Global march involves Halifax

NOTE: This story contains a correction.

For Saif Bitar and Amer, today marks the global march to Jerusalem. They hope to bring awareness to Palestinian Land Day and the citizens who have suffered from the loss of basic human rights.

Bitar and Amer, who doesn’t want her surname used because of fears for her safety in the Middle East, have been broadcasting the event in order for people to be informed about the larger issue at hand.

It began with global organization in Jordan, to commemorate when the Israeli government confiscated 20 acres of land from Palestine in 1976.

The global march to Jerusalem takes place today to support those that have endured living with no electricity and poor living conditions as a result of having their land taken away.

Bitar says, “we want people to hear us in a peaceful protest, (and) that there are no problems with other religions.”

This is the first time the march is going on, both globally and in Halifax.

For Amer it is difficult, since there are those in opposition of the march because people assume it is a violent protest.

Both founders of the march say it’s nothing short of peaceful.

“It’s not just about religion, it’s about humanity. We want people to hear us (out),” says Amer.

The march will begin at Victoria Park and will finish at Grand Parade Square today at three P.M.

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Jordan is the closest to Palestine, “we want people to hear us and this is something that we are not going to be quiet about,” says Bitar.

Amer believes that a lot of people have been wrong in trying to make it seem like a religious issue.

“At the end of the day we are all human, so why not stand up for what we think is right. Everyone should be able to come.”

Related audio

Amer and Saif Bitar discussing the Global March to Jerusalem.

CORRECTION: March 5, 2018: Amer’s surname was removed because of concerns about her safety in the Middle East.

Students discuss Dal strike resolution

By Hope Perez

No strike? Oops, I already booked my flight home.

On March 11, the Dalhousie administration and the Dalhousie Faculty Association (DFA).

The Dalhousie administration posted this update Sunday afternoon on their negotiations website:

Luke Schuster heads back to the library on Monday. (Hope Perez Photo)

“Over the weekend, representatives of Dalhousie University and the Dalhousie Faculty Association (DFA) reached a tentative agreement on a three-year collective agreement. The next step is for the Board of Governors and the DFA to ratify the tentative agreement. We are hopeful for a positive outcome.”

The tentative agreement was reached after the provincial government granted solvency relief to the university’s pension plan. With this being the biggest obstacle during these negotiations, a final resolution is expected soon.

Some students believe they were not given the full story during negotiations.

Luke Schuster is one student who felt Dalhousie could have done a better job updating students.

“At any point this weekend I had no idea whether or not they were getting to a final resolution or going back to square one. I had no idea until Sunday afternoon what the strike had come to,” says Schuster.

Dalhousie spokesperson Charles Crosby says, “I understand students reached mixed messages from professors and the [Dalhousie] website. I don’t know what went on in the classroom but I do sympathize with the students.”

Luke Schuster talks about communication between the university and students

A second year student, Beretam Yaako, felt the university did a great job updating students given the nature of labour negotiations.

“I think they did very well in that aspect. They were sending emails regularly. Sometimes they would send two emails a day,” says Yaako.


Katimavik cut from federal budget

Katimavik alumni are still overcoming the shock of last Thursday, where they heard that the program’s funding was to be cut in this year’s Federal Budget 2012.

A photo taken by Katimavik alumna Shannon Goodhead when she volunteered at Gros Morne National Park, NFLD.

By Kelsey Power

Katimavik alumni are still dealing with the shock when they heard the program’s funding was to be cut when Federal Budget 2012 was announced.

Although Katimavik has faced substantial cutbacks in recent years and was cancelled in 1985 by Brian Mulroney’s Progressive Conservatives, the program has survived. The program and its supporters would like the government’s decision reversed.

The Conservative’s federal budget states, “Our government is committed to giving our young people the opportunities they deserve and we will achieve that by funding programs that benefit large numbers of young people at a reasonable cost rather than concentrating available funding on a very small number of participants at an excessive per-person cost.”

Katimavik had a yearly operational budget of $15 million from Heritage Canada. About 1,100 people between the ages of 17 and 21 partake in the program each year. During a six-month duration, an individual lives and volunteers in a group of 11 in various communities across the country. Katimavik says it generated $2.20 on average for every dollar it spends.

