1. Environment minister: Atlantic Gold expansion needs further review before approval

Touquoy gold mine at Moose River. Photo courtesy Raymond Plourde/ Ecology Action Centre

Yesterday, Jennifer Henderson brought us the latest in the ongoing Atlantic Gold saga:

“[On Wednesday] Tim Halman, Nova Scotia’s new Minister of Environment and Climate Change, released a decision that rejected proposed modifications to Atlantic Gold’s Touquoy gold mine at Moose River in the Halifax Regional Municipality.”

As Henderson reports, those proposed modifications include “using the depleted Touquoy open pit to deposit mine tailings, expanding the storage area for waste rock and clay removal, and realigning the road used to access the mill facility and offices.” The proposed project modifications would add 18 hectares to the approximately 271 hectares of land already approved for the existing mining development.

The company currently has three other mines planned for the Eastern Shore — Beaver Dam, Fifteen Mine Stream, and Cochrane Hill near Sherbrooke. Atlantic Mining NS — a subsidiary of Atlantic Gold, which is itself owned by the Australian company St Barbara Ltd — would plan to truck crushed ore from these three potential mines to Moose River for processing, meaning more tailings requiring storage at the Touquoy site. If the project modifications are approved, the company planned to start depositing tailings in Touquoy’s depleted open pit in 2022, stopping whenever the gold mine is no longer producing. The company would also immediately begin realigning the access road to the mill facility and offices, as well as expanding the storage area for waste rock and clay removal.

So why did the province reject the initial modifications proposed by this Australian-owned company that didn’t pay the province a dollar in taxes over three years and is currently facing three charges under the federal Fisheries Act and 32 charges under the NS Environment Act?

Read Henderson’s full article for Atlantic Gold’s response to the minister’s decision and to see the list of specific tasks and requirements the province has directed Atlantic Mining NS to fulfil over the next year if it wants to expand its project.

The Examiner has reported extensively on Atlantic Gold’s operations in Nova Scotia these past few years. Click here to peruse some of our past articles on the subject, and get caught up with the strange rollercoaster ride that this story has been. If this is the type of reporting you’d consider supporting, you can do so by subscribing or donating to the Halifax Examiner.

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2. PRICED OUT: Can I have my damage deposit back, please?

A collage of various housing options in HRM, including co-ops, apartment buildings, shelters, and tents
Credit: Halifax Examiner. All rights reserved.

This piece is part of the Examiner’s new ongoing project investigating the housing crisis in Nova Scotia: PRICED OUT.

You can learn about the project, including how we’re asking readers to direct our reporting, our published articles, and what we’re working on, on the PRICED OUT homepage.

You paid your rent on time every month. You kept your apartment tidy and respectable. And when you moved out, you gave the place a good scrub and left in good shape. Maybe there’s a little wear and tear from general living — some faded paint, some small scratches on the floor — but otherwise, you’ve left it in a state your mother would be proud of.

Then you move out and the landlord says they need to hold on to half your damage deposit because the walls need to be repainted, a bulb is burnt out, and there’s dust on the windowsills.

Now you find yourself in the middle of a move, maybe to another city, and you’ve got to put more energy into getting your money back by making multiple phone calls and sending emails every day. You decide it’s not worth the hassle. Better to just eat the money. A renter and their money are soon parted, as the saying goes. What can you do, right?

Turns out, there actually is something you can do. And some landlords are banking that you don’t know this. Or they’re at least hoping you can’t be bothered to go through the trouble of appealing.

In his article, Nickle and dimed: How landlords skirt the law to hang onto damage deposits, Philip Moscovitch speaks with two renters about their experiences fighting to get their deposits back from unreasonable landlords.

Aside from telling the (incredibly frustrating) story of these two renters, Moscovitch also breaks down renters’ rights here and around the country when it comes to damage deposits. And he speaks with a current landlord and an online renters’ advocate about what tenants should be aware of when asking for their deposit back.

Whether or not the current system is doing its job of protecting tenants from unjustly losing damage deposits, the fact remains that knowing your rights as a renter is your best defence against unfairly forfeiting your deposit. Knowing your rights is actually probably the best defence against any unscrupulous dealings your landlord might try.

