Roundup: 17 new COVID cases, MacKay endorses candidate who made racists posts, puppet circus needs venue, battle against Hemlock invader goes on

Milltown, N.B.

Five days before the province lifts most restrictions and moves into the final phase of its reopening plan, Nova Scotia has 74 known active cases of COVID-19. There were 17 new cases and four recoveries reported in the latest government update.

Ten of the new cases are in the Central Zone (eight close contacts of previously reported cases, one travel-related, one under investigation), five are in the Northern Zone (close contacts), one is in the Western Zone (close contact), and one is in the Eastern Zone (travel).

Peter MacKay

MacKay endorses Cotter
Former cabinet minister Peter MacKay has endorsed Steven Cotter, the Conservative federal election candidate in his former Central Nova riding.

Cotter recently garnered national headlines for his history of making racist and anti-immigrant Facebook posts.

“I have known Steven Cotter for over 30 years as a hardworking, trustworthy, humble member of our local community,” MacKay says in a statement quoted by The Reporter. “He and his wife Cathy are the embodiment of public service. As a firefighter, town councillor, veteran, and volunteer, he always steps up when asked and has dedicated his entire working life to the service of others.”

MacKay didn’t mention the racist posts.

Puppet circus needs venue
Ian McFarlane and Laura Stinson are the two-person crew of the puppet circus Northbarn Theatre, and they’ve been biking around the province, entertaining audiences of all ages. They’re hoping to visit New Glasgow on Sept. 23, and are seeking a venue in the area.

The whole operation is low budget and low impact, so they stay wherever they can pitch a tent, and perform wherever people can set up chairs. “Some of the places we’ve been don’t have a theatre per say; what’s available to them is a park or field,” said Stinson.

McFarlane adds: “Yesterday we performed in a field, and it was beautiful: beautiful back drop, lots of space for kids to run around. It was pretty great.”

Christina Bailey interviews them for The Pictou Advocate.

Battle against hemlock invader continues
Parks Canada recently finished gathering public input on its plan to battle the hemlock wooly adelgid, an invasive insect that is ravaging Kejimkujik’s hemlock population, and threatens to wipe out the trees provincewide.

“It is quite a concern once you start looking into it and see the devastation it has caused in the U.S.,” says Parks Canada ecologist Matthew Smith. “We’re working to slow the spread and understand the impact of our ecosystem if we lose the trees. We know we can’t protect them all. But if we can protect some of this old-growth forest for future generations it will serve as a way to show people a bit of what hemlock forests once were.”

Kevin McBain reports for LighthouseNow.

And in this recent Halifax Magazine story, Zack Metcalfe completes a long quest to find Nova Scotia’s oldest trees, and discovers this invader will likely kill them.

Kevin Mullen

Dammed if you don’t
Halifax energy entrepreneur Kevin Mullen recently pitched NB Power on a plan for his company GreenQuest to take over the 140-year-old Milltown Generating Station in St. Stephen, N.B., refurbish it, and sell the green electricity back to the utility.

It rebuffed Mullen’s bid and is instead proceeding with a plan to decommission and dismantle the Milltown facility and draw the lost power from the increasingly unreliable Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station.

“We did the financial model,” Mullen says. “The bottom line is if NB Power hands it over for us to do the refurbishment, they’re going to save the cost of decommissioning it, and we’d sell them the power at roughly the same cost as their average cost of power.”

The reaction is no warmer in his home province, where he’s explored taking over some of Nova Scotia Power’s aging dams. “They’ve told us directly that, while they recognize the numbers work [that is, for Nova Scotian ratepayers], they consider GreenQuest a competitor, and they would not engage in a sale to us for refurbishment, not even with an option to repurchase after the project is complete, unless they’re compelled to do so.”

Janet Whitman reports for Halifax Magazine.

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This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.

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