1. Chender, Churchill concerned shelving art gallery could mean cuts, delays for other projects

A rendering of the new art gallery on the Halifax waterfront
A rendering of the winning design concept for the new Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, by KPMB Architects with Omar Gandhi Architect, Jordan Bennett Studio, Elder Lorraine Whitman, Public Work and Transsolar.

On Wednesday, Premier Tim Houston announced that the new Art Gallery of Nova Scotia project for the Halifax waterfront was being put on indefinite hold. The announcement was made in a news release.

“We value the arts and want to make sure there is a home for art to be shared and displayed in our province,” Premier Tim Houston said in the release. “But now is not the time.”

Jennifer Henderson got a response to the news from Liberal leader Zach Churchill and NDP leader Claudia Chender:

Liberal leader Zach Churchill said “it was clear” shelving the new art gallery means the Houston government has no plan to deal with the pressures of inflation.

“We have significant capital projects in our province and Nova Scotians need to know if other major infrastructure investments, like the QEII hospital redevelopment, will also be indefinitely delayed or canceled,” Churchill said.

NDP leader Claudia Chender said she will be watching to make sure the decision to cut the art gallery won’t be followed by other cuts impacting people who earn a living as artists and musicians.

“While the cost for the art gallery may be higher than we can afford right now, our cultural sector — arts and culture workers and organizations across this province — need support from the Houston government, now and going forward,” Chender told the Examiner. “The Nova Scotia cultural sector, a pillar of our economy and our identity as Nova Scotians, has been decimated by the pandemic and years of underfunding prior to that.”

Click here to read Henderson’s story.

(Copy link for this item)

2. Health care, inflation dominate Question Period

A woman wearing a dark t-shirt and glasses speaks at a podium. In the background are three Nova Scotia flags, coloured blue, yellow and red.
Health Minister Michelle Thompson speaks to reporters in Halifax on Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021. — Photo: Zane Woodford Credit: Zane Woodford

This item was written by Jennifer Henderson.

During Question Period on Wednesday, Liberal MLA Kelly Regan put this question to Premier Tim Houston who was elected on a promise to “fix” health care:

“Mr. Speaker, yesterday the premier praised the work of Nova Scotia Health CEO [Karen Oldfield] calling her work ‘remarkable.’ What is remarkable is surgery wait times hitting an all-time high and not enough staff to bring them down. And what is remarkable are the 100,000 Nova Scotians without primary care and only 22% with access to virtual care. What is remarkable are the 10-plus hour waits for emergency rooms and people being turned away. So Mr. Speaker, when the premier describes the CEO’s work as ‘remarkable,’ did he mean remarkably bad?”

Health Minister Michelle Thompson responded to Regan’s question, saying the health care system “would be even worse” had the previous Liberal government stayed in power:

So, Mr. Speaker, I would like to talk a little bit about the health leadership team that has been put in place. We have four very capable people in these positions. We have a registered nurse with over 40 years experience who has worked as a global health care consultant [Janet Davidson, chair of Nova Scotia Health.] She is a preeminent person on strategy, organizational management, and we are very proud to have her. We have a front-facing clinician who has worked for over 33 years delivering service to Nova Scotians [Dr. Kevin Orrell, CEO of Office of Professional Healthcare Recruitment]. (Editorial note: Dr. Orrell appears to have left that job two weeks ago, although the Health Minister still refuses to comment).

Health Minister Thompson continued:

“We have a global leader who has proven to be effective in logistics and working in multi-stakeholder environments [Karen Oldfield, the previous CEO of the Halifax Port Authority]. And we also have one of the most senior civil servants who understands government deeply as well as the health care system [deputy Health Minister Jeannine Lagasse]. If the folks opposite can’t understand how those are transferable skills when it comes to running the health care system, is it any wonder why we are in the state we are in?”

Is the glass half full or half empty?

