News

1. Raw sewage

This was an odd and exasperating story I reported yesterday afternoon:

An apparent act of sabotage on the MacKay Bridge resulted in a loss of communications between sewage pumping stations and the Dartmouth sewage plant; that in turn led to raw sewage being dumped into Halifax Harbour. When we asked a Halifax Water spokesperson about it, he denied there was a discharge of raw sewage and gave us a counter-narrative that was patently not true. Today [Tuesday], the Department of Environment confirms that in fact raw sewage was discharged into the harbour.

Click here to read “Raw sewage was dumped into the harbour Saturday morning, and Halifax Water tried to cover it up.”

I left that in front of the paywall because, well, just because. But you should subscribe anyway.

2. Crappy development company, Florida division

A fire that started in a pile of brush in western New Smyrna Beach, Florida forced the closure of Interstate 95 for 18 hours on March 28. Photo: City of New Smyrna Beach Fire Department

From the Daytona Beach News Journal, comes this news, dateline New Smyrna Beach, Florida:

Land clearing that led to a wildfire that shut down Interstate 95 in March took place without a permit required by the St. Johns River Water Management District, records show. It’s one of three permit violations the agency has noted at Coastal Woods over the past few weeks.

Water district documents indicate the agency now intends to take enforcement action against the company developing the property, Geosam Capital…

The fire happened on March 28, “when a fire set to burn debris in Coastal Woods got out of control and became a 204-acre wildfire that shut down Interstate 95 for roughly 18 hours.” Moreover:

Geosam also has come under fire from residents concerned about dust blowing off the cleared land. [Neighbour Gary] Wilkins said he was driving down Pioneer Trail one day and saw a large dust cloud blowing off Coastal Woods. “I just couldn’t believe my eyes,” he said. “It was like right out of a movie scene of the Sahara Desert.”

So why am I posting about a development company ignoring the law and starting a fire that shut down an interstate highway in Florida?

One reason is that closing Interstate 95 for 18 hours is a really big deal. Interstate 95 is the major highway for the entire east coast of the United States, and the transport route for all of southern Florida, conveying trucks that feed and supply millions of people.

But the second reason I bring it to your attention is that Geosam Capital is owned by none other than George Armoyan, and the company’s headquarters are right here in the Armco building on Quinpool Road.

At least the broader world is learning about Halifax, amirite? The News Journal is telling its Floridian readers all about us:

It’s not the first time Geosam’s owner, George Armoyan, has run afoul of government agencies.

In 2014, a newspaper in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, the Herald News, reported Armoyan was warned to stay away from city properties for six months because of threatening behavior toward city officials. Armoyan told the newspaper planners were stalling his proposal. “I was trying to build a landmark for the city I can put my signature on,” the newspaper reported him saying. “I don’t need some jackass guy who doesn’t know his elbow from his ass telling me what to do with my development.”

In 2006, the Canadian newspaper Globe and Mail reported that Armoyan “was famous for jumping the gun on developments, mowing down trees to get ready for projects that local officials hadn’t approved yet.”

“One time, his methods earned him a $10,000 fine from Halifax County; less than three months later, he caused a stir by showing up with an excavator at a different site where he’d tried, but failed, to get permission for a new subdivision,” the newspaper continued.

Bold.

Floridian businesspeople are probably lining up at the airport to move to Halifax to take advantage of our business-friendly city.

3. Ticketed for being poor

“Over the last sixteen months, Halifax Regional Police have issued 411 tickets” to people panhandling from median strips, reports Laura Brown for CTV:

Police say being in the median isn’t what’s illegal, it’s stepping off the median into traffic and approaching a vehicle that is.

It falls under section 173 of the Motor Vehicle Act, stopping, attempting to stop or approaching a vehicle to solicit a person, and the fines aren’t cheap.

The first offence is $180.00, and it goes up from there.

The second offence is $237.50, and the third is $352.50.

