1. Battle for the Mill
Joan Baxter, author of The Mill: 50 Years of Pulp & Protest, looks at how the plan to pipe effluent from the Northern Pulp Mill into the Northumberland Strait is dividing the community of Pictou, pitting neighbour against neighbour and fishermen against mill workers.
Click here to read “Battle for the Mill.”
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I know this becomes redundant, but subscriptions are what allows us to pay writers like Baxter to do work that may not otherwise be published.
2. Lafarge tire-burning plan
“A handful of citizens who live beside a cement plant in Brookfield, 10 kilometers south of Truro, have lost a court battle to prevent Lafarge Canada from burning tires for fuel. CABOT (Citizens Against the Burning of Tires) launched a judicial review of Environment Minister Iain Rankin’s decision last July approving the project,” reports Jennifer Henderson. “Yesterday, Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice James Chipman denied the appeal and upheld the minister’s decision.”
Click here to read “Judge refuses to intervene in Lafarge’s tire-burning plan.”
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For some unknown reason, the CBC yesterday re-reported the story Halifax Examiner contributor Jennifer Henderson wrote over a year ago about the demise of LightSail Energy. You can read the CBC’s not-so-informative article here, or you can read Henderson’s much more detailed account:
In a bid to salvage something positive from the collapse of the Bowater mill in Brooklyn, the province bought a $2 million equity stake in LightSail Energy. The compressed air energy storage company was started by Dartmouth whiz kid turned Silicon Valley darling Danielle Fong, who promised to build a renewable energy demonstration project at the former mill site. But the company has burned through $70 million, Fong’s credibility is questioned, and the Brooklyn project may never materialize.
We’ve taken Henderson’s article out from behind the paywall. Click here to read “Gone like the wind.”
Of course, had you been a subscriber a year ago, you would’ve known all about this…
4. Willow Tree
Yesterday, Halifax council voted on a revised plan for the Willow Tree development, meaning the issue will go back to another (the third, I think) public hearing.
I was at the meeting, but I don’t now have time to report on it myself, so read Zane Woodford’s account.
4. Halifax Water
Also at yesterday’s meeting, Halifax council approved the Halifax Water annual budget. Without getting into the details of the budget, this is mostly a non-controversial issue (yes, details matter….), but councillor Matt Whitman repeatedly badgered Halifax Water reps and ended up being the sole no vote against the budget.
It’s clear that Whitman is positioning himself as the advocate for those angered by the “ditch tax” and for developers who feel they should be charged less in connection fees. We’ll see if that political calculus works for Whitman. It might.
5. Ghost Towns
Jessica Leeder, the Globe & Mail’s Atlantic reporter, has written a thoughtful article about Nova Scotia’s “dying towns,” focusing first on Mulgrave:
Mr. Hadley’s side gig as mayor of Mulgrave, the lowest-paid mayoral seat in Nova Scotia, is the one no one covets. Its population whittled down to just 700, Mulgrave is battling a long list of ills, among them potholed roads, abandoned houses, empty storefronts, an aging population, an impending school closure and an overall, understandable lack of optimism. Like many small towns in heavily rural Nova Scotia, Mulgrave is failing.
Reading Leeder’s article, I recalled ghost towns I’ve known.
The American southwest is home to the best-known ghost towns. These towns mostly sat atop silver and gold deposits, and hundreds or thousands of people lived in them for a few years or a few decades in the early 20th century until the mines played out. Their source of employment gone, the workers would remove themselves (and if they had them, their families) to the next opportunity over the next ridge or the next state. We know about these abandoned towns because the structures that comprised them have survived thanks to the arid desert climate. They’re now tourist destinations.
The weather was much less forgiving to abandoned towns on the windward side of the Sierra Nevada, where I lived. The abandoned towns of the gold rush era (famously, 1849 to around 1870) didn’t have a chance in the endless cycles of rain, snow, flood, and erosion, and the lush forests quickly ripped apart and consumed anything made of wood. Through the gold rush, there were more people living on the Sierra than there are now, filling up thriving metropolises with names like Cherokee, Gold Run, Rough and Ready, and Dogtown; people now live in some of those places, but just coincidentally — there is no continuous connection back to the mining towns.
There were also lumbering towns in the foothills. I once spent a week trudging through the forests fruitlessly looking for any sign of a long-abandoned town on the edge of the bluffs above Chico Canyon. At its height at around 1875, the town held a few hundred, maybe as many as a thousand, people, all employed in felling the old growth forest and transporting the trees to a 30-mile long flume that carried the wood to a mill on the valley floor. The town had a school, a store and post office, sturdy homes and businesses, now all gone. The third- or fourth-growth forest is today so thick I couldn’t even find the contours of an old road that I had been told had been visible a decade before.
