News

1. Councillors dismiss Oxford/North development appeal

The portion of the building where the developer started demolition, as seen from Oxford Street on Wednesday. Photo: Zane Woodford

Zane Woodford reports on last night’s Regional Centre Community Council meeting, at which councillors dismissed an appeal from several local residents upset about a seven-storey building approved for the location.

The story has quite the lead:

Halifax’s regional centre councillors called the developer’s behaviour “deplorable” and questioned how he sleeps at night, but couldn’t find anything legally wrong with his proposal for North Street during an appeal hearing Wednesday night.

The developer, Mosaik Properties, owned by George Giannoulis, has been accused of starting to demolish a tenant’s apartment while he was still living in it. The developer was fined $1,000 and had the demolition permit suspended.

Woodford looks at some of the reasons residents are opposed to the project, which will see the demolition of the building known as Ardmore Hall. They included height and traffic considerations, and a sense that the building does not fit in with the neighbourhood:

“This building plan has been presented to you with a driveway dumping onto Seaforth Street, dumping traffic that will be more than one and a half to two times the existing cars that currently occupy the residences here on Seaforth Street,” [resident Jane] Spurr said. “This is a significant issue.”

In the staff report to councillors, [Peter] Nightingale and [Sean] Audas dismissed those same concerns, writing that the plan “demonstrates no contravention of the requirements in the bylaw.”

On Wednesday, Nightingale told councillors their decision should only consider the design of the building — “things that really affect the outward appearance of the building.” The land-use bylaw does not cover issues of public safety, driveway locations, building code, or demolition.

Read the full story here.

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2. Four new cases of COVID-19 reported

Daily cases and the seven-day rolling average.

Tim Bousquet’s daily COVID-19 report covers the new cases, tracks our progress through the usual graphs, and offers a map of potential COVID-19 exposure sites.

His reports now include vaccination data too:

As of end of day yesterday, a total of 12,286 doses of vaccine have been administered, and of those, 2,709 were second doses.

After this story revealed that a Nova Scotia man who contracted COVID-19 while in Florida is being quarantined for 14 days in hospital in Nova Scotia, I saw people online wondering about the daily updates, saying that nobody is in hospital with the illness. Doesn’t this count? The story, however, said he was quarantining in the hospital. Is his case resolved but he has other complications? Does his case not count with respect to the local numbers because he got sick in Florida? And does it matter?

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3. New episode of the Tideline podcast, with Kye Clayton

Kye Clayton. Photo: Andrew Rhodenizer

This item is written by Tim Bousquet.

Episode #15 of The Tideline, with Tara Thorne is published.

At just 18, Kye Clayton is already an established rapper with multiple mixtapes and a record label he co-founded in high school. This month he made his feature film debut in Stream Me (written and directed by past Tideline guest Steph Joline), playing a high schooler with a deep connection to Africville. He talks about all of that and more (of course there’s more).

This episode is available today only for premium subscribers; to become a premium subscriber, click here, and join the select group of arts and entertainment supporters for just $5/month. Everyone else will have to wait until tomorrow to listen to it.

Please subscribe to The Tideline.

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4. Hockey parents get their way

Hockey families in Nova Scotia have been upset for anwhile that, for the most part, they can’t watch kids play. Since they can’t be in the stands, some families hoped games could be livestreamed, but in Halifax  that goes against the rules, for the sake of protecting player privacy.

Now, the policy has changed, CTV’s Jonathan MacInnis reports:

“We’ve worked very closely with HRM, pretty much non-stop for the last 48 hours to come to a solution to ensure that parents are able to watch their children play,” [Hockey Nova Scotia executive director Amy] Walsh said.

Live-streaming will be permitted at the discretion of the renter. Signage will also be put up in the venues to alert people their activity could be live streamed or digitally recorded.

HRM officials say the rule prohibiting the live-streaming of events isn’t new and it’s in place to protect the privacy of the players.

The city says player safety is still their priority.

MacInnis writes that “memories made on the ice won’t go unnoticed any longer,” and I get it. Your kid plays, you want to watch. But I can also completely understand why livestreaming games could be a problem. It’s not like we haven’t seen racist incidents and other problems in arenas before, and it’s not a huge leap to imagine expanding that beyond the arena through livestreaming. Let’s hope the families and friends get to watch their kids play, and nobody acts like an arsehole.

