News

1. Northern Pulp

Northern Pulp Mill (book cover photo from Joan Baxter’s book, The Mill). Photo courtesy of Dr. Gerry Farrell

“Yesterday, four days before his announcement was due on the Northern Pulp effluent treatment proposal, and less than 24 hours before the deadline for the provincial environment minister to announce his decision, federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson released a statement saying that he had ‘decided not to designate the Northern Pulp project for a federal impact assessment,’” reports Joan Baxter:

So now it’s up to Nova Scotia Environment Minister Gordon Wilson, who will announce his decision on Northern Pulp’s proposal later this morning. Wilson has three choices, as reported here. He can approve the project, reject it, or ask for a full Environmental Assessment Report, which could add two years to the process.

Click here to read “No federal assessment will be required for Northern Pulp’s proposed effluent treatment project.”

Jennifer Henderson will be attending and covering today’s announcement for the Examiner, and Joan Baxter will be conference-calling in. We’ll have updates on Twitter (@hfxExaminer) as soon as the announcement can be made public, with a full article to follow.

2. Nova Scotia is hoping a new turbine can pay to get rid of the old one

The abandoned tidal turbine. Photo: Cape Sharp Tidal

The CBC’s Paul Withers reports:

Nova Scotia is looking for a company to remove a 1,300-tonne tidal turbine that’s been stranded on the bottom of the Minas Passage since 2018, when the owner filed for liquidation.

And it’s offering a sweet deal to get the job done.

The deal on offer is a 15-year purchasing agreement with Nova Scotia Power, requiring NSP to buy electricity generated from a presumably new tidal turbine in the same location, at a premium price (up to 53 cents per kilowatt hour, more than three times the rate that residential users currently pay.)  The UARB first has to okay the purchasing deal, and then the competition will open for 60 days, reports Withers.

3. Police ask for funds for eight new positions

Police Chief Dan Kinsella. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Halifax police chief Dan Kinsella is asking for a $700,000 bump on his $89 million budget in order to hire eight new officers, reports Pam Berman with the CBC and Jesse Thomas with Global News. Three of the officers would be assigned to the professional standards division, responsible for investigating police complaints, Kinsella told the board of police commissioners at their meeting Monday. Thomas reports:

There’s a total of 106 police investigations underway, stemming from internal or external complaints made against the Halifax Regional Police, and the internal professional standards branch who investigate these complaints can’t keep up with the volume of complaints that are currently being investigated, as the work is piling up and now falling on the desks of other police branches.

The three extra officers may or may not help Carrie Low, who took her complaint against the police over their handling of her rape investigation to Nova Scotia’s Office of Police Complaints Commissioner. (The office refused to look into the complaint because Low took too long to file her complaint, even though the investigation into the violent assault is still open. Low’s appeal of the decision will make it to court on March 3, 2020.

Kinsella’s plan also includes one more officer in criminal investigations — the division responsible for, among other things, investigations into violent sexual assaults like the one experienced by Carrie Low.

The final four new positions are slated for holding cells, where they would supervise existing civilian staff. Reports Thomas:

Another concern for Kinsella was the lack of senior staff working in the prisoner care facility, where he wants to add an additional four sergeants to ensure 24/7 support for citizen staff like special constables who work as booking officers.

This is in part a result of the recent court case that saw two special constables found guilty last month of criminal negligence causing death, of a highly intoxicated inmate who died while in prisoner care in 2016.

4. Family hopes health department report can reopen police investigation

Shannex Parkstone Enhanced Care Facility on Parkland Drive in Clayton Park. Photo: Shannex.com

Anjuli Patil follows up on an earlier CBC story about a woman who died from a bedsore infection. Forty-year-old Chrissy Dunnington was a resident at Shannex Parkstone Enhanced Care when her family insisted she be taken to the hospital, “for treatment of a bone infection, septic shock, pneumonia, a urinary tract infection and severe dehydration.”

A police investigation into the matter was closed in September after finding no criminal wrongdoing, but a recently released report from the province found issues with Shannex’s care. Patil reports:

The report highlighted problems with how Parkstone cared for Chrissy Dunnington.

“There were gaps in the overall coordination and oversight of care of the resident, gaps in documentation, gaps in assessments, and limited consultations with internal/external health professionals,” it said.