But what of the human loss that comes with abandoned towns?
I didn’t feel the enormity of that loss until I moved to Arkansas and found not ghost towns, but dying towns. These are all over the south. Typically built in the late 19th century about 20 miles apart from each other on a railroad line, the towns were the meeting point for farmers selling their goods. There was the mill and depot, the grocery store, three or four churches, a line of restaurants and shops on a main street. In the 1930s, these places were given a shot in the arm with the introduction of movie theatres — the one place where people could gather in air conditioning to beat the relentless summer heat and humidity.
But by the 21st century, the towns were pale shadows of their once thriving selves. If the former shop buildings on Main Street existed at all, they were abandoned and boarded up; more likely, they had burned down or collapsed and were now a hole in the ground or an empty lot. Some of the better constructed buildings had long ago been raided for their bricks, but most were just a pile of rubble. The church congregations have moved on to the megachurches in the city, or to the new Church of Christ building out in the hills.
A few of the theatre buildings still stand, hollow shells that echo with the ghosts of glamour on the screen, a cacophony of laughter at Abbott and Costello, first kisses stolen in the dark. A few homes still stand a block or two from Main Street, and a bar — by my time, the legion hall — where drunken old men would lie to me about their exploits.
For stories involving other places and other issues, I’d often interview someone who grew up in one of the dying towns; they had left for jobs in the “city” (itself struggling at 10,000 people), and they’d speak of how the WalMart destroyed the old business district, how no one could afford to keep up the town.
There was nothing else to do, so on weekends I’d drive around and find these dying towns. Sometimes I’d get out and stare through the cracks in the boarded up buildings, kick the rubble, sit on the steps of an abandoned church, have a drink with the drunks at the legion. These were sad, sad places. I thought of the hopes and dreams of people growing up in the towns, how their promise had been dashed by things no one, least of all the smarty pants reporter, could understand. There were a thousand personal decisions made — take the job across the county, move with the baby to grandma’s house, join the military, close down the diner as I’m just too damn tired and the money isn’t worth it anymore — each story individually mundane, but collectively they make up the death of a town.
There’s a lot more to the story of southern disenchantment — foremost, racism and its associated cultural tribalism that has turned the southern breed of Christianity into a hate cult — but the death of the towns is a contributing factor. Music snobs will forgive me for saying that it is the inspiration for the Jimmy Buffet song, Ringling, Ringling:
Church windows broken
That place ain’t been used in years
Jail don’t have a sheriff or a cell
And electric trains they run by maybe once or twice a month
Easin’ it on down to Mussel ShoalsRingling, Ringling
Only forty people livin’ there today
‘Cause the streets are dusty and the bank had been torn down
It’s a dyin’ little townAnd across from the bar there’s a pile of beer cans
Been there twenty-seven years
Imagine all the heart aches and tears
In twenty-seven years of beer
I’ve seen hundreds of these towns.
So Leeder’s look at Nova Scotia’s dying towns intrigues me. It’s tempting to simply say: this is how things go. Nova Scotia long had a resource economy that fuelled a healthy rural economy, but due to happenstance and mismanagement, it doesn’t work anymore. It’s not the town’s fault that the fishery collapsed, or that the coal is no longer worth digging up, or that anymore the forest isn’t good for anything but pulp and even that doesn’t provide much work, but here we are. As Leeder writes:
The dampened resource economy, shifting jobs, shuttered stores and the ease of highway travel — both to work and big-box stores — have starved town cores and slashed their tax bases, making revenue harder to generate. Meanwhile, the increased regulation of water, waste, planning and zoning has made running a town more expensive and complex than ever, [Kevin Matheson, an accountant who often works for struggling towns] said. “You need experts now in a whole large number of fields, which is a struggle when you have a small tax base,” he said.
Add the maintenance of aging infrastructure — roads, sewage systems, water treatment plants — and you have a road map to crisis mode, Mr. Matheson said.
And while the greater economic forces are the dominant story in the demise of towns, the residents have their place to play as well. You’ll find no bigger advocates for four-laning highways than people living in dying towns. And I’ve been watching the demise of the Co-op grocery stores, as people would rather drive to the Halifax Costco once a month than support the local institution that employed young people and breathed life into the town.
