1. Africentric schools

Wade Smith. Photo: Facebook

Writes Stephen Kimber:

Why aren’t we doing something to try to change decades of data — “comparative drop-out rates, school suspension rates, graduation rates, academic averages achieved” — that show African Nova Scotian students aren’t reaching their potential in our school system? Whatever the reasons, it’s time to stop allowing the failures of the past to keep repeating themselves.

Click here to read “Why are we still talking about Africentric schools?”

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2. Highspeed internet

This item is written by Jennifer Henderson.

Develop Nova Scotia awarded contracts worth $45 million on Friday to (finally) bring highspeed internet to several parts of rural Nova Scotia, including Colchester and Cumberland counties. The work is supposed to be completed by the end of this year.

It has been nearly two years (March 2018) since the province announced a $193-million Nova Scotia Internet Trust Fund with money from an offshore windfall. Develop Nova Scotia says another Call for Projects to connect the remaining underserved communities will be issued next week.

The news release from Develop Nova Scotia states “Currently, about 70 per cent of homes and businesses have access to high speed internet. Today’s announcement means 86 per cent of homes and businesses will have access to the service, close to the goal of achieving more than 95 per cent.”

The current round of contracts are with five internet service providers: Cross Country in Canning, Kings Co.; Mainland Telecom serving Middleton; Seaside Communications in Sydney; Bell Canada; and Xplornet, based in Woodstock, New Brunswick. Xplornet won the largest share ($22 million) of the bidding competition; it will cover about 16,000 unserved homes and businesses in Cumberland and Colchester counties through a mix of wired and fixed wireless services.

Overall, the projects provide access to connections for more than 42,000 homes and businesses. For the full list, see here.

Develop Nova Scotia says the decision around which communities are the first to get connected was sorted out by the internet service providers who are also responsible to maintain the network for a period of 10 years. Locations where the technology can be more easily installed will go ahead first. Ten companies were pre-approved for the first round and another five will compete for the second round of contracts.

“We are beyond excited for this announcement because it means not only Luckett Vineyards and the local wine industry, but all rural businesses in this part of the province, will have the opportunity to step into the 21st century,” said Geena Luckett, owner/general manager of Luckett Vineyards outside Wolfville. “This empowers operators to modernize, increase efficiency, market our business and tell our stories on a broad scale.”

3. Rodger’s Rumspringa

“When you come right down to it, Canadian [political] parties are pretty oppressive,” writes Mary Campbell in the Cape Breton Spectator:

Maybe that’s why, after 20 years of loyal service to the Liberal Party of Canada, former Cape Breton Canso MP Rodger Cuzner has joined Rubicon Strategy, a consulting firm with what the National Post calls “deep Conservative connections.”

Readers, I think he’s off on the political equivalent of a Rumspringa — the period during which Amish teenagers are allowed to experiment and break the rules before returning to the church — but instead of drinking beer in the woods and playing video games, Cuzner is hanging out with the men (they’re almost all men) who ran the Sun News cable channel and helped get Jason Kenney elected premier of Alberta and helped get Doug Ford elected in Ontario and were “instrumental in the elimination of the Canadian Wheat Board.”

The kind of men you’d call if an ageing Soviet satellite were in danger of crashing to earth and the only way to stop it was to launch a crack negative advertising campaign:

Cuzner stands out, not only as the sole senior staffer with Liberal ties, but as the only one described as “collegial.” The others are all too busy being “ruthless” in their pursuit of success and “mastering the media” to make friends, apparently.

It’s estimated that 80% of Amish teenagers return to the church after Rumspringa.

Campbell goes on to say interesting things about Rubicon’s management of Peter MacKay’s Leadership campaign and something about Julius Caesar (you have to read it).

Click here to read “Rodger’s Rumspringa?”

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4. Uber

“Nova Scotia’s Progressive Conservative party plans to introduce a bill later this month to remove some barriers for ride-hailing companies in the province,” reports Emma Davie for the CBC:

The PCs want to create a new category of licence, called a restricted Class 4 licence, for drivers of Uber, Lyft and other apps.

Tim Houston made the announcement at the party’s annual general meeting on Sunday.

“We believe this is something we need in Nova Scotia because this is something Nova Scotians want,” he said in an interview.

I’ll farm this one out to Chris Parsons:

We are going to end up with Houston as premier and Whitman as mayor because people want Uber for some inexplicable reason.