“Although the facility has comprehensive policies and best practice guidelines available to staff, there was evidence that staff were not following these policies and procedures on a consistent basis.”

Shannex says it has made changes since Dunnington’s death, reports Patil.

Parkstone Enhanced Care responded to the department’s findings in a letter to its residents, families and staff last week.

It said it completed a review of its practices and has “implemented a number of enhancements” over the last two years, including a plan for improving wound care.

The facility plans to hold meetings with families, residents and staff to “listen to feedback and their perspective on how we can continue to improve.”

5. Campaign calls for increase in long term care staff-to-patient ratio

Robert Devet of the Nova Scotia Advocate reports on More Caring Hands, a CUPE campaign to increase staff-to-patient ratio for Nova Scotians living in long term care, to 4.1 direct care hours per resident per day. Devet spoke to longtime continuing care assistant Louise Riley:

“Many of our members are telling us that, on average, they have less than ten minutes to get each resident ready for the day,” said Louise Riley, chair of the CUPE NS Long Term Care Coordinating Committee. “Let that sink in. Ten minutes or less. How many adults without disabilities do you know that can get themselves ready for the day in that amount of time?”

“Even under the best of circumstances, even when you are a full-staffed, working in a nursing home is very hard work. And that means these workers need to be well looked after.” 

“You’re lifting, you’re tugging, you’re washing. Meanwhile, you’re not shuffling paper, you are looking after human beings, you’re looking after somebody’s mother or father.”

6. Heads up, Halifax: New York’s new safety campaign launches, and there’s not a hint of “shared responsibility” anywhere in sight

These ads from NYC’s “Was it worth it?” campaign urge drivers to ‘slow down’ or ‘turn slowly’. Source: nyc.gov

New York City’s department of transportation has released a new ad campaign as part of its Vision Zero road safety initiative. The campaign is aimed at drivers, specifically male drivers of SUVs, in attempt to target the demographic statistically most responsible for fatalities on New York streets.  New York’s Daily News reports:

“Between 2013 and 2017, in 78% of fatal crashes, the driver was male,” Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said in an interview.

Some 41% of the men who caused fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019 were driving trucks or SUVs, city data shows. That’s a sharp increase from the period from 2013 to 2017, when 32% of men blamed in fatal accidents drove trucks or SUVs.

Streetsblog also spoke with Trottenburg:

“The popularity of SUVs and light trucks are contributing to the increase in roadway fatalities in New York City and nationally,” [says] DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “If you’re behind the wheel of one of those vehicles … you need to take extra caution. it has a lot more weight…poor visibility, it takes you longer to brake and it is harder to see around turns. Drivers of those vehicles need to drive very carefully to compensate.”

Trottenberg debuted the “Was it Worth It?” public awareness campaign not far from where Bertin DeJesus was run over in his stroller and killed by the driver of a Ford F-250 pickup truck this week. Such a truck, Trottenberg pointed out, can weight four tons fully loaded and has a hood that is five feet high.

“I’m 5-foot-2, so basically you can barely see me if I’m standing in front of that truck,” the large-in-stature commissioner said.

The evidence on the safety of SUVs has been mounting. A collaborative investigation by the Detroit Free Press and USA Today concluded, “the SUV revolution is a key, leading cause of escalating pedestrian deaths nationwide, which are up 46 percent since 2009.” The reporters cited a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report which found pedestrians are two to three times more likely to die when hit with an SUV or truck, versus a “passenger car”.

Last week Halifax Regional Police released their stats on pedestrian-vehicle collisions for January through October 2019, including four deaths, five major injuries, 28 moderate injuries, and 44 minor injuries out of a total of 123 vehicle-pedestrian collisions. (There were also 61 vehicle-bicycle collisions, but those don’t figure into the statistical breakdown for some reason. HRP does not report on the type of vehicle involved in these collisions, though they do count gender, and reported that 59% of drivers involved in collisions were male, while pedestrians had an even gender split.


Views

High tech villains

You could never be this happy in a taxi. Photo: Uber.com

Rick Salutin takes aim at Uber, from his Toronto perspective, and relying on the expertise of aviation industry consultant Hubert Horan. Salutin questions why Uber fares are cheaper than taxis, arguing it’s not due to improved efficiency in getting people from A to B:

Then what accounts for those cheap fares? Not the tech. They come from huge ongoing capital infusions, which allow Uber to undercut the competition. In short, they’re “predatory subsidies” that cover over 50 per cent of your ride! If that doesn’t suffice, they underpay their drivers and then underpay them some more.

