1. Coal plants and the Greens

Left to Right: Richard Zurawaski (Green candidate for Halifax West) Lil MacPherson (Dartmouth-Cole Habour), Green leader Elizabeth May, and Jo-Ann Roberts (Halifax). Photo: Jennifer Henderson

Green Party leader Elizabeth May was in Halifax yesterday, and reporter Jennifer Henderson went to ask some questions; Henderson writes:

“By 2030, the Canadian grid will be de-carbonized,” May declared, “from coast to coast to coast. Our ‘Mission Possible’ platform accelerates this shift to zero carbon emissions, which is doable by 2030.”

That Green Party promise comes into direct conflict with an agreement the Nova Scotia Liberal government has with the federal Liberal government to transition Nova Scotia off coal at a slower pace to avoid “rate shock” for consumers.

The short of it is that under the agreement, Nova Scotia’s coal plants can continue to operate until 2040. Continues Henderson:

So how would a Green federal government deal with Nova Scotia’s agreement to keep the coal plants open until 2040?

“Our plan is not optional,” said Green leader May firmly in response to that uncomfortable question. “We hope it is one that Greta will find acceptable.”

Click here to read “Elizabeth May and the Greens reject Nova Scotia’s negotiated settlement to keep coal plants open until 2040.”

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2. “Choices made now are critical”: latest IPCC report focusses on oceans and cryosphere

A new IPCC report on oceans and the cryosphere (the icy bits) was released Wednesday under the headline “Choices made now are critical for the future of our ocean and cryosphere.”   It’s hard to pick a headline for yet another terrifying report coming via the UN from over 100 scientists in 36 countries, looking at 7000 different research papers, especially if you’re concerned with shutting down your readers with crisis-exhaustion. Here’s a wee sampling from English language media:

CNN: Fish are in trouble with the climate crisis, IPCC report finds

The Guardian: Extreme sea level events ‘will hit once a year by 2050’

The Atlantic: The Oceans We Know Won’t Survive Climate Change

Science: ‘There’s no scenario that stops sea level rise in this century,’ dire U.N. climate report warns

The report, along with factsheets and a summary for policy makers is available here. Here’s a super-concise summary from the Guardian:

Sea level rise is accelerating as losses from Greenland and Antarctica increase, and the ocean is getting hotter, more acidic and less oxygenated. All these trends will continue to the end of the century, the IPCC report said.

Half the world’s megacities, and almost 2 billion people, live on coasts. Even if heating is restricted to just 2C, scientists expect the impact of sea level rise to cause several trillion dollars of damage a year, and result in many millions of migrants.

Past and future changes in the ocean and cryosphere from the IPCC’s Summary for Policy Makers. Note: RPC is Representative Concentration Pathways, of which there are four used to model and predict possible future global atmosphere situations. RCP2.6 represents the most aggressive approach to reducing global emissions, peaking in 2020 and declining rapidly thereafter. RCP8.5 is more akin to the “business as usual” model.

3.  Halifax police’s new armoured vehicle supplier also sells to Saudi Arabia

The Halton Police Department has an armoured vehicle that looks like this.

Zane Woodford of StarMetro reports that the controversial new armoured vehicle being purchased by Halifax police will be supplied by the same manufacturer whose vehicles were reported to have been used by the Saudi government against civilians. Woodford interviews CAO Jacques Dubé, who explains that the allegations wouldn’t affect the contract award since there’s nothing about killing civilians in the RFP, and Councillor Lindell Smith, who makes a case for including such considerations in future RFPs. Woodford reports:

Though he wasn’t in favour of buying an armoured car in the first place, Smith said the seller’s record shows the need for a social procurement policy. Such a policy, which he’s advocated on council, would see the municipality take ethics, environmental impact and other social factors into account when awarding contracts.

4. Hope Blooms kicks off new community kitchen project

Haley Ryan of StarMetro attended the kickoff event for Hope Blooms’ new community kitchen project, funded by a $1.2 million loan from Invest Nova Scotia, and expected to take about 6 months to build.  The new 3000 square-foot building will house a kitchen and community space right beside the group’s garden at Murray Warrington Park on Brunswick Street.

