NSP and the convention centre: failures to communicate

What we have here, suggested Nova Scotia Power President and CEO Bob Hanf, is a failure to communicate.

Lack of manpower? Don’t worry.

Storm-unhardened infrastructure? Be happy.

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

But… earth to Hanf’s rarified, bonus-bloated executive suite: communication isn’t your only problem.

Hanf initially dismissed questions about the utility’s apparent unpreparedness for major storms, its failure to have cleared trees that might then not have fallen on power lines, its decision to eliminate more than half its boots-on-the-ground linemen in the past 20 years while goosing executive bonuses.

Luckily, Premier Stephen McNeil didn’t buy NSP’s it’s-just-a-failure-to-communicate line. He’s asked the Utilities Review Board to review, not just the company’s response to this storm but also its lack of preparedness for everyday life in unpredictable Nova Scotia.

Hanf now says — what could he say — NSP welcomes such a review.

It should be interesting.

If NSP’s infrastructure and maintenance were better, perhaps Hanf would have fewer failures to communicate about.

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Speaking of disconnects, that recent Be-Bold newspaper ad signed by 300 of Halifax’s finest, crapping over Heritage Trust and anyone who questions the all-knowing wisdom of developers, has inadvertently revived too-late discussions 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 its standard $269,918 space rental rate for their four-day convention by $268,918 — to just $1,000! Not that the convention space would actually cost 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.

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Copyright 2014 Stephen Kimber, Website

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