1. Active transportation

Map of the Burnside Connector.

“The nine-kilometre long Burnside Connector highway will cost at least $196 million, more than the entire Integrated Mobility Plan for active transportation and transit projects across the city,” reports Examiner transportation columnist Erica Butler. “No one said the highway was too expensive, but councillors cry poverty when it comes to actually addressing the climate emergency.”

Click here to read “For Halifax council, a ‘climate emergency’ means more roads.”

2. El Jones writes to Dan Kinsella

El Jones wrote Dan Kinsella a letter, which StarMetro Halifax published:

[Y]ou shouldn’t have been hired at all unless you committed to ending the illegal practice of street checks. If you can’t run a police force without racial profiling and violating Black people’s rights, you shouldn’t be here.

I’m sure the people around you preparing your “messaging” will give you some vague, public-relations-type things to say about how it’s “difficult” and “complex” and you’re going to “consult” with “stakeholders” about what to do.

But the Black community has been clear and unequivocal. Our experts, from law professors, to former members of the police board, to social workers, to community advocates have all said that we don’t need more consultation and we don’t need more delays. We are demanding a ban.

I was playing phone tag with Kinsella yesterday. The fault for the missed calls lies entirely with me, and I hope to catch him for an interview today.

3. David MacKinnon

David MacKinnon. Photo: YouTube

Mary Campbell does a deep dive into a recent op-ed written by David MacKinnon and published (via the Postmedia wire) in the Cape Breton Post, “Another view on equalization payments: Subsidy dependence ‘has led the region nowhere.’”

Campbell calls BS on MacKinnon’s self-styled professorial credentials, then gets into the heart of the matter. Here’s a small snippet:

[MacKinnon] seems to do most of his lecturing on the rubber chicken circuit and has a particular affinity for Rotary Clubs. His credibility seems to have peaked with that 2010 TVO interview and a 2012 Globe and Mail interview with John Ibbitson (who doesn’t seem to understand Equalization or other federal-provincial transfers, either).

This is the kind of thing he tells Rotary Clubs. In 2012, after announcing to the members of the Ottawa West club that he would debunk the “myths” of equalization, he said:

The first myth is that equalization, the largest regional subsidy program, is required by the constitution. Federal leaders and Premiers from recipient provinces have often said this.

Put simply, it isn’t true.

The constitution requires a commitment in principle to equalization, whatever that means, and I’ll leave it to the lawyers in the room to decipher that.

The commitment, whatever it is, can be fulfilled at any significant level of funding rather than the $15 billion that is currently being spent each year.

Think about that. In the span of four sentences he said:

  • there is no constitutional requirement for Equalization;
  • there is a constitutional requirement for Equalization but I don’t understand it;
  • there is a constitutional requirement for Equalization but it can be met for less than $15 billion.

In another of his anti-Equalization diatribes he describes “Maxine” Bernier (long may she thrive) as the only person in Canada “aside from the efforts of two think tanks in Atlantic Canada and Manitoba” (i.e. the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies and the Frontier Centre, both of which he belongs to) doing anything to “generate more public debate” on the issue of regional subsidies.

Click here to read “Okay, David MacKinnon, Stop.”

As with the Examiner, the Cape Breton Spectator is subscriber supported, and so this article is behind the Spectator’s paywall. Click here to purchase a subscription to the Spectator, or click on the photo below to get a joint subscription to both the Spectator and the Examiner.
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4. Boudrot Properties

The Indian Gardens trailer park in Antigonish. Photo: Boudrot Properties

Boudrot Properties, the real estate company owned by Jason Boudrot, has filed for bankruptcy.

Jason Boudrot is a Port Hawkesbury lawyer and former president of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party. In October, Boudrot told the Nova Scotia Barristers Society that he had misappropriated trust funds in his care, and the Society suspended his law licence pending an investigation and forensic audit of the funds. Boudrot’s law partner, Adam Rodgers, said the missing funds totalled $1.5 million, and Rodgers closed down the firm.

A few weeks later, Preston Mulligan with the CBC reported that Boudrot was accused of mismanaging two trailer parks he owned in Antigonish.

