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

Chapter 35
1998 April

1998 April

Twelve Long-Distance Phone Companies

The MT&T Yellow Pages Telephone Directory for Halifax Regional Municipality, issued late in March 1998 for April 1998 - April 1999, had twelve listings under "Long Distance Telephone Companies". [The websites were not included in the directory.]
  1. ACC Enterprises Limited
  2. AT&T Canada
  3. City Wide Communications
  4. Delphi Solutions Incorporated
    250 Brownlow Avenue
  5. Glentel Incorporated
  6. Intellicom Canada Limited
    100 Illsley Avenue
  7. London Telecom Network
  8. Long Distance Atlantic Incorporated
    1969 Upper Water Street
  9. Mediapro Incorporated
    99 Wyse Road
  10. Maritime Telegraph & Telephone Company
  11. Posicom, Halifax
  12. Quality Connections Incorporated
    327 Windmill Road

1998 April

New Cellular Telephone Sites
Along Eastern Shore

During March and April, 1998, MT&T Mobility expanded its cellular coverage in Nova Scotia, by installing four new cellular sites in Guysborough, Country Harbour, Tangier, and Sheet Harbour. A new exchange, 328, was put into operation in the Country Harbour area. This will provide better service to customers in the area, by enabling landline customers to dial cellular customers without incurring long distance charges.
[Source: MT&T Mobility bill stuffer, June 1998]

1998 April

Enlarged Free Local Calling Area

In April 1998, MT&T enlarged the free local calling area in the Antigonish - Port Hawkesbury area. Customers can now call toll free from Antigonish to Saint Peters and from Liscombe to Port Hood.
[Source: MT&T Mobility bill stuffer, June 1998]

1998 April 1

Halifax Herald WebsiteGets
1,000,000 Hits in March

From The Halifax Herald's webpage at http://www.herald.ns.ca/services/netadv.html
"The Halifax Herald Limited has established a web presence that people depend on when trying to keep in touch with what is happening in Nova Scotia. Our site is unique in that it keeps drawing people back. We update our site daily, providing timely information in an environment where it is in constant demand. For as little as $100 per month, your company can have a presence on our site, which had more than 1,000,000 hits in March!"

1998 April 1

National Gypsum Website

World's Largest Open Pit Gypsum Mine

On this day, National Gypsum (Canada) Limited established its website at http://Fox.nstn.ca:80/~natgyhfx/index.html.  A copy of this website, archived on 17 August 2000, is available in the Wayback Machine.  National Gypsum (Canada) Ltd. produces gypsum rock for sale on the open market to gypsum wall board producers and the cement manufacturing industry.  It operates the world's largest open pit gypsum mine in Milford Station, Nova Scotia.  Each year National Gypsum (Canada) Ltd. ships over 3,000,000 tonnes of bulk gypsum rock through the Port of Halifax.

1998 April 1

Inaccurate Parking Meters in Halifax

If you kept time as well as Halifax parking meters,
you'd never keep your job

By Chris Lambie

Of 15 parking meters chosen at random, only two were accurate.  Eight of the meters tested with a digital stopwatch gave too little time for the money inserted.  Five provided extra parking time.  The project was conducted April 1 after The Daily News received multiple complaints from readers fed up with wonky meters.  One of the worst offenders was meter 48 on Queen Street near the old Halifax Infirmary.  A loonie [a $1 coin] — which is supposed to provide a full hour of parking — only ticked for 55 minutes and 21 seconds.  The best parking deal was found just down the street at meter 54, where a dollar bought one hour and seven minutes worth of prime curbside real estate.

The meters were tested by Dalhousie University students Jihan Mansour and Trudy Taylor.  While waiting for red flags to pop up, they heard tales from onlookers about parking-meter blues.  "They all had a story about the time that they were cut short," Mansour said.  Halifax regional municipality spokesman John O'Brien said the main purpose of parking meters is to keep downtown traffic flowing.  But meters bring big bucks into city coffers; about $3,800,000 this year alone from meter revenue and parking tickets combined.  This fiscal year's projected meter revenue is $1,600,000.  Next year, they are expected to bring in $1,800,000.  In the same period, parking tickets — a large majority of which are for meter violations — are expected to make the city a whopping $2,200,000.  Next year the city predicts that will rise to $3,400,000.  O'Brien does admit meters that don't keep the proper time are "a constant problem."  O'Brien said you can appeal tickets from suspect meters to the parking bylaw enforcement office.  "They'll haul that meter out and check it right away," he said.  The most common way for the city to discover one isn't working is when someone comes in to protest a ticket, he said.  "We'll send a technician around to that meter.  If it proves to be faulty, then the ticket is voided."  A city employee repairs 10 to 20 meters a day, and can check the timing of up to 40 meters a day, O'Brien said.  There are more than 2,000 parking meters in metro.
[Excerpted from the Halifax Sunday Daily News 19 April 1998]

1998 April 2

Springhill Lamp Cabin to Get Heritage Designation

The Lamp Cabin, a relic of Springhill's mining past, is about to become the town's first provincially recognized heritage property. It will also be the first such designation for any building linked to coal mining in Nova Scotia. The cabin, where miners' lamp batteries were stored and charged, and the lamps maintained, was a hive of activity when coal was king in Springhill. The one-storey brick structure was the last stop before miners went underground. A small tag would be placed on a board until the miner turned in his lamp at the end of a shift. The tags allowed managers to keep track of those underground. The cabin was also a gathering spot for townsfolk during the 1956 and '58 mining disasters, where they hoped to receive word of loved ones trapped underground. The '56 explosion killed 39 miners, while the Bump of '58, a tremor that slammed the mine floor into the roof, killed 75. The cabin has been empty since the mines were closed in 1959 and is now boarded up. Municipal Affairs Minister Guy Brown said in a letter to town council that the building "is a valuable historic resource, not only for ... Springhill, but for all Nova Scotians." The province will have a conservation architect determine what repairs the cabin will need and help the town develop "a comprehensive conservation and reuse plan." Mayor Mary Dee MacPherson was ecstatic about news of the heritage designation. "When I drive by that building it brings back a lot of memories. My uncle ... died in 1958 and to me this is a wonderful step for the heritage of this town." The town wants to open a museum in the cabin, which may happen after the architect finishes assessing the site. It may also designate two other old mine buildings near the lamp cabin as municipal heritage buildings. The cabin's designation ceremony is set for May 20, 1998.
[The Chronicle-Herald, 2 April 1998]

1998 April 5

Cape Bretoners Go Three Days
Without Electric Power

By Rachel Brighton

About 3,500 homes and businesses were without power in Cape Breton yesterday for the third straight day. Ice storms and snow stalled efforts to end a power failure in Louisbourg, Glace Bay, Dominion, New Waterford, Sydney, North Sydney, Sydney Mines, Boularderie Island and from Baddeck to Englishtown. But worst hit was the shore from St Anns to Ingonish, where at least one telephone exchange failed and two main transmission lines were still out last night. "Parts of the North Shore have been without power since Thursday night," said Nova Scotia Power spokesman Charles Greaves. "We're still having very bad conditions," said Greaves. "The power may have gone on for an hour or so, then off." Power lines sagged and trees snapped under a burden of ice. But no one was predicting when the ordeal would end, and seven more centimetres of snow were forecast last night and today. Greaves said the severe weather prevented helicopters reaching areas where power was down, so crews were working their way through dense forest to repair lines...
[The Halifax Sunday Daily News, 5 April 1998]

1998 April 5

MT&T and Stentor Companies
Launch New 877 Toll-Free Number Code

Existing 800 and 888 codes will soon all be used

MT&T and its industry counterparts recently launched a new toll-free prefix, 1-877, which went into effect on 5 April across North America. This move is in response to the boom in demand for toll-free numbers. 877 joins 800 and 888 in the growing list of toll-free prefixes. "The demand for toll-free is insatiable," said Sean Hennessey, Director of Marketing, MT&T. "Currently more than 270,000 toll-free numbers are in service in Canada, and businesses request approximately 1000 new numbers per week."