In fact Uber has always lost huge amounts on actual operations.

So why do investors subsidize it? It’s the strategy: destroy rivals — taxis and public transit — and when they’re gone, jack up the fares wildly. Meantime the owners profit from shifts in its stock value, even if they never meet forecasts.

Sounds like capitalism at work — just not the kind that gives us the perfectly competitive, ultra-efficient marketplace we read about in Econ 101. Instead, it’s the much less lauded monopoly-via-attrition, where whoever has the most capital will end up owning the market.


Noticed

The Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Place Names digital atlas shows over 700 place names, “derived from approximately 1500 names collected throughout Nova Scotia from interviews with Mi’kmaw Elders and others,” according to Canadian GIS and Geospatial Resources.

Click on the red dots to access the place name, pronunciation, English translation, and the occasional photo or video of source interviews.


Government

City

No public meetings for the rest of the week.

Province

Tuesday

Veterans Affairs (Tuesday, 2pm, One Government Place) — the committee is speaking with the Air Cadet League of Canada.

Wednesday

No public meetings for the rest of the week.


On campus

Dalhousie

Tuesday

Thesis Defence, Health (Tuesday, 12pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Adria Quigley will defend “The Feasibility and Impact of a Yoga Intervention on Cognitive and Physical Performance among People Living with HIV.”

Wednesday

Eggnog Day at the DalUClub (Wednesday, 12pm, Dalhousie University Club) — turkey dinner with eggnog or mulled wine. $13.25/$15.00. 902 494 6511 for reservations in the dining room, first come first served in the Pub.


In the harbour

05:30: Primrose Ace, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany
05:30: CSL Tacoma, bulker, sails from National Gypsum for sea
07:00: Avon, oil tanker, moves from Bedford Basin anchorage to Imperial Oil
10:00: Dimitra C, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
14:00: a US navy ship arrives at Dockyard
14:00: Augusta Mars, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 31 from Moa, Cuba
15:30: Primrose Ace sails for sea
16:00: Atlantic Sealion, barge, moves from IEL to Pier 9
18:00: Dimitra C sails for sea


Footnotes

Keeping my browser refreshed on Halifax Examiner today, awaiting to hear of the fate of Boat Harbour and the Northumberland Strait.

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  1. There’s nothing new about the rate of 53 cents per kilowatt hour for Minas Passage tidal power and it’s not necessarily such a “sweet deal” either. The NSUARB set the rate of 53 cents for all leaseholders at the FORCE site back in 2014. And it didn’t come with the requirement that they pay for raising a defunct 1,000 tonne turbine as part of the bargain. It’s also important to bear in mind that revenue generated by a tidal turbine depends on its peak capacity. No one knows yet what that capacity will be, but I reported in 2015 that tidal developer John Woods calculated the 53 cent rate assumes a peak capacity of 35% which would generate annual revenues of $3,249,960. Not a lot of money when you consider the costs of development, deployment, maintenance etc. etc. https://warktimes.com/2015/09/26/parrsboro-symposium-hears-about-high-cost-of-tidal-power/

    1. Good question. But if the question is simply “where should we target the ads?” then I’m not sure it’s necessary to have those answers. If the question is, “is there something wrong with men?” then it would definitely be necessary.

      1. I find it interesting that it is SUVs that are the worst offenders – is it because the higher and flatter front of SUVs are more lethal to pedestrians or because of other factors? I have never been to NYC – so maybe there are just a lot more SUVs there than I imagine?

        The science behind the dangers posed by the high and flat front of SUVs and especially pickup trucks to pedestrians has been settled for decades, and yet manufacturers are not targeted for lawsuits. I think the attempts to sue gun makers are lawfare at its worst, but accidents aside, guns don’t kill people when operated legally – the same logic applies far better to cars.

        The “vision zero” rhetoric around traffic safety is a little childish – you cannot have motor vehicles without fatalities (you can’t have any technology without its inherent downsides). Legal operation of cars inevitably involves the deaths of motorists and pedestrians, and legally operated cars kill many times more people than legally operated guns. Cars are much harder to conceal than guns – so a car ban is generally enforceable too.