Nova Scotia’s top news stories of 2018: July to December


Shambhala sex assault allegations

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche arrives in the rain for his Tibetan Buddhist royal wedding to Princess Tseyang Palmo in Halifax on Saturday, June 10, 2006.

The Halifax-based spiritual leader for more than 10,000 Shambhala Buddhists around the world stepped aside in July amid sexual misconduct allegations.

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, leader of the Shambhala International community, stepped back from his duties this month pending the outcome of a third-party investigation.

A Chilean woman alleged Rinpoche dragged her into a bathroom, groped her and tried to remove her clothes during a dinner party in Santiago, Chile, in 2002.

The unnamed woman came forward with her account of the alleged incident after multiple women accused the Shambhala International leader of sexual misconduct in a report published in June.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Agave mania

The Agave americana blooms in the Halifax Public Gardens.

Who knew a single plant could capture the hearts of so many people?

The agave century plant, which is usually found in the desert and blooms just once every 25 years, found a home at the Halifax Public Gardens this summer.

But the agave was chopped down in November, as it could no longer handle the frigid elements.

The famous plant did, however, cement its place in history, leaving behind hundreds of seeds for future generations and even earning the title of the Coast’s Best Halifamous Person.


Chase the Ace family feud

Tyrone MacInnis, left, and Barb Reddick, right, accept their Chase the Ace lottery prize in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Bernice Curley, Chase The Ace Margaree

A family feud in Cape Breton captured the attention of people across the country in August, as a Chase the Ace winner opted to take her nephew to court over who had the right to the $1.2 million in winnings.

Barb Reddick and Tyrone MacInnis each won $611,319.50 from a Chase the Ace lottery in Margaree Forks, N.S., though Reddick insisted the full amount — $1,222,639.00 — was rightfully hers.

Reddick said she sent MacInnis money to buy $100 worth of tickets and told him to put his name on them for “good luck.” She said there was no discussion about splitting any winnings.

During a celebratory photo op, the two family members were handed separate cheques. Reddick then told the 19-year-old she intended to take him to court.

That court case resulted in a compromise, with the pair reaching a resolution in September that gave the teen $350,000 of the $1.2 million.

A hot and humid summer

Environment Canada issued several heat warnings in Nova Scotia in July and August.

If you were anywhere near the Maritimes this past summer, there’s a good chance you spent much of your time looking for shade.

With temperatures reaching the 30s and the humidex maxing out at near-record levels, Environment Canada found itself issuing heat advisories left, right and centre.

The heat warnings were only issued when very high temperature or humidity conditions were expected to pose an elevated risk of heat-related illnesses, such as heat stroke or heat exhaustion.


Stock Transportation’s back-to-school blunder

Hundreds of students were impacted by school bus issues in Nova Scotia during the first week of school.

Dozens of young children in Bedford and surrounding areas found themselves isolated on the first day of school after their school buses simply failed to show up.

Several parents of students at Basinview Drive Community School took to social media on Sept. 5 to voice their frustrations with buses that showed up late, early or not at all.

In the days that followed, the province vowed to conduct an internal review of how its school bus system operates as a result of the wave of complaints. Nova Scotia Education Minister Zach Churchill stated he believed the new online system for registering for bus service and late registrations played a role in some of the confusion.

The prospect of dropping the current contract with Stock Transportation came into play, but Churchill refused to do so and said government would work to make the current contract better.

Marking 20 years after the SwissAir disaster 

Family members of victims of the crash of Swissair Flight 111 embrace as they pay respects on the deck of HMCS Goose Bay at the crash site off the coast of Nova Scotia on Saturday Nov. 28, 1998.

A passenger plane crash that would go on to forever change the lives of those living in the Peggy’s Cove area marked its 25th anniversary in September.

On Sept. 2, 1998, 229 people lost their lives after a SwissAir flight tumbled into the ocean off the coast where the iconic lighthouse sits. Private boats from the coastal communities around St. Margaret’s Bay headed out to the crash zone and were among the first to arrive at the crash site, where they were met with a sea of floating debris and the overwhelming smell of aviation fuel.

The Transportation Safety Board later determined that faulty electrical wiring caused a fire aboard the aircraft.

To mark the grim anniversary, services were held at the Swissair Memorial Site in Bayswater, N.S., in honour of the victims as well as the first responders.


Cannabis legalization

Medical marijuana is shown in Toronto on Nov. 5, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy

It was the day that cannabis advocates in Nova Scotia and across the country had marked on the calendar for months.

