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🗞️ Council misses road safety memo

Plus, Coast readers weigh in on journalism's future

Good morning!

If you’re squinting at the date on your calendar this morning, it’s not a typo: February wanted one last word this year—and in Halifax, that means another walloping of wind and rain.

The last Leap Day came in one of the final weeks before COVID-19 flipped everything upside-down: Feb. 29, 2020. Thank god some things have changed four years later—even if we haven’t quite put the virus behind us.

For the rare flowers among us, Feb. 29 represents something even more special: The once-every-four-years birthday that actually falls on the right day. Hockey legend Henri “Pocket Rocket” Richard was a Leap Day baby. So is rapper Ja Rule—who, perhaps, felt “hustled, scammed, bamboozled, hood winked, lead astray!!!” not just by his involvement in the ill-fated Fyre Festival, but by missing out on a chance to blow out his birthday candles three out of every four years.

Today in Halifax, there’s a Leap Day Party at the Central Library branch for newcomers to Canada.

– Martin

How will you mark the Leap Day?

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🌡️ Traffic & Weather

Today: ⛈️ 11°

Tomorrow: 🌧️

Next Day: 🌤️ -6°

🚗 Driving today? Check out the current traffic conditions and ongoing road closures.

WE ASKED, YOU ANSWERED

How would you solve journalism in Canada? Coast readers weigh in

📸 Lauren Phillips / The Coast

Two weeks after Bell announced it would cut 4,800 jobs across all levels of the company—bringing an end to weekday news programs at several stations across Canada, including CTV Atlantic—here we are with another familiar story: Late last week, Vice Media—a company once valued at $5.7B—told employees it was “no longer cost-effective” to carry on as before. Among the casualties? The award-winning Vice News department.

The cuts come at a time when rigorous, factual reporting has arguably never been more important: A recent Statistics Canada survey found two in five Canadians surveyed found it harder to distinguish between truth and fiction than three years ago. Bots, PR spin, secrecy-prone governments and AI deepfakes have all underscored the need for reliable journalism.

Which brings us back to a question we asked you in the Coast Daily two weeks ago: How would you solve journalism in Canada?

🤔 Need to know

🏠 A Halifax shelter program provider says the current situation is “devastating” as the HRM tries to find housing options for unhoused residents.

🏥 A recent report finds that Nova Scotia’s health-care system is plagued with a “systemic” lack of supports for victims of domestic violence.

💃 Shake off your winter blues with Live Art Dance! With vibrant dance presentations from hip-hop to contemporary ballet, we have something for everyone! Learn more here.*

🚨 Halifax RCMP issued a request last night for the public’s help to find Shelby England, a 13-year-old who went missing in Beaver Bank. She’s 5-foot-2 and 110 pounds; the RCMP ask anyone with information about England to phone it in at 902-490-5020.

*Sponsored Post

THE COST OF EDUCATION

School spending sure to be a huge chunk of Nova Scotia’s budget

📸 Communications Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia’s 2024-25 provincial budget is scheduled for release later today by finance minister Allan MacMaster (pictured above). The province is a multi-billion-dollar operation—last year's budget outlined a total of $14.8 billion in spending, with the Department of Health and Wellness the biggest expense at $4.85 billion. Coming in second was education, which is of particular interest to The Coast's education reporter, Lauren Phillips.

In 2023-24, Nova Scotia earmarked $1.87 billion for Education and Early Childhood Development and $707 million for Advanced Education—universities and colleges. This money is directed towards multi-year plans to invest in school buildings, classroom learning, access to child care, workers’ wages, teacher recruitment and retention and post-secondary funding.

Earlier this month, the province changed the way universities will be funded for the next year, making money performance-based and contingent on universities hitting certain targets, like cutting their administrative spending by five percent. In a statement Feb. 28, the Association of Nova Scotia University Teachers’ president Scott Stewart says there’s no clear direction on how schools should do that. Perhaps tomorrow’s budget reveal holds the answer.

Stewart says that universities should be accountable for how they spend, but that a two percent increase in government funding for 2024-25, which Nova Scotia has promised, is “offset by the decrease in the tuition cap for Nova Scotian students, and placed on the backs of international students” who face minimum tuition increases, unironically. While ANSUT supports lowering tuition increases, Stewart says, “we also believe that core funding, which was decreased by a former government in 2010, should be reinstated.” 

Lauren will be representing The Coast at the budget table tomorrow, getting early access in what’s called a “media lockup” with the documents, and will have a report for you on what’s planned for the upcoming year in provincial spending.