So get informed and get empowered — and maybe a little infuriated — by reading all you need to know about damage deposits, the ways some landlords try to hold on to them without cause, and what you can do to make sure that doesn’t happen. It’s all in Moscovitch’s latest article from Thursday, which you can find in full right here.

And we’re also hosting a community session in Lower Sackville on Thursday, Sept. 23 to hear your stories and ideas for our series PRICED OUT. Suzanne Rent will be hosting the event and you can register here. 

You can always call or text our PRICED OUT message line at 1-819-803-6215 or email

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3. Public input sessions on April 2020 mass shooting to begin in October

Commission investigators take video evidence in Portapique. Photo: Mass Casualty Commission

“Public hearings into the worst modern mass shooting in Canada will begin October 26,” writes Jennifer Henderson this morning.

The hearings will be broadcast live from the Halifax Convention Centre. The Mass Casualty Commission organizing the investigation and response to a rampage that began April 18, 2020 in Portapique and took the lives of 22 people and left dozens more physically and emotionally damaged updated journalists at a virtual news conference Thursday afternoon.

J. Michael MacDonald, the chair of the commission and the retired Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, said the commission is “on track” to deliver its final report in November 2022. An interim report will be released next May.

The public inquiry will be broken down into three phases. Read the full article here to see what those phases will look like, and to examine just how public this public inquiry might be.

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4. Councillors react to RCMP’s decision not to apologize for street checks

Halifax regional councillors Lisa Blackburn, Sam Austin, Shawn Cleary, and Pamela Lovelace.

On Wednesday, the CBC reported that the RCMP won’t be apologizing to Nova Scotia’s Black community for the use of street checks, as the Halifax Regional Police did in 2019, the same year the practice was officially banned (though whether the apology meant anything, or if the ban has really been effective, is something Examiner writers have questioned in the past).

In light of the report on the RCMP’s decision not to apologize, Matthew Byard, who covers stories in African Nova Scotian communities for the Examiner, reached out to multiple HRM councillors to hear their response.

Click on the link here to see what Councillors Lisa Blackburn, Shawn Cleary, Sam Austin, and Pam Lovelace have to say about the RCMP decision.

5. Some upset new African Nova Scotian flag created without consultation

Wendie L. Wilson poses next to the flag she designed to represent Black/African Nova Scotians. Photo: Wendie L. Wilson.

Matthew Byard has one more story for us this morning.

In February, a new African Nova Scotian flag — designed by Black educator Wendie Wilson — was unveiled at a ceremony at the Black Cultural Centre in Cherrybrook during Nova Scotia’s African Heritage Month. You might remember seeing it hung from the top of the Macdonald Bridge earlier this year on the first federally recognized Emancipation Day.

The flag was created as the official African Nova Scotian flag. But that was news to a number of people in the province’s Black community. Now, some are voicing their displeasure that a flag representing their community was created without the input of that community.

You can read some of the backlash and concern in Byard’s full article here, but I’ll leave flag creator Wendie Wilson’s response to it below:

“I’m a citizen. And I’m a member of the African Nova Scotian community and so has my family been for generations. And I created this flag because I saw a need, and if there was another flag out there I probably would have defaulted to that, but there wasn’t one that described and represented us as a very unique cultural group. So I created it.”

Click here to read Byard’s story.

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6. The development on the old Mills Brothers building site has been approved. But what does that mean for the committee that approved it?

A rendering of the proposal from Mills Company Holdings Ltd. for the former Mills Brothers building on Spring Garden Road. This rendering shows the view from the corner of Spring Garden Road and Queen Street. — HRM/WSP/DSRA Architecture/Zeidler Architecture Inc.

On Thursday, as Zane Woodford reports, the developers replacing the old Mill Brothers building on Spring Garden got approval for their project — even though the parking garage is already under construction — from Halifax’s Design Review Committee.

It will be eight storeys tall with 216 residential units, a ground floor for commercial space, and two levels of underground parking. The developers requested five variances from the guidelines in the city’s Downtown Halifax Land-use Bylaw, which city planner Paul Sampson was in favour of. So was the Design Review Committee, for the most part.

