Sackville Town Council news: Joel Plaskett, future hotel tax, potholes & paving

It’s not quite a done deal, but it appears that singer/songwriter Joel Plaskett, one of Atlantic Canada’s best-known musicians, will be a headliner at Sackville’s Bordertown Festival in May.

At its meeting last night, town council authorized the mayor to sign a $7,000 contract with Plaskett for a performance at the Vogue Cinema during the festival, which is being held from May 23 to 26.

Joel Plaskett performing live on radio. (Cathy Irving/CBC)

“I just want to say, I’m super excited, I’d buy a ticket right now if they were available,” said Councillor Andrew Black.

“Joel Plaskett is a huge headliner,” he added. “He’s going to draw a huge crowd, the tickets will sell out super fast.”

Town manager Ron Kelly Spurles acknowledged that Plaskett’s $7,000 fee would put a big dent in the town’s festival budget of $12,500, but added that ticket sales would generate at least an additional $2,500.

He also pointed out the town gives financial support to other groups that want to perform at the festival.

“We were able to fund everybody who applied for a grant,” he said, adding that therefore, the payment to Plaskett would not short-change anyone else.

Kelly Spurles said Plaskett would draw people into Sackville generating lots of business activity.

The contract with Plaskett for his performance at the festival is expected to be signed soon.

Hotel tax?

Meantime, Mayor Higham reported at last night’s council meeting that the Southeast Regional Service Commission, the body that co-ordinates planning in southeastern New Brunswick, is moving ahead with a long-term strategy to attract more tourists to the area.

The mayor said he attended the commission’s meeting last month where he heard a series of recommendations based on studies conducted for the city of Moncton and the commission.

Mayor John Higham

The recommendations include creating a regional marketing organization governed by people in the tourism business to promote destinations in the southeast.

Higham said financing for such regional marketing would come from a four per cent tax on hotel rooms similar to one adopted in the Ottawa area.

He added that three-quarters of the tax revenue would finance marketing efforts with the rest going to improve tourism destination sites.

The mayor said tourism operators in the Sackville area favour a hotel tax, but he suggested much more planning needs to be done before regional officials can ask the province for legislation that would allow the four per cent municipal levy to be implemented.

Potholes and paving

Councillor Bruce Phinney read a report from the Engineering and Public Works Department that would not surprise anyone driving or cycling in Sackville.

“The harsh winter has taken its toll on the streets and roads around town,” Phinney said, “and we are experiencing a large number of potholes.”

He then moved a motion awarding a $276,000 contract for “street asphalt patching” to the lowest of four bidders, Costin Paving and Contracting of Amherst.

It emerged during discussion, however, that Costin originally bid more than $325,000 to supply 700 tonnes of pothole-filling asphalt, the amount the town had specified in its tender package.

Town engineer Dwayne Acton

Town engineer Dwayne Acton explained the town had to reduce the asphalt to 552 tonnes to stay within budget.

Acton was asked whether all of the town’s potholes can still be filled.

“We’re going to do our best to stretch the patching as far as we can given the road conditions,” he replied.

“There are several things that we do look at. There are some areas that have small alligator cracks,” he said, adding that the town will focus on potholes and broken pavement leaving the smaller cracks for another year.

In the meantime, councillors approved using all of the money the town receives this year from the federal gas tax fund for paving projects.

That means that $367,359 will be spent paving 1,000 metres of Walker Road, 1,000 metres of Stanley Drive, 135 metres of University Avenue and 85 metres of Hesler Drive.

A report from Sackville’s treasurer shows that since 2014, the town has spent $1.9 million in gas tax funds on paving. Over the next five years, it plans to spend $1.9 million more.

For Treasurer Michael Beal’s breakdown on gas tax funds and how they were and will be used, click here.

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4 Responses to Sackville Town Council news: Joel Plaskett, future hotel tax, potholes & paving

  1. Rima Azar says:

    What are our South East NB cities trying to achieve here? Kill the tourism industry on a slow fire with this additional hotel tax of 4%?! If we add to this the forthcoming carbon tax that will increase the price of gasoline, people will think twice before visiting us. Are we aiming to scare tourists, researchers, artists, relatives, and other potential guests? I do not get it. I am against such additional taxes as a consumer and as someone who brings clients to our hotels.

  2. I could watch Joel Plaskett on youtube from about 10 years ago and that’s probably good enough for me .. also, $7K would make a nice start in budgeting for a really great concrete skateboard park.. the arts take too much of the money and waste it .. I’d like to see a lasting legacy project soon .. or at least within the next year or two.. that’s my goal… ponds don’t cut it and neither do musical festivals.. I think the youth have been overlooked long enough.. they presented to mayor and council as a group of skateboarding enthusiasts about the need for a great park in 2013.

  3. Percy Best says:

    On the CTV – ATV 6 o’clock news this evening (Tues) it was reported that Halifax Regional Municipality will spend just in excess of $200,000 repairing potholes this year. The shocking thing is that this amount is less than what Sackville will spend ($276,000) and is certainly way below the Costin (Dexter) bid of $325,000 to do a proper job. How can it possibly be that a city of over 300,000 people spends less than our little town of 5,300?

    We do have our own hot asphalt patching machine that they bought not that many years ago so that the cost of going out to contract to have patching done would be greatly reduced. Now we have a new pavement roller in this year’s budget as well that should again allow another reduction as more work can be done in-house.

    Something is desperately wrong with the way our street surfaces are maintained and it needs to be quickly addressed. The Gas Tax funds were set up by the Province to be in ‘addition’ to what the municipalities were spending to repave. Sackville Town Council seems to have taken the option of not spending any of the municipal tax funds on repaving and had even redirected four years of the Gas Tax funds towards the new Town Hall, which set our road maintenance back considerably.

    One would think that a very major road/street repaving project should be initiated to try to get us back up to a properly maintained status.

    • Once the $60million windfarm goes in on that ridge on the way into town you’ll be able to celebrate your idea of a great use of govt money Percy.. not to worry… roads and potholes are just a fact of life … taxpayers’ wishes are never the priority .. they just have to keep paying their bills and trust in the powers that be.

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