1. Health Authority craps on healthy transportation
“The Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) has taken a surprise position on the expansion and improvement of the South Park street bike lane: they’re against it,” reports Examiner transportation columnist Erica Butler:
At least they are against the disruption to available on-street parking that it might cause.
In a letter to city council dated March 5, 2018 (the day before council gave the project the official green light) the Vice President of Integrated Services for the health authority, Paula Bond, carefully outlined concerns over the plan to “eliminate 50 parking spaces on South Park Street to create dedicated bike lanes.”
Butler goes on to explain why and how that anti-bike lane position is so wrong-headed, and how it even contradicts the Health Authority’s own statements and plans in support of active transportation.
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“Seventeen ambulances waited for hours Monday at a Halifax hospital, part of a trend physicians and the union that represents paramedics say is worrisome and could put people’s health at risk,” reports Elizabeth McMillan for the CBC:
Dr. Mark Taylor, executive medical director for the Nova Scotia Health Authority, said across the central zone, there were 25 per cent more ambulance calls than normal yesterday. Eighteen ambulances waited at the Dartmouth General Hospital.
The ambulances sat outside the emergency rooms because the paramedics assigned to them had to stay with patients who were waiting to be seen.
Taylor said as staff worked to admit patients, one patient and the ambulance crew that brought them in were waiting for 10 hours. He said the issue was more patients than normal — many frail and elderly — were waiting to get in.
3. The Curve sales pitch
Last month, I reported that the YMCA is asking the city for $1.5 million to help cover a budget shortfall for its new facility at the corner of South Park and Sackville Streets.
The new Y will be hosted in two connected buildings that straddle the former sites of the CBC Radio building and the previous Y. Both are being developed by Southwest Properties.
Under the height limitations adopted under the celebrated HRM By Design, the southern part of the property (where the former Y was) has a height limit of 49 metres, which is evidently high enough to build a 16-storey apartment building Southwest is calling The Curve.
The northern part of the property (site of the old CBC Radio building) had a height limit of 23 metres. That was apparently not high enough to make the Southwest/YMCA deal work, so, as I explained last month:
But the people behind the Y wield immense political power. The public hearing held to determine whether the building would be permitted in the first place was framed as a morality play — if you were against the building, you hated children, god, and healthy adults. And councillors willingly went along with that framing, playing to the crowd to demonstrate their children-, god-, and healthy adults-bonafides.
Councillors’ bonafides solidified, the height limit was more than doubled, to 49 metres, which allows the construction of a 16-storey condominium building Southwest is calling The Pavillion. The two buildings will share a three-storey podium, and the YMCA will be housed in the Pavillion part of that podium.
Anyway, I bring all this up because yesterday Southwest’s ads for The Curve started showing up in my Facebook feed. It looks like this:
So what’s missing from the stylized rendering of The Curve?
First: Citadel Hill. This is important because the opposition to raising the height limit on the northern part of the property was because of the Citadel. The Citadel National Park itself wrote council a letter in opposition to raising the height limit. The city’s Design Review Committee voted against raising the height precisely in order to protect the Citadel, and after council overruled the committee’s vote, Alan Paris, the chair of the committee, resigned in protest. So, Citadel Hill is kind of a big deal. Maybe it should be in the drawings, eh? And it’s replaced with — what is that, the ocean?
Second: Utility poles and parking meters. That’s just normal for architectural renderings, I suppose (it shouldn’t be!), but the rendering does something else: it creates a sidewalk that looks like it’s maybe 40 feet wide, and bordered by a nice wide grassy area with fully grown street trees. Compare that with the rendering included in the Y’s 2011 package to council:
That rendering also had no utility poles or parking metres, but thankfully something like Citadel Hill was there. Note, however, that the sidewalk was about six feet wide, and there were no street trees or grassy area.
Third: the South Park Street bike lane. The lane will be built and in operation when the Pavillion/Curve/Y complex is complete.
Fourth: People who aren’t white. That’s right, the rendering for the facility that sold itself as the progressive, socially aware face of the new city shows by my count 42 people, all of them white, and not one person of colour (or older people or people wearing hijabs, or…). It does, however, include a white woman wearing what looks like a lamp shade:
4. Tara Tapics
Yesterday, the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia published Justice Suzanne Hood’s decision in Tapics v. Dalhousie University. Hood awarded Tapics $48,750 for “breach of contract and negligence, including negligent misrepresentation.”
Tapics was accepted as a PhD student in the Oceanography department to work on a leatherback turtle project. Tapics’ supervisor was Christopher Taggart. Previous to Tapics being accepted into the PhD program, Taggart and Michael James agreed on a collaboration on the turtle project. James, a biologist, was then an adjunct prof at Dal and a researcher at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography. Tapics was brought on to analyze turtle data using “long-term satellite telemetry studies” and “satellite tags data.” The research proposal given to Tapics stated “all the required data are in-hand.”