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5. “Written backwards in the Central Canadian style”

Photo: Nadine Shaabana / Unsplash

This morning, writer Ed Riche, who lives in Newfoundland and Labrador, linked on Twitter to a Globe and Mail article on Manitoba’s introduction of domestic travel restrictions.

Riche referred to the article as having been “written backwards in the Central Canadian style.”

The story, by Justine Hunter, opens like this:

Manitoba’s decision to broaden domestic travel restrictions this week, as COVID-19 variants spread and Canada’s vaccine delivery slows, is adding pressure to provinces that say they cannot legally limit the mobility of Canadians.

Just last week, B.C. Premier John Horgan said he could not impose travel restrictions, based on legal advice. On Wednesday, he said his office is seeking details of the Manitoba plan while his province updates its pandemic modelling in the coming days.

We hear from various sources in BC, Alberta, and Ontario. Are travel restrictions feasible? Do they make any sense? Can they play a role in reducing infection rates?

Then, down at the end of the story:

Atlantic Canada, however, has kept tight restrictions on interprovincial travel since the pandemic began, and it’s been largely credited with keeping infection rates down in the region. With few exceptions, anyone entering the four eastern provinces must preregister and self-isolate for two weeks.

“It’s been a very effective policy, and I think we’ve been able to demonstrate that quite clearly,” said Susan Kirkland, an epidemiologist from Dalhousie University in Halifax. “We don’t have the hospital infrastructure here to absorb a big surge in cases, so we knew we had to act early and act hard to avoid getting into that situation.

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6. McNeil’s farewell address

This is a screenshot, so don’t try to click to play the video.

At the Chronicle Herald, John DeMont covers Premier Stephen McNeil’s farewell address to the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, sponsored by TD. (“Premier McNeil is to give a ‘farewell address’ to the Halifax Chamber of Commerce. It is ‘presented by TD.’ I have thoughts,” Tim Bousquet wrote on Twitter.)

Judging by DeMont’s piece, it was a pretty thin address. McNeil says he wants to lose weight and return to the private sector. He is also proud of screwing over unions and people on social assistance, the fact that “we asked people to take less and we invested it back in the rest of our economy.”

DeMont reports on this rather amusing bit too:

He also pointed to the kind of shift called for by the Ray Ivany-led Nova Scotian Commission on Building Our New Economy, which brought about an attitudinal change in “who we are and what we are,” which has helped the province attract people and jobs.

I mean… really?

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Views

The Reason I Jump at Carbon Arc

Jestina in a still from The Reason I Jump.

Over the weekend, we watched the latest offering from the Carbon Arc screening series, the documentary The Reason I Jump.

The film takes as its starting point the memoir of the same name, written by 13-year-old Naoki Higashida. Higashida has autism, and does not speak. The film features excerpts from Higashida’s books, in which he describes his experiences and perceptions. But it also highlights the experiences of other non-speaking people from around the world: in India, Sierra Leone, the UK, and the United States.

The people we meet include Amrit, who is a prolific artist, and whose mother says she realized at a certain point that through her drawings, Amrit was telling her about how her day went; Ben and Emma, who are in their twenties, but have been friends since age three, and who Rothwell interviews as they spell sentences on a letter-board; and Jestina, who works with her parents to broaden understandings of neurodiversity in Sierra Leone, where they live.

The film attempts to capture the experiences that its subjects and Higashida’s book describe through cinematography and sound. Some of the passages are extraordinarily beautiful.

This is an enterprise fraught with pitfalls, but it seemed to me that the film did a good job of avoiding them. I haven’t seen any reviews by people with autism yet, but would be really interested in reading some.

Clearly, director Jerry Rothwell and the film’s producers want to avoid what the late disability rights advocate Mel Baggs, in her short film In My Language, called “a voyeuristic freak show where you get to look at the bizarre workings of the autistic mind.” And Rothwell makes a statement at the end of the film’s credits about how he does not mean to imply that the experiences of all non-speaking people with autism are the same, nor that after seeing the film viewers will know what their experience is.

