Matt Pryde, the town’s manager of recreation programs, says the money will be used to design and install a swing set with a bird’s nest swing, a log jam climber and a play area for younger children called a sand kitchen.
Log jam climber
Plans call for the installation of the equipment this fall in Phase I of a $97,500 project to replace the metal and plastic playground equipment in the park next to Silver Lake.
At a council meeting in September, Pryde explained the concept of a natural playground.
“Natural playgrounds are a lot like traditional plastic and metal playgrounds in that there’s still climbing structures, there’s still slides, there’s still opportunities for kids to be active,” he said.
Bird’s nest swing allows kids to swing together
“But rather than be built out of the metal and plastic, they’re built out of more natural products like wood, boulders, rope, berms in the ground itself and that sort of thing.”
Pryde explained that Phase I will cost a total of $61,000. The money will come from a $22,500 provincial Regional Development Corporation grant, $7,000 from the town, $8,000 from TD Bank and $3,500 from the Sackville Rotary Club. The town will also supply $20,000 worth of in-kind contributions including installation of the new equipment.
In the meantime, the town is hoping to get a $35,000 federal grant next spring to complete Phase II of the project.
Town reworks 5-year highways plan
At its meeting on Tuesday, Sackville Town Council approved a revised five-year plan for work on provincially designated highways within town limits.
The new plan gives priority to improvements at TransCanada Exit 506 including the reconstruction of Cattail Ridge to Bridge Street as recommended in a $27,000 plan proposed by Ekistics Planning and Design that council accepted in April.
In the first year, the town is asking DTI to approve road reconstruction at Exit 506 that would cost a total of $310,000 with $108,500 coming from the town and $201,500 from DTI.
To view the town’s 5-year highways plan, 2019-2023, click here.
The new provincial Green caucus: party leader David Coon (centre) with Kevin Arseneau and Megan Mitton
Megan Mitton has formally resigned her seat on Sackville Town Council to pursue a new career as the Green Party member of the legislature for Memramcook-Tantramar.
In a letter read at the October 9th council meeting by Councillor Andrew Black, Mitton promised to use her experience in municipal politics to serve the people of Sackville at the provincial level in Fredericton.
She added it had been a pleasure working with the mayor, councillors, town staff and community members.
“Everyone is working hard to make Sackville such a special place and I will miss working with you at town hall,” Mitton’s letter said.
Black also moved a motion that received unanimous support accepting Mitton’s resignation and declaring a vacant seat on council.
Deputy Mayor Ron Aiken, who was filling in for an absent Mayor Higham, explained that the next step would be to inform Elections New Brunswick of the vacancy so that a by-election can be called.
Normally, a by-election would be held in December, but uncertainty at the provincial level will delay things.
Paul Harpelle, who speaks for Elections NB, says the by-election will be held on May 6, 2019.
“This was not a decision taken lightly by the municipal electoral officer,” he said in an e-mail, “however, given the resources required to prepare for the next provincial election where the date is uncertain, this was the most logical course of action.”
Splendour in the grass
Joyce O’Neill failed to get anyone to second her motion
Also, at Tuesday night’s council meeting, it finally became clear that Sackville will not be enacting a bylaw to control the height of grass and other vegetation on private, residential property.
Councillor Joyce O’Neill read a motion that would have directed town staff to draft such a by-law, but the motion died when no other councillor would second it. (Councillor Phinney, who has supported O’Neill on this issue in the past, was not present at the October 9th meeting.)
“I feel strongly on this,” O’Neil said, echoing concerns she first raised during a council meeting in August about long grass at a property on Bridge Street near her home:
“Our biggest fear out that way is that with all this dead grass, all you need is a cigarette flicked into that and the house is old, the grass has grown in underneath the verandah and to me it’s such a chance of that going up, catching on fire,” O’Neill said in August, adding that the lives of three small children are at risk in a house next door.
Few complaints, little support
After an 18-minute discussion during the August meeting, CAO Phil Handrahan promised that staff would look into the feasibility of such a bylaw and report back to council.
At its meeting on October 1st, council then heard from town manager Jamie Burke who gave a six minute report on the pros, cons and costs of such a bylaw.
