News

1. Centre Plan

A public hearing on the Centre Plan was held at City Hall yesterday, and lasted well into the night. Council will debate the various issues and presumably vote to enact the package later today.

I’ve never seen such a colossal waste of time, money, public attention, newsprint, and reporter energy devoted to a local governmental project.

History has taught us that these sorts of planning initiatives take a predictable route: Citizen concerns about rampant and under-regulated development are hijacked by woo-woo planning grad students who offer up the solution that those legitimate citizen concerns can be married to developers’ unquenchable pursuit of profits through a plan! and everyone will be happy forever, amen. The suggestion is ridiculous on the face of it both because it incorporates all sorts of preposterous notions such as the solution to the housing affordability crisis, which is the natural result of rampant and unregulated capitalism, can be solved with more rampant and unregulated capitalism, and because adoption of any plan will be delayed so that developers can throw up all sorts of ugly shit that would violate whatever plan would later be adopted, and then innumerable “exemptions,” “grandfathers,” and “public purpose considerations” will be written into the plan to make it resemble swiss cheese. Finally, even should any regulations with merit be mistakenly left in the actual document, the whole thing can be ignored at any time because councillors can instead enter into a development agreement with favoured developers — that is to say, all developers — and sidestep the plan entirely.

Am I unrealistically cynical? May I present the results of the last woo-woo plan, HRM By Design, which destroyed downtown with this monstrosity:

The Grafton Street Glory Hole, with the convention centre and empty hotel above it. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Not to mention the Queen’s Marque monstrosity now nearing completion on the waterfront.

No amount of planning or woo-woo design can overcome the determining fact that the world’s wealthiest people are dumping their riches into real estate instead of more productive pursuits, and that drives the politics of the entire planet, including Halifax council. There are just too many elected officials who will bow down before money and do its bidding.

We know this. It’s a fool’s game to think we can control it with the same processes that brought us this far.

2. Northern Pulp decision

Northern Pulp Mill. Photo: Halifax Examiner

The province had appealed an earlier court decision that found for the Pictou Landing First Nation (PLFN) in the Northern Pulp matter. Yesterday, the Court of Appeal again found for PLFN.

PLFN lawyer Brian Hebert explains the decision as follows:

The Court of Appeal decision today affirms the earlier decision of Justice Timothy Gabriel in December 2018 which held that the Province must consult with Pictou Landing First Nation before making a decision as to whether it will provide government funding to Northern Pulp to assist with the construction of the new effluent treatment facility which the company proposes to build to replace the one at Boat Harbour. 


The Province had asked the Court of Appeal to overturn Justice Gabriel’s decision. Today the Court refused to do so. 
 
The decision confirms that there is a link between government funding for a new treatment facility and the continuation of air pollution from the stacks at the mill after January 31, 2020, the date when the existing treatment facility at Boat Harbour can no longer receive mill effluent under the Boat Harbour Act. 
 
Providing funds means the new treatment facility will be built. With a new treatment facility the mill will be able to operate beyond the deadline for the Boat Harbour closure (assuming it could be built in time). The continued operation of the mill means continued air pollution after January 31, 2020 when the mill would otherwise have to shut down. Continued air pollution means continued potential for adverse health effects at Pictou Landing First Nation. 
 
Under s. 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, Governments must consult with affected First Nations before taking any action or making any decision that might adversely impact recognized and claimed Aboriginal and Treaty rights – so long as the claimed rights are credible. 
 
Today’s decision ensures that the concerns of PLFN about continued air pollution from the mill over the long term will be taken into consideration by the Province when it is making a decision about granting funding to Northern Pulp.
 
The duty to consult requires the Province to consider the impacts and be open to making changes or other accommodations if needed. 
 
In the process of consultation the Province typically provides funding and information about the project to assist the First Nation in getting the technical advice needed to make an informed decision. 
 
While consultation with PLFN has been ongoing it has focused on other aspects of the project, primarily the effluent that will be discharged into the Northumberland Strait and its impact on the PLFN fisheries. This decision will allow the scope of the consultation to expand to include a discussion on the long term impacts on PLFN of air pollution from the mill.
 
Since the duty to consult requires the government to actually listen and act on reasonable concerns raised by an Indigenous community, the Province cannot ignore PLFN’s concerns regarding air pollution as it decides whether to fund the new treatment facility. If potential impacts from ongoing air pollution are likely, then the Province may need to attach conditions to the funding that would eliminate or mitigate the adverse impacts. For example, the Province may require additional equipment in the mill to reduce air pollution. It may decide to give more funding to offset the cost of new equipment or may require the company to foot the entire bill.
 
Since we are at the early stage of the consultation, PLFN will be seeking more information and assistance with independent experts  to inform itself on these issues. Since consultation has not been completed, today’s decision will cause some delay since a decision on funding the new treatment facility cannot now be made without undergoing a process of consultation.  The decision does not give PLFN a veto over the project.
 
