News

1. There’s Something in the Water

Louise Delisle and Ellen Page (still from film “There’s Something In The Water” courtesy Ellen Page)

“It was a Saturday morning and Ellen Page was giving up some of what could have been a bit of down time to do a telephone interview about her forthcoming film on environmental racism in Nova Scotia, which will have its world debut this September at the Toronto International Film Festival,” reports Joan Baxter:

I was hammering her with intrusive questions, and yet twice, in just a half hour, Page — a megastar actress who has starred in a long list of massively successful movies and television shows — said “sorry” to me, for no discernible reason.

Her humility and earnest demeanour are disarming.

On Twitter, Page describes herself as “a tiny Canadian.”

There’s no argument that physically she is petite. But nothing else about Page is diminutive. Her talent is gigantic and so far has earned her — at the ripe young age of 32 — an Academy Award nomination, and several dozen awards and other nominations.

Just as outsized as her talent are her courage and willingness to take on the causes of marginalized communities and the environment.

Click here to read “There’s something in the water.”

2. NS Liberals try and fail to move P3 highway discussion off public accounts committee agenda

As reported by Michael Gorman (CBC) and Andrew Rankin (Chronicle Herald) Liberal MLA Brendan Maguire made a last minute effort to move discussion of the province’s public-private-partnership approach to its pricey, toll-free highway 104 twinning project off the agenda for the publicly-televised public accounts committee.

While the stories here seem concerned with how opposition parties out-manoeuvred the Liberals in their efforts to move the discussion out of the public eye, one has to wonder how much of a triumph of public accountability there is in keeping P3 highway funding on the agenda of a meeting that is mandated to last no more than two hours.  I guess we’ll find out in September.

3. Hit and run drivers leave injured victims with bills to pay

Jodie Fitzgerald was struck on Saturday by the driver of a white or silver BMW who then fled the scene. Photo: Facebook.

The person rear-ended on Devonshire Avenue last week may end up getting stuck with a $150 ambulance bill if the driver of the white or silver BMW who hit her doesn’t come forward. Jodie Fitzgerald was hit Saturday afternoon while making a left turn from Devonshire to Richmond on her bike. Although Fitzgerald recalls seeing the surprised faces of children in the back of the “silvery” BMW, witnesses to the scene did not manage to get the license plate of the vehicle.

In most accidents, public liability insurance kicks in to cover immediate and recovery medical costs for victims. In the case of collisions with pedestrians or people on bicycles, when the driver flees, they leave the victim not only potentially injured, but footing the bill for emergency care costs, as well as any needed physiotherapy, and missed work due to injuries.

Even in cases where drivers remain at the scene, accidents can be disorienting and it can be difficult to know what to do. I recently witnessed a dooring incident on Agricola Street, and found it tough to know what to advise the victim, until I remembered that the Halifax Cycling Coalition has a wallet sized collision card with advice on what to do in case of a collision.

Bicycle Nova Scotia also has advice on their website, along with an incident report form, part of a project to track near misses and collisions involving cyclists.

Of course, most of the advice is directed to situations where the driver has not fled the scene.

In a Facebook message Jodie Fitzgerald says she’s “lucky it wasn’t worse.” While she does have insurance coverage which may help with any required physiotherapy down the road, she will likely get stuck with the ambulance bill unless the driver comes forward.

4. Feds “still evaluating” a federal assessment in Northern Pulp treatment plan

A Pictou Landing First Nation painting of Boat Harbour counts down the days to mandated end of the dumping of effluent into Boat Harbour. Photo: Matt Dort, January 2019.

Federal environment minister Catherine McKenna told CBC PEI’s morning show that the federal government is “still evaluating” whether a federal assessment is necessary for the plan to pump treated effluent from the Paper Excellence mill in Pictou into the Northumberland Strait.

“Let’s be clear, right now there is a provincial assessment and we play a significant role in that assessment,” McKenna said.

McKenna said the federal government has “expressed concerns” from a number of departments including environment and climate change, fisheries and oceans, health and transport.

