News

1. More money on the map

This item is by Tim Bousquet, with files from Jennifer Henderson.

The Rankin government’s money typhoon continues, with new spending announcements yesterday bringing the total of off-budget expenditures to $245,169,000 since June 7.

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2. Case against Halifax cops tossed after complainant fails to show

Halifax Regional Police constables Brent Woodworth (right) and Andrew Joudrey arrive at a Nova Scotia Police Review Board hearing in Dartmouth on Monday, July 12, 2021. — Photo: Zane Woodford

Zane Woodford was busy yesterday and has three stories today. First, Woodford has this report on Nova Scotia Police Review Board’s dismissal of an appeal on Monday. As Woodford writes:

The board was supposed to hear an appeal from Maurice Carvery, who complained about the conduct of Halifax Regional Police constables Brent Woodworth and Andrew Joudrey after a traffic stop in January 2020.

Carvery, a Black man and a former Halifax Regional Police officer, told his story to Global News a few weeks after the incident.

After Carvery made the initial complaint, HRP found the officers did nothing wrong. But he appealed the decision and the board waited for about half an hour, adjourned for three hours, and eventually dismissed the appeal after a motion from Nasha Nijhawan, lawyer for Woodworth and Joudrey.

Click here to read Woodford’s complete report.

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3. Halifax police officer appealing disciplinary decision over Quinpool Road arrest

A Halifax Regional Police officer uses a Taser on a Black man during an arrest in December 2019 as other officers hold the man down. — Screenshot/Twitter/@jsrutgers

Item #2 from the Woodford Report is this story about a Halifax Regional Police officer who is taking her appeal to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia next week.

Const. Nicole Green arrested a Black man during an altercation on Quinpool Road back in 2019. That altercation was caught on video and shared on social  media. Green was docked pay and ordered to take de-escalation training, but she disagreed with that decision.

Click here to read Woodford’s full story.

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4. Halifax taxi driver appeals licence denial after another assault charge

Douglas James Brine speaks to Halifax regional council’s Appeals Standing Committee during his appeal hearing in May 2019. Photo: Zane Woodford

And in his third report, Woodford writes about a Halifax cab driver who is appealing the revocation of his taxi licence for the third time after he was charged in another assault. Woodford writes:

Douglas James Brine applied to renew his taxi driver’s and owner’s licences in March. According to a staff report to the municipality’s new Licence Appeal Committee, a criminal record check showed Brine had two new charges pending: assault causing bodily harm from November 2020 and failure to comply with undertaking while at large from January 2021.

The municipality’s licensing authority denied Brine’s licence renewal, and in April, he appealed that decision. The Licence Appeal Committee will hear that appeal during a meeting on Wednesday. It won’t be livestreamed.

In a handwritten letter to the committee, Brine said the charges were laid while he was in an abusive relationship. He said he pushed his ex-girlfriend after she bit his finger. The failure to comply charge, he said, was laid after he dropped off a pair of shoes to the ex-girlfriend months after the incident. He wrote that the ex-girlfriend wants the charges withdrawn, and included a letter attributed to her stating as much. (The charges haven’t been dropped, with a trial scheduled for February 2022.)

“I’ve been doing everything in my power to stay out of trouble […] sometimes trouble finds u,” Brine wrote in the letter.

Click here to read Woodford’s report.

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5. New shelter to open on Eastern Shore for women and children

A backyard view from the Eastern Shore home purchased by Souls Harbour Rescue Mission for a women’s and children’s shelter. The exact location isn’t being disclosed. Photo: Yvette d’Entremont

On Monday, Yvette d’Entremont got a tour of a new shelter that Souls Harbour Rescue Mission is opening on the Eastern Shore.

The former resident of the Victoria-style home sold it and its furniture to Souls Harbour. The shelter can house up to 12 people and will have a live-in space for a “den mother.”

Michelle Porter, CEO of Souls Harbour, said the home and location is “perfect.”

But also when you think about the other benefits — being on the water, being in a serene environment — I just think it’s going to mean a world of difference for a woman who’s either in recovery or trying to heal or coming out of prison.

There’s no exact date for when the shelter will open, although Souls Harbour is also soon opening its Men’s Life Recovery Home in Halifax.

Read d’Entremont’s complete story here.

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6.  COVID update: 1 new case

Photo: Ystallonne Alves/Unsplash

The Halifax Examiner is providing all COVID-19 coverage for free. Please help us continue this coverage by subscribing.

