News

1. Chris Mosher

Chris Mosher. Photo: Facebook

I reported over the weekend:

After he was charged with sexual assault and then for repeatedly violating the conditions of his release, Halifax cop Chris Mosher was fired last year by the Halifax police department.

But Mosher has successfully appealed his firing, and has received a cash payout from the city and a new job working with either the city’s Parks & Recreation Department or the Transportation & Public Works Department.

Mosher received the cash and job as part of a confidential settlement agreement between Mosher, the city, and the police union. The settlement agreement was signed on August 21, 2018, and was approved by the Nova Scotia Police Review Board on August 31.

Click here to read “Former Halifax cop Chris Mosher has received a cash payout and a new job from the city.”

2. P3 hospitals

Writes Stephen Kimber:

What does Deloitte — the company we paid $500,000 to analyze the wisdom of P3s for new hospital infrastructure — have to say in its report? We don’t know. Why not? Because “your Liberal government,” which, since 2013, “has been dedicated to being the most open and transparent government in the country, tirelessly working to improve public trust, increase citizen engagement and enhance government services for you, the taxpayer,” won’t tell us.

Click here to read “Do P3 hospitals offer value for money spent? None of your business, says Stephen McNeil.”

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3. Irving refinery

https://twitter.com/DavidKellyNB/status/1049294546624962564

“Black smoke and flames billowed for hours over Saint John on Thanksgiving Day after an explosion at the Irving Oil Refinery rattled windows across [Saint John], reports Molly Hayes for the Globe & Mail:

Although witnesses described a “boom” that shook neighbourhoods around 10 a.m., Irving Oil confirmed on Twitter on Monday afternoon that all of its workers and contractors were “safely accounted for.”

As many as 3,000 people were at the 78-acre industrial facility on Monday – but most of it was shut down for major maintenance, and nearly all were contractors working on the turn-around. Five were taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries, Saint John’s local hospital network said. All five were discharged.

A company official told reporters there had been a malfunction in the refinery’s diesel treating unit, where sulphur is removed from diesel fuel.

4. Graffiti

Some stupid person or persons painted obscenities on the war memorial in Point Pleasant Park.

I’m about as anti-war as they come. I wouldn’t exactly call myself a pacifist — if a murderous band of modern-day Vikings or whoever stormed Alderney Landing in search of bounty and slaves, I’d probably join the Dartmouth militia in mutual defence, but otherwise I’d have to search far and wide to find a war I could actually support, and even then only in a sad, reluctant way, you know? Yeah, we might have to deal with those bad guys who think we’re the bad guys, but let’s not think there’s anything glorious or particular good about it. War is ugly business. Hell, even.

Still and all, people died in that hell, and other people cared about those people. That’s something I can respect.

Now if the graffitists had taken aim at the Boer War memorials…

5. Walls

“The so-called Bayers Lake mystery walls have inspired grand and fanciful theories about their origins over the years,” reports Frances Willick for the CBC:

But new research suggests the walls could have a somewhat more humble origin: They may have been used to shelter sheep.

That’s the theory of Jonathan Fowler, an associate professor in the anthropology department at Saint Mary’s University and the former president of the Nova Scotia Archaeology Society. Fowler studied the site in 2017 with the help of $5,475 from the Halifax Regional Municipality and $2,000 from SMU.

“They are now beginning to look less like fabrications of wonder and mystery and more like the work of ordinary labouring people,” Fowler wrote in his report, obtained by CBC News under the freedom-of-information law. “We should value their stories more than fanciful speculation about foreign princes and buried treasures.”

I’ve never understood the local fascination with the Bayers Lake walls — there are old stone walls seemingly everywhere.

An old stone wall in New England. Photo: Curtiss Clark

Famously, New England forests have old stone walls running through them. As Anna Kusmer writes:

Who would build a stone wall, let alone hundreds of thousands of miles of them, in the middle of the forest? No one. The walls weren’t built in the forest but in and around farms. By the middle of the 19th century, New England was over 70 percent deforested by settlers, a rolling landscape of smallholdings as far as the eye could see. But by the end of the century, industrialization and large-scale farms led to thousands of fields being abandoned, to begin a slow process of reforestation.