“There is a whole regulatory process if this project goes ahead in relation to fisheries and oceans, the impact of fish and fish habitat,” she said.

Part of the seabed is owned by the federal government, McKenna said, and the effluent would also be looked at by Environment and Climate Change Canada.

“We are paying close attention, we know there are a lot of concerns,” she said.

The federal government has previously announced $100 million in funding to go towards the cleanup of the current Paper Excellence effluent site, Boat Harbour, which is scheduled to stop receiving effluent in January 2020 under a provincial act passed in 2015.

5. Lake MicMac blue-green algae warnings

The city has issued a risk advisory about a blue-green algae bloom spotted in Lake MicMac:

Residents are encouraged to avoid swimming in the lake until further notice.

The off-leash dog area of Shubie Park at Lake Micmac will also be closed to swimming until further notice.

Blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) is naturally occurring in freshwater environments and may become visible when weather conditions are calm. These organisms can multiply rapidly during the summer, leading to extensive growth called a bloom. Some types of blue-green algae produce toxins during blooms and when these blooms decay, the toxins may be released into the water, posing a risk to people and pets.

Lake users are encouraged to take the following precautions:

  • Avoid water contact. If contact occurs, wash with tap water as soon as possible.
  • Do not swim or wade (or allow your pets to swim or wade) in any areas where blue-green algae is visible or in areas where a risk advisory has been issued.
  • Avoid consuming water from this lake.
  • Avoid consuming fish that has come from this lake.

6. FIN releases line-up for 2019

Reporting for StarMetro Halifax, Julia Simone-Rutgers gives the low-down on the upcoming Atlantic International Film Festival lineup, including an opening gala featuring the debut feature film by Halifax director Heather Young, and a closing gala with the latest from director Robert Eggers, shot in Yarmouth and Cape Forchu.

You can check out the full program here. The Atlantic International Film Festival (aka FIN) runs September 12-19, 2019.


Views

1. “Any adult who rode a bicycle in 1974 was automatically a character,” and other observations.

Photo: Stephen Archibald

In Stephen Archibald’s latest post over at Noticed in Nova Scotia, he takes us on a snapshot journey through life off Spring Garden Road in the 1970’s. In addition to characters on bicycles riding by the current-day location of Woozles on Birmingham, Archibald notices babies in carriages left outside by shopping parents of the day, and gives us a glimpse inside his own apartment. It’s a fascinating trip.

2.  The federal and provincial governments are not taking responsibility for active transportation

“Pot of gold in Dartmouth today,” wrote Sam Austin on Twitter on August 11, 2019. Too bad we can’t find that pot, and use if to pay for some Burnside active transportation pathways.

Sam Austin released a council update with an explanation of the reasoning behind his vote (and the council decision) not to fund an active transportation trail alongside the soon-to-be-built, federally and provincially funded $200 million Burnside-Sackville highway project.

Although the Province and Federal governments are paying $200 million towards the Highway, not a dime of that total has been allocated towards the proposed active transportation corridor that would allow cyclists and pedestrians to travel alongside the new Highway. If HRM wants an active transportation connection, the municipality has to pedal to the rescue to the tune of $8 million, which is $7 million more than originally estimated back in 2011. That $8 million is only for the highway portion. HRM would also need to invest up to another $6 million to make the route actually effectively by building the active transportation connections into Bedford and Sackville. It’s a significant sum of money and the Province’s timelines mean it’s something HRM would have to opt to do now.

To assess whether building a path alongside the Burnside Expressway makes sense, staff considered the main potential alternative route via Magazine Hill. The conclusion is that both have challenging grades, but Magazine Hill is shorter, more closely connected to population centres in Bedford and Sackville (10 times the nearby population), and less costly to build ($9 – $12 million compared to $11 – $14 million). Given the cost, that it’s not really the preferred route, and the various other pressures for active transportation projects that are likely to be much more effective in terms of getting people to leave the car at home, Council opted not to proceed. Instead, HRM will engage with the Province on securing Magazine Hill and will ask to keep a corridor alongside the Burnside Expressway so that HRM can revisit this in the future if need be.