The Department of Canadian Heritage will see spending cuts of $46.2 million over the next three years as part of the government’s savings review.

In response to the cut, Katimavik says “this announcement came as a surprise, since we are entering the third year of a funding agreement whose terms end March 31st, 2013. The decision is even more surprising considering that the recently made public Canadian Heritage summative evaluation of our programs makes very clear how Katimavik’s programs are not only relevant, important and valuable, but also how the organization attains its targets and the programs tie in with government-wide priorities and the department’s strategic objectives.”

Since its founding in 1977 by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, more than 30,000 Canadians have participated in the program. The original aim was to give Canadians a sense of identity, something they were seen to be lacking based on previous participation in Canada World Youth.

A Katimavik group after their second day in the program. (Alanna O'Connor photo)

Megan Taylor, a former project leader and alumna of Katimavik explains, “In Katimavik, a lottery makes up who you are grouped with. It takes people from every walk of life and within the people you live with; you get to see this little snapshot of what Canada is. That was Jacques Hebert’s intent, to have people who were off the street with people who may be more well off, living together and seeing Canada.”

In response to the Conservative cut she says, “I feel that it shows who are the people the government values and whom they don’t value, I understand where they are coming from in going through a recession but I think they are trimming the wrong places.

“Harper said he was trimming the fat in cutting Katimavik from this year’s budget,” says Chelsea Tomsett, one of Taylor’s alumni who took part in the program in 2011,” but I think he’s cutting the nutrients away by eliminating these programs,” she adds.

“Before Katimavik, I was so fucked up,” says Tomsett. “My parents didn’t know what to do with me and then I went into this program and was surrounded by positive people, which completely changed me. I would hate to think where I would be right now if I hadn’t been able to have this experience. It just brought me into this extremely positive program and it was a really safe place to be. There were no stresses and no worries and many of us decided what we wanted to do with our lives during our time there.”

Despite the benefits, Tomsett does find some fault with the program.

“The administration for our district decided during the last two weeks of our program to move it to Medicine Hat, which just wasted money by moving the project from where it had been for so long and left us with nothing in a empty house for two weeks,” she says.

Elyssa Channing (left) is a Katimavik alumna. (Elyssa Canning photo)

Besides the reassignment that demonstrated a lack of organization, a $500 bursary for the end of volunteering was revoked during Tomsett’s time with Katimavik.

“They told us that we were not going to get bursaries because of funding, which was unfair as each of my work partners (I had worked at a special needs school), gave me $250, which was something they didn’t have to do,” she says.

The $1,000 activity budget had been cut from the program as well, and there was a reduction in the program’s duration, from nine months to six.

Another alumna, 19-year-old Alanna O’Connor, says, “my sister and I did the program and we were both hoping that my brother would get the chance to participate. Living in one city for my whole life definitely limited my knowledge on what the rest of Canada is about. Small communities across Canada thrive off of having Katimavik and alumni of the program are leaders of tomorrow because they know what it truly means to be Canadian.”

“Katimavik completely changed the course of my life, it changed my attitude towards learning and it opened a whole new understanding of what it means to be Canadian,” says Shannon Goodhead, an alumna of 2005. “It holds a place close to my heart as it has opened many opportunities for me.”

Goodhead is now unemployed as a result.

“I can always find another job, but the idea that other youth such as myself won’t be afforded the same opportunities, it breaks my heart,” she says.

“The government could have worked with the provinces and found ways to make up the funding but they didn’t,” says Taylor, the former project leader and alumna. “They made an environment where they couldn’t move forward. If they had, they could have saved this program and potentially made it better.

Katimavik is asking people to write letters to their local member of Parliament and the Prime Minister in support of the program, and there is a planned march on Parliament Hill for April 23. The CBC is also asking alumni to send in their best Katima-photo and story so they can be posted online.

The Eco-Internship program under Katimavik is funded separately by the Secrétariat à la jeunesse, under the Stratégie d’action jeunesse, a 2009-2014 initiative. This program will not be affected by the budget cut.

ElyssaKatimavik alumna and ambassador for recruitmen, Elyssa Canning, discusses how she feels regarding the loss of the program’s funding.

