History of Nova Scotia
with special attention given to
Communications and Transportation

Chapter 31
1997 December

1997 December

Gasoline Prices

The average price of gasoline in Nova Scotia during December 1997, was:

Cents per litre
Full Serve
  Premium Unleaded 68.5 ¢
  Regular Unleaded 61.3 ¢
Self Serve
  Premium Unleaded 66.5 ¢
  Regular Unleaded 59.1 ¢
[The Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 21 February 1998]

1997 December 3

Lunenburg County Weekly Newspapers
Go On-Line

Announcement: Lighthouse Publishing Ltd. is offering a free trial of its new on-line edition of the Bridgewater Bulletin and the Lunenburg Progress Enterprise. Please check us out and e-mail us your comments to lighthse@fox.nstn.ca. We are newspaper publishers and commercial printers located on the South Shore of Nova Scotia, Canada. In print since 1888, The Bulletin focuses on the town of Bridgewater and area, while the 120 year old Progress Enterprise covers the Lunenburg and Chester areas. We're up and running, get a subscription today.
Lighthouse Publishing Ltd. website

1997 December 4

Postal Strike Ends

A two-week national postal strike ended this day. 45,000 Post Office employees began the strike on Wednesday, 19 November. They returned to work at noon local time on Thursday, 4 December. The strike was ended by legislation passed by Parliament the previous day, which included a wage increase of 5.15% spread over three years, and required that other issues, such as changes to letter-carrier routes, would be decided by an arbitrator within three months. During the strike, no mail moved between post offices anywhere in Canada.

1997 December 5

Electronic Letters Growing in Volume

Some days half come over the Internet

Roger Edge's column in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald this day, discussed the ways in which letters to the editor arrive.  Most days the newspaper publishes about ten letters, which works out to about 3,100 a year.  "That average has been more or less consistent over the years, and five to ten years ago nearly all those letters would come from a daily bag of mail set aside at the main Halifax Post Office.  When the fax machine was introduced, a few readers with access switched to that method of delivery."  Now, about a quarter of the letters to the editor arrive by fax.  More recently, e-mail delivery has become more frequently used, "and some days at least half the letters on the Letters page have been submitted electronically over the Internet.  Most come from personal computers throughout the Province but occasionally one or two come from Nova Scotians working in the farthest outposts of the world... As the Internet becomes more popular, and more and more readers get access, it seems destined to become an even more convenient way to submit letters to the newspaper..."

1997 December 5

Highway Traffic Volumes Increasing

The amount of traffic on highways leading to Halifax continues to expand. There are only five road entrances to metro Halifax — the Armdale Rotary, the Bicentennial Highway, the Bedford Highway, and the two bridges from Dartmouth. One-hour inbound traffic counts between 7 and 8am, currently are: 2,428 on Highway 101 from the Annapolis Valley, near exit 2 Sackville; 1,483 on Highway 102 from Truro, near exit 5 Waverley; 1,423 on Highway 103 from the South Shore, near exit 2 Timberlea; and 756 on Highway 107 from the Eastern Shore, near exit 19 Porters Lake. (2,428 vehicles per hour is an average of one every 1.5 seconds.) Except when there are snarls caused by accidents, the traffic moves reasonably well along these primary highways, but congestion appears as cars enter the city streets. Options currently being considered are: widening Bayers Road from four lanes to six from the Bicentennial Highway to Connaught Avenue, widening Robie Street to four lanes between Young and Cunard Streets, and a bridge over the North West Arm.
[The Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 5 December 1997]

1997 December 5

Bridge Debt Under Control, Bill Gillis Says

[Yeah — right.]

