on radio or TV, but was displayed in the night sky. The Greeks and Romans created a drama of the gods, the main characters are visible each clear night and the show has had a run of over two thousand years! Come to the planetarium to catch up on the love life and shenanigans of the gods, while learning about the night sky. It will make your nights under the stars far more entertaining. Rated PG13.” Five bucks at the door.

Friday

Global income distribution (Friday, 3:30pm, Mona Campbell 1108)—Branko Milanovic, from the City University of New York, will be talking.


Noticed

A reader sends me a short piece by Ronald Zajac, a municipal reporter with the Brockville Recorder and Times. The piece is worth a read for Zajac’s own observations about the state of journalism, but he also points to a blog post from Warren Kinsella, a lefty, mourning the death of the right-wing Sun TV. Writes Kinsella:

When that journalism disappears, mark my words: our democracy will be diminished, and possibly even in peril. I’m not exaggerating. There is nothing that keeps the powerful in check – not Question Period, not a public opinion poll, not even the police – as effectively as journalists do. I’ve worked on both sides, and I know, I’ve seen it: every time a newspaper dies – every time a TV network dies – the powerful grow more so. You may think that’s okay, but I sure don’t. They are not always benign in the way they exercise power. 


In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 7:45am Thursday. Map: marinetraffic.com

Arrivals

Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro cargo, St. John’s to Pier 36
ZIM New York, container ship, New York to Pier 41, then sails to sea
Atlantic Compass, container ship, New York to Fairview Cove West
East Coast, tanker, Saint John to Halterm

Departure

Asphalt Sailor to sea


Footnotes

Simply walking around town is a dangerous activity.

Tim Bousquet

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

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  1. “The Department of Transportation and the NYPD have released pedestrian safety plans for the Bronx and Staten Island, as part of sweeping Vision Zero reform that aims to eliminate pedestrian fatalities and injuries citywide.

    According to the DOT, 40 pedestrians in Staten Island are seriously injured and seven are killed each year; there’s also been an 11 percent uptick in pedestrian deaths over the past 30 years. The City has identified 16 “Priority Corridors,” 17 “Priority Intersections” and seven square miles of area that have seen high instances of pedestrian injury or death, and notes that 90 percent of pedestrian deaths involve passenger vehicles.

    Armed with their new data, the DOT says they plan to install speed cameras at identified intersections, corridors and areas; expand and add pedestrian crossing time at priority corridors and intersections; and amplify the borough’s bike network, in addition to other pedestrian safety efforts.”

    http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/ped-safety-action-plan-bronx.pdf

  2. I moved to Halifax in 1998 from Calgary via Southern Ontario. When I arrived here I was staggered by two things: No Sunday Shopping and the politeness of drivers.

    In 1998 you could step off the curb anywhere on any street and traffic would stop. Smiling drivers would motion you across like the road was yours… It really was a pedestrian culture, and I know this because I came from cities which did not respond in this fashion to feet on pavement. I was blown away.

    Interestingly enough, I saw the car culture change about the same time Sunday Shopping went bye bye. I’m not certain these two events are causally connected, but on some very gut level, the Sunday shopping change signaled a change in our cultural etiquette; our prioritizing people and rest and sanity. Does any one else remember how few cars used to be on the roads on Sunday?

    Things changed. Now Halifax feels like Toronto, Calgary, Montreal and other large centers where stepping on the road spells doom or death as people hurry to shop and spend.

  3. Thanks for highlighting the crosswalk pedestrian safety problem. It is alarming. For one I have always been struck by the $635 ( or whatever the exact figure is) fine given to drivers, especially when the pedestrian is killed. That is shocking. The legislation needs to change to make that offense, hitting or killing a pedestrain a graver offense – especially when manslaughter is involved. A ticket or fine does not match the seriousness of these crosswalk fatalities or injuries, even if the walker is careless. Yes I have the same heart stopping experience of not seeing someone in the crosswalk… but it still the driver’s responsibility, I believe. Once we convey the message about the value of human life in this matter, I think matters will change and we will all have to become paranoidly cautious when approaching a crosswalk.

  4. The pedestrian accident analysis is, well, pedestrian. Arithmetic after Newton, Newton after Einstein. Knowing all they do, the police could use some sort of multivariate analysis to look at the whole dataset. Instead of counting on their many thumbs, they could look at many pieces of data simultaneously, then rate and group intersections. Supposing there was a pattern whereby young people were being hit at five intersections at dusk by older drivers on weekdays. At the very least, you might station a cop at the five. You might prioritize upgrades to lighting or even, heaven forbid, reconfigure the geometry. Public Works should be salivating to get this data properly analyzed instead of sitting around with their t-squares up their derrières. Instead they are like monkeys at typewriters, awaiting Hamlet but getting Fifty Shades of Gray. World clarse my arse!