On Oct. 17, pot finally became legal for recreational purposes in Canada, resulting in hundreds of people lining up outside Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation cannabis locations to get their hands on the product.

Over $660,000 worth of cannabis was sold in Nova Scotia on the first day alone, with 12,180 transactions being made. Of the $660,000 sold, $47,000 worth was purchased online.

And those online sales became a controversy in the days that followed legalization, after a video began circulating about how to bypass the NSLC’s age verification process.

The NSLC later said it would implement measures to ensure the bug was fixed.

Halifax’s muddled designated smoking area rollout 

A sign indicating a designated smoking area in the Halifax Regional Municipality is pictured on Oct. 16, 2018.

Just in time for pot legalization, Halifax Regional Council passed its long-awaited Nuisance and Smoking Bylaw that would bring designated smoking areas (DSAs) to the city — but the rollout didn’t exactly go according to plan.

The DSAs are meant to be the only public areas where individuals are legally allowed to smoke or vape cannabis or tobacco in the Halifax Regional Municipality. There are currently 80 of them, but at the time of cannabis legalization there were only nine.

The limited number of DSAs led Coun. Matt Whitman, the representative for Hammonds Plains, to say the bylaw execution was poorly done.

Additional issues have been presented since the rollout, including the vandalism of at least two DSAs, the lack of DSAs around the QEII Hospital and a DSA even taking the spot of two accessible parking areas.


CFL expansion announcement

Randy Ambrosie holds a football as he speaks during a press conference in Toronto, Wednesday, July 5, 2017.

Game on… well, maybe.

That was the message felt by many Canadian Football League fans in Nova Scotia, as the league touched down in Halifax to announce plans to bring a 10th team out east.

A season ticket drive and name-the-team contest was launched on Nov. 7 with hopes of generating excitement and momentum to bring a team to the East Coast. A few weeks later, it was announced that the Atlantic Schooners came out on top, beating out other suggestions such as the Atlantic Convoy, Storm and Admirals.

The bid for a team picked up steam in December, as the league announced plans to host a regular-season game in Atlantic Canada on Aug. 25.

But one question remained unanswered; where are the Schooners going to play?

In October, Halifax council voted for city staff to do a thorough business case study on the proposal for a CFL team. But the biggest obstacle is building a new 24,000-seat stadium — one that the province says it will not budge on.

Santa Claus parade tragedy in Yarmouth

MaCali Cormier is shown in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO – Cormier Family

It was a tragedy that shook the small town of Yarmouth to its core.

The community’s Santa Claus parade turned tragic the night of Nov. 24 after a four-year-old girl fell underneath a moving parade float while running alongside it during the procession.

The victim was identified as MaCali Cormier, who was remembered as a child with a passion for learning who “loved helping other people.”

Fundraisers and crowdfunding campaigns were launched by members of the community to help the girl’s family cover the cost of the funeral.

The incident sparked questions about safety measures that are currently in place along the parade route as well as at other Santa Claus parades across the province.


Northern Pulp injunction  

Protesters gather outside Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax on Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018 to show their opposition to plans to dump effluent from a mill into the Northumberland Strait. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

An injunction was granted by a Nova Scotia judge in December to stop fishermen from blocking survey boats hired to examine a route for a pulp mill’s effluent pipeline.

Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Denise Boudreau decided that fishermen have the right to “lawful protest,” but they don’t have the legal right to block the survey vessels from doing their work.

Before the decision was handed down, about 80 people gathered outside the Halifax courthouse to protest the proposed pipeline that would pump treated waste directly into the Northumberland Strait near Abercrombie, N.S.

The Nova Scotia government has committed to stopping the flow of effluent to the heavily polluted Boat Harbour lagoon by Jan. 31, 2020.

Canada Post strike/arrests 

One of the protesters arrested at a Canada Post facility in Halifax appears in court on Dec. 3, 2018.

Six protesters were arrested at a Canada Post facility in Halifax earlier in December after they allegedly blocked the gates to the Canada Post sorting facility on Almon Street.

Brad Fougere, Austin Hiltz, Tony Tracy, Justin Witten, Darius Mirshahi and Art Bouman face charges of mischief and obstructing police officers for their involvement in the protest.

The protesters say they blocked the gates to “show solidarity” with Canada Post workers who were legislated back to work by the federal government. The protests were occurring at Canada Post facilities across the country in the days that followed the federal government’s decision.

All six who were arrested were released from custody and are scheduled to appear in court again in the new year.

For a look at the top stories of 2018 from January to June, click here.

—With files from the Canadian Press and Global Halifax staff

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