He also reported that in the last two years, the town has received three complaints about long grass. However, during recent publicity about whether Sackville should follow Moncton, Riverview and Dieppe in enacting a by-law, Burke said the town received no letters in favour and four against.
To listen to Burke’s full report, click on the media player below:
Councillor Bill Evans seemed to sum up the opinions of the majority of councillors at the October 1st meeting:
“Do we really want to get into what is essentially an aesthetic rule about the appearance of people’s property?” he asked.
Deputy Mayor Ron Aiken along with Councillors Andrew Black and Michael Tower spoke against a grass bylaw with only Councillor Phinney speaking in favour citing concerns about fire safety. (Councillor O’Neill was not present at the October 1st meeting.)
So, Sackville residents will remain free to let the tall grasses grow and the wildflowers wave as long as their vegetation does not interfere with visibility at intersections. (To read what the town’s zoning bylaw has to say about corner sight lines, click here.)
NOTE: It appears that the town’s dangerous and unsightly premises bylaw doesn’t apply because the provincial local governance act does not appear to include vegetation under its dangerous and unsightly provisions. (To read what the act does include, click here.)
New bylaw officer
At the October 9th meeting, council also appointed Corey Springer as the town’s new bylaw officer effective October 29th.
Springer will no doubt be expected to take into account council’s decision not to enact a tall grass bylaw.
In August, Springer’s interim predecessor threatened a Sackville homeowner with a minimum $1,000 fine unless the homeowner chopped down vegetation on the property within 11 days.
The homeowner had been cultivating a permaculture garden with a variety of plants such as giant kale, wild strawberries, lupins, violets, wild evening primrose, clover (to attract bees), periwinkle and skirret, a type of heritage vegetable dating back to medieval times.
The homeowner’s property does not border on a town intersection.
The homeowner, who asked not to be identified, complied and chopped the plants down. Here is the hand-delivered letter the homeowner received with name and address removed:
It has come to our attention that the property at XXXXXXXXXXXXX, Sackville, New Brunswick, has become in violation of By-Law 209 “Maintenance and Occupancy Standards“, this has occurred by allowing the grass to grow past the point where animals and creatures could begin to inhabit the area.
Failure to maintain the grass and tidy the area will result in a fine not less than $1000, but not exceeding the maximum fine set by the Provincial Offenses Procedure Act for a category “F” offense multiplied by the number of days during which the offence continues, as well as any expense the town incurs to have the property maintained.
This letter is to notify you of the issue and to have the issue corrected by no later than September 7, 2016. [Sic]
I thank you in advance for your cooperation in this matter. If you have any questions about this letter, or By-Law 209, you may contact us at (506) 364-4930.
By-Law Enforcement Officer
Town of Sackville, NB
Brooke Wilson’s defence
During a telephone interview, Wilson said she issued the letter after one of her summer student bylaw officers received a complaint from a “concerned citizen” about the homeowner’s property.
She added that town Bylaw 209 mentions that grass should not be allowed to grow past the point where animals and creatures could begin to inhabit the area. (I could not find those words in the bylaw.) Wilson suggested that the dangerous and unsightly premises bylaw also applies.
Just before our conversation ended, she said, “I shouldn’t be talking to you about this. I report to [Treasurer] Michael Beal.”
During the question period at last night’s council meeting, Deputy Mayor Ron Aiken said there is no bylaw regulating tall grass on residential properties other than the zoning one that refers to corner sight lines at town intersections.
There were no cheers — or tears — today in a windowless Moncton courtroom when Madame Justice Brigitte Robichaud finally confirmed that Green Party candidate Megan Mitton had won the riding of Memramcook-Tantramar by 11 votes in the September 24th provincial election.
The judge’s declaration came after a recount of 8,213 ballots that took more than two-and-a-half days.
The hand recount demonstrated the accuracy of New Brunswick’s voting machines which recorded 3,148 votes for Mitton and 3,137 for her Liberal opponent Bernard LeBlanc on election night. The recount also confirmed the machine tally for PC candidate Etienne Gaudet who received 1,518 votes and Hélène Boudreau of the NDP who received 410.