Avid Apparel looks to expand

Custom clothing company Avid Apparel, owned by fourth-year Dalhousie student Jesse Guth, is expanding.

Jesse Guth promotes his Avid Apparel laptop stickers. (Allie Sweeting photo)

By Allie Sweeting

Custom clothing company Avid Apparel, owned by fourth-year Dalhousie student Jesse Guth, is expanding.

“We are hiring campus reps at different universities across Canada,” says Guth.

Michaela Mersch, a good friend to Jesse and model for his recent ad campaign, sees a promising future for Avid Apparel.

He is branching out to Toronto next year,” says the second-year Dalhousie student. “He is opening an office in Scarborough and he’ll have a bunch of reps out here so I think it could get pretty big.”

Mersch attributes much of Avid Apparel’s success to Guth’s character.

Guth holds one of his promotional T-shirts. (Allie Sweeting photo)

“He’s extremely personable. I don’t know a single person that doesn’t like Jesse,” says Mersch. “He’s really on top of his work, very reliable, a really good friend and he’s smart.”

Guth’s goal is to offer a more personal experience to his customers.

“I find that Avid educates and informs during the whole process, so at the end of it you know you’ve made the right decision because we’ve walked you through part by part.”

The process Guth referred to is the steps taken to create the clients’ personalized piece of clothing.

The client first places an order on the companies’ website, then an Avid rep works with the client to pick and develop their design. The final product is a custom printed or embroidered apparel.

Mersch calls Avid young, fresh and something new.

“My favourite product is his funny lines on his shirts for his advertising [such as], ‘You just proved t-shirt advertising works, now stop looking at my chest.’”

About a month ago Guth got a few close friends together for a photo shoot to take some promotional pictures for the Avid Apparel website and Facebook page.

Avid models, Michaela Mersch and Emily Tauro, promotes some custom clothing. (Avid Apparel photo)

“Jesse called me up and said that we would have a photo shoot with champagne and chocolate strawberries, so I couldn’t say no,” says Mersch. “We just had a really good time, put a video together, had some music, were dancing around. It was fun.”

This fun and friendly atmosphere is a reflection of the company as a whole, and sets it apart form other custom clothing companies.

Guth believes that Avid Apparel is seen by customers as more of a cool brand rather than just a plain screen printer.

“I mean you walk around the library at Dal and you see people with Avid stickers on their laptops. I’ve got my car covered in stickers so people see it.”

Jesse Guth and the Avid models at last month's photo shoot. (Avid Apparel photo)

The three words Guth believes represents Avid Apparel best are, “Leaving customers happy.”

“As long as they’re happy at the end of the day, then I know they’ll spread the word about Avid, and they’ll come back.”

Guth’s expansion plan is to have a presence at many universities across Canada.

“To have these reps immersed in their university community, and be the go-to people when it comes to custom clothing needs on campus.”

Mersch suggests that the company could more than triple in size in a year’s time.



Jesse Guth discussing how Avid Apparel got started.



Dalhousie seeks “fair trade” designation

Dalhousie campus is currently hoping to become the second fair trade campus in Canada.

Staci Farrant a dietician at Aramark, stands in front of the fair trade coffee offered in Howe Hall (Kimber Lubberts photo)

By Kimber Lubberts

Dalhousie campus is currently hoping to become the second Fair Trade Campus in Canada. The University of British Columbia became the first school to do so in January of last year.

Staci Farrant, a registered dietician working at Aramark, the food services provider at Dalhousie, says the process to become a fair trade campus has been underway since fall 2011.

“It’s not a certificate, it’s more than that, it’s a designation,” she said. In order to become a certified fair trade campus, a school must meet a set of standards set by Fair Trade Canada.

Such standards include: all coffee available on campus must be fair trade, there must be three types of free trade tea available and there must be visible campus signs detailing what it means to be fair trade. This designation applies directly to the residence dining services at Dalhousie, excluding the franchises on campus like Tim Hortons and Second Cup.

Students are offered three varieties of fair trade coffee on campus (Kimber Lubberts photo)

Part of the hope in becoming a fair trade campus is that the franchises will become free trade as well.

While he supports the fair trade transition, Steven Mannell, director of the College of Sustainability at Dalhousie, says there are still many complications that need to be addressed.

