News

1. Art gallery… on the waterfront?

The waterfront site of the future Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Photo: Halifax Examiner

“In the last three months, it’s been reported that the Greenland ice sheet is melting faster than expected, which will mean a higher rise in sea-level than earlier projected; that temperatures in Canada are warming at approximately double the average global rate; and that more flooding is predicted for Atlantic Canada over the next 50 years,” reports Jennifer Henderson:

These predictions and warnings have been made by various scientific bodies including by  Environment Climate Change Canada, the federal department in Ottawa. So it came as something of a surprise — or at least a bold move — to hear the provincial and federal governments  announce they plan to spend $110 million to build a new Art Gallery along the Halifax waterfront. 

Click here to read “With increasing sea level rise, does it make sense to build a new Art Gallery of Nova Scotia on the waterfront?”

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2. The Exchange on Hollis

From left, Robert Moore of The Exchange, Southwest Properties chairman and CEO Jim Spatz, Justin Garland of The Exchange, and Southwest Properties president and chief operating officer Gordon Laing are shown on the terrace of the new restaurant in the Maple in happier days.

In a press release issued back in the summer of 2017, Southwest Properties had big news for the Halifax restaurant scene:

A St. John’s based restaurant and hospitality development company with over 30 years experience, has ear marked Southwest Properties’ MAPLE as home to their new restaurant.

The Exchange on Hollis will be a premium casual dining experience located at the street level of MAPLE. Robert Moore, owner and President, has labelled the new experience as ‘kitchen & social’. “The modern, open floorplan of The Exchange will create an atmosphere that is as much entertainment as dining,” noted Moore. “And, the terrace is spectacular. It will be the place to be.”

Patrons will enjoy an interior space of over 7,800 square feet and a 2,300 square foot terrace with harbour views and a full outdoor bar and fireplace.

This is Southwest’s second restaurant with Moore and his company.  “They did a great job with the Keg at our Marriott Residence Inn in Moncton,” said Jim Spatz, Chairman and CEO of Southwest Properties. “We planned for a restaurant at MAPLE to enhance the resident experience and add to the vibrancy of the streetscape. I envisioned a restaurant with a modern, progressive vibe and Moore presented the ideal blend of a hip, urban feel for the space. It will be nothing like Halifax has seen before. “

The Exchange will serve up globally inspired dishes that are both sophisticated and approachable.  The restaurant will feature a fireplace, a long central bar and a mix of dining areas with soft seating.  Bar areas will be a focal point of the energy and excitement that will permeate throughout the restaurant and onto the terrace.  The kitchen will feature a first for Canada – a Josper Charcoal Grill oven.  The Josper is one of the hottest trends in Europe and the US and allows for the flavor of a grill, but the controlled cooking environment of an oven.

The Exchange plans to open in 2018. Restaurant details can be found at exchangeonhollis.ca

The website, however, leads not to “The Exchange on Hollis,” but to “XOH.” And that difference represents a two-million dollar-plus conspiracy, claims a lawsuit filed in Supreme Court on Friday.

The lawsuit was filed by the Atlantic Exchange Resto Group, the company that was established to operate The Exchange on Hollis; majority shareholder Robert Moore (57.5% of stock); and minority shareholders Justin Garland, Shawn Gibbons, and Donald Gibbons (7.5% of stock each).

Atlantic Exchange’s lawsuit names SWP Maple Operating Partnership, which is owned by two other companies that are controlled by the Spatz family; Carl Sparkes Family Trust (2012); and Carl Sparkes as defendants. The Sparkes Family Trust, controlled by Carl Sparkes, owned the remaining 20% of Atlantic Exchange.

According to the lawsuit, in May 2017 Atlantic Exchange signed a 10-year lease with two five-year options for renewal for the restaurant space in the Maple. That lease spelled out who would be responsible for various leasehold improvements (that is, the landlord or the tenant). Atlantic Exchange says it hired Lindsay Construction, which in turn hired a subcontractor, Mill-Right Woodworking. Atlantic Exchange says it paid Lindsay Construction $2,284,207.54 and Mill-Right Woodworking $50,000.

