Hi folks. Erica Butler here, filling in for Tim today. Here’s your Morningfile:


1. P3 or not P3

Witnesses at the Public Accounts hearing on the QE2 Redevelopment megaproject. Left to right: Paula Bond, VP NS Health Authority; Janet Knox, CEO NS Health Authority; John O’Connor, Major Projects director, TIR; Paul LaFleche, deputy minister TIR; Denise Perret, deputy Health Minister. Photo: Jennifer Henderson

“The provincial government is paying Deloitte half a million dollars to recommend whether the Province should use some type of a public-private-partnership (P3) to finance, build, and maintain two new outpatient centres,” reports Jennifer Henderson.

But while the bureaucracy seems to be heading towards recommending a P3 model for the VG replacement, opposition critics say it doesn’t appear anyone is actually in charge. Continues Henderson:

Meanwhile, it’s not clear whether any one government department or individual has overall responsibility for the multi-year redevelopment project. Deputy Minister Paul LaFleche joked he, Janet Knox, Denise Perret (deputy health minister), and Jeff Conrad (deputy minister of Internal Services) “will all lose our jobs if something goes wrong.” The government is banking on a team approach to get the VG replacement over the goal line and it’s clear a lot of work has been done in the past several years starting under the previous government.

What’s not clear to PC MLA Tim Houston is who, if anyone, is accountable.

“There’s potential for this project to go off the rails and the potential increases if there isn’t a single department or a person who will be held accountable for this,” said Houston.

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2. Education admin reform bill to drop today

But fear not, parents and students of Nova Scotia who are worried about the potential for another job action by pissed-off teachers, Premier Stephen McNeil says, “if it were up to me, there would be no job action,” reports Michael Gorman for the CBC. What a relief.

McNeil has met with the NSTU over the proposed administrative changes, but as Gorman reports, the premier is not saying which of the NSTU’s concerns the Liberals have chosen to address.

McNeil wouldn’t go into details when asked if the bill reflects what he heard during Monday’s meeting.

“I believe it reflects some of their concerns and also reflects the spirit of the Glaze Report,” he said.

“Some of [the concerns] we were able to deal with, some of them we weren’t.”

The Glaze report has recommended dissolving elected school boards and removing principals from the teachers’ union.

3. Growing old in Nova Scotia is not for lovers

A couple married for over 70 years will have to live apart now that they are in need of nursing home care, and they are not alone, reports Susan Bradley and Marina von Stackelberg for the CBC.  Because they’ve been assessed with different needs, Marjorie and Edwin Crossland now live apart, despite their long history together. It turns out even couples with similar assessed needs are sometimes separated due to a shortage of nursing home beds.

More than 900 people are waiting for the highest level of care — nursing home beds — in Nova Scotia, according to Stevens.

Couples who want to live in the same residential facility are given higher priority on the wait-list. The health authority said there are dozens of couples who are waiting to live in the same facility.

4.  People are in favour of banning plastic bags

A recent Corporate Research Associates poll found that over 70 per cent of residents of Halifax, Moncton, Saint John, and Fredericton are up for a plastic shopping bag ban, reports Haley Ryan for Metro. It seems that councillors who fretted over the reduced availability of free plastic bags for encasing dog crap may be out of touch with the zeitgeist, along with the Retail Council of Canada, who have yet to come up with an industry-led response to overwhelming public support for a ban.

5. Metal detectors are now “best practice”

CBC’s Anjuli Patil reports on new metal detectors being tested out at the former Metro Centre downtown. Patrons of the arena will now have to walk through a magnetometer to enter the building, and undergo a secondary screening if they set off the alarm. To real seal the deal on that airport feeling, the system will include trays in which to dump your keys, phone, and wallet before you walk through the gate.

As Patil reports, the soon-to-be permanent security system is being brought in because, apparently, everyone else is doing it, according to the centre’s spokesperson Erin Esiyok-Prime.