PLFN considers this an important decision for the protection of Aboriginal and Treaty rights, including the right of its members to live on their land free from environmental contamination.

Brian J. Hebert
McKiggan Hebert
Lawyers 

3. Nail gun

Nhlanhla Dlamini in hospital after being hit with a nail from a nail gun. Photo: Stacey Dlamini

“A black construction worker in Pictou County who says he faced racial comments on the job testified Tuesday at the trial of a man accused of shooting him in the back with a nail gun,” reports Shaina Luck for the CBC.

4. Menstrual products

“Public school students across the province will now have access to free menstrual products when they need them,” the province announced yesterday in a news release:

Many schools across the province already make these products available. Soon, all schools with grades four and up will make them accessible to their students.

Each school will decide how and where these products will be made available. All schools will be provided posters that include a blank space, where they can fill in where students can find these products.

That toilet paper and paper towels have always been viewed as necessary items to include in washrooms without charge and menstrual products have not underscores just how much our society is a patriarchy — those who make the design and purchasing decisions could not anticipate the needs of half the population.

5. Brits play in Halifax

There were three British warships in Halifax over the weekend, and my bartenders tell me the hundreds of sailors on shore leave were real hellions, behaving like a conquering… hey, wait. Oh well, it’s a port town.

6. “The fyre festival of food”

The Mac and cheese festival was the fyre festival of food

— aybaybay (@abbyloo) September 13, 2019

Who would’ve ever guessed that the “mac and cheese festival” held on the waterfront over the weekend would be a total disaster? Um, anyone who understands the food festival circuit has run its course.

I happened to drive down Water Street Saturday morning and I honestly thought the “mac and cheese” thing was a single booth but Alex Cooke, reporting for the CBC, tells me I was mistaking an entire festival for a single booth:

The event took place at Sackville Landing on the Halifax waterfront. [Kandy] Clarke estimated the festival space to be about 15 by 30 metres.

Cooke goes on to report the many screw-ups and over-pricing at the “festival.”

Burger Week worked about twice as an advertising event for The Coast, but now any sensible person eats at home for that week, as the crowds are annoying and the restaurants don’t care about their non-burger buying customers (I experienced this directly when I was treated like absolute garbage at Elle’s Bistro as the to-go burger pickups took precedence over my sit-down non-burger meal, such that I will never again step foot in the place). “Sausage Fest” was a rip-off of The Coast’s idea. And the various food truck rallies are kind of sad, truth be told (why would anyone want more than one meal at a time?).

Gimmicks don’t work for food. Just make consistently good food and provide decent service, and you’ll be a success. Skip the nonsense.


Views

1. LeMarchant-St. Thomas Elementary

LeMarchant-St. Thomas Elementary. Photo: Stephen Archibald

The new LeMarchant-St. Thomas Elementary School is open, and Stephen Archibald is a fan. I like his cautionary tale:

And watch out for “do not” or “not allowed” signs, those things multiply like rabbits.

That reminds me of a sign I saw some 30 years ago at a historic site in a park in Richmond, Virginia, which had all the proscriptions:

• No Parking
• No Trespassing
• No Skateboarding
• No Smoking
• No Etc.

The “No Etc.” cracks me up to this day.


Government

City

Wednesday

Audit and Finance Standing Committee (Wednesday, 10am, City Hall) — nothing much on the agenda.

Centre Plan debate (Wednesday, 1pm, City Hall) — see #1 above.

Public Information Meeting – Case 22288 (Wednesday, 7pm, East Dover Community Hall) — David Cahill wants to build an “eco tourism” campground off Prospect Road, consisting of 20 sites for “low impact structures and tenting”; 18 “wooden deck camp sites with either a tipi or frontier style canvas tent”; and a house. I have no idea if this is a good proposal, but we need more campgrounds around HRM. More info here.

Thursday

Active Transportation Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4:30pm, City Hall) — there are no action items on the agenda.

Youth Advisory Committee (Thursday, 5pm, Youth Power House, 1606 Bell Road, Halifax) — the kids are preparing to storm City Hall, throw city councillors into reeducation camps, and institute a Five Year Plan to Stop All the Bullshit Already. First, however, they’re ordering hoodies.

Halifax and West Community Council (Thursday, 6pm, City Hall) — now that two large apartment buildings that will loom over the Northwest Arm have been approved, the council wants to stop more large buildings from being approved.

Province

No public meetings for the rest of the week.


On campus

Dalhousie

Wednesday

Stuff You Need to Know as a Knowledge Creator from Educators to Researchers and Beyond (Wednesday, 12pm, Room 114, Centre for Clinical Research or online) — more info here.

