New Tantramar logo aims to showcase beauty, history & unity

Graphic designer Tanya Duffy describes the Town of Tantramar’s new logo as “a simple, clean and modern crest.”

During her presentation to town council on Tuesday, Duffy added that the logo is made up of several parts that come together to form a unified symbol.

“Each element showcases the natural beauty, history and complexity of the region,” she said before showing the new logo itself along with a slide explaining its various elements.

Duffy is the creative director of the Fredericton firm, The Details Design + Branding, that won the $60,000 contract to create the new logo while Tom Bateman of the Fredericton consulting firm, Porter O’Brien, helped with community engagement work that included conducting a survey, focus groups and interviews.

Tanya Duffy & Tom Bateman

Duffy and Bateman’s presentation pointed to the logo’s usefulness in all parts of the new town.

“The new brand does not seek to replace the identities of the communities that combine to make Tantramar, but rather to leverage the natural surroundings, identified by the residents, that make Tantramar a wonderful place to live, work and visit,” Duffy told council.

Judging by the reactions of those who spoke, the new logo was a big hit with members of council.

“I love it,” said Councillor Allison Butcher.

“Whether you live in Rockport or Dorchester or Point de Bute or Midgic or Sackville, I think that that logo is where you live,” she added.

“I sort of thought it would be divided up by areas, but I love how cohesive it is, but it’s still each of us altogether.”

Councillor Debbie Wiggins-Colwell and Deputy Mayor Greg Martin praised the logo for including all parts of the municipality while Councillor Josh Goguen said he was glad to see recognition of the Acadians and the Fort Folly First Nation.

Councillor Bruce Phinney spoke three separate times telling Duffy and Bateman how impressed he was with how the logo brings everyone together.

“The last logo didn’t,” he said.

“All I ever saw was ducks and reeds. Sorry, I’m tired of ducks and reeds…[but] now people are going to say, ‘I know exactly who’s part of Tantramar’ because of the fact that you’ve incorporated everybody in it.”

“The logo is fantastic,” said Mayor Andrew Black.

“I love how each piece of the logo is separated, one from the other, but if you look at the lines and how it all comes together, it looks separated, but together,” Black explained, adding that a slide showing the logo on a town truck “looked awesome.”

However, Virgil Hammock, retired head of the Mount Allison University Fine Arts department, describes the new logo as pretty, but “too complex.”

Hammock, who is a former Sackville town councillor, says the various parts of the logo need to be explained before they can be understood.

“You want a universal symbol,” he said pointing, for example, to the Apple logo.

Hammock said he agreed with the conclusions of a  $15,000 marketing study that the Town of Sackville received in 2020.

“If it appeals to everybody, it appeals to nobody.”

Thaddeus Holownia, an award-winning, local photographer and Mt. A research professor says he likes the colours in the logo.

“They remind me of an aerial photo of the Tantramar,” he says.

“It looks professional,” he adds. “It’s easy to be an armchair critic, but I think there are more pressing issues to discuss.”

Robert Tombs, a graphic artist and Mt. A. fine arts graduate who now serves as President of the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts, said in a brief response to a Facebook query:

“I think it’s a decent logo and it’s nice that Sackville got a good design.”

Posted in Town of Tantramar | Tagged | 13 Comments

Tantramar waits to hear if province will come up with more $ for final phase of flood control project

Tantramar Town Engineer Jon Eppell

The fourth and final phase of Sackville’s Lorne Street flood control project has hit a financial snag that threatens to stop or delay construction of a new aboiteau that would discharge stormwater into the Tantramar River.

Town Engineer Jon Eppell told council today that the project is almost $790,000 over the $2.4 million budget that the provincial department of transportation and infrastructure (DTI) allotted for it last spring.

He said the lowest construction bid from the Fredericton company Caldwell & Ross came in at just over $2.8 million and that design and construction services from the engineering firm Englobe would add another $186,000 bringing the aboiteau’s total cost to just over $3 million plus HST.

“We are waiting to hear back from the province how they wish to proceed, whether they can find additional funding,” Eppell said, adding that he hoped to have more information to present at council’s next regular meeting on December 12th.

The town was hoping to have the new, double-gated aboiteau in place by March 31st as the final phase in a project that Sackville councillors authorized more than seven years ago.

The $13.8 million three phases of the Lorne Street project — cost-shared among all levels of government — involves an extensive network of pipes, ditches, control structures and ponds designed to gather, store and discharge flood water from major storms into the Tantramar River at low tide.

