Hello Examiner readers: Katie Toth here, curator and cultivator of the finest locally-sourced, organic, free-range news. Tim is sleeping, I’m writing Morning File, and Christmas is three days away! That means eggnog is in my coffee and I have wool socks on.
1. Nova Scotia now responsible for refugee support
Syrian refugees are coming up on the one-year deadline for receiving federal support if they’re in need. Now the province has to step up and make sure they receive what help they may need.
“It’s impossible to predict how many refugees in Nova Scotia will have to apply for income assistance, but it’s likely to be many,” Alexander Quon writes for the Coast, pointing to a new report from the Canadian Senate that says 12 per cent of government-sponsored Syrian refugees and 5o per cent of privately sponsored refugees have found work. “One of the biggest obstacles is language…Heather Fairbairn, a spokesperson for the department, says they’re in the process of hiring an Arabic speaking caseworker to make the transition from federal to provincial governments a little easier.”
It’s interesting that it’s so much easier to find work for refugees who come here through the private sponsorship program — a model that other countries are now hoping to replicate. I wonder if the kind of kinship, informal ties, and community that comes with a church or group of friends choosing to invest in a person’s arrival here are leading to an easier adjustment to a new life.
2. A human trafficker (allegedly) intimidates his victim one more time
Owen Gibson-Skier, 21, (allegedly) mouthed “I’ll see you” to his 14-year-old victim and (allegedly) “directed a gun gesture at her with his hand” on the way out of court according to Angela McIvor reporting for the CBC. He was the first person in Nova Scotia to be convicted of human trafficking. He pled guilty to three charges, McIvor writes: “trafficking a person under the age of 18, receiving material benefit from trafficking, and sexual assault.”
3. NS Gov amends ‘conquered peoples’ brief
Responding to public pressure, Nova Scotia’s Justice Department has withdrawn an argument that implied a First Nations band was a “conquered people,” Keith Doucette reports for CP.
The claim was in response to an appeal from the Indian Brook band over the province’s approval of salt caves to store natural gas near the Schubenacadie river. The band said the province had a “duty to consult” the band, when the province’s lawyer at the time responded that such a duty extends only to “unconquered people.” (Fact: Alex Cameron, that lawyer, also wrote a book in 2009 attacking the government for its acknowledgement of indigenous hunting and fishing rights.)
Stephen McNeil responded to the outcry in November with public hand-wringing, apologizing for the insult to Mikmaq people and taking Cameron off the case. But the offending brief still remained on the judge’s desk for weeks.
4. ER closures break records
As if the bed bug scandal in the Victoria General wasn’t enough of a nightmare, Nova Scotia’s emergency room closures in the span between March 2015 and April 2016 were at an all-time high since 2009, report Jean LaRoche and Rachel Ward for the CBC. Just don’t get sick and you’ll be fine!
Hockey Nova Scotia and Basketball Nova Scotia have invited students and teachers to play and coach sports despite an ongoing work-to-rule that prevents school teams. The Nova Scotia Athletic Federation, which oversees school teams, has given it their OK — as long as the teams are different and don’t have school names or uniforms.
Nova Scotia Teachers’ Union spokesperson Mark Laventure also says nothing in the work-to-rule guidelines prevent teams outside of school. “I know the coaches, the athletic directors, the principals all want kids back out being active,” he said to Stephanie vanKampen of the CBC.
Views on views
1. Donald Trump becoming president-elect: less than ideal
So suggests Matt Draper for the Port Hawkesbury Reporter, offering the controversial new take in his column on the best and worst of 2016.
2. Let’s build a hill on the Halifax Common
It’s Tristan Cleveland’s idea, not mine, and it was in Metro on Tuesday. Cleveland is getting blown to the ground by Nova Scotia’s gusts soaring through the Emera Oval, and thinks taking dirt from local construction sites to build a hill on the park would keep us all warm.
“That would, even better, relieve the Commons’ flat monotony and create a nice place to linger on summer days,” Cleveland says. “As it stands, I’ve heard it said the Commons are not so much a public space, but a poorly drained sports field.”
Never mind the fact that sweaters and the shady Public Gardens both exist, or that PEOPLE USE THE COMMON ALL SUMMER FOR SPORTS, PARTICULARLY BASEBALL.
Anyone want a town council seat near Canso?
CBU is looking for an external auditor.
Here are some local dogs who want you to have a good holiday:
No public meetings.
“Bright Stars at Christmas” (7:15 pm, Halifax Planetarium) — This December, the brightest star is actually a planet. Also, in the spirit of the season: newly born stars. Five dollars at the door; reductions for families; minimum age eight years old.
In the harbour
6am: Atlantic Sealion, barge, arrives at Pier 6
6am: ZIM Alabama, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
7am: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 36 from Saint-Pierre
7am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
11am: Juliette Rickmers, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from New York
11:30am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Autoport back to Pier 41
Noon: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Pier 36 for Saint-Pierre
3:30pm: Oregon Highway, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
4:30pm: ZIM Alabama, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for New York
6pm: Atlantic Sail, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
9:30pm: Juliette Rickmers, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for Kingston, Jamaica
4pm: Tokyo Express, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
6pm: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, sails from Pier 41 for St. John’s
Do you have a favourite place to buy truffle oil? Someone on Reddit is asking.