When life gives you stones? Build a wall. Farmers pulled these plow-impeding stones from their fields and piled them on the edges. “The farmer’s main interest was his fields,” says [landscape geologist Robert] Thorson. “The walls are simply a disposal pile. It was routine farm work.” This process was replicated at thousands of farms across the region—a collective act of labor on a glacial scale.

Back in northern California, the foothills of Butte County are littered with stones, the debris carried by ancient mudflows resulting from eruptions of Mount Lassen. In the early 20th century, Portuguese settlers cleared the fields by removing the stones and building the walls not as boundary lines, but simply to contain the sheep and cattle. It was a Sisyphean effort: like tires in the county dump, through the years buried stones continued to pop up to the surface, and now there are fields of stones surrounded by stone walls. As with the Bayers Lake walls, much misinformation and unfound speculation surrounds the Butte County walls — they are wrongly called “Chinese walls” and supposed to have been built during the gold rush. Regardless, there’s a sublime beauty to the walls racing up the grassy foothills, and I’m surprised I can’t find a great wide-angle photo of them this morning.

Closer to home, I’ve seen stone walls in the woods in the once-heavily populated woods of Cape Breton, and in the Spider Lake area of Dartmouth.

People have built walls for as long as there have been people. It’s not particularly surprising to find their walls.

Walls play a significant role in our collective consciousness, in fiction, in art, in history.

Probably the first walls to take the world’s stage were the Walls of Jericho. An invading Israelite army supposedly marched around the walls of the city for six days and on the seventh blew a trumpet, which caused the walls to simply collapse and allow the army to have its way. “Following God’s law of herem,” Wikipedia tells me, “the Israelites took no slaves or plunder but slaughtered every man, woman and child in Jericho, sparing only Rahab, a Canaanite prostitute who had sheltered the spies, and her family.” God works is mysterious, if obscene, ways.

The Great Wall of China never really kept out the Mongolian hordes, and now it’s the destination of the tourist hordes.

I have a friend who has a chunk of the Berlin Wall in her living room, a two-pound slab of concrete she grabbed while partying with the multitudes on the streets of Berlin the night in 1989 when the wall was taken down. I visited the city more recently, and there’s a half-block section of the wall still standing, a kind of open-air museum piece, with graffiti painted on one side, the western side, a reminder to a city divided. Ironically (to me, anyway), the wall is surrounded by a fence, and you have to pay a couple of Euros to get in.

But my favourite takes on walls are those that show that that which is intended to be excluded depends on perspective. I’m reminded of the opening paragraphs of Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed:

There was a wall. It did not look important. It was built of uncut rocks roughly mortared. An adult could look right over it, and even a child could climb it. Where it crossed the roadway, instead of having a gate it degenerated into mere geometry, a line, an idea of boundary. But the idea was real. It was important. For seven generations there had been nothing in the world more important than that wall.

Like all walls it was ambiguous, two-faced. What was inside it and what was outside it depended upon which side of it you were on.

Looked at from one side, the wall enclosed a barren sixty-acre field called the Port of Anarres. On the field there were a couple of large gantry cranes, a rocket pad, three warehouses, a truck garage, and a dormitory. The dormitory looked durable, grimy, and mournful; it had no gardens, no children; plainly nobody lived there or was even meant to stay there long. It was in fact a quarantine. The wall shut in not only the landing field but also the ships that came down out of space, and the men that came on the ships, and the worlds they came from, and the rest of the universe. It enclosed the universe, leaving Anarres outside, free.

Looked at from the other side, the wall enclosed Anarres: the whole planet was inside it, a great prison camp, cut off from other worlds and other men, in quarantine.

When people start talking about throwing up walls (or their cousins, fences), we should think about exactly what’s being walled out.


