November subscription drive

Last week, I talked about Phil Moscovitch and a piece he wrote for a Morning File in July about Becky from Lockeport. I said what I loved about the Examiner is that the simplest observations, like Moscovitch seeing someone wearing a Future Proofing Lockeport t-shirt, turned into the best stories. That’s true, too, for a piece Tim wrote in the Noticed section of Morning File back in May 2016:

Suppose you are Danny Chedrawe, the developer who just tore down the Doyle Block, and you have arranged a business meeting across the street, in the cafe in the new library, overlooking the now-empty lot where you plan to build your new development.

In such a situation, you might want to pepper your conversation with details about the demolition you just completed. You might tell the two businessmen that it cost $750,000 — $250,000 for the demolition itself, the remainder for asbestos removal and other hazmat costs.

You might go on to discuss prospective tenants for the new building. You might say that Telus has already committed to leasing space, you’re in discussion with BMO, and you expect to have 80 to 90 per cent of the ground floor retail leased by completion of construction, but you aren’t ready to sign leases because that would lock you into a construction schedule. You might also talk about the second floor of the project, which is planned to be commercial or office space. You might mention that you think you can rent it at $17 a square foot, $2 more than the second floor of Park Lane, but you’re configuring it such a way that should the commercial market be soft, you can make the second floor residential.

The rest of the piece chronicles Chedrawe’s complaints and comments about city planner, taxes, bureaucracy, and suburban developers.

I wasn’t sure where this piece was going, but I laughed out loud when I got to the final paragraph:

Here’s a small piece of advice: If you are Danny Chedrawe, developer of the Doyle Block, and you are thinking of having such a business meeting at the cafe in the library across the street, and having the discussion related above, you might want to make sure there’s not a reporter at the next table, dutifully following along with his laptop open, typing in your words.

Another thing about the Examiner: Tim gives writers like me a chance to share stories on issues like living wages. I can’t think of another editor who’d hand over a platform to other writers like this. He never tells us what to write. It’s really quite extraordinary when you think about it.

I also want to thank Iris the Amazing, the Examiner’s office manager who keeps everything running behind the scenes, from copy editing and suggesting headlines to sending our payments for stories, which we get the same day we file. As a freelancer who’s had to chase payment for stories, sometimes months after the article was published, getting paid the day we’re published makes the Examiner extraordinary, too.

You can learn more about subscribing here. When you subscribe, Tim can keep eavesdropping on people and telling us what he heard!


News

1. Obama’s in town

Former U.S. president Barack Obama is in Halifax tonight. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Former U.S. president Barack Obama will be at the Metro Centre (I’m still calling it the Metro Centre!) tonight for “A Conversation with Barack Obama.” About 9,000 guests will hear him speak.

The Star Halifax has a list of rules for those who attend, including printed tickets only (no e-tickets), and there’s no going outside once you’re in. There’s also a no-bag policy in place, although there will be exceptions for soft-sided bags and purses that measure less than 14 inches high and six inches wide.

And you have to stay in your seat once Obama is on the stage:

The 44th president of the United States is scheduled to take the stage at 6:30 p.m. for about one hour. Guests will not be permitted up and down the aisles once he takes the stage.

Cameras, professional recording devices and equipment, tablets and computers are not permitted, and no photos or video recordings are permitted during the event. This includes cellphones.

Obama was at the Mile One Centre in St. John’s, N.L. last night. Zita Cobb, founder of the Shorefast Foundation, which promotes cultural and economic development in Cobb’s hometown of Fogo Island, was the moderator of the talk and asked Obama questions on several topics, including climate change.

Climate change is one issue that if we don’t rapidly get at it, then the consequences will be very difficult to reverse. I don’t think there is much left to debate about the facts.

There are conversations to have on how we respond.

2. More stadium talk this week

Anthony LeBlanc of the Schooner Sports and Entertainment (SSE) calls the stadium proposal “the best stadium deal that’s been presented to a municipality in North America.”

Anthony LeBlanc with Schooner Sports and Entertainment says he and SSE’s other two founders are “listening and hearing concerns” about the stadium proposal, reports Francis Campbell with The Chronicle Herald.

LeBlanc will be in the city for a few days talking with councillors about details, including ownership of the stadium.

It’s never been a condition precedent for us as the proponents to own the facility. This has always been something that HRM has made clear that they don’t want to own it because they don’t want to be on the hook operationally. If there is another ownership structure that achieves what HRM wants … we’re all ears. But it is certainly not a requirement on our part to own the facility.

