Like many Cape Bretoners, I cringe when fellow islanders, egged on by CBRM's outgoing mayor, blame all our problems on Halifax. It's unbecoming, it's untrue, and it's a lazy excuse for avoiding the hard work of re-imagining Cape Breton's economy. Just for the moment, however, I'm more annoyed by the volley of stones hurled these last 24 hours from the glass mansions of our capital city at the Dexter Government's on-again, off-again, on-again rescue of the paper mill in Point Tupper, Richmond County. There's no question Dexter made a huge gamble on this bailout.* It's natural for taxpayers to be nervous. No...

TV producer John Wesley Chisholm,  whose Arcadia Entertainment production company is located on Halifax's Quinnpool Road, wonders why the street never quite achieves its potential as a great urban neighborhood. In some ways it’s a classic mainstreet. But it’s schizophrenic. It’s a highway with a hundred hidden driveways. It’s a shopping district and residential street. It’s six lanes wide in places, narrow in others. It’s a pedestrian arcade yet almost impossible to cross conveniently. It’s highspeed traffic and slow drag. It’s a parking lot and a thoroughfare. One thing is certain, it’s tired. The faces of the buildings are tired. The wires,...

It's easy to overlook the loss we've suffered as traditional news outlets contract in Nova Scotia and elsewhere. This message from a former Halifax journalist, unpublished for four years, shows he has lost neither the itch nor the knack: My wife, a friend and I went to the Old Mill tavern Thursday night to have a beer and laugh at a Dartmouth dive on the eve of its destruction. What we discovered, instead, was a fascinating story of history, community, and class. The huge wooden beams running across the pub’s ceiling – six of them, at least 16 inches on the side,...

Richard Stevenson, one of the province’s top water and sewer engineers, spends a lot of time thinking about how the province can cope with its crumbling municipal infrastructure. He has come to the conclusion HRM’s stringent regulations governing development actually work against the stated goals of the city’s planning department. HRM espouses a policy of increasing the density of the urban core, but its own planning regulations result in lower population densities. R-1 single family zoning limits population density to 20 persons per acre, or 45 persons per hectare (to protect us against barrio-like overcrowding, I presume). The city also requires that we...

A Contrarian reader asks: Does it not seem to you that there is a major conflict of interest in the Savage-for-Mayor camp? [AllNovaScotia.com, the online news service]  lists Don Mills as one of Savage's top supporters. Since  Mills operates Corporate Research Associates, the major polling firm in the province — one that just recently reported Savage with a big lead — why would one trust anything CRA has to say on the race? A fair question, and we put it to Mills, who replied: Corporate Research Associates has been since its inception a non-partisan polling company. It is one of the reasons our...

On his Green Interview website, Silver Donald Cameron imagines how an innovative, creative mayor might have responded to OccupyNS: He starts by quoting the late Allan O'Brien, mayor of Halifax from 1966 to 1971. The Mayor has very little actual power – but he has the power to bring people together, to encourage action on matters that he considers important. He has the power to influence the public agenda. He has access to the press. And if you use those powers strategically, you can accomplish quite a bit.” Cameron muses: Imagine if Peter Kelly had that kind of awareness, that sense of direction, when...

Lots of reader mail on HRM's use of force to evict Occupy Nova Scotia protesters camped out on the grassy strip known as Victoria Park.  To start with, Juanita Mckenzie (writing on Facebook): I think it was very distasteful to do this on Remembrance Day...

Responding to my response to his earlier response to Lindsay Brown’s letter to HRM Councilor Jerry Blumenthal decrying council’s decision to spend $50,000 repeating decades of studies that have confirmed the safety of biosolid use in agriculture, Cliff White writes: Halifax Harbour is certainly cleaner then it was. Well, as long as it hasn't rained in three days, and thank god we get so little precipitation here abouts. And it would be churlish of me to mention that the sewage plants don't meet the new federal regulations for what can be released into the ocean, so I won't. Let me just point...

Contrarian has previously voiced astonishment that environmentalists — more accurately crackpots posing as environmentalists — would oppose a recycling project that transforms harmful municipal waste into a valuable organic fertilizer here and here. We're also chagrinned the Halifax media's gullibility and lack of interest in actual scientific information about the topic. Now, a North End resident has voiced similar incredulity in a letter to District 11 councillor Jerry Blumenthal: Dear Mr. Blumenthal, For a long time, I couldn't understand why Haligonians keep comparing their city to tiny Moncton, but now I'm beginning to get it. And I'm not referring to Moncton's apparently...