Eppell told council today that Phase III should be completed next month when the flood ponds in Phases II and III are connected via culverts, ditches and pipes installed, in a tricky operation, under the CN Rail tracks.

He said that even without a new aboiteau, the existing system and old aboiteau could still cope with major storms.

“Once we get retention pond three connected to retention pond two, yes we can handle a one-in-100 year storm,” he said.

Eppell added that if a storm were prolonged, the town could deploy its already-established portable pump system.

“So, it would just be a delay in discharging that water into the river system,” he said.

The newly built pond three in the Sackville industrial park behind the community gardens on Charles St.

Posted in Environment, Town of Sackville, Town of Tantramar | Tagged | 1 Comment

Sackville protesters hear “I Grant You Refuge” written 10-days before Palestinian poet dies in Israeli air raid

Janet Hammock reading “I Grant You Refuge” in Bill Johnstone park one week ago

One week after about 250 people gathered in Bill Johnstone park to call for a ceasefire in Gaza, the uninterrupted killing continues with more than 13,000 deaths and tens of thousands of injuries.

During last Sunday’s rally, retired Mt. A. music professor Janet Hammock read a poem by the 32-year-old Palestinian writer Hiba Abu Nada who was killed in her home by an Israeli air strike on October 20th.

“This is why poetry matters, and why poetry speaks to us so poignantly as we try to let into our hearts the atrocity of this war,” Hammock wrote later in a comment to Warktimes.

She told those gathered in the park that Nada’s poem, “I Grant You Refuge,” had been translated from Arabic to English by Huda Fakhreddine, a professor of Arabic literature at the University of Pennsylvania.

I grant you refuge
in invocation and prayer.
I bless the neighbourhood and the minaret
to guard them from the rocket

from the moment
it is a general’s command
until it becomes
a raid.

I grant you and the little ones refuge,
the little ones who
change the rocket’s course
before it lands
with their smiles.

I grant you and the little ones refuge,
the little ones now asleep like chicks in a nest.

They don’t walk in their sleep toward dreams.
They know death lurks outside the house.

Their mothers’ tears are now doves
following them, trailing behind
every coffin.

I grant the father refuge,
the little ones’ father who holds the house upright
when it tilts after the bombs.
He implores the moment of death:
“Have mercy. Spare me a little while.
For their sake, I’ve learned to love my life.
Grant them a death
as beautiful as they are.”

I grant you refuge
from hurt and death,
refuge in the glory of our siege,
here in the belly of the whale.

Our streets exalt God with every bomb.
They pray for the mosques and the houses.
And every time the bombing begins in the North,
our supplications rise in the South.

I grant you refuge
from hurt and suffering.

With words of sacred scripture
I shield the oranges from the sting of phosphorous
and the shades of cloud from the smog.

I grant you refuge in knowing
that the dust will clear,
and they who fell in love and died together
will one day laugh.

Hiba Abu Nada’s poem appears in “Protean Magazine” (Click on photo to go there)

Posted in Arts | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Tantramar council adds extra RCMP officer in confusing vote

Treasurer Michael Beal

Tantramar Town Council appears to have rejected a recommendation from the RCMP as well as from Treasurer Michael Beal by voting to increase the number of full-time officers in the Sackville detachment by four instead of three.

In their presentation to council on Tuesday, RCMP officials recommended three additional officers for Tantramar under a new municipal policing service agreement (MPSA).

That would bring the number to 13, up from the 10 officers who policed the former town of Sackville.

The RCMP said it would also bring the total cost next year to $2.3 million up from $1.8 million.

Treasurer Michael Beal, who agreed with the RCMP recommendation, told council that Tantramar was being billed for only eight officers instead of 10 apparently because of vacancies caused by illness and problems recruiting new members.

He said under a new MPSA with Tantramar, the RCMP would have up to a year after the contract starts to bring the full complement up to 13. (The RCMP is hoping to have the new contract in place on April 1, 2024.)

Beal warned that adding an extra officer could cost an additional $170,000, although he acknowledged it’s unlikely the RCMP would be able to recruit one until sometime in 2025.

However, if they managed to do it, he said, the town would either have to raise taxes or make budget cuts.

Councillor Allison Butcher moves her orphaned motion

In a motion seconded by Councillor Barry Hicks, Councillor Allison Butcher moved to increase the number of officers in the new contract to 13.

Councillor Matt Estabooks (again, seconded by Barry Hicks) moved to increase the number to 14.