5. Jarin Blaschke experiences Nova Scotia weather

“The conditions were quite hard, there’s freezing sleet in your face all the time. Equipment was breaking down, but it was much more comfortable than this.” #TheLighthouse‘s Jarin Blaschke accepts the award for best cinematography at #SpiritAwards https://t.co/B4VTryg7O3 pic.twitter.com/SmgniMo0Kc

— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) February 8, 2020

6. The Law Courts building is ugly

Stephen Archibald thinks this is beautiful. He is WRONG. Photo: Stephen Archibald

Inspired by the Summer Street parkade debate and a Twitter thread by Tristan Cleveland, Stephen Archibald has a thoughtful post about parking garages. Writes Archibald:

This conversation reminded me of a couple of parkades in Halifax where individuals worked to help create better street experiences for us all. Imagine that.

Archibald uses two examples: the Law Courts parking garage and MetroPark. He’s right in that both are more “friendly to the street” than they would be as original planned (or in the case of the Law Courts, actually built). But I’m not writing home about either. They’re both a blot on downtown.

In the case of the Law Courts, nothing about that building works. I’m in it three days a week, so I know. It’s a black hole on the waterfront, sucking all energy out towards an event horizon that stretches about a block in every direction.

Courts are supposed to be the most public of our public institutions, accessible and open to all, but they’re now so security conscious that they’ve become fortress-like in their presentation to the very public they’re supposed to be welcoming: metal detectors at the door, sheriff’s deputies with guns walking around looking at you suspiciously, clerks behind bullet proof glass cautiously processing your requests (no offence intended towards the people working in the courts — they’re friendly and efficient, and I’ve built nice relationships with them — I’m just describing how the building presents to the uninitiated).

Worse, still, as Archibald points out, it was designed all wrong. It was built up on an artificial hill with no interaction whatsoever with the street or the boardwalk behind. To access the boardwalk, you either have to walk through the ferry terminal or down a dank corridor beside it. Waterfront Development, or whatever it is calling itself nowadays, has done the best it can with a bad situation, sticking some picnic tables on the lawn and building some steps people can sit on to look out onto the harbour, but the space feels pretty much like that mistake on the waterfront behind Alderney Landing across the harbour — right where the ferry pulls in, where they store the dumpsters and the propane tanks, “welcome to Dartmouth!” Likewise, the waterfront behind the Law Courts is just leftover space without purpose. May as well stick some dumpsters there.

On the front of the Law Courts building, up on the hill, someone has gone to the trouble of putting in some sad landscaping and some benches, but besides the few office workers ducking out for a quick smoke, absolutely no one hangs out there. It feels like that side alley next to the Maritime Centre, a place where back in the day you’d meet your dealer for a quick hand-off.

And that pedestrian bridge? It scares the hell out of me. Because the service trucks use it and break up the pavement, five times out of six the bridge is either puddle-filled or, worse, icy. I keep thinking someone’s going to push me over the edge onto Water Street below. And now it provides a direct view of Queen’s Marque’s perfectly vertical 13 storeys or whatever street wall, reminding me of Abert Rim, the start of the basin and range system in Oregon, which is so steep and so void of features that it creates its own weather system such that hang-gliders sport for hours on the updrafts and the downdrafts are so strong that they can (and did) knock a hapless hiker off his feet, which is really cool in the high desert but probably not ideal for downtown Halifax.

But to Archibald’s point, sure, building the old Perks in front of the parking garage softened the presentation to the street. I hadn’t thought about Perks for a good while — I used to hang out there occasionally, and it was a loss whenever what happened to the small chain happened. The Timmies just doesn’t have the same feel, but it is busy, a bright spot in the otherwise forlorn Law Courts district. And while I agree with Archibald that Hal Forbes did a fine job building the tourist shops along the bus lane, I disagree that they provide anything useful as a shopping experience. They’re just schlock.

We should bulldoze the whole mess and start over.

I could go on about MetroPark as well, and the corner where businesses go to die, but I’ve said enough.

Check out Archibald’s post and we can continue to argue with each other.


Government

City

Monday

Police Commission (Monday, 12:30pm, City Hall) — Harry Critchley, the vice-chair of the East Coast Prison Justice Society, will speak to the commission about sobering centres.

North West Community Council (Monday, 7pm, Sackville Heights Community Centre, Middle Sackville) — a public hearing on the rezoning of the area around the Downsview Mall.

Tuesday

Dartmouthians will be getting a splash pad like this one in Kinsmen Park in Lower Sackville, so the kiddies can cool off during those six days of summer in mid-August. Photo: Facebook

City Council (Tuesday, 1pm, City Hall) — a public hearing on placing the old library on the Registry of Heritage Property; a splashpad will be built next to the skateboard park on the Dartmouth Common; and various other items.

Province

Monday

No public meetings.

Tuesday

Health (Tuesday, 1pm, Province House) — the committee will be asking the Nova Scotia Health Authority about the Youth Mental Health Outreach Program (CaperBase).