A hundred years ago, in California or Arizona, the residents of the dying towns were realistic enough to know that no one was going to bail them out, and so they moved on. And, like it or not, that’s largely what’s happening in rural Nova Scotia, as young people move to the city in search of work and opportunity.
But while such an attitude might be understandable, especially to those of us living comfortably in the city, it misses a whole lot. There’s a very strong attachment to place in Atlantic Canada; I’ve never seen anything quite like it. I’ve known promising young students in Nova Scotia, people smart enough to go on to grad school and earn a PhD and become highly paid academics, who have turned all that down because it meant leaving home and family in Nova Scotia. It’s not for me to pass judgment on their life decisions, but I know I’m dealing with something profoundly deep.
And rural identity is at the core of Nova Scotia sensibilities. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why or how this matters, but it does.
I don’t think there’s any easy answer to the depopulation of rural Nova Scotia or the dying towns. Undoubtedly, things will mostly continue apace, young people will continue to flee, and other than a handful of exceptional places that have figured out how to buck the tide, most towns will die.
So it goes, indeed, but let’s not pretend we aren’t losing something important.
7. Smiling Goat
This photo of a sandwich board outside the Smiling Goat was making its way around social media yesterday:
According to people who commented on my social media feed, the Smiling Goat’s owners are out of town. I’ve been unable to speak to them.
Audit and Finance Standing Committee (Wednesday, 10am, City Hall) — the Khyber building.
Accessing Affordable, Healthy Food (Wednesday, 3pm, Halifax Central Public Library) — Round 3.
Halifax and West Community Council (Wednesday, 6pm, City Hall) — here’s the agenda.
Accessing Affordable, Healthy Food (Thursday, 10am, Halifax Central Public Library) — Round 4.
Investment Policy Advisory Committee (Thursday, 12pm, City Hall) — nothing much on the agenda.
Transportation Standing Committee (Thursday, 1pm, City Hall) — a busy meeting.
Accessibility Framework Session (Thursday, 2pm and 6pm, Gordon R. Snow Community Centre, Fall River) — all about accessibility.
Centre Plan – Discuss Package “A” (Thursday, 6pm,
NSCC Waterfront Campus the FABULOUS RAY IVANY MEMORIAL AND CELEBRATORY CAMPUS) — info here.
Accessing Affordable, Healthy Food (Thursday, 7pm, Keshen Goodman Public Library) — Round 4.
No public meetings for the rest of the week.
Voice Recital (Wednesday, 11:45am, Sculpture Court, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — students of Michael Donovan perform.
POSTPONED DUE TO EXPECTED WEATHER Preserving the Rights of Aging Prisoners (
Wednesday, 7pm, Room 2-29 Lecture Theatre, NSCC Cumberland Campus, Springhill) — Adelina Iftene will speak.
Help Design the Bicentennial Commons (Thursday, 11:30am, lobby, Howe Hall) — info here.
Catalonia’s Cinema (Tuesday, 7pm, Halifax Central Library) —Jerry White will speak on “Homage to Catalonia’s Cinema: Understanding Spain’s Most Restless Region.” Rescheduled from March 13.
The Shared Work Model of Collaboration (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Auditorium, Marion McCain Building) — the rhyming spoken word artist / woo-woo slinger Tim Merry is now calling himself a “Systems Change Strategist.” Funny shit.
Michael Medline (Thursday, 5:30pm, McNally Theatre) — the President and CEO of Sobeys will speak on “Defense to Offense: Winning our Own Game,” on how to thrill customers in today’s retail environment, because there is no more thrilling experience than getting followed around as a possible shoplifter at Sobeys. Register here.
In the harbour
5:45am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Autoport from St. John’s
10:30am: Atlantic Sea, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
11:30am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Autoport to Pier 41
1pm: Proti, bulker, sails from anchorage for sea
2pm: Silver Express, oil tanker, arrives at anchorage for inspection from New Haven, Connecticut
2:30pm: Silver Express, oil tanker, sails from anchorage for sea
3:30pm: NS Stella, oil tanker, arrives at Irving Oil from Saint John
3:30pm: Don Juan, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southampton, England
6pm: Atlantic Sun, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
8:30pm: Atlantic Sea, ro-ro container, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
Weather is on the way, they say.
I’ll be on The Sheldon MacLeod Show, News 95.7, at 2pm.
