The Morning File always has the essentials. The headline pertains to Views, which comes after the…
1. COVID-19 Update
I know pandemic news can be a ceaseless barrage. Since there’s nothing exceptionally promising or concerning from Tuesday’s briefing, I’ll keep this section brief and to-the-point today so we can be done with it.
There were 90 new cases of COVID-19 announced in Nova Scotia Tuesday. That’s down from 91 on Monday. It might not be much of a drop, but it’s a drop.
More importantly, 180 people were reported to be recovered, bringing the province’s known active caseload down to 1,345. Two people recovered for every one newly infected certainly sounds like the right kind of ratio.
There are now 103 people hospitalized, 25 of whom are in intensive care.
Here’s the active caseload in Nova Scotia since the end of March, when this third spike started.
And here’s a pie chart showing the percentage of vaccinated Nova Scotians so far — another one of Tim Bousquet’s handy graphics:
For more of Tim Bousquet’s handy graphics tracking pandemic stats in this province, check out his full COVID roundup from Tuesday.
You’ll also find more info on:
- Demographics of cases
- Testing, where it’s happening and what the numbers are
- Exposure site advisories
Just a reminder that the Halifax Examiner is providing all COVID-19 coverage for free.
2. The Woodford Report: No need to sit through a whole Halifax council meeting; Zane’s got everything you need to know right here
One news roundup deserves another.
Moving on from the pandemic to city hall (the virtual version of it, anyway), here are the quick hits from Zane Woodford’s report on Tuesday’s Halifax regional council meeting:
- No pay raise for council: As in 2020, Halifax regional councillors will not take a pay raise in 2021. Here’s what Coun. Shawn Cleary had to say:
“It’s incumbent on us to show residents that we understand the concerns that not all, but a number of people are still having, and show leadership in that, and not put additional pressure, although admittedly it’s a small pressure, but symbolic pressure on our budget with our own potential increase in compensation.”
- Accessibility plan approved: Council voted to approve a new accessibility strategy that will help meet the provincial government’s goal of making Nova Scotia completely accessible by 2030. The plan will make bus shelters and taxis more accessible; increase transit to beaches, parks, and community facilities; and improve snow removal, among other things.
- Free transit for high school students: Students won’t just be riding the school bus for free anymore. Council approved an extended pilot program that’ll allow students in Grades 9 to 12 at four HRM schools to ride transit buses free of charge. The municipality hopes to eventually work out a funding agreement with the Halifax Regional Centre for Education and the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial (CSAP) , and extend the program to all HRM schools.
- Herring Cove Road plan update: The Herring Cove Road Functional Plan received council’s endorsement on Tuesday, giving staff the go-ahead to start buying the land needed to make it happen. The plan will add bus and bike lanes and improve pedestrian infrastructure on the road from Spryfield to the peninsula, as was recommended to council last month.
- No new disc golf course for Dartmouth … yet: A staff report says now’s not the time to create a new nine-hole disc golf course on municipal land next to the North Woodside Community Centre. Instead, it recommended continuing HRM’s own pilot program, setting up pop-up disc golf courses or single baskets at rec facilities to gauge public interest.
Woodford’s full summary has all the details you need on these stories, and a look at what staff reports Council is asking for: Should HRM put money toward a new rugby clubhouse in Spryfield? Can we make more affordable housing grant funding available? What about land for a new turnaround on Transit Route 55?
3. What does “Defund the Police” mean anyway? Have your say, Halifax
It became a rallying cry in 2020 following the deaths of a number of African-Americans at the hands of police: DEFUND THE POLICE.
But what does it mean? Should civilians deal with certain situations that have traditionally fallen to the police? Should funds be re-allocated to community programs rather than police budgets? Can police still provide adequate service with large budget cuts? Or should they receive more funding to do their jobs? What would it mean to abolish police budgets altogether? More broadly, how can we fund police so that they truly serving the public?
HRM wants to know.
The Committee to Define Defunding the Police, chaired by professor, activist, and Halifax Examiner contributor El Jones, launched the questionnaire on Tuesday.
“The committee is leading a variety of public engagement processes to fulfill its mandate. These processes include a questionnaire open to HRM residents that asks for their perspectives on the role of policing in their communities,” Jones wrote in a news release.
“Questionnaire responses will be kept strictly confidential and the results will not be used in any way that will allow anyone to identify respondents. The link to the questionnaire will be open until the end of June.”
The Committee to Define Defunding the Police is expected to give its final report by the end of July. There’s currently a review underway exploring alternatives to policing in HRM. The review, expected to be completed in December 2022, will take the defunding committee’s report into account.
