Roundup: HRM moves against shed storing food for unhoused, 2 COVID deaths, blood donations needed, Africentre shares Black history year-round, Festival Antigonish plans return

Natalie Gero at the Africentre in New Glasgow. Photo: Submitted

Plus: Bridgewater pitcher to suit up for Oklahoma State University

HRM has again sicced the police on unhoused people and their supporters, launching an operation late Saturday night to tear down a shed advocates had built in Meagher’s Park.

“Halifax Regional Police visited the site and it was determined that this illegal structure was intended to serve as a cooking facility for occupants of the park,” says an HRM press release. “The individuals building the structure were asked to remove it. A number of hours later, when the structure had not been voluntarily removed, municipal staff began removal efforts.”

Several advocates for the unhoused challenged that narrative on Twitter, saying the temporary building was only used for food storage, not cooking.

It’s the second major police action against unhoused people in the city since HRM Council promised “an empathy-based approach” to homelessness last July.

Premier Tim Houston. Photo: CNS

COVID update
COVID-19 has killed two more Nova Scotians: a man and a woman, both in their 80s and from the Eastern Zone.

“I want to extend my condolences to the families and friends grieving the loss of their loved ones,” Premier Tim Houston says in a press release. “We must continue to work together by getting vaccinated, staying home if sick and following the public health protocols in place as we work our way through the reopening plan.”

So far, COVID has killed 193 Nova Scotians and 36,377 people across Canada.

Provincial health officials report 170 new lab-confirmed cases in the latest update. But those numbers don’t reflect its true extent. Houston’s government recently stopped widespread testing and follow-up, saying that the pervasiveness of the Omicron strain requires focusing on vulnerable areas like hospitals.

Health officials also reported five new COVID hospitalizations and two discharges yesterday, for a total of 44 people getting treatment in specialized units, including 11 in ICU. There are also 126 people who were admitted to hospital for another reason but tested positive for COVID (or were in a COVID unit but no longer require specialized care), and 165 who contracted the disease in hospital.

Blood donations needed
Omicron and blasts of wintry weather are leaving local blood donation clinics with hundreds of empty appointments.

Kathy Gracie, associate regional director for Atlantic Canada for Canadian Blood Services, says the next couple of weeks are critical.

“Our immediate call right now is to try and avoid our inventory getting to urgent levels,” she explains. “We probably have a two-week window to turn this around and get people out and donating so we can ensure that we have enough blood. Now is the time to step up.”

Janet Whitman reports for Unravel Halifax.

Evan O’Toole. Photo: Submitted

Bridgewater pitcher to suit up for American university
Bridgewater pitcher Evan O’Toole will finish the spring baseball season with Iowa Western Community College, before stepping up to Oklahoma State University’s top-tier team in the fall.

Disappointed to have gone unselected in the latest Major League Baseball amateur draft, O’Toole hopes the move will help him advance his career. “They have a ton of experience,” he says. “If I want to get to that level, I think it’s great to surround yourself with people who got there and learn their ways.”

Keith Corcoran has more for LighthouseNow.

Sharing Pictou County’s Black history
At the Africentre in New Glasgow, Black history isn’t something just to talk about in February: year-round, it shares a rich story, beginning with the transatlantic slave trade and the Loyalist migrations after the American Revolution.

But the Africentre isn’t a museum — it’s intended to be a community hub, a place for people to gather and reflect.

“I like the fact that you can go any time and sit,” says volunteer Natalie Gero. “Kids can play there.”

Steve Goodwin has the story for the Pictou Advocate.

Andrea Boyd. Photo: Submitted

Festival Antigonish plans return
Festival Antigonish is again heading outdoors, with organizers planning an al fresco adaptation of The Hobbit for the summer. The move comes after last year’s successful staging of Robin Hood.

“We realized we liked being in the forest, but we didn’t plan at that time to go back outside,” says artistic director Andrea Boyd. “We weren’t thinking of doing this every year. It was really as this fall progressed and COVID was so uncertain, so we thought, ‘Let’s do it again, rather than risk cancelling the summer, or having people just not comfortable yet being indoors.’”

Drake Lowthers interviews Boyd for the Reporter.

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