I understand that the Shediac -Dieppe area of NB has enjoyed considerable growth because the area has managed to attract the tech-savvy young people who can fill the needs of this part of the economy. With this sort of focus established, the small businesses like the great little coffee shops and bakeries spring up around the tech centers. This did not happen by accident; some smart people decided to focus conscientiously on bringing a vibrant, non-resource extraction industry to an area that produces lots of college and university grads, many of whom are bilingual.When companies are stressing that people-skills and being able to work as part of a team are near the top of their wishlists then municipalities should be listening. This area of NB clearly got it.
Antigonish town and County have declared themselves Blue Dot Communities where sustainability is a top focus; this area has also sent a message to Premier MacNeil on his not being disagreeable to a fracking outfit coming into a County or town , if that’s what that area wants. This leaving- it- to- the- towns- to- decide is fine, but this government and its predecessors have something to learn from areas like Antigonish, and it is this- a healthy environment, fresh air and clean water matter more than reducing a giant company’s carbon footprint or having an international company come in and frack for gas and be gone within a year and a half to leave the taxpayer of NS to clean up their messes, many of which cannot be remediated easily or at all. How do you remediate and aquifer with well-fracking fluids in it?
No wonder there are complaints from some municipalities in NS about the freeing up of each to decide on whether or not they would permit fracking or whether they want to offer race-to-the-bottom incentives for industry just to come in and set up. This is a divisive thing and a dangerous idea.
Enjoyed the article and the comments.
Very good points. I think the problem is a lot of the traditional mining/fishing/forestry sectors fit well within an established framework of politics/cronyism and patronage. Tech and new/young faces less so. The politicians and bureaucrats don’t really know how it fits within their back room realms of reciprocity.
Saving communities from becoming ghost towns is a recent concept… even 50 years ago towns were allowed to ghost away and although some would say it was horrid at the time, today most people would not recognize the loss. Am I heartless or just practical? Today we constantly hear people speak out against putting money into failing business ventures that cannot stand on their own two feet… there is a similarity to the situation many rural communities are facing. Empathy and ethics have their place in this issue but so do long-term realities. Who decides and what are the out-of-the box potential solutions?
the citizens of Nova Scotia paid for the infrastructure, we should at least be able to get some competitive rates down here. I thought this was the Fightin’ province, yet we take our lashings without a whimper.
It’s the “Be a good boy and they will be nice to me” bias. You really don’t wanna be pissin people off, but there Waye Mason is, in the line up at the Dollarstore…. Halifax is such a small town, with some fresh glass guillotines for the next explosion, how will we get through this next Boondongle/Boondingle, find out next week.
This cracks me up:
‘Sources reported that Fong was “getting paid $225,000 a year when coming to work one day per week on average.” She also got a company loan to buy a Tesla Model S.’
‘Emera Inc. CEO Chris Huskilson saw his total compensation jump by $710,000 last year, up 16 per cent to more than $5 million.’
So, the CEO is charge of the utility that is burning dirty coal and mature trees to power our grid is good, and the CEO in charge of raising money to bring to commercial production scale a device that can store renewable clean energy is bad.
My own hometown in NB lost its three main industries in ten years and is now desolate. Rather than hear the racket, rattle, and roar of the paper mill at night, in spring you can hear spring peepers and crickets from the steps of the post office. Last week three coyotes killed a deer in the heart of town, and the only person who noticed was a lady outside for a smoke. The main street reminds me of Bob Dylan’s ‘North Country Blues’: “Cardboard-filled windows and old men on the benches/Tell you now that the whole town is empty.”
That said, I think Nova Scotia offers examples of dead communities coming back to life, although not what they were before. Look at Port Medway, for example, and other places on the South Shore. Elsewhere, even Detroit appears to have started an as-yet modest but still impressive comeback. Much of the problem when people complain – as they do in my home town – is that people want things back to the way they were. That isn’t going to happen, and history affords examples of places rising and falling and rising again, including in my little home town. But they were recreated as something new each time.
People have to accept that while things can change for the better they won’t necessarily – almost certainly won’t be – what they were before. This insistence on wanting to rebuild the past holds thing back. As I often say about New Brunswick in general, people want change as long as things stay the same, and they want young people to stay as long as the young people act like they are middle-aged.
Regarding lightsail, has anything good actually ever come out of Silicon Valley?
There’s a lot we could do to save those small towns that can be saved. Temporary foreign workers can come in seasonally and do the work when there is work, and leave when there isn’t. They don’t spend much money because they are supporting families at home, and a bunch of itinerant people, nearly all male, does not make a community. For instance, there are lots of labourers from Jamaica who work in the Annapolis valley every summer. If it really is the case that we have to import people from Jamaica to pick apples (at wages and under conditions Canadians won’t accept), then we should let their families move here with them. Or raise the minimum wage for TFWs to $25 an hour. I don’t really care which.