There was only one new case of COVID-19 announced on Monday (we are just hovering around that COVID zero, aren’t we?) Tim Bousquet has the full update, including vaccination, demographics testing, and potential exposure advisories. 

Tomorrow the province heads into Phase 4 of its reopening plan. Here’s what Phase 4 looks like:

Here’s a list of pop-up testing (antigen testing) for asymptomatic people over 16 who have not been to the potential COVID exposure sites:

Today:
Centennial Arena, 3-8pm
Bay Landing Restaurant, Lounge and Marina, Prospect Bay, 1-7pm
New Minas Fire Hall (Public Health Mobile Unit), 11am-5:30pm
Mabou Parish Hall (Public Health Mobile Unit), 10:30AM-5:30pm

Wednesday
Centennial Arena, 3-8pm
Mount Uniacke Legion, noon-7pm
Annapolis Royal Fire Hall (Public Health Mobile Unit), 11AM-5:30PM
Judique Community Centre (Public Health Mobile Unit), 10:30am-5pm

Thursday
Mount Uniacke Legion, 10am-3pm
Cole Harbour Legion, noon-7pm

Read Bousquet’s complete update here.

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Views

All fired up over fireworks

Photo: Elisha Terada/Unsplash

On Saturday night around 9:30pm, someone set off fireworks in their backyard close to where I live in Fairview. There were more fireworks again on Sunday around the same time. And then at 10pm, I heard fireworks from what sounded like an entire show that lasted until about 10:15pm. I later learned that show was probably one hosted by Chicken Little Cafe to celebrate its recent renovations. The fireworks, which were originally scheduled for July 4, but postponed to July 11, were set off on the roof of Sun Towers, just across from the Chickenburger on Bedford Highway. As Jonathan MacInnis and Allan April with CTV reported today, the smoke got into the building’s elevator shaft.

A fireworks display on top of SunTowers in Bedford on July 11 set off fire alarms in the office building. Photo: Twitter

People love their fireworks and they seem to be lovin’ them even more lately. Fireworks in my neighbourhood are so common I started expecting them almost every night. I heard one last night at 10:03pm as I was writing this. I joke that in Fairview, fireworks season is year-round. One of the community Facebook groups has posts about the frequency of fireworks in the area. Someone said “Fairview/Clayton Park is the firework Capital of Canada” although others noted random fireworks going off are common around HRM.

On Canada Day here in Fairview, the fireworks started at 9pm with a full display I could see from my living room window. Honestly, it was kind of nice. Meanwhile, others set off their own fireworks in their backyards. For the most part, those fireworks were just noisemakers and quite annoying. Anyway, the collective shows lasted for about an hour until 10pm with a 10-minute break around 9:30pm.

Fireworks — at least the consumer type, not those pyrotechnics — are easy to get. The convenience store down the street from me sells them. You can also get them at Giant Tiger on Dutch Village Road.

It’s not just Haligonians who love their fireworks. Last week, Dave McGinn with the Globe and Mail wrote this article: Fireworks have become the soundtrack of the pandemic — and many Canadians are fed up, in which he spoke with Tom Jacobs, owner of Rocket Fireworks in Toronto, who said sales of fireworks are up 35% compared to the same period in 2019. Jacob says the increase in sales comes down to boredom.

Once you exhaust Netflix there’s not much to do and people need an outlet, and the fireworks industry has benefitted from that.

As McGinn writes, rules for fireworks depends on the municipality. He focused on Toronto, but HRM doesn’t have a bylaw specific to fireworks, and permits are required for Display / Pyrotechnic fireworks only. The HRM Respecting Noise By-Law restricts when fireworks can be used, which is on these holidays: Canada Day, Natal Day, New Year’s Eve, and recognized religious holidays.

The province doesn’t have a law regarding fireworks either. There’s just this reminder on the HRM website:

The Fire Safety Act states “every owner of land or premises, or a part thereof, and every person shall take every precaution that is reasonable in the circumstances to achieve fire safety.”

On its website, the HRM includes the federal laws of the Federal Explosives Act governs the sale, storage and use of all fireworks:

Earlier this month, Halifax councillors nixed the idea of using “silent fireworks” for its bigger celebrations. Turns out, silent fireworks aren’t very silent at all. As Michael MacDonald with The Canadian Press reported:

They instead endorsed a staff report this week that concluded there is no such thing as silent fireworks, and that substituting hundreds of LED-equipped drones for regular fireworks would be too expensive. “The term ‘silent fireworks’ is misleading,” the report said, citing a study from the Scottish city of Edinburgh that concluded “these silent firework displays are neither silent nor quiet.”

