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🗞 Get lost in the saga of Otago Drive

Plus, saying farewell to a memorable year of Coast journalism

Good morning!

It’s the last newsletter of 2023. It feels surreal writing that, not only because time goes by way too fast, but also because of how much this newsletter has accomplished these last 360-something days.

Not only did we achieve a Coast longtime goal of reaching (and surpassing) 50,000 subscribers, but we also launched a membership program that currently has almost 800 paying members 🤯.

When I started with The Coast almost two years ago I couldn’t have imagined the journey ahead, and it’s all thanks to your continued support.

You’ve stuck with us through major staff layoffs, repeated design changes, and the launching of two new newsletters—The Coast Insider weekend edition and City Hall edition—and somehow, some way, we made it.

Thank you all for a wonderful 2023 and I hope you have a safe and joyous New Year’s.

See you in 2024! 🍾

P.S. Thank you to everyone who sent in photos of the recent Cold Moon. They were beautiful and I enjoyed looking through them all!

– Alyssa

🌡️ Traffic & Weather

Today: 🌧️ 4°

Tomorrow: 🌧️ 

Next Day: ☁️

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


Homicide investigation at the Alehouse

📸 Martin Bauman / The Coast

When BC-based Overstory Media Group bought The Coast in early 2022, it meant many things behind the scenes, including giving co-founders Christine Oreskovich and Kyle Shaw an instant succession plan for if/when they want to try other things after 30+ years of Coasting. 

But for readers, who know The Coast from the front end—our site and newsletters—the single most important thing OMG brought to the table may be Martin Bauman. He was working at OMG’s flagship publication, Capital Daily in Victoria, when he decided to move to the east coast. At the time, The Coast happened to be hiring a reporter, so Martin applied, got the job and became the company’s first employee to transfer from one publication to another when he arrived in Halifax in late 2022.

On our team, Martin quickly established himself as a kind and generous colleague, a hard-working journalist who’s willing to share a source or pitch in to help on a breaking story. To readers, he is a versatile and talented reporter who breaks a lot of memorable stories. Now Martin’s beats include food and arts, which used to be full-time jobs for two Coast staff during healthier times in the media business; he’s drawn to the Halifax Wanderers among other sports; plus he invented and writes The Coast’s popular weekly Halifax Harbour traffic report, which earned a whole “Stories of the Year” segment of its own in another edition of the newsletter. 

At the start of 2023, however, Martin distinguished himself as one of the city’s leading crime reporters, when he dug into the death of Ryan Michael Sawyer outside the Halifax Alehouse, a downtown bar near Scotiabank Centre. In hindsight, this sad case brought together several of Martin’s journalistic interests: Sawyer was in town for the World Juniors hockey tournament that Halifax co-hosted around Christmas 2022, and a bar patron dying casts a shadow over the whole food and drink scene. When Sawyer’s death was ruled a homicide, with Alehouse staff rumoured to be directly involved, finding out what exactly happened that Christmas Eve night only became more important—for Halifax and for Martin.

In an ongoing series of stories, Martin pushed for more details on the homicide ruling, brought to light other allegations of violence at the Alehouse and went to court several times to monitor a separate assault complaint against Alehouse security staffers Alexander Pishori Levy and Matthew Brenton Day. Then in August, Levy was charged with Sawyer’s death, a breakthrough that may offer some closure to his family. Martin will be following the trial when it happens.

🗳️ The results are in

What’s the worst year of the Traumatic Twenties?

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 2020 (54%)

🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 2021 (17%)

⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 2022 (6%)

🟨🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 2023 (21%)

⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 2024 (2%)

🤔 Need to know

🏗️ The implementation of the amendments made to the Nova Scotia Building Code Regulations has been postponed “to allow more time for education and training.”

🚍 Halifax Transit will be free on December 31 after 6pm until the end of regular service hours.


