1. Peter Kelly has a new job.
I was at a Canada Day barbecue Tuesday, watching the fireworks from a Gottingen Street balcony, when a friend who lives in a Sackville apartment building told me that the guy coming around to spray his building for bugs looks a whole lot like former Mayor Peter Kelly. So dutifully, I got up first thing yesterday morning and investigated. I discovered that Kelly had been hired by Target Pest Control, owned by Stephen Taylor, Kelly’s former campaign manager and chief of staff.
2. Five hundred people show up to save the Halifax Forum
City staff have recommended that the Forum, built in 1927, be torn down and sold off for development, with a new four-pad arena built at the CFB Halifax complex on the other side of Bayers Road. It’s hard not to see this proposal as central to a larger strategy of maximizing real estate value of city properties while ignoring the social benefits of the property—that seems to have been the motivating factor in selling off St. Patrick Alexander school for a condo development rather than using it to host community groups, and selling Bloomfield School to Housing Nova Scotia, the highest dollar bidder, as opposed to awarding the tender to arguably better proposals. In any event, the Halifax Forum Community Association has objected to the city’s plan to raze the Forum, calling for renovation of the existing Forum and Civic ice pads to regulation size and tearing down the Multi-Purpose Centre to build a third ice surface. Last night, about 500 people showed up at a public meeting at the Forum, called to save the structure.
3. Halifax housing market is in the tank
The Globe & Mail’s Tara Perkins tries to put a good spin on it, but the reality is that the shipbuilding contract led to crazy speculative real estate buying in Halifax, and then reality set in, and now housing prices are soft. Mainstream business reporting is incredibly stupid about such things—listening to the daily “business report” on CBC Radio One, for example (how come we don’t have a “labour report”?), is like sitting in on whatever the reverse of a Maoist reeducation camp is—every day we’re given stock market, gold, and oil prices, and sometimes the “reporters” even say upticks in prices are “good news.” But nobody should care about the daily fluctuation of prices; what matters are long-term trends, and how those trends affect living people. The long-term ups and downs of the markets are important, but they have both positives and negatives. Sure, a strong housing market benefits existing home owners, who can leverage increased equity for their children’s university expenses, a new car, or for retirement. But the flip side is that high prices prevent young people from entering the market and establishing some level of financial security. It’s a complex world, and good reporting would delve into the details of that, rather than simply serve as cheerleader for high-priced markets. As is, most business reporting is simply propaganda for the existing entrenched business elite, with no depth of reporting, and no real analysis.
Speaking of the entrenched business elite, local mucky mucks have come together to declare Heritage Trust as Public Enemy #1, because Xanadu (the new convention centre) will bring prosperity forever, amen. Someone give Joe Ramia a back rub already, eh?
5. Fixing stuff that needs fixing
The city is finally getting around to fixing the Common pool and the adjacent Pavilion. Those facilities call back to an earlier time of promise, when there was the collective will to spend tax money to build nice things. Caring about kids, the future, and common purpose seems so retro nowadays. It’s good to see that someone on city staff still gives a shit.
6. We’re all going to die: the prequel
MegaDeath Hurricane Arthur news: Stanfest is cancelled.
1. It’s still 1942
Hector Jacques, a director of the Halifax Port Authority, takes issue with Paul McLeod’s excellent article detailing the port’s refusal to make public its travel expenses. Jacques gives the same old party line, that Halifax is going to compete with the big boys like New York and Norfolk, blah, blah, blah. But while the geographic position of Halifax was essential during the various wars of empire, and right up through World War 2, the fact is that given the modern reality, geography dooms Halifax to be a minor player. We ought just recognize that reality, perform as best we can on the small scale, and stop using grandiose “gateway” schemes as an excuse to enrich the entrenched business elite.
2. “Rapacious Capitalist Bastard”
That’s how Franklin Holtforster, CEO of MHPM Project Managers Inc., the firm overseeing the disastrous renovation/restoration/rebuild/money sucking scheme/whatever of the Bluenose II (or III, IV, X), describes himself.
Environment and Sustainability Standing Committee (1pm at City Hall)—I’ve given councillor Barry Dalrymple a lot of grief (deservedly) for his woe-is-Fall River pronouncements, but credit where credit is due: he’s done a decent job chairing this committee, and the city’s better off for it. Because of the bureaucratic minutiae involved, following the day-in, day-out work of the committee requires the devotion of a true policy wonk, but the committee has helped shepherd along important initiatives like the Solar City program and the district heating network that will soon be built downtown. Today, the committee is digging into watershed issues.
Interval Metamodels (11:30am, Slonim Conference Room, Goldberg Computer Science Building)—Bogumił Kamiński, from the Warsaw School of Economics, is speaking about a how he has developed “a Bayesian procedure that allows to verify how well an interval metamodel covers a response surface of a simulation model. The proposed method is illustrated by application to Schelling’s segregation model. The example shows how the procedure can help a researcher to identify non-obvious characteristics of a simulation model response surface.” This is really great pointy-headed geek stuff, and it’s open to the public.
Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Seminar (4pm, Theatre D, CRC Building)—Sergio Hieap Lozano, a PhD candidate, will discuss the modularity of protein structures.
Dalhousie-Sorbonne III Sumer Film Institute (7pm, Dunn Theatre, Dalhousie Arts Centre)—This is part of the on-going series of screenings, and tonight is “The Artist,” a 2011 French film by Michael Hazanavicus.
Journey to the Centre of Our Galaxy (7:15pm at the Halifax Planetarium, Room 120, Dunn Building)—It would be wrong to drop acid before going to the planetarium to see a bunch of cool space stuff, so don’t do that. You probably don’t need the acid anyway; just show up. Five bucks at the door, but there can be pre-arranged discounts for families by emailing email@example.com.
One of the big inspirations for establishing the Halifax Examiner was The Tyee, an online news site in British Columbia that does excellent work, and doubly so on environmental issues. The Tyee has a somewhat different business model than the Examiner, but shares my disdain for the large corporate advertisers, and so we get much-needed analysis that cuts through the fog of oil industry propaganda. Take, for example, yesterday’s excellent piece by Andrew Nikiforuk, bringing clarity to the fracking issue.
In the harbour
(click on vessel names to see pictures and other information about the ships)
Queen Mary 2,New York to Pier 22
Maasdam, cruise ship, Charlottetown to Pier 20
Fusion; ro-ro cargo ship, St Pierre and Miquelon to Halterm Pier 36
Mainport Pine, research/survey vessel, BP Exploration parcel to Pier 25
Fulmar, French naval patrol boat, St Pierre and Miquelon to Tall Ships Quay (between bishops landing and NSP)
Just a gentle reminder that while these Morning File posts are free, much of the Examiner reporting is behind a very affordable ($10/month) paywall. The paywall makes it possible for the Examiner to bring breaking news and in-depth analysis of local issues to readers. To get a paid subscription, go here. I thank you in advance.