That staff report said HRM should give lots of advance warning of firework shows. It also recommended that any grant application for fireworks require proof of notification to the community. From the report:

Staff understands that it is not the major fireworks events (holidays, traditions) that may cause trauma,” the report said, specifically pointing to those coping with post-traumatic stress disorder and autism spectrum disorder. “Instead, it is primarily the unplanned, surprise displays that happen outside of the major holidays and often held in neighbourhoods without advance notice that (trigger) anxiety, panic attacks or a flashback scenario for combat veterans who suffer with PTSD.

Not everyone is a fan of fireworks, though, and I’m seeing and hearing more outrage over how often we hear fireworks on any given night, for no apparent reason other than people like stuff that explodes. Fireworks wake up sleeping children, cause anxiety in pets, can disturb wildlife, often leave behind litter in the environment, and can be triggering for people with PTSD. And yet, the explosions continue.

Fireworks can be dangerous,too. Here’s a stat from the HRM website:

According to the CHRIPP (Canadian Hospital Injury Reporting and Prevention Program) that 42.3% of injuries sustained by fireworks were to children 10 to 14 years of age, and 95% of all fireworks injuries involve people under the age of 20.

On July 4, 24-year-old Matiss Kivlenieks, a goaltender with the Columbus Blue Jackets was killed after a fireworks mortar blast hit him in the chest.

And in the last few years, fireworks at gender reveal parties hosted by families to reveal the sex of an unborn child have caused wildfires, including this one in California that destroyed thousands of acres and killed a firefighter . Cakes with a pink or blue centre are far less dangerous, yet parents continue to blow things up to plan for their kid (and be disappointed when it’s not the sex they hoped for, I’m sure).

Deanna Ronson, who lives in London, Ontario started a petition to ban fireworks in that city. Ronson told CBC the sound of fireworks terrify her cat and she got tired of reading about complaints from other residents, too.

There’s a potential that accidental fires, they can cause respiratory distress in humans, they can cause injury, disorientation and death in wildlife, they can cause exacerbation of symptoms in patients with PTSD, autism and other disorders. And they can even cause death to humans.

I would like this city to start a conversation on the topic of fireworks. There are specific bylaws regarding the discharge of fireworks and I think in particular, a conversation needs to revolve around the enforcement of these bylaws because that is simply not happening.

Just this morning Gillian Doiron, who lives in Stewiacke, spoke with Portia Clark on Information Morning about how her horses were spooked by fireworks set off by her neighbour. After the blast, the horses broke through the electrobraid fencing and ran up to the barn. The horses came out unscathed, but nearby dairy cattle were also scared by the fireworks and were injured on the fence.

Doiron said they were “lucky” and it “could have been much worse” because the horses could have run into the road and injured anyone driving. You don’t want to be near a horse when it’s spooked.

Doirion told Clark that in Stewiacke, fireworks are banned. Under the Town of Stewiacke’s noise bylaws of activities proscribed at all times includes “the detonation of fireworks or explosive devices not used in construction or quarrying.”

In that CTV story about the fireworks at Chicken Little, Hope Swinimer with Hope for Wildlife says fireworks can damage the hearing of some animals, and the fumes can be toxic to birds. Swinimer told CTV:

It is important that we stop and look at the harm that we’re causing. I know some people are trying laser shows, and there may be problems with that too but it does sound a little bit less harmful to your natural world into the environment.

The Canadian National Fireworks Association says bans don’t work, and would rather see more education around fireworks. The association introduced a plan in Ontario and BC that would require retailers who sell fireworks to know all the federal and provincial rules, as well as municipal bylaws around fireworks.

That association also launched its Be a Good Neighbour Campaign that covers what seems like everything you’d need to consider when setting off fireworks, including preparation, informing and respecting neighbours, how to be safe, and how to clean up. It’s a great idea, if people use it.

A screenshot from the Canadian National Fireworks Association Be a Good Neighbour campaign.

Fireworks FX in Grand Pré has a complete page on its website dedicated to firework safety, including how to be respectful to neighbours:

And finally, and most importantly, be considerate of your neighbours. Why not let them know you are doing fireworks, it shows you are thinking of them and it makes all the difference in the world between having happy neighbours or upset neighbours. If they have pets they can take steps to minimize the noise factor by closing windows, turning on the tv or music.

I like a good fireworks show and certainly don’t advocate that they be cancelled for the usual celebratory events. More community notice would be good, but I can’t see how we can stop the random person in the neighbourhood from setting them off. I mean, here in Fairview alone enforcement would be impossible.

