News

1. Stadium

Writes Stephen Kimber:

[L]et me ask a simple question. Where would you rather your governments spend $5–6-million (almost certainly more) of your tax dollars every year for the next 30 years (and likely the next forever after that)?

Would you prefer they spend that $180 million (interest included, over-runs not included) on a shiny new stadium built for 24,000 that we won’t own at the end of the day in order to have — and this is the raison d’etre for all of this — a Halifax-based CFL team that will play nine games every 365 days for as long as the team shall last (which might not be nearly 30 years)?

Or would you rather spend it on… anything else? Reducing surgical wait times? Building fun-and-games fields in local communities where young people actually live and need facilities? Developing new collaborative care centres, or funding long-term seniors’ housing? How about just putting enough money back into the province’s education budget so teachers aren’t forced to buy school supplies out of their own pockets?

Click here to read “If we build it, will they come?”

This article is for subscribers. Click here to subscribe.

I’ve been working my way through the stadium proposal and some other documents the Examiner has obtained, but rather than write one long post about it, I will instead return to the subject many times with smaller observations.

Today, I want to take off from Kimber’s question — “Where would you rather your governments spend [the money allotted for the stadium]” — but take the internal logic of the stadium proposal at face value. 

Consider this paragraph from page 4 of the proposal:

According to Sport Nova Scotia and its membership (please see Schedule F for the letters of support that we have received to date), it is a challenge for Nova Scotia youth and amateur sport and community organizations to get access to adequate field times at reasonable costs. The development of this community stadium provides an excellent opportunity to address this issue in a positive, low risk manner.

(The word “stadium” appears 351 times in the document; in 207 of those instances, it is proceeded by the word “community.” The Schooners really want you to think this is not a Schooners stadium.)

The “partnership” with Sport Nova Scotia is expanded upon on page 6:

On March 30, 2019, SSE announced a strategic partnership with Sport Nova Scotia, a non-profit, non-government federated organization. Its membership is made up of over 60 sport governing bodies, as well as multisport organizations and other groups and individuals that share a mutual interest. Collectively, they are a voice for more than 160,000 Nova Scotians. The partnership will see Sport Nova Scotia members be the “anchor tenant” of a community facility from a usage perspective, and will see the opening of the facility to schools and community groups for daytime weekday use — all at no, or minimal, cost to such users.

As many as 10 Sport Nova Scotia member organizations have already expressed interest in using this community facility, which will be open to amateur sports use 300 days a year. We already have early commitments from four Sport Nova Scotia members: Football Nova Scotia, Rugby Nova Scotia, Soccer Nova Scotia and the NS School Athletic Association for a total of 1,500 hours / year of facility use:

•Football – 600 hours per year

• Rugby – 200 hours per year

• Soccer – 500 hours per year

• NS School Athletic Association – 200 hours per year

We expect that the facility will be made available to such community organizations (at no, or minimal, cost) for approximately 60 hours per week (for weekday use — after school or work — and weekends). That’s more than 25 weeks per year of usage from these four groups alone.

It strikes me that the “non-profit, non-governmental federated organization” that is Sport Nova Scotia is inserting itself into what at heart is a political matter.

I get that people involved in sports will jump at any opportunity for using new facilities, but Sport Nova Scotia is going about this all wrong. The entire discussion is being driven by the Schooners, and not by a purposeful and thoughtful look at the need for facilities and how that might best be met.

And we do need more facilities. The dearth of tracks astonish me. When I was young, pretty much every high school had at least a cinder track, but here in HRM, I know of only three regulation-size tracks — at Saint Mary’s University, at Beazley field in Dartmouth, and Metropolitan Field in Sackville. There’s likewise a dearth of swimming pools.

I think part of the problem is that when we build facilities we tend to over-build them. I won’t start an argument over the merits of cinder tracks versus all-weather tracks, or 25-metre pools vs 50-metre pools, but cost has to come into the equation somewhere.

For instance, I agree there’s a real need for soccer/football/rugby/etc. fields, and perhaps even a small stadium where a couple of thousand people can watch a high school game. But instead of simply building that small stadium, we’re jumping right to a 24,000-seat stadium with pro team-level services, and then justifying it with the high school and rec league level sports that will never come remotely close to filling it.

How ’bout, you know, a sports facilities plan? Like, a competent consultant with expertise is hired to first review the existing sports and recreation facilities, then look at unmet needs, and then make recommendations about how to move forward?

I’ve searched the Sports Nova Scotia website, hoping to find that they have done this work. Under the “About Us” tab, there’s a pulldown menu that leads us to a “Strategic Plan” that reads in part:

Goal 1: Increase access and participation for all Nova Scotians.

