Roundup: Another COVID death, Halifax inspires artist Boma Nnaji, Michelin plans expansion, Pictou Co. housing development coming, C.B. mailboxes stolen

Alexa McDonough. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Plus: Alexa McDonough’s legacy — her son reflects on a life of fighting injustice and inequality

COVID-19 has killed another Nova Scotian. The victim, a woman in her 80s from the Eastern Zone, is the 122nd person the disease has killed in the province.

“This is another very sad day,” Premier Tim Houston says in a press release. “Now is the time to buckle down. I ask all Nova Scotians to do everything you can to keep COVID-19 out of our health-care system, long-term care facilities, and our communities. This means slowing down activities, reducing contacts, getting vaccinated, and getting your booster as soon as possible.”

Health officials estimate there are 5,511 active cases of COVID in the province, with 415 new lab-confirmed cases reported yesterday. But those numbers don’t reflect COVID’s true extent. Houston’s government stopped widespread testing and follow-up, saying that the pervasiveness of the Omicron strain requires focusing on vulnerable areas like hospitals. Nova Scotia Health is now asking people to self-report their test results to “collect information to help quickly identify people who are eligible for and may benefit from COVID-19 medications and treatments.”

Health officials also reported 13 new hospital admissions and eight discharges yesterday, for a total of 73 people hospitalized for COVID and getting treatment in specialized units, including 15 people in ICU. There are also 63 people who were admitted to hospital for another reason but tested positive for COVID (or no longer require specialized care), and 120 who contracted the disease in hospital.

Houston and Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, are scheduled to webcast an update today at 3 p.m.

Boma Nnaji

Urban inspiration
Halifax’s vibrant heart fuels artist Boma Nnaji.

“The downtown core of every city is an expression of the collective energy and human life force in a continuous rhythmic dance,” he explains. “The need to express this feeling has always been overpowering, so I took up the challenge the moment I had the opportunity … (My work) features contrasting colours that capture the delicate balance between an upbeat but sometimes melancholic city.”

Learn more about the artist and his work in the new issue of Unravel Halifax.

Michelin plant expanding
Management of Bridgewater’s Michelin plant — one of the area’s largest private-sector employers — has applied for a development agreement with the municipal government for a 3,200-square-metre expansion.

Town planning staff briefed civic politicians about the company’s proposal and a public meeting is scheduled for later this month, as the application navigates the development agreement process, which includes further analysis by staff before recommendations to council. Mayor David Mitchell is already firmly in favour of the plan.

“We know the value of the plant and Michelin family,” he says. “We’re happy they’re able to grow and … solidify its future.”

Keith Corcoran reports for LighthouseNow.

Pictou County housing development coming
A 79-unit, mixed use residential and commercial building is set to open in spring 2023 in the East River Business Park.

The building, dubbed the Dunkeld (after a historic ship) one- and two-bedroom residential units, plus 11,000 square feet of commercial property. The company says 30 per cent of units will be “affordable.”

“Our goal is to respect the local landscape while helping address the housing crisis here in Nova Scotia,” Donald MacDonald, president and CEO of Somerled Properties. The press release doesn’t say how much rent the company intends to charge, and spokespeople won’t provide specifics.

Raissa Tetanish has the story for the Pictou Advocate.

Cape Breton mailboxes stolen
The RCMP is investigating the theft of two Richmond County community mailboxes, although Canada Post says it has since retrieved the boxes and their contents.

“Investigators confirmed with Canada Post, the owners of the mailboxes, that they were not servicing them, nor had they moved them,” RCMP spokesman Chris Marshall says in an email. “Therefore it is being treated as a theft … Investigators continue to gather information and evidence as it relates to this incident, and this is the only information that we can share at this time.”

Jake Boudrot has more for the Reporter.

Alexa McDonough in 2008. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Alexa McDonough’s legacy
When Alexa McDonough died on January 15, Halifax — and all of Canada — lost a lifetime advocate for the victims of sexism, racism, and poverty. The long-time leader of the provincial and then federal NDP devoted her life, both in and out office, to standing up for those who needed her most.

Those people lost a champion and her family, of course, lost even more. Her son, businessman Travis McDonough, shared the following memories on social media (republished with permission).

It is not a matter of if but when. Eventually life serves up some kind of emotional sucker punch.

Less than 60 days after we said goodbye to our father, our mother lost her long battle with Alzheimer’s.

People often label Mom as a politician, but I think a simple label like that would be an injustice to who she truly was. It would be more appropriate to say her profession, which was more of a calling, should be referred to as a “helper to the underserved.”

From her teenage years when she volunteered in Africville, to her provincial NDP leader days when she fought for the victims of the Westray mine disaster, or when she became the party’s federal leader, and fought against child poverty. Everywhere she went, she dedicated her life to adding light to the dark places.

You see, her political impact was not bookended by a term. Or even two terms. She was one of the few politicians who transcended politics.

Her community did not stop and start with a postal code. Her family was not limited by DNA. Although unsuccessful at becoming prime minister, she accomplished something far greater. She spread hope and optimism and blazed a trail for other female leaders to follow.

And in doing so, she passed on so many life lessons:

  • Join a cause and dedicate your life to it. Not because it has a high chance of success, but because it stirs your soul.
  • The goal of a debate is not to win but rather an opportunity to listen, learn, and make progress.
  • Kindness is the most powerful source of renewable energy on the planet. It can be shared, used, and you never have to worry about it running out.
  • Don’t look at people as they are but rather as who they could become, especially when they are guided by kindness.
  • How you treat people who can do nothing in return is the ultimate judge of your character.
  • You owe the universe a commitment to “Live full and die empty.”
  • Be slow to judge and fast to forgive. Just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t make them a bad person.
  • What you do for yourself, you take with you — what you do for others, you leave behind.
  • Giving back is not an option but rather an obligation
  • Be grateful. Every day.
  • The boomerang effect is real. What you give you get back.
  • A team is not a group of people who work together. A team is a group of people who trust and love one another.

When I think of Mom, I think of Colin Kaepernick’s quote: “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”

This is exactly what Mom did. She gave her time, her energy, and ultimately her health to her cause. To our nation’s cause. And if she could do it all over again, I know she wouldn’t change a thing.

We love you Mom and promise your life’s work will continue for generations to come.

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