I get the safety issue. It scares the hell out of me when I see people running between moving cars asking for money (I’m talking to you, North Street man). It’s why I reserve my giving to the people on the sidewalks, but I suppose most people don’t walk around as much as I do, and so drivers are an undertapped market.

Still, ticketing is only making the lives of people living on the margins that much worse:

One person tells CTV News she’s been ticketed for panhandling, telling the officer she’ll just have to continue [to panhandle] to pay off the ticket.

Section 173 of the Motor Vehicle Act (actually Section 173A), incidentally, was enacted by the 2007 sitting of the legislature through Bill 7, the “Squeegee Kid Act” (where have they gone?):

Selling or soliciting on a roadway
173A (1) No person, while on a roadway, shall stop, attempt to stop or approach a motor vehicle for the purpose of offering, selling or providing any com- modity or service to or soliciting the driver or any other person in the motor vehicle.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to the offer, sale or provision of towing or repair services or any other commodity or service in an emergency.

(3) Subsection (1) does not apply to fund-raising activities that are

(a) permitted by a by-law of the municipality in which the activities are conducted; and

(b) approved by the traffic authority responsible for the roadway on which the activities are conducted. 2007, c. 45, s. 13.

In other words, the legislature exempted Shinerama and firefighters with their boots.

This is as good a time as any to revisit Lezlie Lowe’s 2008 piece, “Squeezing squeegeers: The war against Halifax’s street peddlers has nothing to do with safety, and everything to do with criminalizing poverty.”

4. The value of photojournalism

https://twitter.com/real_timbophoto/status/991384687540097024

Seriously, we can’t just send reporters out with iPhones.

5. Three more cannabis stores

The province announced yesterday that three more NSLC stores will sell cannabis. They are in Bridgewater (274 Dufferin St.), New Minas (9256 Commercial St.), and Antigonish (151 Church St.). That fills a few of the geographic holes in the cannabis distribution map, but how I’m glad I’m not in Sherbrooke now.

Which is excuse enough to post this cartoon:

6. Headless in Truro

Photo: Cody McEachern

After the lumberjack statue unfortunately but hilariously lost its head, the city of Truro has decided to take down the last of its tree statues, reports Cody McEachern for the Truro News. The 43 statues were carved in 1999 as the city cut down elms that fell victim to Dutch elm disease; they have now rotted away.


Views

1. Solemnization of Marriage Act

Halifax lawyer Barbara Darby reviews the recent changes to the Solemnization of Marriage Act and the historic case law around the act.

Darby notes that “The evolution of the marriage law is a clear instance of the imposition of dominant settler religious values on legislation in Canada, such that the law initially codified only Christian religious practices that included Sunday worship…”:

[M]arriage licences were introduced in Nova Scotia in 1758, and were optional, “the preferred procedure” for the marriage ritual being “calling the banns.” Banns are the public(ish) announcement in a Christian church of an intended marriage between two specified persons. You can’t be vague: “Joe hopes to get married this year” or “Check out the spinsters in pew 7!” This was essentially a 3 week notice to the community to give folks (for example, and this is key, an existing spouse) the opportunity to object to it. 

In the cases Darby reviews, the women (and often, girls) always get the short end of the ruling. The details of some of the cases are heart-breaking, as with the one she ends with, Kawaluk v. Kawaluk, 1927:

The Plaintiff claimed she was forced at age 14 into an arranged marriage. When she refused to consummate it, she said both husband and father were physically violent to her. The marriage was related to a land deal, but the Court rejected the notion that the daughter was sold; rather, it declared in the absence of the now-deceased father that all he wanted was his daughter’s happiness and that the daughter’s claims amounted to defaming her father’s memory. Ethnicity is a factor here. The Plaintiff was Ruthenian; the Court declares that “amongst these people the girls mature and marry at a very early age” and the observation that the daughter speaks English very well is held up as evidence that she was intelligent and able to look after herself.

