Cape Sharp Tidal can’t say when its turbine will go back in the water

Cape Sharp’s 300 tonne 2MW turbine sits on a 700 tonne base with the Turbine Control Centre attached

Cape Sharp’s tidal turbine, recovered from the Minas Passage on June 15, is still undergoing repairs and upgrades in the harbour at Saint John, N.B. and the company can’t say when it might be re-deployed at its testing site west of Parrsboro.

“Since the recovery of the Cape Sharp Tidal turbine, we have been taking the time needed to perform a detailed evaluation of the unit in port,” Stacey Pineau, who speaks for the company, wrote in an e-mail.

She added that the exterior of the turbine is in good condition, but it appears the strong currents in the Minas Passage detached 10, three-foot-long anodes from the turbine’s rotor. Anodes are made of metals that help prevent corrosion.

“Assessing and modifying the positions of the anodes on the turbine is one area we had planned to investigate as part of the retrieval of this unit,” Pineau added.

The company says it is also upgrading electrical components in the Turbine Control Centre, which converts raw power from the generator into the alternating current that is compatible with the Nova Scotia Power grid. In addition, the TCC sends operational and environmental sensor data to shore through a sub-sea cable.

Pineau said Cape Sharp’s second turbine is also undergoing modifications in Saint John, and the company can’t say when it might be deployed.

Meantime, in its first community newsletter published today, Cape Sharp is upbeat about the potential for harnessing the world’s highest tides, but does not dwell on problems that have affected the project.

For example, in its first seven weeks of operation, Cape Sharp sold only $2,862 worth of electricity to Nova Scotia Power with the turbine generating 5.4 megawatt hours of power. (See: Minas Passage tidal power off to bumpy start, figures show.)

And, it took the company about two months to recover its turbine from the Minas Passage after discovering that it had become entangled in a mooring line.

Fishermen complained that the recovery operation disrupted their lobster season.

They also pointed out that the company had assured a Nova Scotia judge that the turbine could be raised during the 12-hour course of a single tidal cycle if it were found to be causing environmental problems.

Posted in Parrsboro news, Technology, Tidal Power | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Tired of waiting, Sackville’s Ultramar owners ditch plan for fast-food drive-thru

Kelly and Wendy Alder at Sackville Town Hall in July 2016

The owners of the Ultramar gas station and convenience store near Trans-Canada Highway Exit 506 have abandoned their plans for a fast-food restaurant with a drive-thru window.

Instead, Wendy and Kelly Alder are now selling natural gas as a fuel for RVs, couriers and other fleet vehicles as well as cars and trucks that have been converted to burn propane.

Just over a year ago, a majority of Sackville councillors voted to uphold the town’s 2001 bylaw banning further drive-thru windows in the highway commercial zone. At the time, the Alders were hoping to get the bylaw amended allowing them to open a Robin’s Donuts drive-thru at their Tantramar Gas Bar.

Councillors seemed more receptive to reviewing the bylaw last fall, but voted to delay any decision on another drive-thru pending further study of the infrastructure needed for business development near Exit 506. The town has yet to seek bids on the study, but says it will do that soon.

No more jobs

After this week’s town council meeting, Wendy Alder told Warktimes that the revenue generated from selling auto propane should be enough to replace income that could have come from a drive-thru restaurant, but without any more jobs.

She said a fast-food restaurant would have employed six people. The Ultramar currently employs five full-time and four part-time workers.

Alder also pointed out that a fast-food restaurant would have required a $200,000 investment while Rainville Propane Gas installed the auto pump off Bridge Street at its own expense.

Exit 506 beautification

At Monday’s meeting, town council voted to award a $20,700 contract to Beach Hill Landscaping Inc. to beautify the east and westbound off-ramps at Exit 506. The work will include selectively pruning and removing trees as well as planting rose bushes, but there is no money in this year’s budget for planting wildflowers along the off-ramps.

Posted in Town of Sackville | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Sackville councillors hear about wide range of projects they will be asked to approve

Town engineer Dwayne Acton

Town engineer Dwayne Acton was the star of the show on Monday evening as he briefed Sackville’s mayor, deputy mayor and councillors about a wide range of projects some of which council will be asked to approve at its next meeting on August 14th.

At the same time, Acton and Treasurer Michael Beal explained how they’re taking steps to stay within the budgets already allocated for the projects which include the beautification of Trans-Canada Highway Exit 506, construction of a big, steel storage building behind the Civic Centre and a new observation tower in Sackville’s Waterfowl Park.