Objectives

1. Partner and collaborate to optimize access to sport facilities including schools across the Province

Goal 2: Realign resources to reflect the new SNS Vision and Mission

Objectives

1. Develop capacity at Sport Nova to achieve the goals and objectives of the Strategic Plan

Is it weird that the Strategic Plan references another Strategic Plan? I dunno. But I kept searching for this Strategic Plan. I did a Google search for “Strategic Plan” on the Sport Nova Scotia website and came up with a bunch of documents, but none of them seem current.

The top Google return brings up a “Strategic Plan” that seems to come from some time before 2012, as it references board member Liam Blanchard, who died in that year. The word “stadium” does not appear in that document.

The second Google return brings up another “Strategic Plan” that must have been produced before 2010, as it promises to increase “the number of Nova Scotians actively participating in amateur sport by 10% by 2010.”

From whatever year, I can’t find any “Strategic Plan” on the Sports Nova Scotia website that makes any reference to a stadium. However, that hasn’t stopped Sport Nova Scotia CEO Jamie Ferguson from opining on a stadium. Ferguson has been shilling for a stadium since at least as early as 2011, and he most recently pinned a June 13, 2019 op-ed in favour of a stadium. Never mind that none of his organization’s Strategic Plans actually call for one.

The city has also looked at the need for sports and recreation facilities. In 2017, city council accepted Colliers International’s Community Facility Master Plan 2; it explained:

In 2004, Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) created the Indoor Recreation Facilities Master Plan. In 2008, the Community Facilities Master Plan (CFMP) was commissioned to update the 2004 Plan’s recommendations and to develop recommendations for playing fields. Of the 59 recommendations in the 2008 CFMP, 52 are completed, are in progress or were reconsidered. The successful implementation of the 2008 CFMP has proven the value in strategic planning for community facilities in Halifax. This document, known as CFMP2, provides updated guidance for the provision of indoor and outdoor community facilities throughout the Municipality and extends the CFMP analysis to cover additional outdoor community facilities such as playground structures, skate parks and lawn bowls.

The implementation of the CFMP2 recommendations will provide the facilities necessary for HRM to deliver recreation programs that enhance the life and health of all Halifax citizens. The CFMP2 gives direction for a clustered approach to community facilities management that will provide a more cohesive infrastructure and will encourage more integrated and universally accessible programming.

This is worthwhile strategic planning for facilities.

It’s worth noting, however, that besides references to the Sackville Stadium and the SMU Stadium, the Collier study likewise does not otherwise contain the word “stadium.” That didn’t stop the Schooners from citing exactly that document in their proposal justifying the need for a stadium (page 5).

The reason neither the Sport Nova Scotia’s Strategic Plan nor the city’s Facilities Master Plan makes mention of a stadium is because the money that would be spent on the bleachers, parking, media facilities, etc., etc., etc. required for a pro-level stadium is money that could instead be spent on actual workaday recreational facilities like tracks, swimming pools, and fields.

For sure, the argument implicit in the “rec teams can use the stadium field” argument is that we’re leveraging the investment made into a stadium for a pro team so that we can get fields that would not otherwise be built. But no one has demonstrated that it’s worth it. No one has compared what a smaller investment in rec fields without the pro-team stadium overlay would cost in comparison to the unknown amount we’re supposedly leveraging.

That’s because the math won’t work unless you falsely assume that the stadium is “free,” that it magically appears without the use of tax dollars, and you buy into the whole “Tax Increment Funding is extra money we wouldn’t have without the stadium” argument.

The reality is that if there’s public money to finance the stadium, then there’s more than enough money to pay for rec fields and other sport facilities where we most need them.

2. The Town Clock’s sprinkler system isn’t working

“The Citadel and the Old Town Clock in Halifax actually merit that over-used adjective, ‘iconic,’” reports Jennifer Henderson:

Both are stand-out examples of the built heritage that defined the port city before high-rise developments shot up to overshadow their distinctive architectural features.

The fortifications at the top of the Hill overlooking the harbour date back to the founding of the City in 1749. The Old Town Clock on the grassy slope below has been watching over Haligonians since 1803, when Prince Edward, the father of grumpy Queen Victoria and the Commander-in-Chief of British soldiers at the garrison, had the public time-piece designed and presented as a gift to the people of Halifax.

So, when an astute reader wrote to the Examiner questioning whether enough is being done to protect the Clock and the Citadel National Historic Site in the event of a fire, it seemed worth checking out.

Parks Canada is responsible for both landmarks. It turns out neither the Clock nor the fortress is protected by a sprinkler system because the pump that feeds the sprinklers hasn’t worked in more than year.