Of course, anything which allows work conditions and wages to improve in our seasonal, rural industries like agriculture and fish processing would make our producers more vulnerable to imports from elsewhere. Why do the Risleys have the right to workers who make minimum wage?
The willingness of people to work in the Annapolis Valley and the willingness of people to live there are very different.
A 6 or 12 week a year job isn’t enough to live on. I’m not sure what these theorized Jamaicans do with the rest of the year, but it could be winter tourism near their homes. Martock doesn’t have any problem finding staff, but the Kingston (Jamaica) Sandals well might.
And if that is the case, that seems far more healthy and sustainable for both Kingstons, and the people themselves, than incentivizing them to move north and live on EI for most of the year.
I have no idea why Jamaica is where the valley gets many of their TFWs, but I’m not making it up, and they work more than 12 weeks in most cases. It’s not just Oulton who has this relationship with the Jamaicans, I just found this article as an example. Either way it doesn’t matter where the workers are from, it’s just an interesting bit of local flavour and Nova Scotian continuity – the fortifications on Citadel Hill were mostly built by paid Jamaican labourers for instance.
I agree that there’s a problem with agricultural jobs not fitting the assumptions of industrial society. People in agrarian societies oscillate between periods of backbreaking sunup-to-sundown work (or more, there’s a reason why there’s such a term as a harvest moon) and relative idleness. But 8 months of work and 4 months EI is a considerably better ratio than many habitual EI collectors achieve.
Perhaps the current policy is best for now, but it isn’t what’s best for the rural towns specifically.
Perfect, if sad, companion to Ghost Towns piece, is pop band Quiet Parade’s tune from their debut “Old Haunts” CD, where they sing about hometown Yarmouth, “One-by-one, all the kids are leaving, got no reason to stay, this tiny little town at the edge of the ocean is starting to lose its way…” by DC https://quietparade.bandcamp.com/track/edge-of-the-ocean . BTW, the band does a killer live show if you get the chance.
Rural NS can be absolutely breathtaking and very affordable. Particularly when compared with the rest of Canada. From May to November it’s paradise. There seems to be a small but steady stream of retirees recognizing the benefits and migrating from parts West. I’m not sure what would keep /attract youth. Many in our area seem to be interested in homesteading. It seems the cap on vacant land discourages those with acreage from ever putting it up for sale. If you had 100acres assessed at 10k with a market value of 200k you’d be unlikely to sell and few would want to buy knowing how much the taxes might increase when it gets migrated/reassessed/built on. I think the current valuation/cap system stifles growth/potential in rural spots. Also having health care as provincial and not national burdens the NS tax system as a retirement destination when that’s the demographic that most heavily consumes health care. If there are 10 times more Ontarians, they spend their working years there and even a small % move here to retire/consume health care, it’s hard on our tax base. It’s not like an equivalent number of Nova Scotians are retiring there.
Mulgrave is more a hamlet than a town.
In the 1970s I was in many small ‘towns’ in Newfoundland and I know that Fogo is a much improved town thanks to the Alberta oil industry and what were boarded up homes are now desirable summer homes. I should have taken more photos.
* for millionaires?
No. Homes for former residents who moved away to work,settled down and had family. The oil Alberta patch was a tremendous boost for the Newfoundland economy. The former senior RCMP officer in HRM was a Fogo man and we often talked about Fogo and rural Newfoundland. He took his family home every summer and recognised the homes I had photographed. Yes, a wealthy lady retired and returned to Fogo and built the iconic and expensive hotel, Land and Sea had an episode devoted to the project. Great place and great people.
Roland Wells. He was the CO here in Northeastern NB before he went down there. He was the best Mountie I’ve ever dealt with in terms of getting information for the media. I realize that isn’t a high bar, but he did make an effort. He once talked the fire marshal into giving me photos of a fire that there was no way the fire marshal was going to release with a court order. I still owe him a beer for that.
CAMPUS OF THE GREAT A NOBLE LEADER, LORD OF ALL THE BEASTS, CONQUEROR OF DEBT-TO-GDP RATIO, THE RIGHT HONORABLE SIR RAY IVANY
No easy solutions for “dying towns.” However, as a student around 1980 I had a summer and later part-time job working for the federal Department of Regional Economic Expansion, which was later absorbed by Industry Canada. We had a huge database of every municipality in Canada and the industries within. I worked on a diversification project in which the feds were looking to reduce many municipality’s dependence on single industries. Having grown up in a small mining town and having seen first-hand the impacts on everyone during times of strikes and layoffs, the approach resonated with me.