According to the Registry of Joint Stock Companies, Jason and Janette Boudrot are the directors of Boudrot Properties. The company’s website lists five properties it leases: 45 lots in the Indian Gardens trailer park in Antigonish, 35 lots in the Beaver Brook trailer park in Antigonish, two five-unit apartment buildings on Greenville Street in St. Peters, and a commercial property hosting the Coastal Visions Clinic, also on Greenville Street in St. Peters.

5. Johnny Mac

Johnny Mac. Photo: El Jones

Johnny Mac, the boxer profiled by El Jones in her article “The redemption of Johnny Mac: The Cape Breton fighter, Canada’s first openly gay boxer, is training for his first pro bout,”  has started a GoFund Me campaign to underwrite his efforts.

Click here to contribute.

6. Stadium

Anthony Leblanc. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Anthony Leblanc met with the Chronicle Herald’s “editorial board” yesterday. I have no idea who’s on the editorial board (I’m imagining Mark Lever and Don Mills downing shots while talking big about leveraging the Hurricane to invest into a football team, sort of how Lever leveraged the Herald to buy all those Transcon papers), but they made reporter Francis Campbell write about it:

“We are fully engaged with Canada Lands,” LeBlanc said, adding that Schooners Sports and the Crown corporation are going to the market to find an independent third-party real estate evaluator. The tender has been sent out and the responses should come in as early as next week, he said.

I can’t find the tender offer anywhere, but I did find a Canada Lands press release from March about the stadium, which reads in part:

The sale [of 20 acres of land in Shannon Park to the Schooners football team] is dependent on the satisfaction of a number of conditions. Conditions are a normal part of letters of intent. Certain of the conditions are unique in this instance. Before Canada Lands can entertain any future sale of a portion of the Shannon Park site, it must satisfy itself of the following:

• With Canada Lands having undertaken a master planning exercise with the community through 2015 and 2016 that did not include a stadium, SSE and HRM shall be required to undertake further engagement with the community regarding a master plan that includes a community stadium…

Wait, you mean the much-ballyhooed public consultation was all bullshit?

No kidding. Time to roll out this picture again:

People who thought they were taking part in a meaningful public consultation about the Shannon Park redevelopment. Photo: Darren Fisher

7. Keshen Goodman cafe

The Treats cafe in the Keshen Goodman Library closed in February. This morning, the city published a call for Expressions of Interest for a new operator of the cafe space.

For family reasons, I’ve been visiting the library for one evening a week for the past several months. The place is crazy busy, and the 9pm closing time seems too early as it’s still a packed house at that time. I would think a cafe could be quite successful.


Noticed

I’ve written about my childhood experiences of crabbing on the Lafayette River, but crabs were just one of the very many animal species I encountered as a boy.

Although I lived in the middle of the city, my house was in a river environment — encounters with fish, eels, jellyfish, and muskrats were pretty much daily occurrences, with the occasional otter or porpoise coming by. Waterfowl included ducks and seasonally, gigantic flocks of Canada geese.

And bugs and insects. Hundreds of crickets lived in the garage. During the summer, fireflies (we called them “lightning bugs”) lit up the dusk sky, and the husks of millions of locusts littered the ground, trees, and sidewalks of the neighbourhood. I haven’t seen either lightning bugs or locusts in years and wonder if they still exist; am I just missing them in my seasonal visits back home, or are they victims of climate change? The canary in the coal mine, the lightning bug in Norfolk.

Had you asked me yesterday morning, the only land mammal I would’ve recalled would be the odd rabbit that I happened upon while delivering newspapers in the early morning. The rabbits seemed prolific some years, but nonexistent in others.

I hadn’t readily thought about squirrels, simply because they were so ubiquitous as to be not worth commenting on. Squirrels — in particular, grey squirrels — were everywhere, in every tree, every neighbourhood, every city I visited.

When I moved to California, I discovered that without the dense tree cover of the east coast, animals relied not so much on sound to call out to each other, but on colours. The birds were less noisy in California, and more colourful. Likewise, the familiar grey squirrel took on a blue hue.

Visiting family in Toronto I found black squirrels, and sometimes an albino.

