News

1. The Harvest Plans Map Viewer, and other attempts at “transparency” in Nova Scotia’s forestry

A 2018 WestFor clearcut inside the Tobeatic Wildlife Management Area. Photo: Linda Pannozzo

Here’s a story from Joan Baxter’s continuing coverage of natural resource extraction in this province.

In today’s article, Baxter delves into the lack of transparency surrounding the management of Crown land forests in this province.

She speaks with a man who was barred from seeing certain portions of an online meeting for forestry stakeholders in the province’s western region. She also looks at the changing backstory of WestFor, a consortium of mills that the government granted a lease to so they could manage some of the government-owned forest.

But mostly, she focuses on the Harvest Plans Map Viewer. It’s a tool meant to show the public what’s being planned with forests in the province. If there’s a plan to cut some trees, the online tool is meant to show where and what the project will be, and then give the public 40 days to respond with feedback.

Nova Scotia Harvest Plans Map Viewer

It’s a way for forestry practices to remain transparent. But how transparent is the tool? 

Is 40 days enough time to give adequate feedback? How can the public give informed opinions about planned cuts when they essentially have to go to the site and do their own survey to get the info they need? Does the map actually tell you when land has been slated for a “clearcut,” or does it use obfuscating jargon like “variable retention” or “overstay removal” to hide the true nature of planned “extraction”? Does the map even work unless you have top-rate internet? 

And, after all that, how much influence does the public’s feedback have on how land — that is essentially a public asset — is managed in their own province?

As always, Baxter gets the comprehensive story, researching all angles so we can get the best idea of what’s going on. If you want to know how our forests are being managed, and what kind of job the government and private interests are doing to keep us “informed,” go beyond the Morning File and read the full article here.

It seems there are only two ways any light gets shed on the forestry industry in Nova Scotia. When clearcutting sheds light on the forest floor, and when reporters like Joan Baxter put in the work and dig up the full story for us.

This one’s behind the paywall, but you can support and read this kind of reporting by subscribing to the Halifax Examiner here.

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2. Dartmouth developments

A rendering of the building proposed for the corner of Wyse Road and Pelzant Street in Dartmouth. — Photo: HRM/Parsco

Zane Woodford reports that HRM’s Design Advisory Committee has recommended in favour of one Dartmouth development, but will defer on another for the time being.

After a few amendments, the committee unanimously passed a design for a proposed nine-storey, 61-unit building on the corner of Pleasant and Chadwick Streets. The property owner wasn’t listed in the documents put before the committee, but it’s likely M&K Golden Inc., owned by Joseph Sadek, a Dartmouth doctor.

The committee decided to defer on an eight-storey, 113-unit residential building proposed for the corner of Wyse Road and Pelzant Street in Dartmouth:

“The Design Advisory Committee was tasked with evaluating the qualitative elements of the proposed building, but it couldn’t get past the renderings.

Those drawings, meant to help viewers visualize the finished product, didn’t match up with the more precise elevation drawings. Specifically, there was less detail in the colours and materials used on the upper floors in the renderings.

The municipality’s planners said it doesn’t matter to them, but it didn’t sit well with the committee, which voted to defer a vote recommending one way or the other until the developer came back with more accurate renderings.”

To read more about what might be built in your community, and what it could all look like, head to Woodford’s full article from this morning.

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3. COVID-19 Update

Photo: Ivan Diaz/Unsplash

I can’t remember the last time I put Tim Bousquet’s COVID-19 roundup outside the top spot. It’s pleasantly refreshing.

But we’re still in this thing, so let’s get to it.

There were 13 new cases of COVID-19 announced in Nova Scotia Wednesday — seven in the Central Zone and six in the Eastern Zone.

There was also a school-connected case at Citadel High that wasn’t identified until after those 13 cases were announced, bringing the total to 14. The person was not at school yesterday and Citadel will be closed until Monday.

This all brings the total number of known active cases in Nova Scotia to 164. There are currently 15 people in hospital with the virus, seven of whom are in intensive care. Twenty people were considered recovered Wednesday.

Below is Tim Bousquet’s potential COVID exposure map for Nova Scotia:

Here’s the daily new case numbers and the seven-day rolling averages (at 16.3 Wednesday) since March 28, the last day Nova Scotia had zero new daily cases.

