News

1. Province: Sipekne’katik First Nation should blame itself for lack of consultation

Mi’kmaw water protectors at the Alton Gas site. Photo is a still from the film “There’s Something In The Water,” courtesy Ellen Page

Jennifer Henderson was in court yesterday, covering the hearing on whether or not the province fulfilled its duty to consult on the Alton Gas project. The project would see gas stored in salt caverns, with brine from the caverns flushed out into the Shubenacadie River.

Henderson writes:

A lawyer for the Province of Nova Scotia says the Sipekne’katik First Nation has no one but itself to blame when it argues there was “inadequate consultation” with the government over the Alton Gas decision…

“The alleged failure of consultations are the result of its own conduct during that time period,” Foreman told the court. “The First Nation may oppose the project but it cannot strategically frustrate the process of consultation.”

Read the full story here. This article is for subscribers only. You can subscribe here.

2. More court: Santina Rao appears

Santina Rao appeared in court yesterday to face charges stemming from her violent arrest at Walmart last month. She is charged with causing a disturbance, resisting arrest, and assault causing bodily harm to an officer.

Rao, you may recall, was still in the store when she was accused of shoplifting. Security called the police.

In the Chronicle Herald, Andrew Rankin writes:

Rao and other members of the African Nova Scotian community are accusing the police of racially profiling her and using excessive force. Rao, who showed up to court wearing a cast on her arm, said she suffered serious injuries, including a broken wrist and concussion during her arrest…

Her lawyer Gordon Allen believes the altercation at Walmart ought to have never happened. He said his client ended up being cornered and needlessly humiliated by five adults: two police men, a security officer, and two Walmart employees. At the time of the confrontation Rao had already purchased around $80 worth of merchandise and was intending to pay for a couple of produce items stored in an open carriage of her son’s stroller.

“There are a lot of moving parts to this,” said Allen. “This is the first step in dealing with this and it’s about Santina. We want to make sure something good comes out of this at the end of the day. This is something that should never have happened, a situation where there should never have been a situation.”

The case has been postponed until May 12, following a review by the Serious Incident Response Team, which investigates potential misconduct by police forces.

At CBC, Haley Ryan tried to get comment from Walmart, to no avail:

A manager at the Mumford Road Walmart declined an interview in January and said he couldn’t comment since it was a police investigation. He referred questions to the company’s headquarters in Ontario. A statement from Felicia Feder, manager of Walmart Canada’s corporate affairs, said all inquires would have to be directed to police.

Rao said no one from Walmart has reached out to her personally.

3. CFL game organizers want $200,000 from the city plus another $100,000 from the province

Robert Stanfield drops the football and loses the election. Photo: Doug Ball.

The CFL is playing a regular season game in Halifax in late July and — surprise! — is looking for financial help from the city and province to do it.

The league decided to play a game in the 3,500-seat stadium at SMU, but now wants money to upgrade the place to 10,000 seats.

At CBC, Pam Berman writes:

“It’s more than just building seats there, you have to build food and beverage outlets, you have to put in porta-potties and fencing,” said Duane Vienneau. “We’re really building a stadium out.”

Vienneau told the committee that total stadium costs are expected to be $400,000 and the CFL is not trying to make a profit, but just break even and maintain reasonable ticket prices. He also said the CFL plans to make this an annual event over three years, but will not be asking for a grant for the next two games.

Any freelancer who has ever negotiated with a client is familiar with the “not looking to make a profit” routine.

Vienneau, who is the CFL’s “Chief Grey Cup & Events Officer” says the league will also be asking the province for $100,000.

Hands up if you believe the claim that they’re not going to ask for more money next year, or the year after that.

Over on Twitter former high school football player Mike Tanner expressed what I suspect quite a few people in Halifax feel.

Tanner wrote a great blog post a couple of years ago about why he does not want his kid playing football, once his favourite sport.

Also, I know you should never read the comments, but I enjoyed the one on Pam Berman’s story that said if Nova Scotia gets a football team “you could help Alberta like you more.” I can’t tell what’s satire and what isn’t anymore.

4. Driver charged in collision that killed pedestrian

An appalling number of pedestrians are hit in marked crosswalks. Would rumble strips help?

The pedestrian who was struck in Clayton Park on Tuesday had died. From a police release:

Police have charged a man in relation to a fatal vehicle/pedestrian collision that occurred yesterday in Halifax.