Even if the campus were to make a successful shift, Mannell is concerned about people making ethical decisions consciously.

“Has it fulfilled the promise of fair trade? How fair is fair?” he said, suggesting the challenge in becoming fair trade is more than sporting the label–it is about making people aware of social justice, equities and trade. The label of a fair trade campus might eliminate the need for people to think about these issues and consciously make a difference.

One of the signs required by Fair Trade Canada to be visible around campus in order to be a Fair Trade Campus. (Kimber Lubberts photo)

This issue is partially addressed by the signage and visibility required by Fair Trade Canada.

At this point, Dalhousie is waiting for the designation from Fair Trade Canada.

In all of the residence buildings, students are offered a choice between a Rainforest, Wild Savanna, and 100% Cloumbian blends of fair trade coffee as well as a colourful display of signs about Fair Trade.

Staci Farrant discusses Dalhousie’s transformation into a Fair Trade CampusRelated Audio

Independent Filmmakers Festival kicks off at King’s

The Halifax Independent Filmmakers Festival kicked off this weekend with a screening of Battleship Potemkin at the University of King’s College, just in time for students to experience the festival before exams.

The audience at Alumni Hall after the screening of Battleship Potmekin (Helen Pike photo)

By Helen Pike

The Halifax Independent Filmmakers Festival began this weekend with a screening of Battleship Potemkin at the University of King’s College, just in time for students to experience the festival before exams.

The event, which was modelled after last year’s successful screening of Metropolis, also featured a live improvised performance by Halifax jazz and experimental musicians.

“This was kind of the brainchild, this year at least, of the History of Science and Technology Society at King’s. We were kind of deciding, over beer one night, at our society meetings that we needed to have a movie night,” says Charles Bourne, who helped organize the event.

The screening is not only a fun and interesting experience, but it has also helped to bring various parts of the community and universities in Halifax together. The event was organized and supported by parts of King’s, Dal, and even NSCAD.

“We need that to happen, otherwise it will just be a fizzly movie night, and that is fun but it is not a big event and it is not really a community event if you don’t have lots of groups working on it,” says Bourne. He is excited the event has turned into such a big project, and that it is officially part of HIFF.

The festival is in its sixth year, and promises an interesting lineup featuring more than 75 films as well as 20 events and artist talks. It runs from Apr. 10-14.

Sillouette of stand-up bass player Lucas Pearse playing at Alumni Hall. (Helen Pike photo)

“We really concentrate on the short film,” says Sarah MacLeod, an organizer of the festival this year. “We are free from commercial agenda, meaning we are strictly for the celebration of the film.”

She says the festival concentrates on Atlantic-made films, but also showcases work from around the world.

“Our opening film is The Forgotten Space by Allan Sekula and Noel Burch and they live in Paris,” says Macleod. “It is kind of an experimental film essay on shipping and kind of the whole shipping industry, so it is really timely with Halifax and getting the Irving contract.”


Related Audio 

Charles B

Charles Bourne talks about the Battleship Potemkin screening.

Dartmouth High improv team goes national

Twelve Dartmouth High School students are set to represent their school this week at the Canadian Improv Games in Ottawa.

By Philippa Wolff

Twelve Dartmouth High School students are set to represent their school this week at the Canadian Improv Games in Ottawa.

The national tournament and festival, which runs from April 3 to 7, features 20 high school teams from across Canada. Dartmouth’s team, named the “Zinckernauts”, after their coach and drama teacher, David Zinck, will be facing off with teams from New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Ontario Friday night.

“The best part for me is that I’m going with all my best friends,” said Grade 12 student Kaylie McGraw. “This team, we are all pretty much good friends and we love each other very much. It’s just the icing on the cake that we get to play together in a national setting, which is amazing.”

Bad reputation undeserved

Becka Warren says she hopes the team’s success will prove Dartmouth High’s “bad reputation” wrong. In Warren’s experience, Dartmouth High is not well-respected in HRM.

“I’m just really proud that it’s Dartmouth High that’s representing Nova Scotia,” said Warren. “… If you go and you see what’s going on with the improv team and all the other teams and how we’re going and we’re representing Nova Scotia, you can’t really believe our bad reputation.”