Read Woodford’s full article here to find out how to take the public survey (it only takes about five minutes to fill out), and make sure your voice is heard in their final report, and in turn, in Halifax’s report on alternatives to policing.
4. HRM pilot project wants to help dog owners get their shit together
Through the pandemic, there’s been lots of talk about how our lives have changed: more video chats, more people working from home, more masks, etc. But one pandemic-related increase that doesn’t get a lot of play: more dog shit.
As more of us get outside to get our exercise in our well-ventilated, spaced out outdoor facilities, volunteers in HRM’s parks and trails are seeing more dogs out and about — and more of the by-products they leave behind. Although there are plenty of responsible dog owners who clean up after their animals, not everyone’s so thoughtful. Some people have their heart in the right place, leaving bags full of poop on the side of a trail with the intention of returning after their walk to throw it away, but ultimately forgetting. Others are just plain lazy and leave bags in the middle of trails, throw them in the woods or dump them in rivers, streams, and lakes. Some can’t even be bothered to bag it at all.
One local volunteer, Walter Regan, president of the Sackville Rivers Association, is once again raising the question that’s plagued man since a wolf first traded in his freedom for some food scraps and neck scratches. Says Regan:
How do you get people to physically pick up their pet waste and then deliver that to the proper receptacle?
Well, HRM is working on a solution to that problem. The municipality is looking to start a new pilot project to make it easier than ever to dispose of your dog’s waste properly. The project will see one park in the municipality get an increase in dog-waste receptacles, separate from regular trash or compost. This will make it easier for workers to sort dog feces from other trash, and empty the bags (which aren’t always as biodegradable as they claim to be) so that the waste can be composted and kept off our trails and public lawns. It’ll also divert a lot of improper waste from our landfills.
And that’s important. Excessive dog crap might seem like a silly or just plain disgusting issue, but it’s actually pretty serious.
Aside from the look, smell, and shoe-ruining potential, there are real health risks to leaving this waste lying around. If it runs into our lakes and becomes concentrated in our waters, it can be a real health risk — degrading our water quality, leading to more algae growth, and contaminating the clams we eat, among other things. So this new pilot project, if it takes off, might not just keep our public spaces cleaner, it could keep us healthier and safer.
To read more about the less-obvious harms of leaving your dog crap lying around for someone to step in, as well as how HRM’s new pilot project could help clean up our public trails, parks, and water, you can find Yvette d’Entremont’s full article on the subject here.
1. Buying the essentials depends on where you shop
This week my roommate ordered some clothes from a local shop to be delivered to him for a curb-side drop-off.
We were out on the deck when the proprietor, Alex Pearson, stopped by and we got to talking. He’d just moved from the South Shore with his partner, Margaret, relocating their second-hand clothing shop, Ametora Supply, to the Annapolis Valley. They’d only been open about two weeks at their new location when the new restrictions hit. He said it was only the latest business struggle he and his partner were going through during the pandemic.
In fact, Phillip Moscovitch had interviewed him for an Examiner article back in May of last year, when the couple’s landlord at their old Lunenburg location refused to apply for government rent relief, leaving them two months without income at that time, but still owing rent.
Here’s an excerpt from Moscovitch’s piece:
Pearson said he’s been described as “the denim whisperer” both for his ability to source vintage denim items and fit them well to customers. (He has a tattoo of a pair of jeans and the words “denim whisperer” on his right arm.) And because some of the clothes at Ametora Supply can date back decades, you can’t tell if they’ll fit by reading the sizing on the label. “Normally, if people need assistance trying to figure out their measurements, we can help them figure that out,” Kelly Pearson said. “Now, with social distancing, that’s really difficult.”
Now, with the new lockdown, the couple are forced to rely on deliveries to make sales.
I called Pearson yesterday and he said that Tuesday he’d driven around for eight hours to make just over $300 worth of deliveries. That’s after a half day prepping the orders on Monday.
It really shows the strain that provincial restrictions are putting on small business owners in this province.
There’s new relief being offered from the province, but as Jennifer Henderson reported last week, many feel it’s not enough:
Small businesses in Nova Scotia are also unhappy about the level of relief offered in either the provincial budget or through Small Business Impact assistance programs announced last week.
The new small business program offers a grant of up to a maximum of $5,000 to any businesses closed due to Public Health restrictions on all “non-essential” businesses since April 26.
Progressive Conservative Tim Halman, MLA for Dartmouth East, told the committee that he’s been hearing from many small businesses and business associations that say the grant isn’t nearly enough to help them survive the third wave.
