News

1. Weather

There’s weather today.

2. More crane woes

Tim took this photo of the second attempt to erect the crane, just before it was taken back down again. Photo: Tim Bousquet
The second crane sits on South Park Street waiting to be reinstalled. Photo: Brett Ruskin/CBC

If you thought you heard the last about cranes in Halifax, you were wrong. But, it’s not the one from September; this time it’s the replacement crane. (Crane II? Crane Jr.?) CBC’s Brett Ruskin reported a new crane was installed at the WM Fares construction site on South Park Street, but after setting up there was a problem.

According to Ruskin:

The replacement crane has had issues now, too. Tuesday morning, crews hoisted up sections, stacked them one atop another, and bolted them together. An inspector from the Department of Labour and Advanced Education arrived to inspect the partially assembled crane and discovered it was leaning to one side.

The crane then needed to be assessed and reassembled, which began Wednesday and was finished by Thursday.

3. Stock is down to a third

After some reliability issues, the Halifax Regional Centre for Education is cutting back on Stock Transportation.

Stock, the company that provides public school busing services to the HRM, will be joined by Student Transportation of Canada and Southland Transportation, says the CBC’s Carolyn Ray.

Student Transportation is assigned to Citadel High, Duncan MacMillan, Eastern Shore, Halifax West, J.L. Ilsley, Millwood, Lockview, Musquodoboit Rural and Sir John A. Macdonald. Southland is taking over routes for Auburn High, Bedford, Forsyth Education Centres, Charles P. Allen, Cole Harbour District, Dartmouth High, Island View, Prince Andrew and Sackville High.

In June 2019, the province decided to end Stock’s 10-year contact early and tender the job out to other companies. In Ray’s article, Stock’s director for Atlantic Canada, Pat Meagher  said he hoped that service improvements would help them land a larger part of the new contract.

“I think we’ve proven over the last eight months that we’re making steps in the right direction,” he said.”We’ve made some huge changes. We brought in some transportation specialists from different parts of Canada and Nova Scotia.”

Still, he told Ray, he’s happy with what they have.

Both Student Transportation and Southland say they’d like to hire former Stock employees who will now be out of work.

A lot of drivers get attached to their children and know the parents well,” said Southland employee Murray Glass. “If they want to stay on the runs, as long as they meet our criteria, we’re more than happy to bring them onboard.”

4. Remembering Africville

Africville’s Seaview Baptist Church. Photo: HRM Archives
Africville’s Seaview Baptist Church. Photo: HRM Archives

Some of Africville’s history is now more accessible.

Elena Cremonese, Archives Assistant announced on a blog post that Halifax Municipal Archives have digitized many of the former community’s records into an Africville Source Guide.

In recognition of the honouring of Africville with this year’s Nova Scotia Heritage Day and of the 10 year anniversary of the Apology to the former residents of Africville, the Halifax Municipal Archives has digitized the records in their holdings pertaining to Africville.

Records include city council minutes, city staff files, property assessments, and maps.

Cremonse recognizes these records “only tell one part of one part of the story, one that is reflected through municipal staff and officials.” She says the archives are looking for other stories, those from within the community.

“The Africville Source Guide demonstrates how acutely unrepresented are the voices of Africville residents in records available in local memory institutions; that needs to change, and the Municipal Archives would like to offer a secure and accessible home to community records related to Africville.”


Views

Ice, ice, baby

Photo: Melissa Boland/Twitter

With yesterday’s snow-freezing rain combination shutting down schools and businesses, people like Melissa Boland have taken to Twitter to show just how bad things are.

“This is the type of ice that will shear off our cars and hurt someone. Please clear your whole car. Almost 1/4 inch buildup since 9pm last night. I own a CRV and have limited arm range. If I can get my roof cleared you can give it a shot too,” she said.

Morning File author P.S: Sorry for the bad pun, Halifax.


Noticed

Self checkouts in Dolllarama Photo: HalifaxRetales/Twitter

On Wednesday, Halifax Retales noted the Scotia Square Dollarama had installed self-checkouts. Yesterday I noticed (and used) one in Park Lane.

Every time a store does this there are varying opinions. Some people like it, some are indifferent, and there are others who hate it.

While there is a valid argument that they lower the value of human cashiers, they can also compliment that service — in the right situation. There are many reasons they can be helpful, but today let’s focus on lines.

No one likes standing in a line, so for stores with high consumer traffic, they help. I don’t know how many times I’ve had to run into Dollarama for a couple things, only to find the line is 10-15 people long. Cashiers try to get customers through as quickly as possible, but that doesn’t always work out well. For me, I had to catch a bus and the freezing rain was starting. I wanted to get home as soon as possible to avoid slippery roads, and a person ahead of me had a cart full of items.

I decided to cash myself and my two items out at the self-check out and was in and out in five minutes.

If the situation had been different, I would have gone to the cashier.


Government

No public meetings.


On campus

Dalhousie

Catherine Hernandez Decolonized Theatre Creation (Friday, 1pm, Studio Two, Dal Arts Centre) — free performance.

