In the harbour
1. Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes
I didn’t get to last night’s public meeting on the Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes wilderness (see “Noticed,” below), so I’ll let Ron Foley MacDonald explain what happened:
The “Presentation” of Justice Heather Robertson’s report on the Blue Mountain/Birch Cove Lakes Park Proposal came to a screeching halt at a bizarre meeting held in the tiny meeting room at the Lacewood Future Inn this evening.
Hundreds of people showed up for the meeting, held in a room that had a maximum capacity for 120.
The 35-minute meeting, surely the shortest and most deranged Municipal meeting I’ve ever attended, saw Justice Robertson attempt to justify her report, while a City solicitor added some technical details, before a developer sputtered through a plan to disembowel the proposed park.
The chair repeated that questions from the public were not to be taken. The public, which spilled out into the hallway and the lobby of the hotel, had plenty of questions anyway. Once those questions started flying, the “presenters” simply gave up. They decided to cut and run, and the meeting was over, leaving a tsunami of hostility washing over the proceedings.
Damn, now I’m sorry I missed it.
Remo Zaccagna has more details:
Justice Heather Robertson was appointed as a facilitator in 2014 to negotiate a final boundary between municipal staff and the developers and released her report on the process earlier this month.
While most of that land is zoned urban reserve, or urban settlement — development would not be considered there for at least a decade — Robertson’s report endorses a plan to develop a portion of the land that was initially designated to be part of the regional park.
“She was supposed to sit down with the HRM staff and the landowners and negotiate a boundary for the park, and what she’s done is delivered a development proposal, as far as I’m concerned, on behalf of the landowners/developers,” Bob McDonald, chairman of the Halifax North West Trails Association, said in an interview.
The 127-hectare development would include all of the Fox Lake shoreline and part of the north shore of Susie Lake.
The Annapolis Group offered to transfer 85 hectares of parkland to the municipality for $6 million, which HRM staff balked at, according to the report. HRM has appraised the land at $2.8 million.
2. Alakai, Nova Scotia
Following the comings and goings of the ships is my zen moment of the day — 10 minutes spent doing nothing of any real import, but people seem to enjoy it, so I zone out and go with the flow.
Yesterday, I was wondering about the Yarmouth ferry but couldn’t find it on the usual ship tracking sites. I tried searching for “The Cat” and for the “Puerto Rico,” to no avail. But then I figured it out: the ferry is still officially registered as the Alakai. its birth name, meaning “guide” or “leader” in the Hawaiian language.
I’m envisioning a passage to Nova Scotia complete with a luau and hula dancers, the passengers adorned with those cheap plastic leis.
Oh, and I thought they would just paint a big X over “Hawaii” on the boat and scribble “Nova Scotia” next to it, but someone on Reddit dredged up this Bay Ferries video of the ship being retrofitted in South Carolina:
You might think that if the Nova Scotian government were going to spend $100 million on the thing, it could at least require the retrofitting to be done at the Irving Shipyard in Halifax, but that would make you a naysayer and someone who hates the south shore.
Anyway, Tim Houston, the PC MLA from Pictou, has been tweeting out the number of passengers arriving in Yarmouth each day: 132 Saturday, 179 Sunday, 133 Monday. Houston says the figure must be 612 daily to meet the goal of 60,000 passengers for the season.
The province is committed to a 10-year deal with an annual subsidy of $10 million, but if passenger numbers fall below 60,000, the province additionally eats all the revenue shortfall.
This could become ridiculously expensive, very, very quickly.
Let’s say, for the sake of argument, the ferry ends up costing us $300 million. How does that compare to other economic development strategies? Well, yesterday the province announced it will be spending just $6 million to improve rural high speed internet next year. I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing that for $300 million, we could give every household and business in Yarmouth super-duper speed internet and probably throw in web hosting and support for free.
We can continue our “oh, aren’t they quaint!” tourist strategy, or we could join the modern world.
3. Public input
“Waterfront Development is hosting a series of sessions this Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday to gather ideas on how to use the space behind Summit Place running down to the Salter Street area, in light of the need to move the colourful kiosks there from farther up the boardwalk due to the future Queen’s Marque project,” reports Haley Ryan for Metro.