In a confusing turn of events, Mayor Black said the original motion had been amended even though council did not vote to amend it.

It pushed ahead instead to approve the Estabrooks motion by a vote of 8 to 1 with Butcher casting the only nay vote.

Now her motion sits unnumbered and orphaned on the list of motions that council considered:

Posted in RCMP, Town of Tantramar | Tagged | 4 Comments

Tantramar Council ends air filter saga by nixing $3200 grant

Dave Thomas, third from left, helps build a Corsi-Rosenthal box at the Sackville Commons. (Photo: Shoshanna Wingate)

Community volunteer and Mt. A. professor Dave Thomas says he’s disappointed that Tantramar Town Council has rejected his request for a $3,200 grant to build simple, indoor air filters that protect against COVID-19 and flu viruses as well as allergens and other airborne threats such as smoke from forest fires.

“Here’s a situation where a member of our community is willing to donate a lot of time and some money to try to make spaces healthier and safer for our community members and that there would be so much objection to something like that, is very surprising to me,” Thomas said today in a telephone interview.

He was commenting on the objections raised by councillors last night before a majority voted to reject the $3,200 grant that had already been approved by the independent, community development organization, Renaissance Sackville.

The 5-4 vote came after discussions at three previous meetings starting on September 25th.

In today’s interview, Thomas responded to each of the objections expressed last night:

Councillor Josh Goguen: There’s so many things that I don’t like about this application just because of the way that it’s being funded and I kind of dug into this organization and I’m kind of iffy about it to start off. And not only that, the aspect of the amount of garbage that’ll be going into the landfills because you’re adding four, kind of filters, on the side, so they’d have to be replaced. If they were coming back with saying that ‘OK, we’re adding a HEPA filter, like an actual industrial-size one that you just replace, a small filter, the footprint is smaller,’ I know it might do the same as this, but just because of that I just can’t approve it.

Dave Thomas: Protect Our Province New Brunswick is a group of advocates, or volunteers, or activists, whatever you want to call them, from all over the province of New Brunswick that have formed an ad-hoc or informal group where we tackle all kinds of things. So, one of the things we do is try to encourage the building of Corsi-Rosenthal [C-R] boxes and air filtration in general. Another thing that members of the group have done has been to make rapid [COVID] tests and masks available to people in their communities who need them and who can’t afford them. Another thing that members of the group have done is educational. So, blasting out on social media and through press releases and other ways of information for New Brunswickers about COVID, but also about indoor air quality and making our indoor air better. Another thing they’ve done is through Freedom of Information requests, they’ve found out all kinds of interesting things about the New Brunswick government’s response to COVID and tried to publicize this and let people know about it. So, it’s been an advocacy group since the beginning of COVID to try to inform and help New Brunswickers understand and grapple with the effects of COVID.

It’s true that parts of the C-R box cannot be reused or recycled and would need to go to the landfill. That’s true. The cardboard on the filter can be taken off and recycled, but parts of the filter would need to go to the landfill. For me, that’s a small price to pay for the benefits of the air filtration units if you think about all the places that are currently using either HEPA filters or furnace filters (the C-R boxes use MERV-13 furnace filters). At the university, in our schools, in our hospital, probably in some of the town’s buildings, they’re all using these filters and yes, parts of them have to be thrown out. But again, in my view that’s something worth doing in order to make sure that these indoor spaces are safe and healthy for members of our community.

A Corsi-Rosenthal box at Sackville’s Visitor Information Centre

Councillor Barry Hicks: I will be voting against this also. To my knowledge, these are not CSA approved. There’s not enough information on them. I will be voting against it.

Dave Thomas: It’s true, this is a do-it-yourself version of the air filtration unit. They’re not for sale in stores and so, they haven’t gone through a process of certification. But what I would say is the people who created the boxes, such as Richard Corsi, dean of engineering at the University of California, have done extensive testing on them. They’re very effective. They’re just as effective and in some cases, more effective than a quality HEPA filter you can buy at the store. This information is freely accessible online. They’re not government approved because they’re not for sale and they’re not being marketed and commercialized, but they are an effective, homemade, do-it-yourself remedy and much cheaper than commercial brands.

Councillor Bruce Phinney: I’ll be voting against it as well because I believe that actually the people who will be receiving them [the C-R- boxes] the not-for-profits as we’ve been told should be approaching whoever they’re renting from to get the landlords to do whatever they have to do to make the air quality better. And, at $80, supposedly is what they cost, I think the not-for-profits can take $80 out of their budget and buy one of these things.