The deputy minister of Inclusive Economic Growth (what used to be known as “Business”) acknowledged as much.
Pearson, for his part, says he and his partner, as sole proprietors of a clothing store, haven’t been eligible to receive any financial relief through the pandemic so far (they chose to stay closed during the initial lockdown for health and safety reasons).
But what really irks him, he says, is how clothing has been deemed non-essential, yet big box stores like Walmart can still technically sell jeans while he’s forced to remain closed.
I haven’t been out shopping in a few weeks, so I’d just assumed that all non-essential items had been off-limits to in-store shoppers since the province further tightened restrictions, asking people only to buy essential goods when going out to shop.
After talking to Pearson, I decided to go into my local neighbourhood Walmart to see what they’d done to rope off non-essential goods. It turns out, they hadn’t sectioned off these items. Instead, there were small signs over some of the clothes racks encouraging shoppers to stick to essential purchases. I didn’t see these signs over anything but clothing, and I only found them after specifically searching for them.
I also found out that the Mark’s Work Wearhouse next door was still open to in-store shopping. I called to ask what you could buy. They said only essential work clothes, which included t-shirts and button-ups, according to the clerk on the phone. You would think Pearson’s shop could open to the pubic if those items are deemed essential.
I get that most local businesses need to close in order to get us through what’s been the worst of this lockdown. From what I’ve read and business owners I’ve spoken with, most are in agreement about that. And there’s been a lot made about how it’s created a huge advantage for big box stores who essentially have a monopoly on in-store shopping these days. But it seems like a real gut-punch to our local business owners when they can’t sell their products in their shops, while a big store like Mark’s can sell “work” clothes on site, and department stores can continue to sell things other than groceries and other essential items.
If I can get books, bicycle equipment, and clothes all in one stop at Walmart, why should I go through the hassle of ordering these items online separately from local vendors?
The province has restricted these non-essential purchases, but passed the buck to big box stores to enforce these restrictions. Those stores have in turn passed the buck to the customer, who will likely take convenience — fair enough — over the desire to buy local and support community businesses.
Should we maybe — I can’t believe I’m saying this — follow Ontario’s lead on pandemic restrictions here? Big box stores have reportedly had to restrict non-essential products in their stores with blockades and roped-off areas.
Small business in Nova Scotia is going to take a hit through this lockdown no matter what, but are current restrictions, and lack of enforcement, putting them at an excessive disadvantage?
Bad Book Behaviour
Here’s one from the world of TikTok. I came across some “controversial” social media posts in a Yahoo article while I was checking my email the other day.
A young woman named Esme made two viral TikToks that showed the careless way she treats her books when reading them — cracking the spines, writing personal notes in them— and it led to some negative responses from many viewers (as of the time of this article, the two videos have over three million combined views). Some people felt physically uncomfortable watching her handle her books so recklessly. The Yahoo article quotes a few of those responses:
“Can you give us a reason why?” one user asked.
“This is a joke, right?” another added.
“It got worse and worse as it went on, I want to cry,” another wrote.
I didn’t realize so many people cared about keeping their books in excellent condition. After watching Esme’s videos, I didn’t see what most of the fuss was about. Maybe I’m a terrible, thoughtless book-owner.
I don’t actually own a lot of books. A little over half of the books I read are borrowed, most from the library, the rest from friends. But the books I do own, I beat to hell. It’s one of the simple joys of owning a copy of a book. Yes, there are some that I think look particularly pretty, or that I hold in the highest esteem, so I try to keep them in good shape, but most of them get banged up pretty badly in the reading process: coffee rings, steam damage from the bath, wrinkles, and tears from getting stuffed in my bicycle basket.
It’s one of the reasons I don’t own a Kindle.
To me, a book is like a baseball mitt. It needs to be broken in. Just like the dirt, scuffs, and tobacco juice that soften a glove and mold it to your hand, dog-ears, coffee rings, and spinal cracks all add to a book’s character. It shows it’s well-loved.
Admittedly, a pristine, unblemished book is infinitely better than a pristine, unmarked baseball glove.
I can look back at my books and the notes, stains, and tears in them, and remember train rides from Montreal to Moncton, peanut butter sandwiches from Rocky Mountain hikes, friends I met in hostels whose names I only remember because they’re written on the cover page of the book they passed on to me. So long as a book is in readable condition, that’s what matters right?
Anyway, I thought I’d do a quick rundown of this TikToker’s reading habits and see whether the backlash is warranted.
