In the harbour
1. On taking sides with the Chronicle Herald
Yesterday, I published the names of companies and publications listed in the “media kit” produced by the Chronicle Herald — that is, places where the the Chronicle Herald purports to sell ad space. These include The Quad County Weekly, the Casket, Dakai Maritimes, the Dalhousie Gazette, Goalline.ca, CanadaSelect.com, Nova Scotia Webcams, Cream Careers, and Transit 360.
Some of these ad targets — like the Quad County Weekly and the Casket — are owned by the Herald, Ltd outright. In the case of Transit 360, the Herald owns a minority stake in the company. In others, there is a contractual relationship — the company in question allows the Herald to sell ad space, and the two firms split revenue.
I say the Herald “purports” to sell ads at these companies because it turns out that in at least a couple of the cases, the Herald ad team has never sold a single ad, and in the case of the Dalhousie Gazette, the people at the Gazette didn’t even know such a relationship existed.
When I listed the Nova Scotia Webcams yesterday, I commented that “every time you look at a cool picture from the harbour web cam, you’re helping take a job from an experienced reporter.” This prompted an exchange with Webcams owner Ralf Pickart, who objected to that characterization.
I told Pickart that the Herald is using the number of hits on the Webcams site to pitch ads to potential buyers, and that he should refuse to accept Herald-sold ads for the duration of the strike.
“Our ‘relationship’ with the Herald was that they had the option to sell our advertising inventory,” Pickart told me. “Nothing more, nothing less. Gain for both sides: $0.”
We had a bit of a back-and-forth, and then Pickart told me that “because I’m not interested in getting dragged into a labour dispute, I asked them to remove Nova Scotia Webcams from their media kit. I’m not taking any sides here.”
Here’s the thing, though: it’s impossible to not take a side in a labour dispute. You either cross the picket line or you don’t. You can’t claim neutrality. And doing business with the Herald is crossing the picket line.
Pickart insists he hasn’t taken a side, but by asking to be removed from the media kit, he has. And it’s the right side to take. I’m looking at pretty harbour pictures today.
I understand that Pickart (and I’m told, the people at GoalLine.ca) are in a difficult situation. It’s not of their making, and I’m sure they’d rather not deal with it. But it’s the Herald that has put them in this situation, by attacking its workers.
The labour dispute at the Herald is not just a private business matter. It’s a community issue that touches all of us, and each of us has to figure out our moral position. We are all players. Do we want a well-paid professional reporting force or not? Do we value quality journalism, or are we content with the scab-generated garbage the Chronicle Herald has been spewing since the strike began? Do we stand in solidarity with our colleagues and neighbours, or do we abandon them? Do we cross the picket line or not?
It’s not possible to avoid those questions. “Not taking a side” is taking a side.
2. Cash cows
“More than 100 students at Dalhousie University’s Agricultural Campus in Truro protested Tuesday afternoon before a budget consultation with the school,” reports the CBC’s Carolyn Ray:
The students carried inflatable cows and banners proclaiming “we are not cash cows,” and marched against significant tuition increases Dalhousie plans for the campus.
If it goes ahead, agriculture students would face an 18.9 per cent tuition hike — on top of three per cent increase being charged to all Dalhousie students. The hike is being proposed while the provincial Liberals allow universities a one-time tuition correction.
Much ado about nothing, reports Remo Zaccagna:
Mayor Mike Savage suggested an amendment, which was approved by the rest of council, that would see staff look at the application of the Halifax logo on community signs rather than removing them.
The amended motion passed unanimously.
Acting chief administrative officer John Traves said he would be happy to draft a report and agreed that “there could be a lighter touch, frankly, in terms of the size of the brand and the necessity of the brand in all circumstances.”
4. Traffic calming
Halifax council yesterday endorsed a staff recommendation that will allow residents to ask that “traffic calming” strategies be applied to streets in their neighbourhoods. The measures include speed bumps, chicanes, raised crosswalks, raised intersections, islands, and traffic circles.