Note: At their meeting on October 24, councillors were told that the C-R boxes cost $120 each and that Thomas’s group planned to build 16 new boxes and another 15 to replace existing ones.

Dave Thomas: There have been cases over the past year and a bit where I’ve worked with community organizations that have paid for the supplies themselves and I’ve just volunteered my time to come in and work with people to build them. So, it is true that in lots of cases, the group could be paying for this itself. On the other hand, there are certainly cases of organizations I’ve worked with so far, and I’m sure there’ll be more in the future, that don’t have this kind of extra money sitting around for something like this, especially if they need more than one. If they operate in a large space like the Sackville Commons, it’s a good example where for a space like that you actually need more than one, you need a few or several and for organizations that need more than one and which are on a very tight budget, this would be a way to make sure those non-profits get the boxes into their spaces and have healthier spaces for the people who use them.

Richard Corsi in 2022. (Wikipedia Photo: UC Davis College of Engineering)

Shoshanna Wingate, a board member at the Sackville Commons, has worked with Dave Thomas building C-R boxes.

She says both Corsi and Jim Rosenthal called attention to their project on Twitter giving Sackville international publicity.

“It’s a shame that council is unable to support a community project to keep the citizens of our town safe during a pandemic,” she says.

“I must ask why they did not invite Dave Thomas to present to council or answer questions,” she adds.

“It boggles the mind that councillors did not seek the input of an applicant, yet rejected the application for lack of information.”

Councillors Matt Estabrooks, Josh Goguen, Barry Hicks, Bruce Phinney and Debbie Wiggins-Colwell voted against the $3,200 grant while Mayor Andrew Black, Deputy Mayor Greg Martin and Councillors Allison Butcher and Michael Tower voted in favour.

Posted in COVID-19, Technology, Town of Sackville, Town of Tantramar | Tagged | 18 Comments

Sackville protest calls for ceasefire in Gaza & an end to Canada’s support for Israeli war crimes

Rally organizer Sarah Kardash addresses protesters in Bill Johnstone park.

About 250 protesters took part in a peaceful march and rally in Sackville today to call for an immediate ceasefire as Israel continued its war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Sarah Kardash, one of rally’s main organizers, called on Canada to end its support for the Israeli assault on the besieged Palestinian enclave.

“Israel is committing genocide in Gaza and ramping up violence against Palestinians in the West Bank,” she told people who had gathered in Bill Johnstone park.

“We oppose and condemn the war crimes committed by Israel with impunity and in clear violation of international law in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. There is no justification for what Israel is doing or for the Canadian government’s support for it.”

Kardash went on to list the dead and injured in the war that Israel launched after Palestinian gunmen killed about 1,200 people in southern Israel on October 7th and took more than 240 hostages:

Mohamed Ali of Citizens for Peace

Mohamed Ali, founder of the Moncton group Citizens for Peace, thanked people for attending the rally to “stand for peace, for justice and for humanity.”

As he began to read his speech from his cellphone, he said it hadn’t been an easy one to write.

“I feel a lot of pain and a lot of sorrow in my heart,” he said.

“My heart is burning watching all these images of suffering,” he added as he called for people to join hands in a moment of silence for “all of the victims in Gaza.”

After 20 seconds of silence, Ali said the powerful Israeli army was continuing its merciless massacre in Gaza.

“They have continued to commit war crimes for 40 days now,” he said, “with the discreet but real support of our government and history will remember this shameful, this shameful, position of our country.”

Ali said that although “the path of peace and justice is much harder than the path of war,” people will never give up on it.

“We will continue to fight for a better and peaceful future, for our children, for Palestinian children, for Israeli children, for all children around the world.”

He ended with chants that the rally goers echoed back to him:

“We want peace, we want justice, we want freedom for Palestine, free, free, Palestine.”

Rallygoers marching to Convocation Hall at Mt. A.

Later, the protesters began what organizers called a “march of complicity” with their first stop at Mount Allison University’s Convocation Hall on York Street where they heard Politics and International Relations Professor Lara Khattab speak about Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation.

“Despite the fact that Palestinians are dispossessed violently from their land [and] they’re brutally killed with impunity, Palestinians continue to resist by various means and they continue to inspire us with their commitment to tell their stories, to document Israel’s war crimes and to claim their land back and their right to return to their homeland,” she said.

Khattab added that one form of resistance includes the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) and she quoted words from its website:

“The call for boycott is a call to put pressure on Israel to comply with international law, to end the illegal occupation of Palestine, to end all forms of racial discrimination and to stop denying the right to return for Palestinian refugees. It’s a movement for justice, for equality and for freedom.”