ThirdYear Devised Theatre Project (Friday, 7:30pm, David Mack Murray Studio, Dal Arts Centre) — directed by Matthew Thomas Walker. Until Saturday, with a sensory-friendly Saturday matinee at 2pm. $15/$10, more info here.

Dido and Aeneas (Friday, 7:30pm, Dunn theatre, Dal Arts Centre) — dance performance directed by Mary Lou Martin. Until Sunday, $15/$10, more info here.

Saint Mary’s

Saint Mary’s is closed due to weather.


In the harbour

05:30: Undine, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southampton, England
06:30: HMCS Harry DeWolf, Arctic patrol ship, arrives at Pier 6 from sea trials
14:30: ZIM Vancouver, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for New York
16:30: Undine moves to Pier 27
18:00: Algoma Verity, bulker, sails from National Gypsum for sea
21:30: Undine sails for sea
22:00: Asian Moon, container ship, sails from Pier 31 for sea


Footnotes

With the crane (and its replacements) still making headlines, should we make the crane a journalism beat?

Join the Conversation

17 Comments

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  1. Re: Stock Transportation receiving bus contracts. When I read this in the news yesterday, I was shocked! You omitted what piece of the pie Stock will get. “It is one of the three companies selected and will be tasked with providing transportation for special-needs students beginning in September 2020.” (From CBC yesterday) With all the problems with Stock in the very recent past, why are they being given the contract for the most vulnerable students? It just doesn’t make sense to me…

  2. Changing school bus contractors,I’d bet, is more about lowering costs than providing good, safe service to students. No doubt the new companies will hire the Stock employees if they meet the “criteria”. Corporate baffelgab for accepting lower wages. And will the new companies voluntarily recognize the employees’ union and collective agreement?

    Shame on the government for yet another anti-worker, anti-union decision and shame on the HRCE for playing along.

    School bus drivers should be employees of the Regional Education Centres or, as in the case of urban centres, perhaps employees of Halifax transit.

  3. OMGoodness. It’s not too often that Tim gets on the wrong side of things, but he has done so spectacularly here. Let’s just leave aside that automated checkouts get rid of jobs that people need. Spend a few moments looking at who is actually doing those jobs. It’s not the lie of high school students looking for spending money, it’s working people. And in many instances, the working poor. And let’s also leave aside that using self checkout is directly contributing to the unequal distribution of wealth. That’s right, less paid out wages means more profit for those who need it the least. That’s why they want us to use self checkout. But let’s leave all that aside. ONCE ALL OR MOST CHECKOUTS ARE SELF CHECKOUTS YOU WILL BE LINING UP AT THEM AS WELL. In fact, at our local A.S.S.(atlantic super store) there are always lineups at the self checkout. These things are not designed to save time in your unbelievably busy important life. A life where getting sustenance and relating to other human beings are inconsequential compared to whatever the fuck it is you do all day to make someone else money. Point is, or at least one of them, these robots will not make your life easier or better. It’s a lie. They’ll make all of our lives worse.

    1. Today’s Morning File is not written by me.

      I’m only writing about one Morning File a week, if that (none this week). I’m just too busy with the podcast. Please see the bylines on top of every post.

      1. Tim,
        I wish the bylines were repeated at the head of each article, section. Having the day’s editor/writer named at the top only causes me way to much scrolling about…

        1. Pgzmr, we do byline specific articles in Morning Files — when we include pieces by Joan Baxter, Jennifer Henderson, or Tim himself — that aren’t big enough to warrant a whole post. In this case, the whole Morning File was written by Katie Ingram.

    2. Very good points about self checkouts, David. I’ve only used them a couple of times in the past (for similar reasons as those of the writer of Today’s Morning File) but, for the reasons you mentioned, I recently decided to avoid them in the future.

    3. I was also struck by the trivial talk of convenience in that article and had to go back and look at the byline. It’s a far departure from the normal thoughtful tone of this newsletter.

      What are people for?

      The great question hovering over this issue, and dealt with by indifference in the news article/note/blog/editorial/social post (I’m not quite sure what is) is the question of what are people for. Is the obsolescence of humans our goal? It would seem so from our attitudes toward work and service.

      The writer also seems unaware or uncaring that the machine march toward mechanization and automation that puts an absolute premium on convenience and labour saving measures also hollows out local economies. The businesses that are out-conveyors of wealth become ever more efficient and frictionless until they are near perfect machines that extract every dollar of wealth that any of us can get our hands on.

      We should be deeply skeptical, critical and curious about the Dollar Store Economy. Beyond being outconveyors of wealth they contribute to trapping the poorest among us into cycles of poverty and ilhealth. Their lack of localism hurts the community. Their economics makes the idea of local competition nearly impossible. And even the best business analysis requires magical thinking to explain how these businesses make money and proliferate. Something is wrong here and it’s not the inconvenience of a checkout lineup.

    4. I use automation and machines to speed up my life all the time. We all have all sorts of machines to assist in automation in our lives.
      I use the self checkouts every time I can, because I don’t need to stand in line while someone scans something in, that I can do twice as fast as they do. Or make stupid idle chit chat with a cashier who does not care how my day is but asks anyways because they have to.