Nice shout-out to my buddy Patrick Kelly, who did the three planetarium shows at Dalhousie on the 22nd. They all sold out – and I’m wondering if being featured in the Examiner had something to do with that 🙂
Why do so many people want to change Halifax into the same glitzy, soul-less, character-less type of city that pollutes the Northern hemisphere? The quaint, provincial, timelessness of Halifax IS its charm & its attraction. Put your acquatic centres & your convention centres & your”same everywhere” malls in the suburbs where they can do no harm. There are taxis & limos & rental cars to get visitors and their wives into city-centre where the real attractions are. If you leave it alone, they will come!
That seems like a dramatic change of attitude from the NSAAF about hockey and basketball. As late as last week, it was still being reported that they had threatened sanctions on any school coaches (even non-teacher coaches) who volunteered to coach teams under the Hockey NS or Basketball NS banner. I’m glad to hear that there has been a change of heart – I thought it was an over-reaching of the work to rule authority.
Lets build a hill….
As Mr. Parsons says. Just stop it! If you want a hill on the Halifax Common. Venture over to the Citadel or the Dartmouth Common. If you want a tavern on the Dartmouth Common try any other location. Main or Portland Street.
The Dartmouth Common has shrunk over the years to the point the HRM now shows a portion of the Common as park when reality the area accommodates a Metro Transit terminal, Dartmouth Sportsplex and a school. On the remaining lands our guardians of the Common have allowed an outdoor oven, concrete ramps to name a few. A rough calculation has much less than the original 300 acres left. We might have 30 acres of actual park within the Dartmouth Common.
In hind sight an entire hill would have been a blessing.
“Some of my best memories come from time spent on the flat, green, open spaces in Central Park, the Boston Common and Brooklyn’s Prospect Park among others.”
None of these parks are unlandscaped, open green spaces, and Central Park and Prospect Park are both chock-a-block full of exactly the kind of man-made, architect-designed artificial hills that Cleveland wants in the Halifax common. All of these parks have spots to buy a coffee and snack, of exactly the kind Bousquet wants in the Dartmouth common.
Can anyone imagine how terrible Central Park would be, if were nothing but one crappy fountain (with nowhere to sit next to it) and some softball fields?
Nice. Those parks are all much larger than our two commons. And they all have large, green open spaces which are the spaces I was referring to. In fact, the green, open spaces in each of those parks are larger than the green, open spaces we have at the Dartmouth Common or the Halifax Commons. And the park Bousquet referred to in his opinion piece was in the middle of a German city with a population in excess of 3 million people. Sorry you missed my point.
I’m not sure the fact that those parks are larger is very meaningful, given that the cities they’re in are much larger. And actually, Boston Common is about the same. Today, the open areas of our North and Central Common combined form 43 acres of basically open space. If you add in Victoria Park and the Public Gardens and Camp Hill Cemetery, etc, it comes to 95 acres.
For comparison, the Boston Common, serving a far, far greater population, is 50 acres, much if which is covered in trees and landscaping, meaning that it has far less space per citizen than ours. It’s also a way better park, precisely because it’s a bit more crowded and shaded. Likewise, Prospect and Central Park are significantly wooded, and the proportion of open space to population is far, far lower than what the Commons provide to Halifax.
Honestly, I would love for half of our Commons to be more wooded. What kind of urban park is devoid of tree coverage? On a hot summer day you might find 100-200 people scattered across the 43 sun-blasted, wilting acres of the North and Central Common, engaged in a few softball and frisbee games, and that’s about it. It’s a tremendously underused civic asset, and frankly, a pretty crappy park, and the lack of trees or amenities of any kind is part of the reason.
This city is blessed with many other (superior) parks and green spaces, from Fort Needham to Point Pleasant to Long Lake to the Dartmouth Common. Halifax probably has more centrally located green space per capita than any other city centre in Canada. So this local freak-out over the “shrinking” Common and our city’s alleged green-space deficiency is baffling.
Can’t there be some balance on the commons…Some trees would go a long way to making it have a better ‘park feel’ without taking away the large open space..
RE; Lets build a hill…
Why do some otherwise apparently enlightened and fully evolved people have such a problem with the notion of having an open, undeveloped green space in the middle of our asphalt and concrete urban core? To be fair, Tristan Cleveland is not alone in promoting the deranged notion that an open green space cannot just be an open green space. The esteemed editor of this fine publication once used his column in The Coast to promote the notion that the Dartmouth Common needed a tavern. Both the Dartmouth Common and the Halifax Commons are shrinking. Shrinking, for god’s sake! Shrinking! Just stop it!
Some of my best memories come from time spent on the flat, green, open spaces in Central Park, the Boston Common and Brooklyn’s Prospect Park among others. Go put a hill on the roof of one of the many high rises infecting the city or maybe just go sit in the sun on the leeward side of Citadel Hill if you need shelter from the wind when you venture outside. Oh wait, Cleveland wanted to do something to that. Saw the headline but forgot to read the article, so I’m not sure what he wanted to do to Citadel Hill. Probably a venue for food carts or brew pubs or something.