Sam Austin will be at the meetings. Austin introduced a motion at council three weeks ago that would abandon the stadium proposal.

My rule on meetings is you go, you listen, you ask some questions, you don’t make any promises. I’m curious if there is anything he wants to clarify. I read his proposal. It speaks for itself as far as I’m concerned, unless there is something that’s been misunderstood.

While LeBlanc calls the proposal “the best stadium deal that’s been presented to a municipality in North America,” he says SSE will walk away if there’s a no vote in December.

Last night on Twitter, Angela Morriscey asked women only if they wanted a stadium. The overwhelming response? Hells no!

This is my favourite response:

The women of HRM know what’s up.

3. Pedestrian struck

A police release relates that last night at 7:45 p.m. a 57-year-old man was struck by a vehicle in the 300 block of Windmill Road. He is said to have “life-threatening injuries.” No other information is available at this time.

4. Tenants sent to hospital after CO leak

Five tenants went to hospital after a carbon monoxide leak at an apartment building. Photo: CTV Atlantic/Twitter

Five people were sent to hospital after a carbon monoxide leak at an apartment building on Birches Drive in Halifax last night.

CTV reports that about 15 to 20 people were evacuated from the building after supper. There was a warming bus on site for the tenants, who were let back in around 6:30 p.m. Firefighters said they couldn’t find the source of the leak.

5. Hudson off duty for ocean climate research program

CCGS Hudson is undergoing a refit and couldn’t take part in an oceanographic survey in the North Atlantic. File photo.

An oceanographic survey to monitor climate change was cancelled because the ship that was to do the work is too old, reports Paul Withers with CBC.

The Canadian Coast Guard ship Hudson usually takes on the work of the Atlantic Zone Monitoring Program (AZMP) surveys, but a refit on the 56-year-old vessel was extended. DFO found another ship, Coriolis II, which is based in Rimouski, Que., but it was found unable to do the work.

The Atlantic Zone Monitoring Program has been operating twice a year since the 1990s. This is the first year the program was cancelled. During the expeditions, scientists monitor data like water temperatures and blooms of microscopic organisms.

DFO scientist Dave Hebert says the program creates a baseline to measure changing conditions in the ocean.

One of the issues is to determine whether or not it’s a long-term trend or just year-to-year variability.

There could be, like, a decade of really warm weather and so the question is, is that continuing on or is it changing back to sort of what we call normal conditions? And so these programs help us do that.

The Hudson is expected to be ready by April and the spring Maritime region survey, although DFO says it’s working on contingency plans.


Views

Talking tips and gratuities

Back in April, I wrote a piece about tipping systems at bars and restaurants in Nova Scotia.

I talked about my own experiences as a former server and bartender, too. Most of the employers I worked for had a tipping system in which a percentage of tips went to support staff like the host or kitchen staff. Still, another former employer tipped out to us only $10 for each private function we worked, even though they likely charged an auto gratuity of 15 per cent on the invoice that went to the customer. I worked one of these functions and didn’t make a cent because the owner said customers would tip us because it was an open bar (they didn’t).

This is the time of year when companies are hosting holiday parties, so I thought I’d revisit this as a reminder that if you’re a boss paying the entire bill, which may include an added auto gratuity, make sure you ask if the staff are getting that money.

I did some more digging to learn about the legislation around tips and gratuities in other provinces.

But first, more on tipping systems in Nova Scotia.

I spoke with Gordon Stewart with the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia who says there are rules regarding tips and gratuities and they are outlined with the Canada Revenue Agency. You can find those here, but basically these rules outline the difference between direct tips (those given to a server by a customer) and controlled tips (those collected by the employer, but distributed to employees). Here are examples of each from the CRA website:

Direct tips:

You are part of the serving staff in a restaurant. The restaurant owner informs you that if a customer pays by credit or debit card and includes a voluntary tip, the restaurant will return the full tip amount back to you in cash at the end of each shift.

Controlled tips:

You are part of the serving staff in a restaurant. You receive tips from the restaurant’s customers. However, some of the support staff feel that they should receive a share of those tips. The restaurant owner agrees to put in place a tip pool to make sure the tips are distributed among all staff members.

It’s the controlled tips where employers can keep the auto gratuity. That’s because the employer, not the server, bartender, or other staff member, is in charge of the final invoice and often the only one who sees it.

Each province has different rules around collection and distribution of tips and gratuities in restaurants and bars.

Stewart says RANS does offer workshops to help restaurants learn more about the issue of tipping. Any employee who is concerned about tipping systems where they work can contact him and he’ll direct them to the CRA rules. Still, he says he knows there are employers who abuse tipping systems.