Click here to read “Neither the Town Clock nor the Citadel Hill fortress have working sprinkler systems or fire hydrants.”

This article is for subscribers. Click here to subscribe.

3. Gas Leak

The excavator that ruptured a gas line on Bloomfield Street. Photo: Heritage Gas

Heritage Gas has filed its report with the Utilities and Review Board about the September 21 gas leak on Bloomfield Street.

According to the report, an excavator operated by Allterrain Contracting Inc. damaged a gas line; Allterrain “does not have valid locates for the work that was completed at this location.”

4. Accessibility

Gus Reed has sent the following complaint to the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission and its chair, Christine Hanson:

Under the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act this is a complaint against:
• The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission
• The Nova Scotia Ministry of Justice
• The Nova Scotia Ministry of Environment
• The Nova Scotia Ministry of Health
for failure to enforce of a Human Rights Board of Inquiry order.

On September 6, 2018, a Human Rights Board of Inquiry ordered Respondent PROVINCE OF NOVA SCOTIA (DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT), AND/OR PROVINCE OF NOVA SCOTIA OR CAPITAL DISTRICT HEALTH AUTHORITY “to interpret, administer and enforce the words “washroom facilities for the public available in a convenient location” in s.20(1) of the Food Safety Regulations as requiring those washroom facilities to be accessible to members of the public who use wheelchairs”

Since the order, no such enforcement has taken place. The Ministry of Justice has applied its Restorative Justice protocols, authorized for “those who have been affected by criminal harms.” The order does not contemplate any delay in execution. “Restorative Justice” simply does not apply, and its use discriminates against me and other people with disabilities.

Since the order, I have filed Food Safety complaints on five occasions
• Carleton – October 26 2018
• Le Coq – October 22 2018
• Stories – October 19 2018
• Dalhousie Faculty Club – March 1 2019
• Five Fishermen – October 19 2018
To my knowledge, each of these continues to operate in violation of section 20(1) of the Food Safety Regulations.

The Human Rights Commission has authority to enforce compliance. I requested that it do so in a November 24, 2018 email to Christine Hanson. I did not receive a reply. Relevant sections of the act are:
S(37) Every person in respect of whom an order is made under this Act shall comply with the order.
S(38) Every person who does anything prohibited by this Act or who refuses or neglects to comply with any order made under this Act is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to, if a person other than an individual, a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars.
S(39) (1) No prosecution for an offence under this Act shall be instituted without the consent in writing of the Minister.

The entanglement of interests is a concern:
• The Minister of Justice is the Minister responsible for the Human Rights Act.
• The Human Rights Commission did not support the complainants in the board of inquiry.
• The Human Rights Commission cannot impose a fine for noncompliance without the minister’s approval.
• The respondent’s legal team was provided by the Minister of Justice.
• The Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia, which was granted intervenor status by the Board of Inquiry and filed a document bitterly opposing the complaint, has been given equal standing in the mysterious Restorative Justice process.
• The Ministers of Justice, Environment and Health are all colleagues in cabinet.

Most importantly, because of the nonfeasance of the above-named entities, people with disabilities remain in jeopardy of their health. The failure to include them in the administration of Public Health policy is dangerous and discriminatory.

I seek penalties in the amount of $1000/day from September 6, 2018 until the first day of enforcement, paid by the above-named entities, to be placed in a revolving fund under the administration of the Accessibility Directorate for the exclusive purpose of helping restaurants meet the standard of the order. So far, that would be $389,000.

You are certainly in possession of the documents I cite. I look forward to hearing from you. 

5. Crane

Photo: @mattdagley

The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal issued this press release Friday evening:

The removal of the crane which collapsed during Hurricane Dorian will begin once final inspections are completed over the weekend.

The process will begin with strapping down and stabilizing the fallen crane to ensure it does not move during removal operations. Anchoring the crane will begin Sunday. Once the crane is safely secured, work can begin on dismantling the tower.

With the complexity of the project, estimated timelines and approach will likely be revised as work begins. The safety of the public and workers will continue to be the first priority.

Further updates will be provided early next week.

Yesterday, there was work on the site, with a new crane assembled to help take down the collapsed crane.

6. Pedestrian struck

An RCMP release from Saturday:

Halifax District RCMP has charged a woman following a vehicle-pedestrian collision in Lower Sackville yesterday [Friday].

Just after 12 p.m., Halifax District RCMP responded to a collision at the intersection of Pinehill Dr. and Glendale Dr. An 18-year-old female pedestrian was attempting to cross Glendale Dr. on the crosswalk at the intersection when a female driver of an SUV struck her.