After the result became official, Bernard LeBlanc shook Megan Mitton’s hand and offered his congratulations.
“I’m glad the result is complete,” LeBlanc, who had requested the recount, told reporters later as he stood in the fall sunshine outside the courthouse. “The people down in our area wanted to make sure, since it was close, we wanted to make sure that it was proper. It has been done and it has been proven that the number hasn’t changed,” he said.
Sigh of relief
Megan Mitton at the court house
For her part, Megan Mitton said she was breathing a sigh of relief now that her victory has been confirmed.
“I’m feeling honoured that I did receive the most votes in Memramcook-Tantramar and I’m going to represent that riding in Fredericton,” she said.
When asked how she felt about the potential for the three Green members to hold the balance of power when a minority government is formed, Mitton suggested that her party’s three seats are not enough.
“It’s an interesting situation,” she said, “if there were four of us, then we would really hold the balance of power and responsibility, but as it stands, there are three of us and so ultimately, it will be a Progressive Conservative that would determine what happens, whether the Liberals are able to form government.”
Aside from the three seats held by the Greens, the Liberals hold 21, the PCs 22 and the People’s Alliance three. Any minority government would need the support of at least 25 members to govern in the 49 seat legislature.
Mitton said the Greens have “opened a dialogue” with the PCs, but she suggested it’s still too early for them to decide who to support.
On the other hand, Mitton’s Liberal opponent seems to have skipped door-to-door canvassing at least in Sackville with volunteers leaving campaign literature accompanied by a notice “Sorry we missed you,” even when voters were home. LeBlanc also skipped the first all-candidates’ debate on environmental issues and his Sackville campaign office was open for only for a few hours most days. While Green Mitton lawn signs sprouted up on Sackville lawns throughout the campaign, it was hard to find any Liberal ones. Premier Brian Gallant made one visit to the riding, but said little or nothing about Bernard LeBlanc. Aside from reporters, Gallant’s Memramcook rally was attended by about 25 Liberal supporters.
Mitton says she was able to build on her 2014 campaign by staying engaged in the community and getting to know the whole riding.
“I also think that there’s been a shift politically across the province to looking for different types of voices and different ideas in the legislature,” she adds, “and it certainly doesn’t hurt that the Green Party leader David Coon has been in the legislature and shown what just one voice can do and now, we’re able to triple that impact.”
Mitton says she intends to set up constituency offices in both Memramcook and Sackville just as her predecessor did.
A tally of the 2018 results shows that the predominantly French-speaking areas in the 12 polls in and around Memramcook overwhelmingly supported Bernard LeBlanc who received 1,852 votes to Mitton’s 638.
The results were reversed in the predominantly English-speaking town of Sackville’s 12 polls where Mitton received 1,583 votes to LeBlanc’s 686.
To look at my own version of poll by poll results in Memramcook-Tantramar based on figures from Elections New Brunswick, click here.
To listen to Megan Mitton speaking with reporters after the recount, click on the media player below.
Click on the media player below to listen to Bernard LeBlanc speaking with reporters outside the Moncton courthouse.
Megan Mitton delivers her victory speech at the Sackville Commons
Green Party candidate Megan Mitton told a roomful of supporters in Sackville Monday night that she would probably cry during her victory speech.
“So get ready for some tears,” she warned just minutes after Elections New Brunswick officially declared her elected in Memramcook-Tantramar with a razor thin majority of 11 votes over her Liberal opponent Bernard LeBlanc.
The final count was 3,148 for Mitton and 3,137 for LeBlanc. PC candidate Etienne Gaudet came third with 1,518 votes while Hélène Boudreau of the NDP received 410.
For most of the evening, Mitton, who is a Sackville Town Councillor, led with a seemingly comfortable margin of more than 300 votes until a later poll result suddenly cut her lead to only 11.
Mitton and her supporters at the Sackville Commons waited for more than an hour as her victory seemed to hang in the balance with one more poll to come. When Elections N.B. finally placed a capital “E” beside her name, the room erupted in cheers — and tears.
“Wow, that was a stressful few hours,” Mitton said in her victory speech. “The last few days, I’ve been going around saying every vote is going to count…it’s going to be close,” she added. “I’m an honest politician, I meant it!”