Although it took almost 30 years to run out of 7.9 million 800 numbers in North America, it took only two years to use up the same inventory of 888 numbers. It is expected that the 888 stock will be depleted in September of this year. In the past decade, the demand for toll-free numbers has multiplied tenfold as corporations, entrepreneurs and service bureaus increasingly depend on toll-free calling as a customer service tool. This is reflected in the explosion of pagers, personal toll-free numbers, toll-free Internet access as well as the popularity of "vanity" (name-based) numbers and the introduction of North American toll-free number portability.

877 will add eight million new numbers to the toll-free pool but the industry doesn't expect this supply to last for long. Already, the telephone companies are preparing for the next prefixes, 866 and 855, scheduled for release in September 1999.

Canadians should treat the new 877 prefix just like the other toll-free numbers by dialing 1-877 or 1-888 or 1-800, and the seven digit number. The prefixes are not interchangeable. The Stentor alliance was formed in 1992 by Canada's largest providers of telecommunications services. The members of the alliance are: BC TEL, Bell Canada, Island Tel, Manitoba Telecom Services, MT&T, NBTel, NewTel Communications, NorthwesTel, QuebecTel, SaskTel and TELUS. These companies maintain the world's longest, fully digital fibre-optic network.

Bell Canada media release, 3 April 1998

The first use, that I saw, of the new 877 code, was for the new CRTC toll-free telephone line, 1-877-249-CRTC, which officially went into service on 21 May 1998.

1998 April 7

MT&T Introduces High Speed Internet Access
Using Ordinary Copper Twisted-Pair
Local Telephone Lines

Internet downloading speed of 300 kilobytes per second
available now in Metro region, in most of Nova Scotia by early 1999

Maritime Tel & Tel launched this day what Colin Latham, President and CEO of MT&T, called the "next generation of the Internet". In a splashy, multi-media event, the phone company showed off Mpowered "a revolutionary, world-first technology" developed in Nova Scotia. Officials from the company and various partners showered lavish praise on the new system, which will enable business and residentail customers to access entire libraries of software from their personal computers on a rental system, and offers super-high-speed Internet connections, up to 250 times faster than a 28.8 kbps modem (which is currently considered to be a pretty good Internet speed), and is always on. Mpowered PC uses RADSL (Rate Adaptive Digital Subscriber Line) technology. This technology modifies its transmission speed depending on the state of the physical phone line so actual speed between two different customer connects may differ. This technology is also dependent on the length of the local twisted-pair loop, which is the distance from the customer's home to the telephone switching office. Rates in the Mpowered PC environment can vary from 1 to 7 megabits per second downstream (to the subscriber), and up to 1.5 megabits per second upstream (from the subscriber). The company says it is attempting to provide all customers with at least 3 megabits per second downstream, which translates to about 300 kilobytes per second. The customer's telephone can be used for ordinary conversations at the same time as Mpowered PC is in operation. RADSL uses frequency ranges for transmission higher than those used for voice transmission. This allows the technology to piggyback on top of the existing phone line. Typical telephone services (Call Answer, Call Waiting, etc.) are not affected.

For a residential customer who now purchases local and long distance services from MT&T, the cost per month will be $45, plus any software services accessed. There is a $150 one-time installation fee that includes the set-up, the EtherNet card, tour guide and a personalized overview of services. Currently, the Mpowered PC service is available throughout much of Halifax Regional Municipality. Colin Latham said the system is so far available only in the metro area to ensure it doesn't, as he put it, "overpromise and underdeliver". The company expects Mpowered PC will be expanding throughout Nova Scotia in 1998 and early 1999; the specifics of which areas get the service at what time will depend on customer demand. For more information, access the MT&T website at http://www.mtt.ca

Mpowered PC subscribers will be able to access a virtual software library of educational, entertainment and productivity titles on demand. Subscribers can select education and business-related software hourly, weekly, or yearly. Titles will be updated continually so customers always have the latest version at prices as low as $1.50 for two hours of use. Mpowered consumers can access software created by international, as well as local Nova Scotia designers, such as MathResources' The MathProbe, and Brooklyn North Software's HTML Assistant PRO.97.

[The Halifax Daily News and The Globe and Mail, both of 8 April 1998, and MT&&T's press release of 7 April 1998.]
Historical Notes about Maritime Telegraph & Telephone Company

1998 April 8

Reappointments to Halifax Port Corporation

Transport Minister David Collenette today announced the reappointment of Linda Marie Brennan of Dartmouth, N.S., and Robert A. Wilson of Bedford, N.S., to the Halifax Port Corporation, effective immediately. Ms. Brennan, who received her nursing diploma from St. Martha's School of Nursing, has served as property manager for Brenhold Limited and general manager of Snippers HairStyling since 1986. She has been an elected member of the Dartmouth District School Board since 1991, serving as vice-chair between 1991 and 1992 and as chair between 1992 and 1994. Mr. Wilson, who received his B.Sc. from Acadia University, has worked in the insurance industry for nearly 30 years and is currently an independent insurance broker. He has served as a councillor for the Town of Kentville; as chair of the Kentville Board of Police Commissioners; as a member of the Valley Health Services Hospital Board; and as a representative on the Kentville Board of Trade. Mr. Wilson is also a past president of the Canadian Association of Police Boards. The Halifax Port Corporation is a Crown corporation established in 1984 under the Canada Ports Corporation Act. The Port of Halifax is one of the 13 ports across Canada that make up Ports Canada, the national ports corporation. In 1997, the port handled more than 14 million tonnes of cargo, including containerized cargo, grain and forest products. Transport Canada is online at http://www.tc.gc.ca/.
[Department of Transport press release]

1998 April 8

Sable Gas Pipeline

Right of Way

The consortium building the Sable natural gas pipeline has acquired the right of way from more than half of the Nova Scotian landowners along the pipeline's planned route, a spokesperson for the company said this day. The consortium has reached a deal with 54% of the 385 private and corporate landowners which the 25-metre wide easement is located, said Bob MacDonald, Nova Scotia right of way manager for Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline. The company hopes to complete acquisition of the right of way by September 1998, and to begin clearing it in November. The easement is registered at the local land registry office and its rights and responsibilities "run with the land", that is, it passes on to all future owners of the property. The $1,000,000,000 pipeline will carry natural gas from six fields near Sable Island to customers in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and New England. The gas is scheduled to begin flowing to New England by 1 November 1999. The 1048km pipeline will carry about 500,000,000 cubic feet 15,000,000 cubic metres of natural gas daily westward from Goldboro, Guysborough County, and will connect with the existing North American pipeline grid near Dracut, Massachusetts. This pipe will have an outside diameter of 76.2cm. It will be buried a metre below the ground surface, and will have safety shutoff valves every 20km. If a leak should occur, a computer in Boston will close the nearest shutoff valve in each direction, to isolate the leak.