  5. I think the New Yorker article I remember is behind an archive pay wall. However, there are numerous other depictions:

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/05/18/1082857/-HORSE-SENSE
    “In 1900, with a population of just 3 ½ million people, a pedestrian in New York City was twice as likely to be killed by a horse drawn cart as a 21st century New York-er is to be killed by an automobile. In Chicago, which in 1900 had more horses than all of Iowa, the fatality rate was seven times what it is today. … During the summer months the 200,000 horses working in N.Y.C. were daily dropping 4 million pounds of poo and 40,000 gallons of urine on city streets. The ubiquitous street sweepers could only pile the stuff up in vacant lots, occasionally to the height of sixty feet. This deluge of dung produced, by one estimate, 3 billion brand new horse flies every day. In a heavy rain, city pavement was coated in a slippery foul smelling mud”

    In 1904, my great-aunt Blanche, was in her early 20s, engaged, and working at the Charlottetown Bank of Nova Scotia. One day, while walking to work, she was hit by a runaway horse pulling a delivery cart and thrown back against a wall; her skull broke on the stone. She lived until the mid-1950s, with what we would now class as traumatic brain injury, leaving her with periods of psychosis. Rather like Mrs. Rochester, she lived on the 3rd floor of my great-grandparents’ house, and was only taken out after dark for walks. She occupied her time by tatting and lacework, some of which has come down to me. It breaks my heart to look at it and think of her life.

    http://www.farmcollector.com/farm-life/pollution-isnt-new.aspx
    “The problem became so bad that representatives from London, Paris and Moscow came to the first Urban Planning Conference in New York City in 1898 to discuss, among other things, the urban manure problem. Originally scheduled for ten days, the conference broke up after only three when delegates concluded there was no answer to the horse manure problem. The Times of London predicted that by 1950 every street in the city would be covered with nine feet of manure. A New Yorker thought that manure would be as high as the third story windows of Manhattan by 1930. Without the horse, however, cities would cease to function and people would starve – there seemed to be no solution.”

    http://mentalfloss.com/article/18783/surprising-source-new-yorks-first-environmental-problem
    In 1880, New York City removed 15,000 dead horses from the street. Chicago removed 9,202 horse carcasses as late as 1916. Moving the 1,300 pound carcasses was no easy task — special trucks that hung low to avoid excessive lift had to be made. Think today’s traffic is bad? An 1886 article in the Atlantic Monthly described Broadway as congested with “dead horses and vehicular entanglement.”

    It’s estimated that each horse produced 15-30 pounds of manure per day. Remember, the horse population in New York City was about 170,000 in the 1880s. That means there were 3-4 million pounds of manure piling onto city streets each day.

    And if you really want to gag: http://www.lostmag.com/issue22/garbageland.php for an overview of not merely The Horse Problem, but urban garbage diposal – or lack thereof.

  6. With how low corporate taxes are you’d think job creators would pack their construction sites to the brim with safety inspectors!

  7. Close, Mason but no.

    Do not specify *how* or *what gear*, specify *result*.

    “Evaluating on a per-property frontage basis, contractor is responsible for providing satisfactory, which is to say bare concrete, clearing of 90% of the contracts zone, within 24 hours of the end of a snow event. Within 48 hours, 100% clearing must be complete.

    For snow events lasting longer than 24 hours, or multiple events within a 48 hour window, contractor must provide a full pass of 90% of the contracts zone, to bare concrete, every 24 hours.

    Contractor is responsible for establishing the best process for these standards, the use of equipment, manual removal, use of salt or sand is exclusively their option.

    Failure to meet these standards will result in contractor being penalized at a rate double what they would be otherwise be paid, on a per-lot frontage basis.”

    And that was before my coffee. And I hate contracts.

    Any other problems the universe needs solved?

  8. One of my minor pet peeves is how inaccurate most historical dramas are in terms of portraying the actual state of town and city streets before the widespread adoption of the automobile and other motorized vehicles. They were unbelievably foul in the days when most transportation by horse and oxen. Urine, feces, and mud combined to form stinking muck. I remember reading a New Yorker article which broke down just how many millions of gallons of horse urine ran through the streets of New York in the 1800s/early 1900s. if I find it online, I will flip it to you.

  9. It would be interesting to see an age breakdown of the people getting hit by cars. Many people argue that a lot of pedestrians are distracted walkers, talking on cell phones, texting, etc which makes it their fault.

