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Failures to communicate: From Nova Scotia Power to the Halifax convention centre

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Photo: John Douglas/flickr

What we have here, suggests Nova Scotia Power President and CEO Bob Hanf is a failure to communicate. Nothing more. Lack of manpower? Don't worry. Storm-unhardened infrastructure? Be happy.

Despite close to a week to prepare for the Hurricane Arthur that whooshed into a post-tropical shell of itself by the time it made landfall last weekend, NSP's communications infrastructure was indeed so woefully inadequate its online outage maps crashed, its phone answering system cacked, and the answers its operators did give customers were about as reliable as NSP's electrical service.

Once everyone has their power back, says Hanf, NSP's pointy heads will review their own communications goof-ups… again. NSP's lousy customer communication has been an issue in every major outage since well before Juan.

But NSP doesn't plan to review its decision to lay off staff and contract out much of the critical storm-hardening infrastructure work once done by its own linemen. No need, says Hanf.

Salty fog anyone?

If Hanf really wants to restore confidence, he would appoint an independent third party to publicly audit its infrastructure and actual storm readiness.

If NSP's infrastructure and maintenance were better, perhaps there would be fewer failures to communicate about.

***

Speaking of disconnects, that recent Be-Bold newspaper ad signed by 300 of Halifax's finest, crapping over Heritage Trust and anyone who would question the all-knowing wisdom of local developers, has inadvertently revived discussion about whether our under-construction downtown convention centre actually makes economic sense.

For a whole host of reasons, the North American convention business is struggling -- even before we add our own shiny new, publicly financed $400-million bauble into the mix.

How badly? Well, consider this from a recent letter sent by the L.A. Convention and Visitors Bureau to the organizer of a potential 2016 national conference.

The letter offered to reduce the standard $269,918 space rental rate for their four-day convention by $268,918! Not that the convention space would actually end up costing the group even $1,000. The Bureau also offered to throw in a $25,000 "marketing incentive," meaning the group would actually pocket $24,000 to stage its convention in L.A.

That's what our new convention centre will be competing against. Good luck with that. And good luck to taxpayers too.

This article first appeared in Stephen Kimber's Halifax Metro column.

Photo: John Douglas/flickr

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