In the harbour
1. Death in police custody
From this morning’s end-of-shift email from police to reporters:
Shortly before 2:00 am Prisoner Care Facility staff at 1975 Gottingen Street were conducting their routine checks when they discovered an unresponsive man in his cell. They immediately called for EHS who responded and determined the male had passed away. The man had been arrested in Halifax for public intoxication at approximately 10:30 pm. Further details will be released pending notification of next of kin. The body has been removed and an autopsy will be conducted. The Serious Incident Response Team will continue with the investigation and will provide further updates when available.
2. Speed limits
Nova Scotia may consider lower speed limits as part of larger street design plans, writes Erica Butler:
Now that Halifax is engaged in creating an Integrated Mobility Plan, we have the opportunity to present a consistent and rational system for not just speed limits, but for a comprehensive plan to control speed and improve safety in our urban residential areas. We might muster the planning and resources to present the province with a Montreal model system. As long as we pay attention to street design, enforcement and education, we have a chance of approval with the provincial traffic authority.
“It’s the driving environment,” says [provincial traffic authority Mike] Croft. “I think if you were to combine a speed limit change with making changes to your street environment to make it look like it’s a street that people want to drive at a lower speed, that would probably work or be effective.”
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“[Halifax councillor] Jennifer Watts thinks Halifax council needs something that has been missing for almost a generation: diversity,” reports Adina Bresge for the Canadian Press:
While not endorsing any candidate, Watts has made it clear she thinks council needs to make room for new voices.
“Unless politicians stand aside to let others come forward, it is difficult for people to enter the political arena, or even think about doing it themselves,” Watts says. “They’ll have a lot to learn, but they’ll also bring the strength of their perspective.”
Watts’s decision [to not run for reelection] has set up a battle for the Oct. 15 election in which two political rookies appear to be front-runners. Both candidates, one white and one black, have pushed equity issues to the fore, giving voice to millennials’ dissatisfaction with the incremental change they see as politics of the past.
Those two front runners are Lindell Smith and Brenden Sommerhalder. I interviewed each of them for the Examineradio podcast; you can find those interviews at the links.
While Watts has a point, she’s overlooking an additional problem: council districts are too big. One issue is that smaller Black communities get lost in an overwhelmingly white district. But the bigger issue that in order to win in a large district, the successful candidate must have lots of time, money, and connections — and for the most part, the people who have lots of time, money, and connections are white men.
This was perfectly illustrated by the change in gender diversity on council after the number of councillors was reduced from 23 to 16 in 2012 (that change brought a corresponding increase in the size of each district). Before the districts were enlarged, nine of 23 councillors, or about 40 per cent, were women. After the districts were enlarged, just four of 16 councillors, or 25 per cent, are women.
Moreover, every woman who won election in 2012 was an incumbent, a holdover from the days of smaller districts, when women could better compete. In the upcoming election, two incumbent women councillors (Watts and Gloria McCluskey) are not reoffering, and it’s very likely their seats will be assumed by newly elected men. There are a couple of strong new female candidates in the field — Sue Uteck and Pamela Lovelace — and we’ll see how they fare, but with a strong male challenger to incumbent Linda Mosher, it’s entirely possible that the next city council will have just one woman (Lorelei Nicoll).
Half the population is female and we can’t get anywhere near 50 per cent female representation on council. The struggle for electoral representation is even more difficult for smaller communities of colour, immigrants, and other marginalized people.
I’ve always maintained that smaller districts are better for democracy and result in a diverse council that better represents the populace. Decreasing the size of council was a huge mistake.
4. Yarmouth ferry
Bay ferries has started its Yarmouth-to-Portland-and-back service. CTV tells us that “more than 100” passengers were on the first trip to Portland, and the Yarmouth Vanguard reports that:
Some of the licence plates of vehicles boarding the vessel were from Maine, Florida, Connecticut, Massachusetts, North Carolina and New York. There were many Nova Scotia plates in the mix.
The point of the thing, however, is to get people going the other way — that is, from Portland to Yarmouth. As of this writing, no one has reported how many passengers arrived in Yarmouth last night.
Bay Ferries is refusing to release passenger numbers, but I’m not sure why a reporter can’t simply count the number of passengers getting on and off the boat. Don’t they have to queue up for Customs?
Regardless, Maine Public Broadcasting points out:
And even if the CAT’s traffic and finances remain a political friction point in Nova Scotia, there will be one bit of data available: Under Portland’s docking contract with the boat’s operators, the city will receive monthly reports on how many paying passengers and cars the ferry lands and takes from here. And that information, city officials say, is open to the public.
5. Pedestrian and bicyclist struck
Also from this morning’s email from police to reporters:
West Division officers were called to Joseph Howe Drive at Highway 102 shortly before 7:00 pm to a report of a pedestrian struck by a vehicle in the cross walk. Upon arrival officers located the 48-year-old female driver and a 41-year-old pedestrian who had been struck by the vehicle. After the investigation was completed the responding officers issued a Summary Offense Ticket to the driver for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk. The pedestrian in the matter was treated by EHS for minor injuries and released from the scene.