Green leader David Coon gives televised victory speech after winning re-election in Fredericton South
Mitton’s speech was interrupted by a congratulatory phone call from Green Party leader David Coon who was re-elected in Fredericton South while a third Green candidate, Kevin Arseneau, also won the riding of Kent North.
“David, I can’t wait to join you in Fredericton, but I’m at the mike right now giving a speech, so I’m going to have to call you back,” Mitton said to cheers and laughter.
Voters ‘send a message’
“These results send a strong message to our leaders that we care about democracy,” Mitton said as she continued her victory speech. “We care about our local economy, we care about our forests, our seniors, our youth and our future.”
She thanked her family and supporters before mentioning her father who died last year.
“My Dad’s not here, but he inspired me to do this,” she said as she fought back tears.
“I grew up in a Liberal household, he once ran for the Liberals for MLA and we always talked about politics,” Mitton said, adding that when she told him she was running in the 2014 provincial election, he asked for which party.
“I said, ‘the Greens’ and he went, ‘oh really, but don’t you want to win?'”
Megan Mitton and her campaign manager Sabine Dietz celebrate narrow victory
Mitton gave special thanks to Sabine Dietz who served as her campaign manager.
“I remember meeting here last November and three people showed up, Sabine and I were among the three,” she said. “And now look, the room is full.”
Mitton said winning the riding involved canvassing door-to-door, dawn-to-dusk, in rainstorms and a heat wave while battling mosquitoes.
“It was a lot of hard work, but it was fun,” she said.
Note: Since Mitton won by fewer than 25 votes, there will be a recount to confirm the results.
To listen to Megan Mitton’s victory speech, click on the media player below.
David Suzuki in Moncton beside the Petitcodiac River
The long-time host of the CBC science program Nature of Things received a big round of applause Friday as he walked into a meeting room at the Chateau Moncton hotel.
Nine Green Party candidates, party leader David Coon and a number of Green supporters greeted David Suzuki enthusiastically, but the well-known TV personality and environmental activist waved away the applause.
“I’m just here to raise some shit,” Suzuki said with an impish grin as he sat down to await his turn to speak.
Suzuki travelled to New Brunswick to donate his time in support of two Green candidates hoping to make breakthroughs in the provincial election on September 24.
Green leader David Coon (centre) with candidates Kevin Arseneau and Megan Mitton
In his brief remarks, Arseneau said that when his two-year-old son asked him what he’d been doing all day, he said he was knocking on doors trying to change the world.
“And he said, ‘me too Daddy, I want to change the world with you,'” Arseneau added.
For her part, Megan Mitton said she’d been asked to speak about a local environmental issue.
“That’s an easy one,” she added, “because for me, all environmental issues are local and are linked to everything around us whether it’s the economy or health or education.”
Suzuki began his speech by saying he was moved by Arseneau’s story about his son.
“I really think this is where the energy is going to come at a political level, our children are going to motivate us to become much more active politically,” he said.
“And Megan, you raised a really critical issue that separates Greens from all the other parties,” he added. “You recognized the most fundamental aspect of environmentalism, that is, everything on this planet is interconnected.”
Suzuki addressing an audience of about 500 at Mt. A.
Suzuki went on to develop a main theme that he also stressed during an evening speech to an audience of about 500 at the Mount Allison University library in Sackville.
He argued that since all life depends on clean air and water as well as uncontaminated soils, it makes no sense to pursue economic activities that routinely pollute air and water while depleting and poisoning the soils.
Suzuki added that Greens understand that natural laws make life on the planet possible.
“There shouldn’t be such a thing as a ‘green economy,'” he said. “There should only be an economy that is based on the foundation of protecting those elementary facts.”
Carbon tax and climate change
Suzuki criticized New Brunswick’s Liberal and Conservative parties for rejecting a carbon tax on the burning of fossil fuels that generate greenhouse gases linked to climate change.
“A tax is a tool to encourage people to do the right thing and to discourage them from doing the wrong thing,” he said, adding it’s only a tiny step in the right direction.
“The target is we’ve got to get off fossil fuels, period, and much faster than by 2050, and whatever tools we have to use, let’s get on with it.”