Nova Scotia finally has a firm hand on the debt on Halifax Harbour's two bridges, says Finance Minister Bill Gillis., who today hailed a recent refinancing of the bridge debt as a "major financial achievement for the people of Nova Scotia."  Gillis announced the Bridge Commission has issued $100,000,000 in ten-year toll revenue bonds, with a coupon rate of 5.95% per year.  These bonds replace a loan which carried interest at 11%.  "This interest cost saving on this issue allows the Bridge Commission to rebuild approach decks and expand the Angus L. MacDonald bridge to three lanes, keep tolls the same, and still pay off a considerable amount of the $100,000,000 debt over the next ten years," Gillis said.  The bridge toll for a passenger car is now 75 cents in cash, or a token which costs 60 cents when bought in quantity.
[Excerpted from the Halifax Daily News, 6 December 1997]

Finance Department:
Investors Buy $100,000,000 Bond Issue from Bridge Commission

The Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission has successfully refinanced its outstanding long-term debt.  The new $100,000,000 toll revenue bond issue has a coupon rate of less than 6%, compared to the existing term loan debt, with a rate of 11%.  The credit rating on the toll revenue bonds is better than the Province's own credit rating.  The interest cost saving on this issue allows the Bridge Commission to rebuild approach decks and expand the Angus L. MacDonald Bridge, refinance the old debt, keep tolls the same and still pay off a considerable amount of the $100,000,000 debt over the next ten years.  "This remarkable debt management effort by the administration of the commission closes the book on a very sorry chapter on a financing venture that went badly for Nova Scotians," said Finance Minister Bill Gillis.

In 1970, a decision was made to finance the construction of the A. Murray MacKay Bridge with low-interest loans denominated (payable) in foreign currencies.  That decision saved money (at the time) and allowed the tolls to be kept low.  But the subsequent decline in the value of the Canadian dollar against the German mark and the Swiss franc wiped out the interest cost advantage, then added massively to annual debt servicing costs.

As a result, at its peak, the Commission's debt amounted to nearly $125,000,000, nearly triple the total cost of construction for both harbour bridges of about $42,000,000.  [This $42,000,000 includes the cost of buying all the land on both sides of the harbour for both bridges.] (boldface emphasis added)

On 4 December, dealers from across Canada, including a number of local brokers in Nova Scotia, sold out the $100,000,000 toll revenue bond issue to investors.  To assist the Bridge Commission in meeting its construction schedule, the Province will provide the Commission with a supplementary line of credit of up to $30,000,000.  The Bridge Commission's credit rating is now the highest for any entity in the Atlantic region.  Therefore, it was possible to have the Commission issue the bonds without a Provincial guarantee.  Because the bonds stand on their own, the province's potential liability is limited to a maximum of $30,000,000 on the line of credit.  When the bonds come due in the year 2007, it's expected the Commission will have put aside enough money to pay back a major portion of the toll revenue bond issue.

Adapted from the Nova Scotia Government press release, 5 December 1997

1997 December 9

Current Computer Prices

The following were prices of personal computer packages listed in a flyer issued by Wacky Wheatley's TV &Stereo Limited, and enclosed in the 9 December 1997 issue of the Kentville Advertiser. These are retail prices, with a 15% sales tax to be added at the time of sale. These computers were for sale at Wacky Wheatley stores in Halifax, Bedford, Dartmouth, New Minas, and Truro in Nova Scotia; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; and St. John's, Newfoundland. The flyer contained eight computer offerings; below are all those which sold for under $2000.

1997 December 10

MT&T Cancels All Vacations
1 - 14 January 2000

750 Days To Go

"I've already given an instruction to my organization that no one is allowed to take vacation on 1 January 2000, or for the first two weeks of the year 2000. I don't want to be missing a single skill set in this organization to solve the problem if there is a problem," said Colin Latham, President of Maritime Tel &Tel Company, quoted in The Chronicle-Herald 10 December 1997, 107 weeks earlier. What he had in mind was the Year 2000 Problem, sometimes called the Millennium Bug. MT&T had committed $16 million to $20 million to making sure all its computer operations were immunized against the bug, which affects computer software that, in handling dates, uses just two digits to represent the year. Mr. Latham said efforts were focused on the telephone company's "critical systems", those that must be operational for the telephone system to be in full working order when the date rollover arrives. A Statistics Canada survey released on 8 December 1997, which showed that more than half of all Canadian businesses are doing nothing to address the problem, troubled the MT&T president. "It concerns me as a Canadian. It concerns me as a businessman. Because if businesses really fall flat on their face on January 1, 2000, this economy is going to be in real serious trouble."
[Excerpted from the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 10 December 1997]

Year 2000

Year 2000 Press Clippings, updated daily

Three in Five Firms
Doing Nothing for Year 2000

Corporate and Government Complacency Widespread

Three in five Canadian companies are doing nothing to prepare their computer systems for the arrival of the year 2000, reported a Statistics Canada survey released on 8 December 1997. The Year 2000 issue refers to the need to fix computer software which was written to assume that every year begins with "19". Most of the world's existing computers are programmed to identify years by their last two digits only, using "97," for example, to mean 1997.

