1. The S-word
No, not soccer, but we’ll start with that. Reports Chris Cochrane for Local Xpress:
The top official with a new Canadian pro soccer league, planned for a 2018 start in several major Canadian cities, was in Halifax Wednesday for talks with those behind a proposed local franchise.
Halifax-based sports promotion firm Sports & Entertainment Atlantic president Derek Martin met with veteran international pro soccer executive Paul Beirne, who is handling early duties for the fledgling Canadian Premier League.
So far so good. And the proposed league has a conservative, restrained business case:
“This gives us an opportunity to play on that stage as national players but in a much more right-sized, reasonable format,” he said. “The plans for this league would be budgets around 6,000 to 8,000 fans per game. I’d always said that’s the right size for Halifax. We’ve proven it for the Mooseheads and with the University Cup. When you start planning for events over 10,000 the numbers don’t work. Our population can’t sustain that.”
This seems reasonable. Some private businesspeople want to start a company based around soccer, and they appear to have the expertise to pull it off, so good luck! …. Oh, wait, there’s that other S-word:
The team would require a new stadium or huge refurbishing of an existing structure. Martin said he hopes a small stadium can be built in the downtown area, where it could serve a role similar to [$48 NSF Fee] Centre as a sports entertainment focal point in the entire community.
His group is already eyeing a familiar downtown sporting landmark.
“We’ve talked to the city about the opportunity to do it at the Wanderers Grounds. We have to make a good case to the city why this is a good idea. We’ve already got plans for an 8,000-seat stadium on that site with the ability to expand.
Martin said he’s reluctant to talk cost, until more details of the proposed league become known. But the intention is to build a very modest temporary stadium “in the few million dollar range” that can be expanded if needed.
“It would be about 15 home games a year,” he said of the Canadian Premier League use from late April to November. He said once there was a proper facility other sports, such as rugby and outdoor lacrosse, could be played there and other sporting events brought to the city.
It’s not clear if Martin is suggesting that his group will pay for the stadium or if he’s asking the city to build it. If the former, I say let them have at it. If they want to build a facility on public land on their dime, so long as it can be used for other functions, that’s OK with me.
And even if they want the city to pay for the thing, I’m not automatically opposed. It isn’t crazy that a modestly sized and modestly priced stadium for uses such as these can be part of the city’s recreation program. But I know how these things go: people will demand that it be big enough for headliner concerts and say it must seat 20,000 people in order to attract a CFL team (which will never happen, for reasons Martin articulated above), and next thing you know we’ve got a $120 million white elephant.
2. Automated stop announcements
“New automated stop announcements will launch Monday on a select number of public buses in hopes of making the commute easier for passengers who are hearing or visually impaired and tourists unfamiliar with the city,” reports Cassie Williams for the CBC.
I’m all for these stop announcements. When I’m using the bus in Toronto, I find the announcements extremely helpful, allowing me to orient myself in a mostly strange city. And in Halifax, especially in winter, riders often can’t see out the bus for the snow and muck covering the windows, so the announcements will decrease the stress of making sure to get off at the right stop.
Tiffany Chase, a spokeswoman for the municipality, said Wednesday the voice behind the announcements doesn’t belong to a real person but is computer-generated. She described it as a “calm” and “soothing” female voice.
No, no, no!
The stops should be a recorded real person’s voice, and a real person with a proper Maritime accent. My choice would be a North Dartmouth accent and word phrasing:
Next stop: Scotia Square and that.
Next stop: Montebello Drive, but buddy don’t get off here, it’s just one more stop to the MicMac Tavern donchaknow.
And you just know that the computer voice will screw up the pronunciations. I can’t wait for the rider complaints about “Gottingen Street.”
Seriously, tho, what’s wrong with hiring an actual person to record the stops?
3. Exempt this
“The people of the municipality got a chance to have their say about 18 proposed developments in Halifax and Dartmouth at two unprecedented public meetings on Wednesday,” reports Zane Woodford for Metro.
Sounds a bit like a circus.
The 18 properties are being considered for exemptions to be written into the Centre Plan.
You can buy the Dartmouth III ferry for $150,000, but be warned: “Batteries need to be replaced.”
Yesterday, I boneheadedly confused the Eastern Front Theatre with the Neptune Theatre, and scores of people let me know. Mea culpa.
The striking Chronicle Herald reporters are asking people to boycott the Neptune, not Eastern Front. (Eastern Front rents the Neptune for its performance of A Christmas Carol.)
My apologies to Eastern Front.
1. Province House
This is “an editorial cartoon from the 80s that never grows old,” Stephen Archibald reminds us. “[I] don’t remember what it was originally about, but this week it works yet again.”