In Nova Scotia, a lateral pipeline to Dartmouth, 30cm inside diameter, will be built at an estimated cost of $74,000,000. This lateral will branch from the main pipe near Stellarton, and will run 121km to Nova Scotia Power Inc.'s Tufts Cove generating plant in Dartmouth. The plant has an electrical capacity of 350 megawatts. Tufts Cove was built originally to burn coal, then was converted to burn Bunker C heavy oil, and now is being converted to burn 60,000,000 cubic feet 1,700,000 cubic metres per day, of the cleaner-burning natural gas fuel. According to Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline spokesman Mike Whalen, the 30cm lateral pipe will have a carrying capacity about twice as much as the NSPI "anchor" load, which means there will be carrying capacity available to bring an additional 60,000,000 cubic feet 1,700,000 cubic metres per day to industrial, commercial, and residential customers in the Halifax-Dartmouth metro area. (A bigger 35 cm lateral pipe will be built to carry gas to Saint John, New Brunswick, where there are firm committments to burn about 135,000,000 cubic feet 3,820,000 cubic metres per day at plants owned by Irving and New Brunswick Power.) On 5 June 1998, M&NP filed the plans for the Dartmouth and Saint John laterals with the National Energy Board in Calgary, with applications to build the lines.

M&NP is doing the engineering design work on a proposed 20 cm lateral pipe to Point Tupper, but as of June 1998, no decision has been made about building this line, which depends on a firm committment from Stora to convert its plant to burn gas. Stora's Port Hawkesbury plant has what Stora describes as the world's fastest and widest supercalendered paper machine. This new machine, with the required ancillary equipment, cost $750,000,000 installed, and was officially placed in operation on 28 May 1998. The paper web runs at a speed of 1,800 metres a minute (108 km/h).

The Canadian portion of the main gas transmission pipeline, from Goldboro to the US border near St. Stephen, will be built by Maritime & Northeast Pipeline. M&NP is owned by Westcoast Energy Inc., 37.5%, Duke Energy, 37.5%, and Mobil, 25.0%. M&NP has its headquarters in Halifax, with project offices in Fredericton, New Brunswick, and Stellarton, Nova Scotia. Westcoast Energy has its headquarters in Vancouver.

[Excerpted from:
the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 10 April and 9 June 1998,
the Halifax Daily News, 11 April and 6 June 1998,
the Antigonish Casket, 27 May 1998, and
the Cape Breton Post, 29 May 1998.]

Lateral Pipe Too Small?

The lateral pipelines planned for carrying Sable natural gas to Nova Scotia destinations will be too small to deliver gas to potential future users in rural Nova Scotia, according to a development official in Antigonish. John Parker, executive director of the Antigonish Regional Development Authority, says a recent engineering study by SaskEnergy, a Saskatchewan Crown corporation and one of the companies wanting to distribute gas in Nova Scotia, shows the proposed 30cm lateral from Stellarton to Dartmouth is too small to carry enough gas to supply potential customers in Halifax metro plus proposed extensions to Hantsport/Wolfville and Bridgewater/Liverpool. Mr. Parker and two gas distribution experts from Edmonton are reported to be meeting today with Nova Scotia's three political leaders, Mr. MacLellan, Mr. Chisholm, and Dr. Hamm. Nova Scotia Premier Russell MacLellan said the province will address the matter at scheduled National Energy Board hearings reviewing the proposed Dartmouth/Halifax and Saint John laterals. "We will be intervening on the size of the lateral and I can make that commitment without any hesitation," Mr. MacLellan told reporters after a cabinet meeting on 11 June. Mr. MacLellan said he would not reveal the provincial government's desired pipe size until it makes its presentation to the Board. Nova Scotia Power has plans to convert the Tufts Cove electric generating plant in Dartmouth, with a capacity of 350 megawatts, to burn natural gas, using 61,600,000,000 BTU 65 TJ per day. The capacity of the presently-planned 121km 30cm lateral from Stellarton would be 124,000,000,000 BTU 118 TJ per day, according to Mike Whalen, manager of government and public affairs for Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline.

BTU means British Thermal Unit (a measure of energy)
1,000,000 BTU = 1.055 GJ

[Excerpted from the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 12 June 1998]

Lateral Pipe Too Small!

They Ain't Gonna Get It Because The Pipe Is Not Big Enough

...You can't get enough gas through a 12 inch 30cm pipeline, which is the proposal coming into Dartmouth at the present time. It doesn't matter how much you try to compress it, you cannot fill the needs of this region of Nova Scotia. You cannot look after the needs of rural Nova Scotia. We need a loop that goes down the South Shore up through the Annapolis Valley. Why should we be denying the areas of the province that want gas? Yarmouth Council the other day said, if we don't get gas then the province better compensate us. That is how determined they are in Yarmouth.

The Shelburne Municipal Council wants natural gas and Queens County wants natural gas. In Bridgewater they have a Michelin Plant and I am sure Michelin would like to have the gas. They ain't gonna get it, Mr. Speaker, because the pipe is not big enough. These pipes are strange, a 12-inch 30cm pipe costs about the same amount to put in the ground as a 16-inch 40cm pipe. An 18-inch 45cm pipe will carry twice as much natural gas as a 12-inch 30cm pipe. The expense is not in buying the pipe. The biggest expense is in the laying of the pipe, putting it in the ground and getting the rights-of-way. Let us put in a decent size pipe so that future generations of Nova Scotians throughout our province will, indeed, have the opportunity to use natural gas if they so desire.

Mr. Speaker, our rural communities in Nova Scotia have been holding meetings. I attended two of them myself. They are bringing people from western Canada who have had some experience with natural gas, they have been bringing them in to talk to us so that we will have some sort of an understanding of what is going on with natural gas in western Canada. Communities must take the lead, the Cape Breton Post told us. Natural gas has wide implications for the Annapolis Valley, the group was told. We want natural gas but, you see, we have had meetings throughout the province but they have not been organized by the provincial government. They have been organized by the communities and the Community Economic Development organizations around the province. They are the ones that are showing the leadership and, communities must take the lead, is the headline in the Cape Breton Post...

At the present time, the map that was furnished to us by the SOEP group doesn't indicate very much coverage in Nova Scotia. There is a lateral going to Halifax, and there's a dotted line heading towards Cape Breton. That's not what it looks like when you look at the map of New Brunswick. The New Brunswick Government said, boys, you're coming through here, you are going to do some distribution. They have a lateral going up the coast of New Brunswick; they have another lateral going up the U.S. side of New Brunswick, almost to the Province of Quebec; and then they have another lateral going into Saint John, and the lateral going into Saint John is twice the size of the lateral coming into Halifax...

Excerpted from a statement made in the Nova Scotia Legislature on 11 June 1998, by George Archibald, MLA representing Kings North.
Complete text as reported by Hansard

1998 April 11

Competition in Local Telephone Service
Delayed by Glitch in Number Portability

Competition in the supply of local telephone service in Canada is being held up because of a delay in obtaining a vital computer data base that will enable all telephone companies to keep track of customers' phone numbers. The new data base is needed to implement "telephone number portability", the term used to describe the system which will allow telephone customers to keep their existing phone number, no matter what local telephone company they choose to use. "Local competition is basically a bust without number portability," said Shirley Soehn, vice-president of regulatory and carrier services at MetroNet Communications Corporation of Calgary. Local number portability enables the same phone number to follow a customer to any phone company — without it a company or business person who decided to change to a different local phone company would have to change all places where a phone number is shown (which means notifying customers and friends; printing new letterheads, business cards, invoices, and bills; repainting all vehicles which display a phone number; altering TV ads, billboards...)

