News

1. Alton Gas

The Shubenacadie River., site of the Alton Gas project.

“A retired geologist who worked for the province of Nova Scotia as well as the mining giant INCO says he has safety concerns about the proposed Alton Natural Gas Storage project,” reports Jennifer Henderson.

Click here to read “UARB submission raises safety concerns about Alton Gas project.”

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2. Public Accounts

“In his own Trumpian, alternate-fact world,” writes Stephen Kimber, “MLA Gordon Wilson wants us to believe the Public Accounts Committee can’t venture beyond the narrow confines of published auditor general’s reports when examining public spending because… well, that would be against the law. Time for Wilson to re-read the ‘law.’”

Click here to read “The Fang-less Five, the McNeil government, and (un)accountability.”

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3. Prisoner statement

The renovated North Unit day room at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility. Photo: Halifax Examiner

The prisoners at the Burnside jail have issued a statement in response to the clemency of Cyntoia Brown. Click here to read it.

4. Beer garden

Reporter Richard Woodbury at the CBC filed a Freedom of Information request about the awarding of the beer garden space on the waterfront:

When Stillwell co-owner Chris Reynolds found out his business didn’t win the tender to continue operating a Halifax waterfront beer garden in 2016, he wasn’t happy.

But, as time passed, he came to realize it was a good thing.

Reynolds said he prefers the current space for the Stillwell beer garden, both as a patron and as a business owner.

“The weather is a big one,” he said. “We used to close at 9 p.m. all the time because it was just getting cold and those same sort of nights we’re open until maybe midnight up here.”

The fog often rolls in on the waterfront, leaving everything below about Barrington Street cold and damp, but then up on Spring Garden Road it’s 15 degrees warmer and sunny.

5. Janitorial Services

As it does periodically, the city this morning issued a tender offer for janitorial services at the Bedford Library, the J.D. Shatford Memorial Library in Hubbards, the Tantallon Library, Woodlawn Library, and the Musquodoboit Harbour Recreation Center & Library.

These are all high-traffic public buildings. But rather than have city employees clean the building, the city contracts out janitorial service.

Often, the city contracts out services because it doesn’t have the expertise on staff for some of the specialized work needed. Or certain kind of financial and management planning requires an independent, outside perspective, free of the bureaucracy’s biases. Or the service needed isn’t enough work for dedicated city staff.

But none of those reasons explain the outsourcing of janitorial services. While it’s important work, there’s nothing particularly specialized about janitorial services. Likewise, they don’t require an outside perspective, and there is plenty of work to employ dedicated city staff.

On that last point, here are some of the janitorial contracts put out to bid in the last three years (typically, the contracts have terms of three years), with the awards in parenthesis:

• North Branch (A+ Quality Cleaners, $116,399) and Keshen Goodman Libraries (A+ Quality Cleaners, $163,569)
• Alderney Landing (GDI Integrated Facility Services, $549,111)
• Police Operation Centres (Jani King, $354,000)
• Sackville Sports Stadium (Imperial Cleaning, $675,120)
• Acadia Centre, Fire Station #9, Bedford Outdoor Pool (split between D&J’s Cleaning $126,542, and Elejorde Cleaning, $40,050)
• Facilities Maintenance Depot, St. Andrews Centre, Adventure Earth Centre, Fire Station #7 (Imperial Cleaners, $243,480, and Elejorde Cleaning $66,480)
• Municipal Streets and Roads/Parks Depot, Burnside Fleet Operations Depot, Burnside Fire Fleet Operations Depot, Dartmouth Municipal Parks & Open Spaces Depot (Imperial Cleaners, $224,040)
• Gordon R Snow Community Centre (C&D Cleaning, $226,080)
• Chocolate Lake Community Centre, George Dixon Community Centre (Imperial Cleaners, $351,216)
• Municipal Depot- 3825 Mackintosh, Municipal Depot- 1680 Bell Rd, Municipal Administration- Fairview Cemetery (D&J’s Cleaning, $153,251)
• Records Administration, Fairbanks Centre (Jani King, $78,407)
• Halifax Ferry Terminal, Woodside Ferry Terminal, Ferry Boats (GDI, $314,712)
• Burnside Transit Facility, Barrington/Duke Street Shelter & Operations Lobby, Scotia Square Passenger Lobby (D&J’s Cleaning, $219,822)
• North Preston Community Centre (SimClean, $377,410.46)
• Various transit locations (ZM Supreme, $295,800; C&D Cleaning, $136,801; Elejorde Cleaning, $96,599)

