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Views
Government
On campus
Noticed
In the harbour
Footnotes


News

1. NS government abandons strict forest certification for former Bowater Mersey land

Photo: Alain Belliveau / Medway Community Forest Coop
Photo: Alain Belliveau / Medway Community Forest Coop

Michael Gorman takes a look at the provincial government’s decision to change the certification method for the Medway District forest in western Nova Scotia. The change puts the forest at risk, say environmentalists.

This article is behind the Examiner’s paywall and so available only to paid subscribers. Click here to purchase a subscription.

2. Lever a no-show

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Chronicle Herald president Mark Lever failed to show at the “Game Changers” event at the Marriott Hotel yesterday. Lever “had been scheduled to hand out cash awards to three winners who entered 30-second videos of themselves in a ‘Pitch It!’ competition aimed at helping new university and community college graduates introduce themselves to Nova Scotia employers who might actually offer them a job,” reports Jennifer Henderson.

The Chronicle Herald was a sponsor of Game Changers. That drew the ire of striking Chronicle Herald newsroom employees, who picketed outside the hotel in order to draw attention to the pay cuts and staff reductions Lever has demanded of the newsroom union.

“[Lever] opted to bow out so as not to become a distraction for the event,” Ron Hanlon, CEO of Halifax Partnership, which organized the event, told Henderson.

Six finalists in Game Changers PitchIt! Competition. Photo: Jennifer Henderson
Six finalists in Game Changers PitchIt! Competition. Photo: Jennifer Henderson

But what about the aim of keeping young people in the province? In a second article, Henderson reveals that local companies are slow to take advantage of a 25 per cent wage subsidy offered to companies that hire new graduates:

The program is called Graduate to Opportunity. Statistics from the Advanced Education Dept show a very modest uptake on the part of the business community during the program’s first year. Ninety-eight new graduates have been offered full-time jobs paying a minimum of $30,000 a year, and another 41 are in the works. Only 126 companies or non-profits have been approved to receive the subsidy — not enough to put a dent in the 1,300 people under the age of 30 the Province exports each year.

Both articles are behind the Examiner’s paywall, and so available only to paid subscribers. Click here to purchase a subscription.

3. Macdonald Bridge

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“Halifax’s Macdonald Bridge has reopened almost 4½ hours later than scheduled due to delays with the Big Lift,” reports the CBC, which for some reason wants to place the bridge in Halifax and not in DARTMOUTH (I gotta throw a bone to the sign-obsessed people every now and then):

Traffic started moving around 9:50 a.m. and all lanes are now open. 

John Eppell, chief engineer with Halifax Harbour Bridges, described the delay as “a failure” and said the bridge wasn’t safe to open as planned at 5:30 a.m. 

“We had to finish some work in order to make it safe,” he said. ​

I have sympathy for Eppell and the workers. The bridge reconstruction — it’s far more than a “redecking” — is a massive undertaking, and there must be a thousand details the crews have to get exactly right. If I were in charge, the two ends of the bridge wouldn’t align properly, and you’d have to make an S-turn right in the middle.

It’s clear that there’s no way they can complete the project in the promised 18 months. Seven months in, just seven of the 46 bridge segments have been replaced. At this rate, the project will be complete in June of 2019.

4. Signs

Speaking of signs, I was cc’ed on this hilarious exchange between Halifax Dartmouth resident Robert Goodall and Bruce DeBaie, the communications director at City Hall:

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Goodall to DeBaie:

Dartmouth Canal Greenway … Henry Findlay, that’s Findlay, not Finlay, was employed as lock-keeper to the Inland Navigation Company and its successor the Lake and River Navigation.



This sign was put up last week. Coincidentally enough, a hundred meters from the Sullivans Pond sign where the branding fiasco hit a flashpoint in May of 2015. 



It was never before in history there … so it’s not a routine expense, and we’ll tell you something for free. From our research asking people face to face who live there in the community and have seen the sign. They are pissed. 



What is wrong with the people at communications?

Robert Goodall

DeBaie responds:

Good morning, Mr. Goodall,

Thank you for sharing the background information and context below. We certainly became aware yesterday of the spelling error through various channels, and I personally appreciate that spelling someone’s name incorrectly can be quite offensive. We are now working to replace the sign with the correct spelling of “Findlay”. Please allow me to share with you some context on why it happened and why a new sign was installed.