Those payments, however, did not cover all the work done, and on February 28, 2019, Lindsay and Mill-Right filed builders’ liens against both Atlantic Exchange and the landlord, SWP Maple. In claims subsequently filed with the court, Lindsay said it was owed $331.948.47, and Mill-Right claimed it was owed $114,399.90.

Atlantic Exchange is contesting the builders’ liens and their respective claims. It says the liens were not filed within a 60-day requirement, and it has filed its own claim against Lindsay for damages from construction delays, as well as against “the engineers who designed the plans for the construction for their contribution to the delay.”

Atlantic Exchange says it was on good terms with the SWP Maple through March, and established a payment plan for outstanding rent. The April payment under that plan was accepted by the landlord, but on April 15, SWP Maple terminated the lease, saying Atlantic Exchange had defaulted.

A beer delivery was being made to XOH@MAPLE yesterday. The restaurant still has no exterior signage. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Before the lease was terminated, claims Atlantic Exchange, SWP was also in negotiations with Sparkes for a prospective deal in which Sparkes would take over the restaurant’s space. According to the lawsuit, Sparkes had twice (in February and again in March) offered to buy out the other shareholders of Atlantic Exchange, but both offers were declined.

Unbeknownst to the other shareholders, Sparkes created a second company, XOH@MAPLE LTD, which he registered with the Registry of Joint Stock Companies on March 19, 2019.

The lawsuit continues:

On April 15 2019, the same day that Atlantic Exchange was locked out of the Premises by the Landlord, The Exchange on Hollis’ Facebook page was updated without the authority or permission of Atlantic Exchange. The Facebook post stated:

The Exchange on Hollis will be closed from today April 15th until monday (sic) April 22nd. We are updating new systems and working on general maintenance! Look forward to seeing you next week! We’ll be back better than ever.

On April 18, Atlantic Exchange appeared in court to ask for an emergency injunction (it appears not to have been issued), but since then Sparkes has been trying “to gain access to Atlantic Exchange’s recipes” and continues to operate Atlantic Exchange’s social media.

Atlantic Exchange is asking for compensation for breach of contract, wrongful termination of the lease, “civil conspiracy against Atlantic Exchange,” and “unjust enrichment at the expense of Atlantic Exchange.”

Atlantic Exchange is represented by Dennis James of Patterson Law. The allegations contained in the lawsuit have not been tested in court, and SWP Maple and Sparkes have not yet responded to them.

3. Eleanor McCain

The Hacketts Cove beach.

Three years ago, I reported on “The Battle for Hacketts Cove”:

Eleanor McCain has tried to keep people off a public beach in Hacketts Cove, say nearby residents:

Land access to the beach crossed over lot 88 which until recently, was owned by a German gent. He had intentions on building a summer home, but due to complications, he never did. The one thing he did do though, he understood the close ties of the beach to the community. So he continued to allow the community to access Barney’s Beach via a well placed path…

As mentioned this path has been used for generations BY the community to gain access to the coastline, and prestige beach…well before the German gent even owned the property for that matter. It should be noted that the lot to the south of the beach was bought and developed by Ms. McCain. At the time when the house was being constructed, people rather felt proud to have another McCain in the neighborhood. Her parents owned property not too far away, and her late father, from all the stories told, was very much a respected individual in the community. He would always engage with the locals as much as he could.

Unfortunately Ms. McCain does not live by her comments. She has done everything in her power to stifle access to Barney’s Beach from the community. She has gone above and beyond to disengage herself from the community, a far cry from “My parents always wanted us to be part of the community and to not feel separate from it.” She has gone so far as to actually purchase the large swath of land from that German gent to totally stop land access to the beach. She has heavy handed the good community of Hackett’s Cove for her own agenda.

