1. Frank Palermo
Examiner transportation columnist Erica Butler interviews Frank Palermo, a professor of planning, director of the Cities and Environment Unit at Dalhousie, and founding board member of the Planning and Design Centre (PDC), the originators of Switch: Open Street Sundays.
Click here to read “Frank Palermo on ‘five years of doing an experiment’ with Switch: Open Street Sundays.”
This article is behind the Examiner’s paywall. Click here to subscribe.
2. Road train
Halifax councillors droned on for hours and hours yesterday about the property tax assessment cap, about which they have zero power to do anything, and then they droned on for another couple hours about the public safety something or another, of which there is zero consequence. I was sticking around for two issues — the road train and WE Day — but I was also trying to write something, and so I eventually had to leave the dronefest and pay attention to my computer screen in a major way. All of which is to say, I’ll let Zane Woodford from Metro give the low-down on the road train:
Halifax regional council stopped funding for a downtown “road train” in its tracks with a tie vote on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, Coun. Sam Austin argued the not-for-profit society wasn’t enough to make him feel like the municipality wasn’t just giving money to a for-profit business — something it’s prohibited from doing. He moved that the matter be deferred pending a new staff report, but that motion was defeated.
The overall motion ended in a tie vote, as Coun. Waye Mason, a board member at the not-for-profit society, had recused himself.
In this scenario, a tie vote means a no vote, so the society will have to reapply for funding next year.
Good on Austin. I provided the background on the issue Monday.
3. WE Day
Judging by my Twitter feed, it appears council also unanimously approved $27,500 in funding for WE Day without even discussing it.
I realize this is considered rude, but I’ve got huge problems with WE Day. The Manitoba Teachers Society came out against it, too, and in a statement notes that:
[T]he model promotes charity, not social justice and is, in fact, the opposite of change. The status quo is not affected in any way.
And the event itself has been criticized for giving preferential seating to students based on fundraising. What it has meant in practice is students from schools in lower-income often being stuck in the back. Inequality brought to life.
Alison Arkinson, a B.C. teacher who has attended and written about WE Day, has questioned the highlighting of large corporate sponsors.
“I felt that for such a young audience, it could be confusing, because it was at times challenging to tell where WE Day started and where the corporate messaging began,” she told CBC radio.
In short, WE Day displays and extends the capitalist exploitation that is at the root of inequality and poverty.
This is the problem with how much of charity works in practice nowadays: charity itself is exploitation. Charity is used by corporations for branding purposes — the fucking telephone company wants to own mental health, for example. And many charities operate in a fashion that adopts poisoned work relationships — some charities pay six- or even seven-figure salaries to executives, while failing to pay front line workers and office staff a living wage. Then there are the charities that undermine the economies of the nations that they’re supposedly trying to help — the most obvious are the “charities” that send shoes or T-shirts or bicycles to Africa, pulling the rug out from under the shoe and textile and bicycle industries that provide jobs and opportunity in those countries, but even traditional development-oriented charities at home and abroad can entrench poisoned social, economic, and political relations that condemn people to continued poverty.
Charity is of course necessary. We should give charitably, but only as a stop-gap measure while we address the underlying injustices that cause inequality and poverty in the first place. Charity should never be an end unto itself.
And that, unfortunately, is the message of WE Day: the charitable are heroes, and the more rich (and therefore the more giving) you are, the more heroic. WE Day celebrates the very inequalities that make charity necessary. That message, coupled with the over-the-top corporate branding, makes WE Day the perfect neoliberal indoctrination.
4. Wooden Monkey drops Nova Centre suit
“Wooden Monkey co-owners Lil MacPherson and Christine Bower have made the decision to end their legal action against HRM, the Province of Nova Scotia and the Halifax Convention Centre Corporation over the harm caused to their business during the five-year construction of the Nova Centre.,” reads a press release from Wagners Law Firm:
On February 27, 2017 the Wooden Monkey filed a claim with the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board against HRM, the Province and the Halifax Convention Centre Corporation claiming a loss of $508,107 attributable to the construction of the Nova Centre, as set out in a forensic accounting report filed with the claim. This came after the businesses received no responses to their notices of negotiation.