I got to write about Hope Blooms last fall, in a piece for Atlantic Books Today highlighting the group’s new book which details their journey from upstart youth group taking over an abandoned community garden, to a salad dressing (and now tea) empire, helping to fund local charities and their own scholarship fund. Mamadou Wade, a Hope Blooms alumni and now mentor, assured me the project was very much youth-led, and youth-powered, something that impresses me to this day.

5. Fares go up Monday, but alternative ways to pay are nowhere in the future.

Thanks to @TheBase16 for this lovely illustration of Halifax Transit’s impending new bus tickets, from way back in August 2018. The tickets you buy now, however, will still be the tiny, fit-nicely-in-a-wallet variety.

Halifax Transit fares go up Monday by 25 cents across the board, so it’s a good time to stock up on a sheet or two of tickets. Actually, it’s especially worth stocking up on tickets, since the cost per ticket will actually go up by 45 cents. A sheet of 10 tickets will now be $24.50, giving bulk buyers a discount of 30 cents per ride. (The previous discount was 50 cents.)

It’s worth noting that not everyone can easily take advantage of the ‘stock up now’ option. This is a small but real example of how having money saves you money. People with money can do things like buy a couple sheets of tickets now, and save on the price of transit, whereas people on tight budgets don’t have that flexibility, so their price for transit is de facto higher.

A fare hike seems like a good time to check in on the fare management project that Halifax Transit has been working on for years now.

You’ll recall that new giant-sized tickets were coming, and that those new tickets were being implemented to match new fare boxes which accepted paper money. The new boxes, despite being barcode- and RFID- (radio-frequency identification) ready, would not be used for a new smart card pass system immediately, though that was and presumably still is the plan. As I reported back in August 2018:

Two dedicated fare management contractors have been hired, through Barrington Consulting (the sole bidder for the RFP to expand Halifax Transit’s transit technology team by a total of six back in September 2017). As soon as this two-person fare management team has seen to the installation of roughly 600 new fare boxes on buses, they will turn to Phase Two: future payment methods.

“We don’t anticipate it being a long transition to the next phase,” says [Halifax Transit manager of technical services, Marc] Santilli. “We recognize how eager the public is to have better payment methods.” Santilli estimates an 18-month “ballpark” timeline until new payment methods are available.

It’s safe to say that timeline is out the window. According to city spokesperson Erin DiCarlo, the city does not yet have possession of its new fare boxes, and “no specific delivery date has been determined.” The city does have 1000 sample tickets from Canada Ticket, who it has contracted to supply the new giant-sized tickets for three years. The CBC’s Jean Laroche recently reported on a possible dispute between Canada Ticket and the city, citing several sources in the know who said the tickets supplied were problematic.

Trapeze Software was awarded the $6.8 million contract for the fareboxes in August 2017. Trapeze has already supplied computer-aided dispatch and automatic vehicle location systems for Halifax Transit, and they are the chosen vendor for a new fixed route planning, scheduling, & operations system as well. DiCarlo says that project is “currently underway”.

6.  Barrington gets a new bus lane and extended multi-use trail

The city announced Wednesday it has completed the extension of the Barrington Greenway multi-use trail, which now connects northward to the Devonshire bike lane (where the driver of a white or silver BMW recently struck a turning cyclist and then fled the scene) and southward to the casino (where it dead-ends unceremoniously before connecting to either the waterfront or the Hollis Street bike lane, which will likely remain the case until the Cogswell redesign gets built.)

The project also includes a new 450-metre long bus lane now operational on Barrington between Devonshire and North. The transit lane is one way only, headed southward to downtown and will be in effect at all times. According to the city’s news release, “Vehicles travelling through the North Street intersection should stay in the left-hand lane until the bus lane has ended. Vehicles that need to turn right into a driveway may cross the bus lane when it is safe to do so.

This project is a great example of what’s possible with a small targeted road diet. This stretch of Barrington had four vehicle lanes until a retaining wall construction project at the naval base next door shut down one northbound lane. The road diet was enough to make room not only for all-ages and abilities pedestrian/cyclist infrastructure, but a lane to help get transit through traffic faster as well.