And there are fines for employers who do keep their staff’s tips. Stewart says one establishment was fined $150,000 for keeping tips. That place is now closed (he couldn’t share the name).

RANS also tells workers about their responsibilities for reporting tips, which are considered income, and the long-term financial benefits of claiming tips, including getting a mortgage, saving for RRSPs, and contributing to CPP.

Stewart says he’d like to see changes in the tipping systems. This was on the NDP’s radar last fall when Cape Breton Centre MLA Tammy Martin introduced a private members’ bill that would amend the Labour Standards Code to include the definition of tips or other gratuities, as well as include a clause stating employers can’t withhold tips or gratuities from staff, although there are exceptions.

According to their press release:

When someone decides to give a tip in exchange for good service, they assume that tip will go to the employee, or to the team of employees, who provided the service. Employers shouldn’t be allowed to take tips and gratuities from their employees or use those tips for other business expenses.

That bill didn’t go beyond first reading. The full bill is here.

While the CRA rules cover distribution of tips and gratuities, other provinces have their own legislation around the distribution of tips.

In 2001, Newfoundland and Labrador amended its Labour Standard Act to cover tips and gratuities. Under section 38 of the act, tips and gratuities belong to the employee who receives them. And an employer can’t require staff to share their tips.

But enforcement can be an issue, according to a statement I got from Christopher Mitchelmore, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Labour:

The definition of wages under the Act does not include tips or gratuities.  Section 63 requires employers to keep record of the rate of wages of the employee, the number of hours worked by the employee in each day, the amount paid to the employee showing all deductions made from wages paid. Since tips are not captured under this section or the definition of wage, information may be difficult to obtain during an investigation.

As employers are not obligated to maintain records of tips or gratuities, Labour Standards Officers must rely on the records of the employee, or where the employer acknowledges that tips or gratuities are owed during investigation.

Quebec has a legislation around tipping, too. Like in Newfoundland and Labrador, tips are owned by the staff who receive them. Tips paid directly or indirectly by customers belong to the employers. And there are rules around tip-sharing arrangements, too. Oh, and staff who receive tips get a special minimum wage of $10.05/hr (as of May 1, 2019).

Employees entitled to tips may participate in a tip-sharing arrangement with their co-workers. This arrangement, whether oral or in writing, must result from the free and voluntary consent of the employees who are entitled to the tips. The employer cannot impose such an arrangement on his establishment’s employees or intervene in the establishment of a tip-sharing arrangement.

The rest of the rules around tips are here.

Still, it seems there are problems over which staff should share in the tipping system. This article from May 2018 says a provincial restaurant association wanted the laws changed to require staff share their tips with other restaurant staff, namely the chefs.

The case presented by the Association des Restaurateurs du Québec included an open letter signed by 50 chefs from some of the province’s top restaurants. The group argued a tip sharing system made for a fairer workplace and helped with retention of staff.

Sharing tips is a way to recognize the importance of the work done by each employee to shape their client’s overall experience and satisfaction; this is why it is necessary that employees be provided with pay that is commensurate with what they contribute…

Apparently, a suggestion to simply pay kitchen staff more was rejected.

The province eventually rejected the association’s request.

Ontario has the Protecting Employees’ Tips Act, 2015.

Here’s a bit on that:

Since June 10, 2016, employers can’t withhold, make deductions from, or make their employees return their tips and other gratuities. For example, employers can’t take tips and other gratuities to cover things like:

  • spilled food or beverages
  • broken supplies (e.g. dishes and glassware)
  • losses or damages (e.g. from theft or customers who don’t pay their bill)

I contacted the Department of Labour there, and while there have been no prosecutions around employers taking tips, there have been investigations, although those claims surrounding tips are just a small percentage of overall complaints. In 2016, there were 12 claims with tip contraventions, 121 in 2017, 211 in 2018, and 220 so far this year. Claims that were closed or settled were done with the employer voluntarily paying the amount owed or being forced to do so.

One change in tipping policy that made the news happened in 2018 when a Tim Horton’s franchise in Coburg, Ontario created a no-tipping policy at its location after the minimum wage increased in the province from $11.60/hr to $14/hr. Workers could still get tips, but were told they had to put them in the till. That goes against provincial rules that say tips can’t be withheld from staff.

Again, many employers here have fair tipping systems. Stewart sent along a few examples of tipping systems created at local restaurants, although the names of the establishments weren’t included. Some of the systems included those in which tips were shared by percentages, tipping pools and points, or splitting tips based on how many hours have been worked.