I found this study from researchers at K-State University from 2009. Associate professor of psychology Mary Cain says the danger of fireworks are part of their appeal for some people.

Engaging in risky behaviors is very reinforcing for people. For some, it can cause release of a chemical in the brain that helps people feel good. The chemical is a neurotransmitter called dopamine and it is released when we engage in behaviors we enjoy, such as eating, drinking, sex, etc. Some people release dopamine when they engage in risky behaviors.

Some of those other risky activities people like sound more fun to me and certainly not as loud, although I guess it depends on how you do it. But I guess some people like blowing stuff up more.

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Noticed

A tweet from this morning:

I don’t like these signs either, although the ones I’ve seen aren’t early campaigning signs. I hope we all love our children, but if you don’t love kids, do you speed up? I also don’t think they work. Generally, I think when people see any kind of sign, they weigh their risk in getting caught and just ignore that sign. Responses in the thread pointed to the width of the road since wider roads make drivers speed up. I wrote about that in a Morning File in September 2020:

I found this study authored by Dewan Masud Karim that says cities should reconsider the width of their streets to make them safer. Narrower streets encourage drivers to slow down. Karim studied 190 random intersections in Tokyo and 70 in Toronto. Angie Schmitt with Street Blogs USA wrote about the study. Schmitt writes:

Looking at the crash databases, Karim found that collision rates escalate as lane widths exceed about 10.5 feet.

Roads with the widest lanes — 12 feet or wider — were associated with greater crash rates and higher impact speeds. Karim also found that crash rates rise as lanes become narrower than about 10 feet, though this does not take impact speeds and crash severity into account. He concluded that there is a sweet spot for lane widths on city streets, between about 10 and 10.5 feet.

In Toronto, where traffic lanes are typically wider than in Tokyo, the average crash impact speed is also 34 percent higher, Karim found, suggesting that wider lanes not only result in more crashes but in more severe crashes.

The “inevitable statistical outcome” of the “wider-is-safer approach is loss of precious life, particularly by vulnerable citizens,” Karim concluded.

And, of course, there could be lower speed limits on these streets.

The only signs that seem to slow drivers down are those Your Speed signs that flash the speed you’re traveling and compare that to the posted speed limit. I wrote about them in a Morning File from last summer:

In 2015, I read Jon Ronson’s book, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed. Ronson wrote primarily about shaming that happens on social media, especially Twitter, but at the end of the book he explored Your Speed, those electronic speed signs that tell drivers how fast they’re going. There is one on the MacKay Bridge and another on the approach to the bridge from Dartmouth. The signs were invented by Scott Kelley, a roadsign manufacturer in Oregon, who told Ronson he didn’t even know why the signs worked. But they did work, and well. Ronson learned that in the areas where the signs were installed to reduce drivers’ speeds, the signs got drivers to slow down by 14% and those drivers stayed driving slower for kilometres after they passed the sign. Ronson references an article by Thomas Goetz, who wrote about the signs in this article in Wired. Goetz wrote:

“The signs were curious in a few ways. For one thing, they didn’t tell drivers anything they didn’t already know. There is, after all, a speedometer in every car. If a motorist wanted to know their speed, a glance at the dashboard would do it … And the Your Speed signs came with no punitive follow-up — no police officer standing by ready to write a ticket. This defied decades of law-enforcement dogma, which held that most people obey speed limits only if they face some clear negative consequence for exceeding them.”

Ronson learned that social psychologists studied the signs for a decade, and discovered that they work for one reason: feedback loops. Writes Goetz in Wired:

“You exhibit some type of behavior (you drive at twenty-seven miles per hour in a twenty-five-mile-an-hour zone). You get instant real-time feedback for it (the sign tells you you’re driving at twenty-seven miles per hour). You decide whether or not to change your behavior as a result of the feedback (you lower your speed to twenty-five miles per hour). You get instant feedback for that decision too (the sign tells you you’re driving at twenty-five miles per hour now, and some signs flash up a smiley-face emoticon to congratulate you). And it all happens in the flash of an eye — in the few moments it takes you to drive past the Your Speed sign.”

But I guess you can’t use those for campaigning.