NDP leader Claudia Chender asked Houston when he would provide additional financial help for Nova Scotians wrestling with the higher cost of living:

Mr. Speaker, when the Premier explained Tuesday why he wasn’t entertaining providing more assistance to Nova Scotians struggling to pay rent, mortgages, gas, groceries, and prescriptions he said ‘everything in government is about priorities.’ This is the premier of a province that has the third highest cost of living increase in the country, at 9.3% in the last month.

Mr Speaker, the premier likes to talk about ‘swagger’ and I believe we have seen some of that today, but lots of families are just trying to find their footing. When will it be his priority to help everyone and not just his friends?

Chender’s question followed others questioning Houston’s appointment of  his friends, Tom Hickey and Wayne Crawley, as interim leaders of two newly-created provincial Crown corporations.

Here’s Houston’s reply to Chender:

We are always entertaining ideas to support Nova Scotians … so to say we are not entertaining, is completely inaccurate. What I would say is the work that is being done to support Nova Scotians is being seen and well-received, not only by Nova Scotians but by people across the country. In fact, The National Post referred to ours as a provincial government that is well on its way on the housing issue and a shining example for others to follow. Mr. Speaker, we are getting stuff done. And the Opposition can be negative but Nova Scotians are positive and optimistic under this government.

(Copy link for this item)

3. Vaccine bookings open for kids under 5, some pregnant people

A child wearing a blue shirt is being vaccinated by a nurse wearing a white shirt
Nurse Laura Bailey administers a COVID-19 vaccine dose to eight-year-old Jack Woodhead at the IWK COVID-19 vaccine clinic for children ages 5 to 11. Photo: Communications Nova Scotia

Parents and guardians of children ages six months to five years can book their kid’s COVID-19 vaccination appointments starting today. The announcement was made earlier this morning. Here are more details:

Children will need two doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at least eight weeks apart. Moderately to severely immunocompromised children will need three doses of vaccine, with at least four weeks between the first and second dose and eight weeks between the second and third dose. Children will be considered fully vaccinated 14 days after their last dose.

Also, it’s recommended that pregnant people who have not had a COVID-19 vaccine while pregnant and whose babies are due before November 30 get an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible.

You can book your vaccine appointment online at or you can call 1-833-797-7772 Monday through Friday from 7am to 7pm, and on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 6pm.

(Copy link for this item)

4. Committee approves addition to Stairs House

An architectural rendering showing an eight-storey building on a street block surrounded by houses, an apartment building, and townhouses.
The proposed addition to Stairs House. — Screenshot/HRM/WSP

Zane Woodford was at a Heritage Advisory Committee meeting on Wednesday where a proposed eight-storey addition to Stairs House in the city’s south end was approved. Woodford writes:

The proposal from Summer Wind Holdings, owned by Paul Murphy, Jim Spatz, and Gordon Laing, the same owners as Southwest Properties, has been a long time coming. The Halifax Examiner first reported on the proposal more than two years ago:

Summer Wind Holdings … wants to build a total of 112 units in the space between South and Harvey streets, ranging from 500-square foot one-bedroom units to 1,700-square foot three-bedroom units. The developer is proposing 83 underground parking spaces, and the main entrance would face Harvey Street.

The developer is also proposing to restore Stairs House and connect the municipally-registered heritage property to the new building. Dating back to 1838, the building is named for its second owner, “merchant, banker, and politician” William James Stairs.

“While it has endured some questionable additions of form and material, and has been converted to multi-tenant use, it has retained its essential original form, detailing and residential use, presenting to the street a clear image of a well-proportioned Georgian cottage,” reads a heritage impact statement by WSP, submitted as part of the application.

As Woodford reports, the proposed addition got approvals last year from council’s Peninsula Planning Advisory Committee, then the Heritage Advisory Committee, and then regional council for approval of the substantial alteration of a registered heritage property. It was back at the heritage committee yesterday for approval of the actual development.

This article is for subscribers only. You can subscribe here. 