The picture drawn by Statscan is bleak: 9% of Canadian firms have not even heard of the problem [sometimes called the Millennium Bug, a catchy name but one that is inaccurate, because this is not a "bug"] and another 46% say they are aware of the problem but aren't doing anything about it.

Jean Monty, chairman of the federal task force on 2000, formed three months ago, said the survey results demonstrate the private sector is taking a nonchalant attitude toward a "serious and urgent" problem. The Statscan survey is part of the task force's effort to spur awareness of the 2000 problem. Mr. Monty is also President and Chief Operating Officer of BCE Inc., owner of Bell Canada, the nation's largest telephone company. He suggested that part of the cause of the corporate complacency is that the 2000 computer software problem seems too simple to be a really big problem. Most computer software uses two digits, instead of four, for recording the year in all dates.

[This is the familiar six-digit YYMMDD format — two digits for the year, followed by two digits for the month, followed by two digits for the day of the month, which will have to be replaced by an eight-digit CCYYMMDD format — two digits for the century, followed by the six digits of the date format now in use. Quite simply, when the year 2000 arrives, it will be treated as the year "00" by software that has not been updated, and in many cases this will be interpreted as the year 1900, not 2000. But this interpretation of "00" as 1900 will not always be the outcome; some systems will interpret "00" as 1980, or other years peculiar to particular circumstances in individual companies or departments set up decades ago by programmers now long retired. And some software uses "00" as a special code to indicate such things as the date being unknown, or "this is the end of this list".]

About 13% of those firms aware of the problem reported that they were investigating the preparedness of their business partners, including customers, suppliers or service providers such as banks or intermediaries. The survey found that, among the 91% of firms that are aware of the problem, an overwhelming 82% do not believe there is potential for litigation if a lack of preparedness on their own part should disrupt the business of partners or customers; they believe they cannot be sued if their lack of planning results in them being unable to meet contractual obligations.

That attitude is unrealistic, said John Judge, a partner at law firm Stikeman Elliot in Toronto. He said there is enough awareness of the problem that companies cannot treat a computer system breakdown as an unforeseen act of God. Casual dismissal of the problem by management exists not only in companies — it is also widespread in governments, at all levels, federal, provincial, and municipal.

[Excerpted from The Globe and Mail, 9 December 1997]

[The Globe and Mail plainly indicated its grasp of the problem by
burying this article on page 8 of the second section of the newspaper.]

The Statistics Canada survey, released on 8 December 1997

1997 December 10

Year 2000 Project Coordinator

Reporting to the Provincial Health Information Working Group, the year 2000 Project Coordinator will be responsible for the overall coordination and facilitation of Nova Scotia's Health System Year 2000 efforts. This individual will oversee the Regional Health Boards, non-designated hospital's (sic) and Department of Health progress towards Year 2000 readiness via assessments, plans, conversion, and testing. The Coordinator is responsible for the systematic planning, coordinating, reporting, advising, and monitoring of these efforts, through the continued development of a Year 2000 Project Coordination Office... Please forward resumes clearly outlining salary expectations by January 5, 1997 (sic) quoting competition 97-CHMC-471 to Deborah White Project Manager, Information Technology Services, Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre, Room 756 Bethune, 1278 Tower Road, Nova Scotia B3H 2Y9
[Two-column display advertisement in The Globe and Mail, 10 December 1997]

1997 December 10 - 13

Kentville Electric Commission

Alleged Conflict of Interest

On 10 December, the Kentville Town Council passed a motion by Councillor Judith Baron to request that the provincial attorney general appoint someone to look into an alleged conflict of interest on the part of two Kentville town councillors. The inquiry is expected to look into possible conflict of interest of Councillors Dennis Kehoe and Susan Miles in the issue of the pending sale of the Kentville Electric Commission "because of their involvement with the business of the KEC." The matter of a potential conflict of interest on the part of the two councillors had been raised at an earlier special council session in November, but was defeated in a tie vote. The same thing happened at a subsequent council advisory committee session. The matter was brought up again on 10 December in a motion of reconsideration by Deputy Mayor Larry Honey.