Views

1. Imagine Peace Tower

Photo: Instagram/imaginepeacetower

“Tonight,” writes Evelyn C. White, “Yoko Ono will mark what would have been her husband’s 78th birthday with the annual lighting of the Imagine Peace Tower on Videy Island, off the coast of Reykjavik, Iceland.”

That’s interesting enough, but even more fascinating is how White takes us from a Sydney DJ to Videy Island to her own improbable interaction with Ono.

Click here to read “Yoko Ono’s Imagine Peace Tower will be lit up tonight.”


Government

City

Tuesday

Open House – Dartmouth Plan Area (Tuesday, 1pm and 6pm, HEMDCC Chambers, Alderney Gate) — explained:

The Dartmouth Municipal Planning Strategy and the Dartmouth Land Use By-Law were adopted in September 1978. At that time, the official Generalized Future Land Use Map and the official Zoning Map were adopted in a Mylar map format. The original Generalized Future Land Use Map was displayed on one Mylar sheet, showing the various land use designations, and the Zoning Map was displayed in a thirty-eight (38) Mylar sheet package, showing the detailed zoning throughout the Dartmouth Plan area.

At the very end of the 1970s and throughout the 1980s, both the Generalized Future Land Use Map and the Zoning Map were amended by hand on the official Mylar sheets, as needed, based on Council direction. By the 1990’s, one-page site or area specific paper maps were added to the Land Use By-Law and the Municipal Planning Strategy when an amendment affected either the official Zoning Map or the Generalized Future Land Use Map. This practice for amending the documents has resulted in a very onerous system for determining designations and zones, as multiple maps, both Mylar and paper versions, have to be consulted in order to make determinations on official designations or zones. This system is also prone to human error. 

The proposed digital format will modernize the mapping for the Dartmouth Municipal Planning Strategy and the Dartmouth Land Use By-law, allow for future amendments to be made more efficiently and accurately, while reducing administrative burden.  Minor boundary plotting errors will also be corrected as part of this project.

The proposed digital versions of the Generalized Future Land Use and Zoning maps for Dartmouth will also prepare the Municipality for the eventual adoption of the Centre Plan. 

Halifax & West Community Council (Tuesday, 6pm, City Hall) — a public hearing on that Gottingen Street and Bilby Street building, which apparently wants to get bigger.

It’s obvious that everything that already hasn’t been razed and rebuilt in the area bounded by Almon, Agricola, Young, and Gottingen Streets will be bulldozed and replaced with crappy six- to eight-storey apartment buildings — I mean, have you see that piece of crap at Isleville and Russell? The entire block-long stretch along the west side of Isleville between Bilby and Macara is for sale for $1.8 million, so expect another piece of crap to go up there soon. And it’s only a matter of time before the Belgiums decide there’s more money in real estate than in brewing, and so the Oland Brewery will soon be blasted to smithereens and replaced with schlock as well.

And evidently, no one at City Hall or anywhere else is going to demand any interesting or even passable architecture, but for dog’s sake, can we get something that might bring a sense of place to the neighbourhood? I don’t know, maybe a pocket park or roundabout or some spirited public art or a giant space needle… anything besides the early 21st century warmed-over spit that is the apartment buildings?

Ben’s Bakery

Westwood Development wants some bylaw and zoning changes to allow it to develop the old Ben’s Bakery site. The staff report notes that:

Under the Urban Structure in the June 2017 Centre Plan document, the portion of the lands on Quinpool Road and the north side of Pepperell Street are within the Quinpool Road Centre, in an area where four to six-storey buildings are envisioned. The portion of the lands on Shirley Street, Preston Street and the south side of Pepperell Street are within an Established Residential area, where low-rise residential buildings are envisioned.

And here’s Westwood’s proposal:

The proposed development agreement sets out a comprehensive plan for the subject lands, dividing the components of the development into four sites, including:
• Site A: Nine-storey (plus penthouse) mixed-use building on Quinpool Road through to Pepperell Street (Building A);
• Site B: Six-storey assisted living residence (Building B);
• Site C: Stacked townhouses (Building C); and
• Site D: Townhouse dwellings.