The spelling error appears to exist in the source data in our GIS mapping database; thus the error was repeated on our website and other collateral. In a way, this more overt display of the misspelling has helped us correct the source information, and we will continue to examine the database to hopefully prevent future misspellings, although they will inevitably happen as part of human error. I’ve been advised that we have strict data change governance for our GIS as a result of past inaccuracies, and changes can only be made when confirmed in writing by the responsible individuals at the municipality (in this case, Parks management).

As to why the sign was installed in the first place, any municipal park that does not currently have signage will have new ones installed as part of any capital work associated with said park to improve public safety by prominently displaying the civic address in the event anyone needs to call 911, which needs a civic number to guide first responders.

As you can see in the photograph you attached, the correct civic address and community — 123 Hawthorne Street, Dartmouth — are prominently displayed directly underneath the (unfortunately incorrectly spelled) name of the park.

We apologize for any dismay this inaccuracy may have caused to residents, and I hope this message helps explain how it happened.

Sincerely,

Bruce DeBaie

5. Plane crash a no-show

This plane didn't crash at Peggy's Cove. It crashed at the airport.
This plane didn’t crash at Terence Bay. It crashed at the airport.

“An extensive search in Terence Bay, N.S., had ended after emergency officials found no signs of a reported plane crash by a concerned resident Tuesday evening,” reports CTV:

The Halifax Regional Fire department says they received the 911 call at 6:09 p.m. on Tuesday. The call prompted the start of a joint search by the fire department, Halifax RCMP, the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre, and the Coast Guard.

“Five different fire stations ranging from Sambro to stations in Seabright responded with nine trucks,” said Mike Blackford, Division Commander 2 for Halifax Fire. “They checked every vantage point on different locations on land.”

The Twitterverse quickly assumed the call was a hoax, but CTV identified the guy who called it in, who seems sincere:

Tim Slaunwhite made the call to police. He describes what he saw in the sky as “jaw-dropping.”

[…]

“You could see the plane basically lowering itself, going down and down and down, and then all of a sudden it broke in two — it just broke in two,” said Slaunwhite. “Then all of a sudden within 10 seconds the front end caught on fire.”

[…]

But Slaunwhite is convinced of what he saw.

“To me it had to be a passenger plane,” said Slaunwhite. “From smoke trail to fire to descending to the water, you just, thoughts go through your mind — you know, nothing good.”


Views

1. Ingrid Bulmer

HTU president Ingrid Bulmer and her son Axel, 11, during a visit to The Dingle park in Halifax. Photo: Ted Pritchard / Local Xpress
HTU president Ingrid Bulmer and her son Axel, 11, during a visit to The Dingle park in Halifax. Photo: Ted Pritchard / Local Xpress

Local Xpress, the publication produced by striking Chronicle Herald newsroom employees, is profiling its members. The first is by Liane Heller, who relates union president Ingrid Bulmer’s heart-wrenching story of tragedy and perseverance.

2. Cranky letter of the day

To the Inverness Oran:

Your recent article on P3 schools in the county leaves one with the impression that P3s (private public partnerships to build and maintain public services such as schools, hospitals and water utilities) are a good thing. Not necessarily. 

P3s may be good for the shareholders of the corporations involved but a string of P3 disasters worldwide have shown that they’re not so good for the public. (Politicians tend to like them because they make it appear as if public spending and deficits are lower than they actually are.) Besides losing control over an essential public service, the public sometimes ends up paying more for that service with a P3 than they would have had it remained in public hands. 

Two examples: An estimated more than $300 million in tolls were produced on the Cobequid Pass for a deal in which private financiers put up $66 million. The Nova Scotia government is paying an effective interest rate of 10 per cent for 30 years, twice its rate of borrowing. The city of Hamilton had to take back its water and wastewater services after one owner after another, including an Enron subsidiary, created a financial mess of the P3, including a raw sewage spill that had to be cleaned up at public expense. This has become so common with water and wastewater services that it has spawned a new word: remunicipalisation. Just in the last 15 years, there have been at least 180 cases of water remunicipalisation in 35 countries. 

Something to think about as the Department of Education considers building another school in Belle Côte. 

Anne Lévesque, Strathlorne


Government

City

Public information meeting (1pm, and again at 6pm, Lake Echo Recreation Society Community Center, 3168 Highway 7) — Kiann Management Limited wants to rezone 14.7 acres on the north side of Highway 7, west of Parker Lane, in order to build a “Construction and Demolition Waste Processing Facility.” Details here.

Province

Public Accounts (9am, Province House) — Murray Coolican, deputy minister of the Department of Business, and Martha Stevens, the acting CEO of Tourism Nova Scotia, will be questioned about the procurement of advertising agencies.


