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TRICOUNTY VANGUARD YEAR IN REVIEW: July 2018

2018 Yarmouth Seafest Rudders Parade of Lights in Yarmouth harbour held the evening of July 14. TINA COMEAU PHOTO
2018 Yarmouth Seafest Rudders Parade of Lights in Yarmouth harbour held the evening of July 14. TINA COMEAU PHOTO

A sampling of some of the news from the month.

Official opening held for Cape Saint Mary Lighthouse Park

The fog was pretty thick on July 5 when Cape Saint Mary Lighthouse Park was officially opened. The park’s focal point is a monument bearing the names of people from Clare who lost their lives at sea. The granite mariner at the top of the monument was carved by local sculptor Marc Graff.
The fog was pretty thick on July 5 when Cape Saint Mary Lighthouse Park was officially opened. The park’s focal point is a monument bearing the names of people from Clare who lost their lives at sea. The granite mariner at the top of the monument was carved by local sculptor Marc Graff.

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A new tourism attraction for the Municipality of Clare – Cape Saint Mary Lighthouse Park – was officially opened. The ceremony was held in front of the park’s centrepiece: a monument bearing the names of people from Clare who lost their lives at sea.

“Fishing is inextricably linked to this area’s history,” said West Nova MP Colin Fraser, “so a monument honouring the courage and bravery of those who go to sea and never return is a poignant tribute.”

The monument was a partnership involving the Municipality of Clare, La Société acadienne de Clare, La Société historique acadienne de la Baie Sainte-Marie and the Centre acadien at Université Sainte-Anne. Much work had been done at the site as part of the lighthouse park project, including the installation of interpretive panels and a viewing scope and the development of a picnic area and parking lot. More was to be done. Clare Warden Ronnie LeBlanc said the park “showcases the natural beauty of our coastline and honours our region’s rich cultural heritage and its historical ties to the sea.”


Proposed $25-million Yarmouth arts centre was focus of public session

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An arts centre proposed for the Collins Street parking lot in Yarmouth – and expected to cost $25 million – remained a controversial issue, as illustrated by comments from people attending a public session on the proposal.

Project consultants presented the results of a concept design, feasibility cost study and board governance framework consultation. Opinions voiced by audience members varied, some expressing support for the project, others saying the town had more pressing issues, notably the economy and a high child poverty rate. Those who spoke in favour of the proposal said they saw great potential in Yarmouth and this type of development would help retain people, particularly youth.

The Town of Yarmouth and Th’YARC remained at odds over where a new facility should be built. Mitch Bonnar, president of Th’YARC, said the biggest issue regarding the project was governance of the new facility. In an interview, he said he wasn’t averse to the new facility being downtown, but not on the Collins Street site. (Meanwhile, Th’YARC was looking to develop an arts centre at the old Arcadia school, although, as of early July, the purchase of the school had yet to be finalized.)


Journey Back to Birchtown 2018: Dioine Gbeve (from left), Mufaro Chakabudado, and Fatima Ahmed from Maritime Centre for African Dance were among the performers at the Journey Back to Birchtown celebration at the Black Loyalist Heritage Center and Historical Site on the July 14 weekend.
Journey Back to Birchtown 2018: Dioine Gbeve (from left), Mufaro Chakabudado, and Fatima Ahmed from Maritime Centre for African Dance were among the performers at the Journey Back to Birchtown celebration at the Black Loyalist Heritage Center and Historical Site on the July 14 weekend.

William and Pearleen Oliver were remembered and recognized for lifelong work for social justice

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People from across the province made the Journey Back to Birchtown, where activities were held marking the 235th anniversary of the Black Loyalist landing in Shelburne County.

The late Rev. William Oliver and his wife, Pearleen Oliver, were recognized for their lifelong work for social justice in Nova Scotia. A plaque was presented to the Olivers’ son, Les Oliver of Wolfville, by Chuck Smith, president of the Black Loyalist Heritage Society. The plaque referred to the Olivers’ “outstanding achievements as activists ... community and religious leaders.”