On campus

Dalhousie

Monday

Thesis Defence, Mechanical Engineering (Monday, 9am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Jordan Ross will defend “The Autonomous Landing of Rotary-Wing UAVs on Underway Ships in Sea State.”

Strings Recital (Monday, 11:45am, MacAloney Room, Dal Arts Centre) — more info here.

Caregiver Training:  The Forgotten Dimension in Wheelchair Mobility​ (Monday, 12:30pm, Room 409, Centre for Clinical Research) — Lee Kirby will talk.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended an 8-step process for wheelchair service-delivery. One of those steps includes wheelchair-skills training, for which there is strong evidence of effectiveness. In addition to the value of such training with respect to increased capacity, there is growing evidence of an association between capacity and participation. There is also evidence for correlations between wheelchair-skills capacity and such economically important benefits as return to work and avoidance of placement in long-term-care facilities. Although caregivers are also an important contributor to wheeled mobility, they have received little attention in the literature. In this presentation, the speaker will review the limited literature that is available about caregiver training, will discuss the results of a recent online survey about such training in Nova Scotia and will describe a local randomized waitlist-controlled trial that is currently underway.

More info here.

Up the Yangtze (Monday, 6pm, Room 1020, Rowe Building) — free documentary screening, in English and Chinese (subtitled). More info here and here.

Children’s Rights Upfront: Preventing the Recruitment and Use of Children in Violence (Monday, 7pm, Rebecca Cohn auditorium, Dal Arts Centre) — with keynote speakers Omar Khadr and Ishmael Beah. Sold out; see what you’re missing here.

Tuesday

Board of Governors Meeting (Tuesday, 3pm, University Hall, Macdonald Building) — agenda here.

Architecture Lecture (Tuesday, 6pm, Auditorium, Medjuck Architecture Building) — “A Creative Journey” with Edwin Chan. More info here.

Saint Mary’s

Tuesday

Languages & Cultures Business Forum: Building a bridge to domestic and international success (Tuesday, 4:30pm, in the theatre named after a bank) — more info here.

La Marche (Tuesday, 5pm, Burke Theatre A) — screening in French with English subtitles. More info here.


In the harbour

05:15: AlgoScotia, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from Quebec City
05:30: Columbia Highway, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Davisville, Rhode Island
09:00: Tropic Hope, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Philipsburg, Sint Maarten
12:00: Noble Regina Allen, oil platform, moves from IEL to anchorage
12:00: Markab, supply vessel, sails from Pier 9 for sea
12:30: MOL Maneuver, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Dubai
15:00: YM Enlightenment, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
15:30: Columbia Highway sails for sea
21:30: Tropic Hope sails for Palm Beach, Florida

Where are the Canadian military ships?



Footnotes

Gotta speak with my lawyer today about a thing. Might be interesting stuff coming your way soon.

Tim Bousquet

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

Jennifer Henderson

Jennifer Henderson is a freelance journalist and retired CBC News reporter.

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  1. In defence of the shops along ferryboat lane, there’s a shop there which actually stocks and sells boots MADE IN CANADA! At least, it was still there last time I bought boots about 18 months ago.
    There’s a lot of stuff we should bulldoze, were it not an environmental mistake not to repurpose buildings. The worst case of blotting the landscape that I know of is the Barbican area next to Saint Paul’s in London. Post war and horrible. Even that slowly improves with passing years. But you’d have thought we’d learn our lesson and stop building these monstrosities in the first place. We are so pathetic we fall all over ourselves to brag about the Central Library, the Lego building.

  2. The plaza in front of the Law Courts building is a nice quite spot downtown, even in the middle of summer, and the most pleasant way to get from Water Street to the ferry terminal. You can access the terminal on either side of the building. Ferry Boat Lane, on the other hand, is an abomination…dark and narrow, especially when buses are parked there, and the parking garage entrances are a pedestrian hazard. The various overhangs mean most, but not all, of the poorly identified walkway between the ferry terminal and the bus stop is covered. And few buses actually come down there – in most cases you need to walk up to Scotia Square.

  3. Unrelated but has anyone stayed in the upper level of the delta Halifax hotel? When looking down from duke tower it looks as if someone stuck a motel six on top of a parkade. Apparently it’s part of the delta but it’s very odd looking.

  4. Another lovely feature of the law courts is that on the sidewalk on Water Street in front of the exit to the parkade there is a pedestrian beg button. Not to cross the street but to cross the sidewalk.

  5. Hope someone is assigned to clean the splash pad. Germy things – though I haven’t visited one in more than 35 years. Maybe they’ve changed.

  6. You are wrong about the kiddies using splash pads only during the few very hot days of summer. I saw kids using the one in Wilmot Park in Fredericton in October. It was an unusually warm day for that time of year, but not that warm.