In his director’s statement in the film’s media kit, Rothwell says:

For a filmmaker, this offers an opportunity to use the full potential of cinema to evoke these intense sensory worlds in which meaning is made through sounds, pictures and associations, as well as words. While no film can replicate human experience, my hope is that The Reason I Jump can encourage an audience into thinking about autism from the inside, recognizing other ways of sensing the world, both beautiful and disorientating. I hope the film takes audiences on a journey through different experiences of autism, leaving a strong sense of how the world needs to change to become fully inclusive.

I asked Matthew McCarthy, a member of the Carbon Arc programming team, what had drawn them to The Reason I Jump. He said in part it’s because Carbon Arc has been wanting to feature documentaries that “expand the power of what’s possible.”

He added:

I think everyone was interested in the idea of a film that focused on the experiences of non-verbal people with autism, and that that’s something you don’t often see on screen — and when you do, it can be problematic. And so this film — made by a filmmaking team that was comprised partly of neurodivergent people, that was global in its focus, and was expanding the book that it’s based on — was a kicking-off point. And I think that it seemed such a warm and empathic portrait of some people’s experiences.

McCarthy noted he was speaking as a neurotypical person, and then added:

The film struck me as a broad portrait that was inclusive. It’s insightful without dictating experience. The music and the visuals really help assist in conveying a general atmosphere so that you’re very much not watching something that is literally telling you what is happening.

Carbon Arc normally holds weekly screenings in the basement theatre at the Museum of Natural History, but during the pandemic, screenings have gone online. Once you pay for a film, it unlocks for you, giving you five days to watch it. Today was supposed to be the last day for The Reason I Jump, but Carbon Arc has held it over for another week. It can be screened from anywhere in Canada.

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Noticed

From dark kitchens to more garbage: meal delivery changes everything

Food delivery on its way. Photo: Brett Jordan/Unsplash

I have used third-party food delivery services all of twice in my life. Two years ago in New York City, and last Friday night in Halifax. (I live in an area where nobody offers delivery other than one pizza place, so it’s not particularly hard to avoid taking advantage of these services.)

But even if you rarely — or never — use delivery companies like Skip the Dishes, Side Door, or Uber Eats, you’re still affected by them and their business model. Maybe you’ve been in a local restaurant and watched the stream of delivery people coming in and out with their insulated bags. Maybe you’ve noticed menu items changing, in favour of foods that withstand delivery better. Or, if you’re a restaurant owner, maybe you’ve struggled with the decision over whether or not to sign up for one of these apps — or, even worse, fight to have yourself removed from them, even if you never signed up. And then there’s all the waste generated by these takeout meals.

Two years ago, in New York, I had the strange experience of sitting with my partner in a cavernous Greek restaurant in the financial district, as the kitchen staff sped around — busy, busy, busy — preparing meals for delivery. There were no other customers in the restaurant. Instead, one delivery courier after another came through the door, headed for the pickup zone. And clearly, they were the priority. We waited and waited for our meals. The people ordering delivery were more important.

I understand that during the pandemic meal delivery has been a lifesaver for many. That’s probably not an exaggeration. But it’s also worth looking at the broader effects it’s had.

In a story published in The Economist this week, London-based writer Jonathan Nunn explores the history of delivery apps (one of the first started with a student in the pre-iPhone days who figured out how to get sandwiches delivered to his classroom by using his phone to fax orders to local restaurants), and what they’ve done to the restaurant industry and the experience of dining. As part of his research, Nunn also signed up to deliver meals for Uber Eats.

It’s not easy to seamlessly pull off a feature looking at an issue from three perspectives — in this case, restaurants, diners, and those delivering meals — but Nunn does it.

He asks what restaurants are for:

Food-delivery apps are disrupting the restaurant industry itself. Restaurants have had to question where to base themselves, what to cook and, in a few cases, whether they will ever serve customers in person again. The results will have implications for what, where and when we eat in the future.

At their most basic, restaurants exist to fuel us. For most people, though, they’re about far more than that. Think of your favourite restaurant. Sure, you might picture a dish you’ve eaten. But it’s more likely that what actually comes to mind are all the experiences you’ve had there, whom you were with, how it felt to walk in through the door. For the city-dweller, a favourite restaurant might be your local or somewhere you travel to for special occasions. But it is invariably anchored to a particular place. A restaurant is a distillation of a city – when we enter a restaurant, we briefly enter another world, but it is one that reflects our surroundings.

