Roundup: 40 new COVID cases, Richmond Co. grapples with soaring RCMP bill, Cultural Hub gets $100K donation, Hungarian ambassador visits Queens Co.

A member of the RCMP wearing a defaced Canadian flag during a 2021 raid on a South Shore home. YouTube screen capture.

Plus: Halifax has a housing crisis — but the situation could be much worse

Nova Scotia has 214 known active cases of COVID-19, with 40 new cases and 29 recoveries reported in the latest government update. Thirteen people are hospitalized with the disease, including five in ICU.

Of the new cases, 20 are in the Northern Zone, 18 in the Central, and two in the Western. “There is a new cluster of cases in a localized community in Northern Zone,” says the government press release. “There is also evidence of limited community spread in Halifax and parts of Northern Nova Scotia.”

The government also announced three more school exposures. The latest in HRM are at Beechville Lakeside Timberlea Junior Elementary, Beechville Lakeside Timberlea Senior Elementary, and Tantallon Senior Elementary.

Neil Lovitt

Housing market silver linings
Halifax is in the throes of an affordable housing crisis, but it could be much worse.

“Halifax does not yet seem to be following the pattern observed in other Canadian cities where this important older rental stock is being lost permanently to redevelopment and condominium conversion,” says local housing expert Neil Lovitt. “Ours is getting more expensive, and is being renovated in many cases, but it is not disappearing entirely.” 

This “silver lining” risks getting erased if Halifax isn’t aggressive about adding more housing, a problem the provincial government is starting to face with a strategy to tackle a housing crisis that’s been decades in the making. (Read more about the plan at here). 

“If we can get back to a balanced market, (the older, more affordable market-rate rentals) may be preserved for longer,” says Lovitt, vice-president of planning and economic intelligence with real-estate consultancy Turner Drake & Partners Ltd. “But if the shortage persists, we will lose more and more of this inventory over time.” 

Janet Whitman reports for Unravel Halifax.

Cape Breton community faces bigger policing bills
Richmond County Warden Amanda Mombourquette is raising concerns about the increasing cost of RCMP protection.

“As municipalities look to pass our budgets for next year, the issue of municipal RCMP costs and the increases we’re facing is really … top-of-mind for many,” she says.

Mombourquette explains that municipalities expected increases of 2.5 per cent per year, which turned out to be a 23 per cent increase over six years, footing the bill for recent raises to RCMP officers. “Municipalities were not consulted during the bargaining process, despite its outcome having a substantial impact on our finances,” she adds.

Jake Boudrot has more for The Reporter.

Maria Eva Vass-Salazar (left) and Xaver Varnus. Photo: Kevin McBain

Hungarian ambassador visits Queens County
Queens County doesn’t host many international diplomats, but on a recent visit to Nova Scotia, Hungarian ambassador Maria Eva Vass-Salazar made a side trip to the area, dropping into Brooklyn to visit countryman Xaver Varnus.

The renowned organist recently settled in the village, where he’s converted a historic church into a concert hall.

“I’m personally truly humbled and privileged to meet Xaver in person,” said Vass-Salazar. “I want to express my appreciation in person to him, because, since I was a child, I have known of him and have listened to his wonderful music. Certainly, for Hungarians, Xaver is an absolute treasure, almost a national treasure for us.”

Kevin McBain interviews her for LighthouseNow.

Cultural Hub gets big donation
The Cultural Hub, a project to build a new home for the Pictou library adjoining the deCoste Centre, has secured a $100,000 donation.

“The generous donation from the Sutherland-Harris Memorial Hospital Foundation has immediate impact on our community fundraising goal,” says campaign chair Crystal Murray (also editor-in-chief of Advocate Media and Unravel Halifax). “This donation demonstrates the importance of an enhanced facility, especially from an accessibility perspective. This is an exciting and transformational project for the deCoste, library, and the community.”

Steve Goodwin has the story for The Pictou Advocate.

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