Roundup: Strang urges unvaxed to step up, housing crunch forces family into tent, New Glasgow police buy body cameras, 10,000 daffodils for Isle Madame

Dayle Crouse and her family have been in a tent since May, after being unable to find affordable housing. She bought a school bus she's renovating into a home. Photo: Submitted

Plus: Emerging from COVID-19 and a tumultuous few years, has Nova Scotia’s filmmaking industry finally found a way forward?

Vaccination is the only way for Nova Scotia to avoid the worst of the COVID-19 fourth wave that is currently rocking much of North America, cautions chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang.

“You only have to look at our case numbers to see that most people contracting COVID-19 have not been vaccinated,” he says in a press release. “Vaccination is the absolute best way to protect yourself and those around you.”

Nova Scotia has 127 known active cases of COVID-19, with 19 new cases and 29 recoveries reported in yesterday’s government update. Ten people are hospitalized in provincial COVID units.

Fourteen of the new cases are in the Central Zone, where health officials say there are “signs of community spread among those … aged 20 to 40 who are unvaccinated and participating in social activities.” One new case is in the Western Zone, and there are two each in the Northern and Eastern zones.

Housing shortage hits Lunenburg family
Dayle Crouse wants people to see how scarce affordable housing has become in Nova Scotia. For the last five months, she and her three children have been tenting at a campground, unable to find an affordable apartment in the Liverpool area after the lease on their last home expired.

“Everything was more expensive,” she says. “We found ourselves without a home.” She works at a local coffee shop, and the available apartments would have taken 80 per cent of her pay.

Now she’s working to convert a school bus into a longer-term home, and urging government to understand that the housing crunch is affecting people all over the province. “People call me brave or strong but it’s not that I’m brave or strong, it’s what other choice did I have?” she says. “I could go stay with family, friends or at a hotel, but it’s not a practical solution.”

Jennifer Gouchie-Terris interviews her for LighthouseNow.

Body cameras for New Glasgow police
The New Glasgow police force recently bought six body cameras, at a cost of $1,100 each, for officers to wear while on patrol.

“We see it as a great tool for behaviour change and de-escalation,” says Deputy Chief Ryan Leil. “We let them know they are being recorded. Being recorded serves as a de-escalation technique.”

Police didn’t share information about how often they’ll use the cameras or if officers will have the power to turn them off.

Steve Goodwin has more for The Pictou Advocate.

Actor Rob Wells films a scene from a drama production
The drama Dawn, Her Dad and The Tractor shot in Halifax at the height of the pandemic. Photo: Dan Callis

Focus on filmmaking future
Thanks to the province’s enviable COVID statistics, Nova Scotia’s filmmakers have been busy through the pandemic. Former Liberal premier Stephen McNeil clobbered the industry when he cut government financial support and on first glance, it may appear things are finally recovering.

But appearances are deceiving. The activity is there, but it’s not the same.

“We used to do our first features for about a million dollars,” says Laura Mackenzie, executive director of Screen Nova Scotia. “That hired producers and editors. Now we see risk-taking, where directors are also writers and editors. It’s going to impact the quality of the project. And, not to mention, nobody is going to get paid.” 

Terry Greenlaw is the producer and partner at the production company Picture Plant, along with filmmaker William MacGillivray. Founded in 1981, it’s the oldest extant production company in Atlantic Canada. Picture Plant recently produced actor Shelley Thompson’s first feature as a writer-director, Dawn, Her Dad, And The Tractor, and in December will produce the first feature by actor-writer-director Koumbie, called Bystanders. 

“We’ve been lobbying for is something that would take the place of the equity fund,” says Greenlaw. “It could fill the hole that we find happens so often, a 20-per-cent hole to complete the film … The budgets are so small. As Ron Hynes used to say, you can’t drink the sea and you can’t eat the air.”

Carsten Knox reports for Unravel Halifax.

Cape Breton island in bloom
The Isle Madame Garden Club is promoting an “Early Bloom Daffodil Trail” for Isle Madame, with a goal to grow 10,000 daffodils around the island, according to club president Claire Doyle.

“We were trying to come up with the idea of what we call an early bloom: starting the community up with something that would pop up early to kind of get the community going,” she explains. “If people buy bulbs, and they buy a couple of packages of bulbs, and they plant them, in three or four years, that’s going to multiply, so their area is going to get bigger and bigger. And they’re beautiful.”

Jake Boudrot has the story for The Reporter.

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