The project was a collaboration between the Canadian Sea Turtle Network (CSTN) and Taggart. Explains Hood:
An application was made by CSTN’s executive director Kathleen Martin, in November 2010, to the Habitat Stewardship Project (HSP) for funding. The funding was granted and CSTN entered into a sub-agreement with Dalhousie with respect to the program and its funding. The funding included funding for Kathleen Martin.
At the heart of the breach was the conflict of interest of Dr. James and the role of Dr. Taggart in enabling Dr. James to become involved in a collaboration and in research to be undertaken by Tara Tapics, in the face of the conflict of interest.
He [Taggert] said he did not know of Dr. James’ connection with the CSTN or that he was married to its Executive Director, Kathleen Martin. Both however testified that Dr. James’ relationship with the CSTN was well-known and would have been known to Dr. Taggart.
Furthermore, in May 2010 Dr. James provided to Dr. Taggart his suggested amendments to the graduate student solicitation. One of his proposed amendments was to refer to his collaboration and that of the CSTN on the project rather than a collaboration with BIO. Dr. Taggart did not amend the solicitation.
You can read the entire ruling at the link, but here’s the part that made me sit up straight:
…Tara Tapics was interviewed on the CBC radio show “The Vinyl Café” about the LBT project. According to Dr. Taggart, when Dr. James heard the interview he “hit the roof.”
There was no evidence about the content of the interview but Dr. James was angry and concerned about the effect on what he called the “industry partners.” According to Dr. James, they were worried about the possible effect on their fishery, i.e., whether it might be shut down to protect LBTs.
There are a lot of details in this case that I’m glossing over. For instance, James was in violation of Dalhousie policies, and subsequently had his status as an adjunct professor and an advisor to the graduate studies program revoked. Also, this became a battle over data — James claimed the turtle data were “my data” and “CSTN’s data,” and demanded, successfully, that the data be deleted from Dalhousie servers.
Those complications aside, my read on the case is that James and, by extension, the university were so beholden to “industry partners” that he and the university were willing to interrupt the career of a promising young researcher. That’s not how good science works, to put it mildly.
Hood’s award to Tapics represents an 18-month delay in her career. She is now pursuing her PhD at the Université de Sherbrooke.
A little less than $50,000 and a portion of court costs isn’t much to Dalhousie, but my guess is the university will now spend many multiples of that cost to appeal Hood’s ruling.
5. Penn Law School v Acadia University
Yesterday, Penn Law School Dean Ted Ruger sent an email to all faculty and students about the plainly racist statements made by tenured law prof Amy Wax. You can read Ruger’s entire email here, but here’s an excerpt:
In the statements described above, Professor Wax has chosen to speak publicly, disparagingly, and inaccurately about the performance of these students, some of whom she has taught and graded confidentially at Penn Law. As a scholar she is free to advocate her views, no matter how dramatically those views diverge from our institutional ethos and our considered practices. As a teacher, however, she is not free to transgress the policy that student grades are confidential, or to use her access to those Penn Law students who are required to be in her class to further her scholarly ends without students’ permission. Penn Law does not permit the public disclosure of grades or class rankings, and we do not collect, sort, or publicize grade performance by racial group. The existence of these policies and practices, while constraining this response, is not an invitation to statements made with conscious indifference to their truth content. Our first-year students are just that — students — not faceless data points or research subjects to be conscripted in the service of their professor’s musings about race in society.
In light of Professor Wax’s statements, black students assigned to her class in their first week at Penn Law may reasonably wonder whether their professor has already come to a conclusion about their presence, performance, and potential for success in law school and thereafter. They may legitimately question whether the inaccurate and belittling statements she has made may adversely affect their learning environment and career prospects. These students may also reasonably feel an additional and unwarranted burden to perform well, so that their performance not be used or misused by their professor in public discourse about racial inequality in academic success. More broadly, this dynamic may negatively affect the classroom experience for all students regardless of race or background.
As dean it is my responsibility to allocate faculty teaching resources in the best interest of students and of the Law School. After consulting faculty, alumni/ae, Overseers, and University officials, I have decided that Professor Wax will continue to teach elective courses in her areas of expertise, but that are outside of the mandatory first-year curriculum. In this respect, she will be similarly situated to a substantial majority of our tenured and chaired faculty, most of whom do not teach required first-year courses. This curricular decision entails no sanction or diminution of Professor Wax’s status on the faculty, which remains secure. Normally, this decision would be private, but because Professor Wax made these inaccurate public statements, and students and alumni raised their concerns publicly, sharing it with our community is important.
Over to you, Acadia.