Drivers are going too fast, and I’m not opposed to the suggested motion or the traffic calming measures, but we might be overthinking this. We could reach the same desired end — slower cars — by A) lowering the speed limit on all residential streets to 40kph and B) narrowing streets.
Just making the streets narrower, bringing the curbs closer together, tends to bring a visual freak-out to drivers, and they slow down — the safest streets in the city are probably Belle Aire Terrace and Wright Avenue, which are barely wide enough for one car to drive past the cars parked at the curb. Belle Aire would see even slower traffic were it a two-way street.
Remember how everyone drove down Agricola Street last winter when the snowbanks took over half the road? Drivers had to take turns and slowly maneuver past each other through the small bits of clear roadway, and as a result speed went way down. It should be like that every day.
1. Cranky letter of the day
One thing for certain can be said about Cape Bretoners – we are passionate about religion, politics and our favourite hockey teams.
When it comes to being vocal, Cape Bretoners usually can be heard in any crowd and collectively have been known to make quite a statement. As our native son Jimmy Rankin puts it: we can get “all fired up.”
The ”Parade of Concern” in support of our Sydney Steel workers in 1967 was such a proud moment in our history that changed political decisions in favour of keeping our mill open for business. And, more recently, there was the walk with the men and women who deservedly needed our support to keep their Veterans’ Affairs office open.
One person in our community who has always been a voice questioning the political will or the cause for social justice is Fr. Greg MacLeod. He has inspired us all in his relentless advocacy for positive change in this community.
MacLeod’s resolve and determination have inspired me to get involved with the Scotia Rail Development Society to stop the dismantling of our rail bed, as was proposed by Genesee & Wyoming in their application to abandon the rail. This decision will be determined by our elected politicians in early April.
The idea of our steel rails being transported and sold in the United States as scrap without any regard for the sweat and pride that went into making them, without any thought as to the repercussions involving future port development or the possible transport of coal from the Donkin mine site and without any consideration for highway safety or the destruction of our roads must be stopped before approval is given and another valuable infrastructure on this island wiped out.
However, one cannot help but sense a growing feeling of pessimism with the state of our economy and forecasts of fewer possibilities for our young people. We live in one of the safest, most beautiful places on the planet and yet we cannot secure a bright future to keep our brilliant young minds at home.
I, for one, believe that the turning point will come when we refuse to accept any more losses and collectively fight for more parity with the economic development of our province’s capital. As the second largest city in this province we should expect, if not demand, equalization of programs in health, education and services.
One would think the political stars are aligned in our favour to be on the receiving end of what we only deserve in this province. And what we accept. We must continue to be vocal until our veterans have their office open for business. We must fight to see the doors at the Ann Terry Women’s Employment Project stay open. We must stop anyone that tries to remove our railway line, a key component for any future economic development for our deprived island. Such decisions are unacceptable and we are serving notice that we will not accept any more losses.
So I invite you to take a stand once again about the state of our educational system or about reform of our health care. Invite and engage people outside of your community to join you in saving a school or a church. Become an advocate for positive change and an inspiration for our youth. Collectively we can make things happen. We can hopefully once again get people “all fired up.” Cape Bretoners do have a voice. Let’s once again begin to use it.
(There will be a public meeting at 2 p.m. on Feb. 28 at the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavillion to Save The Rail. It’s a chance to come and challenge our politicians to take a stand for Cape Breton.)
Debbie Keating , Albert Bridge
Special Events Advisory Committee (9am, City Hall) — discussion about Special Olympics.
Community Design Advisory Committee (11:30am, City Hall) — discussion about the Green Network.
Heritage Advisory Committee (2pm, City Hall) — Allison Chubbs wants her house at 280 Portland Street registered as a historic property. It’s always fun to read these staff reports.
Public Accounts (9am, Province House) — George McLellan, the deputy minister of Finance, and Geoff Gatien, the Comptroller, will be questioned about the auditor general’s report.