At approximately 5:00pm on Wednesday evening West Division officers were dispatched to a collision between a motor vehicle and a cyclist at the intersection of Bayers Road and Rowe Avenue. Upon arrival they located a 36-year-old female complaining of injuries she sustained as she was struck by a vehicle at that intersection. Officers spoke to a 21-year-old female who was driving the vehicle that struck the cyclist and interviewed witnesses in the area. The cyclist was transported by EHS to hospital where she was to receive treatment for her injuries. The incident is still under investigation at this time and there is nothing further to report.
The basic structure of CPP [the Canadian Pension Plan] hasn’t changed in over 50 years, and it could be another 50 years before it is contemplated again,” writes Heather Corkum, president, CUPE Local 143:
It has to be done right this time. In fact, the only option should be a universal expansion, phased in over the next few years, which would see the CPP benefit double for those entering the workforce today and other gains for all workers in Canada.
Doubling the CPP benefit is affordable. Setting aside an extra 2.45 per cent of income (matched by the employer) will achieve this. And employers can afford it. The last time the CPP contribution was increased was in 1997. Income tax for businesses is 13 per cent lower today than it was in the 1990s.
2. Young Avenue
Stephen Archibald has some suggestions for improving Young Avenue, including closing the gates. I’m not sure how that would work with the cars and whatnot, but why not?
Archibald also mentions that the avenue has always been the at the centre of the class struggle:
An 1899 cranky letter to the Morning Chronicle shows that resentment of the Avenue is also long standing. “Maynard Street” complained that the city was spending $50,000 on a sewer to serve five houses while ignoring streets in the north end. The writer added: “I know that no common northender is supposed to set foot within the sacred precincts of this southend swelldom.”
3. Cranky letter of the day
I doubt Marcel Nazabal, of the band Latin Drama, said he’s “Columbian” as you printed (“Latin Drama,” New Music Issue by Adria Young, June 9). People from Colombia the country are Colombians. There is no “u” in Colombia the country or Colombians the people. Why can’t Canadians ever get this right? I have to believe it is because you guys grew up with British Columbia.
Heh. Don’t get me started on how Canadians pronounce the names of the US states Maryland and Oregon.
Community Planning and Economic Development (10am, City Hall) — here’s the agenda.
Active Transportation (4pm, City Hall) — Ray Walsh, the manager of Parks, will talk about bicycles in parks.
No public meetings.
No campus events.
In the harbour
4am: CSL Reliance, bulker, sails from National Gypsum for Baltimore
7:20am: Dinkeldiep, general cargo, arrives at Pier 42 from Saint-Pierre
1pm: Torm Madison, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from Philadelphia
4:30pm: Dinkeldiep, general cargo, sails from Pier 42 for Saint-Pierre
I’ll be tied up all day, first with a Dead Wrong interview and then with two Examineradio interviews. I probably won’t have much, if any, social media or internet presence.
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“Diversity of colour is of little or no use”
God, this city depresses me.
I was on the Portland-Yarmouth trip. I estimate 80 vehicles, 150 passengers – but it’s hard to tell, the ship had a rated capacity of 866 when running in Hawaii, so there were a lot of empty seats. I only saw one NS plate other than my own. I noted in particular Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Merry-land.
It’s a nice trip. The boat is nice & comfortable, the staff was polite and friendly. There were the expected first-time-around teething problems, which I expect they will polish (e.g. communication with passengers, & the dozens of television screens around the ship played the DVD player screensaver for 6 straight hours). The price was reasonable in my mind.
It felt like everyone had a luxurious amount of space. Most passengers congregated in the first class lounge, which is available to all passengers. People slept quite comfortably on long cushioned benches or in airline-style business-class seats.
Contrary to the MPBN report linked above, the ferry was just under an hour late into Portland, and the rumour from staff was the Portland port’s master held them outside the port for a while. The departure from Portland was an hour late, as was the arrival in Yarmouth.
The late arrival raises questions given the Vanguard article linked above about businesses staying open until 10pm. We cleared customs at 9:55pm, and we weren’t at the front of the line, but weren’t at the back, either. If indeed business stayed open later for ferry passengers, they stayed open longer but saw little revenue, which is not sustainable. The 1.5 hour turnaround in Portland is pretty ambitious.
We were greeted by a small contingent of Yarmouth residents who clapped and cheered for every car that passed through customs, which was kind, and there were many watchers on shore as the boat arrived.
About 1.5 hours into the trip, there was a jolt which shook the ship. We slowed while they investigated. The announcement said they believed it was a partially submerged log, which I assume is what they would have said no matter what we hit. Rumour from the crew was we took out some fishing gear. Following this there was a slight vibration which I am 80% sure wasn’t there before.
