Editor’s note: Today’s Morning file is written by guest writer Erica Butler.
1. Let there be (more) snow.
Environment Canada has issued a snowfall warning for today, which means about 15 to 25 centimetres worth, starting in the late morning, with possible ice pellets around supper time. Let’s hope this next round of fairly normal winter weather doesn’t mean another 13,000 people without power.
2. Uber, no. Cool new app, yes
All this snow is getting Plow Me Out, a new snow removal referral app some good press, including a mention from the BBC. While its being dubbed “Uber-like” by most media outlets, it doesn’t seem like Plow Me Out (or it’s Massachussets-based counterpart, the more economically-named Plow Me) is going to create a new workforce to compete with our existing cadre of snow removers. It does, however, seem like it will allow you to request a dig-out from one of those snow removers, even from afar, which will come in handy for those of us who are away from home occasionally in the snowy season.
3. Referendum, no. Voting reform, yes.
The Liberals have confirmed on CTV’s Question Period they will not hold a national referendum on voting reform. This is not, as this Globe headline might suggest, the broken election promise that our national media have been anxiously awaiting. Liberal House leader Dominic Leblanc said voting reform will likely involve a parliamentary committee that travels the country before bringing the matter to parliament.
Leblanc did call proportional representation “an extreme” on the electoral reform spectrum, which may disappoint reform advocates like Fair Vote Canada, who have been doing their best to push for some form of PR before our next national election. Considering the complexity of the options available for voting reform, we can only hope that a parliamentary committee has the resources to include some public education along with its public consultation activities.
3. Where do all those Styrofoam cups go?
Valley Waste is about to ship out its first trailer load of 20 tonnes of compressed Styrofoam to be recycled, reports the Chronicle Herald.
Halifax chooses not to recycle Styrofoam (which I confirmed using their handy little What Goes Where? app.)
Recycled Styrofoam isn’t a money-maker, but according to Valley Waste it’s a space-saver. The first load would have taken up 10 times as much space in a landfill.
Who knows, perhaps after the shine wears off the 30% reduction in waste attributed to the the clear bag initiative, Halifax’s garbage planners will follow the lead of their Valley colleagues, and ask us to start keeping our meat trays and electronics packaging out of the Otter Lake landfill.
And before you start moaning about rinsing off a few meat trays, please consider the effort this small Japanese town takes to keep 80 per cent of their trash out of the ground:
4. Put some eggs in this ligpenigen
The Halifax Media Coop launched episode 6 of its podcast series Pjilasi Mi’kma’ki this month.
The current episode looks at ligpenigen, or baskets, exploring how they came to be such a significant Mi’kmaq art form.
Why indeed weave a basket, when another container might suffice? The story of ‘why’ is interwoven with the colonial experience. Because colonial incursions upon traditional lands and lifestyles, combined with colonial tastes in containers, provide a key to understanding how Mi’kmaq became master weavers in their own right.
Historians suggest that basket weaving, particularly using trees such as black ash and maple, was not part of Mi’kmaq culture prior to the mid-1700s. While no one appears quite certain how basket making using tree splints first was learned, basket making quickly became a source of survival income for Mi’kmaq families who were being pushed to the brink of extinction. As capitalism and private property imposed themselves upon the semi-nomadic lifestyle, weaving and selling baskets to settlers – and later tourists – became a lifeline.
You can check out all six episodes here.
If the Pjilasi Mi’kmaki podcasts leave you wanting more, you may want to check out MIKM 2701 a free, indigenous course being offered at CBU (and online) in January.
5. Teens arrested and schools up for closure/review
- Joseph Howe Elementary
- Oxford School
- St. Joseph’s Alexander McKay Elementary
- St. Stephen’s Elementary
- Highland Park Junior High
- Eastern Passage Education Centre
- Seaside Elementary
- Ocean View Elementary
- Tallahassee Community School
The board deferred reviewed Cole Harbour schools.
In a letter to parents, chair of HRSB Melinda Daye wrote:
“…In the past, a review was simply a review for closure. The new review process is different from the old one in many ways, but the biggest change is that it isn’t just about closing schools anymore.
Many schools are going to require investment in the next five to 20 years. This is the path to getting that investment. As a lifelong resident of the North End, I would much rather we start this conversation now than wait until we have a crisis due to a building failure. The oldest schools in our system are on the peninsula…”
Transit in 2016
According to It’s More Than Buses, the transit outlook for 2016 is looking pretty grim, if Halifax Transit’s budget proposal is anything to go by. In a blog post responding to the proposal, IMTB lambasted Halifax Transit for proposing a single extra bus-only turn lane (on Windmill Rd.), while the federal government has announced intentions to spend billions on transit across the country.
Here’s IMTB’s wish list for transit in 2016:
- Improving and implementing the Moving Forward Plan, immediately in the next year.
- Reduce the number of stops on core routes to speed up service.
- Increasing frequency on corridor routes to fifteen minutes, all day.
- Investing in amenities that speed up boarding and service. This could include raised platforms at stops, all door boarding and new payment methods.
- Regularly tracking and reporting transit speeds and delays, by route.
