Today’s guest editor is Jeff White. 



1. Freak Lunchbox changing Barrington St. public art landscape

A photo of the Tall Ships mural as painted by Zeqirja Rexhepi. Photo by Jimmy Emerson, from Flickr.
A photo of the Tall Ships mural as painted by Zeqirja Rexhepi. Photo by Jimmy Emerson, from Flickr.

Global News reports that the owners of the Freak Lunchbox downtown candy store are causing a bit of a stir, by putting out a call for someone to create a new painting to replace the Tall Ships historical art piece currently on the side of their building.

The popular downtown candy store Freak Lunchbox put out a call on Facebook on Thursday night, looking for an established artist to paint a mural that will replace the Tall Ships 2000 one on the side of their newly-acquired building. Freak Lunchbox co-owner Jeremy Smith said he wants to put up new art that will represent the vibrant community his business is part of.

However, the artist of the original piece doesn’t seem to like the idea as much:

Zeqirja Rexhepi is an artist from Kosovo. He was commissioned to paint the mural for the Tall Ships Festival in 2000. For him, the mural is a piece of work he’s proud of, but it also represents a new chapter of his life.

“Tall ships was connecting, and the key why I am today here with all my family,” he said.

He looks at the piece of art as a contribution to Halifax’s history, featuring many of the elements that the city is so well known for.

“It’s good to keep the culture and heritage of Nova Scotia,” Rexhepi said.

“I was a little bit slap in my face, you know, establish artist? To do a mural, I was established artist,” he said.

While it may be a bit of a shame that the new piece will be more of an ad than public art, I can’t help but feel that the existing piece is pretty dated and it might be nice to get something more vibrant in that area.

2. Halifax Rainmen embarrass themselves

I’ve had the chance to attend a handful of Halifax Rainmen games over the past few years, and while it’s always been great entertainment value for the money, it’s also a bit embarrassing to see how empty the Metro Centre is at the games.

Now, the Rainmen have pretty much ensured that no one will come to their games, after players got into a fight before the finals and ended up forfeiting the championship. Team members and coaches have been fined, with the coaches receiving lifetime bans from the NBL, reports Kristen Lipscombe of Metro News:

Sources told Metro Halifax that word at the WFCU Centre was that the Rainmen weren’t thrilled with their slotted 1 p.m. shoot-around time, so showed up early, just before the Windsor Express were scheduled for their pre-game time on the court. “It spun out of control,” an anonymous source said, with team staff members and players getting caught up in a physical altercation that involved both punches and chairs being thrown.

“The league takes this incident very seriously and we are working to address the matter to ensure it never happens in the future, and so that those who were responsible are held accountable,” the NBL Canada said in its news release Friday.

The league declared the Windsor Express winners by forfeit, giving them the 4-3 series victory and naming them 2015 NBL Canada Champions.

3. Only two students will be left at Big Tancook school next year

Frances Willick reports that the already tiny school on Big Tancook island will only have two students next year:

Today, Big Tancook Elementary School has just four students. This fall, only two students are expected to attend. And soon, there may be none.

Enrolment projections show that in the fall of 2016, there will be no kids on Big Tancook Island in grades Primary to 5, the grades the school serves. Students who live on the island and are in grades 6 to 12 take the ferry each day to attend class on the mainland.

South Shore regional school board staff are recommending that the school be considered over the coming year for closure.

Biking Big Tancook
Biking Big Tancook. Photo by Jeff White

My family and I spent a day on Big Tancook last summer, biking around and exploring every nook and cranny that we could find. While it was enjoyable, there’s actually very little to do there and almost nowhere to eat. To top it all off, the ferry broke down ahead of our return trip and we almost got stranded. There’s also really nowhere to stay, unless you had the forethought to book an empty house just in case the ferry breaks down, which it does on the regular.

4. Doctor alleges intimidation by health minister’s EA

Michael Gorman reports that Cumberland County’s Dr. Robyn MacQuarrie feels she was intimidated by Health Minister Leo Glavine’s executive assistant Peter Bragg:

MacQuarrie said Bragg told her he was responsible for vetting anyone who wants to meet with the minister. Bragg’s file included a picture of MacQuarrie with a Conservative political group and he suggested it doesn’t go well with her efforts to increase access to abortion, said MacQuarrie.

“He said, ‘You know, when you meet with the Conservatives these are the sort of things that are going to happen.’”

5. Up to 15 warships start here

CBC’s Paul Withers reports that:

Federal officials will immediately begin the search for a warship designer and combat-systems integrator for the massive shipbuilding project to be built by Irving Shipbuilding in Halifax.