For more details on vaccination news, demographics of current cases, potential exposure advisories, testing numbers and locations, head to Tim Bousquet’s full COVID-19 report from Wednesday. And see this link to Bousquet’s ongoing compilation of answers to frequently asked questions about all things COVID. And this link for potential exposure advisories on bus routes and flights.

With regards to the pandemic in this province, there’s not much else to report from Wednesday. The less pandemic news I have to relay, the better, I say.

The Halifax Examiner is providing all COVID-19 coverage for free. Please help us continue this coverage by subscribing or donating.

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4. The Tideline: Episode 32, Rich Aucoin and Like a Motorcycle

Rich Aucoin, top, and Like a Motorcycle are multiple nominees at this year’s ECMAs.

The East Coast Music Awards kick off today, so in this week’s episode of The Tideline, Tara Thorne chats with Rich Aucoin and Like a Motorcycle, who both have multiple nods in this year’s event. They talk with Thorne about their plans for the ECMAs, but also getting back to live performances this fall and other big projects.

Listen to Episode 32 here. It’s free now, so share with friends and fans.

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5. Grand Lake water supply under investigation for contamination; Halifax Water says its tap water remains safe for consumption

Halifax Water’s headquarters in Cowie Hill. Photo: Zane Woodford

In the wee hours of the morning, the province issued an emergency alert informing HRM residents who draw water directly from Grand Lake that the water might be contaminated, following multiple animal deaths and the hospitalization of one person.

June 10, 2021 (2:50 a.m.) – Residents who received the emergency alert below should follow precautions as described, most importantly those who draw water directly from Grand Lake. There is no current known risk to our East Hants Water Utility customers. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/dp8E152DhL

— East Hants Municipality (@EastHantsNS) June 10, 2021

Halifax Water issued a statement later in the morning, saying the majority of HRM does not draw water from Grand Lake and tap water remains safe for most of the municipality:

Halifax Water wishes to inform our tap water customers that their water continues to be safe for normal use and consumption. Halifax Water operates three small water systems within the same watershed as Grand Lake: Bomont, Collins Park, and Bennery Lake. None of these systems draw water from Grand Lake. Halifax Water tap water remains safe for normal use and consumption throughout HRM.

Halifax Water monitors the quality of the water in its systems and has not detected anything outside of normal safe drinking water limits.

Those who get their water from Grand Lake have been told not to use water to drink (even if boiled), cook, boat or swim (pets included) until further notified.

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6. Atlantic University Sport plans for full return this fall

Photo: Atlantic University Sport

Rebecca Lau at Global News Halifax reports that after a year off from regular university sport, the AUS is planning to return to a full regular season of sports this fall.

“Regular season competition and exhibition games will begin in September with football, soccer, rugby, and cross country.

The AUS hopes to release the 2021-22 schedules, as well as fall and winter championship dates and hosts, next week.

The Return-to-Play Committee — which consists of an athletic director from each of the four Atlantic provinces, along with two representatives from the AUS conference office — developed a framework for a safe and viable return to competition.

Planning includes guidelines for participants and facilities, travel considerations, risk mitigation and contingency plans during the pandemic.

The AUS points out that the most current public health directives will always determine how the season goes, and that any planned competition may be altered or cancelled in the event of a new or worsening outbreak of COVID-19.”

I was covering the CIS national university hockey championships at the former Metro Centre for the Dalhousie Gazette when Nova Scotia started locking down. I remember being in a crowded elevator — so strange to think about now — with some other reporters and rink staff at the end of Friday’s games and we were having some light-hearted banter, joking about whether the whole tournament would be played with this new “coronavirus” swirling around. The next day, it didn’t seem so funny. The tournament was cancelled and I realized the pandemic was here now.

So seeing university sport back in action will really be a full-circle moment for me.

As for the students, so long as they’re safe, it’ll be great for them to get back out playing after what was essentially a lost season in a very brief university athletic career.

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Views

Life after lockdown: where does the time go?