(Copy link for this item)

5. NS gets 146 new ambulances for fleet

An ambulance in a parking lot on a sunny day.
One of the 146 new ambulances that will soon be in service in Nova Scotia. Photo: Communications Nova Scotia

This item was written by Yvette d’Entremont. 

The province is leasing 146 new ambulances and an as yet undetermined number of response and transport vehicles in a 10-year, $48.8 million contract with Tri-Star Industries of Yarmouth.

The announcement was made Wednesday, and the new fleet of ambulances are expected to be on Nova Scotia’s roadways in August. 

“In an emergency, Nova Scotians want high-quality ambulances that are well-equipped and safe,” Health and Wellness Minister Michelle Thompson said in a news release

“The mix of vehicles is based on call volume and type and will ensure we are using our resources efficiently so Nova Scotians can get the care they need more quickly.”

The department said the new fleet of ambulances, response and transport vehicles will ensure the “right mix of resources to improve emergency care and relieve pressure on paramedics and the emergency health system.”

Earlier this month the province announced that EHS was hiring 100 more transport operators to handle routine patient transfers across Nova Scotia (reported here). The new, non-paramedic staff are intended to help reduce pressure on the ambulance system as they’ll allow paramedics to focus on responding to emergency calls.  

The union representing the province’s paramedics has long been advocating for changes (most recently reported here) as its members struggle under an overwhelmed system and with “code criticals” becoming increasingly common. Its members have been calling for higher wages to better retain and recruit paramedics in Nova Scotia.

“We are pleased to see this announcement from Minister Thompson, which brings new technology changes to our fleet of vehicles, replacing older units in service and increasing our capabilities,” Kevin MacMullin, International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 727 business manager, said in the release.

“We look forward to other announcements that will enhance paramedic retention and the ability to respond and serve Nova Scotians.”

The brightly lit interior of an ambulance.
The interior of one of the new ambulances. Photo: Communications Nova Scotia

According to the news release, the146 new ambulances were designed with input from paramedics to ensure ergonomic features for increased efficiency and safety. They’ll include the following:

  • power loaders and power stretchers to help paramedics lift patients
  • updated interior and exterior lighting for paramedic and patient safety
  • redesigned interior cabinets to accommodate upgrades to paramedic equipment; paramedics will also be able to open the cabinets when outside the ambulance for timely access to emergency response kits
  • radio frequency identification (RFID) systems to tag and track paramedic equipment, ensuring items are not left behind at a scene
  • a longer wheelbase and patient compartment for increased paramedic workspace and improved patient comfort
  • rear backup cameras.

Under the agreement with Tri-Star, the Emergency Health Services (EHS) fleet of patient transfer units and single-paramedic response units will also be expanded. 

The number of those vehicles hasn’t yet been determined.

(Copy link for this item)

6. New trauma therapy program

Three women pose for the camera
From left, The Avalon Sexual Assault Centre’s trauma therapy program coordinator Adrienne Buckland, Sarah Rodimon, executive director, and Kristina Fifield, trauma therapist. Photo: Communications Nova Scotia

On Wednesday the province announced it was spending $2.8 million to hire 13 trauma therapists to help support sexual assault survivors across Nova Scotia.

The new program, which will start in the spring of 2023, will be led by the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre in Halifax. The new hires will mean the province will have a total of 24 trauma therapists offering supports. Four of the new positions include African Nova Scotian and Indigenous therapists.

Brian Comer, the minister for the Office of Addictions and Mental Health, said the centre has decades of experience in the field.

“They are experts, and I know they will do a phenomenal job of implementing a provincial model that addresses the complex needs of survivors and helps them heal,” Comer said.

Currently, the province funds seven community organizations across Nova Scotia to deliver trauma therapy to survivors. According to the news release, the funding and services offered have varied across each of those organizations. That means some Nova Scotians — including people with disabilities, members of the 2SLGBTIQA+ community, men, African Nova Scotians and Indigenous survivors — lack the appropriate access to trauma therapy.