Speaking at the Birchtown celebration, Les Oliver wanted to address young people in particular, saying his parents would have told them they can “develop your special skills to help build a better world.” The Olivers were instrumental in developing the Nova Scotia Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1945, the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission in 1967, the Black United Front in 1969 and the Black Cultural Centre in 1983.


Municipal units were expressing concern about offshore drilling

Again, concerns were being raised on the south shore about offshore petroleum activity, officials saying the potential for a major environmental incident made offshore drilling too risky. In a recent letter to the federal ministers of fisheries and oceans, environment and climate change, and natural resources, Shelburne Warden Penny Smith had cited the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico of 2010, raising the spectre of a similar disaster off Nova Scotia and its impact on the environment, the fishing industry and the economy. Barrington Warden Eddie Nickerson offered a similar view while discussing the matter during a meeting of Barrington municipal council.

“We have an industry here and we don’t want to lose it,” he said, referring to the region’s fisheries. Meanwhile, a coalition of more than 20 Atlantic Canadian and Quebec groups known as the Offshore Alliance was calling for a moratorium on offshore drilling, pending a full federal/provincial public inquiry.


Whale calf was rescued from entanglement off Brier Island

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A New Brunswick whale rescue team was called to help free a whale calf entangled in rope off Brier Island. It happened July 14 when Brier Island Whale and Seabird Cruises was out on a whale-watching trip. Crew and passengers noticed two whales, one of which was entangled.

“The passengers were very concerned. All of our hearts were in our throats,” said Shelley Lonergan, chief naturalist and research specialist with the whale-watching company.

They called the Marine Animal Response Society, which, in turn, called the Campobello Whale Rescue Team. The rope was wrapped around the whale’s head and, if it hadn’t been rescued, it could have died, Lonergan said. The coast guard vessel Westport assisted the Campobello team with the rescue. The rescue, which was successful, took close to four hours, from the time the whale was first sighted until it was freed.


Province was still working on recommendations contained in Glaze report on education system

Zach Churchill, Nova Scotia’s minister of education and early childhood development, said work was continuing on recommendations in the Avis Glaze report, which laid the groundwork for changes in the administrative structure of the province’s education system. The recommendation to dissolve the province’s eight elected English school boards had been carried out very soon after the report’s release. School board offices and their staff had become regional centres of education. Another Glaze report recommendation the province was working on was to enhance the role of school advisory councils (SACs).

“We’ve done two consults with SAC representatives,” Churchill said in July. “SACs will have an enhanced role in their local school communities with dispersing funds in areas they view as important for student achievement and well-being.” Meanwhile, the one elected board that was not dissolved was the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial (CSAP), which Glaze had recommended remain in place. Churchill said the province was working with the CSAP on an act that would identify the unique role the CSAP plays in delivering cultural and linguistic education to francophone communities.


A 1950s Twist and Shout Prom Night was held at Villa Acadienne in Meteghan, Digby County, on July 18. TINA COMEAU PHOTO
A 1950s Twist and Shout Prom Night was held at Villa Acadienne in Meteghan, Digby County, on July 18. TINA COMEAU PHOTO

1950s prom brought to seniors in Clare

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Clare natives Danielle LeBlanc and Briand Melanson, who now live in Toronto, have special ties to the Villa Acadienne seniors’ long-term care facility in Meteghan. Melanson’s father, Alphonse Melanson, lived here up until the time of his death. In addition to her father-in-law, LeBlanc’s grammy Greta Comeau also resided here before passing away.

With the help of a group of friends from Toronto – all volunteers – as well as help from the staff at the Villa Acadienne and other community volunteers in Clare, music was brought back into the lives of the residents of the seniors’ facility with a 1950s prom.

Jean and Emma Cottreau, married for 48 years, were named Prom King and Queen.


Bay Ferries wanted to sail to Bar Harbor instead of Portland, perhaps as early as 2019

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Bar Harbor town council agreed to consider a proposal from Bay Ferries that would see The Cat ferry sail between Yarmouth and Bar Harbor instead of Portland. Bay Ferries – which operated ferry service between Yarmouth and Bar Harbor from 1997 to 2009 – said the start-up target was June 2019. The company said it had a good relationship with the city of Portland but was exploring another option for The Cat because of concerns over future available waterfront space in Portland due to development. A shorter ferry crossing also would result in savings in fuel and crew expenses, bringing down operating costs.