Suzuki accused federal Liberals of hypocrisy for signing the 2015 Paris climate accord that aimed at keeping temperatures from rising above two degrees Celsius and then buying and promoting an expanded pipeline to carry Tar Sands oil to the west coast.
He received a round of applause when he said he’s been fighting against Tar Sands oil for years.
Suzuki signed books after his Mt. A. speech. (Photo courtesy Mount Allison Libraries & Archives)
“We’ve got to work toward keeping the temperature from rising above two degrees in this century; right now we’re on a trajectory towards three to five degrees, which is absolutely catastrophic,” Suzuki told his Mt. A. audience.
He said it’s time for young people to stand up and demand action to stop politicians from putting narrow economic interests ahead of protecting the environment.
“So, I’m asking every one of you here — not saying, you’ve got to vote Green although I hope you all do — but think about what’s going on and realize that your future now is at stake,” he said, adding, “We have a narrow window to really start doing some big things and we can’t continue with the same old, same old.”
Suzuki received a standing ovation after he called on the students to vote and to get their parents to vote too.
“We’ve got to tell people, ‘it’s my future you guys are diddling with because you’re not focussed the right way’ and the Greens allow you to express that alternative,” he concluded.
Fisherman Darren Porter on his boat with yellow FORCE monitoring gear on the beach behind him
A day after Cape Sharp Tidal Inc. announced that its underwater turbine has broken down and its blades are no longer turning, fisherman Darren Porter spotted a yellow object at the water’s edge near the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE), which oversees the Black Rock tidal test site in the Minas Passage.
“My daughter dragged it up the beach so it wouldn’t float away,” Porter said. “God knows where it would have been tonight.”
Porter reported his discovery to FORCE, the Nova Scotia Department of Energy, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans and various news outlets including this one.
A few hours later, Lindsay Bennett, business operations manager at FORCE, confirmed Porter’s suspicion that the object was a sea pod which houses a cluster of environmental monitoring instruments.
“Darren Porter located and recovered a piece of marine mammal monitoring equipment that is used as part of FORCE’s regular site-level environmental effects monitoring program,” Bennett wrote in an e-mail, adding that it was one of five “instrument packages” that were recently deployed.
“All monitoring instruments on the recovered package appear to be in working order,” Bennett wrote, “however, we’ll assess for and perform any required maintenance and redeploy as soon as possible.”
Her e-mail ended on a reassuring note.
“This happens occasionally with this type of equipment, especially in a high flow environment like the Minas Passage.”
During a telephone interview, Porter, a long-time critic of FORCE and spokesman for the fisherman’s group Fundy United Federation, reacted scornfully to Bennett’s message.
“Nothing to see here, it’s no big deal,” he said of her reassurances. “FORCE is literally a farce,” Porter added. “You can’t even make this up.”
He said that if the sea pod had floated away with the tides, FORCE wouldn’t have known it was gone until the time came for its retrieval weeks or months from now.
Porter’s discovery of the monitoring gear came the day after Cape Sharp Tidal Inc. said a team of technical experts from OpenHydro headquarters in Ireland discovered the submerged turbine has broken down and its blades are no longer turning.
“The turbine operated as expected immediately after deployment in July,” the Cape Sharp statement said. “They (the team of experts) believe an internal component failure in the generator caused sufficient damage to prevent the rotor from turning.”
The company statement goes on to say the team will analyze information from sensors on the turbine to determine whether it “could be functional.”
In the meantime, Cape Sharp says environmental monitoring devices on the turbine are now working.
Government regulators require the company to monitor the turbine’s effects on fish and other sea creatures, but the sensors that are supposed to do that were disconnected shortly after deployment when turbine maker OpenHydro ran out of money and lost the financial support of its French parent company.
Since August, OpenHydro has been moving towards bankruptcy with another court hearing scheduled for next month in Dublin. To read earlier coverage of the financial aspects of the story, click here.
One of Porter’s lobster-filled traps from the Minas Passage
Meantime, Darren Porter noticed FORCE’s yellow sea pod when he was on his boat conducting a lobster survey that started last year in connection with Big Moon Canada’s plans to generate tidal power on the north side of the Blomidon Peninsula near Cape Split. To read earlier coverage of the Big Moon project, click here.