The link in that 2016 article was to a Google Groups page which has since been deleted.

A map of the Hacketts Cove area, with Eleanor McCain’s property outlined. Map: viewpoint.ca

But on Friday, 18 Hacketts Cove residents and one business filed a lawsuit against McCain.

The statement of claim cites property divisions that go all the way back to 1867, when William Covey split his property between his two sons, David and Thomas. Thomas Covey’s property (“Lot 1” and “Lot 3”) was subsequently and repeatedly subdivided and is now owned by the various plaintiffs, most of whom are direct descendants of Thomas Covey. David Covey’s property (“Lot 2”) was never subdivided; Eleanor McCain bought it in October 2015, and is now referred to as “the McCain Woods property.” McCain had previously bought a 39-acre parcel to the south, which contains a substantial house and is valued at over $2 million.

An 1868 deed to David Covey’s property — now the McCain Woods property — contains an easement and right-of-way allowing Thomas Covey and his “heirs forever” to use what is referred to as “a truck road on the shore of Lot 1.”

The residents say they’ve been using the paths through the woods to the beach ever since, and Eleanor McCain used the same paths herself, before she bought the woods property. But after McCain bought the property, she began to “intimidate” the residents “from accessing the paths.” According to the lawsuit, McCain called the police on the residents, sicced a lawyer on them, and hired a private security firm to shoo the residents off the paths.

At issue, say the residents, is that when the previous owner of the Woods property, Olaf Berghaus, migrated the property onto the new Land Registration System in 2006, he failed to make note of the easements granted to the Covey heirs. And the heirs had no knowledge of the migration.

The residents are asking for a court declaration establishing their right-of-way across the property.

4. Norman trial

Vice-Admiral Mark Norman. Photo: Canadian Navy

“Former star candidate and now outgoing Liberal MP Andrew Leslie is on the witness list to testify, if called, against the government on behalf of suspended Vice-Admiral Mark Norman in the high-profile case about the alleged leak of cabinet documents,” CTV reports:

Leslie, who represents the Ottawa riding of Orleans and was previously a lieutenant-general in Canadian military, would not comment. But sources tell CTV News that he informed the Prime Minister’s Office more than a year ago that he would testify on behalf of Norman. Sources confirm that he is listed on the defence witness list.

Two high level sources tell CTV News that after Leslie informed the Liberal whip that he would testify on behalf of Norman, he was not pressured to change his testimony, nor was he asked not to run again.

But as late as two weeks ago, sources say that the most senior members of the PMO were inexplicably still unaware of Leslie’s decision.

The trial, which will probably start in late August, is getting very interesting. See Mary Campbell’s backgrounder here. And Matt Gurney explains Scott Brison’s involvement in the Norman and the SNC Lavalin story, here.

5. Whales and noise

Hal Whitehead. Photo: YouTube

“A human-made racket under the ocean is a growing threat to three types of whales off the East Coast, Canadian scientists say,” reports Michael Tutton for the Canadian Press:

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada released its findings Monday on the sei whale, fin whale and Sowerby’s beaked whale following a gathering of 43 scientists in St. John’s, N.L.

As with the other two species examined, much of the blame [for the low sei population] went to deaths from fishing gear entanglement and strikes by large ships in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

However, the assessors have also documented growing levels of noise from ships, navy vessels and ongoing seismic exploration for oil and gas off Canada’s coast, and concluded they are harming the whales’ ability to communicate.

The scientist [Dal prof Hal Whitehead] said the data indicated more ships are traversing the areas of whale habitat, but one of the largest contributors is seismic oil and gas exploration off Newfoundland and Labrador.

“These are extremely noisy operations and we’re getting more information that this noise is serious for these animals because they are acoustic animals. That is how they sense their environment and how they communicate with each other,” he said.