The Respondents — HRM, the Province of Nova Scotia and the Halifax Convention Centre Corporation — challenged the Board’s jurisdiction to hear the claim for what is called “injurious affection” damages. They said they were not “statutory authorities” responsible for the construction of the project and were therefore not responsible to pay damages.
The Board held the hearing on June 29, 2017. In a decision dated September 27, 2017, the Board ultimately concluded that the developer was responsible for the construction — notwithstanding the approximately $113 million being paid by HRM and the Province for capital construction costs of the Convention Centre — and that the Board did not have jurisdiction to hear the claim against HRM, the Province and the Halifax Convention Centre Corporation.
The Wooden Monkey owners are disappointed that the Board declined to hear their claim, and continue to have questions about why fees collected by HRM from the developer in connection with the construction disruption weren’t shared with the affected businesses.
“I would still love to put to the city this question — what exactly is the disruption money used for? There are large funds growing in this account. For what use?” comments Ms. MacPherson.
Lawyer Ray Wagner believes the legal action has exposed a significant gap in the legal system when it comes to public-private partnerships and their accountability for business losses caused by construction. “This was an important issue to be brought forward, both for our clients and for the sake of businesses impacted by future construction projects down the line. Growth and development are wonderful things, but the financial impacts they have on existing business must be mitigated. According to the Utility and Review Board, a project with this magnitude of financial support and engagement of government is not considered to be the responsibility of government. That’s a big statement, given the increasing popularity of this model for public infrastructure. If it’s not going to be addressed in legislation, there needs to be an effective construction mitigation policy with a compensation aspect. Compensation for business loss is a staple in infrastructure projects all over the world, including in lower income nations, like Bangladesh. It’s archaic to have this huge gap in our municipality. We need to fill this gap, either with new legislation at the provincial level, or with a comprehensive mitigation policy.”
5. “If I offended anyone”
Matt Whitman read this apology at the start of yesterday’s council meeting:
I apologize to my colleague and all members of council for any embarrassment I may have caused. My comments never meant to insult, hurt, demean or otherwise disparage anyone. My [Twitter] posts lost sight of the issue, and I became engulfed in inappropriate dialogue. For that, I apologize. I’m sorry if I offended anyone. That never was, nor has ever been, my intent. In future I commit to, as Mayor Savage has said, read twice, send once.
To open our annual November subscription drive, the Halifax Examiner is having a party.
It will be held Sunday, November 5, from 4-7pm at Bearly’s (1269 Barrington Street). We’ll have short readings from Halifax Examiner contributors Stephen Kimber, Linda Pannozzo, El Jones, and Evelyn White, special surprise musical guests, new Halifax Examiner swag for sale, and cake.
It’s a subscription drive party, so admission is for subscribers only, but you can buy a subscription at the door. There are no advance tickets, so plan to come early for a good seat.
And we’ll have swag! Iris says bring cash to buy swag. I should be picking up some things the next couple of days and will post photos of the new swag.
North West Planning Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 7pm, Sackville Public Library) — the committee will have the first look at a small-ish development in Beaver Bank.
Environment and Sustainability Standing Committee (Thursday, 1pm, City Hall) — the committee is being asked to reject a proposal for cigarette butt recycling and instead concentrate on education. The staff report explains that butt recycling is handled by a company called TerraCycle, which provides a city with butt receptacles at a cost of $100 each, but then “offers incentives based on weights measured of butts collected with $1.00/lb of waste, for shipments over 3lbs. Points or cash are provided to the non-profit organization or school of your choice.”:
Cigarette butt waste is shipped to TerraCycle consolidation sites and then to a processing facility in Pennsylvania to separate filters, paper and plastic components. TerraCycle reports plastic is re-purposed into plastic pallets and tobacco and paper is composted. Imperial Tobacco pays for all the material processing and is a part of its sustainability mission statement.