On Campus

Dalhousie

Misere star operator (3:30pm, Room #319, Chase Building) — Silvia Heubach, from California State University, Los Angeles, will speak on this:

A subtraction game is played by two players, who alternately remove tokens from a set of stacks of tokens according to the rules specified in the move set M. A new game M* is created by making these P-positions the moves of the new game. Re-interpreting P-positions as moves is possible because for subtraction games, the structure of positions and moves is the same. We will show that the misère ★-operator converges to a limit game, exhibit the structure of these games in one and two dimensions (play on one or two stacks), and characterize the limit game via features of the original game. 

Exosomes and plasminogen receptors (4pm, Theatre A, Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building Link) — Ludovic Durrieu will speak on “What are the roles of exosomes and plasminogen receptors in the tumour-mast cell environment?”

Indigenous Health and Western Medicine (6:30pm, Halifax Central Library) — “This panel discussion, hosted by Dalhousie’s Indigenous Health Interest Group, will examine how to best bridge traditional Indigenous practices & knowledge with Western medicine within the context of the Canadian health care system,” organizer Sonya Swift tells me. “The diversity of the panel will inform this discussion through various lenses – administrative, clinical and academic.”:

Keynote Speaker:
Dr. Doris Mitchell is currently a full time family physician in a small rural community in Northern Ontario where she provides primary care, emergency and hospital care. She also works in two First Nations communities, one of which is her own First Nation community.

Panelists include:
Cheyenne Mary – Cheyenne is a member of Bear River First Nation, NS. Cheyenne is a registered nurse and has worked in Atlantic Canada’s Indigenous communities as well as working federally with Health Canada as the regional maternal-child health nurse. She is currently a professor at UNB.
Dr. Chris Bourdon – Dr. Bourdon is a practicing physician and Chief of Staff at the Health Sciences North Emergency Department (ED) (Sudbury, ON). He is also an Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine for the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. Dr. Bourdon has a variety of experiences working with Indigenous populations in both Northern Manitoba and Ontario.

YouTube video

Force of Evil (8pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery) — a screening of the 1948 film directed by Abraham Polonsky.


In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:30am Wednesday. Map: marinetraffic.com
The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:30am Wednesday. Map: marinetraffic.com

ZIM Alabama, container ship, Valencia, Spain to Pier 42, then sails to sea
Dalian Express, container ship, Cagliari, Italy to Fairview Cove
Acadian, oil tanker, Saint John to anchor for bunkers

Tiger sails to sea
Atlantic Compass sails to sea


Footnotes

I’ll be on the Sheldon MacLeod Show, News 95.7, at 4pm today.

Tim Bousquet

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

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12 Comments

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  1. Great cranky letter. Which reminds me that P3 actually means Public-Private-Profiteering.

  2. We’ve hired on average 3-5 new grads a year. In fact, we probably hire more new grads than people with years of experience, although we hire them too. We’ll probably hire 8-10 new grads in 2016. We have been approached (not by the Halifax Partnership, but the Labour and Advanced Education subsidy) in the past about participating in a wage subsidy programme and our answer is always the same: no thank you. We’d rather pay the full salary and have complete control over the process for our company.

    There are several reasons for this:
    – we refuse to take gov’t money in any form to grow our business. Unlike Risley et al, we don’t believe in corporate welfare. No SRED, no tax credits, no payroll incentives.
    – There is a reporting component, and although it’s not onerous it’s just a headache I don’t need
    – Gov’t representatives can drop in any time to check on the progress of the employee. Not happening.
    – If we decide that the person is not a fit and we have to let them go, the process is more complicated and may require us to pay back the subsidies.

    This just doesn’t fit with our ethos. And since we’re going to hire new grads anyway, I don’t see the point.

    However, I’m surprised that more companies aren’t taking them up on it. There seems to be no limit to the amount of gov’t money Nova Scotian companies think they need to grow their business.

  3. I know this will go over like a lead fart for some, but the Dartmouth municipal signage brigade needs to cool its collective jets. Dartmouth is a great place with character and history aplenty and it will remain so even with the word ‘Halifax’ inscribed on municipal signage.

    Honestly, I’m concerned for the heart/mental health of some of these folks. If they can get so exercised about municipal signage I can’t imagine how they cope with the existence of poverty, racism, child abuse, terrorism, etc.

    Take a breath folks. Try being pro-Dartmouth without being anti-Halifax. It’s not impossible, really. Your community and your health will likely be better for it.