To cover the costs of the trip, the team has hosted two fundraisers and toured on a daily basis to other schools in HRM for a little over a week. The Ottawa trip’s bill comes to around $7,000, says Zinck, who is also Student Council Advisor at Dartmouth High.

The team also hosted a game of Humans vs. Zombies, where students were let loose in the school for a game of cat-and-mouse with foam dart guns for $10 a game.

The fundraising has allowed for each Dartmouth High player heading to Ottawa to only pay a maximum of $200.

All this fundraising has meant a busy month for the team members, some of whom are in their final months of high school.

Justin Moir, a Grade 12 student, jokes that he “can’t actually remember what the inside of [his] house looks like.”

“It’s all for a good cause because this is going to be something monumental for all of us, I think. It’s, for me, the highlight of my high school career,” he said on a more serious note.

“No Maritime East Coast team has ever gotten to the finals of the Ottawa competition,” said Rebecca Wolfe, a grade 11 student. “So I really, really want to be able to do that.”

Zinck says Dartmouth High is in a good position to take that step. Friday, he says, is strategically the best position for a team to be in, as it is the final night in the four-night preliminary round.

“We’re in a great position, because we get to see what other teams are doing and then see how it scores,” he said. “Plus, we’re doing workshops. Plus, we’ll be rehearsing.”

He adds that being on Friday night will create a “pressure cooker” that may display the team’s “weird chemistry,” an attribute Zinck says was important to their win at regionals in February.

For Zinck, they will truly win if his team has fun. He says the hardest part, no matter what, will be seeing his graduating students play their last game of high school improv.

“You spend months preparing for 16 minutes on stage – four four-minute events,” he said. “So we’re talking a hundred hours of rehearsal for 16 minutes. Knowing that this is going to be the last 16 minutes that you’re going to see that strange chemistry, that magic happen with that group of individuals … is really, really hard.”

“I think we would all like to see that creature for 16 more minutes twice [in the preliminary round and in finals],” Zinck said. “The whole goal is to play twice and, uh, hopefully that’ll happen.”

New bus route departing soon to airport

A new Metro Transit route to the Stanfield International Airport is set to launch on May 31st.

By Hope Perez

A Metro Transit bus heads toward Scotia Square. (Hope Perez photo)

A new Metro Transit route to the Stanfield International Airport is set to launch soon. The planning for the airport route comes out of Metro Transit’s new budget proposal.

The new bus route will be a a part of the MetroX division of Metro Transit that focuses on routes outside of the main city centre.

Lori Patterson, who is in charge of public affairs for Transit Services, says it has “been underway for over two years but now that we are in the final phase, we are expecting for the launch on May 31st”.

Currently, the only forms of public transportation to the Stanfield International Airport are the Airporter Shuttle or cabs.

Airporter manager Carolyn Moline says, “I think it will impact us quite a bit.”

Metro Transit plans to offer monthly passes or the option to pay a premium fare for all MetroX routes. Without a pass, the bus will cost $3.25 per ride.

The new bus route may take customers away from the Airporter Shuttle, which costs $19.99 for a trip each way. The Airporter does not plan to raise its prices after the MetroX route starts to run.

“That is not an option from here. We aren’t about to raise prices because there is competition coming in. That is not fair to our customers,” says Moline.

Unlike other Metro Transit routes, the airport route will run 24 hours, 7 days a week.

Patterson says, “During the peak hours, the bus will run every 30 minutes. Approximately from 5:45 pm to 12:25 am from the airport.”

The bus will be available once every hour for the remainder of the day.

To create a route to the airport, Metro Transit had to buy new buses with luggage racks, similar to the shuttles or buses seen at larger airports.

Despite the new busses, “there will be a limited capacity, we expect it will probably be one bag per customer,” says Patterson.

Watch this video of Patterson discussing the challenges of creating the new bus route:

Dal students prepare for Earth Summit

Two Dalhousie students will be flying to Rio de Janeiro this June as part of student delegation to the Earth Summit. But what makes this delegation unique is the fact that each of the students involved has been to the Arctic, the Antarctic or both.

By Olivia Rempel

Bridget Graham and Leah Pengelly (Olivia Rempel photo).