I think the most shocking part of this story is not that council made the decision they did, but the idea that both the federal and provincial governments are willing to throw $200 million at this 9 kilometre highway, and then specifically refuse to spend the additional 4% of project cost to build an active transportation pathway along the route. If the Burnside connector isn’t already a federal election issue, I hope this makes it one.


Noticed

Today’s your day to go jump in the harbour.

People seemed to enjoy the September 2018 installment of the Big Jump. Today’s the day to jump in for 2019, from noon to 5pm near Bishop’s Landing. Photo: Develop Nova Scotia Twitter.

Bucking the bad water news trend today is the arrival of the second official harbour swim, dubbed the Big Jump. The swim will take place from noon to 5pm on the Halifax waterfront near Bishop’s Landing. My family and I took the opportunity to jump in last year, and it was great fun. In fact, I was pining for a chance to do it again throughout the dogs days of July. I look forward to the time when swimming on the waterfront is an everyday occurrence.

Develop Nova Scotia assures that you won’t get run over by a boat, and that all you will be washing off afterwards is the salty residue from the Atlantic ocean, and maybe a little SPF 30:

The area will be secured from boat traffic and will have ladders and docks for easy access. There will also be an on-site freshwater shower and water fountains provided by Halifax Water.

Water testing will be conducted by HRM prior to the event. There will be lifeguards and sunscreen on site.


Government

City

Thursday

Youth Advisory Committee (Thursday, 5pm, Youth Power House, 1606 Bell Road) — agenda here.

Public Information Meeting – Case 22334 (Thursday, 7pm, Sackville Heights Community Centre) — application by WM Fares requesting to enter into a development agreement to allow for a one-storey commercial building at 1401 Sackville Drive, Middle Sackville. More info here.

Friday

No public meetings.

Province

No public meetings today or Friday.


On campus

No public events today or Friday.


Public Gardens

Friday

Mamma Mia! (Friday, 9pm, Public Gardens) —  FIN (Atlantic International Film Festival) movie sing-along and costume contest. More info here.


In the harbour

05:30: Caribbean Princess, cruise ship with up to 3,756 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Sydney, on a 10-day cruise from Quebec City to New York
06:00: Selfoss, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Argentia, Newfoundland
06:00: RHL Agilitas, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from New York
06:45: Zaandam, cruise ship with up to 1,718 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Sydney, on a seven-day cruise from Montreal to Boston
11:30: Selfoss sails for Portland
15:00: Glenda Melanie, oil tanker, sails from Pier 31 for sea
15:00: Caribbean Princess sails for Portland
15:45: Zaandam sails for Bar Harbor
17:30: RHL Agilitas sails for Kingston, Jamaica
22:00: Atlantic Sea, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York


Footnotes

I’m in Montreal this week, pedalling around town on a massive network of bike lanes and shared streets. One thing I’m learning: In Montreal, if you are the only cyclist on the street, you are probably on the wrong street.


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  1. Re Stephen Archibald’s post about his apartment in the 70s: I lived in that apartment myself! It was 1992-95 or thereabouts — I lived there when I got married and when my daughter was born. My husband worked at Atlantic Photo Supply below. Winsby’s was across the street and I think Mahon’s Stationery was still open. The Shopper’s on Spring Garden opened during that time — we were ridiculously thrilled to have a 24-hour store — it felt very big city-ish.

    I know I should have posted this on Stephen’s blog instead of here, but I don’t have a Disquis account and I felt the need to exclaim about it 🙂

  2. Dartmouth has a real cycling character who will be 90 in a few months and you can see him out there most days going about his business and without telling the social media twits. I have known him for well over 30 years.
    And why did Erica deliberately ignore the reasons for building the Burnside Expressway ?

  3. “Any adult who rode a bicycle in 1974 was automatically a character,” True if you are not considering university students to be adults. Many students used bikes as regular transportation to summer jobs. Kids used them to get wherever they needed to go. And no helmets. What a feeling, the wind blowing through your hair.