Look at the hill we’ve just climbed and, more importantly, descended:

Chart tracking total known active cases in NS through the third wave of the pandemic. Photo: Tim Bousquet

With the third wave on the wane, vaccines rolling out, restrictions slowly lightening, it seems (hopefully) that the world as it is could become the world as it was before the year’s out. Are we ready to return to a society where germs, human contact, and close physical proximity are acceptable again?

Earlier this week, fellow Morning Filer Suzanne Rent asked social media what shouldn’t go back to “normal” after the pandemic.

She got some great responses — some thought masks during flu season should stay, others liked one-way grocery aisles and curbside pickup. Some even hoped we could continue to stay six feet apart after all this, as if we haven’t been isolated from each other for 15 months. To each their own, I suppose.

It’s really interesting reading what different people liked about the changes we’ve made in the name of public health, and how they could continue to benefit us after the pandemic. It’s just as enjoyable reading what people disliked — perhaps “hated” is a more appropriate word — about life in lockdown. (In two Morning Files, I’ve already given my views on masks and handshakes after things go “back to normal”).

Check out Rent’s piece here if you missed it, and see what changes you agree should stay — and what you hope to God goes away and never comes back.

For my part, the piece got me thinking about what I might miss about the way we’ve lived through the pandemic.

I’m going to assume the answer to that question for most people is nothing. People have died, families and friends have been isolated from one another, businesses have suffered, and life has had a hundred little inconveniences and extra steps added to it with public health restrictions.

But there is one thing I’ll miss. One thing we likely won’t be able to carry over to a post-pandemic world:

Time.

Photo: Ocean Ng/Unsplash

Now, some of us have been busier than ever since the world shut down: frontline workers, parents, and editors of online news publications, to name a few. The first few months of my pandemic consisted of 12-hour shifts at a shelter, bicycle rides, and time spent in my apartment to limit spreading anything to and from anyone at work.

But I know that many of us saw our schedules free up enormously during the pandemic. I did after my first layoff. We no longer had to sit in traffic for an hour each day. Working from home made some of our hours more flexible, and business shutdowns meant some of us now had whole days freed up.

The extra time could be overwhelming. Having too much time with too little to do was a reality of quarantine. Feelings of cabin fever, depression, and other mental health stresses increased. Even though little goes on in limbo, it can be pretty draining.

Personally, I had days where I stayed in my PJs doing nothing all day, unable to motivate myself to do much of anything when I knew I’d have a blank slate to get things done the next morning. Then I’d be filled with guilt for wasting so much time.

I set a few major goals, sure: brush up on my French, replace the rot on the exterior of the house, etc. But neither of those came to pass. I’ve still got the whole summer for reno projects and I did download Rosetta Stone a few months ago. Hopefully I’ll buy a subscription and start some lessons before the year’s out.

For the most part, to quote every professional athlete who ever lived, I tried to take things one day at a time.

I knew the best way to get the most out of my time was simply to start building good habits that I could continue when things reopened and got busy again. These habits could be mundane — banking and budgeting regularly for instance. But I also started running almost daily, eating better, practicing the guitar, writing and reading more often, and reaching out more frequently to the people I care about in my life.

Now that we’re a week away from the proposed “second phase” of reopening, with the potential to end COVID-19 lockdowns for good, I’ll have more gig work to do, more bartending shifts, more commitments where I physically need to be somewhere. It’ll be the first test to see if I can keep these behaviours going.

I wouldn’t call the (possible) end of pandemic life bittersweet. It will be 99.9% sweet, believe me. I’m not getting nostalgic over this stretch of time. But I have been getting anxious, feeling that I didn’t use this once-in-a-lifetime — it better be once in a lifetime — amount of extra time to the fullest. And now I’ll never have the chance again.

I know it’s a bit silly. I did a lot of things during this pandemic that have improved my health and happiness, and I accomplished a few of the things I set out to do. I even met some new friends this past year, if you can believe it. No small feat these days.

But Suzanne Rent’s Morning File inspired me to keep using the extra time that a shutdown world has given me, before COVID life is just a hazy, unpleasant abstraction tucked away in the deepest recesses of my mind.

I’ve recently taken up tennis, but I can’t serve for the life of me. (This is a problem, as in order to get a game going, you must first be able to put the ball in play). So, this week, in the middle of a heat wave, I’ve been up to the courts every morning with a bucket of balls, serving ball after ball into the net.

