On campus
In the harbour


1. Flight 624

Interior of the cabin, looking forward
Interior of the cabin, looking forward
View of damage to floor at row 31 seats D, E, F.
View of damage to floor at row 31 seats D, E, F.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada yesterday issued a media release giving more details of the crash — euphemistically called a “ground contact prior to runway” — of Flight 624 at Stanfield International on March 29:

During the approach, the engines of the aircraft severed power transmission lines, and then the main landing gear and rear fuselage impacted the snow-covered ground about 225 metres before the runway threshold. The aircraft continued through a localizer antenna, then impacted the ground in a nose down attitude, about 70 metres before the threshold. It then bounced and slid along the runway, coming to rest on the left side of the runway about 570 metres beyond the threshold. 

The passengers and crew evacuated the aircraft; 25 people sustained injuries and were taken to local hospitals. The aircraft was substantially damaged. There was no post-crash fire.


What we know


Prior to landing, the crew received an updated weather report at 12:15 am Atlantic Time which included: windspeed 20 knots gusting to 26 knots from the north north west; 350° true; with a forward visibility of ½ statute mile in snow and drifting snow. The vertical visibility was 300 feet above the ground, temperature of minus 6°C, dewpoint minus 7°C, and altimeter setting of 29.63 inches of mercury. 

The aircraft

Preliminary examination of the FDR [flight data recorder] indicates the aircraft was correctly configured for landing, the airspeed was consistent with a normal approach speed, and the altimeters were set to 29.63 inches of mercury. No mechanical deficiencies were identified with the aircraft’s engines, flight controls, landing gear and navigation systems. During the review of the aircraft’s maintenance records, no discrepancies were noted. Approximately 4900 litres of fuel was recovered from the aircraft.

Post-impact damage

The forward right and both rear exits were not used during the evacuation. No discrepancies were noted during the initial examination of these exits. Examination of the aircraft revealed that the right side cabin floor in seat rows 31 and 33, and the floor adjacent to the flight attendant fold-down seat near the rear of the cabin were punctured from below by aircraft structure. No pieces of the localizer antenna structure penetrated the cockpit.

The investigation is continuing.

2. Stabbed to death

“Cape Breton Regional Police say a 25-year-old man died in the Cape Breton Regional Hospital and a 21-year-old man remains in hospital with life threatening stab wounds, related to stabbings in the King Street area of North Sydney after midnight,” reports the Cape Breton Post.

I’m tired of reading about young people killing each other over bullshit.

3. Money

If you lost a thousand bucks or so in small, unmarked bills on Peter Lowe Avenue, the cops will give it back to you if you know the serial numbers on each of the bills.

4. Cornwallis Park

Plans for the renovation of Cornwallis Park.
Plans for the renovation of Cornwallis Park.

“Work on the first phase of renovations for Halifax’s historic Cornwallis Park, slated to begin this fall, has been delayed after the work tender was cancelled when the only bid received came in “significantly” over budget, according to the city,” reports Metro’s Stephanie Taylor:

Tracey’s Landscaping offered to do the work for $337,465, while the municipality’s approved 2015-16 capital budget earmarked these improvements to cost $200,000.


A city spokeswoman explained Tuesday one possibility why the bid was so high was because it came from a landscaping company, which would not typically supply playground equipment.

That’s why municipal staff has since decided to re-contract out the landscaping work separate from the playground equipment, which would likely be installed early next spring.

“We still hope to get the landscaping work done before the winter weather sets in,” Jennifer Stairs wrote in an email.

I wrote about the history of the park and detailed the plans for the renovation here.

5. High tides

“Nova Scotia, along with the rest of the world, is seeing the highest tides in almost two decades peaking today,” reports the CBC:

The tides are the result of the full moon which is in a “particular position where it is closer to the Earth than normal,” said Robin Tress, a marine ecologist and coastal advisor with the Ecology Action Centre.

“We’re seeing tides up to 15 per cent higher than normal, which is bringing more water farther inland.”

The most dramatic effect of the high tides will be seen along the Bay of Fundy where the water will rise about a metre and a half higher than usual, Tress said.


1. The Russians are coming

Photo: Stephen Archibald
Photo: Stephen Archibald

I’m a big fan of Stephen Archibald, but I’m one generation removed from him and grew up in another country, so I can’t understand this at all. I think it has something to do with a space dog, or some fantasy about a woman named Natasha. Who knows?

