Roundup: Another COVID death, coalition tackles Strait area housing shortage, Christmas Fund telethon returns, Queens Co. man faces gun charges

Premier Tim Houston. Photo: Communications N.S.

Plus: Premier Tim Houston says there’s a lot he wants to do for Nova Scotians — can he deliver? He opens up in an exclusive year-end interview

Health officials announced another COVID-19 death yesterday, a man in his 70s from the Central Zone. He’s the 108th Nova Scotian the disease has killed.

“Each person we lose is … a reminder that COVID-19 persists as a very real threat,” Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, says in a press release. “It breaks my heart to know that another family is grieving the loss of a loved one before their time.”

Nova Scotia has 169 known active cases, with 22 new cases and 24 recoveries reported in the latest government update. Seventeen people are hospitalized in provincial COVID units, including five in ICU. Of the new cases, 16 are in the Central Zone, five in the Northern, and one in the Western. Health officials say “limited community spread” continues in Halifax and Northern Nova Scotia.

The update also reveals eight more school exposures. The affected schools in HRM are Beechville Lakeside Timberlea Jr. Elementary, Clayton Park Junior High, Fairview Junior High, and Grosvenor-Wentworth Park Elementary.

Coalition tackles housing shortage
The Strait Richmond Housing Matters Coalition is partnering with several stakeholders for a “service based homeless count,” a survey to learn more about and measure homelessness in Eastern Nova Scotia.

“It’s really difficult to get our hands on any good statistical information that will tell us about homelessness and unstable housing in the region,” Richmond Warden Amanda Mombourquette says. “We hear, of course, many, many anecdotes because people are struggling to find affordable housing and appropriate housing. But really we need that statistical data because when we go to government, as an advocacy group trying to change policies, change programs, to encourage government to invest in various ways, or the private sector to invest, it’s very difficult because we don’t have statistical information to support the case.”

Drake Lowthers has more for The Reporter.

Tim Houston. Photo: Bruce Murray/Visionfire

Can Houston do it?
As he settles into his job, Premier Tim Houston has a long to-do list.

“I feel an incredible sense of urgency to respond to the challenges, so I do think we’re moving very fast,” he says. “I know that if we move fast, sometimes you make mistakes. That’s the kind of thing you have to balance, but when we make those mistakes, we have to have the confidence to say, ‘That was a mistake; we have to fix that’ … Sometimes, if you find it hard to admit you don’t know something, it’s not the right role for you because this is a role where you have to be humble a lot.” 

Houston believes the pandemic has taught governments a lot about the need to be nimble and willing to change. 

“When you know better, you do better, and I think it should be the motto of our government,” he says. “We’ve seen pretty significant moves in housing and health care. I think these moves in the fullness of time will prove to have served Nova Scotians very well, so sometimes you have to stop and study and reflect and sometimes you got to act.” 

He talks with Ameeta Vohra about his priorities, what he’s learned so far, and the work ahead in this new year-end Unravel Halifax interview.

Christmas Fund telethon returns
The annual Pictou County Christmas Fund telethon returns on Nov. 28 from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. The event has run annually since 1972, excluding last year, when COVID kiboshed it. Despite the cancellation, organizers still raised $45,000 to help people experiencing food insecurity. Organizers hope to do even better with this year’s virtual event.

““Our goal this year is to raise as much money as possible to help families in need in Pictou County,” says event co-chair Monique Sobey. “We would like to thank everyone in the community in advance for their continued support in helping to make this year’s telethon another success.”

Jackie Jardine reports for The Pictou Advocate.

Queens County man faces gun charges
On Nov. 15, RCMP officers were in West Caledonia investigating a report of an assault, when two people flagged them down to report someone had fired a shotgun at them after they had gone to a house to confront a man about damage to a family member’s vehicle.

They escaped unharmed, and a 34-year-old man now faces charges of assault, assault with a weapon, uttering threats, discharging a firearm with intent, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, careless use of a firearm, possession of a firearm knowing possession is unauthorized, and mischief.

On Nov. 16, Robert Carl Forrest appeared in Bridgewater provincial court, where he was granted bail and released with several conditions including house arrest. He’s ordered to return to Bridgewater provincial court in mid-December.

Kevin McBain has the story for LighthouseNow.

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