1. Using the opposite page as a coaster while reading.
I don’t use the pages as coasters like Esme does. It seems like a precarious place to put down your glass. I’d be more worried about my drink than the book. I do use my books as coasters though; I just use the covers, not the pages. The wood on a $200 oak table is worth more to me than the hardcover that protects my Complete Works of Shakespeare. The book doesn’t lose any beauty for having a coffee ring on it, but the table does.
I only use my own books as coasters though. (In all these instances, it should be assumed I’m talking about books I personally own). I once balanced a cup of tea on a roommate’s favourite novel and he almost had a brain aneurysm. I don’t remember what book, and I barely even remember the roommate, but the tea was Earl Grey as I recall, and it was quite refreshing.
2. Annotating in ink
Does this actually upset people? Is it controversial? I thought it was fairly common practice.
If you don’t mark up your book, how do you find your favourite passages and quotes? There’s even a word for it, for God’s sake: marginalia. But then, I suppose there’s a word for desecration too, so that doesn’t prove anything. Regardless, marginalia isn’t desecration, it’s enhancement.
3. Tearing off the corners at her favourite parts
I usually write the page numbers of all my favourite passages down on one of the blank pages at the start of the book. Seems less destructive and it’s easier to find things that way, in my opinion.
4. Taking notes on endpapers about non-book things
I do this all the time. Usually I write non-book-related notes in the pages of my book though, not at the end. I’ve often re-read passages in my books and found old day-plans, phone numbers and grocery lists in the margins. Sometimes I write down something of note that happened while I was reading that particular page.
5. Folding the page she’s on in half to keep her place
This, I don’t get. It seems like you could rip out pages accidentally doing this. Just dog ear it. Or use literally ANYTHING as a bookmark.
6. Intentionally cracking the spines
When I think about it, I do intentionally do this, but I haven’t really been conscious of it until now. It’s just so much easier to read when you fold the book in half, isn’t it?
I understand the risks though. My copy of A Tale of Two Cities has the final two pages sandwiched at the end like bookmarks. They fell out from my constant spine-cracking. In my opinion, they’re two of the finest closing pages in English literature, and I pray my carelessness doesn’t lead someone to make it all the way through the book only to find the ending missing. It would be a real literary sin, I admit.
But I won’t stop folding my books in half, sorry. They’re just easier to read that way.
7. Reading in the shower
This one, by far, got the strongest reaction.
And it is the one that makes the least sense to me. I mean, a book and a bath are the peanut butter and jam of relaxation. But a shower? Forget about keeping the book intact — which seems like it’d be next to impossible — it just seems like a hassle. You can’t use the soap, or touch anything while you’re reading. You have to be at the same, book-protecting angle at all times. You’re only gonna be in there for five to 10 minutes anyway. What’s the point?
Also, for me, there are only really two times I take showers: when I wake up first thing, or when I’ve just had an exhausting, sweaty workout. In both cases, I don’t have the mental energy to focus on a book.
What’s wrong with singing? It’s tried and true.
8. Tossing the dust jackets
Here’s one I can get behind, though I can see how it’s controversial. Like Esme, I often feel a hardcover without a book jacket just looks nicer. It’s more refined. A dust jacket can really gild the lily sometimes.
I even ripped the cover off a paperback once because I thought it was so ugly. It was an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel I found in my building’s laundry room (it was a makeshift library; I didn’t steal it). I started reading it while waiting for my cycle to finish, then carried it out, but I was too embarrassed to be seen reading it. It looked like a Harlequin romance, so I ripped it off for my own self respect and wrote “THE BEAUTIFUL AND DAMNED” on the blank page at the front instead. You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but you can judge a book cover by its cover; don’t forget that.
But more than looks, I just find dust jackets annoying. They tend to slide around when I’m reading. They rip, wrinkle, and just get in the way sometimes. It’s not a huge annoyance, but it’s enough of one that I don’t care if they go.
9 . Writing to-do list on hardcovers
My to-do lists, as previously mentioned, go on the inside of my books.
In conclusion, books weren’t made to be destroyed, but that doesn’t mean it’s essential they remain pristine. So long as you can still read the thing after you’re done with it, I say read it whatever way you want.
My neighbour moved out of town last week and, to lighten his load, he dropped off a box of books for me. I thought I’d end this section with my to-do list for today, written in one of those books, just to prove I’m all for marking up your texts.