2. Victoria General

Graham Steele guesses that replacing the Victoria General will cost in the neighbourhood of $1 billion, and there’s simply not a billion dollars lying around:

That’s why politicians of all stripes have shrunk in the face of a Centennial Building replacement. They have had three options:

  1. Add $1 billion to the capital budget.
  2. Put aside all other capital spending for a few years.
  3. Do nothing and hope the building can be duct-taped together for one more year.


Last week’s flood is likely enough to force the [treasury] board to find a fourth option.

They could, for example, carve the Centennial Building replacement into ten or fifteen digestible chunks. Each year, they would fund only one or two of the chunks, and only if it keeps them in balance.

It will not be elegant. Spreading the project over a decade or two increases the risk of mistakes, cost overruns, and more floods and mechanical breakdowns. But politically, it just might work.

I think we should give political cover for Option #1. We need a new hospital; borrow the money and build it.

3. Mother Canada™

Mother Canada™
Mother Canada™

I can’t find it confirmed elsewhere, but Parker Donham says that “the Nova Scotia Liberal Caucus will meet quietly today with Mother Canada promoters Tony Trigiani and Maj. Gen. Lewis MacKenzie,” and asks:

Why on earth would Premier Stephen McNeil want to get tangled up in the Harper Government’s Mother Canada fiasco?


The Liberal MLAs would be well-advised to have a fact checker on hand for today’s meeting. MacKenzie and Trigiani have a habit of repeating nonsensical claims in support of the project. Their environmental assessment report says the project must be located in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, because that’s the point on Canada’s eastern coastline at the same latitude as the Vimy Memorial, of which it is a bloated knockoff. In fact, Newfoundland’s Northern Peninsula is on the same latitude as Vimy. More recently, MacKenzie has tugged heartstrings with his claim that the proposed Green Cove site is the last bit of Canada seen by soldiers departing for World War I. In fact, Green Cove is nowhere near the route followed by troopships, and could not be seen from the vessels, owing to the earth’s curvature.

The Liberals would have been wise to skip this session. At a minimum, they must now make time for local opponents of this dreadful scheme.

I can’t help but think that if the Conservatives are able to form a government after the federal election, that hideous monstrosity is actually going to get built.

4. Cranky letter of the day

To the Chronicle Herald:

I read the newspaper every morning with a pen in hand, marking the errors that make me twitchy if I leave them uncorrected. It’s usually just the misuse of there/their/they’re or the use of “less” rather than “fewer.” I can accept that. Everyone makes mistakes.

But for the love of Strunk and White, can you please stop evacuating people? Every time I read about “evacuating residents,” I picture emergency responders disembowelling these poor people. Buildings are evacuated. Buses are evacuated. People are not evacuated. Unless, of course, those emergency responders are administering emergency enemas.

Ingrid Deon, Abbotts Harbour



Community Advisory Design Committee (11:30, City Hall) — more discussion of the Centre Plan.

Investment Policy Advisory Committee (noon, City Hall) — I always take a look at the committee’s reading list, but there’s nothing much interesting this week.


The city is looking for 90 trees for its fall planting — 50 Autumn Blaze Maple, 30 Sugar Maple, and 10 American Elm. Maples are boring (send hate mail to PO Box 463, Halifax, B3J 2P8), but it’s good to see elms on the list. The Wikipedia entry on the American Elm is actually pretty informative, and worth a read.

I hope the planting of elms means that the city is moving away from the habit of planting small, boring trees because they don’t break up the sidewalks. I had a long conversation with an urban forester in a California city about this once; he insisted that no matter how small, “every tree is a shade tree,” and rejected my opinion that we should be planting giant elms and oaks and such that provide real relief from the burning sun. I guess that’s not much of an issue in the land of no sun, but I wish we’d at least plant a broader range of species and celebrate them — in Vancouver they have a little plaque next to each tree saying what it is, and have even included the entire street tree catalog, listing every street tree in the entire city, on its open data platform. I can’t find that anyone has created one yet, but I can envision the data being used for a fun little phone app.


Public Accounts (9am, Province House) — Jeff Conrad, the Deputy Minister of Internal Services, will be questioned about the Auditor General’s report on Procurement and Management of Professional Services Contracts.