Existing phone number data bases cannot provide number portability because they were designed for only one company providing service within a region. The new phone number portability data base will be an essential service that will have to be accessed each and every time anyone dials a phone call, to find out what company the called number is connected to. Until now, that did not have to be done, because local telephone services (the actual connection of the customer's telephone to the phone network) in Nova Scotia had to be supplied by just one company, MT&T. Since every telephone was connected to MT&T, any incoming call could be routed to MT&T and that would take care of that. In the future, with local competition, it is entirely possible that five adjacent houses on a street, or five adjacent apartments in one building, could have telephones connected to five different local telephone companies.

The CRTC, the federal telecommunications regulator, recognized the importance of number portability when it issued a landmark decision — CRTC Telecom Decision 97-8 "Local Competition" dated 1 May 1997 — that abolished the monopoly in local telephone service as of 1 January 1998. It ordered the Canadian phone industry to form a non-profit collective to establish and operate a new national phone number portability data base. That non-profit collective is Canadian LNP Consortium Inc. which is controlled by a system in which shareholders' votes are allocated on the basis of one vote for each exchange in which portability is implemented and in which the shareholder operates as a LEC (Local Exchange Carrier).
[For further details see CRTC Telecom Order 97-1243 dated 5 September 1997]
["LNP" means Local Number Portability.]
CRTC: Local Number Portability Documents

Canadian LNP Consortium Inc. had hoped to have its system installed and ready for commercial service last week, said Jacques Sarazin, president of the Ottawa-based company. However, those plans were set back last month when the U.S. supplier of the data base, Perot Systems Corporation of Dallas, suddenly pulled out of the U.S. portability market. Perot Systems is owned by millionaire politician Ross Perot and was one of only two companies that was marketing number portability data bases. "We make no excuses — we stubbed our toe badly," said Bob Gilbert, spokesman for Perot Systems. He acknowledged that Perot Systems quit the portability market "because we got started too late and underestimated the complexity of the business."

Canadian LNP selected Perot Systems in part because its software subcontractor was an arm of Canadian telecommunications giant Northern Telecom Ltd., Mr. Sarazin said. "This was a data base technology we hadn't done before and, unfortunately, our competitor had too much of a jump on us," said Frank McNally, a spokesman at Northern Telecom of Brampton, Ontario. Mr. Sarazin said Canadian LNP pulled the plug on Perot Systems in late February after learning that Perot lost its three contracts to set up similar number portability centres in the United States. Lockheed Martin Corporation of Bethesda, Maryland, Perot's rival in the market, has assumed those contracts and now has a monopoly on all seven U.S. number portability centres. Canadian LNP has resumed negotiations with Lockheed Martin and its software subcontractor, Evolving Systems Inc. of Englewood, Colorado, a pioneer of portability data bases.

Mr. Sarazin expects that Canadian LNP will have number portability available in major centres across Canada by late summer or early fall, 1998. However, that is not soon enough for MetroNet, the first alternative local exchange carrier to start its own national network. MetroNet launched commercial service for businesses in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal this month after completing three months of trials. "We predicated our market plans and timing on the rollout of number portability by the end of April 1998," said MetroNet's Ms. Soehn. MetroNet has been unable to convince three of Canada's largest phone companies to provide an alternative method of number portability on a temporary basis — and at the same price per number — until the Lockheed Martin system becomes operational, Ms. Soehn added.

That failure led MetroNet to file a complaint with the CRTC a week ago, asking it to order the phone companies to provide the alternative method on an "emergency" basis.

MetroNet's complaint underscores the concern voiced by some analysts and rivals of the phone companies that the CRTC has moved too quickly in granting greater freedom to the former monopoly phone companies. For example, the CRTC deregulated eight of Canada's biggest phone companies in the long-distance market last December and, late last month, gave them permission to jointly market their wire-line local phone service with cellphone services. That has other would-be rivals, like Sprint Canada Inc., upset. "Local competition is still a far cry from being a reality," said Phil Bates, president of Sprint Canada. Some industry watchers agree. "It is premature for the CRTC to provide greater regulatory freedom for the former monopoly local phone companies until local competition is a reality in the market and not just a theory in a regulatory decision," said Mark Goldberg, a telecommunications consultant and president of Mark Goldberg & Associates Inc. of Thornhill, Ontario.
[Excerpted from The Globe and Mail, 11 April 1998]

In May 1998, Lockheed Martin signed a five-year agreement with the Canadian Local Number Portability Consortium to provide and maintain Canada's local number portability database. Lockheed replaces Perot Systems, which quit a few weeks ago.

For more information about Local Number Portability (LNP) — which is the knottiest technical problem to be solved, in the move toward competition in the local telephone market — see:
Number Portability News and Links
Siemens, Tutorial on Local Number Portability (LNP) recommended
Siemens, Local Loop Unbundling – a Prerequisite for LNP
Local-loop unbundling Wikipedia
Northern Telecom, Local Number Portability
Northern Telecom, LNP FAQ
Northern Telecom, LNP Backgrounder an excellent summary
Canadian Cable Industry to Conduct LNP Trial
The Phone Booth offers various files and links on telecom subjects, especially materials dealing with numbering plan issues, (area codes, country codes, phone number formats).
Local Competition Start-up Costs 12 May 1998 — The CRTC recognizes a need to determine the means by which ... Maritime Tel & Tel Limited ... would recover the costs involved in the start-up of competitive local telephone services. These issues include: (a) identification of local competition start-up costs and costs specific to LNP; (b) identification of the costs which should be subject to recovery from subscribers; (c) the mechanism that should be employed to enable any such recovery of costs from subscribers...

"There are directory databases used to produce telephone directories and provide directory assistance service. Historically, it has been the telephone companies that have developed and maintained those databases. With the advent of local competition, it may be necessary to rethink this approach. Some parties are already exploring the potential for creating a national directory database..."
Excerpted from Notes for an address by David Colville, Vice-Chairman, CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Ottawa, 4 December 1997

For an excellent report on area code splitting — including an explanation of how the introduction of competing local telephone companies may force Nova Scotia to a split in its area code 902 — see Static in New Jersey Over New Area Code
Also see New 450 Area Code in Montreal effective 13 June 1998. Describes the seven-month transitional period. And We're Running Out of Numbers in Montreal. With the number of telephones, cell phones, fax machines, modems and Internet links growing constantly, many large cities are facing a shortage of phone numbers.  This is the case in Montreal, where new combinations for numbers using the 514 area code will run out by early 1999.  The solution?  Split the greater 514 region into two area codes: 514 and 450.  Now that we have had both the 450 and 514 codes since June 13, 1998, we have been able to create millions of new numbers...

[Also see We're Running Out of Area Codes in The Globe and Mail, 22 April 1999 ]

Following is some background on MetroNet, excerpted from three company press releases:

CALGARY, April 1, 1998 /Canada News Wire/ — First out of the gate, MetroNet Communications today announced the commercial availability of local telephone services for businesses in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal over its own fibre-optic networks. Completing three months of successful voice service trials using its own fibre-optic networks and DMS-500 telephone switches, MetroNet is the first competitive local telecommunications carrier to offer a full suite of bundled telecommunications products and services to Canadian businesses. "The completion of our trials and the launch of our new local telephone service to complement our suite of data products marks a major milestone for the Company and for the local telecommunications market in general," said Rick Coleman, chief operating officer, MetroNet Communications. "MetroNet's local service is priced at least 10 to 15 percent less than the incumbent telephone companies. Depending on the bundle of services that customers purchase, actual savings can be substantially higher. MetroNet has already sold over 8,000 business telephone lines — and we're confident that many more businesses will choose MetroNet," Coleman said. In 1997, the CRTC opened up the local telecommunications market to competition. MetroNet Communications is among the first to enter the local Canadian telephone services market when the incumbent local telephone monopoly ends in 1998. MetroNet has operations established in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa-Hull and Montreal and plans to expand to 4 additional cities in 1998.