At approximately 1:20 p.m. police responded to vehicle/pedestrian collision at the intersection of Dunbrack Street and Clayton Park Drive. The pedestrian was crossing Dunbrack Street in a marked crosswalk when she was struck by a pick-up truck. The pedestrian, a 74-year-old Halifax woman, was taken to hospital where she succumbed to her injuries.

The driver of the vehicle, an 83-year-old man from Halifax, has been charged with failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk. 

Writing in the Nova Scotia Advocate yesterday, Martyn Williams lays out the case for better road design. All the Heads Up/Slow Down/Make Eye Contact campaigns in the world won’t help if road design is not conducive to people crossing safely. Williams explains with an in-depth look at one intersection, Clayton Park Drive and Dunbrack, and then suggests ways it could be designed to be safer. Then he says:

This might all seem unnecessarily technical. Why can’t drivers just slow down, and pedestrians take more care? This is what we have mainly been saying and promoting in Halifax for decades – pedestrians/drivers just need to do x,y and z. A blame game happens after each and every incident (“why do pedestrians always step out in front of me?”, etc) and mainly we are satisfied that the cause is careless or dangerous behaviour by one or both parties. Yet nothing actually changes.

The reason why so many of us are hit on crosswalks here (accounting usually for around 60 to 70% of incidents) is because they invite too many errors by all road users. I can start crossing comfortably in lane one, then get in trouble when unexpected things happen in lane 3, 4 or 5. The more traffic movements there are from different directions and lanes, the easier it is for us all to make a mistake and the more likely it is that an incident will happen.

5. Scooters

E-scooters in Athens. Photo: Philip Moscovitch

Last week, Tim wrote about a story in The Logic on Max Rastelli (the Segway guy) and his e-scooter business, which is being bankrolled by Segway. The story is called “The Halifax e-scooter business that’s not waiting for regulations.”

From The Logic:

The business is small, but thriving. Rastelli said he turned a profit within four months of launching, thanks to Segway covering most of his capital costs, and he plans to double or triple his fleet this spring. “There’s money to be made,” said Rastelli. “It’s solving a problem and it’s fun as hell.”

If someone else covers your capital costs, your business will probably thrive.

Anyway, I was surprised to read that Rastelli drives around Halifax picking up his scooters, because this is not how he said the business would work when he launched it last year.

Back in August, I wrote about Rastelli’s scooter business and its approach for the Examiner:

In many cities, the scooters have caused a backlash, with complaints that riders go too fast, dockless scooters are left to pile up and block sidewalks, in addition to being an eyesore, and that they lead to injuries. I’ve watched with interest online as people vehemently express their hatred of these things. (In many cases the injuries to scooter-riders come from being hit by cars or trucks, in which case banning the scooters seems like a bit of victim-blaming. I know, I know, some will argue that the way they ride these victims deserve to be blamed, etc.)

I quoted Andrew Rankin from the Chronicle Herald:

Then there’s the problem of scooter littering. In some places renters are permitted to leave their scooter rental wherever they like, for the next person to grab. That’s shown to be a problem in some places, resulting in a pileup of scooters on sidewalks, for example.

It’s an issue Rastelli and regulators need to confront because eventually he wants customers to simply leave their rental wherever convenient for them. For now, they must return the scooters where they found them. He’s also hoping to expand the service to the Dalhousie University campus this fall.

So, last summer, Rastelli was saying the scooters had to be docked, but eventually would go dockless. Now, he seems to be saying people can just drop them wherever.

Yesterday, Montreal announced that its brief experiment with e-scooters is ending. According to a CBC story:

Montreal will ban shared, dockless e-scooters in the city for 2020.

The announcement was made at Wednesday’s executive committee meeting by Coun. Éric Alan Caldwell, citing mass noncompliance with the city’s rules for the vehicles.

“Our rules were not respected and the operators did not ensure they were respected,” Caldwell said.

Caldwell said that while e-scooters can have a place in cities such as Montreal, they must not come at the expense of impeding other modes of transportation in the city. “And that’s what happened last year,” he concluded.

“That’s why, in 2020, there will be no e-scooters in the streets of Montreal.”

Caldwell noted that 80 percent of scooters were dumped on the streets and not parked at the 410 designated spots across the city.

Halifax, of course, will be different.

6. Owls Head sale on hold

Owls Head. Photo courtesy Vision Air

Michael Gorman writes that the potential buyers of the now delisted Owls Head Provincial Park reserve have “hit pause on the plan.”

