News

1. Stop the Cogswell misfire!

Today, writes Examiner transportation columnist Erica Butler:

…city councillors will convene to decide on what will take the place of the Cogswell Interchange. They will have spent the weekend with a staff report featuring this drawing of a 60 per cent complete design of the new street network, including two multi-lane roundabouts, separated bike facilities, two green spaces, and 12 development parcels, the sale of which is meant to fund the entire city investment in the project.

They will also have spent the weekend with a letter signed by a diverse list of 23 different organizations asking councillors to take a pause, and consider three key recommendations that could mean significant changes to the current plan.

The signatories include real estate developers, advocacy groups (for cycling, transit, and heritage, among others), academics, business commissions, planners, and architects.

Click here to read “Stop the Cogswell misfire!”

2. Yarmouth ferry

The Alakai. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Bay Ferries, which operates the Yarmouth ferry, is considering moving the Maine terminus of the route from Portland to Bar Harbor, reports Liz Graves of the Mount Desert Islander:

If Bay Ferries were to return to Bar Harbor, [Mark MacDonald, CEO of Bay Ferries] said, it would be on a different schedule than in the past, with only one trip per day. That means the ferry would sit at the dock for about three hours on a sailing day. Passengers would not be loaded and unloaded at the same time, reducing the amount of physical space the operation needs.

“If we were to make the move, it’s likely that we would move the service fully to Bar Harbor” and discontinue the Portland route, he said. “We believe that we can provide important assistance to the town and its citizens, while rebuilding a stable long-term ferry business,” he said.

There’s a tortured history here. Marine Atlantic, the federal crown corporation that ran the Maine–Yarmouth ferry from 1986 to 1997, owned the Bar Harbor ferry terminal. In 1997, Marine Atlantic transferred operations of the ferry service to Bay Ferries, but kept ownership of the terminal.

Bay Ferries operated the Yarmouth–Bar Harbor service from 1997 to 2009; in 2002, it began using the high-speed ferry dubbed “The Cat” on the route. Meanwhile, Scotia Prince Cruises operated the Yarmouth–Portland ferry, but discontinued that service in 2004.

“Bay Ferries added a Portland route in 2006, with the same vessel serving both Portland and Bar Harbor on alternating days,” explains Graves. “A subsidy from the province helped make the expansion possible, and when the subsidy ended in 2009, the company discontinued both Portland and Bar Harbor service.”

There was no ferry service to Maine until 2013, when the Dexter government entered into a contract with Singapore Technologies Marine Ltd. (ST Marine) to run the Nova Star between Yarmouth and Portland. In just two years of service, the Nova Star ate up $21 million in provincial subsidies. In 2016, the McNeil government ended the ST Marine contract and went back to Bay Ferries for a Maine ferry, with a provincial subsidy of up to $10 million annually.

Evidently, Bay Ferries is free to choose which Maine port it uses as the U.S. terminus.

As all this was going on, reported Mary Campbell in May:

[W]hen the Nova Scotia government killed the subsidy to the Yarmouth ferry in 2009 and Bay Ferries, which ran the service, pulled out, and Marine Atlantic, which owned the Bar Harbor ferry terminal, decided to dispose of it, the town asked the Maine Port Authority (MPA) to acquire it and convert it to accommodate cruise ships.

Negotiations ensued and in 2017, the Maine Department of Transport (MDOT) bought the terminal from Marine Atlantic and offered the town of Bar Harbor a choice: buy it for $3.5 million, no strings attached; buy it for $2.5 million “with requirements that the property be developed to include state maritime transportation uses within five years”; don’t buy it (and let MDOT find another purchaser).

“In November, the Bar Harbor Town Council voted to buy the former ferry terminal for $3.5 million from the Maine Department of Transportation, but didn’t settle on what to do with the property,” adds Mainebiz:

The town’s Ferry Terminal Property Advisory Committee has recommended a multi-use marine facility with tender boat landings from cruise ships and a transportation hub, but the council has not adopted the recommendation.

On June 12, Bar Harbor voters will vote on whether to authorize the town council to purchase the terminal property.

As Campbell relates, it appears that most of the residents of Bar Harbor are opposed to using the terminal for cruise ships, but that using it as an international ferry terminus would make it more financially viable.

Bay Ferries is trying to persuade Bar Harbor voters to do just that.