Audit and Finance Standing Committee (Wednesday, 10am) — livestreamed on YouTube
Community Planning and Economic Development Standing Committee (Thursday, 10am) — virtual meeting
Active Transportation Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4:30) — virtual meeting
Youth Advisory Committee (Thursday, 5pm) — livestreamed on YouTube
Harbour East – Marine Drive Community Council (Thursday, 6pm) — livestreamed on YouTube, with live captioning on a text-only site
Caregiver Support Group (Wednesday, 12pm) — online meeting
Care Options for Older Adults (Wednesday, 1pm) — online presentation:
As our population ages, many of us are faced with trying to navigate services and programs for an aging loved one or member of our community. This presentation will help you understand, navigate and access the options for senior care that are available through government programs, community resources, and private companies. This webinar will include an overview of Continuing Care Programs; public and private home-care options; public and private long-term care and assisted living; and planning for staying at home.
Open Dialogue Live: Climate Law & Human Rights (Wednesday, 6:30pm) — Sara Seck from the Schulich School of Law will talk:
Climate change is happening now. While careful planning for adaptation to climate change can reduce harm, there are increasing examples of climate loss and damage to people and planet both in Canada and around the globe. How can climate law and human rights approaches to litigation help to reduce and remedy climate harms for present and future generations to come?
Visitation Policies During COVID‑19: A JBI gLOCAL Solution Room Event (Thursday, 10am) — online seminar:
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, significant changes have been implemented in policies around in-person visits to both acute and long-term care settings. Given the rapidly changing nature of the pandemic, the decision-making around adapting current visiting guidelines or creating new ones becomes a complex process.
As part of the global JBI Collaboration, the Dalhousie and UNB Saint John JBI Centres of Excellence are pleased to co-host the JBI gLOCAL Solution Room: Global Evidence, Local Decisions on the topic of Visitation Policies in Acute Care and Long-Term Care Settings During COVID-19, as it relates to the implementation of evidence at the point of care.
Unpacking the Term ‘Asian’: Challenges and Solidarities (Wednesday, 5:30pm) — virtual roundtable event
features faculty, students, and community members exploring what it means to be “Asian” at this moment, in Canada, and in the world. Panelists will discuss some of the ways that this general term might obscure the many kinds of conflicts and differences within and among South, Southeast, East Asian, and Pacific Islander communities. The panel will also explore the kinds of solidarities and coalitions that are possible among Asians and with other communities. These issues are especially important as we witness the rise of anti-Asian racism and violence in connection with COVID-19 in Canada and the US.
Panel includes Bethany M. Iyoupe, Sailaja Krishnamurti, Nick Dzuy ‘GenNew” Nguyen, and Xiaoping Sun, with moderator Rohini Bannerjee.
In the harbour
05:30: MSC Alyssa, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for Les Escoumins, Quebec
05:30: Tannhauser, car carrier, moves from Autoport to Pier 31
06:00: Maersk Patras, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Rotterdam
10:00: One Maxim, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
12:00: Maersk Patras sails for Montreal
18:00: Tannhauser sails for sea
19:00: Asterix, replenishment vessel, arrives at Dockyard from sea
06:30: Kashima Maru, bulker, moves from Port Hawkesbury anchorage to Canso
07:30: Thunder Bay, bulker, sails from Aulds Cove quarry for sea
17:00: Kyrakatingo, oil tanker, sails from Point Tupper for sea
- I went camping in the backwoods a few miles from my house this weekend. First time this year. I can confirm that deer ticks are still alive and well in this province.
- I don’t treat the books I borrow like the books I own. If you lend it, it’ll be returned in the exact same condition. Don’t be a book hog.
- ICYMI: Last week Morgan Mullin shared what she misses most about live music. As the Arts and Entertainment editor at the Coast, there can’t be many Haligonians who miss it more than she does. On her list: the grime at Gus’s, dancing to the Mellotones at Bearly’s, maneuvering through the narrow maze to the back bathrooms at the Carleton.
- Top of my list: Thursdays at top floor of the Library Pub in Wolfville, the antithesis of pandemic-life. Fifty people crammed into a bar the size of a kitchen, where each table was a part of the one next to it and the crowd was as much a part of the show as whoever was playing in the corner. I also just miss crowds in general.
- Since the start of the pandemic, I’ve seen the increase in dog crap firsthand. Twice in the last six months, a dog has pooped on the floor in my house. Normally I go a full year without that happening, so this is a huge spike for me. And the owner didn’t clean up either mess. Maybe I should get my own pilot project for the house, or at least some increased signage.
- People shouldn’t refer to dogs as “fur babies.” I’m staunchly against it.
- I always thought it strange that some people use plastic bags to throw away dog poop. You’re sealing something perfectly natural and biodegradable in something that will take forever to break down.
- To borrow from a favourite old Onion video of mine, I only bought groceries at Walmart this week because I wanted to go check out their signage for this article. I don’t normally shop there.
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