Huh. Too bad they never asked for public input on the gawd-awful Queen’s Marque project, which apparently is being rammed down our throats whether we like it or not. That’s how it goes: we can give input on how to rearrange the deck chairs, but not on steering away from the iceberg.
Our only hope is that the collapsing real estate market kills Queen Marque.
4. Handicapped cops
@haligonia @HaliBreaking can this be real? Or am I missing something pic.twitter.com/7VyHnOkdNC
— Steve Williams (@AffordableFuels) June 18, 2016
We are apparently having a fall provincial election, and the parties are selecting candidates for each of the ridings. I’m not a stenographer, and so won’t republish each party’s press release for each riding’s candidate, but I will spend some time soon to collect them all in one place and figure out how to report on them.
Same goes with the October city election.
1. Gabrielle Horne
Stephen Kimber has been following the case of Dr. Gabrielle Horne for a decade. Today, Kimber explains the $1.4 million court judgment in her favour and notes:
After Friday’s decision, the now-Nova Scotia Health Authority’s chief legal officer issued a statement: “The events discussed occurred 14 years ago. It’s not appropriate for us today to revisit the actions of previous organizations or administrators. We look forward to moving on from this matter with a continued focus on fostering an environment for leading health research and care.”
No explanation. No accountability. No apology.
Not good enough.
This week marks the two-year anniversary of the Halifax Examiner. I’m not exactly sure what day is the official birthday. The site went live on Wednesday, June 18, 2014 with a promotional video. I posted a short update on Friday, June 20. And the first full day of reporting, including the first Morning File, was Monday, June 23.
I’m proud of the Examiner and happy about what it has achieved.
It’s been a long two years. The other day Facebook dredged up a “memory” from three years ago, when I wore a tux to the Michener Awards ceremony at Rideau Hall. My first thought on seeing the pic was, “gee, I’ve aged a decade in the last three years.”
When I started the Examiner, I knew that new businesses usually need about three years to land on their feet. The first year, I just wanted to get as much work out as possible and figure out how this thing works. The second year was an expansion year: I hired an administrative person and have been publishing the work of an increasing number of freelancers. One important goal for me all along has been to be able to hire journalists at competitive wages.
Right now, however, I’m really tired. I find myself impossibly behind on communication, without the energy to report on stories I find important (like the Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes story above), and otherwise failing to attend to things in the manner I’d like. Worse, I’m becoming short with people and easily bristled. I need a vacation, and will take the extended Canada Day weekend for myself; hopefully I’ll come back tanned, rested, and with renewed energy.
My hope in Year Three of the Examiner is to hire a managing editor, someone to work with freelancers, take care of details I’m leaving behind, and write news stories of their own. This will free up some of my time, allow me to catch my breath and be a better reporter.
But I’m not there yet financially. All this costs money. Examineradio alone costs around $1,000/month, and the total freelance costs this year will be about $60,000 — that’s on top of my own meagre salary, various site maintenance costs, taxes, and other expenditures. I’ll need to grow the subscription list by about a quarter to be able to afford to pay a managing editor. So, er, if you like what the Examiner is trying to do, please subscribe.
None of this is to complain. I love my job. The last two years have been something wonderful, and I thank readers for them.
City Council (10am, City Hall) — I’ll be late, but I’ll live-blog the meeting via the Examiner’s Twitter account, @hfxExaminer.
Standing Committee on Economic Development (10am, One Government Place) — Paul DesBarres, president of the Annapolis Valley Chamber of Commerce, will say predictable things about onerous regulations and the like.
Brexit (12:30pm, Lord Dalhousie Room, Henry Hicks) — a discussion on the upcoming Brexit vote. Panelists are:
Florian Bail, Political Science, Dalhousie University
Alexandra Dobrowolsky, Political Science, Saint Mary’s University
Jerry White, Director, Centre for European Studies, Dalhousie University
Ruben Zaiotti, Director, EUCE, Dalhousie University
In the harbour
10:30am: NYK Romulus, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Rotterdam
11am: Yantian Express, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Cagliari, Italy
11pm: Yantian Express, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove to sea
5:30am: Carnation Ace, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany
6am: Seoul Express, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
6am: ZIM Piraeus, container ship, arrives at Pier TBD from New York
4:30pm: Carnation Ace, car carrier, sails from Autoport to sea
I guess this is summer.