Supply Chain Design (1:30pm, MA310) — Amir Azaron will talk about “Supply Chain Design under Uncertainty.”
Plasmonic sensing (4pm, Theatre A, Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building Link) — Christa Brosseau, from Saint Mary’s University, will speak on “Plasmonic sensing: A Tool for Understanding
and Diagnosing Human Disease.”
In Search of the Ethical Lawyer (4:30pm, Room 105, Weldon Law Building) — speakers are Richard Devlin, from Dalhousie; Alice Woolley, from the University of Calgary; and Adam Dodek, from the University of Ottawa.
Racism from Black Perspectives (7pm, Halifax Central Library) — “How and why do the impacts of history persist? How is racism directly or indirectly manifested in our society? What are our obligations to address racism? How do we reconcile divisions created by racism? How do we directly or indirectly reinforce racism? How is racism holding us back?”
The Woman on the Beach (8pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery) — the 1947 film by director Jean Renoir: “Renoir’s American exile produced some remarkable films drenched in atmosphere and dread. The Woman on the Beach sees Noir fave Robert Ryan unravelling a seaside mystery about a blind painter and his ambiguous wife.”
Mount Saint Vincent
Renee Horton (6:30pm, Seton Academic Centre, Auditorium A) — Horton will speak on the “Intersection between Talent and Passion” in which she “will share her story of how hard work and a passion for math & physics led her to a career as a lead engineer for NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in New Orleans, Louisiana.”
In the harbour
OOCL Asia, container ship, Cagliari, Italy to Fairview Cove
ZIM Shanghai, container ship, New York to Pier 41, then sails to sea
Manon, car carrier, Zeebrugge,Belgium to Autoport
Fritz Reuter, container ship, Lisbon, Portugal to Pier 42
I’ll be on The Sheldon MacLeod Show, News 95.7, at 4pm.
“Calm” refers to traffic calming design as outlined in the article. it also provides a greater incentive to bike rather than drive, potentially reducing the overall traffic on the road. How is concern over speeding a non-existent problem if, as indicated by Graham Steele, it has been the overwhelming concern of constituents?
Protected bike lanes built into all new and rebuilt road projects would narrow the streets, calm the drivers and encourage active transportation but that politicians sniff the winds and smell the hate NS drivers have for cyclists.
It would be a massive waste of money and would not ‘calm the drivers’.
‘Calming’ is a solution for an almost non-existent problem and much ado about nothing. And slower speeds cause greater pollution.
Follow the data.
How is making transit infrastructure that will last at least twice as long as roads for cars a massive waste of money? Slower speeds do not cause greater pollution, gridlock does. If it’s too slow to take a car, you might consider a bike, walking or transit. It makes no sense to get in a car to drive 5km unless you are unable to propel yourself that far or lack access to transit.
Kudos to Debbie Keating for «telling it like it is» re the LEGiSLATED decline of Cape Breton. Having been born there, escaped, lived there in retirement, and now watching from a safe distance «off-island», I’ve witnessed the same idiotic song and dance routines by mindless fantasists, scheming troughers, and self-serving bureaucrats and politicians in endless loop for half a century. A container port for a second-rate harbour in a declining market with NO way to transport the unloaded cargo WEST; a discredited, climate-antagonistic COAL MINE, again with NO way to safely and efficiently move its product…. the LIST is endless…. boondoggle after boondoggle…. BILLIONS basically thrown away with NO real benefit to Cape Breton just a handful of opportunists becoming absentee millionaires at the expense of the peasantry.
We’d have been money-in to the tune of billions if we had simply written $500,000 tax-free cheques to every living Cape Bretoner. Sad but true!
The CONTROL of SPEEDING is a dicey affair at the best of times but deliberately OBSTRUCTING already hopelessly snarled traffic is a guaranteed way to INCREASE speed-related collisions.
