Little fanfare as Sackville town council holds its final meeting

Mayor Mesheau recognizes Coun. Phinney who moved the motion to adjourn Sackville’s last town council meeting

More than 119 years of Sackville history came to an unceremonious conclusion on Wednesday when Mayor Shawn Mesheau declared the final meeting of town council adjourned.

“I think that’s momentous,” Councillor Sabine Dietz told reporters a few minutes later outside the Chamber.

“I think we should have marked that,” she said.

“The Town of Sackville has come to an end.”

Aside from a brief presentation of certificates to members who will not be serving on the new Tantramar council and the mayor’s words of appreciation for town staff, there was nothing to mark the end of a municipal era that began when Lower Sackville was incorporated as a town on February 5, 1903.

More than seven decades later, on August 15, 1975, Middle and Upper Sackville were added along with Fairfield and most of Frosty Hollow.

Dietz suggested wistfully that perhaps the latest amalgamation couldn’t be marked ceremonially because there’s too much uncertainty about Tantramar’s future.

“When you have staff that don’t know where they’re going on January the 1st and what they’re doing,” she said, “it’s a disgrace.”

She was referring to the fact that only the new Chief Administrative Officer, Jennifer Borne, has been hired, with the province yet to announce who might be appointed to other senior staff positions.

And, Sackville’s acting CAO, Michael Beal, says he hasn’t heard anything from the province about next year’s municipal budget.

Large reserve funds

Acting CAO & Treasurer Michael Beal outlining town reserve funds

Judging from Beal’s comments to council, however, Sackville will be leaving substantial financial reserves thanks in part to money saved this year through vacancies (town engineer, public works, parks and facilities staff plus the RCMP community policing officer) as well as projects that were budgeted for, but not completed, including upgrades to Queen’s Road that had to be postponed because the provincial grant did not come through and sidewalk renewals that weren’t done because of staff shortages.

Beal said that the new town could use the reserves to pay for major projects without having to borrow.

The $3.5 million in the general capital reserve, for example, could pay for a variety of projects including the town’s share of Phase III of the Lorne Street flood control project ($1.8 to $2 million) and an $800,000 fire truck.

Beal anticipates adding to the $1.1 million in the utility capital reserve to pay for upgrades to the town’s sewage lagoons that will have to be done in coming years to meet environmental standards. He said the town’s share of that project would likely be around $3.75 million.

Beal emphasized the importance of reserve funds in avoiding interest payments on borrowed money.

“If we didn’t have this money, we would be borrowing,” he said.

“The philosophy has been, since I’ve been Treasurer, to push to eliminate the debt so that we’re able to do these projects and borrow from ourselves.”

Mayor Shawn Mesheau (C), along with Councillors Sabine Dietz and Bill Evans, who will not be serving on the new Tantramar council, received certificates of appreciation from the town. Councillor Ken Hicks was not present to receive his certificate

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18 Responses to Little fanfare as Sackville town council holds its final meeting

  1. Christian Corbet says:

    Disgraceful way for the Town to ends its historic name. Proof the leadership is waning. No vision with less respect.

    • Sharon Hicks says:

      Well said, Christian … this should have been observed as the truly momentous occasion it was, with at least superficial recognition of the nearly 120 years of Sackville history which have now come to an end.

      With the upcoming swearing-in of the new Town of Tantramar council, on Tuesday December 20, we hope it will be handled with more ceremony, as it so rightfully deserves.

      Because of the location where it is being held, it’s unknown as yet whether it will be live-streamed to give more people access to witness this historic event.

      At the very least it needs to be professionally recorded, so the recording can then be released for the benefit of those who might be unable to attend this event in person.

      This is History in the making, and it needs to be appropriately recorded for posterity.

      This whole transition period, as we leave Sackville behind and plunge ahead into Tantramar, could have benefitted from ‘a bit’ more forethought and planning. Just because this change has been ‘forced upon us’, is no reason to simply turn a blind eye and pretend it’s not really happening.

  2. Percy Best says:

    What an absolute waste of approximately five million dollars, supplied by the three levels of government, to create another holding pond, when all that is needed is a new and much larger aboiteau behind Russell Metals, the construction of which would be fully funded by the Province. The existing aboiteau is vastly undersized at only 18″ x 18″.