“This new funding agreement will make it possible to more than double the number of provincially-funded sexual violence trauma therapists, increasing access to trauma-specific and culturally responsive sexual violence trauma therapy services for all communities in Nova Scotia,” said Sarah Rodiman, executive director of Avalon, in a press release about the announcement. “This means working collaboratively across sectors to eliminate barriers related to geography and social factors. We are particularly dedicated to alleviating barriers for rural communities, Indigenous communities, African Nova Scotians, and men and men-identified individuals.”

(Copy link for this item)

7. The Tideline, Episode 89: Shakespeare by the Sea/Hamlet

A man in a black jacket standing in front of a red background holds a skull, looking into its eye sockets.
Devian Steele. Photo: James MacLean

I haven’t seen a Shakespeare by the Sea production since the Before Times, so this week’s episode of The Tideline reminded me that I have to go back soon. This week Tara Thorne chats with director Drew Douris-O’Hara and Deivan Steele, who plays Hamlet, about SBTS’s first staged tragedy since 2019. Thorne, Steele, and Douris-O’Hara talk about Climate change’s effect on outdoor theatre, the timelessness of Shakespeare’s most popular work, the failure of funding models in all times (not just during COVID), and the resilience of squirrels.

The show opens on August 5. Click here to listen.

(Copy link for this item)


The perks of not waiting around for anyone

A white woman's hands holding a map in her car, near a beach, with her feet out the driver's side window
Not Suzanne’s legs, nor her map. Photo: Leio McLaren/Unsplash

Last Friday on Information Morning, Bob Murphy, who was filling in for Portia Clark, interviewed two women, Raylene Grant and Gwenn Dexter, about hiking on their own. The two women (who don’t know each other) are both very experienced hikers and have taken on big hikes, spending a few nights camping in the woods on their own each time. Dexter and Grant talked about their favourite hikes in Nova Scotia, how to prepare for a solo hike, and shared advice on how other women can hike on their own, too.

“I guess I got tired of sitting at home,” Dexter said on why she’ll go on solo hikes, adding her husband used to go with her, but he didn’t enjoy hiking and would only go for her benefit. “What is scaring me so much? Why am I sitting here pouting? Why don’t I just go do it on my own? It’s so restorative to just be out there and be dependent totally on yourself.”

I am not an experienced hiker at all, although I’ve gone on some hikes with other people, but I was intrigued by the chat because I do a lot of activities on my own, all the time. I go on road trips on my own, I have moved out of province on my own, travelled on my own, gone out to dinner, to movies, to museums and galleries on my own. Sure, many times I go with friends, but if I want to go somewhere and no one’s around, like Dexter I won’t pout about it. If I want to do something, I am not waiting around for anyone.

I don’t know if there’s still stigma out there about women going solo. Maybe? It’s not always the best way to do something (see below), but I don’t really think about it too much. Certainly the interview with Dexter and Grant caught my attention because I started thinking maybe I could hike on my own. Maybe not backwood trips — I’m not a fan of overnight camping — but something simpler, at least for the first few hikes.

There’s certainly no shortage of advice online encouraging women to try going solo. Here’s a list of 43 things you can do on your own in your lifetime. And another list of 13 things women should do on their own. And another list of 17 things every women should do on her own (at least once). If that list is too long, there’s this one with eight things women should do alone. This more ambitious list of 50 things to do on your own includes cleaning your house. (I had other things in mind than cleaning, but you get the drift.)

Maybe some of our readers have experienced this, but as you get older, friendships change as people’s priorities change. You outgrow friendships. Maybe your friends have younger kids. Maybe they prefer to stay home. Still other people cancel plans last minute. Or maybe you don’t want to be at events that focus too much on drinking.

When my kid was younger, I took her everywhere from trips to New York to day trips around the province. Someone once said to me, “don’t you two ever stay home!” Why would we? Everywhere is our backyard.

