The Real Traffic Problem in HRM

Traffic on Thistle Street

Here on Thistle Street summer is approaching and we will be able to open the windows again. That has a lot of great aspects, but there are a few challenges every year that the people who live in older homes in HRM have to deal with.

Our house sits just a few feet from the street, and the increasing commuter and bus traffic is noisy, dirty and disruptive. When the snow plow passes just 5 feet from your house multiple times during the night sleep is disrupted and the noise is deafening. Buses are extremely noisy and dirty, billowing diesel exhaust and dust into the air that at times is blown right into the house. The switch to electric buses cannot come too soon for me, let’s start converting the fleet and stop messing about.

Many mornings we are subjected to commuter traffic or people headed to Mic Mac Mall racing along our street like it is a race track. I wonder how these people for whom saving a few minutes on the commute is worth disturbing and endangering our neighbourhood would feel if they had to deal with all this. If you could give a thought to the people who live in these urban neighbourhoods and slow down or choose to stay on the highway where you really belong.

I have no quarrel with cyclists getting protected lanes, or increasing transit but I shudder when I hear of projects like widening Bayers Road. The answer to moving commuters should not include destroying residential neighborhoods and hollowing out the downtown.

The real traffic problem in HRM is that we are talking about enabling traffic, let’s start thinking about people before buses and cars.

Nova Scotia Conservative Failing

Cumberland North MLA Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin proved once again that the thinking within the Conservative Party in Nova Scotia is just too unsophisticated to govern this province. Her latest pronouncement that the funds from offshore royalties should go to debt reduction is just the latest example that proves the point. The current one-time spending announcements are intended to grow the economy, which is the best use of the funds.

We do have a debt problem in this province and the Liberal government has not made much headway in reducing it. However, the way out of this situation lays in growing our tax paying population and expanding our provincial economy. The Liberals inherited a province mired in a debt spiral started by the Conservatives under John Buchanan and with a few pauses it has continued until the last few years. The NDP made any progress nearly impossible by signing labor contracts the province could not afford but the Liberals had to honour, and the Federal Conservatives made changes to the funding formula for healthcare that hurt this province.

To get to this point in 2018 where the budget is balanced and the province can spend more on programs that the public demands has been difficult. Premier McNeil has been the target of much unfair criticism for sticking to a plan to have the government live within a determined fiscal envelope. Critics suggest that we need to spend more on healthcare, more on mental health care, more on roads, more on education and more on the demands of every one issue group that pitches its cause. At the same time, we are told to cut taxes, cut costs and reduce the accumulated debt.

(Nova Scotia Budget Links)

I am sure the Premier would love to do most of those things but here we come full circle. To do that we need to have a larger tax paying population and grow the economy. Our current population and revenue base will not support greater spending or debt reduction.

We need all our political parties to at least be honest with the public, we cannot cut our way to prosperity, we cannot spend our way to prosperity and there is no simple solution to the situation we have allowed to develop over the last 40 years. Stop talking like you have a simple solution- Liberal bad, me good.

Together we have to continue creating an environment where the private and public sectors work in concert to create a better educated and trained workforce. We have to maintain fiscal discipline and choose the most strategic expenditures with a goal to support expanding the growth and opportunities of the Nova Scotia economy.

How long will it take? I don’t think anyone knows but we just can’t afford to not start. Now or Never was the mantra a few years ago, we need to remember it and remind each other every day. You can track the successes we have achieved with the goals of the Ivany report online.

We still have a very long way to go.

Whining as an Olympic Sport

Nova Scotia is a great place and I love living next to the ocean.

However, we have raised whining to an epic level here. We find fault with everything! The weather for the Parade of Lights is too hot/too cold/too wet/too snowy. Local radio host Rick Howe goes off like spoiled three year old because Andy Fillmore is late calling into his show. The snow plough did not come soon enough. The snow plow comes too often. This building is too tall, this one blocks my view. I want everything to be different but I don’t want anything to change

A Dal student shoots off in a childish way and she is the recipient of a torrent of even more silly attacks online. Every decision by our governments must produce a victim if only some hurt feelings.

Stuff happens and it always will.

All your outrage, real and imagined won’t change anything. If you really care about changing what you are whining about – go out and make the change.



Trump Bashing

I love a well-crafted rebuke of President Trump as much as the next person, however, all the Twitter and Facebook outrage does not accomplish anything.

The first opportunity to make real change in the policy direction of the Trump Administration is currently passing many people by.

The mid term elections can reshape the playing field and candidates and incumbents and currently staking out the ground across the US. If you truly want to do something to fix the Trump issue, work for a great non-Republican candidate now and in 2020.

Who Are You?

I was away sailing in two model sailboat regattas at the end of May this year when I received a voice message on my phone.The message contained a male voice and originated  from a phone number in Nova Scotia. The man was shouting and swearing and the message ended with a death threat.

My first reaction was puzzlement, I did not recall anything in my recent past that would generate a death threat. I googled the telephone number which generated a name and then I googled the name. I found his FaceBook page and picture, I did not know him. I thought it must be a misdialed number, but who knows?

I called Silvia at home to let her know what had happened and together we decided to call the police in Halifax. I called the non-emergency number and filed a report. The police took the information and treated it very seriously. They dispatched two officers to my home, talked to Silvia and then called me. I played the message for them over the phone and gave them the information I found online.

When I followed up with them a week later I learned it was a wrong number, I was not the subject of the threat. The man was angry with someone and made a stupid call. He was “spoken to” by the police but as I understand it no charges were laid. I have no quarrel with that result, people make mistakes.

I know that these kinds of calls and threats are a regular part of the landscape for the staff in the offices of our elected officials. I wonder if people become accustomed to it, or are they puzzled and concerned as I was.

I am left to wonder what kind of people think this is OK. Are they the same people that bully the cashier in a store, or go bananas when their special coffee order with 1-1/2 of this and 2/3 of that is not perfect?

Who are you people? What is wrong with you?



I woke up at 3:30 am today and inexplicably had this thought about zombies.

Why do zombies want to eat brains?

To create fans! Clearly, you have to be brainless to care about a TV show featuring zombies. It had to be said, hate me if you must but you know I am right.

Just Coffee Please

OK, this is not a world shattering problem.

Why can’t we have a coffee shop or a line for people who just want a simple cup of coffee.

You want a sandwich, muffin, skinny latte or some other special concoction get in the other line. In my line we only serve coffee, no special blends or roasts and you can only add one cream and one sugar. Really I think we should stick to black and make a spot where you can add cream and sugar yourself.

There is a proliferation of shops that will cater to the precious sensitivities of coffee snobs. I doubt many of you can tell the difference but if you want to pay $5 for coffee go ahead. I just want a single line where we can get coffee, quickly without fuss – it’s early and I am not ready to deal with the existence of a machiatto. #justcoffeeplease