Roundup: More COVID outside HRM, Port welcomes largest cargo ship, local news under siege, camping season delayed, fed support for Goldboro gas terminal

CMA CGM Marco Polo. Photo: PSA Halifax

Nova Scotia tallied 91 new cases of COVID-19 and 187 recoveries yesterday, for a total of 1,435 known active cases. While 66 of the new cases are in the Halifax area, Premier Iain Rankin worries about the rest of the province.

“We’re also seeing a growing rise in cases in Cape Breton Regional Municipality,” he says in yesterday’s update. “We have increased our testing capacity over the last number of days to try to catch and contain this virus … The fluctuation in case numbers in Sydney is an indication that the variants are very much on the move in different parts of our province.”

The outbreak in a non-COVID unit at the Halifax Infirmary continues to worsen, with two more patients testing positive, for a total of 12 patients and four staff infected. “We don’t yet know the source of the infection,” says Dr. Brendan Carr, president and CEO of Nova Scotia Health. “But given the high prevalence of COVID-19 in many areas of our province, the likelihood of COVID-19 infections among admitted patients is higher now than it’s ever been.”

There are 95 people in Nova Scotian hospitals with the disease, including 21 in ICU.

As of May 16, health-care workers have dispensed 430,856 doses of COVID-19 vaccine in Nova Scotia, with 39,235 people getting the second dose that completes inoculation. Yesterday, people aged 30 to 34 became eligible for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

The pandemic has killed 71 Nova Scotians and 24,983 people across Canada.

A record-setting visit
The largest containerized cargo vessel to call on a Canadian port arrived yesterday at Halifax’s South End container terminal.

The CMA CGM Marco Polo is 396 metres length overall and 54 metres wide. Halifax is the only port in Eastern Canada with the depth to accommodate “ultra-class” vessels.

“We have a reliable workforce here in Halifax,” Halifax Port Authority president and CEO Allan Gray says in a press release. “We can work it efficiently and reliably. Saltwater is in our veins. We know how to handle these big ships and turn them around.”

Last night, dozens of people descended on Point Pleasant Park to watch the arrival, leading police to disperse the crowd and close the parking lot.

The Rocking Stone. Photo: Nova Scotia Archives

Rock of ages
The Rocking Stone in Kidston Lake park in Spryfield is an oversized but otherwise unremarkable looking rock. But in the 1800s, it was one of the city’s natural wonders, a beloved destination for summer adventurers, captivated by the behemoth’s gentle rocking motion.

By the time David Honeyman, a geologist and the first curator of the provincial museum, visited it in 1880, scientists understood that is was a glacier erratic, a stone transported by a glacier, randomly deposited when the ice receded. The Rocking Stone remained perched in its place for some 12,000 years.

It captivated Honeyman. “I was astonished by its imposing appearance,” he wrote. “Having reached its top by a ladder … I enjoyed a strange rock in this wonderful cradle.”

Dorothy Grant has more for Halifax Magazine.

Camping season delayed
Normally, Victoria Day weekend marks the start of Nova Scotia’s summer camping season. But this year, due to pandemic precautions and travel restrictions, provincial campgrounds are closed until at least June 1.

The Pictou Advocate has details.

John Hinds

Local news under siege
As they continue to share content without compensation, drawing away readers and ad revenue, Facebook and Google have become an existential threat to many local media outlets.

“In the U.S., a quarter of all newspapers have gone out of business in the last decade and half, resulting in vast ‘news deserts’ across that country,” says News Media Canada president and CEO John Hinds. “In Canada … over 300 newspapers have closed since 2008. Economists have a technical term for what Google and Facebook have wrought: market failure. And it can’t be fixed by a government fund or other Cancon tools.”

In Australia, government is confronting the problem by forcing the web giants to negotiate collectively with all of the country’s news media. In Canada, local news publishers are urging Canada’s Parliament to adopt the Australian solution.

Learn more in this recent LighthouseNow guest column.

Federal support for Goldboro gas terminal
In January, the Antigonish municipal government wrote a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, asking for his support for ongoing efforts to develop a liquid natural gas terminal in Goldboro.

Warden Owen McCarron says they finally got an answer, via natural resources minister Seamus O’Regan.

“Minister O’Regan got back to us indicating he’s been given the mandate by the Prime Minister for developments like this,” McCarron says. “So it was a positive letter for sure … it was encouraging to get a reply back from the minister acknowledging our letter.”

O’Regan didn’t indicate if Ottawa’s support will take any tangible form.

Drake Lowthers has more for The Reporter.

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This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.

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