Alex Kawchuk 
Member since Feb 29, 2012

Recent Comments

Re: “The monument in front of the North End Library is a horrible mess

I'd never noticed the spelling errors (which, I guess, are extra unfortunte given that it's in front of a library), but it's an interesting, outside-the-box monument to the North End. It also meshes well with the library's architecture. I feel like pointing out that the area north of the library is less of a hipster paradise than areas south misses the point of the monument, which seems to be about struggle and overcoming adversity, not "fun" or proper punctuation. And does the fact that it has the same dimensions as the monoliths from 2001: ASO somehow make it objectively unattractive? This is actually probably my favourite piece of public art in the city; it's one of the only pieces that I'd think of as "cool". I guess it's all in the eye of the beholder.

I'd also like to point out the irony of the author claiming that "Gerrish" is spelled "Garish" on the monument, while the accompanying photo clearly shows that it is (mis)spelled "Garrish"...

4 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Alex Kawchuk on 11/21/2013 at 12:55 PM

Re: “Which side are you on?

I'm on the public's side on this one, Tim. Not the city's, but definitely not the union's. How can you compare the transit union to the Kentucky coal miners? The miners' lives were under DIRECT THREAT simply for trying to unionize and undoubtedly worked under appallingly unsafe conditions for next to no pay. The bus drivers' lives are not in danger, they are paid reasonably well, and safety is a major priority. Maybe "things could be better" for the bus drivers but things could be better for pretty much any occupation. I am somewhat insulted by the premise of this editorial, which asks readers "which side are you on?": side with the union, or side with "[the] portion of the population that absolutely hates workers".

I am in my last year at Dal and though I am lucky enough not to have accumulated any major debt, I have worked pretty much through my entire degree making just over minimum wage. My first real job was as a lifeguard, starting at about $7/hour. Through most of my post-secondary career I've worked as a server/bartender during the school year, making just above minimum wage plus tips. During the summers I plant trees, and this is one of the most labour-intensive jobs in North America. So please don't insinuate that because I'm not 100% behind the union, that I "absolutely hate workers".

It would be one thing if the strike was "sticking it to the man" and actually creating some kind of negative consequence for the municipality, but as others have pointed out, HRM has actually SAVED money as a result. There have been economic consequences for sure, but these have mostly affected private businesses, and to an even larger degree, THE ACTUAL PUBLIC, MANY OF WHOM ARE MUCH LESS WELL OFF THAN THE BUS DRIVERS. Then there is the insinuation that by supporting the union, we are supporting fairness in the workplace - the city needs to stop being greedy and pay the drivers what they're due, right? Not that simple. The city isn't being greedy, they're being fiscally responsible. If they save money, they don't get to pocket it. They just don't have to tax THE PUBLIC as much, or can provide them with better services. Please stop trying to make it look like anyone who doesn't support the union hates workers and promotes inequality and class warfare, because it's not that simple at all. If this were a private sector union, the tone would be very different and I would probably be more supportive. But in this case, at the end of the day, Metro Transit isn't trying to turn a profit, they're just trying to cut their losses. Not AT ALL the same thing, and I would hope that you'd know that. It just isn't reflected in your journalism at all.

One last thing - you say that "reporters have opinions, too", but don't you still have the responsibility to present at least a somewhat fair and balanced picture? Metro Transit managers' salaries were discussed in detail. Why did you not once mention Ken Wilson's salary? Does the public deserve to know only one side? The Coast used to be the paper I'd go to when I wanted the full rundown on something that was covered only marginally in other media outlets. When did this change so drastically?

10 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Alex Kawchuk on 03/12/2012 at 4:40 PM

Re: “Halifax's building boom: anything goes

I take issue with Tim's use of the word "consensus" (as in "the HRM by Design consensus"). The term "consensus" implies that everyone agrees. To refer to the "design and height part of the consensus" implies that everyone agreed on the height limits. This is false. The fact is that there was NO consensus on height limits, which is probably why many of the height limits seem so arbitrary. Do you really think everyone got together at the meetings and said "wow, we ALL agree, the maximum height for any building on the corner of Bell and South Park SHOULD be 23m! High Five!" ..? I don't think it was even a case of "most people" agreeing, if I recall, it was a case of widespread disagreement.