    1. Bob, this branding nonsense is not prevalent in New York. Are we so insecure that HRM has to stick a brand sign on every HRM public space/property ? We aren’t pets marking our territory.
      Central Park in New York hasn’t gone the route of Halifax, take a look at the Central Park web page http://www.centralparknyc.org/
      and now he is the web page for Public Gardens, Halifax : http://www.halifax.ca/publicgardens/VisitUs.php

      Which one is more attractive ?

      And has London,UK plastered a website with their logo ? http://www.visitlondon.com/things-to-do/openspace/best-parks-in-london?ref=mosaic

      http://www.visitlondon.com/ and down at the bottom of the page it ststes ” London & Partners is the official promotional company for London. We promote London and attract businesses, events, congresses, students and visitors to the capita “

      1. The branding project is culled from insecurity, private sector opportunism and HRM Council bandwagoneering at it’s best.

        Then it was sold as though somehow there was a huge demand on the part of the public for it (public consultation).

        Shame on us for buying it. The used car salesmen of the world would be proud.

        1. Not sure I buy the insecurity thesis, nor the one suggesting this is somehow unique to Halifax. It’s common to see Vancouver Park Board signs at public parks in that city, where I lived for eight years. And I’ve certainly seen such signs in other places.

          That said, the word branding makes my skin crawl. If the complaints centred on waste of public resources on PR/comms/branding nonsense, I’d be more sympathetic. But most of the ones I see focus on some perceived slight against Dartmouth’s identity and I think that is utter nonsense.

          On the topic of wasted resources, I actually support the inclusion of municipal signage on parks, in part because it might help some folks to ‘see’ where some of the money goes and also to know where public assets reside. The wasted/scarce resources criticism is levied too easily and too often to cut services (like park maintenance for example) or to justify the sale of public assets. More signage can be a good thing if it helps to create a stronger sense of public ownership.

  4. Instead of the Graduate to Opportunities program, which is evidently not meeting employers’ needs, why doesn’t the province diversify that program and provide funding for paid internships? In addition to the skilled trades, there are many more educational programs where internships or co-op terms are either a required element or a documented advantage when seeking post-education employment.

    Access to funding for internships and co-op terms would have benefits in at least two areas:
    – it would help address the glaring class inequity in post-secondary education; and
    – the financial burden students inevitably face would be somewhat offset by the ability to earn a wage for the period of their work/co-op term.

  5. I cannot begin to express how disgusted and disappointed I am at the Liberal government’s abandonment of FSC. It flies in the face of all the promises and assurances they made to the community forest initiatives, environmentalis, and woodlot owners during the last election. Everything they’ve done on this file has been spearheaded by the likes of the Hon. Lloyd Hines, who never saw a clear cut he didn’t like, and the pro-industry civil servants at DNR, who are happily winding back the clock to the glory days of Flatten It Forestry.

    For those casual readers: FSC was designed as a certification system for forestry which would require cutting (and other woods work) that matches, as far as possible, the natural way a particular forest would grow and develop – a gold standard, as it were, for good harvesting, and keeping the woods healthy. It caught on quite rapidly in Europe, and has spread in North America in the last 20 years. It’s an objective third party standard, evaluated by independent auditors.

    SFI was started by the big forestry corporations in response to the threat that the growing push for FSC send to them. Follow the money, follow the interests. It’s a sham.

  6. Not sure what I think of the idea of subsidizing wages. On the one hand, it is the first rule of business that you should never refuse a subsidy. But on the other, where are those jobs going to go once the subsidy runs out in a year (or whatever the program is). And why should taxpayers be subsidizing business? There is too much of that already. I suppose if it were pursued, even for a year, it would at least give the worker some experience and a line on his or her resume that could be “leveraged” (as HR people like to say) to get another position elsewhere. Also, I don’t think it is necessarily a bad thing that young people go off elsewhere to gain more experience, and see more of the world and different ways of doing things. I think that is a good thing, and a possible antidote to our insular culture in the Maritimes. But of course, the challenge is to get them to come back home later, when they may have families and connections in their new life.

  7. Good to see that Halifax is all about dealing with the concerns of the public in an open and transparent manner.

    It is wonderful to see such an obvious desire to have citizen concerns addressed by a dedicated, empathetic public servant with courtesy and concern and with no attempt at obfuscation or evasion at all.

    Bravo!!

  8. Our intrepid mayor has not had too many mis-steps during his tenure, but the civic rebranding and anemic logo exercise has surely been one of them. As for the Big Lift……………hoo boy.

  9. Plane Crash No Show…sounds a bit like the infamous “Shag Harbour UFO Incident” from 1967.