Nunn gets into the economics of delivery apps, and his section on the experience of being a courier — and how the apps gamify the experience — was fascinating. One thing I learned: the economics of picking up one meal from one restaurant to deliver to one customer are not great. So as soon as an order is placed, some of the apps take the restaurant that got the order and put it at the top of their local recommendation list, to encourage others to order from the same place.

But what I found most interesting, I think, was the interviews with restaurant owners, and some of the ways the apps have affected them — particularly during the pandemic. Nunn looks at the phenomenon of “dark kitchens,” restaurant kitchens which exist only to serve delivery customers, and how menu items may change to favour delivery. The context is Britain, but the phenomenon is international:

The new alliance of dark kitchens and delivery apps poses an existential threat to the restaurant, one of the last bastions of the British high street. Butchers, bakers and grocers have been replaced by supermarkets. Cinemas, cab companies and bank branches have shrunk into apps on a phone. The restaurant has always been a curious institution: a business masquerading as a cultural and social hub, or perhaps vice versa. Until now, it has been extraordinarily resilient.

The dark kitchen moves cooked food off the high street into liminal spaces such as Park Royal, where the culinary desires of a neighbourhood can be gleaned from app data and efficiently satisfied by unseen kitchen hands. Until recently many owners were held back by a nostalgic attachment to the traditional restaurant. Even if you weren’t a Luddite, it was comforting to know that you could, theoretically, visit the place where your dinner was cooked. The pandemic severed that connection, and not just in London. Across the world people began ordering from dark kitchens: every restaurant was transformed into one.

“A year ago we would not be having this conversation,” Shamil Thakrar tells me, sounding vaguely embarrassed. “Our job is not to put food in your house but to bring you in.” Thakrar is a co-founder of Dishoom, a small, fashionable chain of restaurants in Britain known for its vivid evocation of Mumbai’s fading cafés. When the pandemic hit, Thakrar’s most pressing concern was “to keep every member of our staff employed”. Realising that his restaurants would need to deliver, he sent each dish on a journey round east London, shook it up a bit and tasted it. He learned that “kebabs suffer, dal tastes fine and biryani is delicious.” He immediately halved his menu. Within three months of lockdown, Thakrar had opened four new branches, including one in Park Royal. These were all modular dark kitchens, a world away from its meticulously designed dining room.

The whole story is worth reading.

If you are not a subscriber to the Economist, you can read the article by signing up for a free account here.

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Government

City

Thursday

Community Planning and Economic Development Standing Committee (Thursday, 10am) — virtual meeting, with live audio of all Power Point presentations

Board of Police Commissioners (Thursday, 1:30pm) — live webcast

Point Pleasant Park Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4:30pm) — virtual meeting; dial-in or live broadcast not available

Province

No meetings.

On campus

Dalhousie

Thursday

The promise of diversity in management (Thursday, 8:30am) — interactive online conversation with Fiona Parsons-Kirkpatrick, Matthew Martell, Rodney Small, and Angie Gillis.

Canadian Blood Services blood donation clinic (Thursday, 10am) — in the Dal Student Union Building. Info on booking an appointment here.

Cellular & subcellular mechanisms of cardiac mechanoarrhythmogenicity (Thursday, 11am) — Breanne Cameron will talk.

Friday

Sharon Davis-Murdoch. Photo: haac.ca

The Matters of Black Health – Resilience and Determination (Friday, 12:10pm) — Health Law Institute Zoom webinar with Sharon Davis-Murdoch from the Health Association of African Canadians, Nova Scotia.

Women Waiting: Gender, Labor, and Public Space in the 1914 Waitresses’ Strike (Friday, 3:30pm) — Alana Toulin will present this Stokes Seminar via MS Teams. Email for invitation link and paper.

Saint Mary’s

Thursday

Pathways to Justice (Thursday, 12pm) — documentary screening and panel discussion:

Pathways to Justice is the name of a 3-year project conducted by Be the Peace Institute and the Nova Scotia Association of Black Social Workers to understand both how female-identified people subjected to gender-based violence find justice, and also how systemic dynamics tend to thwart that pursuit.

Funded by Women and Gender Equality Canada, the project tapped into the voices of survivors, as well as the accumulated knowledge of service providers, government workers, academic research and social patterns to understand the systemic changes needed to achieve better outcomes and more dignified and less traumatizing legal processes for survivors. This event is co-sponsored by Be the Peace Institute and the Department of Criminology at Saint Mary’s University.