6. The clean industries of the future: fracking and clearcutting
“On March 7, Craig Macinnis, Manager of Port Hawkesbury Paper, and forester Marvin Hudson from the mill, appeared before [the Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MoDG)] Council to deliver a report on the company’s forestry practices, prompted in part, by recent media stories regarding their company’s alleged, clear-cutting of old growth trees in the Loon Lake area of Guysborough County,” reports Alexander Bridge for the Nova Scotia Advocate:
Before addressing concerns around their harvesting practices, Macinnis stated that commercial forestry was much like fracking, given that the public had limited knowledge or understanding of either industries.
Macinnis then went on to praise the MoDG for its motion and correspondence with the province in favour of lifting the unofficial fracking moratorium. Macinnis said that he saw this Council as “being leaders in this debate”. With that comment, it would appear Port Hawkesbury Paper, with its current questionable clear-cutting practices, has now aligned itself with the pro-fracking Guysborough Council and the mining industry in general.
7. A Mighty Wind
The Nova Scotia Power outage map, 8am this morning:
Vincent Coleman Dedication Ceremony (Wednesday, 10:30am, Alderney Ferry Terminal) — the newest ferry will be celebrated.
Regional Watersheds Advisory Board (Wednesday, 5pm, HEMDCC Large Meeting Space, Alderney Gate) — Bob Rutherford, from the Oathill Lake Conservation Society, will talk about the society’s work.
No public meetings.
No public meetings this week.
The Chosen, by Chaim Potok (Wednesday, 9am, Room 25, Banting Building, Agricultural Campus) — Rabbi Ellis talks about the book.
Canada and the World, and Judaism: North America and the Creation of the State of Israel, 70 Years Later (Wednesday, 10am, Room 138, Cox Institute, Agricultural Campus) — Rabbi David Ellis will speak.
Help Design the Bi-Centennial Commons (Wednesday, 10:30am, Atrium, Killam Library) — info here.
Guitar Recital (Wednesday, 11:45am, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — students of Scott Macmillan, Doug Reach, and Jeff Torbert will perform.
Fair Pricing for Journals: Public Consultation (Wednesday, 12pm, Room C264, Community Health and Education Building, Sexton Campus) — info here.
Cloud Orchestration: Challenges and Approaches (Thursday, 11:30pm, Auditorium, Goldberg Computer Science Building) — Glaucio H.S. Carvalho from Ryerson University will speak. His abstract:
Cloud systems have evolved to an ecosystem that comprises of multiple tiers of clouds such as mobile edge computing, back-up cloud, and public cloud service providers working cooperatively to meet the massive demand for computing resources. In this talk, I will present my research on cloud orchestration — an initiative to control and allocate distributed cloud services in a timely manner for mobile users while achieving optimal operation and management. In this sense, design examples in multi-cloud environments from my previous and current research on performance and security of cloud systems will be described in addition to a look at the future of such amazing systems.
Dal Law Hour (Thursday, 12:30pm, Room 105, Weldon Law Building) — Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Christa Brothers will speak.
Quasar Saxophone Quartet (Thursday, 2:30pm, Room 409, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — the ensemble from Quebec is going to be smoooooth.
Campus Budget Session – Agriculture (Thursday, 4:30pm, Librarian’s Corner, MacRae Library, Agriculture Campus, Truro) — dogs and ponies.
Sustainable Transitions in Canada’s Energy Landscape (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Theatre, Marion McCain Building) — Brendan Haley will speak.
Leonard Cohen: A Listening Party (Wednesday, 7:30pm, G. Peter Wilson Room, New Academic Building) — a listening session of his last album, You Want It Darker, and then Kait Pinder will talk about it.
In the harbour
6am: ZIM Constanza, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Algeciras, Spain
6am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
1pm: Dalian Express, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
2pm: Silver Millie, oil tanker, moves from Bedford Basin anchorage to Imperial Oil
I have two radio, er, appearances today.
I’ll be on CBC’s Maritime Noon call-in show, cleverly scheduled for noon. The discussion is about the proposed federal bailout of legacy media. I’m agin it.
Then, I’ll be on The Sheldon MacLeod Show, News 95.7, at 2pm. This is the usual Municipal Matters discussion; I have no idea what we’ll be talking about specifically.
“Those complications aside, my read on the case is that James and, by extension, the university were so beholden to “industry partners” that he and the university were willing to interrupt the career of a promising young researcher. ”
That’s a strange read. James being beholden to partners doesn’t impact the University “by extension”. Adjunct faculty are outside individuals who have expertise that can help a student or aademic unit. They have no capacity to impose obligations on the University. In fact, when James tried to bully the committee by threatening to withhold data, he was kicked off the committee and stripped of adjunct status.
I don’t think Dal should have deleted the data, but they didn’t until after the project, so perhaps they chose to not stand on principle.
