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🗞 A year dominated by natural disaster

Plus, Halifax's desperate search for a French high school.

Good morning!

Have you had your eyes on the sky this week? A special moon that only comes around about every 20 years was visible this week. Called a Cold Moon, a Long Night Moon or a Christmas Moon, it shines extra bright and appears to be perfectly round for a few nights in a row.

I unfortunately only found out about the lunar phenomenon after it was at its brightest on December 26, but I’m curious to know if any of you spotted it. Bonus points if you can send me a picture!

Did you catch the Cold Moon in the sky this week?

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– Alyssa

🌡️ Traffic & Weather

Today: 🌧️ 4°

Tomorrow: 🌧️

Next Day: 🌧️ 2°

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


Fire! Fires! Floods?

📸 Communications Nova Scotia

Do you remember back in January, when COVID’s scary new Kraken variant turned up in Nova Scotia? Or when Halifax architect Brian MacKay-Lyons got named to the Order of Canada? Of course you don’t! (Unless you’re Brian. Congrats, Brian.) This year our collective memory is dominated by the paradoxical natural disaster duo of fires and floods.

Sunday, May 28 was the start of the fire in Tantallon’s Westwood subdivision, which quickly spread to Hammonds Plains. The province’s historically dry spring had already led to some massive forest fires in sparsely populated western Nova Scotia, but Tantallon meant a lot of people plus a wildfire on the edge of Halifax. Mayor Mike Savage and premier Tim Houston responded quickly with echos of pandemic crisis management: a state of emergency, shutting down parks, the retooled "No blazes at home" slogan, huge fines for any outdoor burning, even a little public shaming when Savage called out someone for burning leaves with a blowtorch in "a clear violation of the no-stupid policy."

The Coast also responded quickly. Martin Bauman was one of the first journalists in the province to publish a story on May 28—judging by the spike in traffic to our website, it proved an important public resource—and he stayed on the fire the next eight days until the crisis was declared over and parks reopened on Monday, June 5. Every other journalist in our small newsroom joined in to cover various angles of the disaster, but Martin was our leader. No surprise he wrote The Coast’s first story after the rains arrived on Friday, July 21, and the deadly flooding began.

🤔 Need to know

🗣️ In a year-end interview, Tim Houston sat down with Global News to talk about two of 2023’s provincial hot topics: Health care and housing.

👩‍🎨 Brighten up your dreary January Sundays with pARTicipate workshops in visual art (the 14th), dance/movement (21st), and music (28th). All skill levels/ages.*

🎆 There’s no place like Downtown Halifax on New Year’s Eve. From intimate dinners to rocking dance floors, you can ring in the New Year in style.* 

*Sponsored Post


New Fall River Art Studio offers classes and camps

The Art Space was founded by Zen Rankin to provide a place where aspiring artists of all ages can come and find joy in exploring their passion for creativity as they learn skills ranging from drawing, painting, cartooning, and even board game making from professional artists. Whether your child enjoys arts & crafts or is considering a career in art, The Art Space will teach them the skills they need to feel confident as an artist!

Weekly classes start in January. PD Day camps and March Break camps are also available. Registration for all classes and camps is open now!


Desperately seeking a French high school

📸 Conseil Scolaire Acadien Provincial

From a rich asshole killing Twitter, to the federal government pushing Facebook out of news, to layoffs in the thousands between CTV and CBC alone, it’s been a bad 2023 in the media business. Closest to home, The Coast hasn’t been immune to the challenges publishers face trying to make money when most advertising dollars on the planet go to two tech giants. We launched the Coast Insider membership program this year, asking our readers to pay to support our journalism—it costs as little as $8.25 a month—using hyperlocal microeconomics to fight the global macroeconomic trends caused by Google and Facebook. That’s working, but we need more members to be able to grow. (Did we mention you can become a Coast Insider for just $8.25 a month with an annual membership?)

Instead of growing this year, our team of journalists shrank as we had to lay off arts editor Morgan Mullin and social media editor Jenn Lee in the summer. Compared to CBC, which is laying off 10% of its staff, The Coast lost 33% of the newsroom and an incalculable amount of talent. Both inside The Coast and for readers on the outside, this sucked.

But there was one staffing bright spot, thanks to a grant from Canada’s Local Journalism Initiative. We applied for a grant to hire an education reporter, making the pitch that Halifax has an awful lot of schools and colleges and universities, yet extraordinarily little journalistic attention paid to these vital institutions. The LJI agreed, and education reporter Lauren Phillips started in September. While she’s already uncovered lots of unique stories about local schools, her story of the year is about one that doesn’t exist yet—a French-language high school on peninsular Halifax.