2. Economic impact
Most of all, I think filtering public money through public servants like teachers and nurses into the economy makes a lot more sense than filtering it through a pulp and paper mill or a second cruise ship berth or John Risley. Not only do you get your children educated and your injuries tended to, you get people who support local businesses and sports teams and arts venues and craftspeople. People who pay for plumbing and electrical work and kitchen renos and landscaping and small engine repair. People who also pay taxes.
If you expect me to get excited about a cruise ship tourist who comes here once and spends $66 because of the “direct and indirect economic impact” of such spending, then you have to expect me to be more excited about the direct and indirect economic impact of having well-paid public servants living in our community.
Bill Black, in fact, is okay with teachers’ salaries — his problem is with their pensions and benefits that are “far richer than the private sector.”
Because if public sector benefits are richer than private sector benefits the answer, of course, is to lower public sector benefits. (Only don’t tell that to the businesspeople who manage teachers’ pension funds, they won’t agree, a fact which I find really, really funny.)
Like the Halifax Examiner, Campbell’s Cape Breton Spectator is subscription-supported, so the above article is behind a paywall. I’m a proud subscriber, and you can be too.
3. Karen Casey
“I do not see any path forward [with the teachers’ contract issue] without the resignation of Education Minister Karen Casey,” writes Graham Steele:
I do not say that lightly. Nobody knows better than me the weight of a ministerial resignation.
The key is that a ministerial resignation can be a public symbol. It is possible to resign with honour. That is a notion fading from our democratic memory, and which we need to revive.
4. Cranky letter of the day
Dr. Al Nassar was recently portrayed as proven guilty and is being condemned.
Section 11(d) in our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom gives the benefit of the doubt to the accused, and treats us as “innocent until proven guilty,” and not the other way around.
Dr. Al Nassar is loved and well respected among his colleagues, who are in disbelief of the accusation. He is currently receiving a lot of support from his colleagues, co-workers and people who know him, including many of his patients.
Therefore, it is fair to give the man who served our community for several years some grace and decorum, and give him the benefit of the doubt, and let the court and the justice system takes its course.
“For he that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone” — Jesus
Dr. Ehab Soliman, Pictou County
Appeals Standing Committee (10am, City Hall) — Shahab Madadi wants to talk to the committee about the city’s refusal to grant him a taxi licence.
Integrated Mobility Plan Workshop (12pm and 6pm, Captain William Spry Community Centre)
Transportation (1pm, City Hall) — the committee will consider letting transit riders have input on how transit works. Sounds dangerously radical.
Harbour East-Marine Drive Community Council (6pm, Alderney Gate) — heres’s the agenda.
No public meetings.
Thesis Defence (11:30am, Room 430, Goldberg Computer Science Building) — PhD candidate Renata Dividino will give a “test talk” on her thesis, “Managing and Using Data Provenance in the Semantic Web,” which she will defend at the University of Koblenz, Germany, in December.
Stars (7:15pm, Room 120, Dunn Building) — The Halifax Planetarium’s show, “Old Stories of the New Season’s Stars.” Five bucks at the door, no kids, screaming or otherwise.
The university is closed for a religious feast of some sort. Right about now they prop those wooden magi up in the front yard of the university as well.
In the harbour
6am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
7:15am: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 36 from Saint-Pierre
11am: Atlantic Huron, bulker, moves from anchorage to National Gypsum
11:30am: CSL Tacoma, bulker, sails from National Gypsum for sea
6am: ZIM Constanza, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Valencia, Spain
Piper the cat has a subscription to the Halifax Examiner.
You too can buy your pet, or your mother, or your friend, or your enemy, or a total stranger a gift subscription to the Halifax Examiner. And just in time for the holidays, anyone who buys a $100 gift subscription will receive a free T-shirt — give it as a stocking stuffer or be the stylish one yourself:
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I just ordered a bunch more T-shirts, so they should all arrive in a week or so. If you’d like to buy a gift subscription, contact admin person extraordinaire Iris at iris “at” halifaxexaminer.ca.
Re 2. Automated stop announcements
Literally hooted with laughter at your suggested examples of local character! You’ve such unexpected comedy talent, Tim. Thanks for the best laugh in a very long time!
Love cat reading the Examiner, too.
*uses automated bus stop voice* no soccer stadiums please
I, quite seriously love the idea of adding the local flavour you described (Buddy, don;t get off here, micmac tavern is next!!”) to the Stops. Seems to me that people would come just for the transit experience” and kind of reminded me of this, which I thought was put there by tourism but this article says was a conference — nevermind it is social media viral. . . : http://www.cntraveler.com/story/helsinki-airport-sign-applauds-badass-travelers-for-visiting-in-winter
Regina, population 238,000, has just completed a $278m stadium. Here are some details, including financing: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosaic_Stadium
I met a woman who lives in Toronto and whose voice has been used for announcements in transit systems in various cities (I believe Seoul was one of them). She had a gorgeous voice.
