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Just the 'fax 

The year that was in Halifax news, from swords to cats to divas and back again: An exhaustively researched retrospective.

JanuaryThe year 2007 kicked off with a resignation rather than a resolution from Tory MLA Ernie Fage. After a suspicious hit-and-run in November 2006, Fage came under fire when a professional photographer released cell phone pictures in early January and stated that he believed the MLA had liquor on his breath. The New Year came with news that Fage would be resigning his position in light of the negative media attention.

The first few stores opened their doors in the new satellite shopping jungle that is Dartmouth Crossing. And in other shopping-related news, a 29-year-old man in the Halifax Shopping Centre stole a five-foot long sword and ran through the mall before being subdued and arrested.

January also brought with it the loss of a great Haligonian: Helen Hill, a 36-year-old former north end resident, was murdered in her home in New Orleans on January 4. Hill was an animator, filmmaker and active community member. News of her death shocked the city. A New Orleans-style funeral march was organized and held on the streets of Halifax in her memory.

FebruaryHalifax suffered another devastating loss in early February. On February 8, Chuck Gillis, aka Lulu Larude, passed away after a six-month battle with cancer. Performing as Larude, Gillis had been a pioneer in the Halifax drag scene, hosting the Five Minutes of Fame show at Reflections nightclub. There was more bad news on Barrington Street as venerable music retailer Sam the Record Man shut down on February 20. Despite the fact that the Downtown Business Commission said that new retailers were interested in the space, the former Sam's space is still unoccupied. A few months later, Barrington lost another prime downtown retailer when pool hall Dooly's closed for good.

MarchJust when you thought things couldn't get worse, it was March. Early in the month, Halifax took a punch to the gut when its bid to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games was suddenly dropped. The province of Nova Scotia and the city decided to withdraw the bid because of money matters —and the fact that we didn't have enough. Halifax also lost the North End Pub and Diner on Gottingen Street. The longtime favourite eatery, watering hole and music venue caught fire one afternoon. The establishment, along with the apartment above, was demolished as the building had burnt to the ground. And residents of Chebucto Road were robbed by city council when the plan to widen the road with a third reversing lane was approved. The third lane, which was proposed to help ease commuter traffic, will eat into the properties belonging to several Chebucto residents.

AprilHRM by Design shifted into its fourth phase and focused on four major opportunity sites in downtown Halifax and Dartmouth: Quinpool, Gottingen, Dartmouth Cove and the Dartmouth Shopping Centre. Among the problems singled out was the five-point intersection at Robie and Quinpool, which the urban planners identified as a nightmare for pedestrians. Well...yeah.

MayIn May, Halifax played host to Canada's national summer sport: The World Indoor Lacrosse Championships took place at the Metro Centre, where eight teams battled it out to be the best in the world. Canada won.

Elsewhere in the city, 600 IWK healthcare professionals, on a mission to gain better benefits, walked off the job in early May. The strike, although it only lasted for one day, cancelled 59 surgeries and 474 outpatient appointments.

JuneJune brought the Atlantica conference to Halifax, which exploded like a paint-filled light bulb and covered the city in politically charged goo. People took to the streets and clashed with police and downtown Halifax did its best impression of Seattle circa the 1999 WTO conference. Protesters from out of town swooped into the city, everyone got riled up and property was damaged. They objected to the proposed trade zone between the Atlantic Provinces, eastern Quebec and parts of New England.

Meanwhile, Queen Elizabeth High and St. Pat's churned out their final graduating classes before Halifax high school students were funneled into the school/sprawling edu-drome that is Citadel High.

JulyApparently Nova Scotians just couldn't get enough booze and the NSLC couldn't get enough money. In July, liquor stores got the go ahead to open their doors to the public on Sundays. Twenty-seven stores in Metro were affected by the decision, giving people all the more reason to drink on Sundays.

AugustDalhousie University dealt with a Facebook-driven PR nightmare after a student identified only as "Amy Scott" created a Facebook group that accused the university of cruel animal treatment. After protests from the university, the Facebook group ("Stop Dogs and Puppies from being murdered at Dalhousie University") was temporarily taken down but eventually returned. Now called "Stop animal testing in Nova Scotia," the group is over 32,000 members strong.

SeptemberIn September, Grand Parade finally got closer to becoming a public space instead of a parking lot. Councillors went through with their plans to clear the parade square and moved their parking spots a mere stone's throw from City Hall. It was also announced that restaurants in Nova Scotia would soon have the choice to allow their customers to bring their own wine. This perk, of course, would be up to the restaurant and would be paired with a corking fee determined by the venue.

After a series of violent crimes, anti-crime volunteer group the Guardian Angels made itself known to mayor Kelly and the HRM. Group organizer Curtis Sliwa expressed interest in starting up a Halifax chapter of the group, which would go through the appropriate training and start patrolling in March of 2008...red berets and all. Finally, HRM by Design's public downtown forum got underway.

OctoberSheila Fougere threw her hat into the ring for the 2008 mayoral race, making her the first candidate to oppose incumbent Peter Kelly. Fougere plans to reveal a comprehensive platform in the spring of the new year. Meanwhile, in other pressing council business, the cat bylaw was discussed, rediscussed, re-rediscussed and, eventually, passed. Starting on April 1, 2008, cat owners will have to pay $10 to $30, depending on whether or not Fluffy is fixed. People living in close proximity to felines—especially those with gardens—are thrilled. Cats and cat owners are left hissing.

NovemberThe big news in November was, for better or worse, Celine Dion. The city went through a rollercoaster of emotions: first, when the concert was announced (disgust!), and then again when the concert was called off just days later (more disgust!). In happier news, November also saw the kickoff of Halifax's professional basketball team, the Halifax Rainmen. The Rainmen (complete with their own Weathergirls dancers) are the first professional basketball team based in the city since the Halifax Windjammers in the '90s.

The same week, mayor Kelly held a roundtable on violence and public safety after organizing multiple community discussions. Boasting guests such as police chief Frank Beazley and Dalhousie criminology professor Don Clairmont, the three-day event at council chambers discussed the violence in HRM from many standpoints and strategies to work against it. Clairmont, who served as the roundtable facilitator, is currently compiling the discussions with his own research in order to put together a report that will be released this winter and after a gruelling battle, including protests and a hefty petition, residents of Chebucto Road and their supporters were let down by city council once again. A proposed one year halt on the road widening project was voted down by council, giving a final go ahead to the obtrusive third reversing lane.

DecemberWell, what can we say? A couple of storms, a heckuvalot of holiday parties and still no skating rinks on the Grand Parade. Keith Urban is the new Celine Dion; Mayor Kelly is the new Mayor Kelly and Curtis Sliwa drops in again to remind us why we need the Guardian Angels (we're still skeptical). It was a year of terrifying highs, dizzying lows and creamy middles. We can't wait to see what 2008 will foist upon Halifax, be it mega-schools or divas or crosswalk safety or swarmings or shopping malls or—quite possibly—a new mayor. Bring it on, 2008. We can take it.

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