The saga of Otago Drive

📸 Matt Stickland / The Coast

The Coast turned 30 years old in 2023, and it goes without saying that a lot has changed since the very first edition came out as a newspaper on June 17, 1993. But one constant has been The Coast’s fundamental approach to journalism. We believe in the power of a good story, we use conversational language—swears and all—to talk with readers instead of talking down and we’ve always thought the idea that media could exist in some perfectly objective bubble is bullshit.

Thirty years after we embodied the end of idealized objectivity, there are still media organizations perpetuating it in Halifax. They act as if telling “both sides of the story” is more important than telling the truth of what’s going on. They pretend their reporters don’t have opinions or personalities. Denying that opinions exist is what the myth of media objectivity is built on. We go the other way at The Coast, revealing opinions and biases because that’s information the reader needs to make sense of what we publish.

Matt Stickland, our reporter who covers city hall, takes his job seriously—and personally. As a journalist, he hasn’t lost touch with also being a concerned citizen. For examples of this, you could pick pretty much anything Matt’s written for The Coast, from reports on city standing committee meetings to an analysis of HRM’s budget. But for the best example turn to “The saga of Otago Drive,” his recent three-part tale about a speed bump on a street in Cole Harbour. It meshes the deeply personal with the thoroughly reported to create a compelling narrative. In other words, once you start reading, you won’t want to put down. And its very existence is a reminder that nontraditional forms are an important part of our media landscape.

From that piece of cement on Otago Drive, Matt explains how the modern habit of car-centric city planning has drained life from local communities and come to threaten all life on the planet. And he takes us all over the place, from the titular street to inside a submarine, in a way that’s both true to the story and completely unexpected. Our holiday wish for you is that you find a chunk of quiet time to sit down and get lost in the story. We think you’ll be glad you did.

🗞️ In Other News

🕵️ An investigation is underway after a pedestrian was hit by a Halifax Transit bus at the intersection of Oxford Street and Chebucto Road.

🏊 A Halifax swimming group has started a campaign to save Centennial Pool.

🗳️ Tim Houston is fairly certain there won’t be a provincial election held in 2024.

🎣 Winter sportfishing season begins on January 1.

🏒 Canada beat Latvia 10-0 on Wednesday to win the 2023 World Junior Hockey Championship.

🗓️ Things To Do

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

🗓 Garrett Mason: Truro-raised bluesman Garrett Mason will be playing his final show of 2023 at New Scotland Brewing Co. this week. | Dec. 29 | 9pm | $6 cover

🗓 Drag Race to the New Year: Kings Arms Commons and Glitter and Grit want you to ring in 2024 in Wolfville with a drag race you’ll never forget. | Dec. 31 | 9pm | $15-$20

🗓 Singing in The New Year: Looking to stay in this New Year’s Eve but still want to have some fun? Spend the evening listening to two online concerts with Terry Kelly and friends. | Dec. 31 | 7:30pm & 11:00pm | Free

🗓 Free AF Fridays: The Seahorse Tavern is bringing back Free AF Fridays in 2024 with the first event happening on January 5. There will be cheap beer and music provided by DJ aniiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiita. | Jan 5 | 11pm | Free cover

Find more Halifax events in The Coast listings

🍴 Where To Eat & Drink

New Year’s Eve Midnight Macaroon Box: Dee Dee’s Ice Cream and Matt Cooks have teamed up to bring you a NYE treat box filled with 6 macaroon ice cream sandwiches, featuring flavours like lemon with candied lemon peel, Mexican chocolate and hazelnut vanilla. Get your hands on one before they sell out!

🛍️ Shop Talk

Tako Loko renovations: Halifax restaurant Tako Loko is being revamped and will be temporarily closed until renovations are completed.

👀 In Case You Missed It

• King Charles II’s Christmas Day speech was watched by 7.48 million viewers this year [Watch].

• 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.

• The Coast lost 33% of its newsroom to layoffs this year but there was one bright spot: We applied for a grant to hire an education reporter, and were able to bring on Lauren Phillips 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.

That’s it!

Thanks for reading The Coast Daily today and throughout the year ❤️ 

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