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TRICOUNTY VANGUARD YEAR IN REVIEW: May 2018

Fire departments, firefighters and members of the public protested outside the Yarmouth Town Hall on May 17. The town has said it will be exploring the cost of outsourcing its dispatch services. In a presentation to council they were asked to reconsider and maintain the dispatch service as it is. TINA COMEAU PHOTO
Fire departments, firefighters and members of the public protested outside the Yarmouth Town Hall on May 17. The town has said it will be exploring the cost of outsourcing its dispatch services. In a presentation to council they were asked to reconsider and maintain the dispatch service as it is. TINA COMEAU PHOTO

A sampling of some of the news from the month.

Fire departments, firefighters and members of the public protested outside the Yarmouth Town Hall on May 17. The town has said it will be exploring the cost of outsourcing its dispatch services. In a presentation to council they were asked to reconsider and maintain the dispatch service as it is. TINA COMEAU PHOTO
Fire departments, firefighters and members of the public protested outside the Yarmouth Town Hall on May 17. The town has said it will be exploring the cost of outsourcing its dispatch services. In a presentation to council they were asked to reconsider and maintain the dispatch service as it is. TINA COMEAU PHOTO

Lots of reaction to Town of Yarmouth considering doing away with fire dispatch positions

A meeting of firefighters, a protest outside Yarmouth town hall on the night of a council meeting and a ‘Save Our Dispatchers’ Facebook social media campaign were some of the early reactions to a decision by the Town of Yarmouth to look into outsourcing fire dispatch services.

In April the town had given layoff notices to the four dispatchers during contract negotiations with the International Association of Firefighters. Eliminating the four Yarmouth dispatch positions was being considered for a number of reasons, the town said, including the cost of the service to the town’s taxpayers. The town called the existing funding model “broken.”

But many in the public, including firefighters, were expressing concern over the idea of having people from outside the area providing the dispatch service, saying the local dispatchers were more familiar with the area here.

READ: FIRE DEPARTMENTS BRING THEIR DISPATCH CONCERNS TO YARMOUTH TOWN COUNCIL MEETING 


Firefighters from numerous departments in the tri-counties gathered at a meeting May 9 to talk about the importance of the local dispatch service. TINA COMEAU PHOTO
Firefighters from numerous departments in the tri-counties gathered at a meeting May 9 to talk about the importance of the local dispatch service. TINA COMEAU PHOTO

Firefighters wanted dispatch service saved, were considering how to proceed

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Firefighters from numerous departments in the tri-counties met to discuss what to do after learning that the Town of Yarmouth was looking to lay off the four Yarmouth fire dispatchers and was exploring the cost of using an outside dispatch service.

Approaching local municipal units was among the courses of action discussed, as well as the possibility of increasing the amount of money the fire departments pay towards the dispatch service (which was $100 per month), although it was noted that some departments are cash-strapped. The Town of Yarmouth had said its taxpayers paid a disproportionate amount for the dispatch service, which was why the town was looking for an alternative model. The town said no final decision had been made.

At the end of the firefighters’ meeting where the issue was discussed, Jason Saulnier, vice-president of the Yarmouth County Mutual Aid Association, told the Yarmouth dispatchers, who were sitting in the front row, “We all stand behind you.”


Baby Millie – Yarmouth's heart warrior.
Baby Millie – Yarmouth's heart warrior.

Baby Millie, a Yarmouth youngster loved by all, was a heart warrior to the end

A youngster who had defied many medical odds in her short life – inspiring many people in the process – sadly lost her battle.

Baby Millie, as she had come to be known, was just over 16 months old when she passed away on May 2. Millie Grace Robertson, the daughter of Yarmouth residents Caroline and Derek Robertson, had undergone numerous surgical procedures, her first heart surgery coming a month before she was even born, while she was still in her mother’s womb. As more people became aware of her story, Millie came to be known as a courageous heart warrior.

Following complications from a procedure she had to undergo at the Sick Kids hospital in Toronto, Millie took her last breaths lying between her mom and dad, who found the strength to tell her it was okay for her to stop fighting. A celebration of Millie’s life was held 10 days later in Halifax at Point Pleasant Park. She will always be loved by all her knew her and by everyone she inspired during her beautiful life.

READ: BABY MILLIE: A HEART WARRIOR TO THE END, LOVED BY ALL


The cruise ship Marina had a successful visit to Shelburne on May 2. KATHY JOHNSON PHOTO
The cruise ship Marina had a successful visit to Shelburne on May 2. KATHY JOHNSON PHOTO

Successful cruise ship visit in Shelburne as passengers got to explore town, surrounding area

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Hundreds of passengers from the cruise ship Marina disembarked the massive (239-metre) vessel during a visit to Shelburne. While the Oceania Cruises ship was moored in the harbour for a day, passengers checked out the area by taking part in special events, shopping, dining and going on excursions beyond the Shelburne area, going as far as Yarmouth or Lunenburg. Darren Shupe, community and economic development manager for the Town of Shelburne, said almost 1,200 passengers disembarked for the day.