Miles's spouse and Kehoe both have distanced themselves from the group of current and former employees that wishes to purchase the utility. Kehoe told council that he and Ken Miles "are no longer involved in the purchase of the utility on behalf of ourselves or anyone else... I have no present involvement," he said. "I feel I'm not in conflict... I ran for election opposed to the sale of KEC." Councillor Miles said that her husband "has no present involvement" with the employees purchase group and that "we do need an independent adjudicator in this matter." Councillor Larry Eaton said that he is sure the two councillors have "done their utmost to show there is no involvement." Mayor Gary Pearl said that "this is the third time this issue has come up. We need clarification by someone who is neutral or we'll get bogged down. I don't like doing this, but there is the perception" of a conflict of interest.

In a 17 November letter to his colleagues, Kehoe noted that "I want to advise council that I will be advising the other members of the employee purchase group that I am withdrawing my name from the employee purchase proposal, effective immediately. I will not take any further action to pursue a purchase of the Kentville Electric utility on behalf of myself or the remaining employees." As a representative of the people of Kentville, he noted, "I believe that a sale of the utility is not in their best interest. Consequently, I will pursue every opportunity to stop the sale of the utility to NSPI or anyone else." In his 17 November letter to council, Kenneth Miles wrote that "the Electric Commission is far too valuable an asset to the town and its citizens to be sold to any entity whether it be NSPI, Fortis, or the EPG (employee purchase group)." Miles continued, "I am, from this day forward, withdrawing from the employee purchase group's attempt to purchase the utility."

Concerning the sale of the utility in the event of NSPI not purchasing it, Councillor Eaton said that the current sale process was "flawed" in that "one thing that was left out was the wish of the people of Kentville." Supporting the motion in favour of a future plebiscite if the current sale attempt fails, Councillor Corkum took exception, however, to what Eaton had said about public input. "There was public consultation." Council then voted that, if the pending sale of the electric utility to Nova Scotia Power is not successful, no other sale would be attempted without a public plebiscite.

[Excerpted from the Kentville Advertiser, 16 December 1997]
Historical notes about the Kentville Electric Commission

Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board
Notice of Public Hearing

Nova Scotia Power Incorporated and the Town of Kentville have made application to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board with respect to a transfer of assets of Kentville Electric Commission from the Town of Kentville to Nova Scotia Power Incorporated pursuant to Sections 35 and 62 of the Public Utilities Act.

Tuesday, January 20, 1998
10:00am &7:00pm


Town of Kentville Council Chambers
354 Main Street, Kentville, NS

All Persons are entitled to attend the hearing.

Anyone wishing to make comments may do so at the hearing or by forwarding a letter to the Clerk of the Board at Box 1692, Unit M, Halifax, N.S. B3J 3S3, or by calling the Clerk at 902-424-4448, or e-mail uarb.board@gov.ns.ca, or fax 902-424-3919.

Anyone wishing to have formal standing to present evidence or cross-examine witnesses should file notice of such intention with the Board not later than Thursday, January 8, 1998.

Copies of the application can be viewed at the Offices of the Board, Summit Place, Suite 300, 1601 Lower Water Street, Halifax, NS; Nova Scotia Power Incorporated, Barrington Tower, 18th Floor, Scotia Square, Halifax; and the Offices of the Town of Kentville, 354 Main Street, Kentville.

[Three-column display advertisements with identical wording,
in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 13 and 20 December 1997,
and the Kentville Advertiser, 19 December 1997.]
[The hearing was relocated to the Kentville Fire Hall, at the same time as above.]

