Rough waters for truckers with Digby-Saint John ferry out of service
Seafood truckers were facing extra-long driving trips and increased costs due to the temporary loss of the ferry link between Digby and Saint John, and they were pretty upset about it.
The Fundy Rose was docked in Halifax, where it had been since Jan. 24, and the vessel was not expected to be back in service until March 21 or so. The ship was undergoing $3.5 million worth of work. An official with Transport Canada said they had removed the vessel from service when there would be the least impact on passenger and commercial traffic. The work being done to the ship could not be delayed, she said.
But truckers who relied on the ferry to transport seafood to the U.S. said this was a busy time for them. The ferry’s absence was costing them – in fuel, extra drivers etc. – they said. As one of them put it, “There’s got to be a better solution.”
Province introduced controversial education bill, but teacher strike was averted
The province was moving ahead with education reform by introducing legislation that would implement recommendations made by consultant Avis Glaze but not all of them. The government was planning to dissolve the province’s English elected school boards and remove principals from the Nova Scotia Teachers Union – as Glaze had recommended – but the government was not, for example, going to establish a “college of educators,” one of Glaze’s other recommendations.
Meanwhile, the NSTU said teachers would not go on strike over the legislation, although a union spokesperson noted that there was strong support for job action among teachers, given the result of a vote by NSTU members in February.
Tri-County Regional School School Board held its last meeting
Five days after the Nova Scotia government introduced the legislation that would eliminate their positions, members of the Tri-County Regional School Board held their last monthly meeting. “To my fellow board members, it’s been a pleasure,” said board chair Michael Drew. “I’m sorry our mandate was cut short and that we were not allowed to continue the work that we’re so passionate about.”
It was only elected board members whose positions were being eliminated at the Tri-County board and at the province’s other English school boards. Staff at central board offices throughout the province would remain in place. These offices would become known as regional education centres.
Digby dialysis unit was moving forward, but Barrington area was still waiting
The province announced it had approved an additional $7.4 million for the detailed design and construction of a six-station dialysis unit for the Digby General Hospital. Construction of the unit was expected to begin in late 2018 and be finished in 2020.
The new facility would serve patients in Digby and Annapolis counties, cutting down travel time for people and relieving pressure at other dialysis centres, the government said.
In the Barrington area, however, efforts to get a dialysis unit thus far had come up empty, even though the community there – and Chris d’Entremont, the Argyle-Barrington MLA – said such a service was needed. Responding to a question from d’Entremont in the legislature, Health and Wellness Minister Randy Delorey offered little hope of Barrington getting a dialysis unit anytime soon.
Lights, camera, action – work was underway in preparation for filming of The Lighthouse
Set construction for the feature film The Lighthouse was underway on the Leif Ericson trail at the Cape Forchu lighthouse. Signs were posted at the path entry saying the trail would be closed from March 1 to May 11 to facilitate the construction and filming of temporary sets. Some of the filming also was taking place in a large hangar at the Yarmouth airport.
The movie – starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson – is about an East Coast lighthouse keeper in the early 20th century. Yarmouth Warden Leland Anthony had confirmed the temporary leasing of the Cape Forchu site to the film company and said the location scout was “very pleased with it.”
The Cape Forchu light station itself would not be in any of the movie scenes.
Housing insecurity ‘more pervasive’ than many might think, report suggested
Housing insecurity and the risk of homelessness are prevalent across the region, according to a report that was prepared as part of regional housing survey. An initiative involving housing coalitions and other groups in partnership with Public Health, the project included a public survey taken by about 4,700 people. Respondents from all age groups reported experiencing housing insecurity, the highest rate (63 per cent) being among youth. From the results of the public survey – and of a separate one for service providers – “it is clear that housing insecurity is an issue across all our communities,” the report said. “Housing insecurity appears more pervasive than many may have imagined.” The project was looking at the housing picture in Shelburne, Yarmouth, Digby, Annapolis and Kings counties, as well as West Hants. As for homelessness, the report said, “this tends to be hidden in rural areas,” making it hard to say how big a problem it is.