Here is a nice story about using a real person’s voice for announcements on the London Underground.
That’s sweet, thanks. I saw a similar article about the woman who voiced the stops in Toronto.
Wasn’t something like that Peter Mansbridge’s original gig?
That is sweet. So glad they could give her a CD of the recording. The public library uses a real voice, at least I think they do, I do all my transactions on line not by phone now. They recorded an employee’s clear voice after considerable months or years of inadvertent hilarity and confusion caused by the original robot.
The public meeting regarding the developments was ridiculous in the extreme.
Talking was like shouting over a lawnmower. The optics were horrible for our fair planning department. My eyes saw developers and municipal staff working to present predetermined outcomes to the public.
Myself and another concerned citizen were pointing out issues of affordable housing, gentrification, exemptions to the centre plan and all the staff person did was hand us a piece of paper. Ideas go right down the shit hole, developers get what they want and neighbours are reduced to the cheap seats shouting at the referee that the fix is in.
How about each development garners a meeting with a developer presenting to those immediately affected by a development and HRM staff at the same time. Have those concerns addressed then then move to a larger forum.
That would be meaningful public consultation. Yesterday was a chaotic shambles and a real test to our new councillors who saw firsthand the undue influence the development community has apparently grown accustomed to in this city.
Did I mention the online comment section is limited to 500 characters? Yup tapping into the unlimited potential of the internet the city is….
In the ‘Exempt this’ article, Tim refers to 18 proposed new real estate developments as being considered for exemption from the forthcoming Centre Plan. Not so, apparently. I spoke to Jacob Ritchie who leads the Centre Plan effort, and he assured me that the typical lead time for any of the proposed developments is in the 18 month range, and the Centre Plan is expected to be completed well before that – in roughly six months.
I confirmed this with Waye Mason, who agreed, qualifying it a bit, by saying ‘unless Council decides to move any particular proposal forward quickly’.
How about a petition to Council to keep that from happening?
“The stadium has to be downtown because then it’s an economic driver for the city. ” says Martin the soccer stadium proponent.
That’s not a statement about passions, wishes, or dreams. That’s clearly in the form of a logical argument and is intended to support the larger argument for the stadium.
But is it true?
At very best it lends to degrees. It sits on a line that measures ‘economic driverness’ and then, as Mary Campbell suggests about paying teachers, it can be compared to other possible economic impacts of other possible course of action. along the way we could quantify other things we care about beside economic drivers no just to one interested group but to all groups of the long run.
This is the fundamental problem with behavioral economics in Nova Scotia. Every case, every discussion begins with a presupposed conclusion and then the money is spent solely to find support for the presupposed conclusion.
Imagine going to the doctor and before you even said hello the doctor randomly said “could be cancer” because she was just talking to a pharma rep with a new cancer drug, and then wanted you to spend all your available time, money, taxes, and emotional effort on that conclusion. Would that not seem like a strange doctor’s visit?
It’s a strange way to do economics. And it’s a strange way to decide the shape of things to come.
It is time for pro-sports teams to start funding the building of these stadiums… they are the ones who really want to reap the financial benefits. The municipality can give them a tax break or a lower cost lease for the use of the land, but the pro-sport leagues should be the ones paying to have the stadiums built, operated and maintained. Taxpayer’s dollars should not be used to fund such financially risky ventures.
Mary Campbell believes in ‘trickle down economics’, who knew.
If only the well off were even better off we would all be well off.
Next up : ” Hedge funds are saintly “
LOL No, I promise you, no “hedge funds are saintly” articles from this quarter.
I think I was mocking the idea of “trickle down” economics, which is based on putting money into the private sector and hoping it somehow ends up doing good for the broader community.
I’m arguing that by paying teachers well, you get the immediate benefits of education and the spin-off economic benefits.
Next up is probably going to be: “Why we need a guaranteed annual income.”
Give money to John Risley and most of it goes to a bank in the Cayman Islands. Give money to a school teacher and most of it is spent right here in Nova Scotia.
I think Risley and teachers have enough.
If we want to ensure more money remains in Nova Scotia the obvious policy is to increase the income of the poor and leave the foreign vacations to the better off. Making sure kids go to school with a breakfast in them would be a good start.
Public sector pension plans use hedge funds to earn higher returns, but we don’t know what the hedge funds invest in.
The HRM pension plan as of December 31 2015 had just 8.1% of its $1.6 billion in assets invested in Canadian equities and almost 39% in private investments.
More details of the plan can be found by reading the minutes here
I think the people that want to build a soccer stadium are trying to sneak it through while HRM staff is consumed with testing the automated bus stop announcement system.
Karen Casey is 69 years old and able to draw 3 pensions. Time for new blood.
There are good reasons for her to resign, but her age is not one of them.