by Rick Howe

The mayor says it is no different than any plant startup and he doesn’t think it’s a big deal. Problems have come to light with Dartmouth’s new sewage treatment plant. There are higher levels of fecal coliform than allowed under Nova Scotia environmental regulations in the plant’s discharge and until the matter’s fixed the city is refusing to take ownership of the facility. Mayor Peter Kelly says these are normal operational glitches. He says there were similar problems with the Halifax plant and expect to encounter them as well when the Herring Cove plant is up and running and it’s just a matter of tweaking the plant’s mechanics and the chemical mix used in the treatment process. I hope he’s right and we haven’t got a nearly half billion dollar white elephant on our hands.

Swine flu cases continue to spike in Nova Scotia. There have been 76 new cases confirmed since Monday. It brings to 358 now the total number of swine flu cases in the province since the outbreak began. There are folks who think the media is sensationalizing the possibility of a more severe outbreak this fall and winter. The media’s not making this stuff up. Public health officials like Doctor Robert Strang are warning the flu is spreading and we can expect deaths. Ignore the warnings at your own peril.

Of the 358, 9 people have been hospitalized in Nova Scotia. 2 of them are said to be in serious condition. CBC reported last night one person is on a respirator. Health Minister Maureen MacDonald continues to insist the NDP will live up to a campaign promise to keep all Nova Scotia’s ER’s open 24/7. It’s a noble stand, but is it practical? No says Doctors Nova Scotia. A shortage of available doctors is the leading reason behind the rash of ER closures outside of Metro Halifax. Some doctors suggest the problem can be resolved by bringing in more nurse practioners and upgraded paramedics. Ms MacDonald should be taking a lot at that option.
It didn’t take these new guys in government long to learn the dance. I watched NDP Justice Minister Ross Landry on the CBC supper hour news last night skate around a question about allowing cameras into Nova Scotia’s courtrooms. The streaming of the Howard Hyde inquiry online has once again raised the issue about more media access to the judicial system. Asked by anchor Elizabeth Chiu whether he supported allowing cameras into the courts, Landry said he believed in a more open society. Gee, I’m glad to hear that, but does he support allowing cameras into the courts. Landry never said and Elizabeth let it go.

According to the latest McLean’s magazine, when it comes to well run municipalities in the country, we’re not in the top 10, not even the top 20. The Atlantic Institute for Market Studies did the survey on the country’s best run cities. It looked at factors like population, policing, public transit, road conditions, taxation levels and such. Burnaby, BC was ranked number 1..The only Atlantic Canadian city to make the top 10 was Saint John, New Brunswick. Halifax ended up 24th out of 31 cities looked at. We finished just ahead of Charlottetown and Fredericton.
And it seems I touched a nerve with some in my column in the community weeklies this week suggesting KISS should be playing somewhere other than the Halifax Common. Too bad. Because of the risk to the Common grounds from tens of thousands of grass-trampling feet and the vehicles used to set up and take down concert equipment, I suggested the Halifax Common should host only mega-concerts like Paul McCartney’s last weekend. Stick “B” groups like KISS to the Metro Centre or if it has to be outdoors, the Garrison Grounds.
Have a great weekend. Get involved. And if you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.