The Government of Canada — and not the prime contractor, Irving — will pick the two key suppliers sometime in early 2017 on a competitive bid based on price and “economic contribution to Canada.”

6. CALA starting a family learning program about bikes

Families that bike together, stay together. Photo by Jeff White.
Families that bike together, stay together. Photo by Jeff White.

For over three decades, I’ve been a dedicated cyclist. There are very few things I’d rather do in my limited spare time, so it warmed my heart to read this article about a program to teach families about cycling and active transportation:

The Colchester Adult Learning Association (CALA) is behind Making Tracks Cycling, a program that helps children and adults understand the elements involved in making cycling a safe, healthy and fun activity.

The Ecology Action Centre of Halifax designed the curriculum.

“I was challenged to find something that is fun and interesting for families to do and learn together, and I’m a bit of a bike nut,” laughed David Boehm, CALA’s family literacy co-ordinator.

Our family spends many a summer Sunday riding the trails around Halifax, and anything that can encourage more people to take up this fantastic activity deserves props in my book.


1. Liberals to business world: Do it Yourself

As a business owner who prides himself on never taking government money, I was pleased to read Rachel Brighton’s take on how Nova Scotia’s businesses should stop expecting handouts to fund their growth:

About $17 million in business grants and incentives will dry up this fiscal year as government turns off the corporate welfare tap. As Business Minister Mark Furey said this week, the days of “cutting cheques for business … are over.”

That might be too bold a statement to make just yet. Governments tend to go weak-kneed when business operators, such as Nova Star Cruises, put out their hand.

Business will need to find new sources of capital or change their practices to free up cash to invest in productivity improvements.

Of course, this also hits community groups hard as their funding dries up.

I’d love to see a local media feature similar to 37 Signals’ Bootstrapped, Profitable and Proud about companies that manage to be successful without taking any funding or handouts to fuel their growth.

2. Halifax architectural history walk being held tomorrow

Jane's Walk route. Image via Peter Ziobrowski
Jane’s Walk route. Image via Peter Ziobrowski
Jane’s Walk route. Image via Peter Ziobrowski

Peter Ziobrowski is hosting a Jane’s Walk around Halifax tomorrow:

Architectural History of Halifax 101 will aim to educate the walker on the Built History of Halifax from 1749 to Present times. The Walk will look at how styles have changed, and how improvements in materials and technology have enabled those changes.

3. Cranky Letter of the Day

To the Herald:

I read the Halifax Water general manager’s comments to you on April 28. Back in May 2014, I noted these charges and later a stormwater right-of-way charge. Since then, I held back amounts on each bill what is now a current amount of $63.

I wrote in June 2014 questioning the charges, saying that a ditch by me is dry and has held no water ever. In 20 years, I had not seen any stormwater ditch maintenance, as I noted to them.

They replied eight months later with engineering and descriptions I could not understand.

I replied, noting mainly that water, if any, from my property did not warrant these charges and asked for more information. After several more notes to them, no replies.

On April 2, 2015, I received an Overdue Notice. The notice “must be paid immediately to avoid service being suspended.” They noted an additional cost and a security deposit to restore my service if not paid immediately.

I did so April 22 with a note that I was doing so under protest and wanted a meeting.

Sorry, but what does the general manager mean in his comments to your paper that no customers are having collection activities thrown at them, based on the above information?

– Wayne Myers, Lake Loon

My property had also been assessed with the ‘ditch tax’, despite not having any ditches, nor any runoff into Halifax Water infrastructure. I also refuse to pay it.


The Halifax Pop Explosion has started to announce its 2015 lineup with Purity Ring, Alvvays and a Rich Aucoin and Symphony Nova Scotia joint.

I’ll never forgive myself for missing out on the Dan Mangan/Symphony NS show from HPX a few years ago.


My thanks to Tim for asking me to curate today’s Morning File.

I run an inbound marketing and web design agency based in the Homburg building on Brunswick St in beautiful downtown Halifax. Our clients come from all over North America and they find us via our blog and also from our Platinum Partner relationship with inbound marketing software giant, HubSpot. Including our current crop of awesome NSCC design interns, we’re a team of 19.

I’m also a dad of three, a cyclist and a barbeque nut. You can find me on Twitter and Instagram.

Enjoy your weekend.

The Halifax Examiner returns Monday.

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  1. Thanks for honouring us with your extraordinarily valuable time Mr. White, but I think Tim Bousquet should just ask Kevin O’Leary to fill in next time. And I’m also delighted to hear that you are such an international success story that you aren’t interested in obtaining local business. I don’t want to heap all this praise on you without at least sending one small piece of criticism your way: Your lame attempt at walking back your ill informed comments on the Rainmen debacle would embarrass even a wet behind the ears Liberal intern.