Please consider subscribing to the Examiner. Just $5 or $10 a month goes a long way. Or, consider making a one-time contribution via PayPal. Thanks much!
Thanks for the ‘Halifax Examiner,’ Tim. It’s worth more than the subscription fee. Always wonder how you manage it all alongside the incredible Dead Wrong investigative series. I appreciate your facts and opinions immensely and wish you the best in your managing editor search…
The so-called “Blue Mountain/Birch Cove Lakes Park Proposal” is not a park development proposal, it is a subdivision development proposal that wants to piggyback off of the benefits of a future parkland development. Since HRM’s Regional Plan has stated that adequate lands are available to support residential housing development for the next 30 or so years, why on earth would Council ever consider allowing the developer’s proposal to move forward to a so-called “Secondary Planning” stage? Where is the public support for the developer’s proposal? At the meeting last night, it was certainly evident that there is a highly visible LACK of support for the facilitator’s presentation of the developer’s proposal. Will Council listen to the public… oops I mean actually read the public’s feedback? Will Council take action that reflects the public’s feedback? I guess we have to wait and see, but how this developer’s proposal actually reached this stage given the lack of public support that has been profoundly exhibited over the past number of years is mind boggling to understand. It is clear and perhaps understandable, that the developers only care about making money, not about making HRM a better place to live.
The Birch Cove Lakes presentation looking for public input is the NEW way of listening to the taxpayers. We should look back in years and see how it was truly meaningful. Rather than being told what the plan was everyone played a part and felt that we were part of the decision making.
Way back when I was on the Dartmouth Common committee we held public meetings with microphones. People would line up to express their views and my job was to take notes on a flip chart of the main points. To my mind this process was democratic. Everyone heard the viewpoints of their neighbours and the replies of the committee members.
It seems that the present process has less and less openness and deteriorated to the point of being a farce!
I have not always agreed with your positions, but you have always given me a reason to stop and ponder others’ perspectives. I have learned a lot and I love the comments I read here too.
Thank you. I look forward to reading and learning more.
Seriously. Both the ‘anti SJW’ and ‘SJW’ crowd are guilty of the same offence, namely simply slapping a label on anyone who challenges their belief system and ignoring them. I have major disagreements with El Jones and to a lesser extent, Tim’s worldview and philosophy but that doesn’t stop me from reading and considering them.
The thing that bothers me about the modern left, however, is how comfortable they are with censorship of ideas they don’t like, either through explicit government or corporate policies or through intimidation tactics.
I agree with you Jean! Also, listening to the podcast/radio show has helped me to better understand- I used to read Tim’s work and think that he was harsh but something about listening to him on the show changed the way I read Halifax Examiner. They go very well together.
Tim Houston is great *applause*
Wouldn’t it be great though if he paid the same level of interest for the people IN HIS OWN FUCKING RIDING when they were being poisoned by Northern Pulp.
As far as the Examiner goes, it’s headed for stagnation and slow death. I won’t buy a subscription again, as it’s tilting towards run of the mill SJW blogospheria, and that I can get for free. Or more importantly, ignore for free. Basically, I don’t like what you’re trying to do anymore.
See you later Mr McGrath.
Mr B take some well deseved time. We’ll still be here as long as you keep doing what you’ve been doing into the future.
This city DESPERATELY needs your voice.
Regarding the police car, it could be that the officer was parked there to pick up a person with a disability, or drop someone who has a disability off. Or the officer driving the cruiser might have a disability.
I am wondering why a judge, who is an expert at making and imposing decisions, was hired to negotiate an agreement. Seems odd.