But now that’s she’s older, she has her own life and friends and is out and about. While I have groups of friends for outings like dinner or movies, I often prefer to do something more adventurous. That means instead of trying to convince current and often reluctant friends to try something new, you need to find people with the same interests. Or you just go yourself. For example, I signed up for horseback riding lessons almost two years ago. If I had waited for a friend to join me, I never would have signed up. But I’m still in the saddle and have met new people along the way.

Over at Saltwire, Emilie Chiasson recently wrote about her own solo adventures. She wrote about how after getting out of a relationship with someone who wasn’t adventurous, spontaneous, and wouldn’t try anything new (this sounds familiar), she booked a trip to Australia where she travelled on her own for five weeks:

I am usually always the most easygoing person in most situations. I’m also the youngest in my family and the only girl, so I’m used to having to do what everyone else was doing and doing things for others.

On this trip, I wanted it to be all about — me! I would go where I wanted, stay where I wanted, talk to who I wanted, eat where I wanted, decide to stay longer or leave a location earlier if I wanted, have plans some days and none on others.

Chiasson also recalled a tour she took of Vancouver Island after she met a group of people in the bar of the hotel where she was staying during a work trip. Going solo might sound like it takes an act of bravery, but after a while you don’t even think about it.

Besides, there are benefits to going solo. You can make your own itinerary and change it up if you want. You don’t have to listen to someone complaining if they don’t want to do something or go somewhere. And you can sing as loud as you want in the car to Safety Dance by Men Without Hats, because I guarantee you’ll hear that song at least a few times on rural Nova Scotia radio stations.

A woman with sunglasses in a selfie on the side of the road. A community roadside reads Mushaboom.
Me in Mushaboom. Photo: Suzanne Rent

Perhaps my favourite pastime is road trips. Some are just for the day, while other times I’ll spend a night or two somewhere. I will just look at a map, choose a place, and get in my car and go. I’ve travelled around most of the Maritimes on my own this way. I have never felt unsafe. I often get great stories this way, from the people I meet or what I observe about a place.

A white cat with grey spots around its ears.
A cat I met at the Seaforth General Store while on a trip around Highway 207.

Going solo can be a bummer at times. I signed up for bachata/salsa dance lessons a few months ago. I took lessons about 10 years ago and the group was all singles and we took turns dancing with each other. It was a great time and even better exercise. I was expecting this more recent class to offer a similar experience, but when I got to the first lesson, I found out I was the only single person. While I got to dance with the volunteer dancer, who was very good, and I caught on to the steps quickly enough, I realized I wouldn’t get as much out of the class if I didn’t have my own partner. So, I changed classes and in August I’ll learn how to pole dance. You don’t need the partner, only the pole! (That sounds worse than I meant).

On Saturday, a friend and I are hitting the road to somewhere. We haven’t decided on the destination yet. Still, if they cancel, I’m going anyway.

(Copy link for this item)


People walk on rocks near a lighthouse at sunset. The sky is lit with blues and oranges.
Peggy’s Cove: Not monetized at all. Photo: Suzanne Rent

Stephen Archibald, the Nova Scotian who notices so many details about the province and chronicles them over at Halifax Bloggers, sent an email to Tim Bousquet and me on the weekend. He told us he thought we might like this little bit of “good news.” Archibald writes:

A random American tourist sent me a question about an iron fence in Lunenburg (of course they did). In passing they noted: “So taken with Canadian respect for public space.” I queried this and got a detailed response:

The Nice List: (Pertains to places in Canada we have visited): 