CALGARY, Feb. 25, 1998 /CNW/ — By the end of 1997, the company had installed five voice switches, increased its fibre optic lines to 10,370 fibre kilometres, and increased the number of buildings accessed by its network to 153. The company also turned on its frame relay data service network connecting five of the largest cities in Canada and put sales teams in place in five of the six additional cities in which it intends to commence operations. In anticipation of being allowed to offer local exchange service using its own switches and fibre, the company began providing local services to its customers during 1997. MetroNet was providing service to nearly 4,000 access lines at the end of 1997, and had orders to provide an additional 2,800 access lines. The company expects to migrate the majority of its customers to its own facilities as its voice switches, which are currently being tested with customers, are brought on line and local number portability becomes available. MetroNet is a publicly traded company on the Toronto and Montreal Stock Exchanges under the symbol MNC.B. The Company also trades on NASDAQ under the symbol METNF.

TORONTO, Jan. 21, 1998 /CNW/ — MetroNet Communications today announced the lighting of its fibre optic network and the creation of more than 200 new jobs and $54 million in investment in Toronto by the end of this year. The company also announced the official opening of its Toronto-based Network Operations Centre, part of an elaborate system that monitors MetroNet's networks nationwide. Under an agreement with the City of Toronto, MetroNet has refurbished a decommissioned water pipe system for the installation of a fibre optic network in downtown Toronto. The City's underground water pipes are located throughout key business, financial and government areas in the downtown core. Under the agreement, MetroNet installed approximately 17 kilometres of fibre optic cables in the water pipe system to form the backbone of an advanced high-speed telecommunications system, and has plans for further expansion this year. "The City estimates the lease agreement will provide approximately $10,000,000 in guaranteed revenue for the City over five years," said David Pasieka, Vice-President and General Manager, MetroNet Communications. . "This private/public partnership not only makes it very cost-effective for MetroNet to offer high-speed voice, video and data transmission to thousands of businesses, but it's also good for the City of Toronto, providing them with a new source of revenue."

1998 April 14

Personal Websites Now Operated
by Nova Scotia MLAs

As of this day, there are three personal websites operated by or for current Members of the Nova Scotia Legislature:
Written on 30 July 1998:
Darrell Dexter's website is still set up as it had been before the election of 24 March. The entry page was last updated on 14 March 1998, more than nineteen weeks ago.

Eileen O'Connell's website was last updated on 10 April 1998, more than eight weeks ago.

George Archibald's website was last updated at 8:03pm on 24 March, election day, more than eighteen weeks ago.

There is nothing to indicate these MLAs have any plans to use their websites as a means of communicating with the people of Nova Scotia during their terms in office.

At this time, April-July 1998, there were no personal websites operated by or for any of Nova Scotia's eleven current Members of Parliament. One has informed me that he hopes to have his website running by autumn 1998.

1998 April 15

New Paper Maker Gets Initial Run

It's a little like test driving a new car, except this little number costs a cool $750 million. Today marks the first time Stora Port Hawkesbury Ltd.'s high-quality paper equipment will be run at full speed. The test should also produce the first batch of supercalendered paper that will eventually be used mainly in catalogues and magazines. "We call it start-up quality," says Patricia Dietz, a spokeswoman for the Point Tupper mill.

The equipment is housed in a building 120 metres wide and 312 metres long. It's expected 350,000 tonnes of glossy paper will be produced annually, most of it going to customers in the United States. Construction on the $750,000,000 project, which is privately funded, began in May 1996. The official opening of the new mill is slated for late May.

Stora now employs about 750 people, including woodlands workers. A pulp mill that opened in 1962 was shut down March 1st, but a newsprint mill, producing 190,000 tonnes annually, will stay in production.

The first test of running the new equipment at full speed will be done without paper, and then it's time for the real thing. Wet pulp is fed into one end of the paper machine, then this material goes through rollers where the moisture is squeezed out and becomes a long, continuous sheet. The sheet is steam dried and comes out in a huge reel weighing 90 tonnes. That's more than three times the weight of a jumbo newsprint reel.

The paper has greater density, in part because it will have up to 30 per cent clay filler. "That's what helps give it that glossy texture, " says Ms. Dietz. Stora hopes the high level of quality will attract customers from throughout North America.

[The Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 15 April 1998]

1998 April 17

Canadian Airlines International Limited
Fares from Halifax


Fares in Canadian dollars

Valid for
Saint John $179 30 June 1998
Fredericton $199 30 June 1998
St. John's $269 30 June 1998
Montreal $289 30 June 1998
Ottawa $289 30 June 1998
Toronto $299 30 June 1998
Quebec City $359 30 June 1998
Winnipeg $479 30 June 1998
Calgary $499 30 June 1998
Edmonton $539 30 June 1998
Vancouver $549 30 June 1998
United States
New York $243 30 June 1998
Boston $246 30 June 1998
Orlando $401 30 June 1998
Chicago $411 30 June 1998
Miami $439 30 June 1998
Dallas -
Fort Worth
$487 30 June 1998
Las Vegas $541 30 June 1998
Los Angeles $569 30 June 1998
San Diego $581 30 June 1998
Honolulu $769 30 June 1998
The World
Mexico City $536 23 June 1998
Monterrey $536 23 June 1998
London $589 23 June 1998
Sao Paulo $1273 23 June 1998
Buenos Aires $1273 23 June 1998
Sydney $1749 30 June 1998
Bangkok $1749 6 Sept. 1998
Beijing $1759 6 Sept. 1998
Kuala Lumpur $1819 6 Sept. 1998

Trip must be booked and tickets purchased by 27 April 1998. Canada and U.S. destinations require a minimum Saturday night stay, 30 day maximum stay, and 14 day advance purchase. The world destinations require 7 day minimum stay, 30 day maximum, and 7 day advance purchase. For trips to London, tickets must be issued 2 days after the reservation is made. Fares valid at time of printing and apply to new bookings only. Fares subject to government approval. Taxes and airport fees are not included. Tickets for Sydney must be purchased by 30 April 1998 and travel must be completed by 30 June 1998. Tickets are 100% non-refundable. Seats are limited and subject to availability. Day of week and time of day restrictions apply. Fares may vary depending on date and time of departure and return. Advance purchase, minimum - maximum stay, and other condition apply. Flights are on planes operated by Air Atlantic, Canadian Airlines International, American Airlines, British Airways, and/or Quantas.

[Advertised in the Halifax Daily News 17 April 1998]

1998 April 17

Liberal Party Website Closed

On this day, at 4:44pm, the website operated by the Nova Scotia Liberal Party was closed, after having been online all of 42 days. All files were deleted, except for the entry page at http://www.nsliberals98.com/ which contained this: "The election is over and this site is therefore closed. Thanks to all who supported us during the campaign."

The Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative Party website remained on-line at http://www.pcparty.ns.ca/index.html with several pages, including a list http://www.pcparty.ns.ca/cand.html of the PC MLAs elected. The site was still active to some extent — the Calendar Of Events page at http://www.pcparty.ns.ca/touch.html was updated at 2:06pm 20 April 1998, to include several notices of constituency meetings scheduled for May and June, with a crawl telling viewers the Legislature will meet on 19 May. But that was all — there was no page with recent press releases, and nothing about the current situation in the Legislature, in which the three parties have 19, 19, and 14 seats. There was nothing to indicate the party had any plans to use its website as a means of communicating with the people of Nova Scotia.
For example, on Saturday, 18 April, the Chronicle-Herald carried a story titled "Tory Critics Named", by Dale Madill: Tory Leader John Hamm released his critic portfolios on Friday, and he, like Premier Russell MacLellan, went with his veterans. The biggest change is in the responsibility for the crucial health portfolio, which Mr. Hamm has taken on himself ... One of the more interesting additions to the Tory benches is Murray Scott, a former police officer who will bring his perspective to a critical area, justice, that is usually dominated by lawyers. He is also responsible for issues affecting human rights and senior citizens. Another notable MLA is Neil LeBlanc, who returns to the House as an opposition member after serving as a cabinet minister in the governments of John Buchanan and Donald Cameron. Defeated in the 1993 election, the Argyle MLA has prepared for his new role in a familiar place, attending a seminar for rookie MLAs earlier this week. He is the critic for fisheries, Acadian affairs, and business and consumer affairs.

Seems to me this is the sort of item that one would expect to show up in the PC Party website, but, as of 22 April, five days after the announcement to the media, there's nothing there.

The Nova Scotia New Democratic Party website remained on-line at http://www.ns.ndp.ca/index.html with several pages, including http://www.ns.ndp.ca/results.html with the vote counts for all candidates in every riding, but this page had last been updated on 2 April, and, as of 22 April, did not show the results of the recounts in Halifax Citadel and Pictou West, which produced slightly different vote counts but did not alter the winner. As of 22 April, the News Releases page at http://www.ns.ndp.ca/press_releases/index.html had last been updated on 21 March, three days before the election, and the latest news release in this page was dated 19 March. There was nothing to indicate the party had any plans to use its website as a means of communicating with the people of Nova Scotia.
For example, on Saturday, 18 April, the Chronicle-Herald carried a story titled "MacLellan, Chisholm Settle Little", by Dale Madill: ...The two men only reached agreement on settling the contentious issue of choosing a Speaker through creation of a tripartite committee of House leaders ... Mr. Chisholm identified the BST, health and university funding, and P3 school construction as areas where the NDP will stick to its election platform ... "We don't have confidence in this government, and that hasn't changed, so we are not going in there with the idea of propping them up," he said, adding his party's agenda isn't to topple the MacLellan government, either. "We want better government for Nova Scotians. That's our goal." ... Mr. MacLellan said there was also three-party agreement on increasing funding for members' constituency expenses...

Seems to me this is a significant event, worthy of being described as a news release, or perhaps in some other format, in the NDP website, but, as of 22 April, five days later, there's no mention of it.

Here's another, from the Chronicle-Herald on Wednesday, 22 April — "Classes Start for NDP Caucus", by Amy Smith: The NDP caucus is headed for political boot camp this weekend. The 19-member caucus will spend Saturday through Monday in Antigonish, learning the ropes of the legislature and other aspects of being a provincial politician. "It's a question of getting people together, getting to know each other," NDP Leader Robert Chisholm said Tuesday ... These MLA-elects will also review tapes of previous sessions of the House. "It's only fair," Mr. Chisholm said. "We have to try and prepare them for each part of their job. "We'll try to run through what it may be like in the legislature." This session of the House will require special preparation in light of the province's current political climate, he said...

Seems to me this, too, is a significant event, worthy of mention in the NDP website, but the party apparently does not agree.

1998 April 18

Icelandair Fares to Europe

Icelandair Fares
from Halifax to Europe

Fares in Canadian dollars

London $443
Amsterdam $528
Luxemburg $528
Stockholm $643
Oslo $643
Copenhagen $598
Hamburg $563
Iceland $448
Athens $770
Italy $722
Portugal $739
Ireland $608
Glasgow $548
Berlin $722
Frankfurt $563
Paris $660

Three flights weekly

Rates are per person based on two travelling together. Tax extra. Fares vary with travel dates chosen and are subject to availability & change. Overnight may be required at extra cost. Call 1-888-383-8898 for guaranteed best value ticket to Europe.
[Advertised in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald 18 April 1998]

1998 April 19, Sunday

The Sunday Herald's First Issue

On this day, Volume 1 Number 1 of The Sunday Herald was published in Halifax. Nova Scotians now have two Sunday newspapers available each week. The first issue of The Sunday Herald contained 100 pages, each 34.0cm × 58.0cm. It was divided into five sections, section A with 22 pages, B with 12, etc. The Sunday Herald is printed at Web Atlantic Limited on Chain Lake Drive in Halifax, the same press that prints The Globe and Mail Atlantic Edition Monday through Saturday. The weekday issues of The Chronicle-Herald and The Mail-Star are printed at the Halifax Herald Limited building on Argyle Street in Halifax where they have been printed for many years.

1998 April 21

Maritime Broadcasting System Limited
Annapolis Valley Radio Limited

CFAB Windsor
CKEN Kentville
CKWM-FM Kentville
CKAD Middleton
CKDY Digby
CKDY-FM-1 Weymouth

Annapolis Valley Radio Limited Will Disappear

On this day, the CRTC announced that it has approved, by Letter of Authority A98-0034 dated 2 April 1998, the applications by Annapolis Valley Radio Limited (AVRL), to transfer effective control of its parent company, Braemount Holdings Limited (BHL), through the transfer of all of the securities held by Mr. Neil MacMullen (91.8%) and Ms. Lorraine MacMullen (8.2%) to Maritime Broadcasting System Limited (MBSL).

Annapolis Valley Radio Limited is licensee of radio programming undertakings As a result of this transaction, MBSL will assume effective control of the above-noted undertakings.  AVRL will continue to be a wholly-owned subsidiary of BHL which, in turn, will be a wholly-owned subsidiary of MBSL.  The Commission notes that it is MBSL's intention to amalgamate both BHL and AVRL with MBSL, with the resulting entity continuing as MBSL.


At this time, Annapolis Valley Radio's website was located at
 (Archived 1998 June 24)

1998 April 21

1,000 Street Lights Turned Off

It's lights out for River Hebert, Joggins, and Lower Cove, in Cumberland County. The three communities appealed to Cumberland Municipal Council at a meeting held 21 April, in an effort to have a decision to move to a "user-pay" system for street lights reversed for their areas, but were turned down due to a technicality based on county by-laws. In further discussion on the issue, Councillor Jim Morris made a motion that council establish a joint committee of council and citizen representatives with the mandate of finding an alternative to the user-pay system. The motion was defeated by a vote of three for, five against. Based on the total number of houses in the area, it was indicated the rate would be about $42 per property per year. According to preliminary counts of the nine lit areas (or strings) making up River Hebert, Joggins, and Lower Cove, only one has voted in favour of a user-pay system and will keep their street lights. In another motion, Councillor Morris asked that the decision on the River Hebert lights be held for 14 days to give the residents an opportunity to come up with an alternate proposal. This motion was defeated. Three requests from the residents of Joggins and Lower Cove included: (1) Council place current direction of eliminating street lights on hold, (2) Council set up a joint citizen-council committee to review the issue, and (3) Council work with the people cooperatively. They were all rejected by Council.
[Excerpted from the Springhill-Parrsboro Record, 29 April 1998.]