7. Let people eat their own fish, study says

A new study involving Dalhousie research suggests that diverting a small fraction of fish away from the global food market to local coastline populations could help reduce malnutrition in those communities.  Michael Tutton of Canadian Press reports on the the study:

Aaron MacNeil, an associate professor in the biology department at Dalhousie University, developed a model to predict the likely nutrient composition of fish species in 43 nations for seven key nutrients.

The research team he worked with found that fish caught in the fishing zones along the coasts of such African nations as Namibia and Mauritania is often exported or controlled by foreign nations.

“There is sufficient micronutrients available right now to deal with a huge problem of health and micronutrient deficiency in the world,” MacNeil said in an interview on Tuesday.

He says if the fish were consumed locally, rather than shipped overseas, it would shift nutrients such as Omega 3 fatty acids into the diets of local people: “Fish solve the micronutrient deficiency that plague so many people around the world.”

The study estimates that nine per cent of the fish — including mackerel, pilchards, hake and tuna — caught by Namibia would be equivalent to the dietary iron requirements for its entire coastal population of about 250,000 people.


1.  A visit to Lunenburg town and country

If you haven’t had a chance to visit Lunenburg this summer, or even if you have, let Stephen Archibald take you for a tour through his eyes. In his latest post for his blog, Noticed in Nova Scotia, Archibald admires angels embedded in railings, documents a “treasure trove” of sheds and garages, visits the Parkdale Maplewood Museum, and takes a sunrise walk past the old town buildings that helped win Lunenburg it’s UNESCO world heritage site status.

2.  Announcing the James McGregor Stuart Society Penalty

From disability rights advocate Gus Reed, over at the James McGregor Stuart Society blog:

Every year on June 30th, James McGregor Stewart’s birthday, we award $1000 to an effective advocate for people with disabilities.

This year, on February 11, Stewart’s death day, we will issue a $1000 penalty for the best example of a simple solution to a simple problem that has been overlooked by the province.

You can email me your nominations at

  1. describe the problem
  2. name those responsible
  3. describe the simple solution 

This is an exercise in shaming. We’ll see whether anyone actually pays, but there is no reason why things shouldn’t be happening now.

We will hold a vote in January. The tax-deductible winning penalty will go into the award fund. The simple solution must be in place.

In his September 24th post, Reed makes a nomination for the penalty, after encountering this situation at the Bluenose docked in Lunenburg:

Reed writes:

Last week I was in Lunenburg, where the Bluenose was open to the public. I asked if my wheelchair and I could go aboard, and was told maybe I could be carried up the steps and down the ramp, and the decks were barrier free. 

This being 2019, I declined. Meanwhile I watched seniors gamely attempting the tall step with no railing.

According to the ever-reliable and disability-friendly website of the Executive Council’s Agencies, Boards, and Commissions, there are no openings on the Schooner Bluenose Foundation’s Board.

Available Position Types: The following positions are currently vacant, or will become vacant in the next year.
– There are no upcoming vacancies.

Current members are:

Honourable Leo Glavine (Halifax) President & Member

Hmm, isn’t he

Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage
Minister of Seniors
Minister responsible for the Heritage Property Act
Minister of the Voluntary Sector


So I’m nominating Leo Glavine for the James McGregor Stewart penalty of $1000 for failing to make a very simple and obvious change for accessibility. He is responsible for Seniors, after all. I wonder if he’s ever met one…..The bill for rebuilding the Bluenose was $24 million and Leo couldn’t find $250 for a ramp.





Transportation Standing Committee (Thursday, 1pm, City Hall) — councillor Shawn Cleary wants staff to investigate banning right turns on red, at least at some locations.


No public meetings.



Legislature sits (Thursday, 1pm, Province House)


No public meetings.

On campus



Numerical computation on surfaces and applications involving anisotropic diffusion​ (Thursday, 2:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Colin Macdonald from UBC Vancouver will talk.

The Ethical and Professional Responsibilities of Business Lawyers: Business, Human Rights, and the Sustainable Development Goals (Thursday, 4:30pm, Room 105, Weldon Law Building) — a panel moderated by Sara L. Seck, with panelists John F. Sherman III from Shift, Penelope Simons from the University of Ottawa, Larry Catá Backer from Penn State, and Birgit Spiesshofer from the University of Bremen.