On campus


Mawio’mi (11am, Studley Quad/University Club) — this is the sixth annual Mawio’mi hosted by the Dalhousie Native Student Association:

This daylong event will showcase the raising of the Mi’kmaq flag, traditional drummers, dancers and crafters, while honoring community Elders on recognized unceded Mi’kmaq territory. Attendees will be treated to a traditional feast and refreshments prior to the ‘pow wow’ (celebration).

More information here.

Joy DeGruy
Joy DeGruy

Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome (4pm, Potter Auditorium, Rowe Management Building) — Joy DeGruy, who is the author of Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America’s Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing, is the keynote speaker for the Health Association of African Canadians Mental Health Conference, which begins today.

Maternal care (4pm, Theatre A, Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building) — Ian Weaver will speak on “Maternal care effects on chromatin-remodelling protein ATRX expression and long-term neurobehavioural development.”

YouTube video

Metropolis (8pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery) — a screening of Fritz Lang’s 1927 film, which is considered the first science fiction movie. Taking place in the far distant 2026, the film envisions an impossible future world where the ultra wealthy live lives of splendour and ease thanks to the toil of the exploited poor. Hey, wait…

In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:15am Wednesday. Map:
The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:15am Wednesday. Map:

Glenda Melissa, oil tanker, arrived at Ultramar last night and sails to sea today. The bulk of the gasoline used in Nova Scotia comes through the Imperial Oil dock, but a small amount comes through Ultramar.
ZIM Shanghai, container ship, New York to TBD

Atlantic Conveyor sails to sea

The cruise ships Aurora (up to 1,950 passengers) and Serenade of the Seas (up to 2,490 passengers) are in port today.


I’ll be on The Sheldon MacLeod Show, News 95.7, at 4pm.

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

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  1. I recently attended a public meeting on the South Barrington Heritage District at which the renovation of Cornwallis Park came up. Those who lived near the area saw more need for space for university students and the growing number of young adults who live in the area than for playground-age children who are conspicuous by their absence. Oh well, what do we know? Now we learn the renovation decision was fait accompli when our views were sought.

  2. The claim that Green Cove was the last sight of Canada cannot be verified without reference to the log book of the ships transporting the soldiers. The route through the Strait of Belle Isle is not accessible January to May, depending on ice conditions. In more modern times a vessel heading to France through the Cabot Strait would not pass within sight of Green Cove and would be closer to Newfoundland. Back in WW1 it is quite possible that the Master of a vessel would want to be certain of his position before reaching the Atlantic Ocean and therefore pick a last point of land that was close to deep water and that would be on Cape Breton. He would not choose St Pierre because it is low lying and dangerous in foggy weather. His decision would also be determined by the weather.
    All in all, we don’t know unless we have access to historical records.

    The oil storage terminal at Eastern Passage is operated by Valero, the logo is painted on several tanks.

  3. Metropolis isn’t even close to being the first science fiction film. The earliest sci-fi film is generally considered to be Le Voyage dans La Lune, which is some 25 years older than Metropolis…

  4. During one of my summers in college — studying forestry — my task was to collect tree data for the municipality in southern Ontario where I grew up. For months I walked, kilometre after kilometre with a data logger identifying, assessing and locating street trees. More than once was I confronted by angry residents worried I was there to mark their tree for removal. That was almost 20 years ago, I should see what ever came of that work.

    Anyway, in the urban forestry department in which I worked there were a few less-loved species and a few more-loved. Less loved were Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum) because of its very aggressive roots which destroyed even the hardiest of subsurface infrastructure and Norway Maple (Acer platanoides) because it was so susceptible to disease in the crotches of large branches causing them to rot from the inside out and destroy expensive vehicles at the mere suggestion of a breeze. Plus it’s non-native. On the other end we liked planting a few Ginko here and there (they are VERY hardy in street side environments but not too shady), and species like Mountain Ash that provide tasty fruit that last into the winter for birds. Large airy Honey Locusts, Walnut, Oak, even Ash, there’s plenty to choose from.