Citizens Coalition to Fight for Street Lights

The Citizens Coalition for the Retention of Streetlights plans to vigourously pursue its objectives of keeping street lights in Cumberland County, said coalition member Phil Stevens during an April 21 press conference. "There's an old children's song that says 'where were you when the lights went out' and I do hope we in Cumberland County do not have to live with this scenario." The coalition, which was formed as a result of the Municipal Council's decision to eliminate street lights in parts of the county, also has some secondary objectives, Stevens outlined. The coalition, a group representing nine communities fighting the user-pay system, wants to make Council accountable to the public and to open up proper communication between Council, the coalition, and the public. "The Warden said the decision was made close to two years ago," Stevens explained. "If this is so, why is it some taxpayers in some areas of the County were given such short notice?" In District One, he explained, two weeks' notice was given for residents to decide if they want to keep the lights or not, and in Joggins, River Hebert, and Lower Cove ten days was given. Council refused earlier requests from groups in District One and Joggins to put the issue on hold, Stevens said, saying they covered everything in a study on the issue. "If they have covered everything in their study, why are the RCMP showing some concern regarding crime and public safety?" The RCMP are concerned, Stevens explained, because the areas where street lights are being shut off surround densely populated areas. If the decision was made two years ago and had been before Council for several years, he wondered why it had not been brought before the voters at election time. If street lights are to be changed over to a user-pay system, Stevens said, it is up to Council to clarify who is a "user". "Street lights are a benefit to all, RCMP, 911 emergency, ... a guide for the Highways Department crews." If the lights go user-pay, Stevens wondered who would absorb the additional cost of collecting power bills and what would be done with delinquent customers. Coalition chair Mark Boon said the coalition believes this issue can be resolved by talking and working with Council to find alternative solutions. Boon said there needs to be a clearer definition of user and user pay. "If you pay for something, you the user have the right to use it," Boon said, but what of the visitors driving through an area? "Are they not using it?" he asked, before wondering if little toll booths would be set up.
[Excerpted from the Springhill-Parrsboro Record, 22 April 1998.]
[RCMP means Royal Canadian Mounted Police.]

Streetlight Coalition Angered by
Being Left in Dark by Municipal Council

Cumberland County's Municipal Council plans to convert its street lights to user-pay this fiscal year because it believes the existing policy is unfair. All municipal residents now pay taxes to cover the $226,000 annual cost of street lights, but only 20% of people have them. Council's decision will result in more than 1,000 street lights being turned off in the municipality, which covers most of Cumberland County. The Municipal Council sent a letter to Nova Scotia Power saying it would not pay for certain street lights — more than 1,000 of them in various parts of the Municipality — after Friday, 24 April 1998. Those street lights were turned off because many county residents did not indicate their willingness to accept the local "user-pay" system by Council's 6 April deadline. The coalition of nine rural communities believes turning the lights off will create a safety hazard, and will result in more accidents and increased vandalism. The coalition recognized the existing street light payment system is unfair, but says the "user-pay" system is equally unfair.
[Excerpted from the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 9 & 23 April & 7 May 1998.]

This problem, of how rural street lights should be paid for when some areas have them and others do not, is not really all that difficult to solve. It was solved equitably many years ago, in other municipalities. I have personal knowledge of the area-rate system, which was in effect in the 1960s (and likely long before that) in the Municipality of the District of Chester, which covers the eastern half of Lunenburg County. Chester Municipality then had (and as far as I know still has) a system of area rates for street lights. Any district whose residents wanted street lights and were willing to pay for them, got the lights. Districts whose residents preferred to do without street lights, did not get them and were not taxed for them. A street light district could be anything from a few hundred metres along a highway to a formally-organized area such as the Village of Chester. Since the 1930s, in the Village of Chester, the legally-constituted Village Commissioners applied a special street-lighting tax to the whole village; the Commissioners decided how many street lights were installed, and the power (brightness) and specific location of each light, and the electric company sent the associated bill to the Village Commissioners. Other street-light areas existed as well. For areas outside of the Village of Chester, the Municipal Council staff handled the area rates. As part of the municipal property tax records, a list was maintained specifying precisely which properties were to be taxed for each street light area, and those property tax bills showed a separate item for street lights. For many years, Chester Basin did not have street lights, because a majority of its residents were unwilling to accept the cost. Anyone who looks at the minutes of the Chester Municipal Council during the 1950s and 1960s will find references to street light area rates.

1998 April 23

CIFA-FM Local Programming
Extended to 105 Hours a Week

CRTC Decision 98-140, issued this day, approved the application by Radio Clare Association to amend the Promise of Performance of the Type A community radio programming undertaking CIFA-FM Comeauville (Yarmouth), by increasing the amount of locally-produced programs from 80 hours to 105 hours each broadcast week. In reaching its decision, the Commission took into account the licensee's argument that its financial situation would permit an increase in the number of hours of local programming and that this would respond to popular demand. The Commission has also considered the fact that CIFA-FM is the only French-language station in the market and that the application is consistent with the role of community stations in reflecting the special interests and needs of the listeners they are licensed to serve.
[Source: http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/BCASTING/DECISION/1998/D98140_0.TXT]

1998 April 23

Audible Traffic Signals

Blind residents of Halifax Regional Municipality want to hear more chirps at crosswalks. A group of blind residents handed a report to regional council this week calling for a 13-year program to put audible signals at all metro crosswalks. There are just 12 audible traffic signals in metro now. Traffic lights cost about $150,000 per intersection, said report author Wayne Huskins. By not spending $2,000 on audible signals, the city is denying blind people the safety protection it gives sighted citizens. "What we are in effect saying to the blind and visually impaired people is you are second-class citizens," said Huskins. The group says it will cost $43,000 a year for most of the 13-year period to convert all of metro's signals. It wants each intersection to have four signals instead of two, which would allow volumes to be turned down. Nearby residents often complain they do not want the noise from audible signals.
[The Halifax Daily News, 23 April 1998]

1998 April 23

Another Long Distance Phone Company

"Fonorola will slash 15% off North American long-distance and toll-free rates offered by Sprint Canada to their residential, home office, small office, or commercial customers. That's right, 15% off. It's not one-upmanship, it's just that anything they can do, we can do better ... Offer valid until June 30, 1998," reads a 27cm × 49cm display advertisement in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 23 April 1998. The rate being offered is 12.5¢ per minute for calls from Nova Scotia to anywhere in Canada; this rate applies 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with no minimum spending requirements or activation fees.

Fonorola (the company prefers the eccentric spelling "fONOROLA") is a Canadian carrier of telecommunications services, with its corporate head office at 500 Rene Levesque Boulevard West, Suite 305, Montreal. On 17 November 1997 Fonorola announced the opening of its Nova Scotia office at Purdy's Wharf, 1969 Upper Water Street, Suite 1606, Tower II, Halifax.

[The Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 23 April 1998; The Globe and Mail, 25 April; the website http://www.fonoroa.com/ and other sources.]
Historical Notes about Fonorola

1998 April 23

Wallace CAP Site Officially Opened

On behalf of Industry Minister John Manley, Senator Al Graham, Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister responsible for Nova Scotia, announced the opening of the latest Community Access Program (CAP) centre, located in Wallace, Cumberland County, Nova Scotia. The centre, which is housed in the Wallace Consolidated Elementary School, is the result of partnerships between Industry Canada's CAP, the Wallace and Area Home and School Association, the Wallace Area Development Association, the Chignecto Central Regional School Board and the broad-based support of local businesses and public interest organizations. "This CAP site will benefit our community's social and economic development by providing us access to the opportunities of the Information Highway," said Peter Mortinson, a spokesperson for the Wallace CAP centre.
[Excerpted from a government press release (which made no mention of the Wallace CAP site's Internet address!)]