If I can serve at a 25% success rate by the end of the reopening plan, I won’t just have survived the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ll have thrived.

That’s what I’ll convince myself, at least.

How’d you use your time?

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Noticed

1. The world wide web

Photo: Leon Seibert, unsplash.com

What’s to be done with the internet?

That beautiful sprawling mess of impulse, rage and cat photos — the great, collective digital ID of humanity — turning young men into radicals, young women into living ads for energy drinks, and relatives into conspiracy theorists. The megaphone for shame, rage, and racism.

It’s still a great place to kill some time though, isn’t it?

Instead of taking another look about how people propose we clean it up, I’ll just stand back and admire it today with this music video from comedian Bo Burnham — who himself first gained success through viral online videos.

Part of his recently released comedy special, it’s a perfectly terrifying summary of the wild, eclectic beast the internet has become. Burnham has always been a far more cerebral comic than many give him credit for. His boyish look, manic energy, occasionally cartoonish voice, and overall silliness sometimes mask just how gifted a lyricist he can be. A lot of his writing borders more on existential dread than farce. That’s certainly the case here.

Pretty much since we found out in 2018 that Facebook was selling our data to Cambridge-Analytica, the dream of the internet as some wild, unbridled stallion of democracy and the free exchange of ideas has died. Or at the very least, it’s taken a hit.

The problems are numerous: data theft, identity theft, piracy and not paying for intellectual property, harassment and hate, and so on. How do we regulate this thing?  I pondered the question as fruitlessly as anyone else back in January when social media helped thousands of Americans to organize and storm the capital, leading to the deaths of five people and the end of a presidential Twitter account.

The Liberals have pondered that question too.

Following the terrible, tragic killing of a Muslim family in Ontario Sunday — something the Prime Minister said may have been motivated by online hate speech — the Liberals have received renewed pressure to eliminate hateful rhetoric from the web. It’s a goal as noble as it is seemingly impossible. The Liberals have also been trying to ensure Canadian content rules apply to streaming services, like they do with traditional broadcast media, as more Canadians consume their TV and music online. That’s come in the form of Bill C-10.

It’s something Philip Moscovitch wrote about for the Examiner on Tuesday, when he spoke with media professionals for an article on the potential impact Bill C-10’s success or failure could have on Canadian media. In part of the piece, he outlines the main backlash against the bill in its current form — namely, that it’s too broad:

“[T]he bill has run into trouble, with critics claiming it will violate Canadians’ freedom of speech, regulate content individuals can upload to YouTube — even potentially regulate the workout apps on your phone. The bill, they say, wildly over-reaches.”

How much of an over-reach could that be? If passed, the bill could give the CRTC authority to regulate not only streaming services, but things like social media posts from regular civilians, as that’s content being published on a platform “broadcast” by an internet service provider.

Maybe it’ll take us the better part of this century to figure this out, who knows.

Photo: Amazon.ca

I’ll end this section with a passage that perfectly describes the modern state of the internet — or, more specifically, social media. It doesn’t have anything to do with free speech or security, but it’s pretty entertaining and it does illustrate the breakneck, shaming, attention-shifting way we use the web, so I think it’s worth sharing. It’s a passage from No One is Talking About This by Tweeter and poet extraordinaire, Patricia Lockwood:

“There was a new toy. Everyone was making fun of it, but then it was said to be designed for autistic people, and then no one made fun of it anymore, but made fun of the people who were making fun of it previously. Then someone else discovered a stone version from a million years ago in some museum, and this seemed to prove something. Then the origin of the toy was revealed to have something to do with Israel and Palestine, and so everyone made a pact never to speak of it again. And all of this happened in the space of like four days.”

It’s as ridiculous as it is honest. Good luck reigning it in, Parliament. You’ve got your work cut out for you.

If you want to get the most out of your online experience, why not subscribe to the Halifax Examiner and get in-depth stories from around the province each day at the press of a button.

2. This date in the Examiner

I was looking back through past Morning Files from this date, taking a stroll down memory lane, a world without masks or province-wide shutdowns, and I found the above headline from Tim Bousquet’s Morning File for June 10, 2016.