“It’s really just an opportunity to test it out, understand what the impact is, get fans a little bit used to the idea of it and then we’ll go away and take any feedback and learnings from that process and apply it to a longer-term plan, which will be to ultimately have security gates in place by the end of the year.”

Esiyok-Prime said the use of security gates is a “best practice” venues across the world are adopting. 

“It’s more about us being proactive and planning and ensuring the safety of our guests,” she said.

6.  Centre Plan Part One

A screenshot of HRM’s Centre Plan map, showing proposed maximum building heights around the Willow Tree intersection at Robie and Quinpool.

Zane Woodford of Metro was at council’s Community Design Advisory Committee yesterday to hear the presentation on part one of the city’s Centre Plan. This is the “real” Centre Plan, with legalese attached, not the previously approved concept plan that some councillors have been saying hasn’t existed for the past few months.  Woodford explains:

“Package A,” released last week, includes three documents: a planning strategy, a land-use bylaw and a design manual. It lays out HRM’s plans for the newly designated areas that it expects to change the most as a result of the Centre Plan: centres, corridors, higher order residential and future growth nodes.

Centres are areas like Robie and Young streets where HRM wants to create the most density, with height limitations of up to 20 storeys.

Corridors are areas that connect different parts of the municipality, like part of Gottingen Street, where HRM wants to see growth but more in the four- to six-storey range.

Higher order residential areas already have high density, and HRM wants to see more added, with a range of mid- to high-rise developments, between three and eight storeys.

Future growth nodes are areas that could see significantly increased density sometime in the future, like the Penhorn Mall site, but HRM wants to deal with those on a case-by-case basis.

Citizens can find out more about the plan by attending one of six public meetings or by dropping by the Centre Plan Storefront in the old RBC building on George Street from 10am-6pm weekdays. City planners have also created an interactive map to help you wrap your mind around what’s proposed.

7. People are stealing spare tires

In what should probably be an economic indicator of sorts, thefts of Jeep Wrangler spare tires (which are full sized tires, and therefore considerably more valuable than your average mini-spare) are seeing a spike in the Maritimes, with 22 reported thefts in the past two months, 12 of which were in HRM within a week.


1. Taking back the streets, one conference at a time

“The future is about streets whose purpose is social, open, marketplace and not just movement — streets whose design reflects our values and climate,” writes Dal planning professor Frank Palermo in The Coast’s Voice of the City this week.  Palermo is mostly making a pitch for folks to attend Dal’s free and student-organized Shift conference, kicking off tonight:

There is an element of audacity in this conference. We believe that change needs to happen now. We think it’s urgent to take back the streets so they can be less about movement (particularly car movement) and much more social places, open spaces and marketplaces. We know that to accomplish this is a large undertaking that will take concerted and extended effort to reconsider streets, particularly in terms of equity, accessibility and responsiveness to climate.





FCM 2018 Conference Advisory Committee (Thursday, 1pm, City Hall) — the committee is actually debating menu items at the Gala Dinner.

Accessibility Framework Session (Thursday, 2pm and 6pm, Alderney Gate Public Library) — info here.

Point Pleasant Park Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4:30pm, City Hall) — the park is getting an app.

Harbour East Marine Drive Community Council (Thursday, 6pm, HEMDCC Meeting Space, Alderney Gate) — St. Luke’s Anglican Church is moving forward with Bryony House to build a three-storey building on its property for use as an emergency shelter for women and children fleeing intimate partner violence.


No public meetings.



Legislature sits (1–6pm, Province House)

On campus



Engaging Patients and Families in Research: What Are You Waiting For?(Thursday, 10am, Cineplex OE Smith Theatre, IWK Children’s Building) — a panel consisting of Erna Snelgrove-Clarke, Janet Curran, Rebecca Mackay, Paul Hong, Anthony Otley, Margot Latimer, John R. Sylliboy, and Jill Chorney​.

