Roundup: Fallout from police violence continues, Pictou students clean up illegal dump, family who lost home hit with big fee, Houston faces health-care challenges

Photo: Ben Murray/Advocate Media

Questions continue to mount over Wednesday’s violent Halifax Regional Police operation against homeless encampments around the city, particularly at the old Spring Garden Road library, where police harassed journalists and pepper-sprayed non-violent protestors (including a child).

Yesterday, police chief Dan Kinsella had a press conference addressing the matter, but provided few accurate or complete answers.

Dan Kinsella

Meanwhile, HRM Council remains largely silent on the incident. Councillor Shawn Cleary promised in July to join protestors if police dragged people out of shelters, but was not there on Wednesday. Councillors Sam Austin and Waye Mason began vacation on Wednesday morning, just as the police operation got underway. Mason finally posted a statement on the situation this morning, blaming the provincial government.

“The lack of homes for vulnerable residents is the result of years of neglect from previous provincial governments,” he says. “For the last nine years, I’ve been working on this and lobbying the province to do more.”

He also promises to look into police misconduct. “I have heard the concerns about the policing approach and some officer’s lack of name tags and wearing thin blue line badges,” he says. “This is unacceptable and this will be reviewed by the appropriate bodies, the Board of Police Commissioners, and SiRT.”

He doesn’t say when those reviews will happen, or when citizens will learn their outcome.

Councillors Lisa Blackburn and Patty Cuttell were among the few municipal politicians to face the public in the aftermath, but offer little clarity or reassurance. Blackburn, a former journalist, says councillors had briefing notes in advance of the operation, but shares no explanation for her colleagues’ vacation timing or relative silence.

In a tweet yesterday, Cuttell repeated the city’s public-relations line that all the homeless people police removed were offered housing. Mason, however hints that isn’t true.

“I understand that this (housing offer) may not have been made available to all of the people involved yesterday,” he says. “I will work to connect them with provincial housing support workers to ensure they can access housing options as was intended.”

Mayor Mike Savage, after also staying silent as the events unfolded, spoke with CBC Radio yesterday, saying that the violence is intended to make Halifax safer. “We want people to be safe,” he says. “We also want people to have housing. And I just don’t believe that tents or sheds are the best solution.”

Bev Priestman

More than gold
Winning at the women’s soccer gold at the recent Tokyo Olympics is a thrill for Team Canada, of course, but head coach Bev Priestman is most excited about what it’s going to mean for the sport across the country.

“For young kids, they’ve dreamt of moments, and the bronze brought a bit of that to life now, they can dream of being the Olympic champion,” she tells Halifax Magazine in a recent press conference. “For the players, the belief that I felt was missing when I took over is now there. We’ve got to build and capitalize on that.”

The next step is to keep building interest in the sport, particularly after the glow of the Olympics fades.

“There’ll be people who step forward in this country to set beyond a talent system, like an actual professional pathway,” Priestman says. ” Being able to go and watch your heroes play week in, week out, will be critical for the growth of the game.”

Ameeta Vohra reports.

Pictou students clean up illegal dump
Two Pictou County Solid Waste summer students have been spending their summer helping to remediate a dump site off St. Pauls Road in the East River Valley.

Emma Cameron is spending her second summer with Pictou County Solid Waste. She graduated from Dalhousie University’s Agricultural Campus with a diploma in landscaping. “I like to help rehabilitate the environment, and the job is close to home,” she says.

Joe McCarron, who is about to enter his second year at New Brunswick’s St. Thomas University, feels the same.

“I love it being outside all the time and helping the community,” he says. “You know you’re doing something that matters.”

Steve Goodwin has the story for The Pictou Advocate.

Tim Houston. Photo: CNS

Houston faces health-care challenges
Tim Houston and the Progressive Conservatives won the provincial election by riding a wave of dissatisfaction with the preceding Liberal government’s handling of health care (remember Stephen McNeil’s unkept promise of a doctor for every Nova Scotian?).

Now, they have much to deliver.

This week’s editorial in The Reporter itemizes their to-do list: “As part of their health care strategy, the PCs keyed in on incentives to assist physician recruitment, universal mental health care, more in-home support for those with chronic illness, opening up more operating rooms to improve surgery wait times, hiring more long-term care staff and opening more beds, a grant to help seniors stay in their homes, providing virtual care for those without a doctor, and removing the gag order on the health care (workers).”

Read more.

Family who lost home faces big fee
A South Shore family whose home recently burned down faces $1,900 in landfill fees to dispose of the rubble, after Chester municipal council voted not to waive the cost because Joan and Donald Dorey don’t live in Chester, even though its landfill is the closest to their lot.

“My parents are seniors living on a fixed income, my mom is almost 70 and still continues to work … (and) cannot afford to stop work,” says Kerry Bryan. “My dad was disabled many years ago from an on-site job accident (and) lives on the government pensions only. They have very little in savings and live pay-to-pay.”

She says their insurance settlement is capped at $44,000, leaving them financially strained as they try to find a way to rebuild.

Keith Corcoran has more for LighthouseNow.

COVID update
Nova Scotia has 32 known active cases of COVID-19, with eight new cases and one recovery reported in the latest government update. Health officials six of the new cases are in the Central Zone (five travel-related, one under investigation), one is in the Northern Zone (travel-related), one is in the Eastern Zone (a close contact of a previously reported case). One person is hospitalized in ICU with the disease.

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This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.

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