HRM by Design is not the pinnacle of participatory democracy, though many people will present it as such.

5 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Alex Kawchuk on 03/06/2012 at 7:06 PM

Re: “Halifax's building boom: anything goes

Something that is being overlooked in the buzz around these projects is that HRM by Design is not just a set of height limits. It is a comprehensive plan for the downtown area, of which height limits are only one part. As someone who participated in the HRM by Design workshops, I can also say that the height limits imposed on most of the downtown (the Cogswell lands being a notable exception) did not seem to be compatible with many of the plan's other goals.

The height limits seemed arbitrary at the time, as they do now, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the general public or make economic sense. One thing that makes me and many others feel as if the numbers were picked out of a hat is that the height limits for many properties downtown are lower than the buildings that are currently on these properties. This means that if these buildings were to be redeveloped (or were damaged by fire or natural disasters), they would have to be rebuilt SHORTER THAN THEY CURRENTLY ARE as-of-right. This was never explained in the reports, and seems like an accident.

Having also attended the planning sessions for Dartmouth Cove, I have to say I like the approach of those sessions a lot more. Basically the planners/facilitators asked participants what kind of features they wanted the community to have (and they wanted a range of housing options/prices, a market, retail, various types of open space, a marina or boat launch, a commuter rail stop, etc.) and then came back with a basic model of the type of scale of construction that would be required to support all of these things. Although some people wanted nothing over 6 storeys, the final presentation acknowledged that some buildings would have to be as tall as 18 storeys to make the developments financially viable for developers and affordable for citizens. Because of this rationale, people didn't mind the 18 storey buildings, because they saw that the increased density allowed the neighbourhood to be more self-sustaining. The HRM by Design approach, if I remember properly, did not correlate the scale of development with the types of services that could be supported. I think that if a review were done, and there were a better understanding of this relationship, people would be much more accepting of taller buildings and increased density.

There are also provisions in HRM by Design that allow projects to go to public hearing and potentially be approved if they do not conform to the plan but offer significant benefits to the citizens of HRM - the YMCA is a prime example of this; Skye perhaps less so, and certainly in a less obvious way.

So to say that HRM by Design is "being ignored" is not true. One aspect of HRM by Design - the height limits - is being downplayed because of a clause built in to the plan that says we can do this if the circumstances warrant it. It would be nice if the local media would report accurately on this instead of stirring up controversy.

26 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Alex Kawchuk on 03/01/2012 at 5:28 PM

Re: “Peter Kelly won't re-up

I have never been a Kelly fan, and would have considered leaving Halifax if he was re-elected. That being said, I think TB (and other journalists) could have focused on things like.. the cash for concerts, the Remembrance Day fiasco, the stalled commuter rail and fast ferry projects, the secret meetings (which, I agree, are necessary in some cases, but also seem to be the go-to solution these days). I think enough people are tired of his actual political leadership (or lack thereof) that it would not have been hard to un-seat him simply by reporting on how he's done his job.

I feel like TB has unnecessarily crossed the line of decency by delving so aggressively into the handling of the will. Let's be honest, Peter Kelly was presented as an outright thief or fraudster and there is little evidence that this is actually the case. If it's legitimately taken this long to settle the will, that really sucks, but I've never settled a will and have no idea how long the process can take, or what it involves. Using this delicate personal matter to assassinate Peter Kelly's character is, in my opinion, a strong step in the wrong direction for the Coast. Focus on the political career, or at least make sure you know for sure that he's stealing from the deceased before strongly implying that he is.

3 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Alex Kawchuk on 02/29/2012 at 10:53 AM

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