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HRM 2008: meh-mories 

Halifax started 2008 with an embarrassing international call for attention and ended with an embarrassing gang war.


After Ellen Page appears on the David Letterman Show, CBC’s Information Morning convinces a parade of Nova Scotian personalities, including fiddle-playing premier Rodney MacDonald, to invite Letterman to the province. Letterman turns down the offer.| A private company making deliveries for KFC refuses to deliver to Uniacke Square, saying the neighbourhood is “too dangerous.” KFC officials support the decision. | Judge Ann Derrick calls police use of a stun gun and arrest of an unarmed 17-year-old Dartmouth girl in her bedroom “disturbing and disconcerting.”


Transcontinental Media closes the Daily News, laying off 92 employees, and begins publishing a local edition of the international “commuter paper” Metro. | Two 16-year-old girls are sentenced to 12 months in jail for attacking a 66-year-old woman with a metal table leg as she walked through the Common. | Twenty-five people rally outside City Hall in support of Louise Hanavan, a north end resident who was ordered to get rid of her three chickens after a neighbour turned her in to bylaw enforcement officers.


Caterpillar, Inc. announces that it is shifting its Halifax operations to Norfolk, Virginia. Soon after, CN reduces its twice-a-day Halifax service to a single train daily. | The Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission begins a PR campaign urging the eventual construction of a third harbour crossing, a bridge or a tunnel connecting Woodside with the south end. | Two students are arrested and 26 suspended after a racially tinged brawl at Cole Harbour High School. | Four stowaways from Algeria jump ship in Halifax, run past guards at the Port gate and take a cab to Truro before they are apprehended. | Premier Rodney Macdonald announces $300 million in proposed “Gateway” projects, including a resurrection of an aborted plan to put a truck highway in the rail cut through Halifax. Heads explode throughout the south end.


In a closed-door council meeting, mayor Peter Kelly convinces Halifax council to dedicate $13 million in federal funds for a Bedford fast- ferry project. | The council adopts a $589 million operating budget. Highlights include a $1.5 million increase in the police budget to hire 32 new officers, and a $155 million five-year transit plan. | Despite being restrained by leg irons and handcuffs, a prisoner facing attempted murder charges escapes from a corrections department van outside the IWK.


Provincial Liberals support Rodney MacDonald’s government, avoiding a summer election. | Tim Outhit wins the Bedford council byelection. | Dalhousie criminologist Don Clairmont delivers his comprehensive report on violence in Halifax to mayor Peter Kelly. | The navy builds a floating security fence around its ships and the Port of Halifax announces it will have to spend $1 million to dredge a channel to the east of the fence so cargo-laden ships can make it through the Narrows without hitting the harbour floor. | Eight local residents don red shirts and berets and officially kick off the Halifax chapter of the crime-fighting Guardian Angels. After the initial media splash, they are never heard from again. | The IIHF World Hockey Championships are hosted in Halifax and locals rediscover their Latvian roots.


Five-thousand residents are evacuated and two houses are destroyed as a fire consumes more than 20 square kilometres between Lawrencetown and Porters Lake. | The first (and apparently only) person, a homeless man, is charged under Nova Scotia’s law aimed at squeegeers. He doesn’t pay the fine. | Premier Rodney MacDonald approves a “long combination vehicle pilot program,” which puts truck trains on the province’s 100- series highways. | Several off-duty Halifax police officers driving an HPD van in Digby have a physical altercation with two black Digby men. The men accuse the Halifax cops of using racial epithets to instigate the fight and a video of the confrontation appears to support that version of events.


Six people are arrested at a Chebucto Road demonstration. Dozens of protestors continue to line the road, but HRM officials send a crew out at 6:30am on a Saturday to remove trees along the roadway. | The Port of Halifax announces that business through the first six months of 2008 is down almost 20 percent from the same period in 2007.


Two months after he told the Chamber of Commerce that the $300 million Harbour Solutions sewer project has made the harbour clean enough to swim in, mayor Peter Kelly demonstrates his faith in the assertion by diving into the surf off Black Rock Beach. Alas, the following week heavy rains once again wash raw sewage into the harbour and the beach is closed due to concern of elevated fecal coliform levels. | A Halifax teacher starts a petition to remove Edward Cornwallis’ name from city streets, schools and parks because Halifax’s founder urged that native people be scalped. | It rains. A lot. | Keith Urban plays the Halifax Common.


ACOA approves the final $2 million in public financing necessary for the Seaport Farmers’ Market project on the Halifax waterfront. Market officials expect a spring 2010 opening for the building. | Criminologist Don Clairmont upbraids city council for taking none of the actions he called for in his report on Halifax violence.


Halifax becomes the largest city in Canada to experiment with an internet voting system. | With 56 percent of the vote, Peter Kelly is re-elected mayor. All but two incumbent councillors are also re-elected. | Halifax council votes down the Waterside Centre project proposed for the city block to the west of Historic Properties. Premier Rodney MacDonald says he will (somehow) force the city to approve the building, and developer Ben McCrea tears down the Sweet Basil building on the site. | Lake Banook is lowered by 1.5 metres so a sewage pipe can be installed.


The Utility and Review Board approves a 9.3 percent power-rate increase for Nova Scotia Power customers. | Africville activist Irvine Carvery is named chair of the newly elected Halifax school board. | GPI Atlantic publishes the 2008 Nova Scotia Genuine Growth Progress Index, the western world’s first stab at a comprehensive measure of economic health. | The Chronicle-Herald reveals Halifax fire department recruits have been charged hundreds of dollars for lie detector tests. The tests include questions about bestiality. | Halifax council approves, in concept, a land swap with the province, trading the city-owned Common land beneath the former QE high school for the provincially owned site of the former infirmary at Queen and Spring Garden. Council also directs staff to explore financing options for putting a new library at the Queen site. | After two crown witnesses recant their testimony, Jimmy Melvin Jr. is released from prison. Melvin holds an impromptu press conference on the courthouse steps, flirts with a reporter and says he needs a stiff drink. Subsequently, Melvin’s father is shot at outside Jessy’s Pizza in Spryfield.


Ken Reashor, the city’s one-man “traffic authority,” begins enforcing an all-winter parking ban on city streets, reversing a three-year policy of banning parking only during snow storms. | Argyle Cobblers, the holding company for the Economy Shoe Shop, The Seahorse Tavern and the Marquee, files for creditor protection with the Halifax bankruptcy court. | The Spryfield gang war spills over to the IWK hospital parking lot.

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