Note: All figures in the following sections include HST.

Exit 506

The town had budgeted $23,000 for beautification of Exit 506, the Bridge Street exit.

Viridis Design Studio of Riverview created a landscaping plan that cost $2,300. It includes four rose beds, two at the eastbound off-ramp leading from Moncton and two at the westbound one leading from Amherst. The plan also shows tree removal and pruning as well as wildflowers planted along both off-ramps.

For a partial view of the landscaping design, click here and scroll up, down and across as needed.

The town asked five local companies for quotes that ended up ranging as high as $48,926. The lowest quote, from Beach Hill Landscaping, came in at $34,350, well above the $20,700 left in the budget. So, town staff have decided to recommend scaling the project back by about 40 per cent.

At its meeting next Monday, town council will be asked to award the reduced project for $20,700 to Beach Hill Landscaping.

Town storage building

The town had budgeted $345,000 for a building behind the Tantramar Memorial Veterans Civic Centre to store property from all town departments as well as emergency items such as blankets, bottled water, cots and electrical generators. (The Civic Centre serves as the town’s emergency reception centre so the new 60 x 120 foot building would be in a convenient location.)

Town staff decided it would be cheaper to construct a pre-engineered, steel storage building that could be easily expanded if needed.

Of the four bids received, the lowest came from Maritech Construction at $419,386, well above the budget allocation. So, town staff are recommending that the building be constructed without a poured concrete floor that would cost $48,374. (They say the floor could be added later whenever money becomes available.)

Town staff note that would still leave a gap of $26,000, but the treasurer says that money could come from other capital projects that were under budget.

On Monday, councillors will be asked to award the contract for about $371,000 to Maritech Construction with the understanding that the concrete slab floor will be added whenever money becomes available.

Waterfowl Park Observation Tower

Meantime, town staff are trying to come up with money for a new observation tower that would be built on stilts in the Waterfowl Park. The nine foot high, 10 x 10 foot tower would be located on the central trail about 100 metres north of the Doncaster Bridge.

The town asked the two companies that built the park boardwalks to bid on the project. Sackville General Contracting came in with a bid of $24,127 while Tantramar Buildings and Renovations submitted one for $27,600.

Meantime, Cowan Insurance has agreed to contribute $5,000, while Sears Insurance would kick in $2,500.

The town has also approached N.B. Trails for $10,250, but hasn’t heard back yet.

“We’re still looking for ways to make it happen,” Dwayne Acton says adding that if it doesn’t happen, the town would lose the $7,500 in contributions from the insurance agencies.

Other projects

Town councillors will also likely be asked to approve around $50,000 for a statue of the late George Stanley, designer of the Canadian flag and founding director of the Canadian Studies program at Mount Allison University. The money would come from a $150,000 provincial grant in celebration of  Canada’s 150th birthday.

And, plans are in the works to award an $8,000 contract to Beach Hill Landscaping to alleviate flooding on the Trans-Canada Trail near the Tantramar District Regional High School parking lot. Six thousand dollars of that would come out of money the town already pays to Anglophone East School District for use of the high school’s sports facilities.

Posted in Town of Sackville | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Sackville councillors asked to approve impaired driving and boating signs

RCMP community officer Jean-Francois LeBlanc shows councillors MADD’s impaired boating sign

Sackville Town Council is being asked to approve three bilingual signs urging people to dial the emergency number 911 if they spot impaired drivers and a fourth calling on them to report impaired boaters.

If Council agrees, the driving signs would be installed near Trans-Canada Highway Exits 504 and 506 as well as on Highway 106 leading into town. The impaired boating sign would be erected at the boat launch beside Silver Lake.

At last night’s council meeting, RCMP officer Jean-Francois LeBlanc said the signs were created by the national organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD Canada). He added that the RCMP logo would be added to the signs to show police support for the anti-impairment campaign sponsored by MADD Canada’s local Cumberland-Tantramar chapter.

MADD Canada signs that would appear near Trans-Canada highway exits and on Hwy 106

Councillor Bill Evans said he would be happy to support installing the signs on town-controlled property when the matter comes up for a vote at the next council meeting on August 14th. He wondered, however, whether the town would be responsible for maintaining or replacing any damaged or stolen MADD signs.