Read all about the interesting questions yesterday’s meeting raised regarding the power of the Halifax Design Committee in Zane Woodford’s story from this morning.

This piece is for subscribers only. Just in case you didn’t see my prompt earlier, you can subscribe to the Halifax Examiner right here!

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7. COVID update: 17 new cases

Photo: Martin Sanchez/Unsplash

There were 17 new cases of COVID-19 announced in Nova Scotia on Thursday, bringing the total to 74 known active cases in the province. Here’s the breakdown of those cases:

• 10 are in Nova Scotia Health’s Central Zone — eight are  close contacts of previously announced cases, one is related to travel, and one is under investigation
• 5 are in the Northern Zone — all are close contacts
• 1 is in the Western Zone and is a close contact
• 1 is in the Eastern Zone and is related to travel

With phase 5 on the way next week, 72% of Nova Scotia’s entire population is now fully vaccinated.

For the rest of your daily pandemic news, head to Tim Bousquet’s full Thursday COVID report and get the regular roundup on vaccination numbers, testing sites, potential exposure advisories, and case demographics.

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Keeping vigil for peace

The Wolfville Peace Vigil meets on a Saturday in June 2019. They’ve met every Saturday since October 2001. Photo: Twitter/@DevetRobert

If you’ve walked through Wolfville or crawled through its horribly inefficient four-way stop on Main Street, on your way to the Wolfville Farmers’ Market on Saturday morning any time in the past 20 years, it’s likely you might have noticed a small group of people by the post office, standing silently and holding banners and signs with messages of peace.

It looks like a protest, but you might be a little confused about just what they’re protesting.

In a way, they’re protesting war. But more than that, they’re promoting peace, and the idea that there’s a different way of doing things.

They’re the Wolfville Peace Vigil, an informal group of community members who first got together in October 2001 to promote a peaceful response to the September 11 attacks.

It might be a bit naive. What does a small group of rural Nova Scotians really accomplish by gathering for an hour every week to ask us to “give peace a chance?” Then again, it might’ve been a bit naive to think an armed insurrection could bring peace and stability to a country with its own unique culture and customs. Two decades after the war in Afghanistan started, all Western troops have reportedly left the country, giving up the cause. The Wolfville Peace Vigil, who started gathering one week after that war began, are still meeting every week.

I spoke with David Mangle on the phone this week, one of the vigil’s founders, and a member of the “core four” who show up pretty well every week. (The other three are Franklin Wilson, Tony Napoli, and David Daniels, who apparently supplies the morale-lifting jokes each week). Mangle told me the group started as an ad hoc way to protest armed conflict and promote peaceful negotiations and solutions to the world’s problems. It wasn’t intended to go on every week, but it has.

Mangle who was 51 when the vigil started, will turn 71 in October. In the time between those two birthdays, he and the group have created their own little community, not only passing the time with countless conversations with passers by about the fruitless nature of war and the potential for peace, but also cracking jokes, discussing language, and sharing coffee and donuts brought to them by generous townsfolk on those cold winter Saturdays. Mangle says the crowd is usually bigger when the weather gets bad; he thinks people don’t like to see them suffering alone in the cold. They’ve become a small family in a way, asking about each other when one doesn’t show up, sharing stories from the week, and enjoying some lighthearted conversation along with weightier discussions. It’s heartening to see it still going.

The legacy of 9/11 hasn’t been full of positives, if you’ll excuse my obvious understatement. There were good stories to come out of that tragedy: the heroism of first responders, the life-saving bravery of the United 93 passengers, the hospitality of the people of Gander toward stranded travellers, and so on.

But when I think of 9/11, aside from the horror of that day, I think of closed circuit cameras on every block. I think of the erosion of privacy online and on the phone. I think of increased security and assumed hostility at every airport, stadium and monument you visit. I remember going to the New York Public Library’s main branch a couple years ago to spend some time while I was waiting for a bus. I had to wait in a long line, then go through security to get in. When I asked one of the guards why they’d made a public library so inaccessible, he just said something to the effect of, “this is the way the world works now.”