    To your Rainmen comments: As someone who played basketball in high school and, briefly in university and as a season ticket holder from day one, I must tell you that your comments are totally out of line. Your walk-back does go correctly to management, but I doubt that you have any idea why management is partially to blame. First, let me be clear; in my opinion, the players share not one jot of blame for this debacle.

    The blame can be shared equally between the Rainmen organization and the National Basketball League of Canada. I could go into all the details about what caused this mess, but since you are not a fan, I will spare you that and just say that many of the Rainmen players still carry the dream of getting to a higher level and actually making a decent living doing something they love for a couple of years. For that reason, they travel to Halifax and play for next to nothing. After enduring six playoff games where it was painfully obvious that the Windsor game plan was to neutralize the skill of these athletes by engaging in sheer brutality, the players decided that it was no longer worth the risk.

    Now here is where the league and Rainmen organization come in: Neither organization did anything about it. When the pre-game fight erupted it became clear that every Rainmen player would be risking a career ending injury if they played that night. The threats were clear and unequivocal. And neither the NBL – they fired their commissioner mid season, by the way – nor team owner, Andre Levingston was willing to do anything to correct the problem. Therefore, the players and their coach took the only prudent option available.They refused to play the game that night. The only positive I can take away from all of this is that, aside from a couple of concussions and some probable cracked ribs – and I saw that assault – no players suffered any more serious injuries.
    You mentioned low attendance and yes, that has been a source of frustration for all of the dedicated fans who did buy season tickets. That was not the fault of the players. They put out an amazing product and should be commended for their commitment and hard work, despite doing so under very trying circumstances.

    No this is a story of utter incompetence and the only ones exempt from that part of the story are the players. Despite, having the support of a blue chip group of local movers and shakers referred to by the Rainmen organization as Rainmen Ambassadors, this organization proved to be utterly incapable of marketing an excellent product in a city that is known as a basketball town. In regard to the current debacle, the League and the Rainmen proved to be totally incompetent in the way the handled or didn’t handle the situation. A simple solution would have been to postpone the game for a day, listen to the players’ and coaches grievances’, review video to see if their concerns were valid and then proceed with a solution to the problem. To ignore the complaints and insist that the players just play the game as scheduled, without due consideration for the players concerns, shows a level of arrogance and incompetence that is astounding.

    Due to the afore mentioned, lack of marketing savvy – including the bizarre pre-playoff announcement that the franchise might fold if more people didn’t show up – it is quite likely that the team would have folded anyway. Now, in all probability, the entire NBLC will fold. The supreme irony is that, had Andre Levingston stood up for the players and told the NBLC to take a step back and have a look at the situation he would have accomplished two things that could have turned his franchise, such as it is, around.

    First he would have gained the respect and loyalty of his players guaranteeing more returnees which in turn, would have helped to retain and increase the season ticket holder base. Feeling like they know their players makes the fans want to show up. I wasn’t going to bother this year until it was announced that Cliff Clinkscales and Joey Haywood were returning. I was not going to pay to watch Mr. Levingston stand there watching a bunch of strangers pretending to represent Halifax. Secondly, standing up to the NBLC – yes, such as it is – would have created an intriguing, attention getting and positive narrative. And that, might turned out to be a recipe for a much needed marketing coup.

    1. Thanks for this, Trevor. I agree with you — especially with this: “A simple solution would have been to postpone the game for a day, listen to the players’ and coaches grievances’, review video to see if their concerns were valid and then proceed with a solution to the problem. To ignore the complaints and insist that the players just play the game as scheduled, without due consideration for the players concerns, shows a level of arrogance and incompetence that is astounding.”

      This morning, I’ve been reading tweets of some of the players as they leave Halifax. Cliff Clinkscales says that in spite of a few ups and downs, this has been a great season and the best team he ever played for — because it was a TEAM.

      I think that was one of Coach Pep’s strengths, to build a team so strong that they feel like family. The fact that all the players and coaches stood together in this final heart-wrenching decision says a lot.

      We’ll see what happens next.

  2. Wow maybe stick to marketing you certainly are no journalist. (Thin skin?) Of which I pay my subscription for.

    As Tim often states our eyeballs and time are valuable. But as a marketer you obviously know that.

    1. I have to somewhat agree.
      I found it very negative in the first few articles and self congratulatory in some of the others.
      I liked the Bootstrap, Profitable and Proud info. That was very interesting and would be a great story.
      Thanks for taking your time to do this.