1998 April 24

Education Week 1998

During Education Week, 20-24 April 1998, a thorough search was made for WWW websites operated by or for Nova Scotia schools.  Websites were found for 116 schools, and several additional websites for related organizations such as school boards.
Complete list of school websites: April 1998

1998 April 24

iSTAR Internet Incorporated

iSTAR Internet Inc. (Toronto Stock Exchange trading symbol WWW) today reported revenues for the third quarter ended February 28, 1998 of $9,000,000. This represents a 1.1% decrease from revenues of $9,100,000 reported in the third quarter of fiscal 1997. Net losses for the quarter were $16,100,000 (53¢ per share) compared to a net loss of $9,700,000 (40¢ per share) in the third quarter of fiscal 1997 and a $10,900,000 loss (38¢ per share) in the previous quarter. For the nine months ended February 28, 1998, net losses were $34,500,000 ($1.24 per share). As compared to the second quarter of fiscal 1998, the increase in net losses is primarily a result of $6,100,000 of restructuring and other costs relating to the acquisition of the company by PSINet Inc. Pursuant to its cash offer to purchase all of the outstanding common shares dated 6 January 1998, PSINet Inc. (NASDAQ: PSIX), a U.S. based Internet service provider, acquired approximately 81.1% of iSTAR's issued and outstanding common shares.

Huge Consolidation Ratio
8,500,000 to One

iSTAR also announced today that it will be mailing a Management Information Circular to all shareholders in connection with a special meeting of the shareholders to be held on 27 May 1998. The purpose of the special meeting is to approve the consolidation of the common shares of iSTAR on the basis of one new share for 8,500,000 existing shares. Under the resolution, no fractional shares will be issued. PSINet Inc is the only shareholder with 8,500,000 shares. Those shareholders holding fewer than 8,500,000 shares (that is, all shareholders other than PSINet Inc.) will be paid 75¢ cash for each common share owned immediately prior to the consolidation. If the consolidation is approved, iSTAR will no longer be a publicly traded company as PSINet Inc., iSTAR's largest shareholder, will become the sole shareholder of iSTAR. PSINet Inc. has indicated that it will vote in favour of the consolidation. The votes cast in respect of the shares owned by PSINet Inc. will be sufficient to pass the consolidation resolution being considered at the special meeting. [This action will have the effect of eliminating all shareholders other than PSINet Inc., thus making iSTAR Internet Inc. a wholly-owned subsidiary of PSINet Inc.]

About iSTAR Internet Inc. — iSTAR was incorporated in August 1995 and became a publicly traded company in November 1995. It is one of Canada's leading internet service provider company. More information in iSTAR can be found at http://www.istar.ca/

About PSINet Inc. — PSINet is a global Internet Protocol (IP) data communications company focused on the business marketplace. As the first and largest independent commercial Internet service provider in the world, PSINet operates an international state-of-the-art frame relay-based, IP-optimized network connecting to ISDN, ATM, SMDS, and wireless/satellite systems, serving over 33,000 business accounts with over 400 points of presence extending to 10 countries. Headquartered in the United States, PSINet has subsidiaries in Canada, Japan, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the UK.

[Source: Press release dated 24 April 1998]

1998 April 25

Canada 3000 Fares from Halifax


Send us your e-mail address
to receive information on
all future seat sales and promotions.

Fares in Canadian dollars

Toronto Daily $159 $199
St. John's Tue. & Thu. $129 $249
Calgary Mon., Wed., & Thu. $379 $479
Vancouver Mon. - Fri. $379 $489
Edmonton Tue. & Fri. $399 $479
Orlando $99 N/A
St. Petersburg $99 N/A
Fort Lauderdale $99 N/A
London Thu. Dep. $399
Glasgow Tue. Dep. $389
Amsterdam Mon. Dep. $429
Dusseldorf Sun. Dep. $379
Hamburg Thu. Dep. $379
Munich Tue. Dep. $389
Stuttgart Wed. Dep. $499

All flights are operated in accordance with NTA regulations on aircraft chartered by Signature Vacations. Advertised prices are the minimum prices available. They may vary according to departure dates chosen. Departure taxes and foreign taxes are not included. Seats were available at press time. Reservations 1-888-CAN-3000.

[Advertised in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald 25 April 1998]

1998 April 28

Bridge Debt Refinanced

The Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission that runs metro Halifax's two harbor bridges paid an $18,600,000 penalty last year to re-finance its $100,000,000 debt. The penalty forced a $7,600,000 loss for the Bridge Commission, according to its 1997 annual report released this day. The report provides commentary on the year's activities and financial results. The Commission issued $100,000,000 in ten-year, toll-revenue bonds in December 1997, with an interest rate of 5.95% per year. The bonds replaced a loan with an interest rate of 11%.

The penalty was incurred by prepaying the $100,000,000 existing debenture — that is, paying it off before 3 July 2001, which was the payment date agreed upon when the money was borrowed. Paying the penalty was worthwhile because the new financing will save $5,000,000 a year for three and a half years, said Commission chairman Larry Doane, almost covering the cost of re-financing. In July 2001, the Commission would have been forced to re-finance the debt at whatever the interest rate may be at that time, which could easily be higher than today's rate. "Interest rates could well go up between now and 2001," said Doane. "If they do, we'll look pretty smart." Mr. Doane compares this transaction to an individual pre-paying a high rate home mortgage to obtain a better rate and a longer term.

At the end of 1997, the Commission was well along in a reconstruction and expansion project being done on the Angus L. Macdonald bridge, the oldest of the two bridges across Halifax Harbor. The bridge will be modified to add a third traffic lane, the decks on the approach spans will be replaced, and the facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists will be expanded. The work is expected to be completed in late 1999 and is being done in a manner which avoids daytime closure of the bridge. This work will cost $51,200,000. The second significant capital project undertaken by the Commission in 1997 is an upgrade of toll equipment and addition of electronic toll collection on both bridges. The new system will be in use by the summer of 1998 and is expected to cost $4,200,000. The new system is expected to increase the efficiency of traffic flow.

In 1970, the provincial government decided to finance the construction of the A. Murray MacKay bridge with low-interest foreign-currency loans. The decision allowed the bridge tolls to be kept low, but the subsequent decline in the Canadian dollar's value compared with the German mark and the Swiss franc massively increased the debt. That's how Nova Scotians wound up owing $125,000,000 for two bridges that cost $42,000,000 to build.

Until the debt was re-financed in December 1997, the Commission had been paying $11,000,000 a year in interest and placing another $3,000,000 a year into a sinking fund — to help pay off the debt — that will no longer, be necessary, said Doane. "Now we don't have to put out that $14,000,000, we only have to put out roughly $6,000,000," he said. "So we've got about $8,000,000 a year extra cash flow." That money will go into paying off $51,200,000 worth of improvements to the Angus. L. Macdonald bridge over the next two summers, said Doane. He expects to have "considerably more than half" of the $100,000,000 debt paid off by 2007.

Motorists made 28.7 million trips across the Angus L. Macdonald and A. Murray MacKay bridges in 1996. "In 1997, I think we were 10,000 vehicles less than 1996," said Doane. "The automobiles were down a bit, and trucks were up a bit." That bumped up toll revenue slightly from $20,610,968 in 1996 to $20,638,696 in 1997.

[Excerpted from the Halifax Daily News 29 April 1998, and from Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission press releases dated 31 July 1997 and 28 April 1998.]

1998 April 29

Large Increase in MT&T Internet Service

On this day, Ron Smith, MT&T Vice President Finance, reported that the "growth in Sympatico subscribers has been tremendous; approximately 190% year over year." Sympatico is the name MT&T uses to identify its Internet connection service.

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