News

1. Lyme disease

Black-legged tick female unengorged. Photo: Vett Lloyd

“Tick populations in Nova Scotia are exploding largely because of climate change and the province is Canada’s ‘hot spot’ for Lyme disease,” reports Joan Baxter. “So, how is the province monitoring and managing tick-borne diseases and health risks?”

This is the first of a two-part series.

Click here to read “A plague of ticks, tick-borne diseases, and poli-ticks.”

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2. Nova Scotia’s broken child protection system

Family Court, Halifax

Writes Stephen Kimber:

Until an unexpected email forced me to reconsider last November, I hadn’t taken the time to connect all the dots from the individual stories I’d written to the larger picture of the child welfare system they painted. I had no idea Nova Scotia’s Children and Family Services Act had been significantly amended in 2015. Or any clue many inside and outside the system believed life for children and families was now worse even than the cases I’d written about so randomly over the years.

Click here to read “Hey, Mr. Politician: What’s your plan to fix Nova Scotia’s broken child protection system?”

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3. COVID

Percentage of Nova Scotia’s entirely population that had received one and two doses as of Friday.

There were 2 new cases reported Friday, eight Saturday, and three Sunday. It feels like we’re in a race between the next potential major outbreak and increased vaccination.

Premier Iain Rankin and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang have scheduled a COVID briefing for 3pm today; I’ll be there and will follow along on my Twitter account.

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4. Nova Scotia Power in 2031

Tufts Cove Generating Plant. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Nova Scotia Power submitted its “10-Year System Outlook” to the Utility and Review Board last week, and as it admits, it’s already out of date:

Until the federal coal phase-out policy changes announced in the fall of 2016, operation of and planning for its coal-fired generation units proceeded consistent with the provisions of the Agreement on Equivalency of Federal and Nova Scotia Regulations for the Control of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Electricity Producers in Nova Scotia (the Equivalency Agreement). The Equivalency Agreement was finalized in May 2014 and commenced in July 2015, contemporaneous with the effective date for the current federal Reduction of Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Coal-Fired Generation of Electricity Regulations.

In November 2016, the Province of Nova Scotia announced that an agreement-in-principle had been reached with the Government of Canada to develop a new equivalency agreement driven by amendments proposed by the Federal Government to the Reduction of Carbon

The Federal Government recently announced its intention to cease all coal-fired electricity generation by 2030. The Government of Nova Scotia has indicated a similar intention with respect to the Province of Nova Scotia. In February 2021 the Government of Nova Scotia announced its intention to implement a Renewable Energy Standard of 80 percent by 2030. In addition, the Federal Government has also indicated its intention to increase the cost of GHG emissions by increasing the Federal carbon price by $15/tonne beginning in 2023 and reaching a level of $170/tonne by 2030.

In response to these recent governmental policy statements and to better prepare for the potential that these policy statements become law, NS Power is developing comprehensive plan to transform its generation fleet, eliminating coal-fired generation by 2030 and reducing GHG emissions to 1-2 Mt/year by 2030. NS Power continues to engage with both levels of government to explore opportunities to accelerate the Company’s carbon reduction strategy in a way that is affordable for customers and that supports NS Power’s customers and the communities where they live and work.

As the government’s announced policy changes become legislative and regulatory requirements, NS Power will reflect these changes in future planning studies.

As is, the Trenton coal plant is scheduled to be decommissioned next year, and Pt. Aconi in 2031, but if we’re at all serious about meeting greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, the other two coal plants —Point Tupper and the giant Lingan — will have to be decommissioned as well.

What do I know? But it strikes me that there may be an opportunity as we shut down those plants. They’re obviously connected to the grid, and so perhaps some offshore wind farms can use the same infrastructure. (Scotland has reached nearly 100% renewable power for its electrical grid by using offshore wind.)

And note that biomass is still being forecast as part of the power mix, at least for the next three years; the document says that biomass will account for about 6% of Nova Scotia’s “renewable energy,” which is a false accounting, as there’s nothing much renewable about biomass.