The report goes on to review the experience in other cities, which has been lousy. Besides not working in general, folks in Vancouver had a problem with the program because:
the local Health Authority expressed concern of affiliation with the tobacco industry funding the TerraCycle cigarette butt recycling program. The affiliation with a cigarette manufacturer funding recycling was not supported by the public and Health Authority. Social media response was quick to criticize the city as it was perceived as promoting smoking to support recovery and recycling of butts for smokers.
The city hasn’t had a litter-reduction campaign since 2006, so another one will begin in the spring.
Point Pleasant Park Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4:30pm, Universalist Unitarian Church of Canada) — here’s the agenda.
Harbour East-Marine Drive Community Council (Thursday, 6pm, HEMDCC Meeting Space, Alderney Gate) — a Highfield Park development.
No public meetings for the rest of the week.
Stochastic Tabu Search: Application to Align Physician Schedule with Patient Flow (Wednesday, 11:30am, MA 310) — Nadia Lahrichi from Polytechnique Montréal will speak. She describes it thusly:
In this study, we consider the pretreatment phase for cancer patients. This is defined as the period between the referral to a cancer center and the confirmation of the treatment plan. Physicians have been identified as bottlenecks in this process, and the goal is to determine a weekly cyclic schedule that improves the patient flow and shortens the pretreatment duration. High uncertainty is associated with the arrival day, profile and type of cancer of each patient. We also include physician satisfaction in the objective function. We present a MIP model for the problem and develop a tabu search algorithm, considering both deterministic and stochastic cases. Experiments show that our method compares very well to CPLEX under deterministic conditions. We describe the stochastic approach in detail and present a real application.
Voice Recital (Wednesday, 12pm, Sculpture Court, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — students of Marcia Swanston will perform.
Building Arctic Leadership: Prosperous People and a Healthy Environment (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Theatre, Marion McCain Building) — Mary Simon, Special Arctic Representative to Canada’s Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, will speak.
Zebrafish (Thursday, 9am, Cineplex OE Smith Theatre, Children’s Building, IWK) — Jason Berman will speak on “Something Fishy Going On: Using the Zebrafish to Model Childhood Cancers and Other Genetic Disorders.”
Information and Disinformation: Evaluating What We Know in a World of “Alternative Facts” (Thursday, 10am, Room B400, Killam Library) — Lindsay McNiff leads the “discussion-based interactive session,” whatever that means. Register here.
Mini Medical School (Thursday, 7pm, Theatre B, Tupper Medical Building) — Laine Green will speak on “When is it NOT a Migraine,” and at 8:15pm, Heather Rigby will speak on “Parkinson’s Disease.”
The Mirror (Thursday, 7pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery) — a screening of Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1974 film.
Médecins Sans Frontières (Thursday, 7pm, Alumni Hall, New Academic Building, University of King’s College) — Bertha Fuchsman-Small from McGill University will speak on “Medical Humanitarian Activism and the Tension Between Principle and Pragmatism.”
Disentangling Burma’s Rohingya Tragedy (Thursday, 7pm, in the theatre named after a bank) — Ingrid Jordt from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee will speak.
In the harbour
6am: ZIM Texas, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Algeciras, Spain
6am: Tirranna, car carrier, moves from Pier 31 to Autoport
7am: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
8:15am: CSL Tacoma, bulker, sails from National Gypsum for sea
9:30am: NS Stream, oil tanker, arrives at Irving Oil from IJmuiden, Netherlands
9:30am: Acadian, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for sea
10:40am: YM Enlightenment, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for sea
1pm: Atlantic Patriot, general cargo, arrives at Beerth TBD from Mariel, Cuba
3pm: YM Movement, container ship, arrives at Berth TBD from Norfolk
4pm: Pinara, container ship, arrives at Berth TBD from Lisbon, Portugal
4pm: Tirranna, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
5pm: ZIM Djibouti, container ship, arrives at Berth TBD from New York
5pm: ZIM Texas, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for New York
So I’ve been working on this story. I thought I’d have it published Monday, but as I do more reporting the story kind of gets more detailed and now I suddenly find I have a massive, sprawling thing. Maybe I’ll get it out today. Or maybe tomorrow.
