Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things

Fun with Numbers

Chart showing numbers and astrology figures.I was writing today’s date moments ago and realized that my enthusiasm for the occult ran away with me on Wednesday, when I included a note at the top of the newsletter pondering the numerological significance of 22.02.2022, which I had recorded as the day’s date.

The only information of significance to be drawn from that date, of course, is that I don’t know how to use a calendar.

Apologies for any confusion I may have caused and I will refrain from reading anything into the fact that I’m writing this on 23.02.2023, not least because you’ll be reading this on 24.02.2023.

There’s a reason why journalists are advised to stick to the facts.


Downtown development (con’t)

I wrote this week about two downtown Sydney developments, the Sydney Waterfront Campus of the NSCC and the revamp of Charlotte Street (where we’ve traded in a bike lane for parking), but I have also been noticing the progress—or lack thereof—with the former Cape Breton Post building at 75 Dorchester Street.

The Cape Breton Post, as in the newspaper, abandoned this building in 1985 and Bidart Safety Supply, which had once occupied part of the basement, became the owner. Although the building boasted some tenants after this, by 2018, when it was put up for sale, it had been “boarded up for two decades.”

If you’re wondering how this jibes with CBRM’s regulations surrounding derelict buildings, the answer it that it doesn’t—the regulations state that a building that has been boarded up for 24 months is deemed to be “derelict” and:

When a building is deemed to be derelict, the Municipality may direct the owners to remedy the condition as specified in an Order.

Upon the issuance of an Order the owner must within thirty (30) days:

(a) Obtain a Conditional Building Permit to bring the building up to a habitable standard; or

(b) Demolish the building.

But as became clear back in 2020, when council was discussing the equally derelict former train station on Dodd Street, the CBRM can’t afford to demolish buildings of this size. As Paul Burt, CBRM’s manager of buildings, planning and licensing, said of the old train station:

It’s a big commercial structure, which means we would have to go in and do a complete hazardous materials assessment and do a remediation before we could knock it down — these aren’t excuses, these are the facts and we just can’t afford to deal with them.

In the case of the station, it took the death of a homeless person in the building to spur the owner to action (the station was demolished and the property sold). In the case of the Post building, it was (as noted) put up for sale in 2018 (asking price: $495,000) and sold, in 2019, to brothers Ajay and Ankit Balyan and “partners in India” for $225,000. The Balyan Brothers’ ambitious plans for the building made the front page of the Post:


Photo of old Cape Breton Post building, Sydney, NS

By 2021, however, the brothers had shifted their attention to the former Smart Shop on Charlotte Street, which they’d purchased in 2020, and the Post building, which had sat derelict for another two years (catching fire once), was back on the market at an asking price of $399,000.

According to data I accessed on, that price was increased in November 2021 to $525,000 but there were no takers:

Listed price for 75 Dorchester Street, Sydney NS


We’re now over a year out from that price change and this is what 75 Dorchester Street looks like today (I took these photos on February 23):


As you can see, the owners are not even meeting the municipality’s requirement that an abandoned building be boarded up and secured.

Earlier this month, CBRM’s Appeals Standing Committee met to consider eight “dangerous and unsightly” properties the CBRM has targeted for demolition, so next week I’m going to undertake an exercise I’ve undertaken before, namely, looking up all these condemned properties to see how they compare to the “dangerous and unsightly” presence located just steps away from a newly “revitalized” section of Sydney’s downtown.


‘Pull like a dog’

I have viewed few things as satisfying recently as this short documentary about Paul and Gary O’Donovan, the Irish brothers from the tiny Cork town of Skibbereen who “became household personalities by winning silver in the Men’s Lightweight Double Sculls at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.” (I seem to have a “brothers” theme going this week.)

As the blurb for the documentary (which is part of a Red Bull-sponsored series of docs about “unexpected athletes succeeding in the most unlikely circumstances”) says:

In what is commonly regarded as sport for the elite, the O’Donovan Brothers’ story explains other routes into Rowing; as well as shedding light on one of the Europe’s most successful and unique rowing clubs you’ve never heard of.

The post-race interview the brothers gave RTE was voted the best moment in Irish sports that year and Paul’s answer to a question about how you win a silver medal—you just “close your eyes and pull like a dog”—became a national catch phrase.

The doc is short and sweet and worth watching, even if you could care less about rowing.

And that concludes my coverage of the 2016 Olympic Games.