1997 December 13

Stewiacke Railway Station Sold

The Town of Stewiacke completed a deal with Canadian National Railway, under which the railway will sell to the Town the now-closed railway station, for $1. Bill Casey, MP for Cumberland-Colchester, said in a press release CN will install a safety fence between the station building and the railway's busy main line between Halifax and Montreal. "I appreciate CN turning the station building over to us, especially for their generosity in putting up the fence. Now we can put more money into the building," said acting mayor Rick Walker, adding he appreciated Mr. Casey going to bat for the Town. The Town will set up a committee early in 1998 to decide what will be done with the building, said Mr. Walker.
[The Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 13 December 1997]

1997 December 17

Price of Computers

A five-column display advertisement in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald this day offered for sale three personal computer packages. These are retail prices, with a 15% sales tax to be added at the time of sale. These Bondwell computer assemblies were available in Nova Scotia at
      Beacon Communications, Bridgetown;
      Skipton's Computer Service, Greenwood;
      Alliance Computer Systems, Sydney;
      Miraleigh Computers, Windsor;
      Dyer Technologies, Falmouth;
      Vinford Communication & Computer, Head of Jeddore;
      Sounder Technological Services, New Glasgow;
      North Shore Computers, New Glasgow;
      C. Robertson Business Equipment, Halifax; and
      Metro PC Troubleshooting, Halifax.

•  $859.00 Bondwell computer, with an Intel 150 MHz Pentium processor, 16 megabytes of EDO RAM (random access memory), 1.7 gigabyte hard drive, 8 × CD-ROM drive
•  $1089.00 Bondwell computer, with an Intel 166 MHz Pentium MMX processor, 32 megabytes of EDO RAM, 2.1 gigabyte hard drive, 1 megabyte ATI video, 8 × CD-ROM drive
•  $1479.00 Bondwell computer, with an Intel 233 MHz Pentium MMX processor, 32 megabytes of EDO RAM, 3.5 gigabyte hard drive, 2 megabyte 3D video, 16 × CD-ROM drive

Following applicable to all of these offerings:

•  Monitor not included
•  Two-year warranty, "systems must be registered online to receive full warranty benefits"
•  Microsoft Windows 95 software pre-installed
•  90 hours free Internet access from iStar
•  Amplified speakers

Following optional extras available on all:

•  $59.00 internal modem 33,600 kilobits per second
•  $109.00 internal modem 56,000 kbps
•  $199.00 colour monitor 14-inch 36cm
•  $299.00 colour monitor 15-inch 38cm
•  $599.00 colour monitor 17-inch 43cm

Bondwell website

The Bondwell website contained the following, in the Company Profile page: "Bondwell systems have been in the computer marketplace for over seven years.  At Bondwell, we are proud to say that all of our systems are truly built in Canada..."

Bondwell Computers

1997 December 24

iSTAR and PSINet Amend the Terms
of the Offer to Purchase iSTAR by PSINet

TORONTO, 24 December 1997 — iSTAR Internet Inc. today announced iSTAR Internet Inc. have amended the terms of their combination, announced on 10 November. The new terms provide that PSINet will offer C75¢ cash for each of the outstanding common shares of iSTAR by way of the take-over bid to be mailed to shareholders of iSTAR on or before 7 January 1998. The offer will expire on or before 30 January 1998. An irrevocable letter of credit in the amount of approximately C$22,000,000 will be delivered to iSTAR prior to 31 December 1997 by PSINet to secure the aggregate purchase price of the offer. In contrast to the terms of the original transaction announced on 10 November 1997, the offer will be for cash rather than non-voting convertible preference shares of PSINet, which would have been convertible in three tranches ending on 1 January 1999 and will not be subject to any iSTAR business or financial-related conditions. In particular, this offer is not conditional on termination of the network provisioning agreement with Bell Sygma Inc. or on the absence of any material adverse change in the business and affairs of iSTAR. This new all cash offer provides greater certainty for all shareholders and immediate liquidity upon closing. The only conditions to the offer will be: (a) there shall have been validly deposited under the offer and not withdrawn a number of shares constituting at least 51% of the outstanding shares as of the expiry date; (b) at the time PSINet proposes to take up and pay for the shares, there does not exist any prohibition at law against PSINet making the offer or taking up and paying for all of the shares registered in the names of holders resident in Canada under the offer; and (c) all outstanding warrants or options to acquire shares shall have been exercised, cancelled or otherwise terminated. The board of directors of iSTAR resolved today to cancel all unexercised options to purchase common shares of iSTAR effective immediately prior to the expiry date of the offer. iSTAR's shares are traded on the TSE (Toronto Stock Exchange) under stock symbol WWW, and PSINet's shares are traded on NASDAQ (National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations, in the United States) under stock symbol PSIX.

