Roundup: Cell service concerns, Nova Scotia Power outages continue — many schools closed, gov announces disaster funds, COVID update, restaurant forced to move after flouting law

A Richmond County driver crashed their SUV into a hurricane Fiona washout. Photo: CNS

Plus: One year of Unravel Halifax — an evolving magazine for a changing city

Questions are mounting about the reliability of the region’s cell-phone service, with many Nova Scotians having difficulties calling and accessing the internet in the aftermath of hurricane Fiona. Management from Bell, one of the region’s largest cell providers, dismiss the concerns.

“I believe we did a very, very good job,” Geoff Moore, Bell’s director of network operations, told reporters. “There was certainly significant increased usage on the mobility network and I believe that the network handled that load very well. That doesn’t mean that there weren’t some outages, and that there weren’t some other customer issues during the event.”

And as power repairs continue, people are posting their thanks to line workers, but sharing increasing frustration with blackouts and unreliable restoration estimates.

“Nova Scotia Power restored power to one side of our street last night,” tweets one frustrated customer. “11 p.m. came, they left and nobody has been back. Outage map says we all have power and the phone lines are a waste of time. Been over 60 hours without power and no signs of Nova Scotia Power anywhere in the area.”

A spokesperson for the utility says workers have reconnected about 270,000 customers as of midnight, but at least 7,338 outages remain (as of 9 a.m. Tuesday), affecting 141,809 customers. Comfort centres, where you can warm up and charge your devices, remain open around the province

For the second day, administrators cancelled school in the Halifax, Strait, and Chignecto areas, citing “power outages and unsafe road conditions.” Classes in Cape Breton aren’t planned to reopen until next week.

John Lohr. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Yesterday, the provincial government announced a Disaster Financial Assistance Program offering up to $200,000 per household, small business, or non-profit for uninsurable losses, plus smaller-scale emergency funding to help Nova Scotians pay for tree removal, replace spoiled food, or secure short-term accommodations. The Reporter has details.

“It’s a stressful time for Nova Scotians as we continue to assess and dig out from the damage caused by hurricane Fiona,” John Lohr, the minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Office, says in a press release. “We’ve got a ways to go before things are back to normal, but this is a step in the right direction.”

Finally, a good-news story from Fiona: rescuers found the four-year-old boy who wandered from his Pictou County yard on Sept. 24. Police say he spent the night alone outside, and searchers found him unharmed the next morning in a field about 2 km from his home. About 100 people joined the search. The Pictou Advocate has more.

COVID Update
The World Health Organization reports 219,888 confirmed new COVID cases around the globe in the last 24 hours. So far, COVID is known to have killed at least 6,514,397 people, including 44,992 in Canada and 534 Nova Scotians.

Bookings for the latest round of vaccination boosters opened in Nova Scotia last week.

Restaurant flouts law, forced to move
The Bridgewater Curling Club isn’t zoned for a restaurant, but that didn’t stop Laurie Paxton, owner of Sushify, from running her business there for four months. Eventually, municipal inspectors noticed and ordered her to move.

Paxton initially spit defiance, vowing to “not go down without a fight” in a since-deleted social media post. She now concedes, however, that she was wrong.

“I guess the lesson is, to anyone in Bridgewater, to verify and get the nod in writing and make sure you know the zoning,” she says. “To me, my business is very low impact, but the zoning is what it is and (the municipal government) is just doing what they had to do, I guess.”

Keith Corcoran reports for LighthouseNow.

One year of Unravel Halifax
This month marks a year since we launched Unravel Halifax, the title that replaced Halifax Magazine, which had stopped printing during the first COVID lockdown in 2020.

As I recall in my latest editorial, when our city began to awaken from its pandemic slumber, we realized it needed a new magazine: “It was time for Unravel Halifax, a transformed magazine for a transforming city. In the last year, the pace of change in our city has been dizzying. Buildings going up (and coming down), daily COVID twists and turns, politicians coming and going, businesses opening and closing and opening again, and a constant feast of art and music.” 

Read more, see the digital edition of our latest issue, or sign up for a free subscription to the magazine.

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