  3. Disappointing to see Tim giving over his news site to someone to shill for their in bound marketing company.

    Not what I pay my subscription for.

    1. Yes, there was a great percentage of content driving back to my site. That plus the fact that my company wants no business from local companies means that I didn’t feel it was offside to link to my site. Note that I didn’t even name my company.

      That’s the only reason I took three hours out of my Saturday morning to put this together in Tim’s absence. Perhaps next time, he can ask you instead.

  4. From a guy who has “had the chance to attend a handful of Halifax Rainmen games over the past few years,” this is rather shallow and useless coverage of the current situation. I’ve been a season ticket holder since the beginning, for seven years. Over that time, I’ve *missed* only a handful of games.

    This is the best Rainmen team any of us have ever seen. I don’t know why the fans didn’t come in the numbers we all would have liked but it had nothing to do with the quality of the basketball played there.

    Some of these players are so good, it’s unlikely we would have seen them back here next year, no matter what happened. But they most certainly did not embarrass themselves. It takes a lot of courage and a lot of character for a young male, a bold athlete, to say, “I was afraid.” Our players had been targeted and threatened and that’s what led to their decision not to play. They thought the game would be postponed and didn’t know they were forfeiting.

    Monty Mosher’s story about the event (Saturday morning) where the player and the coaches tell their story is pretty good. I was there too.

    1. Given that Monty Mosher’s story went live more than 5 hours after this post went up, I stand by my assessment. I’m not criticizing the players, but I am criticizing the organization as a whole. It’s a shambles.

      The way the Rainmen management handled everything the evening of the game, as well as their insanely lacklustre performance at actually marketing the team, they are an embarrassment. It doesn’t really matter how good the players are when they’re all working for an organization that can’t get its head out of its ass.

  5. If you want to start a businesses that is going to provide good, well-paying jobs and contribute to the community in positive ways, then, sure I don’t mind helping you start up. I don’t mind supporting Benefit companies to a certain extent. But I most definitely do not want to give hand outs to companies who, first of all, do NOT need them, and secondly, who selfishly use that money to make a very few very rich at the expense of their employees and community taxpayers. When we provide this money to businesses, what is our criteria, and where is our oversight?

    And why should so much of our focus as a community be directed at creating wealth? But I guess if we decide to look at education this way then consider how much money graduates can get from ACOA to start a new business, compared with the debt they most certainly already owe from their education.

  6. The Tall Ships mural may be a bit dated; but is an awesome piece of work. Of course the reason that most art is painted on canvas is so it can be taken down undamaged when one wants a change… perhaps all murals on the sides of buildings should be painted on something akin to canvas?

  7. The ‘view’ from #1 above is the worst kind of seabilly naivete. Nobody ever did it themselves. Ever. In Nova Scotia in particular our lack of access to capital due to our confederation with Canada, its banking system and its currency is the biggest challenge to new wealth creation in our province. Every government at every level in all the world, in all the history of the world, has been formed in part to facilitate business, trade and commerce. The idea is simple. We, as citizens make our own decisions about what to do with our wealth. We have four choices. We can spend, save, invest, or give it away (charity). Those are the only choices. But how those choices are made and carried out is wide open.

    What we’ve collectively agreed is that we’ll pool a VERY small portion of that wealth to invest together with a broader longer term view of our community and a hope that through that small portion of our taxes government can invest more effectively, efficiently and with an eye to our social preferences over our individual preferences.

    The amounts we invest this way are miniscule relative to our total wealth… even relative to our government’s total budget. And getting smaller all the time relative to our wealth.

    It wasn’t always the case. In Nova Scotia’s earliest years tariffs, duties, tolls and fees were taken for exclusively this purpose. They funded wharves and roads. Crucial infrastructure where infrastructure is defined as important worked needed to facilitate business and trade. We still refer to the ‘government wharf’ in Nova Scotia. Later we extended those taxes to fund education because with any clear long view of business and wealth creation one can see that the ultimate piece of infrastructure needed to create new wealth is healthy, critical minds.

    That government has done a bad job at investing our wealth over the last period. That economic development has been more discouraging than disruptive does not in the slightest diminish our responsibility to continue to poll a small part of our wealth and find the best, smartest ways to invest it together to create new wealth.

    1. Instead of giving that money to businesses, why don’t we instead over-invest in education?

      I don’t think any business should need a subsidy to exist. The tax and regulatory environment may be an aid or a hindrance, but I think it is fair to say that if you don’t take subsidies, grants or use any NSBI/ACOA programs that you are doing it more independently than those that do take that cash.