No documentary evidence of the marriage was offered, and “The priest or clergyman [was] charged with misconduct of the gravest nature, with purporting to perform a marriage ceremony with a bride refusing to give her consent and in tears during the ceremony.”

It is an odd and sad case, all the odder because her claim was undefended and yet unsuccessful. The Court finds nothing wrong here: it states that there’s “nothing to indicate, except the age of the plaintiff and her unwillingness to marry at all, any undesirable feature in the marriage.” These seem like two pretty fundamental things! Her claim of a lack of consent was rejected, her testimony described as being a “tale….tardily told” and she was not permitted to escape the marriage, although she clearly wanted to. The Plaintiff’s effort to stay with her husband and make it work indicated to the Court that she had ratified the deal. She clearly did not consider she had any realistic alternatives. Her testimony ended with “I tried to be his wife, but I never could make it. I did not want to leave as was no good for me or for him” [sic].

Marriage upheld.


Government

City

Wednesday

North West Planning Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 7pm, Sackville Heights Community Centre) — here’s the agenda.

Thursday

Environment & Sustainability Standing Committee (Thursday, 1pm, City Hall) — here’s the agenda.

Point Pleasant Park Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4:30pm, City Hall) — Zoe Lucas and Dorianne Rheaume will give a presentation on the Sable Island Institute. I don’t know what that has to do with Point Pleasant Park either; maybe they’re going to set a bunch of ponies loose in the park.

Architectural excellence in Dartmouth Crossing.

Harbour East Marine Drive Community Council (Thursday, 6pm, HEMDCC Meeting Space, Alderney Gate) —  the North American Development Group, the development company that created Dartmouth Crossing, wants to build two apartment buildings — one 15 storeys and the second seven storeys — with a total of 325 units between them. I have no idea why anyone would want to live in Dartmouth Crossing, but there it is.

Province

Wednesday

Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, Province House) — we know what they should be talking about… but instead they’ll be asking Byron Rafuse, the deputy minister of Finance, and Bret Mitchell, the CEO of the NSLC, about booze.

Thursday

No public meetings.


On campus

Dalhousie

Wednesday

Service Learning Program Project Presentations (Wednesday, 4pm, Rooms 264 and 266, Collaborative Health Education Building) — second year Medical students show off their work. RSVP to sarah.peddle@dal.ca.

Thursday

Canadian Council for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (CCSBE) Conference (Thursday, 9am, Kenneth Rowe Business Building, McCain Arts and Social Sciences Building, and University Club) — I hate to be cynical (really!), but come on… this is the bullshit they’re spouting in business schools nowadays?:

Dalhousie University’s Norman Newman Centre for Entrepreneurship (LaunchDal) together with the Rowe School of Business is pleased to invite you to the annual conference of the Canadian Council for SMEs and Entrepreneurship (CCSBE), from May 3rd to 5th, 2018 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. This conference celebrates the contributions of researchers, entrepreneurship educators, practitioners in the community, policy makers and others supporting small business and entrepreneurship, It Takes a Village. We welcome the sharing of ideas, research, educational programs, pedagogy, community-based initiatives, and related newfangled projects to facilitate and support small business and entrepreneurship.

“It Takes a Village” to screw workers out of a living wage and increase inequality, and the village elders will figure out a way to shill this shit and increase their own wealth.

Pleasure to discuss Dalhousie’s catalytic role in research, industry and innovation with @DalVPR, Chris Huskilson and John Risley.

When universities, industry, gov’t & philanthropy collaborate, we can address important issues for our province, region and world. pic.twitter.com/s6eLG0a42K

— Deep Saini (@DalPres) May 1, 2018

Just don’t mention a living wage, OK?