Photo Radar in the RIGT PLACES and SENSIBLY applied to punish the REAL «speeders» would be a good first step. Currently, it’s the «low hanging fruit» that gets «harvested» while the dangerous, distracted, and kamikaze drivers scream past mom’s taxi getting a ticket for a picayune overspeed in a spot where no sensible person would post such a low limit anyway. Also, the end-of-month quota-filling by police and RCMP in the HRM HAS TO STOP. It does NOTHING to increase traffic safety but of course is great piece of inside propaganda for the police and a lucrative cash cow for governments.
Dependable, efficient, and reasonable-cost PUBLIC TRANSIT would solve at least 80% of the problem but the politicians and bureaucrats, for all their blather and chest-beating, can only seem to FAIL CATASTROPHICALLY at that!
The situation with the herald labour issue has taken on a life greater than an employer/employee labour dispute. I wonder if things would be different if we still had the Daily News in print?
Journalism is not dying, but is going through a massive reconfiguration. I see virtual publications like The Examiner gaining ground (and that is a good thing to be nurtured) but there soon will be no “publication of record” for whatever that is worth The Herald will not survive in any form that serves a greater public good. It aspires to be a producer of throw-away weekly ad flyer wrappers and forum to publish the tripe generated by the hundreds of PR hacks in town.
Couldn’t agree more with this.
Tying the idea of PR hacks into the sign branding kerfuffle.
I wouldn’t be so easy to dismiss Dartmouth’s concerns.
The whole HRM branding exercise has been one giant, cynical sleight of hand masquerading as public consultation perpetrated by PR hacks in government and the private sector (Be Bold H/\LIF/\X – have we forgotten that glorious one page ad a few years back signed by Mark Lever no less).
Unlike with the megalomanical management style of Mark Lever we are supposed to have duly elected representatives that rein in the worst excesses of the PR hacks.
Hopefully they follow through.
I learned a lot about traffic issues and the link to human nature when I read the book _Traffic_ by Tom Vanderbilt. http://tomvanderbilt.com/traffic/the-book/
I remember that he discussed the link between speed and how safe a driver feels, essentially what Tim described with respect to narrow roads. I agree that reducing the speed limit on signs won’t be especially effective without some physical change.
Enforcement would help, but that is an ongoing cost, unlike road design.
There are a lot of solutions to traffic problems discussed in the book, but few of them are “common sense” and would be politically unpopular. For instance, raising the price of on-street parking creates an incentive to go park in a lot rather than circling slowly around the block which adds to traffic congestion and issues related to distracted driving.
Charlottetown is 40 on side streets and who doesnt love Charlottetown? I wonder what the statistics look like compared to halifax.
When I was an MLA, representing a Halifax-area constituency, the number one issue that people raised with me was speeding on residential streets. On just about every street, that was the thing that concerned people more than anything else, consistently, during my entire twelve years as MLA.
When I realized how important an issue it was, I started digging into all the theory and practice of road design and traffic calming. There’s a vast literature, going back many years, on how to try to slow drivers. I tried to promote one such initiative, but it didn’t really catch on. I won’t try to summarize the whole literature, but I wanted to share two thoughts:
1. Lowering speed limits doesn’t work. It just doesn’t. Traffic engineers will tell you, and I believe based on my own experience and observation, that people will drive according to the design of the road. If the road feels like it should be 70kph, that’s what people will drive. Exhibit A: Northwest Arm Drive, which is in the area I represented. It was built like a highway, and people drive it like a highway. You can tell them to slow down all you want; they won’t. Occasionally we’d get a radar gun on Northwest Arm Drive. The police will tell you that slows people down for several days or a week, but then they resume their “normal” driving behaviour.