On Justice for All​ (Thursday, 7pm, Halifax Central Library) — Kristie Dotson from Michigan State University will explore

a notion of racial justice in the 21st century and what it means as a Black feminist to have “a vision of justice for all.” Ultimately, she claims that we are not so constitutionally dissimilar, our ability to impact each other so small, nor our populations so homogeneous as to imagine that racial justice is not just another way of saying we need justice for all. Racial justice in any era may well translate into the demand that we work for the goal of creating “a place where no one is prey.”


CETA Implications Conference (Friday, 9am, University Hall, Macdonald Building) —

a two-day series of panel discussions exploring the implications of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union. Topics include the regulatory process, labour rights and mobility, trade, procurement, investor-state dispute settlement, environment and more.

More info here.

Beyond the Now: Epistemic Oppression and the ‘Common Sense’ of Mass Incarceration in the US (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1130, Marion McCain Building) — Kristie Dotson from Michigan State University will talk.

James Barry, Emotion, and the Making of a Modern Self (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1170, Marion McCain Building) — Danny Sampson from Brock University will talk.



Democracy in Action: the Future of Your Right to Know (Thursday, 5pm, Lecture Theatre, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia) — a “lively panel discussion” with Graham Steele, Laura Notess, Michael Karanicolas, Janet Burt-Gerrans, and moderator Wayne MacKay. More info here.

In the harbour

06:00: RHL Agilitas, container ship, arrives at HalTerm from New York
06:45: Zaandam, cruise ship with up to 1,718 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Sydney, on a seven-day cruise from Montreal to Boston
10:45: Regal Princess, cruise ship with up to 4,271 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Saint John, on a seven-day roundtrip cruise out of New York
16:15: Zaandam sails for Bar Harbor
17:00: Ef Ava, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Argentia, Newfoundland (itinerary)
20:30: Regal Princess sails for New York
20:30: Ef Ava sails for Portland
21:30: RHL Agilitas sails for Kingston, Jamaica


Current global status update:  That feeling when it’s too late to fix everything, so you don’t even try to fix anything.

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  1. Democracy: Right to Know event is a Kings event, not SMU, although they have delightfully decked out their poster in SMU maroon.

    Interesting that the Canadian Taxpayers Federation is noted as a partner or sponsor…. I guess they are moving on to their other raisons d’etre, away from just ‘read my lips, no new taxes.’

  2. Climate change and destruction of our environment cannot be fully addressed without acknowledgement of the impact of the military on our oceans, air and land. That’s why we see 100,000 people in a traffic jam going to an air show, having 4000 people bus, walk, bike and drive to a climate rally and only 5 people at an anti- war or peace rally.

    It’s another level of awareness that
    needs to be achieved.

    Gary Ward

  3. The southern dead-end of the Barrington Greenway is above the water treatment plant. There’s a sign reading “Rough Section Ahead,” which is putting it mildly.,-63.5799728,3a,75y,82.94h,100.26t/data=!3m5!1e1!3m3!1sG9ZizzjBcrwQ6iMj3An4FA!2e0!

    For all practical purposes, the southern end is Cornwallis Street. Cyclists then can choose the steep hill of Cornwallis, or the high speed / no shoulder sections of Upper Water or Barrington. A quick, cheap fix might be adding bicycle lanes to Upper Water (four lanes in this area), connecting to Lower Water and Hollis via Duke. I’m not holding my breath.

  4. i just got back form London. we used an oyster card to get around, and its great.
    but there system now uses tap – so you dont even need a oyster card – tap your debit or credit card, and the trip is debited, to the daily max.

    Why are we using fare boxes at all, let alone ones that take paper money. just put on contact readers.

      1. They get a card (In London it’s an oyster card) that is reloadable. The readers read both credit/debit cards and in London’s case “oyster card”. In Stockholm, they also had ticket takers on the buses who checked the cards after the bus/trolley had loaded and was moving. In these cities, everyone uses buses/ trains unlike in Halifax where it’s mainly those who can’t afford a car/parking. In Halifax, transit is only workable if you are connecting on a couple of streets if you are lucky. I stood for over 30 min in the rain at rush hour on Spring Garden Rd for a bus to Dartmouth. I’m not doing that again. Good thing there is CarShare or I would be buying another car.

  5. Whoever is responsible for the transit ticket fiasco should be reprimanded and subject to disciplinary action.