Also, HRM tried to impose the same restrictions on questions at 2 Town Hall meetings regarding proposed changes to the Otter Lake landfill. There was going to be no-one present from HRM to answer questions on HRM’s proposed changes. The plan was that residents would come to the microphone and ask questions. The questions would be recorded by the hired engagement consultants, National Public Relations, and the answers would be posted on a website at a later date. After the Otter Lake Community Monitoring Committee took its strong objections directly to the consultants and the Mayor, HRM relented and staff representatives came to the meeting and answered questions.
It is absurd to hold a public meeting and not answer questions from attendees. I can’t believe anyone would consider that community engagement, but apparently there are some who do.
Incidentally, HRM staff are currently developing a new community engagement protocol in-house. Ugh!
Well Ken, at one time HRM had what they called a “public Consultation process, but they decided back in 2008 (I think?) to change it to an new and improved “Community Engagement Strategy” (very aptly named, since actual consultation really does not occur anymore… and Council appears to NOT read or NOT support public feedback, so much for representative government). Now they are going to come out with an knew and improved Community Engagement process, the way things are going, it will likely be called an “Public Information Sharing Strategy” process… read the report, or attend the meeting and have the report regurgitated back to one… if one has read the report, there will be no need to attend the public meeting, unless one wishes to stage an unauthorized protest to the proceedings. All in all, it is very sad concerning the disgraceful level of commitment for governments to actually represent public values. anymore.
It’s all about a corporate message control agenda with the feigned appearance of public consultation.
Not democracy. Why do you think they hire corporate PR firms like National? Remove the public from the engagement and decision making is easy and cost effective.
Do you really think National is going to go the extra mile if it means they get paid less?
Happy anniversary Examiner – Halifax is lucky to have you!
First municipal meeting I have ever went to. Expected perhaps up to 2 hours presentation with some rationale about the report presented (couldn’t find a rationale when I read it earlier in the day) But the only thing I learned is that if you don’t like development in a wilderness area you are (to semi-quote the justice) not a person taking “the broader view”.
Am a bit bent personally about the bs format of the event but most people were really wild about it. I expect a fair few letters heading to the city before 04 July. Hope council is forced into a decision before the election.
I like this website and started contributing monthly some time ago. Not as much as I would like, but I also contribute to Local Xpress, CanadaLand, and an American writer whose work I love for his intelligence, pithiness, sense of humour…because I believe good writing should be supported. (says the freelance writer/editor who is more than busy with assorted things)
However–were you to expand your gaze a little further around the province–and not only to criticize what’s happening elsewhere all the time, eg the ferry–I’m sure others like me who don’t consider Halifax the centre of the universe would also climb aboard and subscribe. I know, I know, it’s your job to examine and critique, and I have no problem with that (and I giggle every time you diss ‘world-class’, because you’ve got ME doing it in some of my editing work, removing it from copy…!) and I also know you’re short on finances and time and long on things you could be doing. So it’s not a criticism from me, just a wish-list thing. I do recommend the Examiner to anyone I know with a thinking brain, so hopefully that helps, too.
Deep breaths, Tim. Congratulations for doing this work. I read you faithfully even when I disagree with some of your inclinations.
Thanks for the two years of good journalism and fun, cynical comments. Particularly, thanks for El Jones Saturdays and for all the important reporting on clear cutting in the province.
Running a small business is a 24/7/365 job. Enjoy your brief rest.
A memorable Police Commission meeting yesterday. The closing comments were unlike anything I have ever heard at any council or committee meeting.
If you’re willing to elaborate on those closing comments, I – and perhaps others – would like to know them. Good on you for being present at that meeting. Policing is a vital, foundational element of our society. As Tim’s piece yesterday on the police-custody death illustrates, we need greater transparency and accountability. Informed knowledge is vital to both.
I tried to get to the meeting, but we’ve had some website problems I had to work through.
If all Board members would show up at the meetings there would have been no need for the comments from the chair.
Unfortunately the meetings are not recorded but minutes of previous meetings are available here : http://www.halifax.ca/boardscom/bpc/Agendas.php
The dire state of print media in the developed world is making life a lot easier for politicians and governments from left to right. A generation of twitterers and freeloaders does not bode well for future governance. I was reading a newspaper before I was 7.
Read this and weep at the state of print media :