I’ll be on The Sheldon MacLeod Show, News 95.7, at 2pm.
Thank goodness for Councillor Austin! How tough can it be (destinations aside) to recognize that this weird little roller-coaster style “train”needs to pay for itself? Before any public money gets sucked into this debacle, the ‘train’ should explain in much detail how it benefits the fair city. Why wait for spring? Close this business NOW
Remember when the Halifax field workers cleared the snow, it was great!
If listening to the Road Train debate was painful, just wait for the ever fun snow removal budget debate and who should have snow cleared away from their walkways at public expense. Also the ever contentious argument as to when should the plows hit the streets… bring your popcorn but stay quiet in the peanut gallery.
Remember when Waye Mason was a FashionEASTa? It was great!
Regarding systemic inequality, Pareto showed that unbounded inequality is a feature of iterated games where the winner increases their fitness more than the loser – the winners are therefore more likely to win in the future. There is no proven way to control this process. If you come along and, like the Bolsheviks or many other such groups, round up an army of resentful losers, and forcibly change the rules, you still end up with tremendous inequality in power and wealth. It doesn’t matter what the underlying claims of your society are, inequality persists.
It’s interesting to note that the most equal social organizations which have been actually proven to work are very small – around or below Dunbar’s number. We are not angels and we simply don’t care that much about people we don’t personally know.
In Sebastian Junger’s book Tribe, the author investigates the reason why returning soldiers who did not experience combat or any particular danger present many of the same psychological problems that combat soldiers do, at a reduced but significant rate. Junger presents the idea that the problem is not entirely an issue of the military or with combat itself, but rather with contemporary civilian society. In the military you spend nearly all of your time in close proximity to the same small group of people, working for a common purpose. It’s possible that this is preferable to normal civilian life in a mass society, and re-exposure to the conditions of everyday life is actually what causes the elevated rates of substance abuse, domestic violence, suicide, ect in returning military personnel – even if they just drove a forklift hundreds of kilometres from the actual danger.
The point – and I offer no solutions – is that as the last human – scale organizations fade away from our society and we asymptotically approach something like Brave New World that the alienation and anomie I suspect most of us are experiencing will only get worse. Measures like UBI or an extension of the various patchwork safety net systems will only perpetuate the alienation and atomization. Even though I can rationally understand the necessity, why should I pay taxes for other people’s kids? And yet, most fathers will tell you that they gain personal satisfaction from providing for their family.
Halifax Council has become Fight Club. Disappointing.
Totally agree with your comments on WE day. I have always found it to be a shameless self celebration, and I am vry upset that all the school are bussing the kids in to Halifax for celebrating themselves how awesome they are. This is a private enterprise bx those Kielberger Brothers, and I do not think that schools, school board and DoE should support it by giving kids a day of school off.
In future I commit to, as Mayor Savage has said, read twice, send once.
Councillor you are not cutting lumber. You are a civic leader whose opinion (unfortunately) carries weight. By all appearances you have not learned from your past racist comments. Self reflection and changing one’s beliefs is hard and requires more than PR carpentry and editing.
twitter is for twits….and all councillors should return to speaking to one another directly.
Butting your cigarette out on the sidewalk and not picking it up should be considered the same for fines as any other kind of littering.
BTW, as per the recent Halloween ‘tampering’ story, the Fredericton Daily Gleaner is reporting that a pin was allegedly found in a piece of candy. The police have taken the candy and pin as evidence but, of course, nobody knows from what house it may have come.
Also the Bathurst Northern Light is reporting today that a nail was found in a child’s candy bar last night.
Radio-Canada had that Bathurst story up online before 8pm last night. Has to be a new time record. According to the look of the photo, it was a full-sized candy bar, reportedly given to a toddler.
Who gives out full-sized candy bars?
The Great Train robberry failed to materialise…….anybody know why Councillor Mason joined the board of the promoters ?
he is an ambitious man , he’s not going to be a councilor forever