      1. I get your point about forced conversation. But I fear we’re losing points of contact with each other. They’re are an explosions of conversations on social media, of course, but they’re not in person (hence the extreme rudeness) and we tend to group ourselves in silos of the like-minded. But really, they’re not in person is my point. And we increasingly make our purchases on line or otherwise via automation, so another lost point of interpersonal contact. I expect we’ll soon see a big increase in automated bars/restaurants (I’m thinking of Terminal C at Newark). This seems like a real loss for me. I realize there are other places, non-commercial places where we can get such contact — churches, sports leagues, etc. — but still it worries me. There are an awful lot of lonely people out there, and even the knowledge of how to interact seems to be on the decline. We fear each other.

        1. It’s a shifting baseline. The real tragedy happened in fields long ago and far from our view on family farms across North America. Now the people who once were part of rural farm communities as ancient as agriculture work in city service jobs. What happens when they are pushed out of that?

          Work is endemic to the human condition. The economic thought of the last 2 centuries did not consider the fact that it is mainly through our work that we connect and relate to the world, that we find purpose in the knowing that by some measure, beyond our close circle of family and friends, that world needs and values our contribution.

          Crankiness. Rudeness. Self-interest. Loneliness. Social groups. Shared purpose. When we lose the contentedness that our work gives us, communities lose far more than the efficiencies of the global economy could ever make up.

          A generation ago the economists decreed there were too many farmers. And so began a great migration to cities. What happens now as the economists and cranky convenience-seekers decide there are too many service jobs? Is it too much to ask to think 40 or 50 years out into the future, or at least outside ourselves for one second, and ask seriously, “What are people for?”

      2. I don’t agree it’s stupid idle chit chat. It’s humans conversing. The other day i saw a cashier being taken from the store in an ambulance. I then saw her a few days later back at work being a cashier. We chatted about her experience and it turns out she was fine. What was a problem though, was a large bill for the ambulance she was being asked to pay. So i went to.the manager and told him I’d like to contribute some money and ask other staff to help if they were able. The manager said he wasn’t aware of the ambulance bill of the worker and that now that he knew, the store would pay the bill. So a little conversation made a difference in someone’s life. Doesn’t always have to be this, but i ask workers how they are doing. And i mean it.

    5. During cold and flu season I use self-checkouts. Cashiers don’t generally have the luxury of taking off time when they are sick and contagious. I’ve had more than a few sniffly cashiers pass something on to me by touching my stuff. Then I’m laid up and/or passing it on to those close to me. No thank you.
      Having this option as well as cashiers for immune compromised people and the elderly likely has a positive impact on disease transmission rates. The other, obvious, solution to that is proper amounts of sick leave and not requiring doctors notes for all workers.

    6. The time-saving of avoiding lines by using self-checkouts is a bait and switch. First the store lays off some cashiers, creating long lines. Then they install self-checkouts, and have staff encourage and assist their use, so people in a hurry try them. Eventually the helpers are laid off too, and the number of cashiers reduced again – one, or even none. Now everyone is lining up for the self-checkouts, which are sometimes slower than the cashier when a card won’t read, a coupon won’t work, or an item won’t scan. In the end, the customer saves no time or takes longer to make purchase, while doing more work, and the store saves money by having one employee in place of four or six. Sadly, many people fall for the short term benefits of a bait and switch, especially if it has a veneer of technology (Uber, food delivery apps, etc.)

    7. The machines are now outrunning the Governance. Facebook, Google, Uber, etc. are beyond the control of governments. They pay little or no taxes and move from jurisdiction to jurisdiction if required to do so. (Zuckerburg, for example, appeared before the US Congress and basically told them to pound sand.)

      All these Machines, all this Tech is implemented without any thought to the consequences, to the real costs. The Luddites had this right: they questioned the unbridled implementation of machines. Today, we do not do so. With neoliberal regimes installed worldwide, we look only to the $$ return and nothing else.

      Self-scanning is a good example. The first ones I saw, you could do CASH transactions. Now, the ones I have seen, take only digital transactions. Pushing the Cashless Society where most of your assets will be out of your control and in the control of machines. No analysis, to my knowledge, has been done by Governments as to the downsides of this particular machinery. (And, in the Coronavirusness current, what about the capacity for these machines to more easily transmit disease since they are touched multiple times by multiple customers? No analysis of that.)

      Many experts agree that The Ultimate Machine, Artificial General Intelligence, will also be thrust upon us with no analysis, no Governance but simply implemented by whoever/whatever gets to it first. It may then decide to “save” by eliminating Humanity.

  4. Crane Woes- Some say the 3rd time is a charm, for local business it is anything but. There are so many questions that need to be asked. Have we learned anything here? When will we see the report of the cause of the crane collapse in September? Has there been a review of policy and procedures for inspections? Is the insurance adequate? Are surrounding homeowners protected?
    Why is there no compensation for small businesses that have to endure years of ongoing construction? We welcome progress but not at the expense of others. Yes, it will be fine in the end but how does one survive?
    Sue Uteck
    Executive Director
    Spring Garden Area Business Association