In the harbour

1:30am: AS Felicia, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for Kingston, Jamaica
2:30am: Salarium, bulker, sails from National Gypsum for Bayside, Quebec
5:30am: Dover Highway, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Portbury, England
6am: ZIM Constanza, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Algeciras, Spain
6am: Asian Sun, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Philipsburg, Sint Maarten
7am: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Berth TBD from Saint-Pierre
10am: YM Moderation, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
2pm: Rosaire A. Desgagnes, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 25 from Tampico, Mexico
3pm: Dover Highway, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
4pm: Em Kea, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Montreal
4:30pm: ZIM Constanza, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for New York
9:30pm: YM Moderation, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Dubai


Footnotes

I’ll be on The Sheldon MacLeod Show, News 95.7, at 2pm.

Tim Bousquet

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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  1. There was always a plan to develop the residential buildings at Dartmouth Crossing, it just ended up being delayed (quite) a few years. I had the thought it could be a great idea, in that they have a chance to develop a walking community with so many shops and restaurants just next door, and access to Shubie park. Along with the residential portion, I had heard that Sobey’s was supposed to open a store at some point, but it looks like where i thought it was to go the Ikea and a Cabela’s are now located.

  2. Re: fines (both panhandling and Armoyan’s record): I believe it’s Sweden that charges fines based on income, so someone earning $35k a year would get, say, a $50 ticket whereas someone earning $350k would get a $500 ticket for the same offence. Treating fines in a equitable manner to discourage undesirable activity rather than yet another means to punish the poor for being poor seems way too reasonable to adopt here.

    1. The Swedish policy on income-tied fines is a wonderful one that should be duplicated worldwide.

  3. Zoe Lucas and the office of the Sable Island Institute now have office space in one of the caretaker buildings at PPP.

  4. I would have hoped that police would have used discretion with panhandlers from medians. A warning not to dart in and out of traffic might suffice.

    1. How do you know that warnings weren’t given? Also, warnings with no threat behind them are just noise.

      1. And giving a ticket to folks who are already dead broke and reduced to panhandling on the street accomplishes what?

        1. It stops a tragic situation from getting worse:

          Some people who panhandle are mentally ill and can get aggressive. They need to have some check on their behaviour. Not everyone is capable of functioning in society. Reality sucks and it isn’t society’s fault. Really, they should be getting cared for in some way, but the practice of institutionalizing people went away in the 1960s because of human rights cases and the development of better drugs. The problem of what to do with people who are seriously antisocial is a perennial one across all cultures. We used to just kill or banish them.

          As far as the people who are more functional and just down on their luck, it’s a travesty that there isn’t some sort of guaranteed employment program. The phenomenon of mentally and physically able people not being able to find work is an entirely modern one, and one that causes a tremendous amount of distress and problems in our society. It’s absolutely unacceptable, and the solution isn’t to make panhandling marginally easier.

          Right now as it stands the police generally allow panhandling because it would be cruel and pointless to eliminate the practice (which they very well could), and the small percentage of panhandlers who do things like scream expletives at people, get in people’s faces, etc get tickets and either change their behaviour or find something else to do. If there was no restriction on their behaviour then those individuals would colour people’s feelings towards panhandlers as a whole and probably reduce the income of panhandlers, not raise it.

  5. Is a large container ship more dangerous to the marine environment than a large crude oil tanker ?
    I would prefer peonies being lose in Point Pleasant Park.

  6. I used to think it was awful and ridiculous that kings justified their station by saying God put them in charge, but the more I hear from sanctimonious thought leaders like Florizone and Risley, the more I think we should just put the Society for Creative Anachronism in charge of everything and call it a day. They already have a feudal hierarchy mapped out after all (and nobody suspects the SCA). The problem with fake meritocracies is that the people at the top of them are in danger of believing their own BS – it might be better to for our leaders to get the BS out of the way first by saying that a strange woman in a pond gave them a magic sword and that’s that and then get to the business of running society.

    We only ever learn about the failures of government systems other than the present one, and not their successes.

    (this comment is only 50% serious)