French Mélodie Masterclass (Thursday, 11:30am, Room 121, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — pianist Julien LeBlanc will perform.

Protocols and Algorithms for Mobile Cloud and Distributed Systems (Thursday, 11:30am, Room 127, Goldberg Computer Science Building) — Qiang Ye from the University of Prince Edward Island will speak.

Twerking (Thursday, 12pm, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — Kyra Gaunt from State University of New York at Albany will speak on “Booty Hopscotch (Keep That A$$ Jumpin’): Exploiting Tween Girls Twerking in YouTube’s Corporate-Controlled Spaces.”

Dal Law Hour (Thursday, 12:30pm, Room 105, Weldon Law Building) — Justice Sheila Ray from the Ontario Court of Justice will speak about restorative justice. Free pizza for attendees, they say, but they don’t mention whether it’s the pepperoni or some crazy pineapple thing, so I dunno.

Studying Graphs (Thursday, 2:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Adam Van Tuyl from McMaster University will speak on “Studying Graphs Using Commutative Algebra and Combinatorial Algebraic Topology.”

Belong Forum (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Theatre, Marion McCain Building) — MIT historian Craig Steven Wilder will speak about his book Ebony and Ivory, which is about the role of race and slavery in the development of several Ivy League universities in the United States. Register here. Update: Due to unforeseen circumstances, tonight’s lecture and tomorrow’s forum have been tentatively rescheduled to Wednesday, March 28.


Y.Y. Brandon Chen. Photo: law.utoronto.ca

Migration and Health Care (Friday, 12:10pm, Faculty Lounge, Weldon Law Building) — Y.Y. Brandon Chen from the University of Ottawa will speak on “The Challenge of Migration and Health Care Solidarity in Liberal Democracies.”

Catalyst Design with Aromatic Ions (Friday, 1:30pm, Room 226, Chemistry Building) — Tristan H. Lambert from Columbia University will speak.

“Well-brushed Fangs”: Defining and Designing Race in the Interwar Eclaireurs Israélites de France (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1170, Marion McCain Building) — Erin Corber will speak.

Improving Campus Equity and Inclusion (Friday, 4:30pm, Room 303, Student Union Building) — a meeting for self-identified Indigenous students. RSVP here.

La Velada (Friday, 6pm, McInnes Room, Student Union Building) — the Dalhousie-King’s Spanish Society’s annual celebration of Spanish and Latin American culture. $15/$25; tickets: dalkingsspanishsociety@gmail.com

Mount Saint Vincent


ArtFest (Friday, 5pm, Art Gallery) —  English students Alexia Major and Samantha VanNorden host performances of student creative works, and a poem by El Jones.

In the harbour

6am: ZIM Luanda, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Valencia, Spain (schedule)
6:30am: Skogafoss, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Argentia, Newfoundland
6:30am: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 36 from Saint-Pierre
8am: Spuigracht, cargo ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Rotterdam
10am: Skogafoss, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for sea


This Morningfile has been 100% Whitman-free. Until just now, of course.

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  1. Private industry, as we’ve been told ad infinitum, does business to make money and increase shareholder value not provide for the overall welfare of the community they operate in.

    Why are P3s still a thing?

  2. Missing from the Centre Plan is the school element… the Centre Plan is supposed to help create a vibrant living environment in the urban core area; but where do families fit in? The Halifax & Dartmouth downtown core areas are not family friendly environments. Where are the schools?

    Do not say that schools are only a provincial issue, if one wants a Centre Plan that creates a family friendly environment, then planning for schools must be a part of the plan.

    1. Put the kids on a bus to French Immersion and your kids will be safe from the poor, black,low income and welfare kids. Or transfer your kid/kids to an out of catchment area school where the kids are from double income families.
      That is how the system works today and you don’t hear anyone complain.