3. Transit racism case

The Burnside Transit Garage. Photo: Flickr / Wilson Hum

“A former Halifax transit worker is seeking more than $1.4 million after a human rights inquiry found his workplace was rife with racist bullying,” reports Keith Doucette for the Canadian Press:

“He suffered severe and devastating psychological injuries,” Bruce Evans, lawyer for the bus mechanic, said Monday.

In a ruling released last week, a Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission board of inquiry found widespread racial discrimination and a “poisoned work environment” at the transit garage.

A hearing was convened Monday to consider damages in the case; inquiry board chairwoman Lynn Connors reserved decision.

Evans said his client, whose name is protected under a publication ban, is looking for the maximum amount awarded under Canadian law for general damages, $367,000, and another $1.053 million in lost earnings and pension.

4. Sexual assault

Sem Paul Obed

A police release from yesterday:

Police have charged a Halifax man in relation to sexual assault that occurred on Cunard Street on Friday.

At approximately 11:50 a.m. police received a report that a man had entered a residence in the 6000 block of Cunard Street, sexually assaulted a woman and fled the residence.
 
At approximately 4:30 p.m., police arrested a 47-year-old man at a residence in the 0-100 block of McFatridge Road without incident.
 
On Saturday, June 2, investigators with the Sexual Assault Investigative Team charged Sem Paul Obed of Halifax with one count each of aggravated sexual assault, choking to overcome resistance, uttering threats, break and enter and two counts of breaching court orders. He is scheduled to appear in Halifax Provincial Court today.

Obed has a long criminal history, reports Rebecca Lau for Global:

In August 2014, HRP issued an advisory about Obed because he was considered a high-risk to re-offend and was moving to the Halifax area after being released from federal prison. He had served a full two-year sentence for a violent assault on a bartender in Newfoundland.

It was his third federal sentence.

According to the Parole Board, his criminal history included attempted murder, assaulting a man at a bar, sexual assault of a woman walking down the street at night, sexual assault against a close family member and an alleged sexual assault against a toddler, the last of which did not result in a criminal charge.

After Obed’s arrest, Andrea Pardy, a victim of a violent attack from Obed, talked to the CBC:

“I wasn’t surprised. Not at all,” Pardy told the CBC’s Tom Murphy Monday. “I’ve almost been waiting for this to happen for the last six years.”

Speaking from Gander, she said Obed’s long history of violence prompted her to speak out then and now. “He’s got a very violent history. I know he didn’t receive any treatment while he was incarcerated,” she said. “I actually got out quite lucky.”

“It just doesn’t make any sense to me why the justice system would keep putting him back in public. Why put public safety at risk?” Pardy said.

She spoke to a woman he had assaulted 20 years ago. “This is my first time reliving it. Imagine all those other people who have been reliving it several times. It’s a hard situation,” Pardy said.

She said harsher sentences that include treatment before the person is released would help, as would closer monitoring of such people.

5. The Icarus Report

An RCMP release from yesterday:

Prior to 6 p.m. last [Sunday] evening, Halifax District RCMP responded to a complaint involving unruly passengers on a flight destined to Cuba from Germany. The plane was diverted to Halifax Stanfield International Airport after three intoxicated males were reportedly causing a disturbance.

RCMP, Halifax Regional Police and the Canada Border Services Agency boarded the plane where the three men were arrested without incident. The men, 53-years-old, 47-years-old, and 26-years-old, all from Germany, are facing charges under the Aeronautics Act for Prohibition – unruly or dangerous behaviour. They were held in custody and are scheduled to appear in Dartmouth Provincial Court today.

6. Barrett Lumber threatens to “liquidate” the business because of the “ditch tax”

David Barrett, the manager of Barrett Lumber, is appealing to the Utility and Review Board (UARB) Halifax Water’s stormwater charge — the so-called “ditch tax” — on properties the company owns in the Beaver Bank area.

Halifax Water had in 2015 billed Barrett Lumber for stormwater charges on 13 properties it owns, but after the company complained, Halifax Water discovered that 10 of those properties didn’t receive any services and so were exempt from the charge. At issue now are the charges (from 2015 to the present) on the remaining three parcels. The largest is 335 Rivendale Drive, which is about 206 acres assessed at $246,600, and which is being charged $13,598.94. The company also owes about $225 on each of two smaller parcels.

The Rivendale property was the subject of an explanatory letter from Halifax Water, which said that:

…although there are no major structures on the property other than the cellular tower, a significant amount of land has been cleared and regraded including [a] gravel roadway thus altering the natural conditions of stormwater flow on your property and deeming the property to be developed. Stormwater flows across the property in various patterns. Primarily the stormwater flow is in a southeasterly direction and enters streams which in turn flow into [a] Halifax Water culvert under Capilano Drive and Briancrest Road. In addition, the south end of the property flows in a southerly direction into a culvert under Windgate Drive.