The US border situation is a challenge – it took 1.5 hours after the ferry docked for the last car to clear US border screening, and during that 1.5 hours they were sitting in a car, not permitted to exit the vehicle, in a fenced-off area with no shade in the peak afternoon heat, equipped with nothing but asphalt and chain link fence. Compared to the Maine-NB crossings (where I’ve never paused more than 5 minutes) I suspect it puts a damper on the whole experience. It certainly made me think twice. It’s outside of Bay Ferries control but very much a problem for them.
Real swells don’t have to wait for customs, and you non-swells should know better than to complain when you do have to. Maybe next time you’ll stay home and go to work like you should instead of gallivanting above your station.
Does anybody here find the above comment from Mark as ignorant and well over the line ? Why do you leave this kind of garbage comment on the screen Tim ? Am I missing something ?
Diversity is an important issue, but actually representing public values is another. Today’s Council barely has enough time to read “thoroughly” all the HRM staff reports thrown at them, let alone have the time to seek feedback from their constituents on a large number of issues “before” discussing and rendering their decisions in Council chambers. I find all too often that the personal biases of certain Councillors regularly out-weighs the public feedback available to them… I guess their point of view is more important or that is the perception they give. Can a truly representative form of government ever exist? Possibly not, but every previously elected official gets voted out because he/she was not seen to properly represent their constituent voters adequately enough for them to retain their seats in government. Lets not consider the ganging up that often appears to occur when one District puts forward a motion that might move an issue outside that Districts boundaries…. nobody wants a new landfill in their District, eh? Too often rather than seeking a better long-term solution, Council opts to just leave the problem alone…. after all, real solutions often cost money and where would that have to come from? Of course if they do not “ask” the Public if we are willing to spend a bit more to effect a real solution, how do they really know what we desire? The butcher ill is almost always given as the cost to the taxpayers as a whole and not what the cost would be to the individual taxpaying residence… there is a big perceptual difference in the actual costs and one’s ability to pay for solutions.
What are the offending pronunciations? Merry-land and Ore-GONE?
The proper pronunciation is Mare-len (with maybe an ever so slight middle syllable of (e), and Or-e-gen. Nine out of ten Canadians, or at least nine out of ten Canadians on the CBC, get this wrong.
Fully agree with Counsellor Watts that Council diversity is important to ensure we have the inclusive city we aspire to be. One of the main issues here is voter apathy with a turn out of 38% at the last election. Smaller districts and more councillors will not ensure the diversity!
Perhaps a more urgent issue for a more effective regional council is to address the urban-rural divide and the extreme parochialism the current governance structure promotes. Only the Mayor represents a ‘regional voice’. Major structural changes are required. Let’s move on this following this Fall’s election. To set off this debate, here’s a proposal for a more effective Regional Council:
1. Reduce the geography of HRM. Spin-off the rural parts of HRM to the adjacent Counties that they identify with most;
2. Re-District but also introduce an equal number of ‘regional’ councillors who are elected at-large to represent a strong regional voice on Council that is currently lacking.
Totally agree. Term limits are key. Running against an incumbent is so much different than running in an open field. There are plenty of chairs at council that need to be vacated.
Name them and provide your reasons.
I’d start with the Mayor. Quite a disappointment regarding issues which affect the people struggling on a low income..
I love when you highlight Stephen Archibald in the Morning File. I almost always learn something. I distinctly remember how, as a working class kid growing up in Halifax, I found those gates extremely off-putting. We always read the gates, as young semioticians, as a symbol that folks like us were not really supposed to be there and we hardly ever went to Point Pleasant Park. My family, north-enders, were probably around long enough to remember the investment in that neighbourhood, while failing to meet the basic needs of working class neighbourhoods. Class politics ran deep in my family, I guess.
Thanks! I The only building I remember on Young Avenue from my youth (growing up on the nut streets in central Halifax in the 50s) was the Oland “castle.” Somehow I got the impression it was inappropriately showy. And it was paid for with beer money.
Not only would it be great to see another woman on council if Lovelace wins but it would be great to see someone wipe that psychotic, smarmy grin off the present councillors face.
Watts has it right (as she has with many things). New voices, fresh perspectives. Just what this city needs.
I mean really does Hendsbee, Russell, Mosher and Adams have anything new to offer this city? I thought not.
If you pass judgement on councillors based on media reports you will have a very shallow understanding of their effectiveness and you will not have the benefit of the opinions of the people they represent.
Diversity of colour is of little or no use; diversity of knowledge, experience and ability is of much greater importance.
Assessing a Mayor or councillor requires knowledge of the work in committees and the community and most of that work is not covered by our media.
Hendsbee has a great depth of knowledge of his constituents and the needs of his district. When council discussed the Regional Plan he had a myriad of yellow notes attached to pages and he methodically went through the document and how it affected his district and spoke of the changes he wanted and why they were necessary. I am not in his district but I do know how hard he works for the people he represents and have heard many positive comments.