Hi Halifax, Katie here! Tim says he’s tired so is taking the morning off. (I secretly think he just wants to see my memes though.)
1. Court must decide whether to approve Africville lawsuit
Over 50 years ago Africville, the historic Black Nova Scotian community outside Halifax, was razed to the ground in the name of so-called “urban renewal.” In the Nova Scotia Supreme Court yesterday, former residents argued that they should be able to file a class action lawsuit against the city for what they’ve lost.
The class action lawsuit is over the communal lands that the residents used together for hunting, fishing, and social activities.
Reporting for the Canadian Press, Aly Thompson says:
In a brief filed with the court, Pineo says Halifax did not follow its own expropriation rules under the city’s charter.
He said the residents were never informed at the time there was a process they could follow to appeal the amount of compensation they were offered for the land.
The city has argued that claims should be filed on an individual basis, and that just because people used the land together doesn’t mean they had any ownership over it.
No word on when the judge will make his decision.
2. Plagued with scandal, Richmond County councillors give themselves a raise
Okay, so it was a cost-of-living-adjustment adjusted to the price of inflation, but it’s not great optics. An investigation had recently found a “culture of entitlement” in councillor spending and councillors’ credit cards were cut in response. Joan Weeks reports for CBC News:
Warden Brian Marchand acknowledged there was concern about voting on salaries so soon after independent investigations of the county’s finances found significant problems with travel and expense claims.
“It’s something that should have happened early in this year, but with all what was going on it didn’t happen,” he said.
3. Halifax Transit to study electric buses
As promised in October, they’ve put out a request for proposals on an electric bus feasibility study today. The request comes days after an announcement that the city would get $2 million from the province again this year for new buses (this is the third year they’ve received the cash).
4. Police are investigating a car that was on fire
Police were called to investigate a hit-and-run last night at 11 near Windmill Road where a blue car hit a parked vehicle then drove away. Then, around 12:30am, they were called to find a car with front-end damage (like maybe it had just hit another vehicle??) “fully engulfed in flames” on Fernhill Drive, somewhat nearby.
Meghan Groff reports for News 95.7 that police “say at this point there’s no information to link the two investigations, but police say they’re exploring all possibilities.”
5. Meet the Halifax doulas helping Syrian refugees give birth
Metro has a very nice story by Jen Taplin about Halifax’s Doula program, and how doulas support Syrian women as they give birth in a new city, in a new country, without much of their family and friends from home — all this sounds VERY difficult:
Whitney Cruikshank, a doula at the Chebucto Family Centre, said they’ve never seen such a large influx from any specific target group in the 20-year history of the program. There are 40 active volunteer doulas in the program covering all of HRM.
“They come from a beautiful culture where a pregnant woman is surrounded by family and friends during this time in her life so there’s a real void when they arrive in Canada,” she said. “We try as best as we can to be a support to her in that way and we do not compare at all to her friends and family at home but we do try to fill that gap as much as possible.”
6. Department of Fisheries and Oceans promises licence crackdown
Fishing licences are supposed to be given out to owner-operators of fishing boats, but rumours have been swirling that foreign buyers are drawing up “controlling agreements” where a Canadian would buy the licence effectively on behalf of foreign fisheries and rake in the cash. (The foreign buyer ad that showed up in a local paper probably didn’t help.) Now, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans says it’s reviewing licence holders to make sure they’re following the rules and fishing themselves. Paul Withers from CBC got the story from a letter to the editor, yet to be printed, sent to “a Halifax media outlet.”
1. Is it a “View” or a “cranky letter?” I can’t tell.
Here’s a screed from a former teacher about the Nova Scotia education system. A highlight:
I am one of those parents that is completely fed up with the drivel that Stephen McNeil and Karen Casey have been spewing. You see, they have absolutely NO clue what today’s teachers are facing. And let’s get one thing straight folks, what the teachers are facing, is exactly the same thing that your children are facing on a daily basis. We are living with a system that is completely broken. Teachers are attempting to cope with more and more crap-policies that are being downloaded onto their backs by the Department of Education. While McNeil and Casey will have you believe that it’s all about teacher wages and benefits, that is not what has truly awoken the giant. What you are seeing are thousands of passionate individuals who are exhausted. They are tired of having to implement bone-headed policies that are passed down from people in glass towers who have not been in a classroom in decades. They are tired of being slaves to data input/management. They are tired of feeling like they aren’t accomplishing what they want to accomplish in their classrooms, due to idiotic decision-makers in Halifax who are living in la-la land, some (or many?) of whom have children that attend private schools in the city.