    Even the flap gate on that aboiteau will be totally redundant once the Chignecto Isthmus Flood Mitigation Project is completed because the Tantramar River will no longer be tidal. The planned construction of a new four gate barrier at the mouth of the Tantramar will see the entire length of the river become one massive retaining pond all the way from Midgic to the Chignecto Basin. This will allow for continuous storm water drainage 24/7. There will be no high tide in the Tantramar River to hold back any water.

    Sadly it seems that no one currently cares how taxpayers money can be wasted here in Sackville. Hopefully that will change come January 1st with a fresh start with our new Town of Tantramar.

  3. Mike Gallant says:

    Perhaps as TS Elliot wrote, the world will end with a whimper instead of a bang?

  4. Wayne Feindel Puppet of the People says:

    Do I dear disturb the dead who poured out “the red sweet wine of youth’ to preserve these little town and villages, the very grass roots of democracy. ‘The hollow Men’: Not with a bang but a whimper. Two communities that couldn’t sum up a hero to take the barbs and cheap shots hurled at them by stupid men. Few wanted to wear the cloak of not being a team player, or stand accused of making ‘inflammatory remarks’, or being labeled a ‘political prob’, of the people. You allowed Premier Higgs and Minster Daniel Alain to act like wanton boys pulling off the wings of helpless flies. This amalgamation process was conducted in a willful and mean way by exercising capricious, even reckless means to circumvent common law, and natural justice.. Yes! Reform is needed in this province with out a doubt. But to deliberately not let those in the know not to work on a shadow budget for the united community is worth a march on Fredericton as your second motion and demand if they know anything {I suspect they don’t } to meet with you altogether. Every councilor is equal except when the Mayor is presiding. . It is almost as if in the course of their actions which shows an actual deliberate disregard for the tax dollars of citizens or unconscious delberate intention to cause harm or which, if not intentional, shows an utter indifference to for the needs of others, or their tax dollar .This was a needless, senseless, unjustified destruction of your communities .As a new council you get one chance and one minute to act or all is loss. How do I know? You can check the District Education Councils minutes when I asked to see the budget. ..Or even better when the new mayor…errr I mean chair asked to see the finances of a 100 million. The department passed the chair one piece of paper. The Chair had the guts to say NO! to signing. Immediately a code of conduct whisper campaign was started. CBC news 2011. .
    “Reform My ASS” Premier Higgs. It only marches on paper, not our pocket books.

  5. What many people do know is that I am a professional artist represented in over 100 major institutions worldwide, many museums; British Museum, Rijksmuseum, Canadian War Museum, etc.
    History is a major part of my career; its a a part of all our lives. What we as humans create is a documentation of our time spent on this planet and what is saved is important. Museums do this best. They are seen as a time capsules of the human existence and how we contributed to it; its nearly the first thing we do when we travel is go to museums.
    I just created a new scientific forensic facial reconstruction of King Tut. Imagine Howard Carter having located the tomb 100 years ago and nothing being inside of it. No writings, no visual imagery, no mummy. This is nearly what has happened here save for Bruce’s writing and perhaps an audio visual tape and few books too. Little respect is paid to the decades of lives of citizens, students’ all peoples who visited this town for whatever reason who helped shape it and make it a place to live, grow, study, and even die. There was no formal parting, no respect. Their children’s children will see this near nothingness and undoubtedly sigh a somber moan. This is not a legacy I would like to leave behind for future generations.
    Todays occurrence at town council is reflective of the mindset of the people who run it; tired and disillusioned and perhaps worse delusional in that they helped advance the town they called and purportedly loved.
    History wont write them the victor.

    • Wayne Feindel Puppet of the people. says:

      Thank-you citizen Corbet for putting into words my very thoughts that I couldn’t seem to sort out in my convoluted head.

  6. Sandra Stephenson says:

    Wow. These are sad days when towns like Parrsboro and Sackville fold. The exoerience of Parrsboro is you get back-shelved an⁷d only one councillor to represent you. If she doesn’t answer her phone…. ?

  7. Jon says:

    “The Town of Sackville has come to an end” is a statement that reminds me of Francis Fukuyama’s announcement of the End of History in 1992.

    People in Amherst still gave directions in relation to Margolians a generation after the store folded. It seems unlikely that Sackville will suddenly end because we now vote for a ward in a larger municipality.