    But from I remember it seems that a lot of the pedestrians were older people who probably weren’t smart phone users. So they’re not distracted pedestrians. It just isn’t safe for them to cross the road.

    1. “In all, the 21-30 age group had the highest proportion of victims (26.4% of victims), followed by the 10-20 age group (17.8% of victims). This trend is observable amongst males and females. According to the 2011 census for the HRM area, 15.3% of the population is in the 20-29 age range and 11.4% of the population is in the 10-19 age range.”

      It’s also true that people in these age groups tend to walk more than older people, for the simple reason they own fewer cars.

    2. What’s MISSING from the article’s statistical analysis is what percentage of PEDESTRIANS were issued SOTs. In 55+ years of driving I have NEVER «struck a pedestrian» however, I have come close to a heart attack and ground thousands of miles of my brake pads and tires avoiding death-wish pedestrians who mindlessly rocket themselves in front of drivers simply because they «can». BTW…KUDOS for the info on Construction Crane safety — you know the drill: «full speed ahead to HIGHER PROFITS and damn the safety of the innocent public».

      1. Most pedestrian collisions happen in crosswalks. 45% of collisions result in tickets. Last year, 105 drivers and 16 pedestrians were issued tickets.

        This is overwhelmingly a driver problem, not a pedestrian problem.

        1. As I mentioned last month, I was almost struck 3 times in one crosswalk, all based upon drivers not paying attention to the big bright flashing lights and only hitting the brakes when they were about 5 metres away.

          That intersection shows up on the provided map. Curiously, it has two separate one-collisions instead of one two-collision. I wonder how they determined that.

        2. It may be a driver problem, but do you honestly expect driver behaviour to change? Saying “drivers stink” isn’t a solution, and neither is saying “they need to be educated.” A better system needs to be engineered to improve safety, harping on people is not going to change their behavioiur. It is different than alcohol, not drinking and driving is a singular, easy message and can be improved upon. I have seen several articles (not sure if you have written them though) that say reductions in impaired driving is proof we can make people drive safer in general.

          What you are asking is for all drivers to go slower, pay more attention, not eat and drive, not sip coffee, not make quick turns, not turn left without checking, not fiddle with the radio, not have salty windshields, not speed, be aware of ice/snow, etc. Expecting their behaviour to change on this level is wishful thinking. It makes more sense to change the physical environment to improve safety.

          I think you are doing a good thing by putting this issue out there, but what results are you actually expecting? “Education” and comparing it to reductions in impaired driving is simply apples/oranges. I have almost struck pedestrians when actively looking for them in crosswalks, they were wearing black and the weather was crappy. I do not expect to get thousands of pedestrians to start wearing neon either.

          Driverless cars are 10-20 years away anyway, at that time the problem will be solved for good. Until then we can save lives by engineering better intersections and focusing on problem areas. This focus on behaviour of either driver/pedestrian is wasted time and energy, in my opinion.

          1. “What you are asking is for all drivers to go slower, pay more attention, not eat and drive, not sip coffee, not make quick turns, not turn left without checking, not fiddle with the radio, not have salty windshields, not speed, be aware of ice/snow, etc. ”

            I think that’s a reasonable expectation, yes. Simply slowing down would go a long way towards solving, or at least reducing the impact of, this problem. And simple awareness that pedestrians are and should be on the streets will go a long way, as most people in fact don’t have murderous intent.

          2. Reasonable? Yes. Realistic? No. Your expectation is that literally millions of people (in a country wide sense) will modify not one, but many behaviours. It’s herding cats. Driving slower can help for sure, but a lower speed limit is a design function that modifies behaviour, which was my point. Expecting behaviour to change without design to guide it is unlikely to have any results.

            It reminds me of the financial crisis where right wingers were calling home buyers greedy and short sighted, and saying they caused the collapse. Instead of having a system that regulated risky behaviour by design, they expected 300 million people to be experts on the intricacies of mortgage backed securities. Not going to happen.

            You will never get rid of people who are late, or who like donuts, or like changing the radio station, or a million other distractions, but you can design their risk out of the equation. This is a much easier and less complex solution.

            I just don’t like reading “its a driver problem” with no further contribution. You may be right, but the solution should involve removing their ability to cause harm from the situation. Just expecting them to change is unlikely to produce a safe environment any time soon.

        3. Quoting @SamMillerBP of Baseball Prospectus in two tweets from February 4: “Hottest take I own: If you’re a sober adult, jaywalking is safer than crossing at most crosswalks or intersections… [Y]ou go when there are no cars, instead of going when there are cars that you simply hope will follow rules.”