Roundup: COVID kills 18 more Nova Scotians, Antigonish merger opponents demand vote, Pictou grad tradition cancelled, property-tax climbdown may save South Shore project

Dr. Robert Strang. Photo: CNS

Plus: Mead’s resurgence — local producers embrace the world’s oldest drink

COVID-19 killed 18 more Nova Scotians from May 3 to 9, but Dr. Robert Strang remains upbeat.

“We’re seeing virus activity continue to slow down in Nova Scotia and that’s great news,” Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer says in a press release. “But the number of hospitalizations and deaths remains high, and that’s important to keep in mind even as we make our way out of the sixth wave.” He adds that the province is also seeing a “late-spring surge” in other respiratory viruses.

Provincial labs confirmed 3,118, COVID cases in the last week with 65 people hospitalized due to the disease, but other experts say those figures don’t give a true picture. Dr. Tara Moriarty, director of an infectious diseases research laboratory and professor at the University of Toronto medical school, estimates that Nova Scotia was tallying about 24,000 new cases per day as of late April.

So far, COVID is known to have has killed 6,245,945 people worldwide, including 39,855 in Canada and 354 Nova Scotians

World Health Organization officials add that those are only the deaths directly from COVID. When they tally deaths that doctors could have otherwise prevented had COVID not exacerbated an existing condition, the count skyrockets to 14.9 million.

Antigonish merger opponents demand vote
As talks to merge Antigonish’s town and county governments continue, some citizens are demanding a plebiscite on the plan, with about 100 people attending a recent opposition meeting.

“We feel that the current consultant-driven process is proceeding extremely quickly and that our democratic right to have our voices directly heard is being stripped, replaced by engagement sessions that provide no answers,” says organizer Sarah Armstrong. “We question whether our voices really matter, and we are left to wonder why this is even happening.”

Drake Lowthers has the story for the Reporter.

Photo: Bruce Murray

The world’s oldest drink
Want to support local businesses and try something new? Lucky you! It’s time for you to try Nova Scotian mead. The world’s oldest alcoholic drink is enjoying a resurgence, with several local producers crafting beverages that showcase Nova Scotia’s unique terroir.

Those “hyper-local” flavours are what make the drink special, says Ursan Meadery co-owner Nathaniel Jarvis. For example, honey from the Annapolis Valley comes from bees that pollinate blueberries and apples, so the mead he makes from it has soft, floral flavours.

“The way we’re making mead could be the same way as someone making it in the U.K. or Poland or in the U.S., but if you have a different honey, you’re going to end up with a different product,” he explains. 

Learn more in Lori McKay’s new Unravel Halifax story.

Pictou grad tradition cancelled
High-school students poised to graduate in Pictou are upset after administrators have cancelled the annual “grand march,” an event allowing students flaunt their formal attire for spectators before the prom.

According to an email to students and parents, the move comes after considering how the march may make students from “historically marginalized communities” uncomfortable.

“Our three high schools in Pictou County are in the midst of planning with prom committees and are having dialogue on their end-of-year celebrations, considering inclusivity and equity,” says Jennifer Rodgers, a spokesperson with the Chignecto-Central Regional Centre for Education. “Within this planning, they are excited to continue with many activities, add new ideas, and also say goodbye to some that do not serve all students.”

Steve Goodwin reports for the Pictou Advocate.

Property-tax climbdown may save South Shore project
When Premier Tim Houston announced a property-tax hike for non-residents, businessman Fred Stanford said it was the end of a $200-million manufacturing and training development he had planned for Lunenburg. Now that Houston has dropped the controversial tax, Stanford says he might revive the scheme.

“(I’m relieved) the government has stopped dividing us into us and them,” Stanford says. “I’ll get to work on seeing if I can resurrect the project in Lunenburg.”

He adds the project was “still in the planning stages” and “a few years away from reality.” It’s not clear if the tax would have hurt the project, or if Stanford was trying to use his economic leverage to make Houston drop a policy he disliked.

Keith Corcoran has the story for LighthouseNow.

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