David Barrett is having none of it.

“The main reason I want to appeal the Ditch Tax (Stormwater Charge) to the Utility Review Board (URB) for the Barrett Lumber Company (BLC) Timber Lots listed above is because Halifax Regional Municipality(HRM) and Halifax Water up until now with URB consent is making any future of Forestry in Suburban Halifax uneconomical and I want a favorable decision from the URB if, or if not, they will be a part of this forestry destruction,” he writes in his impassioned appeal letter he sent to the UARB yesterday.

“Even though we are appealing the Ditch Tax (Storm Water Charge) on our timberland holdings,” continues Barrett, “we feel it is a waste of time and energy if the city slicker attitude holds true; That only the so called city professionals are capable of making decisions about forestry in HRM and people like myself, who have worked in the forest all of our lives, are too ignorant for our forestry experience to be of any value with regards to whether a paved parking lot is the same as a harvested timber lot.”

He continues:

All my life I have worked to try and make my legacy one in which the next generation of Barretts’ could continue to manage and harvest our timber as a viable operation while at the same time opening our timber holdings to responsible neighbors to use as long as they respect the land, the timber on it, and providing the users a way to donate to the many HRM Community volunteer organizations such as Scouting, IWK etc. I have been able to do this for over 60 years with long hours of sweat equity, plus much of our company and my personal family savings into the building and maintaining up to 40 miles of forest extraction roads, buying thousands of acres of forest land which up to now, thousands of HRM families have used for recreation activities.

As stated in my previous appeal to the URB dated February 16/2018 which, was also included in my open letter to the Premier dated March 28/2018 (all copies attached), that to cover the perpetual ditch tax HRM and Halifax Water is billing us for would cost us between $380,000. To 8.2 million up front before BLC would have any return on our investment on top of property taxes, fires, budworm attacks etc. (an expropriating type of tax).

I had hoped when the good Lord calls me (I will be 80 years old this summer), that the legacy I would leave would be an economically viable forest for the next generation of Barretts, so that they could keep most of our forest holdings in productive forestry. If HRM by way of Halifax Water gets away with treating a timber harvest lot so badly without having any knowledge, or worse still, not wanting to know the dynamics of forestry in Nova Scotia, especially with respect to how it relates to stormwater retention after a harvest, then it leaves BLC no choice but to liquidate our forest holdings. There is no way that I will set the next generation up for failure because of the brainwashed city slicker attitude of those in both HRM and Halifax Water; That a timber harvest is the same as a paved parking lot and that it is right to tax the heck out of this lot even to the extent of taxing the forest holdings beyond its value, indirectly expropriating it.

I am stating here publically that if you do not eliminate the BLC Ditch Taxes because BLC harvests the timber on our own lands that our family has nurtured for over 90 years, there will be no future for forestry in HRM. It would be a poor legacy to pass onto the next generation – An industry that HRM and Halifax water (with, up to now, has been okayed by URB) have themselves decided to eliminate by making the forestry industry no longer viable to operate in HRM.

Since there will be no future for forestry if HRM and Halifax Water continues to charge exuberant ditch taxes on harvested forest land, we will have no choice but to liquidate to the highest bidder; For I personally do not intend to pass on my lifes’ work so that HRM and Halifax Water can tax the heck out of the next generation. It would be a disservice to the next generation of Barretts, for Keith, Hugh and I to saddle them with an industry HRM and Halifax Water, behind closed doors, have decided either consciously or unconsciously to eliminate by a horrendous tax.

I will be informing the thousands of HRM families that we will be liquidating our land and I know the numerous new owners will not have the same community spirit that we at BLC have had for over 90 years.


Government

City

Tuesday

City Council (Tuesday, 10am, City Hall) — here’s the agenda. Besides the Cogswell issue (#1 above), council is deciding to establish an “Economic Partnership” with Zhuhai, China, and as a result Mayor Mike Savage and someone from the Halifax Partnership will be attending a “Friendship Envoys’ Gathering” in Zhuhai this month, the cost of which “will be covered by a combination of the existing Halifax Partnership and Government Relations and External Affairs (GREA) budgets. Funding of $30,000 in the GREA budget was approved for International Partnership Activity as part of the COW Options list for the 2017/18 and 18/19 proposed operating budgets. As a detailed program is developed, expenses will be confirmed and built in to the existing 2018-19 budget, as well as further fiscal years as required.”