      1. A sad state of affairs… the Centre Plan needs to be so much more than streetscapes and building heights.

        Downtown core schools could actually be hosted within a skyscraper (read any suitably tall building). All it takes is imagination and a will to implement.

  3. Plastic bag bans are popular because they are a quick and easy solution to a visible problem. The alternatives may be worse (for climate, environment, and waste disposal), but the resulting problems are less visible. The biggest problem with plastic bags is simply improper disposal. Bags that are sent for recycling or landfill should not end up in trees or the ocean. And reducing plastic bag use does not accomplish a lot:

    ‘No bag is free of environmental impact, whether that’s contributing to climate change, ocean pollution, water scarcity, or pesticide use. The instinct to favor reusable bags springs from an understandable urge to reduce our chronic overconsumption, but the bags we use are not the big problem. “Eat one less meat dish a week—that’s what will have a real impact on the environment,” says Tyler. “It’s what we put in the bag at the grocery store that really matters.”’


    1. We don’t know what the full consequences of our plastic use are. All plastics (including the fibres in synthetic clothes) break down into microparticles. Clothes are especially pernicious – every time you wash your clothes, microparticles of whatever your clothes are made of goes down the drain. Plastic microparticles are sticky on a molecular level, and (weakly) bond to many chemicals, some of which are toxic manmade ones. Filter feeding organisms then consume the plastic, potentially absorbing the chemicals and being sickened by the inedible plastic particles.

      Even plants can absorb small enough micro plastics from the soil. In China, the use of film plastics and plastic mulch (shredded film plastics) to warm the soil to extend the growing season is quite common. As a result of these practices, lots of produce in China has microplastics in it. We have no idea what the consequences of these practices are on human and ecological health.

      We need to do everything we can to reduce the use of disposable plastics (and plastics in general, especially plastic fibres) – we don’t know what the consequences of plastic are yet, and it’s probably not great.

  4. I will go along for the plastic bag ban so long as it is a total ban; that means no plastic shopping bags at ALL retailers and convention/home-shows, etc…. no exceptions; but what does one do about all the other film plastic materials? Saran Wrap, produce market bags, wiener wrappers, frozen vegetables, candy wrappers and the list goes on. Really what we need is a Province-wide recycling solution for film plastic. Banning retail shopping bags is only a portion of the problem… not a real solution.

    This is an opportunity for a new business venture; HRM or the Province should put out a tender to seek development of a real film plastic recycling solution. A province-wide solution would be best…. bandage fixes that make one feel good simply prolong implementing a real solution and cause preventable hardships and expense.

  5. “Free pizza for attendees, they say, but they don’t mention whether it’s the pepperoni or some crazy pineapple thing, so I dunno.”

    For Dalhousie’s Halifax campus, the pizza for events almost always comes from institutional food sources on campus. This means that pizza offerings are almost always as follows for any given event:

    -Cheese (with not great cheese)
    -Pepperoni / Meat mix (with sausage being the added meats most of the time)
    -Veggie – Onions, Tomatoes, Green Peppers, Olives
    -Gluten-Free, Vegetarian – which always taste disgusting (the dough is poor) – generally this is a single pizza, often a small one, purchased to make sure it can accommodate everyone.

    Hawaiian is perhaps the most common additional pizza, but it’s never to the exclusion of other types.

    Up here in Truro though, things are different.

      1. … I’m not saying that the pizza from Dalhousie Agricultural Campus is better than Halifax’s with that statement, but that it’s in the wider context of the Truro pizza / catering options, which are very different from HFX peninsula.

  6. To enter our courthouse, you also have to pass through security, which my belt with metal loops sets off. They don’t make me take off the belt and walk through again, so WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE.

  7. the only complaint i have heard so far about the p3 schools is how much the province paid.
    they arn’t falling down, they seem to be kept in good repair, and the users are happy with the building.

    given the current VG needs replacing because government built it cheaply, and then deferred maintenance, P3’s might make sense, if the government does a better job negotiating the lease.