It keeps going.
So, is it a view or a cranky letter? Where do I draw the line???? Let me know what you think in the comments.
The Bluenose-Ability Film Festival starts today.
An MSVU student is raising money to by tampons and pads for homeless women and trans people.
Someone on Reddit took a photo of this lil’ guy outside his mom’s apartment in Dartmouth:
Integrated Mobility Plan workshop (4-6pm, Italian-Canadian Cultural Association) — deets here.
Design Review Committee (4pm, City Hall) — the committee will look at Paul Skerry Associates Limited’s plan to tear down the 1820s-era Elmwood Apartments building at South and Barrington Streets and put up a crappy non-discript building. Committee members will stroke their chins, OK the plan but suggest a few minor changes, and then congratulate themselves for how wise they are. More on the Elmwood here. Here’s the staff report on the crappy non-descript building.
Public Information Meeting / Heritage Advisory Committee (6:30pm, City Hall) — more destroying historic buildings! This is a public information meeting about demolition applications for two of the registered historic buildings in the district, 1333-35 Barrington Street (Thomas Jeffrey House) and 1349-53 Barrington Street, Halifax (Renner-Carney House, pictured above).
The demolition applications were submitted by developer Louis Lawen after the planning process for the Old South Suburb Heritage Conservation District was started, but before the district will be created. It’s worth noting that Lawen’s brother John Lawen sits on the Old South Suburb Heritage Conservation District’s “stakeholder steering committee,” as does one of John Lawen’s tenants.
No public meetings.
Homage to Fidel (6:30 pm, Halifax Central Library) — speakers are:
Afua Cooper (Dalhousie’s JRJ Chair of Black Canadian Studies & author, The Hanging of Angelique: The Untold Story of Canadian Slavery and the Burning of Old Montreal);
Stephen Kimber (Halifax Examiner contributor, professor of Journalism, University of King’s College, and author of What Lies Across the Water: The Real Story of the Cuban Five);
John Kirk (Cuba specialist, Dalhousie University and author of Healthcare without Borders:Understanding Cuban Medical Internationalism );
Nels Larson (Chair, Nova Scotia Cuba Association);
Isaac Saney (Cuba specialist, Dalhousie University, National Spokesperson of the Canadian Network on Cuba, and author of Cuba: A Revolution In Motion).
In the harbour
11am: Dimitrios K, cargo, arrives at anchorage for bunkers from Sydney
6:30pm: Dimitrios K, cargo, sails from anchorage for sea
6am: Itea, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
It is a view and it is very clearly laid out. The points made are valid. And I’m not surprised if teachers or retired teachers are not sick of what is going on and has been for years. This situation has been more than 20 years in the making, I’m just surprised it didn’t peak sooner. And what’s necessary to ask is do we really want our children to get a quality education because with the policies in place now, I’m not sure teachers could make it happen, no matter what they do. Resources are overstretched as it is, and the data entry stuff is truly useless. It is put fort by those that make money off it, with no evidence any of it delivers. And lastly, teachers aren’t child minders, people should stop thinking of them as such.
I don’t think that letter is cranky. Instead, it’s a great overview of the dumbing down of Nova Scotia’s education system PLUS ten great ideas to restore the damage
So many worthy topics of discussion in this morningfile, but I’m still scratching my head about (1) a DFO manager sending a letter to the editor explaining a DFO initiative to (2) an unnamed Halifax media outlet, which then (3) chose not to print it, but (4) let it slip into the hands of the CBC instead. None of those things make sense to me. Our system of transferable fishing licenses is weird and convoluted, but this story makes it seem straightforward by comparison.
