Welcome to Weekend File, where you’ll find links to all the articles you might have missed last week. Jump to sections in this article:
Saturday, March 19
Up close and privileged: Nova Scotia’s “One Window” process gives mining execs seats at the table in the halls of power
Joan Baxter took a closer look at the a process called One Window, which dates back to 1994 when John Savage was premier. The One Window process gives mining companies a seat at the table for long discussions with government ministers, deputy ministers, and a dozen public servants from a host of government departments. As Baxter notes, the public or journalists never get a seat at that table.
Sunday, March 20
While Emera’s CEO is living the high life on his salary of millions, Emera’s subsidiary, Nova Scotia Power, is asking the rest of us to pay a 10% rate hike so it can run what it calls a ‘reliable business.’ As Stephen Kimber wrote, something does not compute with all of this.
Monday, March 21
1. Morning File: Welcome to “living with COVID”; hope you don’t die
Most public health measures were lifted on Monday, but as Tim Bousquet wrote in this Morning File, the deaths from COVID and the number of new cases aren’t going down. Bousquet wrote, “I guess that so long as it’s not you or one of your loved ones dying, that’s what ‘living with COVID’ looks like.”
2. Premier Tim Houston orders ‘Friends of a New Northern Pulp’ sign removed from Minister Pat Dunn’s constituency office window
The Examiner received photographs of the constituency office of MLA Pat Dunn with a sign from the ‘Friends of a New Northern Pulp’ placed in a window. That group has been critical of Nova Scotia Environment and Climate Change (NSECC). Joan Baxter reported that the sign may not be in Dunn’s office window much longer, though, as Premier Tim Houston ordered it be taken down.
Tuesday, March 22
Jennifer Henderson studied pages of transcripts of interviews with Lisa Banfield, GW’s common law partner for 19 years, and with Chris Wortman, GW’s youngest uncle. As Henderson wrote, “Those interviews offer disturbing insights into the violent history of GW’s relations with his own family and partner.”
Matthew Byard attended the annual Elimination of Discrimination service at New Horizons Baptist Church on Sunday. Afterward, he spoke with Rev. Rhonda Britton about renovations on the church, the announcement of funding for the Richard Preston Centre of Excellence, and why Halifax Regional Police weren’t involved in this year’s service.
3. Morning File: Exploiting pandemic measures for profit
Philip Moscovitch put a question on Twitter recently, asking what services businesses stopped offering because of COVID the last couple of years, but haven’t brought back because it’s more profitable without them. And people answered with tips about bathrooms, benches, buffets, and fitting rooms.
Zane Woodford reported on the latest development in the controversial plans to deactivate the Front End Processor (FEP) and Waste Stabilization Facility (WSF) at the Otter Lake landfill. On Tuesday, a spokesperson with Environment and Climate Change told the Examiner the department has approved HRM’s application to amend its operating agreement, with some conditions.
Wednesday, March 23
Zane Woodford was at a public hearing at Halifax regional council’s meeting on Tuesday, where four people spoke out against a proposed project at Waverley Inn on Barrington Street that will restore the front of the inn, tear down an old addition, and add a 10-story hotel. But the plan got the go-ahead from Halifax regional council. And now the proposal has to go to the Design Review Committee for approval.
Yvette d’Entremont interviewed Marie-Claude Rioux with Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse (FANE), this week. FANE is one of several groups working to preserve two lots of land next to historic Fort Edward in Windsor. The plots are owned by the West Hants (Regional) Municipality, which is considering selling them. But groups like FANE say the land should be preserved to protect a historic place for Acadians, Mi’kmaq, and Planters.
3. Morning File: A little planning could go a long way for a booming Wolfville
Ethan Lycan-Lang takes a look at his hometown of Wolfville, which is experiencing a growth boom these days as more people move to smaller towns. But while Lycan-Lang welcomes the new residents, he wonders where they’ll all go in a town with one main drag where a four-way stop clogs up local traffic, a lack of affordable housing, and a rising Fundy tide that could flood the town.
Jennifer Henderson reported on the Capital Plan for 2022/23, which is $1.6 billion, a third again larger than the current year’s $1.2 billion budget, and the largest in the province’s history. There will be lots of spending on health care, highways, and schools, but nothing for housing.