2. The one thing that will definitely get drivers to slow down, everywhere, 24/7, is photo radar. It works. It’s reliable. It’s consistent. It’s not the speed limit or the fine that gets drivers to slow down. It’s getting caught, and knowing they’re going to get caught. Only photo radar can do that. But do you think people will accept it, or any politician will propose it? No and no. “Cash cow!” they yell. We’ve been conditioned like Pavlov’s dog to respond “Cash cow!” when we hear “Photo radar”, and the debate is lost before it starts. The “cash cow” argument is nonsense, of course, because photo radar is a cash cow only if you design it that way, and you don’t need to design it that way. You could (for example) cut licensing fees by the amount of photo radar fines, thus rewarding good drivers and punishing bad drivers, without producing one nickel of extra revenue. That’s only one way; there are 999 other ways of designing a photo radar system that works.
Photo radar is the answer to speeding. If I hear someone complaining about speeding, but they instantly reject photo radar, then I say “I guess you don’t care about speeding enough actually to fix it then.”
Agreed regarding photo radar. Photo radar is very common in other parts of the world; it has always puzzled me why we don’t use it very much in Nova Scotia to enforce speed limits.
Lowering speed limits does work, however, if it’s combined with photo radar. In most municipalities in Germany for example the vast amount of residential streets have a speed limit of 30km/h. This measure was mainly introduced in the 1990s and I believe it has reduced the number of lethal and critical accidents between cars and pedestrians (especially children) and simultaneously has improved the quality of life of residents who live on formerly busy residential streets.
Yup. I drive the Northwest arm every single day. It’s a split highway. Not a street. And I drive for conditions not the arbitrary limit designed for nothing more than revenue generation. I’m the first to admit it.
You’ll notice people are often doing 140 on the 102 inbound. 110 becomes dangerous. You can say ‘well no one should speed’ And to that I say (and as per your own observations) people drive for conditions. If the limit is arbitrarily low, everyone ‘speeds’.
Studies in Germany and Australia have consistently shown that higher speed limits mean less collisions on highways.
“You could (for example) cut licensing fees by the amount of photo radar fines, thus rewarding good drivers and punishing bad drivers, without producing one nickel of extra revenue.”
If only that’s how they actually worked. From what I’ve seen, they are smaller fines and no points, further encouraging simply paying them rather than going to court.
Sorry about the multiple responses; Tim: feel free to combine them.
“Photo radar is the answer to speeding”
Realistic speed limits are the answer to speeding.
We have the technology to limit every car to 110km/h. We also have the technology to automatically bill drivers every time they exceed that speed limit.
Good luck passing such a law… because if everyone is breaking the law, the law is wrong.
An excellent observation Mr. Steele.
In 1972 in Lr. Sackville, there was a huge problem with drunk drivers. The RCMP decide to set up spot checks on the road next the the Load of Mischief tavern on Friday and Saturday nights. They caught a few people but the tavern owners complained about loosing business. The RCMP were told to back off. In that case, drinking drivers won. A little more extreme but the same idea. There are ways to definitively stop speeding on residential streets that should be implemented no matter what the hue and cry because there is no legitimate argument to be made against such measure at all.
Yeah. Stop designing residential streets for 50km/h if they don’t want people going 50km/h. Make the sidewalks wider and the street narrower. Problem solved.
Essentially, Mr. Steele is advocating for enforcement of the speed limits when it comes to slowing down drivers. I agree. The same could be said for the carnage in and around our cross walks. The only “education” for many drivers is enforcement of the law regarding cross walks. I see drivers constantly turning right at red lights and stop signs without even slowing down – just a quick glance left for on-coming traffic and away they go. I know from personal experience that some drivers don’t even know that they are required to come to a full stop before turning.Perhaps if the police issued a few tickets before someone is killed or injured, we might see fewer pedestrian casualties. But that would require education of the police to the fact that the victims in most car/pedestrian collisions are the pedestrians. I will never forget the quote I read regarding the death of the woman on the motorized scooter at Thistle and Victoria a few years ago. “I feel bad for the driver of the truck”, said an attending police officer, “he was really shaken up”. Really? How about the woman on the scooter or her family? Even if she didn’t push the button, or perhaps crossed on an orange hand, did she really deserve to die?
It is possible to have sympathy for the driver without condemning the pedestrian. One does not equal the other.