The Wolfville Peace Vigil is a reminder that the legacy of those attacks hasn’t only been war, mistrust, Islamaphobia, and the loss of privacy. There’s also a legacy of a small group of people who’ve become a close knit crew. Gathering like clockwork to spread a message of peace, but also just to spend time with friends. To be at peace and ease themselves. It all starts at home, right?

Simple as their message and its delivery might be, they’ve outlasted two wars that sprung from the same tragedy that inspired them to start gathering in the first place. I think there’s something to be said for that.

And I don’t think they’ll stop anytime soon.

“There doesn’t seem to be a single Saturday that some folks don’t come up and talk with us,” Mangle told me. “When you get people who are deep thinkers and deep feelers, who have a real sense of being grounded on this earth, you get to have some great conversations. We also have some great laughs.”

“When somebody comes up to talk to us — often times it’s an adult with a child. The child will say, ‘what are you doing over there?’ The parent will bring them over and we’ll have a chat. It’s often quite tender. It’s good. That’s what keeps us coming back. We like each other’s company and we like engaging with people. To talk to them about what we feel is important.”

Here’s to another 20 years of promoting peace.

Happy Friday, Halifax

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The Canadian, Cooperstown, and SpongeBob SquarePants

Larry Walker, my childhood baseball hero, was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown Wednesday.

When I started playing ball, Walker was one of the rare Canadians playing in the Major Leagues. More than that, he was one of the best hitters in the game. One of the best baserunners in the game. One of the best fielders in the game. And had one of the best arms in the game. It was an inspiration to see a compatriot excelling at the highest level. It gave me hope that I could make it too. (Spoiler alert: I didn’t make it).

Plus a former Montreal Expo! My favourite team (for some reason) as a kid. Unfortunately I’m too young to remember him playing for the team, but not young enough to forget the dismal final years of that franchise — but I digress.

When he was inducted on Wednesday, he wore a small SpongeBob SquarePants pin on his lapel, which became the subject of articles from both ESPN and Sports Illustrated.

When SpongeBob SquarePants and Larry Walker collide into one story — no matter how frivolous and un-newsworthy that story might be — I owe it to my eight-year-old self to share it.

A tweet that says Larry Walker making his love of Spongebob one of the most prominent parts of Hall-of-Fame induction is the crossover event and recurring bit that I never knew I needed.

As you can see, Walker was also wearing a SpongeBob shirt — perhaps the greatest shirt of the 2000s so far — when he received the call from the Baseball Hall of Fame earlier this year.

So why did he wear all that SpongeBob paraphernalia? What is the Walker/SpongeBob connection? Is his neighbour a squid or his best friend a star fish? I have no idea. And neither article discusses the reasoning for the attire.

I don’t really care what the reason is either. It just made me smile.

You know what made me smile even more? That garish — garishly beautiful? — SpongeBob shirt he wore back in January is now hanging in the Baseball Hall of Fame, somewhere between Babe Ruth’s uniform and Ted Williams’ bat. I thought I was satisfied with one trip to Cooperstown in my life, but clearly I need to go back.

SpongeBob aside, let me finish with a clip of Walker from his playing days, to showcase the real reason he made it into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Here he is showing off the arm that made him one of baseball’s great right fielders, throwing out a baserunner — fellow hall-of-famer Tony Fernandez — at first base from the outfield. It’s something he did an astounding four times in his career.

Hats off on the induction, Larry. Well deserved.

YouTube video

P.S. The commentators were unbelievably unenthusiastic on this call. This is one of the rarest plays in baseball. No coffee that day? I don’t get it.