I don’t know what all became of it, but one result was the opening of tax centres across Canada. Sudbury and St. John’s each got one, and they made a huge difference.
I mention this not as a cure-all, but I am not quick to assert that these towns must pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. Clearly, not every town can have a tax centre. However a coordinated effort with some outside practical assistance can make a difference, if not for all, for some.
Incidentally, this was done recently in Nova Scotia with the decentralization of the Aquaculture portion of the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture. There was quite a bit of disruption at the time and I know (and sympathize with) several people who were impacted significantly. However, there are now more government jobs in Shelburne as a result.
The dying rural town is a really difficult conversation to have, but I think it’s one we need to be having in this province. I see so many communities that are in decline, and will–as the G&M article says–“die an organic death”. But there is a lot of pain that goes along with such an organic death; the people left behind–the people with the fewest means to do anything about their situation–see worsening conditions as they lose their grocery store, and then their bank, and their gas station, and the school, and the health clinic, and their water pipes fail, etc.
Sure, it’s easy to just let time take its course, but the responsible thing to do would be to take a hard look at how we can avoid some of this pain. For example, we’re now spending $120 million to bring internet to something like 1,000 people (so $120 thousand per person; it blows my mind). What if instead we brought the people to internet? And that doesn’t mean moving everyone to “the city”. Our rural areas are important, and there are many rural communities that might still have a future. Think how much more sustainable some of these communities could be if they had 750 new people from the Mulgraves of the world?
This would certainly not be easy. As you noted, Tim, there is a very strong attachment to place in Atlantic Canada. Towns aren’t just the land, they’re also the social connections and the history. So it’s a delicate and challenging dance to keep these things intact through any sort of winding down. But the reality is we can either take charge over the process and make the best of it, or we can be at the mercy of time.
I’m sympathetic to dying towns, but spending $120,000 per person to provide them internet is nuts. We will always have disparities in the cost of providing services to an area and the tax revenue from that area, but there needs to be some sort of limit.
Right now I live in very remote NS. I use a Bell wifi hub for data that’s basically a cell phone data plan for a wifi router. It works quite well but costs about 150$/m for 25gb. I also have a European SIM card for my cell phone that for 30$/m gets me 25gb/m while roaming in Canada. If a French cell company can sell me data in Canada at a fraction of the cost of a Canadian telco something is wrong. They don’t need some magical expensive rural solution for internet they just need to break the monopolies.
This is true, our telcos are a huge problem for us in Canada.
How much did electrification cost? Maybe the idea is that if you have proper internet in a rural area more people will be inclined to live there.
Providing adequate internet service throughout rural Nova Scotia is an immensely complicated problem, far more so than the comments in this thread let on. The new money is not solely intended to bring internet to 1,000 currently unserved households and businesses (not people)–although that is a legitimate problem. It is a response to the constant demand for ever greater bandwidth experienced throughout rural Nova Scotia, an area with a population exceeding half a million people.
This is very challenging technically, and as essential to the continued viability of rural Nova Scotia as electrification was in the 1950s. Every province in Canada is tackling this problem. Nova Scotia just happens to be an extremely rural province, despite the fact that our media comes almost entirely from within a 3 km. radius of Stillwell pub.
(Disclosure: I do some Consulting work for Seaside Communications, a supplier of internet service in extreme rural areas of Nova Scotia’s 10 northernmost counties. I’m speaking here for myself, not for Seaside.)
Wonderful, lyrical and moving article on dying small towns.
Re. rural NS’s dying towns, Karen Foster will be giving a talk at the Central Library next week on “The Right to be Rural: Reflections on Rural Sustainability in Atlantic Canada”. The blurb says she “will examine public and academic discourse about the future of rural communities in our region, and will offer some preliminary theories to explain what effect it has on rural-urban relations and our social fabric. More specifically, Dr. Foster will ask whether or not there exists a “right” to live in a rural community-an idea behind debates over funding for rural medicine, schools, infrastructure and enterprise.” Paul O’Regan Hall, Tuesday, March 27, 7 p.m. (http://www.halifaxpubliclibraries.ca/programs.html?ids=76341&d=1)
On another note: isn’t calling collaboration a “shared work model” completely redundant?
Re: Songs about towns fading away….
See if you don’t tear up just a little bit….
Like a gut punch every single time I hear it.