    How many of us will now say “I’m from Tantramar”, or “I live in Tantramar”? This administrative shake-up doesn’t change the fact that there are two neighbouring communities (plus other areas) that have been stitched together by someone in Fredericton. Another election could undo that. Tantramar is not really a town in any sense other than the legal sense. Mail and highway signage won’t be pointing to Tantramar for the simple reason that it’s an arbitrary political entity, not a geographical or practical one. It would have made more sense to invent a new entity, like Local Service District, to describe the amalgamation, but the provincial government is as known for its imagination and creativity as it is for its respect for democracy.

  8. Tantramarshire says:

    Tantramar sounds like a great place to market as a region that has everything – villages, beaches, rolling hills, meadows, forest, and more… I don’t tend to dwell on stuff in the way the famous artist Christian does… but then again Christian can tend to be a bit dramatic.. eh?

    • Wayne Feindel Puppet of the People says:

      Dear Tantramarshire be prepared to eat cattail roots when your tax bill cones in. Dorchester need a new well more than you need swerage upgrade. Running a pipeline to us are you?. The two seperate identies will mot be more effective money wise, but Fredericton will enjoy the low hanging fruit. OVER30 YEARS I’ve been dealing these braindead oligarchs including going to court with these guys and even hand delivered my observations about education .It’s in the court records my observation that the the faux boards , and councils” make competent council members incompetent.. costed the losing side $6000 in court costs . Now that’s a citizen who puts his money behind his beliefs . Another not so happy conclusion is peaceful protests don’t work with stupid people.
      .A letter to the liberal Premier at the time promoting a forensic audit of the District policies. Not funny! I signed everything; yet they spent between George Crossman my myself 10s of thousands of dollars to prop up the ubiquitous code of conduct. Not for them of course but for citizens they perceive inflammatory or political props.

  9. Kelly says:

    That picture at the end of the article with the two on either side of the former mayor warms my heart. Those two won’t be able to dictate so easily now, and never having to listen to the bi-weekly prepared statements by Evans is all I need for Christmas.

    • Mike Gallant says:

      Well Kelly, I wish I shared your happiness on this but the this crowd is just getting started and will be flexing their muscles and continuing on with their “reign of error “;
      1. The former Councillor and mentor to the Mayor Elect will continue his role and influence as an unpaid advisor to the Mayor;
      2) the other will be appointed as Chair of the Mayors Roundtable on Climate Change or an Advisor in a similar role;
      3) the remaining member of that quartet will try to become Deputy Mayor.

      Some other predictions:
      – The new Town will hire a “Communications Officer” – perhaps from a local radio station?
      – the Mayor Elect will resign part way through his term – nothing nefarious, he just won’t be up to the task – no soft ball questions and cribbed answers going forward. It’s easier to want to be Mayor instead of being Mayor.

      The way ahead? First the new Council should unanimously consider the Councillor from Ward 1 to be elected Deputy Mayor. And all the Councillors from outside of Ward 3 should consider serving as a counterbalance to the questionable conduct of the previous council here in Ward 3/Sackville. If people want change, don’t let this old crowd carry on with business as usual.

      • Kelly says:

        Ha ha. If you look at the campaign contributions you can clearly put the number 2 prediction together for sure. As far as advisors I’d add the previous mayor before Mesheau, and he may very well resign but I predict a backed run for another failed liberal run at the MLA position in next provincial election. The proverbial writing on the wall in my view. Oh and I can’t imagine that the mayor will be able to appoint the deputy now either with the pay difference, but I’m sure he will try and no doubt will be the remaining member of the drab four.

  10. Tim Reiffenstein says:

    Just the administrative name has changed. It’s still the same place, as seen by the wishes of good cheer in the comments above.

    When all is said and done, I thought Mr. Mesheau was a decent Mayor. As a councillor he was always made an effort to be a good listener to his constituents. As Mayor, the one thing I asked him to do, get rid of the Japanese knotweed growing right in front on Town Hall, was acted on promptly. It is not his fault that the patch has shown all signs of growing back. At the big rally for the hospital in December 2021, he rose to the occasion and gave a great speech. I thank him for his service, as I do Councillors Evans and Dietz.

  11. Ron Shaw says:

    Any reserves will likely go into the newly amalgamated body to be shared by all!

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