Bay Ferries was requesting an early-October decision timeframe from the town of Bar Harbor. “We didn’t take lightly the decision to even raise the prospect of moving the business,” said Mark MacDonald, Bay Ferries president and CEO, “but we did because we thought it might represent a mutual opportunity for ourselves and for the town.”


Digby port’s role in ocean innovation and technology was discussed during COVE meeting

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A planned major expansion for the port of Digby was the background to a meeting of officials from the Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship (COVE) and officials from the Digby area. The meeting explored ways in which the research and development supported by COVE can have practical application in a working marine environment. Said Jim Hanlon, CEO of COVE, “Our visit confirmed that the community of Digby is a great source of knowledge about the specific needs of (the fishing industry).” Edwin Chisholm, CEO of the Digby Harbour Port Authority, told those on hand for the session with COVE that the port of Digby – through fishery and aquaculture landings, seafood processing, maintenance and repair – generates up to $100 million annually in direct value to the local economy.


The 2018 Clare Acadian Festival parade was held Sunday, July 29. Aside from Acadian pride being on display, the theme of the parade celebrated the 250th anniversary of the Municipality of Clare. TINA COMEAU PHOTO
The 2018 Clare Acadian Festival parade was held Sunday, July 29. Aside from Acadian pride being on display, the theme of the parade celebrated the 250th anniversary of the Municipality of Clare. TINA COMEAU PHOTO

Clare Acadian festival marked local historical milestone by making Clare 250 its parade theme

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It was a special year for the Municipality of Clare, which celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2018, and the community’s long-running Acadian festival marked the occasion by making Clare 250 the theme for the annual festival parade. Always one of the festival’s biggest activities, the parade was held July 29, the day after the festival opened for its 63rd year. Music again was a big part of the festival too, with several concerts highlighting the festival program. Whether it was a concert or dinner theatre or something else, the festival had something for just about everyone. “There is something for all ages,” said Daniel LeBlanc, the festival’s artistic director and executive director. “We’re pretty conscious of that and we try to provide stuff for (everybody).”


Mariners Centre expansion talk

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The Town of Yarmouth said it wanted to talk with the other municipal units in Yarmouth County about the direction of a possible Mariners Centre expansion and/or other recreational needs.

At the town’s July 12 council meeting, Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood made a motion – unanimously approved by council – stating the mayor, deputy mayor and CAO “be tasked with inviting our partners in the Municipality of Argyle and the Municipality of Yarmouth to take part in a conversation in an effort to take next steps with regard to the Mariners Centre and/or Aquatics Centre and/or other recreational needs of our community.”

A couple of years earlier the three municipal units, at a joint meeting, identified a Mariners Centre expansion as the third top regional priority behind the Yarmouth Airport and the ferry terminal. In making the July 12 motion, the town noted there has been one key step missing since the completion of the Mariners Centre feasibility report.

“The next step that has not been taken by any of the three partners is to meet and discuss what we are willing to commit to,” said Mayor Mood.


Jim McRae chats with YARC president Mitch Bonnar at the July 18 open house at the former Arcadia school.
Jim McRae chats with YARC president Mitch Bonnar at the July 18 open house at the former Arcadia school.

Hundreds attend YARC open house at Arcadia School

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People streamed through the doors at an open house held by the Yarmouth Arts Regional Council (Th’YARC) at the former Arcadia school on July 18. Close to 350 toured the building, which the YARC plans on renovating to become its new location, and at least 30 signed up as new members to the organization.

President Mitch Bonnar was beaming from ear to ear. “I’m very pleased with the turnout,” he said. “I’ve arranged six tours already with about 25 to 30 people in each. We did the first three tours in the first 10 minutes. It’s been fantastic.”

The former school was constructed in 1958 and expanded in 1964. It closed to students in June 2016. Purchase of the 15-acre property by Th'YARC from the Municipality of Yarmouth was being finalized. 

Suggestions were welcome from the public and brochures and copies of a conceptual drawing were available to visitors.

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