  • Pedestrians can cross streets without fear of being mashed, and drivers do not seem to mind that there are human beings walking.
  • There is relatively no litter; some of this might be attributed to having fewer fast food/coffee options, but I think it is also a sign of respect for others, for the places. US roadsides, including our own rural suburban town, are filled with plastic domes from Dunkin Donut drinks and little nip liquor bottles, etc. Also small bags of household trash in communities such as ours where one must pay to dump garbage.
  • Several of your cities have public recycling and composting bins. (Sorry to say that Halifax doesn’t, but Montreal seems to be making a go of it.)
  • Incredible pubic parks/places where people can picnic in the shade or sun, Free of charge and find washrooms, too. Very clean with little to no litter.
  • Beautiful natural spaces such as Peggy’s Cove open to all. In the US many natural wonders have been heavily monetized.
  • Historic cemeteries cared for and set up for people to visit, including benches.
  • Public art/murals — the Gritty to pretty project in Halifax. Incredible, varied art; employing artists, beautifying space (again, open to all)
  • Stupendous Halifax public library with a rooftop terrace! Programs that include a repair/med clinic; beautiful sitting areas; newspapers from around the world; magazines reflecting all sorts of interests. Even two sets of railings with one at a lower height leading to the children’s section.
  • Halifax garden — this might seem to be a repeat from above but it’s is so well maintained, filled with interpretive signs so you know what you’re looking at, planned AND tended by people using electric mowers, not loud, noisy gas machines.
  • People here still use rakes rather than leaf blowers.
  • Restaurants at all levels of cost do not rush patrons. No one brings a bill while you’re still eating.
  • Sidewalks almost everywhere we have gone. It is possible to ditch a car, in cities and rural areas. I’m not a fan of cars, but where we live, sidewalks outside of cities are rare.
  • Most places seem to have all ages in them, less segregation by generation. It is true we have not gone to any dance clubs.
  • Bike paths.
  • Dogs and owners who clean up after them.
  • I will stop here because there is more Canada waiting. (And we’re learning all sorts of history we have missed.) Please thank your country for us!
  • Also my husband wants to add to the positives: drivers use their direction signals, and when you allow other drivers to go ahead/ give right of way, Canadians always wave thanks. He says these two items are the most important. 

 Well, this couple certain caught Canada on its good days!

(Copy link for this item)


No meetings

On campus


Past/Future: African Canadian History, Arts and Culture in STEM Education (Thursday, all day, McCain Building) — last of a three-day “symposium of action and possibilities that explores Black Canadian history, and further investigates how it can be integrated into STEM education.” More info here. $100/$50

Better Living Through Ungrading: practical approaches that improve instructor and student experience (Thursday, 11am, Room 226, Chemistry Building) — Erika Merschrod from Memorial University will talk

In the harbour

06:30: Adventure of the Seas, cruise ship with up to 4,058 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from New York, on a four-day round-trip cruise
07:00: Archimedes, yacht, arrives at Salter Quay from Port Hawkesbury; the boat is owned by billionaire hedge fund tax avoider James Simon
08:45: USCG Bear, US Coast Guard cutter, arrives at Dockyard from sea
10:15: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
13:30: HDMS Trident, Danish military ship, arrives at Dockyard from sea
15:30: MSC Santhya, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for sea
16:00: CMA CGM T. Roosevelt, container ship (140,000 tonnes), arrives at Pier 41 from Colombo, Sri Lanka
16:30: Oceanex Sanderling moves back to Pier 41
18:00: Adventure of the Seas sails for New York

Cape Breton
05:30: Holland Pearl, cargo ship, sails from Aulds Cove quarry for Savannah, Georgia
08:30: Speedway, oil tanker, arrives at Point Tupper from Greater Plutonio offshore platform, Angola
11:00: CSL Kajika, bulker, arrives at Aulds Cove quarry from Tampa, Florida


On Wednesday, I dropped and broke a Jesus candle. Not a great way to start a day. I also don’t know why I have a Jesus candle at my house.

Subscribe to the Halifax Examiner

We have many other subscription options available, or drop us a donation. Thanks!

A white woman with chin length auburn hair and blue eyes, wearing a bright blue sweater

Suzanne Rent

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

Join the Conversation


Only subscribers to the Halifax Examiner may comment on articles. We moderate all comments. Be respectful; whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims. Please read our Commenting Policy.
  1. And why was this not chosen for the title of today’s file? LOL

    “You don’t need the partner, only the pole!”