Khattab praised her union, the Mount Allison Faculty Association, for its recent statement demanding that the federal government call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, end all forms of Canadian military and financial aid, including arms sales to Israel, and pressure Israel to end its illegal blockade of Gaza.

She noted, however, that the university administration did not condemn Israel’s massive violence and had not called for a ceasefire.

An e-mail from Mt. A. Acting President Robert MacKinnon to students, faculty and staff on October 11 said: “Our thoughts are with all of those affected by the ongoing violence and loss of life in Israel and Palestine” before it referred to counselling support available to anyone “impacted by this news.”

(A rally organizer pointed out that, in contrast, the university had issued a strong statement last year praising the Ukrainian people for their resistance to Russia’s invasion.)

Glenn Barrington on the steps of Scotiabank with rally organizer Simone Schmidt

“I’m a Scotiabank member, I’ll admit it right out of the gate,” said Glenn Barrington after the protesters had marched from the Mt. A. campus to the bank’s branch on Bridge Street.

“It’s a complicated world,” he added.

“But I can say that Scotiabank is one of, is the biggest bank contributor to Israeli arms production and Israeli real estate and organizations and corporations that will profit directly off of the genocide of the Palestinian people,” he said before going on to explain that the bank has a large investment in Elbit Systems, a weapons manufacturer that supplies the Israeli military.

“If you’re a member of Scotiabank, maybe it’s now the time to get your bank card out of Scotiabank,” he said.

Barrington led the protesters in the chant, “Free, Free Palestine,” before they headed up to Main Street for a rally outside Jean Coutu where organizers pointed out that the pharmacy sells SodaStream, the home fizzy water machine manufactured in Israel.

The company is on the BDS list of companies to boycott partly because of its treatment of Palestinian workers.

Next, the marchers headed to Sackville’s Town Hall where poet Marilyn Lerch promised to organize a resolution for Tantramar Council to pass calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

Marchers congregate outside Town Hall

Posted in Mount Allison University, Town of Tantramar | Tagged , , , | 20 Comments

Tantramar pushed to sign new RCMP contract with 3 more officers for much larger town

Tantramar Treasurer Michael Beal

Treasurer Michael Beal says the federal government suddenly wants to settle Tantramar’s new policing contract within the next few days.

“As of Friday, an e-mail came out that indicated they would need a decision by November 10th,” Beal told council at a budget meeting yesterday.

He said it took until about noon, only three hours before yesterday’s meeting, for the RCMP to grant him permission to use a slide presentation outlining basic information about the level of service Tantramar would receive if council decides to approve a municipal policing service agreement (MPSA) like the one in the former town of Sackville.

And although Beal was given permission to show the RCMP slides to council, he is not free to circulate them to the media or public.

Much bigger population & area

The slides show that the Sackville MPSA covered a population of 6,099 with 10 full-time officers and that the RCMP is recommending three additional officers for Tantramar’s population of 9,019, which is 50% higher.

(Before municipal amalgamation, Dorchester and the former local service districts were covered under a provincial policing service agreement (PPSA) that the province signed with the federal government.)

“The RCMP also looked at geography,” Beal told council as he showed another slide.

“So for Tantramar, we went from 73.91 square kilometres to 703.84 square kilometres of serviceable area,” he said.

Councillor Allison Butcher

Councillor Allison Butcher expressed concern over those numbers.

“My question is [with a] 50% increase in our population [and] almost 10 times the land mass, yet they think only three more officers will be enough. So my concern is, how?” she asked.

Beal answered by pointing to an RCMP slide showing the recommendation for three additional officers was based on the increase in population, geographic size and workload associated with the university.

“A 50% increase in population doesn’t necessarily mean an increase of 50% in call volume,” he said, adding that the RCMP is also recommending that additional officers who police other areas including Memramcook, Strait Shores and the TransCanada highway be retained within the Sackville detachment.

These officers operate under a PPSA, federal-provincial contract.

Beal was hesitant to cite RCMP staffing numbers, but did say there were always between 10 and 14 PPSA officers working out of the Sackville detachment in addition to the 10 who policed the former town.

“So this would go to 13 municipal members plus still between 10 and 14 provincial members working out of this building.”

RCMP vacancies

He acknowledged, however, that Sackville’s full complement of 10 was down to only between seven and eight recently partly because of problems the RCMP faces in recruiting new members.