PSINet Inc. and PSINet Limited, the wholly-owned Canadian subsidiary of PSINet Inc. and iSTAR have also entered into a management agreement which will become effective at the time that the letter of credit is delivered to iSTAR.  The management agreement will enable PSINet Limited to operate iSTAR's day-to-day, ordinary course business prior to the expiry date of the offer.  As part of the management agreement, PSINet Limited will be required to provide funding to iSTAR in order to permit it to pay its normal course liabilities and indebtedness incurred during the period in which PSINet Limited is the manager and to fund any payments of existing liabilities or enter into arrangements as may be necessary so as to ensure that iSTAR's business is carried on, in all material respects, in the normal course in accordance with prudent practice.

Early in January 1997, iSTAR shares traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange at as much as $4.65 each.  During June 1997, these shares traded in the $2.00 to $2.30 range.  In July 1997, they reached a high of $3.90, but were at $2.25 at the end of July.  The price fell below $1.00 in mid-November 1997, and in mid-December 1997 they traded as low as 60¢.  On 6 January 1998, 93,600 shares were traded (a "trade" occurs when someone sells shares to someone else), with the day's highest price being 75¢ and the lowest 74¢; this price was, of course, set by the announcement that PSINet will offer C75¢ cash for each of the outstanding common shares of iSTAR.

On 6 January 1998, 827,300 PSINet shares traded on the NASDAQ system in the United States; the day's highest price was U$6.625, the lowest was U$5.875, and the last trade of the day was at U$6.53125.  [The fractional cents in the prices arose because, at that time in the United States, shares were bought and sold using prices stated in dollars using common fractions, instead of in dollars using decimal fractions — otherwise known as cents.  On 6 January 1998, the last trade in PSINet shares took place at U$6 17/32, which is equivalent to U$6.53125.]  During the previous 52 weeks, PSINet shares traded as high as U$13.375, and as low as U$4.25.

iSTAR Internet Inc. was incorporated in August 1995 and became a publicly traded company in November 1995.  It is Canada's largest Internet service company.  More information on iSTAR can be found at http://www.istar.ca.  iSTAR provides Internet access to customers in Nova Scotia at the following POPS (Points Of Presence):

•  Amherst 902-667-4096
•  Antigonish 902-863-0211
•  Bridgewater 902-527-1300
•  Halifax 902-494-7726
•  Kentville 902-679-2246
•  Lawrencetown - Middleton 902-825-6454
•  New Glasgow 902-755-1280
•  Port Hawkesbury 902-625-1262
•  Shubenacadie 902-758-4290
•  Sydney 902-567-1162
•  Truro 902-897-0007
•  Windsor 902-798-0275
•  Yarmouth 902-742-4547
        [From a Press Release and other sources]

1997 December 29

Wood-Fired Electric Generating Plant
Scheduled to Close

Power Station Losing Money

Fate of 28 Jobs Uncertain as
Layoff Notices are Issued

EI Services Canada is closing its operation of the Brooklyn Energy Centre and is looking to its investors to pick up the pieces. Due to continuing financial losses, the wood-fired electric power generating station will no longer be run by the company as of the end of February. Company spokesperson Pat Doll says contracts to supply electric power and steam to its customers are not enough to keep the operation afloat. He noted that start-up problems have been a thorn in the company's side since the plant began operation in 1996. The plant has a 20-year contract to supply steam to Bowater Mersey, and a 33-year contract to supply 22 megawatts of electric power to Nova Scotia Power Inc. Bowater relies on the plant for about 75% of the steam it needs for its pulp and newsprint manufacturing operations.

"EI Services Canada has announced it will cease providing operating and maintenance services to the Brooklyn Energy Centre on or before 1 March 1998. This decision has resulted from the inability of the owner, Brooklyn Energy Partnership, to pay certain amounts which are due to EI Services Canada," said a release sent out by fax on 7 January 1998.