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No meetings

On campus

No events

In the harbour

05:00: Hella, container ship, arrives at anchorage from Thames, England
07:00: CMA CGM Mexico, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for New York
08:00: ZIM Luanda, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
09:00: Atlantic Condor, offshore supply ship, arrives at IEL from sea
09:00: Hella moves to Fairview Cove
10:00: Hyundai Faith, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
17:00: Selfoss, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Portland
17:30: ZIM Luanda sails for New York
19:30: Hella sails for sea
23:45: Selfoss sails for Reykjavik, Iceland

Cape Breton
11:00: Pacific Diamond, oil tanker, arrives at Point Tupper from Ras Lanuf, Libya
11:00: Paul A. Desgagnes, oil tanker, arrives at Government Wharf (Sydney) from Quebec City
18:00: Paul A. Desgagnes sails for sea


  • I unfortunately wasn’t able to make it to the vigil this past Saturday, so I wasn’t able to take an updated photo of the group. The shot I used is from 2019, just in case you were wondering about their lack of masks or distancing.
  • I started writing this in Nova Scotia and I finished it in Newfoundland. I know I’m still on Atlantic Time internally right now so it doesn’t really matter, but it was so satisfying to wake up at 5 instead of 4:30 this morning.
  • I lived in St. John’s for a short time as an undergrad, renting a unit in a duplex with four others. (I walked by it yesterday, actually). Near the end of our lease, one roommate accidentally elbowed a hole in our kitchen wall while telling a story and we just used a large photo of Paul McCartney to cover it up — “fixing” a hole where the rain gets in… We did not get our damage deposit back. Nor did we feel the need to argue that one.
  • I lived almost right next to the Mills Brothers building last year. I used to use the RBC cash machine in the Queen Street vestibule all the time. As you can see, my personal history with that building is rich. I’ll cherish the memory of those withdrawals forever now — almost as much as I’ll cherish the deposits.
  • Watching old Larry Walker clips this week was a real treat. I’d forgotten he lost the Lou Marsh Award for Canadian athlete of the year to F1 driver Jacques Villeneuve in 1997. It was the year Walker became the first Canadian to win Most Valuable Player in the major leagues. The decision prompted Walker’s famous reaction: “I lost to a car.”
  • The kid is in the final! She’s playing at the highest level despite being only 19. And she already has the best single fist-pump celebration in the game today. Exciting time for Canadian tennis.

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Ethan Lycan-Lang is a Morning File regular, and also writes about environmental issues, poverty, justice, and the rights of the unhoused. He's currently on hiatus in the Yukon, writing for the Whitehorse...

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  1. I had an old landlord who was great until we moved out. He kept the damage deposit claiming that we didn’t get the carpets cleaned (we had it professionally done with receipt), repainting, and that we stole a plumbing fitting from under the kitchen sink. We approached him in person about it, trying to be reasonable, and he laughed at us. We took him to the tenancies board, who had a file on him, and won.
    He then called us the night of the deadline for him to appeal the decision. He told us that he is going to appeal and if he loses will force us to take him to small claims court. He will also force us to hire a sheriff to serve the papers. His proposal to us was that he would offer us our deposit back minus the $70 it would cost us to serve him the paperwork. We accepted that offer and got our money back that night to make it go away as this had been months. He knew exactly what he was doing.

  2. On Walker “losing to a car”, he lost to a CART champion, Indy 500 winner, and F1 driver that nearly won on debut barring an oil leak, and won the F1 championship in his second year beating Michael Schumacher! 🙂

  3. Re damage deposits: it was ever thus, everywhere. We rented a house in England for a year. On the first day, we rolled up a ratty rug and stored it in a dry place. On the last day, we put the rug back. The landlord claimed we had “ruined” the rug and tried to keep the entire damage deposit. We fought it and won.

  4. I don’t know how big your damage deposit was, but the idea that it costs half a months rent to fix a small hole in the drywall is questionable.

    1. I once had a landlord take time off work to come to a Residential Tenancies Board hearing because he wanted to keep my damage deposit. He claimed I took the curtain rods and ice cube trays. He wasn’t planning on me bringing photos of my housewarming get-together, which showed the curtain-less windows — because there weren’t any curtain rods. The judge took my word on the ice cube trays.

      1. One piece of important tenant information that I SWEAR I saw once was a table of how many years common fixtures and surfaces in apartments are amortized over. The idea being that if a tenant destroys the flooring, and the flooring is halfway through its expected life, the landlord can only sue the tenant for half the value of the floors.