In August, Sgt. Eric Hanson also  told council, four of his officers in the Sackville detachment were on long-term sick leave.

Beal said he would invite RCMP representatives to meet with council at its next regular meeting on Tuesday.

In the meantime, he’s recommending that Tantramar sign a municipal policing service agreement with the federal government because it would give the town greater control over policing than a federal-provincial contract would.

If council does approve an MPSA with three additional officers, Beal said it would take some time to get them because under the contract, the RCMP would have up to a year to bring the full complement of officers up to 13 and may need additional time to recruit them.

“So, it is a process,” he said. “But the RCMP has committed that they will not leave any municipality short-handed while this process happens.”

To watch the council discussion on YouTube, complete with RCMP slides, click here and scroll forward to the 11 minute mark.

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

‘Black slop’ adds $173K to cost of Lorne St. flood project

Town slides showing slippery “black slop” that added “significant costs” to final phase of the Lorne St. flood control project

Tantramar Town Council has approved spending an extra $173,242 to complete Phase III of the $5.2 million Lorne Street flood control project.

During a council meeting on Wednesday, Town Engineer Jon Eppell explained that the extra money is needed because construction crews had to deal with unexpected problems caused by soft soils.

“It’s really black slop that we encountered,” he said, adding that the soft stuff kept sliding down into the excavation and had to be replaced by rocks to stabilize the slopes.

Eppell blamed it partly on an unusually rainy summer.

“It’s been very wet and not surprisingly, working in a wetland is not a great place to be when we’re having a wet summer and this has caused us a lot of challenges and issues.”

Eppell showed this slide with 3 excavators (upper left & right) working to remove the black sloppy soils

Eppell explained that excavators had trouble removing the black slop as he showed a slide with three of them at work.

“There were more than that at certain times working away to excavate the material,” he said.

“A lot of times they had to reach out, excavate it, move it once and then excavate it and move it twice because they had set up positions with timber mats where they could keep position, but they couldn’t really move around a great deal.”

Diagram showing locations of soft soils marked in red (click to enlarge)

One of Eppell’s slides showed areas marked in red to indicate where the “black slop” had to be removed and replaced.

“You can see how extensive they were,” he said.

The marked areas include parts of the site around the large retention pond that has been dug behind the community gardens on Charles Street as well as the new ditches between Sloan Drive and Crescent Street and the ones between Crescent and the dyke beside the Tantramar River.

“My only concern is first, were samples not taken when you guys were doing the project to see what kind of land was there?” Councillor Josh Goguen asked.

“And the second concern is, do you anticipate any more overages with the work that still needs to be completed?”

“As far as sampling, it is a large site,” Eppell answered.

“You’re only taking statistically a small percentage of samples to try and determine what you’re dealing with and it’s quite easy not to capture everything,” he said, adding that the geotechnical work was done before he took over as town engineer.

He said he didn’t anticipate any further problems with soft soils.

Town Engineer Jon Eppell answering council’s questions

Eppell suggested various ways of cutting costs that included skimping on the crushed gravel needed to make the service roads around the new retention pond more walkable for hikers.

But in the end, council decided to accept his recommendation that the extra $173,242 be added to the contract awarded to Beale & Inch.

Treasurer Michael Beal said the money would come out of the capital reserve fund without the need for any borrowing.

He added that the town will try to recover at least some of the money from New Brunswick’s Regional Development Corporation.

Eppell said Phase III of the flood control project should be finished by mid-December and if all goes well, a new provincially-funded aboiteau to drain flood waters into the Tantramar River will be installed by the end of next March.

To read Eppell’s report to council on the flood project, click here.

Warktimes first reported on the black, sloppy soils in July. To read that report, click here.

Posted in Environment, Town of Sackville, Town of Tantramar | Tagged | 3 Comments

Tantramar treasurer recommends multi-year tax increases for former LSDs

Treasurer Michael Beal presenting draft 2024 Tantramar budget

Tantramar Treasurer Michael Beal is recommending property tax increases for three former local service districts and slight reductions in the former town of Sackville and the village of Dorchester.

During a draft budget presentation to Tantramar council Wednesday, Beal said taxes need to rise for the next four years in the former LSDs around Sackville, Dorchester and Point de Bute to help pay for shared municipal services such as recreation, rinks, ball fields and tourism promotion.

“The former town of Sackville and village of Dorchester will continue to subsidize the local service districts until they are fully up to the tax rate,” Beal told council.

