Roundup: 31 new COVID cases, decimated bat population mysteriously rebounds, Pictou home invasion terrifies neighbours, 40 drivers ticketed in enforcement blitz

Researchers are pleased but puzzled as Nova Scotia's bat population recovers. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Plus: Life after car culture — the case for transit that serves all of Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia has 253 known active cases of COVID-19, with 31 new cases and 41 recoveries reported in the latest government update. Sixteen people are hospitalized with the disease, including seven in ICU.

Nineteen new cases are in the Central Zone, nine in the Northern, two in the Eastern, and one in the Western. A government press release says community spread continues in the Northern and Western zones, “primarily related to ongoing transmission from a faith-based gathering that occurred in late October. This includes secondary transmission to other faith-based gatherings, workplaces, and to East Cumberland Lodge.”

One more resident and two more workers at East Cumberland Lodge have tested positive for COVID-19, for a total of 29 infected residents and 10 infected employees at the Pugwash long-term care home. Health officials also announced five more school exposures yesterday. The latest in the Halifax area are at Dutch Settlement Elementary, Grosvenor-Wentworth Park Elementary, and Kingswood Elementary.


The case for provincial transit
Car culture is deeply entrenched in Nova Scotia. To live and work anywhere outside a couple urban areas, an automobile is essential. Tell people you ride a bike for reasons other than recreation, and many will react as if you’re pitifully poor and/or a dangerous weirdo.

Nova Scotians fool themselves into thinking this is all very normal, but in much of the Western world, cars are a much smaller part of daily life. If you had no car bills, but could still travel wherever you want, whenever you want, would you be better off?

Change-resistant types will tell you that frequent, accessible, province-spanning transit is impossible. Sure, thousands of jurisdictions around the world have figured it out, but it will never work here for some reason. A couple of years ago, I addressed those arguments in an editorial.

“We can always afford the things the politicians in power want. If we decided that province-spanning transit was a priority, government would find money for it,” I wrote. “Nova Scotia’s transit wouldn’t be jammed right away. It takes time to chip away at our deeply entrenched car culture. People need to see that transit can be accessible, fast, cheap, and reliable … Workforces will be more mobile. The thousands of Nova Scotians who work in low-paying jobs will stop working to support their cars, and be able to invest their money in improving their lives.

Read more in this post from our free archives.

Return of the bat
When an invasive fungal infection moved into Nova Scotia, it ravaged the once common brown bat. The species became endangered, and researchers warned it would be generations before the population recovered.

Now, a decade after the crisis began, researchers are pleased but puzzled to see increasing numbers of brown bats.

“One person we thought had five bats this summer in their barn in Queens County; we ended up finding about 60, which was a huge surprise,” says biologist Lori Phinney. “Another spot we thought had about 25, ended up having 50. It’s quite exciting … We can’t answer why. That’s the frustrating part of this. Maybe bats are coming from different locations? I don’t know, but we just need to keep looking and that’s really the best thing we can do.”

Kevin McBain reports for LighthouseNow.

Home invasion terrifies neighbours
After escaping war-torn Syria, the Casmin family have built a peaceful life in their Pictou duplex, but after a neighbour’s Halloween party turned violent, they feel less safe.

It was around 2:30 a.m. on Oct. 31 when they heard a commotion outside. A young blood-covered man pounded on their door, yelling for help. 911 dispatchers told them to keep the door locked; when police eventually showed up, they learned there had been a shooting, stabbing, and home invasion.

Weeks later they remain shook up, but have no misgivings about moving to the area.

“We are lucky in Canada and Nova Scotia,” Lema Casmin says. “I love Pictou, and we have no problem being Muslim.”

Steve Goodwin has their story for The Pictou Advocate.

Forty ticketed in enforcement blitz
Antigonish RCMP recently ticketed 40 drivers during a short-term vehicle-inspection campaign. Among the infractions were noisy mufflers and illegal window tint. They also ordered 34 drivers to take their vehicles for inspection; 20 of them failed to pass.

The Port Hawkesbury Reporter has more.

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