OK then.

I could go on, but I actually have to go to council. I’ll be late, but will live-blog the meeting via the Examiner’s Twitter account, @hfxExaminer.

Wednesday

Community Design Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 11:30am, City Hall) — all about the Centre Plan; if you’re gullible enough to believe the Plan won’t be grandfathered, exempted, and ignored into meaninglessness, you should totally spend your precious time and go to this meeting instead of, I dunno, flossing your teeth or alphabetizing your spice cabinet.

Investment Policy Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 12pm, City Hall) — there are no action items on the agenda, but we’re told that Halifax Water wants to start attending the IPAC meetings.

Public Information Meeting – Case 20226 (Wednesday, 6:30pm, Allegro Room, Comfort Hotel Bayer’s Lake, 88 Chain Lake Drive, Halifax) — Armco wants to build a giant subdivision (above) out in Beechville.

North West Planning Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 7pm, BMO Centre, Bedford) — Oceanstone Seaside Resort is up for discussion. Near as I can tell, the whole thing was built in contradiction to zoning rules, and now they want to make it compliant so they can expand it.

Public Information Meeting – Case 21288 (Wednesday, 7pm, Maritime Hall, Halifax Forum) — WM Fares wants to build a 17-storey building on Robie and Macara, and there are so many of these buildings proposed for Robie Street I’ve lost track of them all. The words “Centre Plan” don’t appear on the meeting announcement because who are we kidding?

Province

Tuesday

Community Services (Tuesday, 10am, One Government Place) — Nancy MacLellan, the associate deputy minister at the Department of Community Services, and Leonard Doiron, the executive director of Child, Youth and Family Supports, will be asked about foster care funding.

Wednesday

Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, Legislative Chamber, Province House) — Bernie Miller, who is somehow the deputy minister at the Department of Business, will be asked about the “Rural Internet Middle Mile Project.”


On campus

Dalhousie

Tuesday

Patients as Partners in Research and Health Care (Tuesday, 6:30pm, Central Halifax Public Library) — panelists are Maret Felzien from Northeastern Junior College; Jack Westphall from High Plains Research Network; Frederick Burge from Dalhousie University and Nova Scotia Health Authority; Tara Sampalli from Nova Scotia Health Authority; and Kylie Peacock, a patient advocate.

Wednesday

Newfangled Hip and Knee Arthroplasty (Wednesday, 8am, Weather Watch Room, Dickson Building, VG) — Michael Dunbar will speak.

Derivatives and special values of higher-order Tornheim zeta functions (Wednesday, 2pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Karl Dilcher will speak. His abstract:

We study analytic properties of the Tornheim zeta function $T(r,s,t)$, and in particular the case $\omega_3(s):=T(s,s,s)$. While the values at positive integers have long been known, we evaluate $\omega_3(0)$ and show that $\omega_3(m)=0$ for all negative integers $m$. As our main result, we find the derivative of this function at $s=0$, which turns out to be surprisingly simple. I will also show that all these results have analogues for Tornheim zeta functions of arbitrary orders. These results were first conjectured by J. Borwein and D. Bailey using high-precision calculations based on an identity due to R. Crandall that involves a free parameter and provides an analytic continuation. This identity was also the main tool in the eventual proofs of our results. (Joint work with Hayley Tomkins).

Bring your own $\omega_3(s):=T(s,s,s)$ [cough]LSD[/cough].

Investigation into the initiation of aciniform silk fibrillogenesis (Wednesday, 4pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — Anamika Sulekha will speak.


In the harbour

5:30am: Boheme, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southampton, England
6am: Arsos, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Miami, Florida
3pm: Mahadah Silver, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from Antwerp
4:30pm: Arsos, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for Kingston, Jamaica


Footnotes

The weather in this place sucks.

Tim Bousquet

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

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  1. I agree with David Barrett –a forest is quite different from a paved lot. The forest will retain
    most of the rainfall, especially if it isn’t clear cut.

  2. I don’t know if language like “city slicker attitudes” is helpful. I wonder if that’s what the people who work at Northern Pulp, or the clearcutters, think is the problem when those of us who believe in sustaining our natural capital protest from our current homes in Halifax.

    1. I guess folk in their 80’s don’t like to say dumb ass from the city. Wouldn’t our natural capital be publicly owned lands? As a city slicker I do think the ditch tax issue is pretty ridiculous. A refreshingly blunt letter from a local businessman.