“We’re happy to help support this if they put the signs up, but it would be a separate commitment to say that we would pay to replace them or to maintain them is it not?” Evans asked.

Const. LeBlanc replied that once the signs are installed on town property, the town would be responsible for them, but he acknowledged that councillors might choose not to pay for any repairs or replacements.

Crash statistics

A study commissioned by MADD Canada estimates that 83 people died in New Brunswick during 2012 as a result of crashes involving alcohol and drugs. However, the authors emphasize that it’s difficult to calculate exact numbers partly because there are so many gaps in the statistical data.

In 2013, MADD Canada published an overview of impairment-related crash deaths. It estimated that more than 42 per cent of Canadian crash deaths in 2010 were alcohol related for a total of 1,082 fatalities.

“In MADD Canada’s opinion, the 1,082 figure is a conservative estimate, due to the underreporting that results from the inability to conduct alcohol tests on surviving impaired drivers and from the need to rely on police reports,” the study points out. It also adds that the figure does not include deaths resulting from drug impairment.

A long-range study that MADD Canada published in 2013 stated: “Between 1999 and 2010, traffic crashes involving alcohol and/or drugs resulted in an estimated 14,256 deaths, 841,004 injuries and damage to 2,779,458 vehicles in property-damage only (PDO) crashes alone.”

Posted in Town of Sackville | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Town staff quickly re-paint Sackville ‘pride’ crosswalks to fix pink & green

Dignitaries complete painting of Main St. rainbow crosswalk on Wednesday. L-R: Coun. Allison Butcher, LGBTQ advocate Janet Hammock, Mt. A. Student VP Danica Garner, Mt. A. President Robert Campbell, Coun. Andrew Black, Mt. A. Student President Sara Camus, Deputy Mayor Ron Aiken, Mayor John Higham, Coun. Bill Evans, Coun. Megan Mitton with daughter Quinn (Town Photo)

Controversy erupted on social media this week after Sackville’s mayor, deputy mayor and four councillors joined representatives from Mount Allison University and an LGBTQ advocate to put the finishing touches on one of three rainbow crosswalks.

The crosswalks, on Main and York Streets, are intended to show solidarity with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people in the community, but some complained on Facebook that the colours didn’t reflect the rainbow flag that symbolizes the pride and diversity of the LGBTQ movement.

On Friday, town workers quickly re-painted the crosswalks changing the pink stripes to a dark purple/violet shade and the mint green ones to a deeper green.

“There was no intention to offend anyone,” Jamie Burke, the town’s senior manager for corporate projects explained Friday. “We didn’t use appropriate colours, people told us and they’ve been changed.”

Burke also said that the town was responding to a challenge from the Village of Cap-Pelé, but instead of creating just one rainbow crossing, it decided to paint three.

Town initiative

Re-painted crosswalk on Main St. across from town library

LGBTQ advocate Janet Hammock says the controversy over the rainbow colours shows how deeply some people feel about the pride flag. In spite of the controversy, she sees the town’s decision to paint the rainbow crosswalks as an overwhelmingly positive step.

Hammock helped organize the first pride flag raising ceremony at the new town hall in October 2012 as well as Sackville’s first pride parade in 2014. But this time, she says, the town took the initiative on its own.

“This is the first time that the town just thought, let’s do this,” she says. “It wasn’t from an LGBTQ person, it was a town-to-town initiative and I thought, man this is really good.”

Mt. A. support

Sara Camus, President of the Mount Allison Students’ Union (MASU) is also pleased about the rainbow crosswalks, especially the two that appear on streets around the university campus.

In an e-mail to The New Wark Times, Camus says the New Brunswick Student Alliance agreed during a conference in April that having rainbow crosswalks in front of universities and colleges would show strong student support for LGBTQ rights. (The Student Alliance represents 12,000 students at five New Brunswick schools.)

“We believe that these symbolic acts that occupy public spaces assure members of the LGBTQ+ community that we stand in solidarity with them,” Camus writes.

Long struggle

Meantime, Janet Hammock notes that the ongoing struggle for LGBTQ rights has been a long one in the face of criminal penalties that weren’t lifted until 1969 and the label of being branded mentally ill.

George Klippert, the last person convicted of practising homosexual acts in Canada, spent a total of 10 years in jail and wasn’t released on parole until 1971.

And, until 1973, homosexuality was officially listed as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association.