Like HRM By Design before it, the Centre Plan is a giant hoax played upon the citizenry. The point is to get you excited about planning! and design! and citizen participation! and then build in so many grandfathered and exempted developments that the “plan” is all but meaningless (if you need more proof, see that giant piece of shit in the middle of the downtown HRM By Design planning area).

Fool me once…

Wednesday

Regional Watersheds Advisory Board (Wednesday, 5pm, HEMDCC Large Meeting Space, Alderney Gate) — here’s the agenda.

Province

Tuesday

Private & Local Bills (Tuesday, 9am, Province House) — Bill 17 – An Act to Incorporate “Kenzieville Cemetery Company.”

Law Amendments (Tuesday, 10am, Province House) — Bill 79 — Motor Vehicle Act.

Legislature sits (Tuesday, 1pm, Province House)

Wednesday

Legislature sits (Wednesday, 1pm, Province House)


On campus

Dalhousie

Tuesday

Jean Gray

The Promise and Peril of Contemporary Therapeutics (Tuesday, 8am, in the theatre named after a bank, Halifax Infirmary) — Jean Gray will speak.

Looking at Film Scores (Tuesday, 10am, Room 121, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — Norman Ludwin will speak.

When is knowledge about the structure of words important for literacy? (Tuesday, 11:30am, Room P4258, Life Sciences Centre) — Helen Breadmore from Coventry University​ will speak.

Science and Policy: Should Scientific Information Have Preeminence in Public DecisionMaking? (Tuesday, 12pm, room 1011, Rowe Building) — From the event listing:

Evidence-based policy making seems to be a straightforward, readily acceptable model to guide decision making at all levels of government. If evidence supports development of a policy, shouldn’t the evidence be given priority in policy decisions? In practice, however, the model faces many challenges. Even though governments broadly state that their decisions will be based on research evidence, researchers frequently wonder why evidence seems to be ignored. Evidence to resolve serious environmental and societal problems is available, but solutions seem to be elusive. Why? To address these questions, this panel of experts in scientific research, science communication, and science policy will offer their timely insights.

Panel includes Daniel Cressey, Megan Leslie, Jeffrey Hutchings, Richard Isnor, and Suzuette S. Soomai.

The Secret in the Wings (Tuesday, 7:30pm, David Mack Murray Studio, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — Performances Tuesday to Saturday evenings, and Saturday at 2pm. $15.

Wednesday

Determining the 14-3-3zeta interactome to understand adipocyte development (Wednesday, 4pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — Gareth Lim from the Université de Montréal will speak. Bring your own adipocyte.

Saint Mary’s

Tuesday

Halifax on the Verge: People, Place, and Prosperity in Canada’s Ocean City (Tuesday, 6:30pm, Theatre B, Burke Building) — MP Andy Fillmore will speak. Ask him why he killed the plan to tear down the Cogswell interchange and put the convention centre there.

Wednesday

Alumni Council Annual General Meeting (Wednesday, 4:30pm, Unilever Lounge, Sobey Building) — bring your chequebook.

SMU After Hours: Women in Entrepreneurship (Wednesday, 5:30pm, CLARI, Atrium Building) — a panel discussion featuring Shelley Simpson, Keisha Turner, and Deeksha Bhaskar. Register here.

King’s

Wednesday

Daniel Cressy (Wednesday, 12pm, Senior Common Room, Arts and Administration Building) —  science journalist and Deputy Editor of Research Fortnight, London, will speak.

 The Electric Composer: music, AI and being human (Wednesday, 7pm, Alumni Hall) — Sageev Oore will speak.