Congress to Campus: U.S. – Canada Relations (Thursday, 1pm) — live Zoom event; former members of the US Congress Elizabeth Esty and John Faso will discuss the new Presidential Administration, what it means for US – Canada relations, and how we move forward.

Friday

Navigating the Census: Census Data Demystified (Friday, 10am) — learn how to access a wealth of census data in this Zoom workshop

Bring your own data. No, don’t! Use the census data.

Laurel Zwissler. Photo via cmich.academia.eu

Religion, Activism and Secularization: How Ethnography Contributes to Theory (Friday, 12pm) — Zoom seminar with Laurel Zwissler from Central Michigan University.


In the harbour

06:30: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Fairview Cove from Saint-Pierre
07:30: Algoma Integrity, bulker, moves from Bedford Basin anchorage to National Gypsum
11:00: High Trust, oil tanker, arrives at anchorage from Antwerp
13:00: Elka Hercules, oil tanker, arrives at Irving Oil from Saint John
18:00: Augusta Unity, cargo ship, arrives at Berth TBD from Moa, Cuba


Footnotes

If you’ve read my stuff for a while, you know how I feel about this accursed day, when a large corporation tries to get us all talking about mental health and mental illness. I was ready to check out last week, when said corporation tweeted about colouring as a mental health tool.

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Philip Moscovitch

Philip Moscovitch is a writer and audio producer, and the author of the book Adventures in Bubbles and Brine; Website:...

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  1. In my professional and personal capacity, I have seen firsthand the negative impacts of someone having shared too much information online or having someone else share that information. I see very little advantage in social media and strongly believe the negatives far outweigh what little benefits there are. There are fantastic opportunities to utilize current technologies to provide enhanced communications, information sharing, and utility but most come at the unnecessary cost of surrendering some, and often far too much, of your personal information. That information, regardless of how valuable one may think it, is aggregated, sold, traded, and used for any number of purposes for which it was not intended. That is the reality of the world we live in; however, individuals should be able to make their own decision on whether they want an online presence and be able to control what information about them is and is not shared, stored, and monetized.

    I commend HRM for having a policy that is sensitive to my views on privacy and prohibits the online streaming of activities taking place in HRM facilities. I commend them for originally enforcing that policy especially considering the current restrictions around parents wanting to watch their children participate in minor hockey. I had wished the policy and its enforcement would continue. I understand these are unprecedented times and it’s unfortunate that parents could miss some opportunity to watch and support their children, but this will pass and parents will, likely very soon, be permitted back into arenas to watch games.

    I have an eight-year-old currently participating in minor hockey in HRM and I too miss watching him practice and compete. I am one of those parents sitting in my car in the parking lot at 7:00 am wishing I were inside watching instead.

    There have been no pictures, descriptions, or reference to or of my son in any online format or capacity. I work hard to keep it that way and have asked other parents not to post pictures of him and I must sign a waiver every year with his school asking them not to post anything about him online. I consider that responsible parenting. I am aware many do not agree with that perspective but until my son is of age to make those decisions on his own and he is fully aware of the risks of sharing personal information online, I believe I am responsible for ensuring it doesn’t happen.

    Kids sometimes do embarrassing, thoughtless, mean, or stupid things and allowing those things to be video captured can lead to unintended consequences. They can take on a life of their own on the internet and sometimes to devastating effect. I concede that it seems highly unlike Facebook, or whatever streaming service is used, would store the stream and make it available forever and parents who’ve attend my son’s practice and games have already, I’m sure, without consideration, posted pictures and videos of him on their social media sites but I can only control what I can control and if there’s already a good sense policy in place that helps protect my child then I would have hoped it be enforced.

  2. > Let’s hope the families and friends get to watch their kids play, and nobody acts like an arsehole.

    That is the whole point of hockey, isn’t it? To be an arshole hockey parent?

    1. And arsehole soccer parents, heard plenty of them when I coached kids in Dartmouth. When I lived in Britain I went to many games where you could stand within 6 feet of the professional players and the profanities and comments from the crowd and players/coaches were well worth the price of entry. Many ‘fans’ would spill out of the pubs and into the grounds suitably fuelled to vent their opinions.