French-speaking parents were well aware of the situation: French immersion students in what must be the most densely populated part of the province are switching to English Citadel High, rather than commuting out to the Burnside Industrial Park for their nearest French high school option. Lauren brought the story out into the wider community of citizens who deserve accountability from government—in this case the CSAP, Nova Scotia’s French school board—no matter what language. As one parent told Lauren about the delays behind the much-needed Francophone high school on the peninsula, “It just hasn't materialized and now the worst part is that it's from our own fucking school council."

🗞️ In Other News

🚲 Halifax emergency room doctor and trauma expert, Dr. Kirstin Weerdenburg, believes more needs to be done for cyclists’ safety after witnessing increased cyclist injuries caused by vehicles.

🩺 New data from Secondstreet.org shows that 1 in 8 Canadians are waiting to access healthcare services in the country. CTV has the story.

🐷 Oaklawn Farm Zoo in the Annapolis Valley has announced it has permanently closed.

🚨 A 14-year-old was arrested on Boxing Day after driving a stolen vehicle into a bus shelter and power pole on Shoreham Lane in Halifax.

🍽️ Almost 400 people attended Dartmouth’s Staggers Pub and Grub’s 11th annual free Christmas dinner this year—an event started to help people avoid loneliness over the holidays.

🕰️ A 118-year-old clock tower in the coastal town of Carbonear in Newfoundland was repaired by a Ukrainian watchmaker after not ticking for over 50 years.

🏊‍♀️ Summer McIntosh has been named The Canadian Press female athlete of the year. 


Holiday Fire Safety!

Follow along as Halifax Regional Fire & Emergency shares tips to keep you and yours safe this holiday season.


Stan Rogers book and vinyl box set

An essential item for any traditional folk music fan, Stan Rogers - Songs Of A Lifetime is a limited edition collectible box set that includes the entirety of his songwriting in a beautifully designed book of sheet music with notation and introductions written by Stan and those who worked with him. The book is packaged together with 49 recordings from three albums on five vinyl discs including the rare re-release For The Family first issued only months after his passing, and for the first time ever on vinyl, Coffee House to Concert Hall and Home In Halifax.

The accompanying song book of musical notation provides any musician with the desire to carry on the story-telling song tradition the means to learn every song recorded by the man himself. The Stan Rogers - Songs of a Lifetime box set is a limited edition collector's item, with only 1,000 copies being manufactured. Pre-orders are starting now.

🗓️ Things To Do

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

🗓 24 Hour Theatre Thing: Support The Bus Stop Theatre and enjoy a night of 6 plays written, rehearsed and performed all within the same 24 hours. | Dec. 29 | 7:30pm | PWYC

🗓 Halifax Thunderbirds: Watch the Thunderbirds take on the Philadelphia Wings in lacrosse action at the Scotiabank Centre this week. | Dec. 29 | 7:30pm | $26.25 - $101.75

🗓 Callehan Duo: Grab a drink and catch this Nova Scotian folk and Americana group at The Loose Cannon. | Dec. 29 | 10pm-1am

🗓 Art Gallery of Nova Scotia: The AGNS is free through the holiday season. Gather friends and family for a day of cool art and creativity. | Until Jan. 14 | 10am-5pm | Free

Find more Halifax events in The Coast listings

🛍️ Eat & Drink

🥜 Try Propeller Brewing’s new Peanut Butter Cup Dessert Stout: Flavoured with flaked oats, chocolate malt, roasted barley, milk chocolate and peanut butter.

🛍️ Shop Talk

📚 Weird Harbour Bar is having a Boxing Week sale: All books, t-shirts, totes, mugs and filters are 25% off.

👀 In Case You Missed It

• Halifax’s Board of Police Commissioners used its last meeting of 2023 for a bit of theatre. Read the full recap here.

• Did you look forward to The Coast’s weekly harbour traffic reports this year? You’re not alone. In terms of popularity, the story of The Coast’s year is the rise of the weekly harbour traffic report and it’s all thanks to Coast reporter Martin Bauman. If you’re a fan of these weekly looks at the comings and goings in the harbour, we’d love to know more about what the appeal is for you. Reply to this email to share your thoughts and help guide Martin’s harbour reports in 2024.

• Looking to refresh your New Year’s playlist with something more local? The Coast breaks down the best Halifax album releases of 2023.

• Halifax’s year in sports was never boring—from a deep Mooseheads playoff run to the North American Indigenous Games to World Juniors gold. The Coast’s Martin Bauman looks back on it all.

• In search of a good book to cozy up with over the holidays? The Coast digs into the best books released by Nova Scotia authors in 2023.

That’s it!

Thanks for reading The Coast Daily today ❤️ 

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