SURGE and OTN Discover Coding (Wednesday, 12:30pm, SURGE Sandbox, Room 2660, Life Sciences Centre) — the first of a series of one-hour lunch coding workshops. Info here.

Thinking Outside the Tetrahedron:  Rational Design of Inhibitors of Racemases and Epimerases (Wednesday, 4pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — Stephen L. Bearne will talk.

Bring your own Epimerase.

Thursday

Judith Cohen. Photo: registrocreativo.ca

Yiddish and Sephardic Narrative Ballads: Shared Themes (Thursday, 12pm, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — Judith Cohen will perform.

Operators With Compatible Corners (Thursday, 2:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Heydar Radjavi from the University of Waterloo will talk.

Retirement Celebration for Marion MacKinnon (Thursday, 3:30pm, University Club Dining Room) — Ms. MacKinnon worked for 30 years at Dal, mostly with International Development Studies. Buy her drinks.

What the New Convention on Harassment and Violence at Work Tells Us About the International Labour Organization on its Centenary (Thursday, 4:30pm, Room 105, Schulich School of Law) — Anne Trebilcock from Georg-August University in Germany will talk.

Albena Yaneva

Archives: How Architecture Makes History (Thursday, 7pm, Auditorium, Medjuck Architecture Building) — Albena Yaneva from the University of Manchester will talk. More info here.

Thinking While Doing: Explorations in Educational Design/Build (Thursday, 7pm, Exhibition Room, Medjuck Architecture Building) — book launch. More info here.

Saint Mary’s

Thursday

The Look of Age: Ruins, Replicas, and Shams (Thursday, 7pm, in the theatre named after a bank in the building named after a grocery store) — Carolyn Korsmeyer from the University of Buffalo will talk.

King’s

Thursday

Classical Architecture and its Progeny (Thursday, 7:30pm, KTS Lecture Hall) — Peter Bryson will talk.


In the harbour

06:00: Seven Seas Navigator, cruise ship with up to 550 passengers, arrives at Pier 23 from  Sydney, on a 10-day cruise from Montreal to New York
06:30: Insignia, cruise ship with up to 800 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Sydney, on a 17-day cruise from Montreal to Miami
07:00: YM Moderation, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Dubai
09:30: Serenade of the Seas, cruise ship with up to 2,580 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Bar Harbor, on a seven-day roundtrip cruise out of Boston
13:00: X-Press Makalu, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for sea
15:30: Insignia sails for Bar Harbor
15:30: Seven Seas Navigator sails for Saint John
18:00: Radcliffe R. Latimer, bulker, arrives at National Gypsum from Contrecoeur, Quebec
19:30: Serenade of the Seas sails for Saint John
21:00: Atlantic Sea, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
22:00: CSL Tacoma, bulker, arrives at anchorage from Portland


Footnotes

Other business is calling me away today, so I won’t be on The Sheldon MacLeod Show, News 95.7, at 2pm for the weekly “Municipal Matters” segment, but you should listen anyway.

Tim Bousquet

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

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  1. Thanks for the story on the Appeal Court decision in favor of Pictou Landing First Nation. Hopefully readers will read that well-written and articulate decision. Sections that were particularly interesting???? 157, 161,162 and, of course, the summary.

    This session of the legislature should be rich with commentary on this decision and the role played in it by the Province. The perception that the Province is in a position of conflict should also give rise, again, to the suggestion that this should not be a provincial matter, but a federal environmental assessment concern.

  2. Honestly, for Burger week , you should have gone to Dartmouth, you are missing out. The burgers we had at Biblos , a restaurant near the Portland Street Superstore, were amazing and the service was good, give how busy it was.

  3. Agree 100% with centre plan analysis and developer influence. I still feel it’s a function of how few municipal councillors actually represent the peninsula and blame the province for that…

  4. I was there the same day you were at Elle’s, and it wasn’t great. A huge line up for burgers, we waited what seemed like an hour. Unfortunately the burger wasn’t great.
    I had never been before, and see no sense of going back.

  5. My favourite don’t-do-these-multiple-things sign at a north end elementary school includes “no juice squirting.”

  6. My theory is that the HRM entity sees Halifax business and resident flight from Halifax tax lifts to, for example, Bridgewater area, as an opportunity to fill all the cool hi rise condos on the Peninsula they envision with CostOfLivingRefugees from Toronto and out West. By Gosh, By Golly!

  7. I believe you have just reflected the sentiments of the vast majority of city residents and most Halifax County residents. Density bonusing is pure idiocy . Coun Waye wants to continue a form of development agreement? wtf??? Why not use Shannon Park as a model of low density affordable housing?I watched this CLOWN SHOW.WTF?? .I hope the Planning students got some kind of fee from HRM. These grad students will soon graduate and won’t have jobs in Halifax, at least in their field.The’ll need some cash for job hunting in other parts of the province, maybe?