The only reason the city contracts out these services is so City Hall can (supposedly) “save” money because the contractors don’t have to pay the union wages city workers get paid, about $20/hour — in fact, the contractors pay shit wages, at or near minimum wage.

As I’ve pointed out many times before:

[This is a] matter of simple human decency. We should pay people enough that a full day’s work is enough to adequately provide for oneself and one’s family — and especially so when councillors themselves are paid more than $82,000 annually and there are over 600 city employees, mostly managers and execs, getting paid more than $100,000 annually. We speak a lot about inequality in our society, and one of the best examples is in city government.

And:

As I’ve said before, I don’t have any problem with managers and others getting paid over $100,000 for their work. But to then turn around and pay the people cleaning the toilets and locker rooms 12 bucks an hour is just unconscionable. It’s obscene, really.

Someone making $12 an hour is someone with two or three jobs. It’s someone who lives hand-to-mouth, who has no financial security, is a pay cheque away from disaster. It’s someone whose life collapses if they have to take off work to tend to a sick kid.

Recall that on June 20, 2017, Halifax council approved a motion by councillor Lindell Smith, as follows:

THAT Halifax Regional Council direct staff to create a cross departmental working group to engage external stakeholders, conduct further investigation and recommend with respect to whether or not to adopt a policy framework for the consideration of social economic benefit, employee compensation/living wage and environmental impacts in the procurement process (excluding local preference) and report back to Council.

THAT the motion be amended to include:

2. Report back to Regional Council with an update prior to the finalization of the 2018-2019 budget, outlining scoring options that may be identified by then and;
3. Prepare an In Camera report that outlines upcoming contracts that will be put to tender before the 2018-2019 budget is finalized.

The 2018-2019 budget has come and gone, and now council is working up the 2019-20 budget. Still no living wage ordinance.


Government

City

Monday

Police Commissioners (Monday, 12:30pm, City Hall) — lots on the agenda.

North West Community Council (Monday, 7pm, Cafetorium, Lockview High School, Fall River) — senior housing in Fall River.

Tuesday

City Council (Tuesday, 10am, City Hall) — agenda

Province

Monday

No public meetings today.

Tuesday

Community Services (Tuesday, 10am, One Government Place) — a per diem meeting.

Veterans Affairs (Tuesday, 2pm, One Government Place) — ditto

Health (Tuesday, 3:30pm, location tba: One Government Place OR Province House) — this is the first meeting of the newly created Standing Committee on Health. See Stephen Kimber’s comments about the uselessness of the committee (link above).


On campus

Dalhousie

Monday

Judith Yan. Photo: Aleksandar Antonijevic

Less is more Beethoven’s 5th (Monday, 1:30pm, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — conductor Judith Yan will speak.

Orthogonal Polynomials for Bernoulli and Euler Polynomials (Monday, 2:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Lin Jiu will talk about his work with and Diane Shi. Their abstract:

Recent results interpret Bernoulli and Euler polynomials as moments of certain random variables. Then, it is natural to consider the corresponding orthogonal polynomials. On the other hand, a general connection between moments of random variables and the generalized Motzkin numbers, via continued fractions, reveals that the orthogonal polynomials, especially their three-term recurrences, endow the Bernoulli and Euler polynomials with combinatorial interpretations as weighted lattice paths. It will be shown that the orthogonal polynomials with respect to Bernoulli polynomials are the continuous Hahn polynomials and those with respect to Euler polynomials are Meixner-Pollaczek polynomials. A generalization on the Euler polynomials of higher order is obtained; while for the Bernoulli polynomials of higher order, a conjecture will be shown.