Gorman says CBC News received a statement from the couple, Beckwith and Kitty Gilbert, via their lawyer, saying they are stepping back. Is this because people hate their plan? Or is it a negotiating tactic? Gorman writes:

The statement goes on to say the golf course proposal was intended to “preserve the natural beauty of Little Harbour, including the magnificent seaside, rugged coastline, white sandy beaches, and breath-taking seaside views. They planned to preserve the lands and provide greater public access to enjoy the natural beauty of Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore.”

What isn’t clear from the statement is whether the Gilberts are completely abandoning their attempt to buy the Crown land or if they’re simply pressing pause on the plan for a golf development should they successfully fulfil the requirements of their letter of offer with the provincial government. The couple’s lawyer said they would be making no further comment at this time.

Former provincial park planner Chris Trider has planned a rally for Thursday outside the legislature to protest the potential sale. He tells Gorman:

“That announcement doesn’t change the sequence of events that have unfolded where the cabinet of the McNeil government met in secret to remove Owls Head from the list of protected properties area from the parks and protected areas plan and entered into a purchase and sale agreement,” Trider said.

“I’ll take any good news I can get on this particular issue, but it doesn’t change the facts of the situation.”


Views

1. Who pays the true cost of open-pen fish farms?

Cooke Aquaculture’s Jordan Bay site in early 2018 storm. Photo Kathaleen Milan and Ron Neufeld, from asf.ca

Over at Halifax Magazine, editor Trevor Adams has recently been re-sharing a 2019 piece by Zack Metcalfe on how we all pay for industries that externalize their costs. You don’t have to worry about waste when you site open-pen fish farms, for example, because the ocean will just do your work for you. Never mind that the results can be ecologically damaging. Metcalfe writes:

These pens, filled with salmon or trout, don’t need regular cleaning, nor do their waters need refreshing. All their water comes from the ocean in which they float, and the workings of the ocean take away their mountains of manure, wasted food, pesticides, and antibiotics, spreading them throughout our bays and coastlines, or collecting them in mounds below that no one is obligated to clean up, in spite of innumerable concerns for the health of people, fish, and local ecology.

We’re going to hear a lot more about open-pen fish farming in the next few weeks and months, because industry giant CERMAQ is looking to potentially site hundreds of pens in Nova Scotia bays, including St. Margaret’s Bay, where I live. Look for Linda Pannozzo to be covering this for the Examiner.

When I was researching my book, Adventures in Bubbles and Brine, I was struck by one of the non-fermentation-related things that Boxing Rock brewery co-owner Emily Tipton said, speaking about the challenges of rural economic development. Tipton is an engineer by training. Before opening Boxing Rock she worked in the oil industry and, after moving to Shelburne, did contract work for the municipality on economic development. Here’s what she told me:

Everyone’s looking for a quick fix to get them through. There’s no quick fix. Years ago, Cooke aquaculture was going to move to Shelburne and open this giant salmon processing plant and have all these fish pens and they were going to create, I can’t remember, 200 jobs, 400 jobs whatever. So half the community really wanted it and half the community really didn’t and the government gave them a bunch of money.

You know it’s just a complete disaster because the people who are making jobs 400 at a time are coming here not to give to it, not to build, not to invest in it. They’re trying to make money off it. They’re thinking, “This is the cheapest place that we can process this fish. Let’s do it here. And the government’s going to give us money. Let’s do that.”

Whereas craft breweries are an example of a much more organic approach to rural economic development. I think real economic development happens by creating 10 jobs at a time not 400. Because we’re not going anywhere. Even if I wanted to, I’m stuck here. If you had 20 businesses like that, that each created 10 jobs, that’s way better because you’re way more resilient, if one of them doesn’t work. Whereas when the Cooke Aquaculture thing didn’t work out? That’s a giant gaping hole. We all got our hopes up and then nothing happened.


Noticed

2. Stephen Archibald visits the convention centre

The big hall, which Archibald notes is “really BIG.” Photo: Stephen Archibald

The convention centre held an open house last weekend, and Stephen Archibald and his wife, Sheila, dropped by to visit “the big blue shard.”

Archibald usually finds much to appreciate wherever he goes, but his  adjectives leave the impression he’s somewhat underwhelmed. Words like “mammoth,” “clean,” and “neutral.”

I was at the convention centre last week. I’ve been inside very briefly before (to use the washroom) but this time I was stopping by the Innovative Gear Summit organized by DFO, to talk to people for a story I’m writing. My view of the interior was slightly less charitable than Archibald’s.

All the atmosphere of a dying mall? Photo: Philip Moscovitch

I thought it already feels like a dying mall.

Anyway, Archibald being Archibald, he does get a bunch of fun, interesting, and entertaining stuff out of his visit, particularly when he ponders the view and serves as a guide to the surroundings both as they are now and as they used to be.

Gas station at Argyle and Prince. Photo: Stephen Archibald

About fifty years ago I took this photo of the service station at the corner of Argyle and Prince. See my reflection with the Carleton Hotel behind me? On Sunday I was several stories above this exact spot, looking at St. Paul’s.

Read the full post here.


Government

City

Thursday

Active Transportation Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4:30pm, City Hall) — all about Bike Week.

Youth Advisory Committee (Thursday, 5pm, Power House Youth Centre) — just presentations to the committee.

Friday

No public meetings.

Province

Thursday

Legislature sits (Thursday, 1pm, Province House)

Friday

No public meetings.


On campus

Dalhousie

Thursday

Dalhousie Reading Circle (Thursday, 9:30am, Indigenous Student Centre Community Room, 1321 Edward Street) — weekly meeting for “Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.” More info here.

Harnessing the strength of [health] data to improve care (Thursday, 11:30am, Room C264, Collaborative Health Education Building) — Morgan Slater will talk. More info here.

Thinking about OERs beyond cost savings (Thursday, 2pm, Room 2920, Killam Library) — Brett McCollum from Mount Royal College will talk. More info and registration here.

African Heritage Month 2020 “Focus on Us” Storytelling Café (Thursday, 5pm, Council Chambers, Student Union Building) — more info here.

Friday

Representational Competencies and the Flipped Classroom: Redesigning the Learning Experience in Chemistry (Friday, 1:30pm, Room 226, Chemistry Building) — Brett McCollum from Mount Royal University will talk.


In the harbour

05:00: MOL Motivator, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Colombo, Sri Lanka
05:30: Grande New York, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Valencia, Spain
06:30: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives  at Fairview Cove from Halifax to Saint-Pierre
07:00: Ef Ava, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Argentia, Newfoundland
07:30: Asterix, replenishment vessel, moves from Dockyard to Irving Oil
07:30: Acadian, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for sea
11:00: Ef Ava sails for Portland
11:30: Grande New York sails for sea
15:00: BBC Kwiatkowski, cargo ship, sails from Pier 9 for sea
16:00: MOL Motivator sails for New York
16:00: Hansa Meersburg, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Kingston, Jamaica


Footnotes

I live at the top of a hill, and it’s all ice all the way down.

Philip Moscovitch

Philip Moscovitch is a writer and audio producer, and the author of the book Adventures in Bubbles and Brine; Website:...

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  1. Frank magazine was quick enough to catch a Facebook post by Ms Rao where she claimed “ I scratched the f..k out of his face” re a police officer.

  2. It’s really disgraceful and sad to see the number of accidents involving pedestrians. Usually they are the fault of inattentive, or just plain bad drivers.

    One thing I notice all over the city though, is that often in marked crosswalks, the place where someone waits to cross the street is located behind a utility pole from the perspective of cars in the near lane. This surely doesn’t help the situation. Many crosswalks get it wrong on both sides of the street. Halifax has a lot of utility poles along the streets and more thought needs to be given to designing crosswalks with better visibility in mind.

    An hour ago I was passing the post office on Almon St. A line of cars was stopped as someone was waiting to turn into the Forum and I counted five out of eight drivers looking down at their phones, including two postal vans and a taxi. This is no doubt the biggest danger on the roads.

  3. With apologies to Ambrose Bierce, It seems you could define Halifax progressivism as, “the nagging suspicion that somewhere in Nova Scotia, someone is making a profit.”

    A tiny industry has sprung up in Halifax renting scooters to people eager to use them, and ABSOLUTELY NO REGULATIONS ARE IN PLACE!

    Why has the COMINTERN not met to address this crisis? Are the Commissars asleep? We need rules, regulations, inspectors, fines, geographical zones, public consultations! People can’t just start up a business offering something useful to the public. That’s a sure path to anarchy.

    1. A) Here’s what The Logic says about Rastelli’s business.
      B) This is at odds with how Rastelli himself described his business last year.
      C) Montreal is banning the scooters because nobody follows the rules.
      D) Slightly snarky comment from me.
      E) COMINTERN!!!

      1. OMG! He was starting a small business and some aspect of his plans changed in its implementation? How dare he? OFF WITH HIS HEAD!

        Some other, much larger city in some other part of Canada has banned something, and we haven’t banned it yet? WHAT IS WRONG WITH US?

        Halifax leads the nation in excessive, unnecessary regulation. We have a reputation to uphold. We must be vigilant against backsliding!