Porter says the study is aimed at understanding the presence, abundance and movements of lobster in parts of the Minas Basin that could be affected by Big Moon. It involves fitting some lobsters with tiny transmitters that help track their movements and others with tags containing information that can be reported when the lobsters are caught.
Porter also sets traps to catch lobsters in order to count them and record biological information such as their sex and whether their shells are hard or soft.
He says he’s noticed that traps set in the Minas Passage produce large numbers of lobsters, sometimes as many as 35 in a single trap.
“There’s no doubt why fishermen are upset about tidal turbines in the Minas Passage,” Porter says. “It’s the most lucrative piece of lobster fishing ground in the province,” he adds, pointing out that lobsters are Nova Scotia’s largest and most valuable export.
“Lobsters are our true renewable resource,” he says.
New Brunswick NDP leader Jennifer McKenzie (L) with local candidate Hélène Boudreau at Goya’s Pizza
The competition for votes between local New Democrats and Greens was evident in Sackville on Sunday as New Brunswick’s NDP leader expressed pride in her party’s platform commitment to a Carbon Reduction Fund.
“Our environmental plank is greener than the Green’s by a mile,” Jennifer McKenzie declared generating applause and cheers from a small group of NDP supporters at Goya’s Pizza on Main Street.
Later, during an interview, McKenzie acknowledged that her comment was “a little bit of rhetoric, I was speaking to a friendly crowd,” but she added that the NDP’s is “the only environmental plank from all the parties that is fully funded.”
The NDP Carbon Reduction Fund would tax pollution that contributes to climate change generating almost $400 million in revenues.
McKenzie said a third of the money would be returned to low and middle-income earners as a rebate, another third would be invested in job-creating, renewable energy projects, with the remaining funds dedicated to programs such as making homes more energy efficient.
“The environmental plank was one of the last ones that we put out and it was developed within the youth wing of the party,” the NDP leader said, adding that young New Democrats looked at various plans around the world before developing a made-in-New-Brunswick version.
McKenzie also said that her party led the way when it promised a $15 per hour minimum wage in November of last year. (The Green election platform proposes to raise the current $11.25 minimum wage by $1 per year until it reaches $15.25.)
“We thought no other party would ever steal that plank,” McKenzie said, adding that the NDP were ahead of the Greens in proposing aid to post-secondary students including a 25 per cent reduction in tuition fees at publicly-funded universities. (To read what the Green platform says, click here.)
The NDP leader also expressed pride in her party’s promise of a universal pharmacare program that would cost the province $250 million per year. McKenzie says that ideally, the federal government would contribute another $250 million.
“We’re basically saying to the federal government, ‘look it’s time if you want to have some investment in seniors in this province, this would be the perfect way to do it,'” she said. “We would go ahead with it without the federal government, but the best-case scenario is the province is 50 per cent, the federal government is 50 per cent and we move forward as quickly as possible.”
Booze, fat and sugar
McKenzie also took aim at the Liberals and Conservatives for trying to woo voters with fewer restrictions on alcohol and junk food.
On Saturday, the Liberal leader Brian Gallant promised a number of measures to “modernize liquor laws” including allowing more convenience stores to sell beer, wine and liquor.
A few days earlier, Progressive Conservative leader Blaine Higgs said a PC government would scrap the nutrition policy that, among other things, bans the sale of fatty or sugary foods in school cafeterias.
“I think it sounds a bit desperate,” McKenzie replied when asked about the Liberal and PC promises.
“They’re looking for a populist kind of dollar-a-beer policies and the NDP has been very careful to stay above that, to talk about the things that matter to people that will make a real difference in their lives and to talk about our platform as a whole and how it will transform our economy and transform our society to one that is greener and more progressive,” she said.
To read a 2015 report from New Brunswick’s chief medical officer on the health, social and economic costs of excessive alcohol consumption, click here.
To read a 2012 report from the chief medical officer on the costs of obesity in New Brunswick, click here.
To read an earlier Warktimes story about liquor stores vying for sales along the TransCanada Highway, click here.