Joan Baxter looked at all the tailings left behind from the old gold mines across Nova Scotia and who’s responsible for cleaning them up (big hint: it’s not the mining companies). And she reported that Anaconda Mining, which has plans for a gold mine on the Eastern Shore, said the province indemnified it from any liabilities associated with the toxic historic tailings in Goldboro. It’ll be Nova Scotians who pay the clean-up bill.
Halifax regional council’s budget committee met on Wednesday to debate the budget adjustment list. Zane Woodford was there, too. In the end, councillors have agreed to provide $7 million in municipal funding for the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, $825,000 for free fares for all transit on Fridays and for ferries on Saturdays in July and August, and $1.25 million on master planning for three proposed subdivision developments.
Thursday, March 24
The Academy Awards are on Sunday night, so Tara Thorne and her awards show- and movies-obsessed friend Lisa Buchanan chat about the Oscars’ full-scale return to pre-pandemic times, this year’s attempt to bring in viewers and how that decision has alienated a swath of craftspeople, the dominance of international films, and all manner of spoilers. Plus a new song by Keeper E.
The Health System Leadership Team appointed by Premier Tim Houston is looking at all the options to “blitz” the backlog of 27,000 people waiting for surgeries. Jennifer Henderson reported on some of those options, including sending patients to privately-owned surgical clinics outside the province. Henderson reported on the responses to that option, too.
Matthew Byard reported on an appeal hearing scheduled for Thursday where prosecutors would seek a harsher sentence for a man who was convicted of assault with a weapon and criminal negligence causing bodily harm. In September 2018, Shawn Wade Hynes shot Nhlanhla Dlamini with a nail gun, after weeks of bullying the man.
4. Morning File: The lost buildings of Halifax
Suzanne Rent took a look through a new book called 305 Lost Buildings of Canada, which included a list of building that used to exist in Halifax and Dartmouth. And she talked with Andrew MacLean, the creator of the website and podcast Backyard History, where MacLean shares little-known histories from around the Maritimes.
5. Victim’s mother disappointed as court delays appeal hearing of sentence for man convicted in nail-gun shooting
Matthew Byard was at the appeal hearing for the sentencing for Shawn Wade Hynes who was convicted in the nail-gun shooting in 2018. That hearing was delayed two months, though. Byard spoke with Stacey Dlamini, whose son, Nhlanhla, was shot. She told Byard how she was disappointed in the original sentence, and said Hynes should pay an “appropriate price.”
An interim outbound bus lane will be installed on part of Bayers Road this spring while HRM continues to buy land for a permanent solution. Zane Woodford was at the meeting of council’s Transportation Standing Committee on Thursday where details about the project were laid out.
5. Protestors rally outside legislature demanding minimum wage increase, more affordable housing, tenant protections
Leslie Amminson reported on a rally outside of the Nova Scotia legislature, which opened for the spring session on Thursday. Protestors from a few social justice and labour groups organized to ask the province to do more about poverty and housing gaps. “The issues around workers’ wages and working conditions, around housing, tenants’ rights and homelessness, and around poverty — they’re all connected,” said Suzanne MacNeil with Justice for Workers, one of the groups at the rally.
Friday, March 25
1. Morning File: Here are the people who protested outside Dr. Strang’s house
Tim Bousquet looked at how the press releases that share the COVID data have changed over the last few months. Plus, he told us more about Jeremy Mitchell MacKenzie and Morgan May Guptill of Cole Harbour, who were charged by the RCMP with criminal harassment, mischief, harassing phone calls, and intimidation of a health professional — related to protests the two conducted outside the home of Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang.
2. Province moves to speed up development approvals for 22,600 housing units in Halifax, but none of them are guaranteed affordable
In an announcement on Friday, Housing Minister John Lohr has designated nine “special planning areas” in the Halifax Regional Municipality. Tim Bousquet was there and had all the details of each area, plus what the plans mean for affordability.
From our archives
Jennifer Henderson has been covering Nova Scotia Power, Muskrat Falls, and everything electricity for the Examiner since early in 2016. One of her first articles on the subject, “As the Muskrat Falls project falters, Nova Scotians will see higher electric bills,” could be an evergreen headline on the subject. As Henderson reported then, increasing costs and delays for building a dam at Muskrat Falls would mean higher costs for electricity consumers in Nova Scotia. Henderson reported this week, that Muskrat Falls is still expected to supply 10% of of the Nova Scotia grid, but repairs to the software that controls the flow from Labrador are ongoing and that means that supply it’s still not predictable for 2022.