Hammock says that although Sackville is a warm and welcoming place, there are still some in town who are uneasy about LGBTQ people. And President Trump’s sudden announcement that transgender people will no longer be allowed to serve in the U.S. military shows that the struggle for LGBTQ rights is far from over.

“Always in the back of my mind I’m fearful that these hard-won rights can be easily eroded for no reason at all,” she says adding that’s why the town’s rainbow crosswalks, flag raisings and pride parades are such important symbols of acceptance and support.

Posted in Mount Allison University, Town of Sackville | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Three new names announced for Sackville Arts Wall

Thaddeus Holownia on Bridge St.

The Sackville Arts Wall Committee has announced its 2017 inductees.

The late musician and dancer Mary Connelly, artist and photographer Thaddeus Holownia and singer-songwriter Julie Doiron are joining the distinguished writers, performers and artists whose photos and biographies are displayed on the Arts Wall.

“Well it’s obviously an honour, and to be honest I’m a little surprised to be included,” Doiron said in a Facebook message to The New Wark Times.

“It is very nice to be in such outstanding company!” the award-winning performer and prolific recording artist added.

Thaddeus Holownia also expressed surprise during a telephone interview from his home in Jolicure.

“It’s always nice to be recognized in your own community,” he said.

“I moved here 40 years ago and built a career and much of it was built around the landscape and the atmosphere of the Tantramar,” Holownia, who is Mount Allison’s Dean of Fine Arts, added.

“It’s home and I’m really, really touched and taken aback by the honour.”

The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia held a major retrospective of Holownia’s work this year and  a book based on it, The Nature of Nature: The Photographs of Thaddeus Holownia, 1976-2016, will be released next month.

Meantime, Mary Connelly, who died in 2014, is being recognized on the Wall as an Arts Builder, someone who, in the words of the committee made “exceptional contributions to the artistic life and cultural development of the community” and who served as an arts champion, patron and mentor.

Arts wall moving to new location

At its meeting this week, Sackville Town Council approved moving the Arts Wall from its present location at the United Church (the former town hall) to a new spot at 113 Main St. next to Cranewood near the Sackville Waterfowl Park.

Council awarded a $41-thousand contract to Beach Hill Landscaping to build and install the new Wall. Part of the cost — $15,500 — will be paid for by a provincial Canada 150 grant. Beach Hill was the only company to submit a tender for the work.

An induction ceremony for the new Arts Wall members will be held on October 1st at the Sackville United Church.

Posted in Mount Allison University, Sackville United Church, Town of Sackville | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

In 7-1 vote, Sackville councillors approve pay hike for town managers

It appears Sackville managers will be getting substantial raises this year to bring their salaries more in line with unionized workers on the town’s payroll.

At their meeting last night, a majority of councillors approved a one-time “catch up” over and above the eight per cent increase won recently by the town’s unionized employees. That increase will be applied in stages over six years.

Councillor Bill Evans said the one-time pay raise for managers is justified because 20 per cent of Sackville’s unionized employees make more than 40 per cent of its management staff.

“It has become a bit of a challenge hiring people,” Evans said, “and some of our more recent management hires have actually taken pay cuts in order to come and work for the town.”

Councillor Bruce Phinney cast the only opposing vote, but did not say why.

Details to come later

It’s not yet known what the pay raises will amount to because councillors discussed them behind closed doors before last night’s public meeting.

However, New Brunswick requires municipalities to release employee pay scales when anyone asks for them and Councillor Evans said they would be available soon.

After the one-time “catch up” Evans said, town managers will get the same raises as unionized workers with back pay retroactive to December 31, 2015 when the union contract expired.

Those raises are part of a new, six-year collective agreement that provides a one per cent increase in each of the first three years followed by two years of one-point-five per cent increases and a two per cent raise in 2021, the final year of the agreement.

Evans noted that Chief Administrative Officer Phil Handrahan is in a separate category from other managers. His pay is set separately after a yearly performance evaluation.

To view the previous management pay scales, click here.

To read my previous report on management pay, click here.

Councillors pleased with performance

During last night’s meeting, councillors discussed a report from management staff on the $6.7 million in grants from various sources that the town has received during the past two years.

Councillors Bill Evans, Megan Mitton and Andrew Black congratulated and thanked the staff for writing so many successful grant applications.

“It would be hard to imagine what our town would be like if it wasn’t for some of the grants and the funding that we get,” Black said.

To view the complete list of grants, click here.

Posted in Town of Sackville, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments