1. Taking transit to parks
Examiner transportation columnist Erica Butler profiles two operations that bus people from the city to parks.
The first is Parkbus, which was established in Ontario to bring Torontonians to Algonquin Park but has since expanded around the world, including taking tentative steps to a Halifax-to-Keji service.
The second is Trips By Transit, which as Butler puts it, “makes lemonade out of our existing transit routes. Using nothing more than some bus tickets and a really, really good attitude, Trips by Transit prove that it’s not impossible, with a little planning and the willingness (and ability) to walk, to get to lakes, beaches and trails in Halifax without a car.”
Click here to read “It’s getting easier to get out of town without a car.”
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Last week, I commented on a CBC article about underwater gliders being used to track whales on the Scotian Shelf: “The article doesn’t say how tracking whales on the Scotian Shelf helps the right whales who are dying in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, but I’m assuming this is just the first roll-out of the technology and it’ll soon be expanded,” I wrote.
I could have done some actual reporting to answer my own question, but I didn’t. But Tom Ayers did for the Chronicle Herald:
While the whales are relatively easier to find in the Gulf and Bay of Fundy, a large portion of the North Atlantic right whale population is still unaccounted for, and that’s why researchers are now using underwater gliders to roam the ocean listening for whales.
“Let’s say there’s 100 in the Gulf and 100 in Fundy and Roseway (Basin), as a wild estimate,” [Dalhousie researcher Chris Taggart] said. “Where are the other 300?
“We don’t know, and that’s why we’re putting gliders in other places where we think they’re likely to be.”
Stop it. Stop naming shit after people who are still alive.
The city used to have a perfectly good naming policy: someone had to be six feet under for a couple of years before you could name a rec centre or police substation or cul-de-sac after them, and even then you had to first dig them up and put a wooden stake through their dead heart just to make sure (that was Section 8, subsection iv(b) of the policy). But then base sentimentally edged in — somebody wanted to name a park bench after grandma with dementia, somebody else wanted to give an old veteran a thrill by naming a ball field after him before he went off to fight that last battle in the sky, and so the perfectly good policy was amended to take all the perfectly good parts out of it (thanks, Jennifer Watts), and now we’re naming shit all over the place after people who one day we might learn were child molesters or Confederate generals or whatever.
There used to be a silent understanding about this. In a sign of respect, someone would suggest naming a library after an inspiring teacher, and the proposed namee would modestly demur — “oh no, don’t name anything after me” — with the wide understanding that after the teacher died, we’d go ahead and name the library after her anyway. It unfolded respectfully: the inspiring teacher was honoured while she was living with the proposal that the library be named after her, and the inspiring teacher respected the process that people are supposed to be dead before we name shit after them.
Here’s what ruined all this: Money. Rich dudes all over the place wanted to use charitable donations not just as tax write-offs but also as ego boosters, because that’s how rich dudes are: they think that because they inherited daddy’s potato business they’re super-smart business people who can lecture the rest of us about the sacred free market or because they used insider connections to land government financial assistance to build their corporation it proves they’re genius innovators. And it’s not enough for them to think this privately. Oh no: the rest of us have to acknowledge their status as better citizens than ourselves. Actually bowing down and kissing their rings is a bit much for most people, but we get around that awkwardness by naming, for instance, university buildings after them. And of course the neoliberal agenda plays right into this: rather than have a progressive tax policy that recognizes that rich people are rich because they live in a society that provides the opportunity for riches for some and has public works and regulatory systems that allow for the successful operation of business they profit off and police forces and jails to scare off the highwaymen and pitchfork-wielding peasants who would burn and loot their Young Avenue manses, and so those high taxes pay for the shit like university buildings that make us a civilized and prosperous country, we instead perversely have low taxes on the rich dudes and give them further tax breaks if they toss a few pennies into a university program, invariably in such a way that they profit from it, and then we name the damn building after them.
For sure, this has been going on since at least the Medicis, but it started going into overdrive in the coked-up 1980s, and now is on warp drive, such that we can’t have any public facility at all without naming it after a rich dude or a connected dude or a corporation.
The Metro Centre operated under that moniker for three decades, “Metro” being a reasonable acknowledgement that this is a public facility, operated by and for the public. Somehow that arrangement could last for 30 years without any noticeable problem (well, except for the secret Metro Centre bank account that was used by Peter Kelly and Scott Ferguson to funnel secret loans of public money to Harold MacKay so the public wouldn’t know how much public money was being squandered on the Common concerts), but suddenly the facility that has been more or less adequately operated with public money in the public’s name had to get money from a god damn bank in order to pay for a normal maintenance and upgrading, and so the entire building was rebranded with the name of the god damn bank, all of which is seen as advertising on the bank’s ledger, and so a source of profit, not some selfless charitable gift, and yet there were big ceremonies involving big cheques and big egos and big handshakes and big press releases telling us how great the god damn bank is for inserting itself privately and profitably into a process that had always before been done publicly and with public money.
Now it’s just normal operating procedure: the Sportsplex is going to be rebranded with a corporate name, likewise the new four-pad arena in Dartmouth, and on and on and on.
Make no mistake: naming public facilities after corporations reflects something broken about our tax policies, about our governments, about our collective and even private sensibilities. If we don’t question this, we are part of the broken system. We’ve been assimilated into the Borg.
We’ve named so much shit after corporations that we now don’t even question how or why we name shit, so why not name shit after living people? The corporations don’t die, after all, and they get shit named after them.
Much of the shit we name after people is just more of the same rich dudes getting tax breaks and egotistically pumping out their chests crap that’s been going on for decades, but every now and then we name stuff for people for reasons I can’t understand. I’m talking of course about yesterday’s announcement that the NSCC Waterfront campus has been renamed the… Ray Ivany campus.
“Waterfront Campus” was perfectly descriptive: it is a campus on the waterfront. I’ve been trying to take pictures of it, but have never quite got the right angle. I took this one with my fancy camera and zoom lens using a tripod on the boardwalk in Halifax:
But it’s not a great photo. The building is too squared off, and I should’ve been at an angle, maybe from a boat.
One day I was running on the Dartmouth Waterfront Trail and a train happened to be going by; I took this photo with my iphone:
I like the idea of a train-passing-the-college photo, but this one doesn’t work either; it’s crooked and the guard rail dominates the foreground.
Still, the point is, a photo of the Waterfront Campus has to include the water, no? You wouldn’t take a photo of the Waterfront Campus from the parking lot or street. It’s the best thing about the campus: it’s on the water.
Anyway, now it’s named for Ray Ivany. I asked the question last night on Facebook:
Seriously, can someone explain to me why all three political parties and all the elite and all the managerial class bow down to Ray Ivany and secretly bail out the institutions he can’t manage and name him to the board of Nova Scotia Power and appoint him to head commissions that come up with mealymouthed recommendations that don’t mean anything at all and hire his spouse to gigantically salaried positions in the premier’s office and now name Waterfront campuses after him? I don’t know Ivany, never worked for him, never drank with him… I have no reason to doubt he’s a nice guy. But I know lots of nice guys. I have no reason to doubt he’s a capable bureaucrat (well, except for that $10 million deficit at Acadia), but I know lots of capable bureaucrats… Please, and this is an honest question.. What the fuck is Ray Ivany’s mojo?
No one besides my sister answered, so maybe it’s a rude question. People tell me privately that Ivany is a nice guy, and that he helped change the public image of the community college system. While Ivany was NSCC, the Hamm government dumped a bunch of money into NSCC, so I suppose Ivany had some success with repositioning the college. Still: isn’t this what bureaucrats are supposed to do? Isn’t it, like, their job to promote the public agencies they steward?
I guess we’re not naming the campus after Ivany because he’s a super-rich dude, so there’s that, but with a $300,000 Acadia salary and with $100,000 annually for sitting on the Nova Scotia Power board of directors and with a spouse pulling down 160K in the premier’s office, he ain’t hurting.
More to the point, the name “Waterfront Campus” nicely side-stepped the fact that the school sits on a former Mi’kmaq village site. As a nod to that history, the road running into the school is named Mawio’mi Place; “Mawio’mi” is the Mi’kmaq word for “gathering place.” There wasn’t much more involved in that recognition — there’s no indigenous studies program at the college or what have you — but it was something. Now, the whole place is being named for a white dude with no connection to the site.
And you know, he’s still alive. It’s unseemly.
4. Cute picture of a dog
“At least three dogs were left in hot cars Tuesday in the Halifax area, prompting an RCMP warning about how fast the heat can become life-threatening,” reports the Canadian Press.
I only posted this item because the RCMP included a cute picture of a dog in a car with their warning, and a news photographer I used to work with told me it’s been scientifically shown that if there’s a photo of a dog on the front page newspaper sales increase by 20 per cent. “Forty per cent if it’s above the fold,” he said.
This was back in the early internet days, but even by then cat and dog photos were dominating the world wide web, so I’m guessing it works for websites too. Whenever I have the excuse to run a dog photo, there it is. But I’m leaving cats to El Jones.
“About 100 people rallied Monday in support of a Lunenburg businessman who blames town hall for his decision to stop investing in the Nova Scotia community,” reports Jon Tattrie for the CBC.
I’ve been watching this from too far afar to have any meaningful insights or opinions about it, but I worry that this is another case of “rich dude will save our town”ism.
6. Rich MacLellan
“Richard MacLellan has resigned as chief administrative officer (CAO) for the Region of Queens Municipality to become the top staffer for the Town of Bridgewater,” reports Michael Lee for Lighthouse Now.
MacLellan used to be a staffer at Halifax City Hall, and started the Solar City program. I always got the sense he was chased off by, or ran away from, then-CAO Richard Butts, who had no love for such environmental stewardship.
Heritage Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 3pm, City Hall) — here’s the agenda.
No public meetings.
No public meetings until September.
Thesis Defence, Psychology and Neuroscience (Wednesday, 1pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Marie-Eve Couture will defend her thesis, “A Multi-Method Investigation of the Effects of Alcohol on Depression in Undergraduate Students Who Drink to Cope with Depression.”
No public events.
Thesis Defence, Applied Science (Wednesday, 10am, Science 345) Leah Springate will defend her thesis “Gamete Compatibility and Reproductive Success in the North Atlantic Right Whale.”
In the harbour
6am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 36 from St. John’s
6am: ZIM Alabama, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Valencia, Spain
8am: Macao Strait, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Lisbon, Portugal
4pm: Atlantic Power, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 31 from Mariel, Cuba
4pm: Macao Strait, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for Mariel, Cuba
4:30pm: ZIM Alabama, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for New York
I’ll be on The Sheldon MacLeod Show, News 95.7, at 2pm.
Not the same as naming something for the living, but I have claimed part of the Irving Shipyard building as my own. Since we will be paying for that giant load of trough slop for generations to come, I thought it fitting to name the portion my money paid for.
There is a exhaust grate on the top left corner or the building on the Halifax facing side. The top two louvres of that grate are mine. However, I’m not arrogant enough to name them after myself (or have my cronies/admirers pressure someone else to do it). I simply call them the Peoples Louvres. If this were the US, I would call them the freedom louvres.
If we’re going to rename the Waterfront Campus to honour someone still living who was just doing his job, then former premier John Hamm would have been a good choice. Faced with a looming skills gap, Hamm’s government invested roughly $125 million in taxes to build a community college system worthy of the name. Hamm had to have known the benefits of his foresight would not be fully understood until well after his retirement, if ever. That’s public service.
By the way, I have acquired naming rights of my own: the Bill Turpin ScotiaBank Centre Washroom Door. Look for it this Mooseheads Season!
Bring Richard McLellan back to HRM! His spirit and effort is memorable and progressive.
My reaction to the Ivany thing, on twitter: https://twitter.com/hannahmain/status/900116461976510464
Re: the Lunenburg thing: I heard the interview with him on CBC Main Street yesterday and although I am not familiar with the situation either, he came across with an inconsistent story on the interview: first saying that he planned to leave Lunenburg, and then saying that he would stay if the mayor did something to help him. It sounded like a classic story of giving an ultimatum to get his own way. But he is overestimating his own importance. Lunenburg was fine before Farley Blackman was there and they will be fine if he leaves. Honestly, I would admire a government who doesn’t bow down to rich businessmen.
Waterfront Campus was the perfect name, it is a shame that this happened. And yes, at MSVU, there is a Lumpkin Road now, and I have to say, as a faculty there, I am very uneasy about it. Dr Lumpkin’s work was outstanding at the Mount, and she earned a lot of respect, and did a lot for our university, however, I agree that things should only be named after people once they have passed… it just feels indecent to do this during their lifetime. And I agree, any of this renaming should actually consider the place, and its role for the historic local indigenous population. As far as I know, the Mount was a look off for the Mikma’q, so why not choose a name that would reflect that instead of more white people getting named all over the place?
Tim, your pictures are just fine… taken from the perspective of a person on the street. The pictures reflect the everyday views by earthbound residents. No Photoshopping required or desired…. keeping it real is always a good policy.
Good for Bridgewater. A loss for Queens County.
Hey Tim, the story behind the rally in Lunenburg can be found on Anna Shoub’s “My Big Mouth” blog post from 12 Aug:
Yeah, I’ve been reading about it for a few days. I just don’t know the situation well enough to be convinced one way or the other. I don’t know the people, the geography, the businesses, etc.
You could have gotten an amazing picture if you taken the ferry to/from Woodside. Also, you spelled “wielding” wrong. 😉
Hey Tim – nobody responded to your question but your sister? Stella Campbell and i did! Basically with the view that if post-secondary institutions want to name things after employees that made significant contributions, then what’s wrong with that? Cited examples include MSVU, Dal and CBU.
No one responded on FB besides my sister. I asked a shorter question on Twitter that really didn’t get into it all. But to your point, is that what bureaucrats are supposed to do? Isn’t that their job? Don’t they get paid for that?
People get honoured – living or dead – for a variety of reasons. Setting aside your valid questions around increased corporate sponsorship since the 1980s (BTW, do you have any evidence to support this or is it just what you perceive to be the case?), if an organization wants to honour someone for what they believe are valid reasons, what’s the issue? I don’t think the examples at CBU, MSVU or Dal that Stella and I cited last night on Twitter were in any way a result of corporatizing of naming public buildings.
It is doubtful that the Waterfront campus would have come about without Ivany getting government support for and leading the implementation of the NSCC modernization/expansion. Sure, it was his job, just as it was the job of Henry Hicks in the 60s/70s, Margaret Fulton in the 80s and Ramona Lumpkin most recently to lead and accomplish positive things at their respective institutions. Dal and MSVU saw fit to honour their living (at the time) leaders. Beyond your view that apparently we shouldn’t name anything after anyone who’s alive (or your conflating it to something broader), it seems like a reasonable decision by NSCC’s board (beyond naming it after my old boss John Hamm, perhaps!! 🙂
Can’t help but think about the NSCC Waterfront Black carpentry student who was reportedly kicked to the curb by Trudeau’s RCMP security detail in the Spring. Perhaps the new “Ivany Campus” moniker will work some “We Shall Overcome” magic on the racial front. Haha!
Two of my favourite Dartmouthian examples: Gloria McCluskey Way in Burnside, and Prince Andrew High School, apparently named for the royal when the school was built *the year he was born*. What could possibly go wrong?
Not that we hear about it much.
Many streets in Burnside are named after former members of Dartmouth council and were so named many decades ago.
The name change at NSCC may be a hint of impending sad news. The site is also known as the location where General Wolfe trained his troops prior to the attack at the Plains of Abraham, too bad the site was filled in.
Great rant Tim. Waterfront Campus it is and will remain. Wash my mouth with soap if ever I call it anything else.
Ray Ivany? Fuck!
Regrettably the name ‘Ray Ivany Fuck Campus’ was rejected by stakeholders.
Or at least deferred until NSCC begins offering it’s diploma in porn studies in 2019.
Re naming: Skydome will always be Skydome to me. I recognize it by no other name.
Yep I still call it Skydome as well! And the Metro Centre!
Naming stuff after corporations just cheeses me off too. It’s another sign of the elevation of businesses and corporations to a place above the rest of society like they are some saviour.