Roundup: Another COVID death and 147 active cases, Northern Pulp may treat toxic run-off on site, new use for old school land

Pictou Harbour and the Northern Pulp mill. Photo: Advocate file

Plus: It’s just too much — surviving in the age of information overload

COVID-19 has killed another Nova Scotian.

The victim is a woman in her 80s who lived in the Central Zone, according to the latest government update.

“I want to offer condolences to the family and friends mourning the loss of their loved one today,” Premier Tim Houston says in a press release. “COVID-19 is still in our province and the actions of Nova Scotians are critical right now. Please get vaccinated, stay home if you are sick and continue to follow public health protocols.”

Nova Scotia has 147 known active cases of the disease, with 11 people hospitalized in provincial COVID units, including one in ICU. Officials reported 20 recoveries and 41 new cases yesterday: 29 in the Central Zone (where they say community spread continues), seven in the Northern Zone, three in the Western, and two in the Eastern.

Due to the relatively high caseload and ongoing spread of the disease, the government recently announced a delay in its reopening plans, meaning public health precautions like masking will continue until Oct. 4, when people will need proof of vaccination to access many non-essential services.

“We understand it’s challenging for everyone, especially businesses, to change their plans when things don’t go as we expect,” says chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang. “This delay is necessary to protect Nova Scotians.” Jake Boudrot has more for The Reporter.

According to the latest statistics, 78.9% of Nova Scotians have had their first vaccination dose, and 73.1% have had both jabs.

Northern Pulp may treat toxic run-off on site
Westville Mayor Lennie White didn’t know that Northern Pulp was regularly transporting a toxic byproduct from its Pictou County mill through his community.

“This was never mentioned at the Northern Pulp presentation to our council or a previous virtual presentation made in June to the mayors and warden of Pictou County,” he says. “I find this to be rather concerning.”

Company officials say that Northern Pulp is now considering treating the run-off from its Pictou County plant’s toxic landfill onsite, instead of trucking it to Truro where it’s treated and then pumped into the Bay of Fundy.

Company spokespeople wouldn’t say where in the Pictou area they’d dump the treated liquid, or if they’re seeking public money to pay for the new scheme.

Janet Whitman reports for The Pictou Advocate.

New use for old school land
Natalie O’Mara and her family live just steps from the former Riverport District Consolidated Elementary School in Lunenburg that closed in 2011.

When demolition of the building began, her husband, who once attended the school, started inquiring as to the fate of the vacated four-hectare plot of land. He struck up conversations with municipal councillors, neighbours, and community groups, who submitted letters to Lunenburg Mayor Carolyn Bolivar-Getson asking the municipality to not sell the land before they came up with a usage plan.

The municipality agreed, and since then they’ve been gathering funds, organizing volunteers, and looking at which use of the vacant land would best serve the community.

“We’re still really early in the stages of it, but the hope is to have an association that can be the official entity to work with the community to figure out how we can use this land as a resource to fill some needs in the community,” says O’Mara.

Jennifer Gouchie-Terris has the story for LighthouseNow.

Pauline Dakin

Information overload
Your smartphone is a daily fire hose of information and while there are many positive aspects to that, it also puts us in a situation for which evolution didn’t equip us: we simply aren’t wired to emotionally process the torrent of information, and it’s increasingly taxing our mental health.

Pauline Dakin is a journalism professor at the University of King’s College, who sees the impact of the overload.

“High users of social media and screen time (about seven hours a day, which is not unusual) have less curiosity, less self-control, and less emotional stability,” writes Dakin in her new Unravel Halifax column. “They’re also twice as likely to have a diagnosis of anxiety or depression … Some of my students and I worked with the Investigative Journalism Bureau and the Toronto Star to detail the surging mental health crisis in young people. We found that nearly 30 per cent of post-secondary students in Canada and the U.S. said their failing mental health has caused them to consider self-harm and suicide.”

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