The only finding in the case is that Dal did not adequately manage the conflict of interest James had. The conflict appears to be that he was a volunteer leader, and married to the director, of the NGO that was partially funding the project. Which, you know, fair enough. It’s normally up to individuals to disclose conflicts, so maybe now that will change.
My conflict: I regularly cash cheques from Dal and routinely critique stuff that happens inside those hallowed halls.
Those darned pesky leatherbacks, eh? Years back, as communications flack for coalition to oppose offshore drilling on Georges Bank, I presented a draft news release which included the harm a spill would cause to the leatherback population. Was told in no uncertain terms by a major “industry partner” to “get those fucking turtles out of this and future releases.”
I always thought that people were more important than money, yet I am an idealist. When the balls get dropped, it is our duty to rush in and kick said balls. People need to be rising up and doing the work that the governments cannot, how ideal! What is the deal…. 😀
Ambulances and paramedics waiting outside ERs is a regular occurrence not an occasional anomaly. Lack of available beds and nursing staff on the floors of the hospitals is a major part of the problem. Patients come to the ER and are only supposed to receive the necessary treatment to stabilize them or take quick reparative treatment action (read: diagnose, stitches and casts, etc); ERs resources are not supposed to be expended for longer term care; but if beds are not available the spaces in the ER cannot be cleared and new patients from the ambulances end up lining ER hallways or even staying in the ambulance. Check the statistics for paramedic overtime and you will see that even when the ambulances can get back on the road, some paramedics are held back to attend to patients awaiting to be passed on to ER staff for treatment.
This is an everyday type problem in HRM and maybe province-wide (?). This also begs the question that if a significant tragedy or accident were to occur or an epidemic, that the local healthcare system would have absolutely no way to cope in an effective manner.
Everyone complains that healthcare today is too expensive; but the reality is that even more money needs to be obligated to the system to build in the type of redundancies that are needed to alleviate the ER throughput issues; let alone enable the system to have the capability to effectively cope with a future crisis.
The question is are the taxpayers willing to pay and will the sitting government be willing to enact the necessary tax legislation to actually fix the problem. Or are we going to end up with a US based system where all the costs are borne by the patient and the patient’s ability to pay will determine if they receive adequate treatment? Or maybe the system will just stay the way it is, waiting for the next big shoe to drop… then whose fault will that be attributed to?
Much as I dislike the claim that efficiencies can replace the need for higher taxes, there are times when smarter spending is possible, and healthcare offers many examples. A classic one is the cost of polio vaccines versus ventilators. Maybe more hospital staff would be cheaper than paying ambulance attendants overtime? Simply adding more beds and staff to improve ER throughput may not be the best approach, though it is a quick one. Perhaps consider why so many people go to ER? If that’s due to the shortage of doctors, work on that. Was ER busy yesterday because of storm related injuries and car crashes? Work on pedestrian and road safety. Many patients were frail and elderly – were they coming from inadequate housing? Were there injuries related to the power outages? The cheapest way to reduce healthcare costs is prevention, which includes poverty reduction strategies, though these programs are often less popular than healthcare spending, even though they may achieve the same results at lower costs. But I don’t have a lot of confidence in the health authority, since they are apparently busy fighting bike lanes.
An easy way to triage the ER would be to have a Community Health Clinic operating adjacent to every ER; then real non-ER patients could be shifted immediately to the public clinic. But the hospital beds and nurses issue is real… without an available bed, a patient cannot be moved from an ambulance into the ER staff’s care and that is a big problem because ambulances only stabilize for transport and do not do in-depth diagnostics to the level that hospital staff can provide… that is not the job of the ambulance service.
The people in the health service that are opposing bike lanes are not part of the problem faced by ambulances and the ER, that’s just silly. But a good healthcare system has available space for everyday healthcare needs and that capacity does not exist today.
One can espouse upon the benefits of prevention and poverty reduction, in fact it is an almost weekly occurrence in the news; but sadly espousing is not a solution to capacity and throughput issues. Without redundancies and available capacity, the healthcare system can never meet today’s needs let alone the issues caused by ban unexpected crisis. Money, infrastructure and staff are the only real solution… that and having a well staffed and appropriately sized community clinic adjacent to every ER.
This is the op-ed that Amy Wax wrote:
The funny thing about prog culture is that it’s being replaced – white Americans are currently reproducing at roughly replacement rates, for example, but fertility is not uniform among white (or any other kind of people) – the religious have more kids. Of course there’s a certain other religion which produces fertility rates which ensure its ascendance, but I am a Good Person and am of course talking about Mormons.
look at all those white people “ — and none are overweight!
Why does anyone bother to look at the barely recognizable figures in ads like this? They’re placeholders, not meant to look like real Haligonians. We know the city is far more diverse than the ad portrays, so who gives a flyin’ rip?
And no children, no babies in carriers, nobody in a wheelchair, nobody wearing a hat, no beggars.