His recommendation for five cent increases per $100 of assessment is in line with provincial legislation designed to cushion the blow of rising property taxes after the forced amalgamation of the three former LSDs with Sackville and Dorchester.

It means, for example, that property taxes on residential homes in the areas around Westcock and Wood Point would rise next year from 92.4 cents per $100 of assessment to 97.4 cents.

The tax bill on a home assessed at $100,000 in the former Sackville LSD would be $974, an increase of $50 from last year’s bill of $924.

Homeowners in the former Dorchester LSD would pay just over $1.05 per $100 of assessment or $1,053 on a home assessed at $100,000, up from about $1,000 last year.

And in the former Point de Bute LSD, the tax bill on a home assessed at $100,000 would be $1,175 up from about $1,130 last year.

Meantime, the tax rate in the former town of Sackville would decrease slightly to just over $1.54 per $100 of assessment ($1.5412) while homeowners in the former village of Dorchester would also pay slightly less with a rate just over $1.54 ($1.5438).

Beal said taxpayers in the former town and village are paying higher rates than they would have if residents in the former LSDs were covering the full cost of shared municipal services.

He suggested that Tantramar continue with five cent increases every year until residential taxpayers in the former LSDs pay fully for their share of services.

Minor sports & skating

In the 2024 budget, Beal is proposing to reduce Civic Centre rink fees for minor sports groups and youth figure skating clubs from $155 per hour to $93 next year with further reductions in the following two years until the fees are eliminated.

“That would be a benefit for all of Tantramar,” he said.

“But the condition we would lay on that would be that the minor sports groups would have to provide the users savings in registration costs beginning in 2024,” he added.

“If they’re not prepared to reduce the registration costs, then they would not get the benefit of the reduced rates.”

For coverage of the 2023 Tantramar budget imposed by the province, click here.

To view the slides on the 2024 draft budget that Treasurer Beal presented to council, click here.

Note: Residential property owners in the former LSDs pay a special levy currently set at $0.4115 per $100 of assessment that the province collects to maintain roads. The municipality does not receive this money. So for example, if council accepts Beal’s recommendation for a five cent increase in the residential rate for the former Sackville LSD, the town will receive $0.9740 cents per $100 of assessment minus the provincial levy of $0.4115. Therefore, the municipal tax rate in the former Sackville LSD would be $0.5625 per $100 of assessment.

Posted in Town of Tantramar | Tagged , | 2 Comments

$3,200 saga, marathon of duct tape, filters and fans

A Corsi-Rosenthal box at Sackville’s Visitor Information Centre

In its brief 10-month history, Tantramar Town Council approved projects worth tens of thousands of dollars, but has been hung up for a full month on whether to sign off on a $3,200 grant for do-it-yourself air filters to protect against viruses such as COVID-19 and the flu.

At its committee of the whole meeting on Monday, council voted to send the grant application to its next regular meeting on November 14th where it will be discussed for the fourth time.

Round One

The saga began on September 25th when Ron Kelly Spurles, manager of tourism & business development, informed council that the independent, community development organization, Renaissance Sackville, had approved a $3,200 grant application from a local group.

Kelly Spurles said that the group, called Protect Our Province, wants to continue building simple DIY air purifiers, known as Corsi-Rosenthal boxes, that consist of little more than a box fan, four heavy-duty furnace filters, duct tape and cardboard.

“They have a proposal in to make some of these for some local non-profits,” Kelly Spurles said.

Town Manager Ron Kelly Spurles answering questions on Sept. 25

“They would make them and distribute them free-of-charge and also replace some of the filters in the local non-profits that already have them and then, they also want to hold a workshop for the public where the materials will be provided where people will be able to make their own boxes.”

Kelly Spurles said Renaissance Sackville had approved the $3,200 grant out of its $25,000 annual budget subject to final approval by town council.

But he didn’t seem to know who was in the group and how non-profit organizations would apply to receive the boxes.

“Could you please tell me how many boxes can be made with $3,200?” Councillor Bruce Phinney asked.

“To be honest, I don’t know,” Kelly Spurles replied.

Council then approved a motion to consider the grant application at its next regular meeting on October 10th.

Round Two

“I just want to say that I will not be supporting this motion,” Councillor Matt Estabrooks said on October 10th.

“I asked some questions of staff,” he added, “and I don’t feel that it meets the criteria.”

Councillor Bruce Phinney

Councillor Phinney followed by saying he could not support the motion either.

“First of all, I asked questions as to who’s involved in this group.,” Phinney said, adding that he hadn’t been given any names.