In the harbour

05:00: Horizon Star, offshore supply ship, arrives at Pier 9 from the offshore

Porgy. Photo: Halifax Examiner

05:30: Porgy, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southampton, England
05:30: Seaborne Quest, cruise ship with up to 540 passengers, arrives at Pier 23 from Charlottetown (10-day cruise from Montreal to Boston)
06:00: Arsos, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Miami
06:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 36 from St. John’s
06:15: Norwegian Dawn, cruise ship, with up to 2,808 passengers, arrives at Pier 23 from Sydney (seven-day cruise from Quebec City to Boston)
06:30: Norwegian Jade, cruise ship with up to 2,882 passengers, arrives at Pier 31 from St. John’s (16-day cruise from Southampton, England to Miami)
06:30: YM Evolution, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
07:00: AIDAdiva, cruise ship with up to 2,050 passengers, arrives at Pier 34 from Quebec City (nine-day cruise from Montreal to New York)
09:30: YM Evolution sails for Rotterdam
09:45: Anthem of the Seas, cruise ship with up to 4,180 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Bar Harbor (nine-day round-trip cruise out of New York)
13:30: Seaborne Quest sails for Bar Harbor
16:45: Norwegian Dawn sails for Saint John
17:45: Norwegian Jade sails for Portland
19:30: Anthem of the Seas sails for Saint John
21:00: Algoma Integrity, bulker, arrives at National Gypsum from New York
21:30: Arsos sails for sea
21:30: AIDAdiva sails for Boston


Footnotes

I really needed the long weekend. We should do more of those.


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Tim Bousquet

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

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  1. There are many stone walls in the South end, particularly around Dal. where many are in poor repair. They really should be considered part of the historic landscape and preserved as such. How can we preserve these magnificent reminders to the pre-urban landscape and the estate boundaries next to the NW Arm?

    We had several more beautiful iron stone walls until the vandals of Young Ave carted them off, reputedly for a developer’s wife’s rockery!

  2. I used to help my dad “pick rocks” back in the late 70’s and early 80’s on a farm he owned near Lindsay ON. There isn’t much more back breaking, hard, boring, manual labour than clearing rocks off a field.
    I can empathize with those farmers who had to move rocks.

  3. Leighton Dillman built walls in many areas of Dartmouth Common. On his own. Without payment.
    My only grandfather was born in a pub in a village first settled by the Romans on Hadrian’s Wall.
    Sting lived next to the Roman Wall in Wallsend and some years later became famous.

  4. The Great Wall did work. Although of course there were raids across the wall, it took a large force to defeat the wall’s defenders in any one place, and by that time reinforcements would be on the way. It was still a big improvement over the pre-wall situation (for the Chinese at least). It was also a big logistical operation to get horses over the wall. The people who built the Great Wall weren’t dumb.

    There are lots of fascinating examples of Chinese defensive architecture – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fujian_Tulou – they never evolved into the fairytale castles that European nobility built after the castle stopped being a useful piece of military architecture – but I would still really like to see them.

  5. Mending Wall
    BY ROBERT FROST

    Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
    That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
    And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
    And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
    The work of hunters is another thing:
    I have come after them and made repair
    Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
    But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
    To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
    No one has seen them made or heard them made,
    But at spring mending-time we find them there.
    I let my neighbour know beyond the hill;
    And on a day we meet to walk the line
    And set the wall between us once again.
    We keep the wall between us as we go.
    To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
    And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
    We have to use a spell to make them balance:
    “Stay where you are until our backs are turned!”
    We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
    Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
    One on a side. It comes to little more:
    There where it is we do not need the wall:
    He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
    My apple trees will never get across
    And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
    He only says, “Good fences make good neighbours.”
    Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
    If I could put a notion in his head:
    “Why do they make good neighbours? Isn’t it
    Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
    Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
    What I was walling in or walling out,
    And to whom I was like to give offence.
    Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
    That wants it down.” I could say “Elves” to him,
    But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
    He said it for himself. I see him there
    Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
    In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
    He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
    Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
    He will not go behind his father’s saying,
    And he likes having thought of it so well
    He says again, “Good fences make good neighbours.”

  6. There are stone walls like that down on the South Shore by Port Medway. My niece has one – her house was built in the 1960s and the plot had been a farmer’s field (for what, I don’t know, for it is nearly all rock). Picturesque, and once built, much less ongoing maintenance was involved than with a cedar fence.