Architecture Lecture (Monday, 6pm, Auditorium, Design Building, 5257 Morris Street) — Tom Fisher from the University of Minnesota’s College of Design will speak. More info here.

Tuesday

Letitia Meynell. Photo: Thoshlea Smith

Architecture Lecture (Tuesday, 9am, Cineplex Theatre 7, Park Lane Mall) — philosopher Letitia Meynell from Dalhousie University will speak. More info here.

A Conversation on Conducting (Tuesday, 10am, Room 121, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — Q&A with Judith Yan.

Developing and Retaining Talent in Canada (Tuesday, 11am, 2nd Floor Atrium, Ocean Sciences Building) — a panel discussion “focusing on talent retention and development in our region, and the importance of collaboration between academia and industry.” Panelists include George Palikaras, Metamaterial Technologies Inc.​​; Ian Hill, Dalhousie University; Simon Jacques, Airbus Canada; Eric Bosco, Mitacs. Moderator: Alice Aiken, Vice President Research and Newfangling, Dalhousie University.

Seafloor habitat mapping in an ocean of big data: Development of data analysis approaches for map production (Tuesday, 11:30am, Room 127, Goldberg Computer Science Building) — Craig J. Brown from the Nova Scotia Community College will speak. His abstract:

Over the past two decades advances in the field of ocean technology have led to the exponential increase in volumes of oceanographic data. Acoustic remote sensing, autonomous surface and underwater platforms, in-situ sensor platforms, and vessel-deployed instruments are now capable of collecting extremely large, diverse and interconnected oceanographic data sets for a wide range of applications. The technology has reached the state where ocean data are being generated at a rate faster than can be assessed and interpreted using traditional methods. The need for development of analytical tools to process these data sets, coupled with the skilled individuals to undertake these analyses is now paramount.

We present case study examples of applied research activities in the field of integrated ocean mapping at the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) where analytical procedures are under development to handle, process and deliver results from large oceanographic data sets in support of ocean sector stakeholders. NSCC works closely with regional and Canadian-based companies, federal and provincial government departments, and other academic institutions to provide innovative applied research solutions in the area of ocean technology and ocean analytics. An overview of various habitat mapping approaches will be provided to illustrate advances in this field of research.

Marianne McKenna

Architecture Lecture (Tuesday, 6pm, Auditorium, Design Building, 5257 Morris Street) — Marianne McKenna from KPMB Architects will speak. More info here.) 

Saint Mary’s

Monday

L’nu Stargazing (Monday, 4:45pm, Burke-Gaffney Observatory) — meet in classroom AT 325.


In the harbour

05:00: Atlantic Sky, ro-ro container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
15:30: Atlantic Sky sails for New York
15:30: Siem Cicero, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany
20:30: East Coast, oil tanker, arrives at Irving Oil from Charlottetown

Where are the Canadian military ships?



Footnotes

Lots of stuff going on this week.


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Tim Bousquet

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

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  1. Low wages are the scourge of this city and province. The NSLC, the billion dollar money printing outfit who have recently be made the only weed dealers in the province, advertise the starting wage of $11.65 an hour. To go up to $12 after 400 hours. That’s fucking disgraceful and shameful. Even more so for a massively profitable public owned corporation.

  2. I would have thought that the city learned their lesson about the consequences of paying poverty level wages with the parking contract. That was a mess and they went back to better paid municipal employees.

  3. HRM has the highest cost and greatest benefits of any municipal pension plan in Canada and the cost has to be funded on the backs of the employees of contractors.
    Details here see page 30 :
    https://www.halifax.ca/sites/default/files/documents/city-hall/regional-council/190115rc123pres.pdf
    And no other municipal or provincial government in Canada has as an expensive Long Service Award as HRM, very few municipal or provincial governments provide such an benefit.

    1. Colin Mays comments about the benefits of the pension plan being the source of the shit minimum wage jobs that cleaning companies pay is so very much part of the problem. People are shafted in minimum wage jobs because there aren’t laws and policies that prevent them from happening.