“A number of passengers and crew commented that this was their favourite stop on the cruise and they hope to return.” From a logistical point of view, Shupe said the hard work that went into planning and preparing for the visit had paid off. “The arrival and departure of passengers went very smoothly,” he said. The Marina was the first cruise ship to visit Shelburne since the Pearl Mist in 2014.

Meanwhile, a smaller cruise ship, the MS Fram, paid a visit to Yarmouth, with around 150 passengers coming ashore. The ship returned for a second visit in the fall.


New medical clinic’s lack of walk-in component ‘a major concern’ for Shelburne mayor

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While a new $3-million collaborative health centre under construction adjacent to Roseway Hospital was on target for completion by the fall, since there would be no walk-in component, it didn’t appear the facility was going to address the issue of people without a family doctor, said Shelburne Mayor Karen Mattatall.

“No walk-in component, that’s a major concern,” she said. “Anyone without a doctor is still not going to have a doctor.” Staffing for the new facility was already in place and operating out of temporary space at Roseway Hospital.

The plan was to relocate the collaborative family practice team to the new building when construction was complete. Nova Scotia Health Authority spokesman Fraser Mooney said strengthening and supporting the family practice team was important for recruiting and retaining health professionals. It was expected the team would be able to “take on new patients as time goes on,” he said.


DFO held a Marine Protected Area consultation session in Yarmouth to get input from industry. Shelburne County fisherman Sandy Stoddard says surface fisheries shouldn't be penalized by MPAs protecting what is on the ocean bottom. TINA COMEAU PHOTO
DFO held a Marine Protected Area consultation session in Yarmouth to get input from industry. Shelburne County fisherman Sandy Stoddard says surface fisheries shouldn't be penalized by MPAs protecting what is on the ocean bottom. TINA COMEAU PHOTO

Marine protected areas focus of meeting involving fishing industry and DFO officials

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Fishermen had many concerns about marine protected areas (MPAs) and they had a chance to express them during a meeting in Yarmouth with representatives of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Many fishermen said they disagreed with aspects of the MPA plan and worried about its impact on the fishing and seafood industry. The federal government has committed to putting in place MPAs to help protect species and ecosystems. Those attending the meeting included people from a broad cross-section of the industry. Among them was Bernie Berry of the Coldwater Lobster Association, who said he felt a better approach to MPAs would be negotiation instead of consultation.

“Consultations really mean nothing, we’re just giving our opinions,” he said. “They might listen, they might not.” There was a good deal of discussion about offshore petroleum activity, including legislation that says the petroleum industry can be compensated when oil and gas leases are terminated because of an MPA. There is no provision in the law for compensating fishermen, one fishing industry rep said.


Not everyone was alerted during emergency test; ‘corrective measures’ needed before next one, EMO official said

An emergency alert test reached many people, but it didn’t reach everyone and officials were looking into why it didn’t. Prior to the May 9 test, the focus of emergency alert tests was on television and radio. This was the first such test in Nova Scotia involving cellphones, but not everyone received a text message or tone alert on their wireless devices. Said Nova Scotia EMO executive director Paul Mason, “I think the key step before another wireless test ... is we really want to understand and get our heads around why devices didn’t display the alert and take whatever corrective measures are needed.”

One good thing about this particular test, he said, is that many people seemed to know it was coming due to public awareness efforts.

A second provincial emergency test happened prior to the year’s end. This one went better, by all accounts.


Province announced multimillion-dollar plan to increase school supports as part of inclusive education strategy

Nova Scotia unveiled a $15-million plan for inclusive education as Zach Churchill, the province’s minister of education and early childhood development, outlined the province’s strategy, which included the hiring of more than 190 people. The move by the province followed the release, in March, of the Students First report from the Commission on Inclusive Education.

The province’s strategy targeted the hiring of 100 student and class support workers, including 60 education assistants to work in classrooms and 40 childcare practitioners to help design and carry out programs for those who have difficulty coping in school settings. Seventy specialist teachers were to be hired as well, the government said, along with 11 “parent navigators” to help parents understand and find their way through the support systems available. A smaller number of positions to be filled included psychologists, speech language pathologists and student nurses.


Wharf Rat Rally. MARK GOUDGE PHOTO
Wharf Rat Rally. MARK GOUDGE PHOTO

Wharf Rat Rally injected $4.9 million in N.S. economy in 2017, study said

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An economic impact study prepared for the province showed that in 2017 the Digby Wharf Rat Rally had provided a $4.9-million boost to the Nova Scotia economy. And while the bulk of that benefitted the southwestern part of the province, the event is important to Nova Scotia as a whole, rally organizers said.

“We have to remember,” said Wayne MacDonald, vice-chairman of the Wharf Rat Rally Motorcycle Association, “that if riders didn’t have Digby as a destination during that weekend, they could well have travelled to events in other provinces, the New England states or even Milwaukee, which hosts a huge event every Labour Day weekend.”

MacDonald said they were pleased with the economic impact study from the province, saying the numbers were what they had hoped for and “almost exactly” what they had expected.

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