It was strange, moving to Dartmouth. I’ve never seen a squirrel here. Chipmunks abound in Shubie Park, but no squirrels. (I think there may be a few red squirrels around, but I’m not so familiar with them.) I wondered if there was something wrong with Dartmouth: Why are the squirrels boycotting the place?

The latest 99% Invisible podcast, however, sheds some light on the issue.

While I’ve always thought as squirrels as being a permanent part of the landscape, like granite and the ocean, it turns out they were at best marginal forest creatures, never to be found in the city, until the 19th century:

The squirrels that we all take for granted as we walk through the park or on our way to the gym or the office are only there because we put them there. Squirrels were intentionally put into parks where they were fed and sheltered.

In 1847, Philadelphia became the first city we know of to introduce squirrels. Like many eastern seaboard cities at that time, it was already a highly urban environment. People yearned for a taste of the wilderness that the squirrel was seen to embody. Eastern grey squirrels were captured from forested areas and brought into the city.  A few other east coast cities followed suit, but the number of squirrels was small. Philadelphia had only three, which were given shelter and a fence so they could stay safe from predators in their little squirrel home.

This trial run unfortunately did not go so well for the squirrels. The cities of the 19th century just didn’t have the kind of green space and tree cover we see today and the squirrels needed trees for food. A wild squirrel requires deciduous, nut-bearing plants, like oak trees, in order to survive. The feed provided by the city often proved to be either insufficient or nutritionally worthless, so those first squirrels either died off or were sold as pets.

In the late 19th century, city green spaces like New York’s were undergoing a transformation. These public spaces had been multi-purpose fields used for everything from cattle grazing to slaughterhouses and militia training, but they were becoming spaces of leisure. Cities were beautifying. But even more critically, parks were being designed to mimic the natural world.

Designers like Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmstead pushed parks like Central Park and Prospect Park in New York in a new direction. “They were working with the existing geology and hydrology,” says naturalist Gabriel Willow, who specializes in animal species that live in urban environments. “They took naturally existing small ponds or marshy areas and made lakes out of them.” They also chose to keep the area’s dramatic rocky outcroppings instead of blasting them away, which is what had been done with the rest of the city’s grid.

These new natural-looking parks were filled with hedges, lakes, streams, and critically: oak trees. In turn, these oak trees provided plenty of acorns for squirrels. It was in this landscape in 1859 that the squirrels were reintroduced. Within a few years, what started out as just a few dozen squirrels roaming about soon become an uncountable horde (by 1920, rough guesses would put the number as high as 5000). In Central Park and beyond, squirrels became as commonplace as the leaves on the oak trees in which they built their nests. As this new approach to urban parkland spread to other cities, the idea of populating them with squirrels traveled, too.

“[Provincial biologist Mark Elderkin] said the earliest record of the animal in Nova Scotia was when several were brought here in the mid-1800s as a gift from the United States,” reported the Truro News in 2017:

They were put in a cage outside Province House and later released, but a population wasn’t established.

It wasn’t until the 1930s that they were noted again, with scattered reports up to the 1960s. But those were mostly anecdotal, with reports of individual animals, Elderkin said.

After 1960, “things started to spike,” he said.

“The reports became pretty regular and predictable, and almost all of them were focused around the Digby-Annapolis area.”

Squirrels migrated to Truro, in part to take advantage of the black walnut trees in that city, although their main diet now seems to be bird feeders.

Still, they don’t seem to be establishing themselves along the Atlantic coast.

“I don’t have many reports of them along there, so the coastal environment might be limiting to them,” Elderkin said.

99% Invisible ends with a hilarious if sad accounting of thousands of electrical blackouts caused by squirrels, which are collected on a website called Cyber Squirrel 1. According to the website, the only instance of a squirrel-caused power outage in Nova Scotia was in Hammond Plains in 2016. The CBC reported:

More than 5,000 people lost power on Thursday evening around the Hammonds Plains Road and Kingswood Drive area — because of a squirrel. 

Just before 5 p.m., the squirrel climbed on top of a transformer located inside a substation. It became a conduit for the electricity which subsequently caused the outage.

The squirrel died at the scene.