The pedestrian was examined by EHS but did not need to be transported. The driver of the SUV, a 71-year-old woman from Beaverbank, was not injured. The driver was charged with Failing to Yield to a Pedestrian.

7. WestFor

WestFor clearcut from 2018, inside the Tobeatic Wildlife Management Area. Photo: Linda Pannozzo

The licence to harvest trees at the Walls Brook site in Shelburne County expires today, but no one is sure what will happen next.


Government

City

Monday

No public meetings today or Tuesday.

Province

Monday

No public meetings.

Tuesday

Legislature sits (Tuesday, 1pm, Province House)


On campus

Dalhousie

Monday

10th Annual Dalhousie Mawio’mi (Monday, 10:30am, Studley Quad) — a day of Mi’kmaw and Indigenous cultural sharing and celebration, with food, vendors, dancers, and the big drum. Feast 11am, Grand Entry 12pm.

The Evolution of Asymmetric Reduction Catalysts with Active Phosphorus Hydrogen Bonds (Monday, 1:30pm, Room 226, Chemistry Building) — Alex Speed will talk.

Infinite products involving Dirichlet characters and cyclotomic polynomials​​ (Monday, 2:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Karl Dilcher will present his joint work with Christophe Vignat. The abstract:

Using some basic properties of the gamma function, we evaluate a simple class of infinite products involving Dirichlet characters as a finite product of gamma functions and, in the case of odd characters, as a finite product of sines. As a consequence we obtain evaluations of certain multiple L-series.  We also derive expressions for infinite products of cyclotomic polynomials, again as finite products of gamma or of sine functions.

Building Like Climate Matters (Monday, 7pm, Auditorium, Medjuck Architecture Building) — Chris Magwood will talk. More info here.

Tuesday

Canada’s Energy Future: Boom or Bust? (Tuesday, 12pm, Room 1020, Rowe Management Building) — panel discussion with Larry Hughes, Dennis McConaghy, Jacques Poitras, and Kristen Zickfield. From the listing:

This panel asks the question, Can Canada’s energy future address environmental concerns and land disputes, while still generating a successful and profitable energy industry? Or will the needs of various stakeholders leave us in a perpetual state of conflict? Three experts on Canada’s energy industry will attempt to answer whether we can achieve a balance between competing stakeholders and, if not, what this will mean for Canadians.

More info here.

Saint Mary’s

Monday

Knuckle (Monday, 5pm, Burke Theatre B) — screening of Ian Palmer’s documentary, an “epic 12-year journey into the brutal and secretive world of Irish Traveler bare-knuckle fighting.” Followed by a Q&A with Mickey Delaney.


In the harbour

03:30: Dimitra C, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for TKTK
04:00: Dalian Express, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Colombo, Sri Lanka
04:00: CSL Tacoma, bulker, sails from National Gypsum for TKTK
07:30: Zaandam, cruise ship with up to 1,718 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Bar Harbor, on a seven-day cruise from Boston to Montreal
08:00: Silver Cloud, cruise ship with up to 302 passengers, arrives at Pier 23 from Sydney, on a 16-day cruise from Quebec City to Fort Lauderdale, Florida
08:00: Norwegian Dawn, cruise ship, with up to 2,808 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Saint John, on a 12-day cruise from New York to Quebec City
10:00: YM Express, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
12:00: Ef Ava, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Portland
15:30: Ef Ava sails for Argentia, Newfoundland
16:30: Dalian Express, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
17:00: YM Express sails for Rotterdam
18:30: Zaandam sails for Sydney
19:00: Norwegian Dawn sails for Sydney
20:00: CMA CGM Libra, container ship, arrives at HalTerm from Colombo, Sri Lanka
22:00: Silver Cloud sails for Portland

Where are the Canadian military ships?



Footnotes

This is one of those days when I could spend another hour trying to find material to fill Morning File but I’d only come up with boring stuff no one would read or start writing old-man remembrances of an earlier, more vital Tim which would only make today’s Tim look sad and a bit pathetic, so instead I’ll just save the time and putter and mutter — putter aimlessly around the house and mutter to myself about all the imagined injustices put upon me.

I have a plan.

Tim Bousquet

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

Join the Conversation

16 Comments

Only subscribers to the Halifax Examiner may comment on articles. We moderate all comments. Be respectful; whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims. Please read our Commenting Policy.
Cancel reply
  1. What does this stadium do for female athletes? Nothing. Why should women’s hard earned incomes go to taxes to support this, yet ANOTHER foolish male fancy? If you build it, they will NOT come. Just like the new trade centre and hotel.