    All that to say that yeah, we can have nice shady trees that won’t destroy expensive stuff and even select native species that provide a better environment for animals beyond ourselves. Perhaps our greatest goal is not to create a monoculture leaving us vulnerable to disease and pests. Developers are notorious for purchasing a thousand of the same species at cut-rate prices to line the streets of new subdivisions. Something happens a few years after the municipality signs off on the development, most of the trees die and guess who pays to replace them all. Nature, even the bit we manage in urban areas, really doesn’t like a monoculture.

  5. Have you checked out the Urban Forest Master Plan for Halifax? Details here – You can download the plan and read about the recommended species from neighbourhood to neighbourhood. Tree diversity is a key element of the plan, encouraging residents to plan a wider range of species and fewer invasives like Norway Maple.

  6. Carol Off wrote a book called “The Lion, the Fox and the Eagle” which chronicles three Canadians who had roles with the UN. The Lion refers to Romeo Dallaire, the Fox refers to Lewis McKenzie and the Eagle refers to Lousie Arbour. It’s a good read and I highly recommend it.

    When I read it a few years back I remember having a strong dislike for the way McKenzie schmoozed like a politician with both sides in the Bosnian conflict, joining them for drinks in lavish settings in what I remember being described as more social encounters than any kind of official business.

    I’ve seen this desire for grandiosity and 1% shoulder-rubbing among other generals: Andrew Leslie pushed for a Canadian mission to the Congo when he didn’t get appointed as Chief of Land Staff even though the Congo was then pushing out the UN in order to demonstrate self-sufficiency to their own population; the current Chief of the Royal Canadian Navy used HMCS St. John’s (and her crew) when he was CO back in the early 2000s as a personal moving van for his sister during a fishing patrol. They’re not all bad but these episodes gave me the impression that some of these guys are vindictive and opportunistic quacks. Just because you are (or were) a General doesn’t mean you’re trustworthy.

    “Off describes MacKenzie as being indifferent as hostilities began in Sarajevo because his mandate did not include intervention in Bosnian affairs. MacKenzie’s distrust of all participants in the hostilities grew following a botched prisoner exchange, the Breadline Massacre, and broken ceasefire arrangements. MacKenzie helped negotiate UN control of the Sarajevo International Airport which allowed humanitarian shipments. MacKenzie gave many media interviews but Off criticizes him for portraying both the Serbs and the Bosnians as aggressors and recommending against intervention.”,_the_Fox_%26_the_Eagle

  7. Metropolis is my favorite movie of all time. I love how it keeps getting more and more right, almost 90 years after it was made. The restored version is something that everyone should see at least once in their lives.

  8. We often hear the argument that for profit healthcare doesn’t work, but the us is full of Shiney new, well maintained hospitals. Our system has long wait times and crumbling facilities.

    Despite all the political rhetoric about having public health care, we don’t. We have a public Health insurance system. Hospitals only source of funding from the government should be payment for services rendered. This will ensure that hospitals see as many patients as they can.

    Baring that, The P3 model shouldn’t be discounted. Its clear the government builds cheap and doesn’t keep up with maintenance – better to pay someone to keep up on it, rather then loose 3 floors in an already crowded system.

    1. The contracts are what the contracts are. Consider snow clearing: Dal has in-house staff which actually clears snow. Oh, 15 years ago I was but a peon on a private crew responsible for the VG/Infirmary… which quickly lost half the contract after the first snowfall because of gross underestimation by management of the LOE required to do the job, and the hospital actually wanted snow to be cleared. The HRM contracts for sidewalks apparently say “meh, don’t bother, you’ll get paid regardless”. If the authority cares (as Dal and the hospitals do about snow clearing), you get a good result, in house, or contracted out. If you don’t (as HRM doesn’t about sidewalks), its a clusterfuck.

      Right now there is a crew cold plaining the street in front of me. By my count, there are 7 actual workers, plus drivers. And at least as many whitehats, from the contractor, a 3rd party consulting engineering firms, and HRM proper, with their surveyors wheels, levels and clipboards. This year, last year, next year… a political and budget question. But the iron rings, left to do it right, will do it right.

      Anyway. This may be an opportunity to make the “central” hospital a central hospital. Abandon the VG site entirely, and build fresh outside the urban core. Where Cobequid is might be ideal. Land costs aren’t significant, I grant, but most people who go to the VG are not within walking distance, a sprawling campus outside the city is better for everyone (even those inside the city).

      Todays statement I’d never think I’d say: Saint John got this right.