Government

City

Thursday

Point Pleasant Park Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4:30pm, City Hall) — a staff update on the “Entombment and Protection of Military Installations and other Historic Structures.”

Harbour East – Marine Drive Community Council (Thursday, 6pm, HEMDCC Meeting Space, Alderney Gate) — approval of a development agreement for a six-story apartment building on the site of the former Little Nashville/strip club/animal hospital on Wyse Road.

Friday

No public meetings.

Province

No public meetings today or Friday.


On campus

Dalhousie

Thursday

Women’s Health Research: Evidence Impacting Care and Outcomes (Thursday, 8:30am, Cineplex OE Smith Theatre, IWK Health Centre) — Erna Snelgrove-Clarke will speak.

Saint Mary’s

Thursday

Team Nova Scotia Provincial Science Fair Showcase (Thursday, 12:30pm, McNally Main Theatre Auditorium) — Forty junior high and high school kids will show off their work.


In the harbour

Thursday
01:00: Gerhard Schulte, container ship, sails for New York
02:00: Alice Oldendorff, bulker, sails from National Gypsum for Tampa, Florida
05:30: Glorious Leader, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Zeebrugge, Belgium
06:00: Jennifer Schepers, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from New York
07:20: Skogafoss, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Argentia, Newfoundland
11:30: Skogafoss sails for Portland
15:00: Torm Camilla, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for sea
15:30: Glorious Leader, car carrier, moves to Pier 31
17:00: CSL Tacoma, bulker, arrives at National Gypsum from Sydney
21:30: Jennifer Schepers sails for Kingston, Jamaica
23:00: Glorious Leader sails for sea


Footnotes

I don’t have a cpyeditor today. Please be kind.


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Tim Bousquet

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

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  1. re: Stadium

    I think it’s important to note that Canada Lands specifically places that responsibility for new community consultations on both SSE *and* HRM, not the football group alone.

    I hope HRM takes that responsibility seriously.

  2. Squirrels are thick on the ground on the south shore. Last summer i live trapped and transported 16 of them from my bird feeders into the woods.
    You want some? Come fetch!

  3. Can’t understand the comments about lack of Squirrels. Near Wolfville we have been battling an invasion in our attic for the first time (the house was unoccupied for a month in the Fall). Costly and deadly campaign using professionals for the past six months! I used to like them!

  4. We do have fireflies in Nova Scotia! I hadn’t seem them since I was a child during summers in the Annapolis Valley. We purchased a cabin in the woods in Lower Vaughan a few years ago and I rediscovered one of the great joys of my childhood. Absolute magic to walk through hundreds of fireflies on a warm summer evening under a sky sparkling with a million stars. And, now our grandchildren have discovered fireflies!

  5. Justice Minster Furey has ordered an end to all illegal/improper street checks.
    Note this : ” When I first joined the force, stop and search was something that we were told to avoid unless we were absolutely certain there was a proper and solid reason to conduct it. For example, smelling weed being smoked wouldn’t be enough of a reason to search someone. Now, unofficial targets mean that if an officer hasn’t performed a stop and search for, say, two weeks, they are being hauled in front of chief inspectors and bollocked. This change – pressure being put on us to meet certain numbers – is not about safety: it’s about politics. And policing should never be politicised like that. ”
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/may/02/police-officer-london-lost-control-streets-knife-crime-cuts
    The CBC discussion last evening was very good.

  6. I’m confounded by your comment about squirrels in Shubie Park. There are chipmunks (there used to be a man that fed them by hand, and knew them all by name), but you can’t go 20 feet in Shubie without seeing a squirrel. I also had them nesting in my (Dartmouth) backyard bird house last spring. But they are the small red squirrels, perhaps you’re mistaking them for chipmunks?

  7. Memo to Monsieur LeBlanc and other Atlantic Schooners operatives,

    I know some BALLERS tired of fielding questions about their “love of fried chicken and watermelon” (to say nothing of ongoing street checks — no matter what the “justice minister” says) who AIN’T SATISFIED.

    Wonder how the season tickets holders who laid down their cash for a REAL STADIUM (as opposed to toddler size) are feeling about the ever-shifting game plan set against the backdrop of race relations in HRM.