    When the grossly dominant male politicians and decision makers in this province wield their little batons of power they might want to consider the value of their female peers. Wouldn’t you prefer to spend funds on items that benefit everyone?? Like excellent health care and schools.

    1. There is not now or ever has been any diversity in this proposal. Especially for women and the sports in which they have successfully developed strong teams with loyal followings. Nothing for athletes with physical challenges either. I believe that HRM could benefit from some kind of stadium someplace, but not this one and not in this location. Most certainly not with the financial model that is proposed which includes involuntary imposition of additional taxes on an already strained system.

      1. I wouldn’t put the majority of the population in Halifax/Dartmouth – women – into a ‘diversity’ category. Wow ! It’s almost 2020, look around the world and see who are the lead ‘action figures” in almost every category trying to save the world – women and girls ! [ ask Iris 🙂

  2. I think the money is the lesser of the stadium issue. It’s a distraction. We’re rich in Nova Scotia. We can afford to do anything we choose. It’s the EFFORT that has the greatest impact and value. The incredible political, bureaucratic and lobby effort that goes into these mega-projects goes far beyond money. It’s the process that we need to understand and hopefully harness to move forward the kinds of ideas that will actually help us reach our goals of prosperity for all. The question is how are these priorities set?

    Let’s just put the money spent and taxes raised aside for a second.

    1/ If concerned citizens were setting the top 100 priorities for the government’s bureaucracy to be spending their time on right now in Nova Scotia, would this be on the list?

    2/ Is this the best and highest use of this valuable property to ensure the future prosperity of the province and improve the shape of things to come for a rising generation in a changing and uncertain world?

    3/ Now that this as been pushed into the public conversation and government agenda by whatever means, what would be the most fair, accountable, and transparent decision making method for choosing between spending more time on this or other public priorities.

    4/ This subject, much like convention centres and other developer lead mega-projects obviously gets special treatment and consideration. What other problems in the community should get this kind of special treatment from all levels of government?

  3. If Halifax simply has to have a CFL team, can one of the university fields be adapted to the purpose? The Alouettes play at McGill’s Molson Stadium. (Named after a soldier of the beer family, not the beer itself) The upgrade helped the university preserve a historic stadium, plus it is downtown or close enough to it. Maybe this was examined during the stadium study, not sure.

    1. They say there’s not enough room at SMU, and there certainly isn’t the parking/transit/etc available. Dal has a field but it butts right up against the street. The bleachers are tiny, can seat maybe 500 people.

  4. It blows my mind that the stadium proponents see it as a GOOD thing that it’ll be used by amateur sports. They’re basically admitting that for 300 days out of the year it’ll sit empty, and the only viable use for that time is to give it away for free to groups who can’t actually use it to its full potential.

    Don’t get me wrong, I played many a sport growing up and definitely enjoyed the one-time-a-year-championship-game-in-a-fancy-university-facility, but I’m not crazy enough to think that would be a good idea for every game.

    1. Are you certain that it it would be free for amateur sports? Because my theory has always been that it would not be. Youth and school sports generally pay rental fees to city and university facilities when they use them outside of school hours – why would this facility be any different?

      1. From the document:

        “Provide HRM with full access to the community stadium for up to one day per month, per year, at no, or minimal, cost,4 and provide free access to the community stadium parking facilities for use by Shannon Park Elementary School and HRM (for city vehicles or other community purposes) during off-peak hours.”

        “Partnership with Sport Nova Scotia, whereby the facility will be used primarily by community sport and recreation organizations and schools at no, or minimal, cost (i.e. programmed year-round by provincial sports organizations).”

        A reader raises an interesting point: How much money are sport and rec leagues now paying to use HRM fields, and how would the loss of that revenue affect the ability of the city to maintain its existing fields?

        1. Interesting that it’d be free. Normally there is an attendant or two at our all wx fields to reconfigure them for the renters and of course there is routine maintenance activity like trash pick up, janitorial stuff in the field houses/washrooms.

          For Soccer leagues using all wx or indoor turf, field rental fees are a pretty big portion of the cost of playing, much like ice time in hockey. For leagues that play on grass fields like Tremont, the cost is really really reasonable imo. City configures the field with perfmanent goals, paints lines and cuts grass.

      2. Even if it’s not $0 free, it’ll be so low as to be effectively free from the point-of-view of offsetting stadium costs. It might even be a net loss if you consider that now you need stadium staff on hand + lighting + cleaning, etc.

        We don’t generally build a 10,000 seat stadium for amateur sports because they don’t need that nor can they afford the fees that would come with it.

  5. I never even knew the old town clock had any sprinkler system at all. Weren’t some homeless people living in it for a while?