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Government

City

Tuesday

Halifax and West Community Council (Tuesday, 6pm) — livestreamed on YouTube

Wednesday

Community Planning and Economic Development Standing Committee (Wednesday, 10am) — virtual meeting

Design Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 4:30pm) — livestreamed on YouTube

License Appeal Committee (Wednesday, 4:30pm) — virtual meeting; dial-in or live broadcast not available

Province

Tuesday

No meetings

Wednesday

Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am) — via video conference: June 2020 Report of the Auditor General – Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation, Phase I; May 2021 Report of the Auditor General – Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation, Phase II; featuring Greg Hughes and George Mclellan from NSLC, and Kelliann Dean


On campus

No events


In the harbour

Halifax
10;30: Navios Constellation, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Colombo, Sri Lanka
11:00: MSC Melissa, container ship, sails from anchorage for sea
23:00: Navios Constellation sails for New York

Cape Breton
10:00: United Adventure, bulker, sails from outer anchorage for sea
10:00: Algoma Vision, bulker, sails from outer anchorage for sea
12:00: Viktor Bakaev, oil tanker, sails from Point Tupper for sea
12:30: Thunder Bay, bulker, arrives at Coal Pier (Sydney) from Montreal
13:00: Eagle Kuching, oil tanker, moves from outer anchorage to Point Tupper


Footnotes

On Sunday I drove to Parrsboro and stopped at the beach near the Ottawa House By-the-Sea Museum. Anyway, my car got stuck in the sand. The road itself is on the beach and apparently people get stuck all the time. I wanted to send a thank-you to Michelle and Gary Taylor of Middle Sackville who towed my car out with their Jeep. Thank you!


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Suzanne Rent

Suzanne Rent is a writer, editor, and researcher. You can follow her on Twitter @Suzanne_Rent

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7 Comments

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  1. I think “slow down, BIG ANIMAL (your choice of animal) crossing” might be effective because drivers worry about damaging their cars.

  2. No air conditioning, stinking hot night, absolute quiet in our little rural settlement, just dropping off to sleep after an exhausting day. Suddenly the War of the Worlds starts up in the ditch across the road and lasts for 20 minutes. It sounded like it was in our kitchen. No notice, can’t close the windows because we would cook. I’m on the spectrum, which is one reason I live in a rural area. I ended up awake til 2.

    I don’t want to stop people having fun. But let your neighbours know! And don’t do it in a ditch full of dry weeds next to a dry forest. I’ve watched neighbours, having drunk most of a bottle of rum, set off fireworks from a piece of lumber they held in their hand. It’s not all fun and games. People get seriously hurt.

  3. Fireworks displays put on by professionals for major celebrations are ok. I’m not someone thrilled by fireworks and don’t go out of my way to see them these days, but I get that other people really enjoy them. And I certainly did as a kid. But setting them off in densely populated neighbourhoods just because should absolutely not be allowed. To my understanding the noise bylaw does mean it is a fineable offence to set them off outside of the designated days in HRM. The problem, as usual, is enforcement. Unlike a noise complaint for a load party, by the time cops arrive if called the fireworks are long over. But does that mean we should just throw up our hands? Bad for the environment, disrespectful of neighbours, it is clear there are more downsides than gains from backyard fireworks. Maybe going back to it being illegal to sell them, or having tighter restrictions on their sale, is part of the solution.

  4. The danger from fire alone should be enough to have municipalities banning fireworks except for the approved celebrations operated by trained technicians. Perhaps we should move on and ban even those since there are more friendly and safer ways to create a light show. Those who set them off in populated (or forested) areas show a lack of concern for their neighbours and their community even though they may see it as just a fun night. I can also attest to the fact that some people and many animals suffer severe anxiety when these things start going off.

    As for those ubiquitous but insulting “Slow Down” signs, they too should be banned. I can’t just put up signs on the side of the road advertising my business so why should an MLA be able to do that to advertise their party? Further:
    – If I am doing the speed limit or slower am I still supposed to “slow down”?
    – Is the MLA posting the sign suggesting that a person who does not “slow down” does not love their children?
    – Is the sign paid for by the MLA’s government account, by the MLA’s party, or by the MLA personally? If it’s paid by a government account then those who might want to be a candidate in the next election should have their signs paid for by government as well.
    – Stupid, meaningless signs that are clearly just promotional material for the sitting MLA.

  5. We live on the peninsula but on a bit of rise overlooking Fairview and, yes, the fireworks coming from there! In the summer, every weekend guaranteed, and even during the week. Needless to say, it’s kind of annoying.

    I remember when I was kid growing up in the 70s and 80s here in NS fireworks were illegal (except for the big celebratory municipal ones). It was a big deal when a friend brought some firecrackers back from Florida and we spent an afternoon blowing up apples. Good times,