I’d be interested in learning about other tipping systems in restaurants and bars around the city. Drop me a line if you want to share your tipping systems.


Noticed

Yesterday, I was at the Superstore on Joe Howe Drive and there were about five cars parked in the fire lane between the store entrance and the entrance to the adjoining NSLC. One of the cars was a cab picking up a fare, which isn’t a big deal. Two others were packing their groceries, and in two of the cars were drivers waiting for someone in the store, I guess. It was raining and very windy and I suppose all these drivers and passengers wanted to be as close to the store as possible.

Parking in fire lanes is one of my pet peeves besides people who don’t put their shopping carts back in the corral (this obviously can make shopping stressful for me). But the fire lane is for firetrucks and other emergency vehicles and if you’re not driving one of those, you should park your car in the lot where everyone else does.

A lot of drivers have a tough time parking, so anyone who want to complain about bad parking jobs can head over to Twitter where there are three accounts that I found related to bad parking in the city.

Hfx’s Worst Parking

Halifax Can’t Park

Hfx_Learn2Park

Check out this parking job in Dartmouth Crossing last night.

He’s not as big as he thinks he is. Photo: @HfxWorstParking

If you’re not sure where you can park in the HRM, here’s a good list, which includes no parking in bicycle lanes, sidewalks, crosswalks, and fire lanes.


Government

City

Wednesday

John Misenor House. Photo: Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia

Tim Bousquet wrote this item.

Public Information Meeting – Case H00477- Demolition Application (Wednesday, 6pm, Alderney Gate Public Library) — Ekatirine Keramaris wants to tear down a house she owns at 64 Wentworth Street in Darmouth. The house is a Registered Heritage Property know as the John Misenor House.

I wrote about this yesterday, mentioning that I asked historian David Jones for comment.

Jones got back to me Tuesday, sending me Site Inventory Forms from the former Department of Culture, Recreation & Fitness. Jones says the Dartmouth Heritage Museum has “binders of these forms for Dartmouth heritage properties” in its collection.

The form for 64 Wentworth Street, which was presumably written at the time of registration in 1986, explains that the house was built in 1840, continuing:

Architectural comment: This is a 1 1/2 storey, woodframe building. Many elements of the building are additions/alterations, such as the large dormer, large rear wing and wide roof overhang with brackets. Nevertheless, one can discern the original vernacular design, including five bay facade with center entrance.

Historical comment: The original owner, John Misenor, was a “coal and grain” measurer. A second John Misenor (possibly a son) boarded here, (1880) and was a well known furniture maker. (It should be noted that John Misenor is not listed in the city directories as living on Wentworth St. until 1880, though he bought the property in 1840.) A later owner, Charles Nixon, was a supervisor with N.S. Light & Power.

Contextual comment: This building relates well with the streetscape, sharing scale and use of material.

After the two John Misenors, the house was owned from 1897-1899 by George Misenor (a carpenter); his heirs from 1899-1912; from 1912-1913 by Fenwick Misenor (an undertaker); from 1913-1917 by Ralph Gates (a bank clerk); from 1917-1919 by Charles Herman (a salesman); from 1919-1929 by Charles Bell (no profession listed); from 1929-1954 by Richard Nixon (not the US president, but rather a professor [I can’t find any further information about this fellow]); and from 1954 to the time of registration by Charles and Alice Nixon, who had a Calgary address. Only in 1990 did the house change ownership to someone named Keramis Photios, who is presumably a relative to the present-day owner, Ekatirine Keramaris.

At any event, we have a 180-year-old registered heritage property that is proposed to be demolished. Shouldn’t this be an issue?

As of this writing (9pm Tuesday), the staff presentation and the applicant presentation have not been posted to the meeting agenda, so we have no explanation for the proposed demolition.

Halifax and West Community Council (Wednesday, 6pm, City Hall) — the see-through Willow Tree building is before the council.

North West Planning Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 7pm, Boardroom, Four-pad Arena, Bedford) — more changes for Bedford West. I get the sense that City Hall simply gives the developers whatever they want in Bedford West because who cares, really? For myself, I feel like we’re building a soulless, car dependant suburb with no real thought put into it.

Thursday

Design Review Committee (Thursday, 4:30pm, City Hall)

Besides the usual omission of parking meters and power lines, the architect’s rendering of the proposed building completely eliminates the gigantic Maple building right across the street in order to give us an impossible view. The approximate same angle is shown in the Google Street View photo below:

Tim Bousquet wrote this item.