Yup, I’ll go with cri de coeur. For years I’ve wondered what would happen if the Department of Education were downsized. I think that it is reasonable to state that our provincial government has a propensity to cut front line workers – or at least their wages and benefits – in the name of austerity, all the while taking good care of management. I’m sure there are many under employed administrators in the department spending their time searching for the next trendy thing in education. At the moment it is data. Who knows what will be next. But we do know that it will be the teachers who will have to deliver it and the students will have to live with it And whatever “it” is next will be mandated without input from students or teachers. To my mind, the teachers are taking a stand for all of us effected by the bloated management regime in this province.
A CRI DE COEUR
Neither cranky letter, nor view, nor screed.The teacher’s essay is more cri de coeur than anything else. One the “communications specialists” at the teachers’ union would do well to capture in tone and substance.
I support the teachers in this dispute.
I’m curious if the increase in data collection is all just for reporting and micro-management, or if maybe management is getting into predictive analytics. Has management explained why the increase in data is needed?
IBM made a presentation at a Halifax Chamber of Commerce lunch several years ago now I think, telling how you could predict anything right down to when and where a person was going to burgle a store (you can see the video online they present where an actor playing a police officer is waiting at the convenience store when the suspected burglar arrives – youtu.be/4awz6BbteVk). All kinds of terrible scenarios can be imagined if a computer model labels you as a likely burglar. And the same if a student is labeled likely to succeed (or not) and resources assigned based on those scores.
It might be interesting to know if any of the data is being used for predicative analytics.
From what I’ve heard many employees of local government institutions face the issue of data input micromanagement that teachers also face.
The cult of data and statistics as some sort of panacea to all problems, pushed by the tech industry and consultants, is responsible for a lot of the pointless and inefficient “modern” work policies that are popular now. The notion that data, stats and metrics are somehow objective and pure fact that can be easily harnessed for better performance is fiction. More data just equals more information to sift through, and the more data there is the harder it is to manage and understand. Complexity increases very quickly and any potential benefits are lost, replaced only with more cruft for employees to work around.
It’s a serious concern that our government needs to face. The urge to outsource management to consultants who sell the pipe dream of (very expensive) automated systems that will improve workplace efficiency is understandable to a degree, but is based on a lack of understanding of what new technology can accomplish. Tech solutions to problems are not automatically better, and consultants don’t know anything about management, but our politicians have put a lot of blind faith into them.
I support the former residents of Africville. But, PLEASE, somebody do something about the ugly, growing and encroaching piece of land abutting Africville and snaking it’s way to the right. Take a look at the old photo in this article and then drive by after you exit the “new” bridge, towards Bedford, and look down over Africville. If not stopped, this (yes, more infilling of the basin) will lay right in front of the Africville shoreline. You might say: Well, at least it’s not a garbage dump this time. Shame, shame, shame.
Thank you, Tim and company. I know you’ve done a lot of hard work on this. I’m repeating myself. I lack the nerve and wherewithal to protest other than one letter to the mayor who also seems to lack these qualities.
Let me get this straight. The Richmond County councillors and municipal staff are getting a “cost-of-living-adjustment adjusted to the price of inflation” in US dollars.
The “Cranky Letter” may have been cranky, but as I hear the issues discussed by teachers, they have good reason to be cranky. Is the union out of touch with its members? Are they not taking the real complaints of the teachers to the bargaining table? Those are the questions that need to be addressed before anything on that front will break.
Halifax owes most of its popularity with tourists and its livability to its historic buildings. It is bad enough to tear them down, but they aren’t even being replaced with interesting modern buildings. I could see building something like that out in an industrial park (although even there some imagination is not out of order) but why in downtown Halifax, and by replacing such an iconic building?
It is also lazy, lazy, lazy. Look at Detroit, where historic buildings that seem beyond all reasonable hope of repair, missing roofs in some cases, are restored and re-purposed.
Why can’t it be both? Don’t most cranky letters express views? In this case, however, the sheer length of the “screed” (and that is a valid descriptor) should disqualify it as a cranky letter to the editor.
The proposed Barrington demolitions are an outrage. Waye Mason, Lindell Smith, Mike Savage and others – time to speak out, loudly and publicly. Show some leadership.
I cannot believe those buildings are being torn down. This city is fucked up. We have truly lost our way when commerce trumps conserving such wonderful built heritage that can never be replaced.
City Hall should be ashamed (or are they too busy shaking hands with their development buddies?)