‘All options’ regarding policing were still on table, Shelburne mayor said
The Town of Shelburne would get some financial relief for policing costs in the next fiscal year to the tune of about $85,000 after town council accepted one of two proposals from the RCMP. “This is a starting point,” said Shelburne Mayor Karen Mattatall. But policing costs for the town still were higher than they should be, the mayor said. “All options are still on the table,” she said.
Those options included two presented by the RCMP, a policing proposal from the Town of Bridgewater and a pending initiative involving the three municipal units in eastern Shelburne County to explore the possibility of an inter-municipal contract for policing services. “As long as there are options on the table we have negotiating power,” Mayor Mattatall said, “so we’re going to continue to move forward and negotiate the best deal for our residents.”
Memorial Club was calling it quits after 33 years
For more than three decades, members of the Memorial Club had proudly carried their Canadian flags at many community events – from Remembrance Day services to special occasions of one sort or another – but this 33-year tradition was coming to an end.
Joe Bishara, who had founded the club in the mid-1980s at Maple Grove Education Centre in Hebron, Yarmouth County (and who remained the club’s adviser for years after his retirement from teaching), said many things went into the decision to discontinue the club. That he wasn’t getting any younger was one of them. He also said that while the club had still been going strong in recent years, there were more things competing for people’s time. Bishara said more than half of the executive that ran the club had been there for around 20 years. “This was not just a Joe Bishara decision,” he said. “It was a 15-member, parent support group decision.”
Longtime doctor was glad to see province trying to ‘turn this ship around’
The provincial government was investing $39.6 million to pay family doctors more and create incentives to get more Nova Scotians off the province’s Need a Family Practice list, and among those welcoming the news was longtime Yarmouth physician Dr. Shelagh Leahey. The announcement marked not only a change in tone from the province but was an indication the government was taking action, she said, “to step in and turn this ship around.”
The province’s new initiatives might help recruit new physicians, she said. Dr. Leahey, who had been practicing for 42 years, said the local doctor shortage had contributed to her putting off retirement. Referring to the province’s announcement, she said, “It’s a step in the right direction. It certainly is not all that needs to be done, and I think everyone recognizes that (but) ... it’s very, very heartening, I must say. Let’s hope it works.”
Veterinarian hoped other provinces would follow N.S. and ban de-clawing of cats
A Digby veterinarian said he never liked declawing cats and he was glad the procedure was now banned in Nova Scotia. Dr. Neil Pothier of the Bayview Animal Hospital said the procedure had become very infrequent over the past five years. “I definitely saw this coming,” he said. “We never really recommended the surgery unless it was for medical reasons.” Nova Scotia became the first Canadian province to officially ban cat declawing. Pothier, a veterinarian for 33 years, said he hoped other provinces would follow Nova Scotia’s lead on de-clawing, saying, “it’s usually not a necessary procedure.”
Ferry construction: A sense of pride
Underneath Vincent Coleman’s name on Halifax harbour’s newest ferry his name appears a second time – in Morse code.
Coleman, a dispatcher for the Canadian Government Railways, is considered a hero of the Halifax Explosion for saving the lives of hundreds of people onboard incoming trains. He sent out a warning – via Morse code – of the imminent danger of explosion posed by the collision of two ships in Halifax harbour on Dec. 6, 1917 and warned the trains to stay back. He was one of the 2,000 people killed in the explosion.
On March 14, 2018, just over 100 years later, a ferry bearing his name was dedicated in Halifax harbour. It was built at the A.F. Theriault and Son Ltd. shipyard in Meteghan River, Digby County.
“The men and women working on these ferries have really put a lot of effort into making them world class,” said Graham Oakley, vice-president of new construction at A.F. Theriault and Son Ltd., who said it was the workers’ idea to include the Morse code.
This was the fourth Halifax harbour ferry the shipyard had built and construction continued on a fifth ferry.