Although EI Services, a subsidiary of Polsky Energy Corporation of Illinois, will no longer operate the plant, the door is open for the investors to restructure the plant's operations, Doll said. "The lending institutions will now decide its future," he said. "Our hope is that they would continue its operation under new management. It is a very good plant." 28 people work at the plant, which has a payroll of around $1,000,000 annually. Layoff notices were issued on Monday, 29 December 1997, and are effective in eight weeks.

The plant is located in Brooklyn, Queens County, across Highway 3 from the Bowater Mersey paper mill. It burns wood products such as bark and other wood scraps from Bowater Mersey and other producers of wood waste, and supplies steam to Bowater for use in the mill's operation. The plant's electrical output is purchased by Nova Scotia Power Inc., and is fed into the provincial electrical grid. A group of companies invested close to $80,000,000 to build the Brooklyn generating station. Federal, provincial, and municipal governments invested more than $12,000,000 in the project.

Excerpted from the Liverpool Advance, 7 January 1998, and
the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 8 January 1998

1997 December 31

Reduction in MT&T Long Distance Revenue

Maritime Tel & Tel Limited's long distance revenues decreased to $213,000,000 for the calendar year 1997 compared to $232,000,000 for 1996. Total conversation minutes for 1997 increased by about 32 million minutes to 721 million minutes. The average revenue per originated minute for the year was down about 11% year over year. [These figures imply that in 1996 the average revenue per originated minute was about 33¢, which in 1997 was reduced to about 29¢ by the pressure of long distance competition.] On 1 October 1997 MT&T introduced the Real Time Savings Program, a new long distance rate structure designed to halt the erosion of MT&T's share of the market for long distance telephone calls originating in Nova Scotia. The Real Time Savings Program produced a significant increase in market share. Based upon conversation minutes, MT&T's share increased to 80% at the end of 1997 after falling below this level earlier in the year. Looking at market share in terms of customer accounts, MT&T's share grew by about 6% over the last quarter of 1997 after steadily declining over the past few years. This information was reported by Ron Smith, MT&T Vice President Finance, on 2 February 1998. The reason for the reduction in long distance revenue was the growth of competition in long distance telephone services.

1997 December 31

Large Cable TV Companies
Must Report Plans to go Digital

Plans Not Available to Public

In Public Notice 1997-33-2, dated 11 December 1997, the CRTC required that all companies operating Class One cable television systems with 20,000 or more subscribers must send to the CRTC a series of seven quarterly reports. The first report will contain information to 31 December 1997, and is due by 31 January 1998. Updated reports are due at three-month intervals, with the last report due by 31 August 1999 containing information to 31 July 1999. The following information is to be reported for each system:

•  analog channel capacity;
•  complete channel line-up, indicating the specific channels used for the distribution of services and the specific services distributed thereon;
•  description of proposed upgrades to the distribution system, the increase to analog channel capacity that would result, and the timeframe for implementation and utilization; and,
•  description of plans and timeframes for the deployment of digital technology, the number of digital households served, progress towards implementation, and projected date for utlization by broadcasting and/or telecommunications services.

"Licensees may request confidentiality for the information contained in their reports."

ICS Comment: Why is this information kept secret?

At least some of it should be publicly available.

For example, the "complete channel line-up, indicating the specific channels used for the distribution of services and the specific services distributed thereon" certainly should be readily available to the public in the CRTC website.

And, what is the justification for keeping secret the "description of proposed upgrades to the distribution system, the increase to analog channel capacity that would result, and the timeframe for implementation and utilization." After all, these are regulated monopolies, and as such their plans for meeting public service requirements should be open to the public.

Go To:   History of Telegraph and Telephone Companies in Nova Scotia

Go To:   History of Railway Companies in Nova Scotia

Go To:   History of Electric Power Companies in Nova Scotia

Go To:   History of Automobiles in Nova Scotia

Go To:   Nova Scotia History, Chapter One

Go To:   Nova Scotia in the War of 1812

Go To:   Nova Scotia Historical Biographies

Go To:   Proclamations: Land Grants in Nova Scotia 1757, '58, '59

Go To:   Statutes of Nova Scotia, 1805, edited by Richard John Uniacke

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