SPONSORED BY ELEVATION PICTURES

Witness the Incredible Journey: 500 DAYS IN THE WILD, in theatres Friday

Award-winning director and cinematographer Dianne Whelan is the first person to complete this epic journey of discovery—hiking, biking, paddling, snowshoeing and skiing across the country.

For a woman in her 50s who is not an extreme athlete, it was sometimes gruelling, occasionally harrowing, often exhilarating and always surprising. She started out alone, disillusioned with the state of the world and worried about climate change, to look for different ways of caring for the land and each other. She ended the journey a bit wiser, more hopeful, in love and with a passion to share this story.

Dianne was in town for a special screening last weekend, thanks to a cross-Canada film tour powered by Telefilm Canada. Everyone can now experience her journey playing at Parklane Cineplex Halifax on Friday.

CITY HALL

The Grand Parade podcast: HRM still not learning its lesson about road safety

📸 Left: The Coast. Right: Angela Gzowski

Last fall, Halifax’s Transportation Standing Committee had a lengthy discussion about road safety that, if recent history gives any indication, went rather poorly.

It started with promise: Councillor Trish Purdy asked why Halifax builds speed humps for traffic calming—to which the HRM’s director of traffic management, Lucas Pitts, replied “as apolitically as possible” that money for speed humps would be better spent elsewhere, as there are better—and cheaper—ways to eliminate traffic-related deaths and injuries.

Seems like council missed the memo. In this week’s Grand Parade episode, Coast city hall reporter Matt Stickland tells fellow reporter Martin Bauman why he’s disappointed with council these days. The two also talk about tent encampment evictions, a sidewalk that leads to nowhere and why there’s a silver lining ahead for Halifax.

🗞️ In Other News

🚨 Police are investigating after a long-term care worker in Eastern Passage was assaulted during an “altercation” with two women earlier this week.

💸 Artists say dwindling federal arts funding will have a negative effect on local art of all kinds.

✊🏾 A North Preston clothing designer’s newest collaboration shines a spotlight on Black leaders in Nova Scotia—and the proceeds go to a good cause.

🛫 The CAA has a new online guide to help you know—and defend—your rights as an airline passenger in the event of delays, cancellations or other issues.

🏒 In Tuesday night’s overtime win, Cole Harbour’s Sidney Crosby became the 9th player in NHL history to reach 1,000 even-strength points.

SPONSORED BY ATLANTIC LOTTERY

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As much as gaming is a part of the company's DNA, so is giving back to Atlantic Canada. Atlantic Lottery has existed for almost 50 years now and 100% of profits have always been returned to the region.

Read more about what Atlantic Lottery does for their community here.

🗓️ Things To Do

Looking for something to do this week? Check out these Coast picks:

🗓 An Evening with Mary Walsh: The Canadian sketch comedy legend gets on-stage at the Light House Arts Centre tonight | Feb. 29 | 8pm | $54.70

🗓 Halifax Mooseheads: The Herd host the Saint John Sea Dogs this Saturday in the final 3-week push before playoffs | Mar. 2 | 7pm | From $10.25

🗓 Darkside Dippers: Every Sunday, you can join the crowd of hooligans Haligonians taking a polar plunge at Lake Banook | Mar. 3 | 12pm | Free

Find more Halifax events in The Coast listings

⚓ What’s In The Harbour

🚢 The Atlantic Sun container ship arrives in Halifax around midnight from Liverpool, UK. It leaves around 5pm for New York.

🚢 The 122-metre-long BF Fortaleza container ship is slated to berth at the South End Container Terminal between 6am and 7:15am. It arrives from Mariel, Cuba, and departs for Mariel again around 4pm.

➡️ The Morning Peace vehicle carrier leaves Halifax for New York around 11:30am.

🚢 The 3,200-tonne IT Integrity offshore supply ship arrives in Halifax between 11am and 12:30pm from Charleston, SC.

➡️ The Canadian Coast Guard’s Jean Goodwill icebreaker leaves Halifax for the open water around 3:30pm.

➡️ The NYK Romulus container ship leaves Halifax for Southampton, UK, around 6pm.

➡️ The Augusta Luna container ship leaves Halifax for Villagarcia, Spain, around 10pm.

👀 In Case You Missed It

🦆 A dispute over the future of Hartlen Point—where the DND has plans to build a $129M warship testing site—has caught one federal party leader’s attention, The Coast reports.

🏛️ Nova Scotia’s Liberal leader says MLA Brendan Maguire’s recent decision to join the PC Party and accept a cabinet post is “not based in values,” calling the move “transactional.”

🌊 Environmentalists continue to share concerns after Nova Scotia’s government nixed the Coastal Protection Act that had started with all-party support just five years ago.

That’s it!

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