He said he had no idea what these boxes are.

“When I asked how much they cost to make, I had no answers there,” Phinney added.

“It’s a group that I don’t even know what they’re all about and what they’re doing and who they are and they want me to give $3,200 of the taxpayers’ money. It’s not the way to turn around and do things.”

Councillor Debbie Wiggins-Colwell said she couldn’t support the motion, but as she began to explain why, she was reminded that under the rules of procedure, someone who moves a motion, cannot then speak against it.

(Odd as it seems, Wiggins-Colwell had actually moved the motion to approve the $3,200 grant even though she did not support it.)

Councillor Barry Hicks said he felt council needed more information.

Councillor Michael Tower agreed and moved to send the matter to council’s next meeting.

Councillors Estabrooks and Wiggins-Colwell voted no, but the rest of council approved.

Round Three 

At this week’s meeting, council heard that Mt. A. Professor David Thomas leads the group that makes the Corsi-Rosenthal boxes which cost about $120 each. The group plans to build 16 new boxes and replace the filters in 15 of the existing ones.

Mt. A. Professor David Thomas

When asked if the boxes are approved by the Canadian Standards Association, Town Engineer Jon Eppell said that the high-grade filters and other components used in the boxes are certified by the CSA.

He also suggested that the boxes provide enhanced protection against viruses and as such, meet higher air quality standards than required under existing regulations.

Councillor Estabrooks said he still didn’t feel that the project met the criteria set for Renaissance Sackville.

Councillor Tower said the group has held workshops in the past and at least three local churches are using the Corsi-Rosenthal boxes.

The discussion ended with a motion to send the grant application for approval to council’s meeting on November 14 with only Councillors Estabrooks and Phinney voting no.

Stay tuned for Round Four.

To read about the origins and effectiveness of the Corsi-Rosenthal boxes, click here.

For past coverage by CHMA’s Erica Butler, click here.

Posted in COVID-19, Town of Tantramar | Tagged , | 14 Comments

Members of Tantramar council & the public invited to tour Dorchester Penitentiary

Local CAC Chair Susan Amos addressing town council on October 10

The chair of a local citizens’ advisory committee is inviting members of Tantramar Town Council and the public to tour Dorchester Penitentiary.

Susan Amos extended the invitation during council’s regular meeting earlier this month.

She said the tour is planned as part of “awareness day” events at the prison her committee is organizing that will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, November 8th.

Amos also informed council about the role of the advisory committees that were initiated in the 1970s to serve as a bridge between federal prisons and nearby communities.

“Simply put, we are the eyes and the ears of the public,” she told council during her online presentation.

“We exist so that someone outside of the system knows what’s going on inside.”

She went on to explain that the advisory committees are independent of Correctional Service Canada, the federal department that manages prisons and supervises offenders out on conditional release.

She said the committees meet with both prison staff and inmates.

“We discuss issues with offenders and with staff and sometimes with the public and we also provide advice, information, suggestions, recommendations mostly to the senior management.”

Amos showed a slide of the prison that has sat atop the hill overlooking Dorchester since 1880

Amos explained that the local penitentiary is now known as Dorchester Complex with more than 400 inmates and a staff of about 600 making it one of the largest employers in Tantramar.

The complex includes both medium and minimum security sections as well as a hospital and healing centre that provides mental health services.

“We have access to all of the institution and we also have access to every staff person and every offender,” she said.

“The meetings that we have with staff or with offenders are confidential,” she added.

“We are independent and we’re impartial,” Amos said.

“We don’t take sides. We don’t advocate for either the staff or the inmates.”

The 7 member Citizen Advisory Committee includes Tantramar Deputy Mayor Greg Martin who has served on it for 13 years

‘Awareness day’

Amos described what members of council and the public will see and hear if they join the “awareness day” tour on November 7th.

“You’ll see where the inmates live, where they go to school and learn trades as well as their recreational and medical facilities.”

She added that after lunch, participants will hear from staff including the warden in charge of the prison, the chaplain, a psychologist, security staff and perhaps the chair of one of the inmate committees.

“You may even get to meet the dog handler with his trusty canine partner who helps to keep drugs out of the institution.”

Amos suggested that anyone who wants to participate in the tour and awareness day events from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, November 8th, should e-mail Jerry Hicks:

For more information on Dorchester Penitentiary, click here.

To read more about Citizen Advisory Committees, click here.

Posted in Dorchester, Town of Tantramar | Tagged , , | 1 Comment