Skye Halifax is back! You’ll recall that way back in 2007, United Gulf Developments gained approval for the so-called “Twisted Sisters” development on the former Tex-Park site between Granville and Hollis Streets, but never got around to building the thing. Then, in 2012, United Gulf was back with an audacious “Skye Halifax” proposal for the site, which consisted of two 48-storey towers. Pretty much everyone hated the idea, and Halifax council rejected it.

Now, United Gulf is back with a revised Skye Halifax proposal, this time wanting approval for a 21-storey building at the site. But like its predecessor, staff is recommending that the committee reject the proposal:

The Development Officer has reviewed this application and determined that the following elements do not conform to the Downtown Halifax LUB:

  • Minimum and maximum streetwall heights;
  • Minimum streetwall width;
  • Upper storey streetwall stepbacks;
  • Upper storey side yard stepback; and
  • Maximum tower width and separation distance.

I think this is a perverse game United Gulf is playing. It has significant as-a-right potential for the site, but isn’t pursuing that because, I’m guessing, the company just wants to be able to sell a development approval to someone else. So every few years it will crank out another unacceptable proposal, hoping the political winds have changed enough such the council will override staff and approve it.

Harbour East – Marine Drive Community Council (Thursday, 6pm, HEMDCC Meeting space, Alderney Gate) — here’s the agenda.

Province

Wednesday

Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, Province House) — Auditor General Michael Pickup will be asked about his October financial audit.

Thursday

No public meetings.


On campus

Dalhousie

Wednesday

Thesis Defence, Microbiology and Immunology (Wednesday, 9:30am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Jaime Nicole Wertman will defend “Developing a Two-pronged Drug Screen to Identify Compounds that Protect against Cisplatin-induced Oto- and Nephrotoxicity.”

Symphony Nova Scotia Reading Sessions of Composition Students’ Works(Wednesday, 10am, Room 121, Dal Arts Centre) — conducted by Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser.

Genetic, biochemical, and cell biological mosaics in insect-bacteria symbioses(Wednesday, 4pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — John McCutcheon from the University of Montana will talk.

Thursday

Newfangling Rounds (Thursday, 8:30am, Bethune Ballroom, VG Site) — Cameron Sehl from Symbi Medical will present “Guiding Patients Through Care: How a Digital Health Platform Supports Patients Between Visits to Improve Compliance and Drive Better Outcomes.” Register here.

Fostering Faculty Collaboration on Effective Practice with Technology and Teaching (Thursday, ) — a Cross-institutional Technology Enabled Learning Event. More info and registration here.

Thesis Defence, Oceanography (Thursday, 2pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Jing Tao will defend “Characterization of Estuarine Particle Dynamics using Optical Properties.”

Mini Medical School (Thursday, 7pm, Theatre B, Tupper Link) — Nancy Murphy will present “Drugs We are Seeing on the Street”, followed at 8:15 by Thomas Ransom with “Foods or Comestibles.”

King’s

Wednesday

The Stories of African-Canadians: Navigating Between Fiction and History in Exploring Slavery, Freedom and Contemporary issues (Wednesday, 7pm, Alumni Hall)) — Lawrence Hill will talk, followed by a Q&A moderated by Portia Clark.


In the harbour

05:30: Columbia Highway, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany
06:00: Algoma Integrity, bulker, sails from National Gypsum for sea
10:00: Granville Bridge, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Colombo, Sri Lanka
11:00: Hooge, container ship, sails from Pier 31 for sea
15:30: Columbia Highway sails for sea
18:00: Algoma Verity, bulker, arrives at National Gypsum from New York


Footnotes

I won’t be at the Obama event tonight. You’re welcome to visit me. There’s only one rule: Bring cookies.

Suzanne Rent

Suzanne Rent is a writer, editor, and researcher. You can follow her on Twitter @Suzanne_Rent

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  1. FYI in the carbon monoxide story, it’s Bert’s Drive. Once upon I time I lived in that building with two cats.

  2. Not sure I’d call that Twitter thread soliciting women’s opinions about the stadium “newsworthy”, let alone credible. It’s easy for a lot of us to assume that the information we receive in our bubbles is both accurate and representative of the majority. Let’s just say that the women in Nova Scotia who do support the stadium are probably not in the same Twitter-verse as Ms. Morriscey (or possibly any Twitter-verse at all). Just a thought.

  3. Right from the get go, the stadium proposal has had a singular demographic of white males. Now all of a sudden they are starting to make stuff up as if they have never considered things before like inclusivity, modified ownership etc. Just so disingenuous.