Maybe someday we’ll be able to run a headline like that again.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t remember 2016 being particularly uninteresting, though I suppose it pales in comparison to the past year and a half.

It was right around the time this Morning File was published, in fact, that Donald Trump would secure the presidential nomination for the Republican Party, the Brits would vote to leave the European Union, and a woman would sue Theodore Tugboat after she fell through one of the boards on his deck and into the harbour.

Still, it’s nice to look back at the before times, isn’t it?

If you’d like to take a look back at what was being covered in that Morning File at the time, head to this excellent piece from Evelyn C. White. Muhammad Ali had just passed away and White wrote about a Dartmouth photographer who shot The Greatest’s last fight against another Nova Scotian, Trevor Berbick.

Below is the photographer, Jim Clark, surrounded by photos taken from the time of that fight:

Jim Clark shows samples of over 50 images in the Clark collection; three are signed by Ali. Photo: Anthony Clark

White writes about her own experience seeing Joe Louis in Chicago when she was a child, her admiration for Ali’s stance on Vietnam, and the finagling way Clark was able to find his way ringside to shoot the last fight of the legendary boxer’s career.

Muhammad Ali and Trevor Berbick. Photo: Jim Clark

If you’d like to check out Evelyn C. White’s most recent piece for the Examiner, head to her article from Wednesday on the recently unearthed mass grave at the residential school in B.C. and the book Five Little Indians. Like everything White writes here for the Examiner, both articles have some beautifully moving prose that’s just a pleasure to read.

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Government

City

Thursday

Appeals Standing Committee (Thursday, 10am) — dial-in or live broadcast not available

Community Design Advisory Committee (Thursday, 11:30am) — virtual meeting, more info here

Design Review Committee (Thursday, 4:30pm) — live on YouTube

Regional Watersheds Advisory Board (Thursday, 5pm) — live on YouTube

Public Information Meeting (Thursday, 6pm) — Case 22896, application requesting amendments to the existing development agreements for lands known as Seton Ridge, located on Seton Road, Bedford Highway, and Lacewood Drive, Halifax

Province

No meetings.


On campus

Dalhousie

Thursday

Coffee Chat with Dr. Saini and Special Guests (Thursday, 10:30am) — livestreamed on YouTube; Dal President Deep Saini will talk with Frank McKenna, and Karen Hutt from Emera, about “how leveraging challenging situations can strengthen your approach to leadership.”

Improving Ocean Sustainability through Science Commercialization (Thursday, 8pm) — register here.

With an accelerating global population, growing demand for ocean resources, and heightened sustainability imperatives, we must act now to make a positive impact on the oceans and humanity. Innovative businesses will be a primary catalyst and solution to the world’s largest ocean sustainability problems. This discussion will explore the opportunities for commercial ventures to make a positive impact on ocean health and sustainability. We will discuss the many pathways for ocean science commercialization in Canada and speak with three outstanding founders that have established companies that will make a positive impact on the oceans.


In the harbour

Halifax
07:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
11:45: Oceanex Sanderling moves back to Pier 41
13:00: MOL Glide, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Rotterdam
18:00: MSC Aniello, container ship, arrives at Berth TBD from Sines, Portugal

Cape Breton
14:00: Homeric, oil tanker, sails from Point Tupper for sea
14:00: Thunder Bay, bulker, sails from Coal Pier (Sydney) for sea
15:00: NS Laguna, oil tanker, arrives at Point Tupper from New York


Footnotes

  1. Canadian Content rules are a controversial subject. I don’t have too many qualms about them, but I will say there are certain 80s rock songs from this country that would have (mercifully) disappeared from radio play had it not been for CanCon.
  2. One thing I meant to get into the habit of during the pandemic was practicing my piano. It’s been pretty infrequent though. I really do have to get around to it though, because my roommate and I just moved a huge upright piano from our neighbour’s place to ours. It was an agonizing move that took seven people and a little over an hour to accomplish. When we got it to our house, we realized that, while we’d measured our doorframes before the move, we hadn’t measured the angles between them, and the piano can’t fit into our living room. So, for the foreseeable future, our kitchen parties will have a full set of keys to liven things up.

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Ethan Lycan-Lang

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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