- Reviewing vehicle options for rail to Bedford, with the goal to identify a service that would need only one operator per vehicle. Vehicles with one operator would drive down operating costs and increase financial feasibility.
- Creating an integrated transportation and land use plan, that would consider the long term costs and impacts of investments in all transportation modes.
- Considering transit priority – lanes, transit signals, etc. – at the conceptual stages of all road construction.
Best bit of Lemmy memorabilia I found:
“They’ll be the dirtiest rock and roll band in the world. If we moved in next door your lawn would die.” pic.twitter.com/i6ZGrZFzfO
— Peter Squires (@PETER_SQUIRES) December 29, 2015
Oh what fun…
Point Pleasant Park gates, circa 1900, from the wonderfully specific Facebook group, Old Black and White Pictures of Halifax, Nova Scotia.
[This is Tim] Several readers have asked about renewing annual subscriptions. I’ll have some information posted about that soon, hopefully today. Yes, I said that yesterday.
Thanks to Erica for today’s post!
More money for transit would be great, but the biggest opportunity to improve the service, with minimal expense, would be a re-alignment of the routes. In some areas there is so much duplication that even during rush hour bus after bus goes by half empty. There are at least seven routes that run from downtown to Mumford. In other areas, service is almost non-existent. Downtown to Burnside requires 2 or 3 buses, takes over an hour, and might still leave one needing to walk several blocks. Rainbow Haven beach has no service at all, and Point Pleasant Park gets one bus an hour in the evenings. Duplication means many routes cross the MacDonald bridge, especially during rush hour, leading to local service delays all over town when there is a delay at the bridge.
Meanwhile, here’s a BOLD idea: Make transit free. Yes, there would be drop in revenue, but it would be offset by a drop in costs (all the expenses associated with printing and distributing transfers, tickets, and passes, and collecting and depositing coins). It would also speed boarding, make occasional transit use viable for car owners, help folks with limited funds, and support tourism.
Apps have the potential to be a boon to society no doubt.
Apps combined with unbridled capitalist greed and avarice (Uber) however have the potential to remake society in an image not built on consensus but rather IPO valuation.
Society must tread carefully and not listen to tales of unicorns in the face of the diminishment of all.
Re: Transit 2016
The city of London Ontario is developing rapid transit. http://www.am980.ca/2015/11/04/64294/ Several proposals from $0.5B to $1.5B, including LRT, quickly on the heels of the deferal election to take advantage of Federal Liberal largesse. Isn’t mayor Mike a big Liberal, aren’t we in a Liberal province, what the fuck is wrong with the city of Halifax?
London has about 20,000 more people than Halifax – and still the best Halifax can do is publish self serving literature to reduce expectations and to convince this city we will never be “big” enough to warrant a real transit system.
Is anyone awake at the mayors office in Halifax? Perhaps they are all just begging to be kicked out in the election coming in a few months…
Asleep at the wheel Halifax council needs to get with the program.
Can’t work out the orientation of the Pt Pleasant Park photo! Is that the Arm (facing west) or the Harbour (facing east)?
Either way it doesn’t seem right – unless the negative is back to front!
The consensus on Facebook is that it’s taken from Point Pleasant Drive just west of the “Golden Gates” and facing east. That’s the harbour you can see on the horizon. I agree that it’s disorienting, probably because there’s woods on both sides of the gate, and no houses on Young Ave.
Having lived at 6 Young Avenue I can definitively state that this view is DOWN the hill toward Halifax Harbour. It would be impossible to view the Arm from there as the hill travels over 400 feet Northwest and RISES some 40 feet above the Gates before descending toward the Arm.
Re: Transit 2016. The lack of forward thinking on the part of our city council is astounding. It is pretty obvious that if you actually want more people to use transit, you have to make it more user-friendly. In order to do that you need to be forward thinking. Council has proven that forward thinking is not in their collective DNA. Take for example, their total lack of interest in the Bridge Commission’s Big Lift.
Knowing the Bridge Gods’ track record, council should have realized that the bridge re-decking would take much longer than projected. They should have seized the opportunity to use the inevitable traffic congestion as an opportunity to promote Halifax Transit as an alternative to the old school one-in-a-car commute. Creating new park and ride opportunities, enhancing and promoting ferry service, adding more routes and bus only lanes… or just creating more awareness. I’m sure there are many more initiatives that could have been taken to gain new ridership and keep them after the re-decking has been completed. Opportunity missed.
The next missed opportunity? Federal money for urban transit. I recently asked a couple of councillors what they (and staff) were doing to get ready to harvest federal cash for transit and infrastructure. One councillor chose not to reply and my councillor replied with, “I will check in January”. I conclude from this and the fact that I have heard nothing from city hall in the media regarding the federal money that we are about to witness another council fail. Another missed opportunity. Oh well, Montreal needs the money more than us anyway and we have donairs.
Re Snow Plow Apps: I am mystified by who needs this, and why contractors would participate. Plow Me Out plans to be an on demand service, unlike Plow Me, which generally does not offer one-time service. I’m also confused by the media fuss over something that is not yet available – I believe the expression is vapourware. Kudos to Mr. Griffith for great marketing skills.