Two Dalhousie students will be flying to Rio de Janeiro this June as part of a student delegation to the Earth Summit (or Rio+20). But what makes this delegation unique is that each of the students involved has been to the Arctic, the Antarctic or both.

Bridget Graham and Leah Pengelly have both been to the Arctic through the Students On Ice (SOI) program, which connects students with polar experts on educational expeditions to the polar regions.

“I learned a lot about the Arctic and about the culture, and I think that while I was up there I took in a lot of information, but I think the great thing is I continue to learn from my experiences everyday, and there’s not a day that isn’t influenced by my expedition and it has really changed my outlook,” says Pengelly about her 2008 Arctic expedition.

Graham is still fresh off her expedition, which took place in August 2011. “I met an amazing group of people and I still talk to them everyday,” says Graham, whose expedition was the first stop for SOI in Iceland, Greenland, Nunavik and Labrador.

The Students On Ice Alumni Delegation is comprised of 14 students who will be attending the Earth Summit, a handful of ‘home team’ members and advisors. Pengelly acts as the logistics coordinator, while Graham works on the education platform.

“Our mission is to address the current and emerging environmental, economic and social challenges facing the polar regions, and to promote long-term sustainability of these regions and to give the decision makers at Rio our unique perspective,” says Pengelly, reciting their mission statement.

Bridget Graham and Leah Pengelly (Olivia Rempel photo).

Although they admit that the delegation does not have concrete plans to move beyond the Earth Summit, the hope is that the impact the conference has on members of the delegation will inspire future environmental work.

“Moving beyond Rio20 is going to be a large challenge for the delegation, just keeping up the momentum. But I think that once we go to Rio we’ll have a better idea of how to tackle these challenges, because I think you learn a lot at these conferences,” says Pengelly.

Graham adds, “Once we get back it’ll be all about telling other people what we learned and what we did, and doing presentations within our communities.”

Graham will be speaking on behalf of the delegation in front of her sustainability class this Thursday evening during their end of the year poster presentation.


Related audio
Leah Pengelly talks about the Students On Ice prgram 

Leah Pengelly talks about the Students On Ice program

Computer science education goes mainstream in Halifax

Local youth programs make hardware assembly and programming accessible to kids and teens.

Campers learn computer science at a young age at SuperNOVA. (Photo by SuperNOVA)

By Rose Behar

“Young people need to appreciate the professional aspects of the new digital world. Supply (of skilled workers) has become a bottleneck for growth in the economic sector.”

This was the message from the by European commissioner for industry and entrepreneurship, Antonio Tajani, at a recent press conference.

The European Union has identified a deficit of skilled workers in one of the fastest-growing industries in the world, technology, and has put out a call to action for youth.

The federal budget focuses heavily on funding business-led innovation in the field.

But with all this pressure to become ‘Generation 2.0,’ how do the young people feel? Are they interested in computer science?

The administrative director of Dalhousie’s SuperNOVA camp program, Mara Fontana, says in large part, yes.

And with over 650 campers per summer in the Halifax area, the numbers back her up.

SuperNOVA runs science and technology camps for kids from grades one to 12 throughout the summer, as well as select programs in the winter. One of the main components of the camp’s programming is always computer science, which they teach to all ages.

“We’ve even had a four year old make snap circuits,” says Fontana.

Mainly, they instruct campers on how to assemble computer hardware, and do some light programming and web design.

Fontana says SuperNOVA actively seeks to teach these skills to any student who expresses interest, regardless of their family’s income.

“We don’t want to turn away any kid because of financial issues,” she says.

Approximately $17,000 in camp bursaries were given out last year.

SuperNOVA may add to their computer science offerings soon with the addition of a newly-created branch called CompCamp. It’ll focus on teaching more advanced computer science skills to high school students.

CompCamp co-founders Michael Johnston, left, and Abdul Rahman, right, work at Startup Weekend. (Rose Behar photo)

Taylor Quinn, co-founder of the program, which launched at the recent tech venture competition Startup Weekend, says the idea sprang from the technology curriculum available at local high schools.

“We think it’s important to give youth more options to learn technology skills that aren’t being taught in high schools,” she says.