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5. Bridging Finance

On June 25, I pointed to an article by Mary Campbell of the Cape Breton Spectator, “Membertou Borrowed $6.8M from Bridging Finance for Novaporte Stake,” in which she reported:

Membertou Chief Terry Paul, whose band borrowed $6.8 million from Toronto-based private lender Bridging Finance Inc to finance an investment in a proposed Sydney container terminal, says he is not concerned about the arrangement despite Bridging having been placed in receivership on April 30 amid allegations of fraud and misappropriation of funds by its founders and executives.

Membertou and Bridging Inc were announced as partners in Albert Barbusci’s Novaporte “consortium” in January 2020. Barbusci (as my regular readers must surely know) heads Sydney Harbour Investment Partners (SHIP), which just this month had its exclusive contract to market the Port of Sydney as the site for a container terminal for ultra-large vessels extended by three years.

Bridging is in trouble for a number of reasons, the first being a series of “questionable loans” made between January 2017 and April 2020. But investors are also unhappy about an injection of cash the firm received in September 2020 from a group of investors led by R.C. Morris & Co. As the Globe and Mail reported, Bridging “initially kept investors in the dark” about the “participation note,” which put R.C. Morris first in line for payment should Bridging encounter financial difficulties. (David Sharpe told OSC investigators the injection was needed because COVID had resulted in a flurry of redemptions the company was unable to honor.)

This morning, CBC reporter Tom Ayers nudges the story along a bit, interviewing George Karaphillis, dean of Cape Breton University’s Shannon School of Business:

“It is obviously a concern that the venture capital firm that’s backing the project is in financial difficulties and it’s in receivership,” he [Karaphillis] said.

It’s difficult to know how it will play out, Karaphillis said, but it’s possible that the receiver might need to sell the company’s stake in NovaPorte or call its loan to Membertou in order to gain liquidity.

Understand that the supposed Sydney container terminal is entirely fictional. Ayers continues:

The container terminal development has been talked about for a decade or more, but there has never been any public evidence that it is closer to becoming a reality.

Cape Breton Regional Municipality has set aside a piece of land for the proposed terminal across the harbour from Sydney.

The promoter says he has financing, a builder and a shipping line for a customer, but he also recently secured from CBRM a three-year extension on an exclusive contract to get the project going in earnest.

SHIP principals Albert Barbusci and Barry Sheehy have said their company is private and that their information needs to remain private to avoid tipping off possible competitors.

CBRM’s mayor, councillors and staff also had to sign non-disclosure agreements that they say prevented them from providing any details.

With everything secret, here’s the big claim:

Barbusci said last fall he has the financing to build the proposed terminal, has found a builder and has a customer lined up to bring in shipping containers.

Again, there is not one shred of evidence that this is anything other than complete bullshit. Some guy from Quebec says he has financing, a builder, and a customer, and we’re simply supposed to believe him, and hand over a bunch of public money:

SHIP has launched an effort to press the Nova Scotia government for investment in the railway, but the province has repeatedly said private investors would have to fund the more than $100 million needed to rebuild the rail bridges and tracks.

CBRM Mayor Amanda McDougall told Ayers that she agreed to the contract extension simply because Membertou is involved. And now the sketchy venture capital firm backing Membertou is tied up in a scandal-ridden bankruptcy proceeding.

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Government

City

No public meetings today or Tuesday.

Province

No public meetings this week.


On campus

Dalhousie

Tuesday

The Future of Long-term Care in Canada (Tuesday, 4pm) — online panel discussion with Joanne Langley, Darrell Dexter, Anne McLellan, Jason Shannon, Samir Sinha, Gaynor Watson-Creed, and Thomas Axworthy.


In the harbour

Halifax
07:00: Selfoss, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Reykjavik
08:00: Nord Swift, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from Houston
10:30: Selfoss sails for Portland

Cape Breton
17:00: Fairway, oil tanker, arrives at Point Tupper from Odudu Terminal, an oil platform off Nigeria


Footnotes

[Insert your own exciting and/or boring observation here.]


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Tim Bousquet

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

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