6. Herring

“All three Marine Stewardship Council-certified herring fisheries in Atlantic Canada have lost their MSC-sustainability certification as the forage fish continues to struggle,” reports Paul Withers for the CBC:

Last week, the Seafood Producers Association of Nova Scotia voluntarily suspended its MSC certification on behalf of the 10 companies that operate an 11-vessel fleet of herring purse seiners primarily out of southwestern Nova Scotia.

The suspension means product can no longer be sold with the MSC blue check mark, which assures consumers the fisheries are sustainably managed.

“Herring stocks in southwest Nova Scotia/Bay of Fundy had been relatively stable at a low level for many years,” federal Fisheries spokesperson Debbie Buott-Matheson said in an email to CBC News.

“Over the last three years, the stock has been experiencing a decline and recent science information suggests that the stock is likely now in the critical zone.”


Government

City

Tuesday

Halifax and West Community Council (Tuesday, 6pm, City Hall) — a public hearing for Banc Investments’ (Alex Halef) proposal for a 19-storey building at 2859 Robie Street, which is that empty lot just south of the CTV building. I wrote about this yesterday.

Wednesday

Community Design Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 11:30am, HEMDCC Meeting Space, Alderney Gate) — I keep thinking about the thousands of person-hours being completely wasted on the Centre Plan.

Province

Tuesday

Community Services (Tuesday, 10am, One Government Place) — questions about the Career Rising Program.

Wednesday

No public meetings for the rest of the week.


On campus

Dalhousie

Wednesday

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Seminar (Wednesday, 4pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — Chris Fetter will talk about “Exploring Catalysis in the Mandelate Racemase Subgroup of the Enolase Superfamily: Subtle Differences in the Catalytic Machinery,” followed by Tyler MacDonald talking about “Prolactin-inducible Pro-survival Genes in Breast Cancer.”


In the harbour

05:00: YM Evolution, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
06:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
06:00: Artemis, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Lisbon, Portugal
12:00: Oceanex Sanderling moves to Autoport
16:30: Oceanex Sanderling moves to Pier 36
16:30: YM Evolution, container ship, sails for Rotterdam
18:00: Artemis sails for New York


Footnotes

It’s a beautiful day.


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  1. The seemingly “done deal” decision to build a new art gallery right in the red zone for sea level rise on the Halifax waterfront is not only irresponsible to put publicly funded infrastructure in an area of certain risk, but speaks to an arrogance of the elite crowd behind this folly. The Art Gallery elites felt $25 million was too expensive to invest in the updates necessary to their current location in the old Dominion building, probably the most significant piece of built heritage in Halifax, but $130 (+++) and a priceless piece of art in and of itself but not too pricey to put a brand new building in an imminent flood zone. Seriously, has no one read any news in the last 10 years? There are other choices of locations which would be ideal for a new gallery where there would be zero risk from climate change.

    1. My thoughts exactly. My first reaction wasn’t pleasure that money was being given to Arts, but rather, I hope it will be on stilts and they aren’t planning any underground parking. Of course building it on stilts won’t help really because the surrounding area will be flooded anyway, there’s no way to hold back the tide, so the new art gallery will become inaccessible long before its expected life span has expired. Might have been nice on the spot currently occupied by the Trade Centre.

  2. I honestly don’t think the cynicism over Centre Plan is in any way fair or helpful.

    It’s not a perfect document and it’s taken longer than expected. But when you’re dealing with rules that affect peoples’ “castle”, as well as hundreds of million dollars of investment, timelines are going to get pushed and compromises end up being made.

    However, Centre Plan is a huge improvement over the status quo. The thousands of person hours being wasted aren’t on Centre Plan, they’re on every one of the discretionary (and reactionary) planning approvals that had to be done because current planning rules are 40+ years old. They’re also wasted on the tens of hours it can take to issue a singe simple development permit for a single house in the South End, because 40 years of cruft has created a Land Use By-law where it seems like every lot has its own planning rules that need to be examined.