“It comes to a point where you ask, if students know more than their teachers on a subject, how can they learn?”


Federal Budget cause for concern for Nova Scotian business

Nova Scotia’s economy may be hit harder than expected by the federal government’s operating budget.

By Nathaniel Basen

N.S Finance Minister wants to know how cuts will affect personnel (Nathaniel Basen photo)
N.S Finance Minister wants to know how cuts will affect people (Nathaniel Basen photo)

Nova Scotia’s economy may be hit harder than expected by the federal government’s operating budget, released Thursday.

In addition to cuts to the civil service, small and medium-sized Nova Scotian businesses will also be affected.

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) will have its budget cut by $17.9 million. This is part of a nationwide cut of 8.7 per cent to regional development agencies.

ACOA works with businesses in Atlantic Canada, helping them become more productive and competitive.

Graham Steele responds to the numbers regarding cuts to ACOA and the DFO

N.S Finance Minister Graham Steele is waiting  to see how this will affect the economy.

“Whether it’s a reduction in the budget or a change in the business model what we all are curious about is how this will play out in practice in terms of personnel,” he says. “Obviously every person who draws a federal paycheque in Nova Scotia contributes to the economy.”

The eco-efficiency rebate was also cancelled. This takes away incentives for businesses to become eco-friendly. Andrew Younger, Liberal MLA for Dartmouth-East, tweeted that this would be “bad news for many small businesses in Nova Scotia.”

Younger is the official energy critic. He would later tweet, “Surprising how many attacks on Atlantic small & medium businesses are found in the Conservative budget.”

Cyclists present Crosstown-Connector

The Halifax Cycling Coalition is asking the community for feedback on its plan to encourage bicycling around Halifax.

by Rawb Leon-Carlyle

Agricola St. is the main proposed route of the Halifax Crosstown-Connector. The addition of bike lanes would mean a major reduction of on-street parking. (Rawb Leon-Carlyle Photo)
Agricola St. is the main proposed route of the Halifax Crosstown-Connector. (Rawb Leon-Carlyle photo)

The Halifax Cycling Coalition (H.C.C.) held a public meeting Thursday asking the community for feedback on its plan to encourage safe bicycling around Halifax.

“We’re here to talk about one route,” said key presenter David MacIsaac, “but every time I think about that one route, I’m thinking about how can it fit into what we’re going to have with the overall network here.”

The Crosstown-Connector project would create bike lanes connecting Halifax’s south end to the north end, and possibly to bike lanes on the Bedford Highway.

The proposed route, presented on the H.C.C.’s website, runs from Young Ave and through South Park St. in the south end, and runs along the length of Agricola St. in the north. However, this route is one of four routes for the Crosstown-Connector that were discussed in Thursday’s meeting.

Members of the community discuss the Windsor connector route. (Rawb Leon-Carlyle Photo)
Members of the community discuss the Windsor connector route. (Rawb Leon-Carlyle photo)

The meeting saw more than 100 people in attendance. Those present included Councillor Dawn Sloane and other councillors, as well as a few business owners from Agricola St. who often interrupted the presentation.

Participants were encouraged to give their opinions on the different proposed routes, referred to as Connaught, Windsor, Novalea-Gottingen, and Agricola.

One key issue in the meeting was parking space.

MacIsaac said that setting up bike lanes on Agricola St. would mean getting rid of 87 parking spaces north of North St. Those at the meeting reacted to this with a chorus of groans and low whistles.

A few business owners from Agricola said the reduction of parking spaces will mean fewer customers. However, the H.C.C. argues that increased cyclist traffic might mean even more business for Agricola.

Aside from parking spaces, the proposed routes were evaluated based on the complicity of the intersections, width and slope of the roads, traffic, and how well the bike paths would connect to existing or future paths.

Local street bikeways were proposed as a fifth alternative to the above routes, and involve using signage and traffic calming to turn residential roads into mixed-use roads. On these routes, motorists can expect to encounter heavy cyclist traffic and would accommodate cyclists at heavy intersections.

The H.C.C. will meet again for a similar public meeting at Maritime Hall at the Halifax Forum on Tuesday, April 3.

Maps of the four proposed Crosstown-Connector routes
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