Tantramar mayor invited to international wetlands conference

Mayor Andrew Black explaining the potential economic benefits of wetland conservation

If Tantramar Town Council gives its approval next month, Mayor Andrew Black will receive funding to attend an international wetlands meeting at Amiens in northern France from June 8th to 10th.

He’s the only mayor in North America invited to the meeting after Sackville received its accreditation last fall as a United Nations Ramsar City Wetland Site for such assets as Silver Lake, its 75-acre Waterfowl Park, the Tantramar Wetlands Centre and the habitat created by the 40,000 cubic metre pond that is part of the Lorne Street flood control project

“I think it’s funny that they call us a city,” Black said today as Tantramar councillors met as a committee of the whole council.

He pointed out that aside from being the only municipality in North America to receive Ramsar accreditation, Tantramar has become one of only 25 “cities” recognized for protecting, creating and restoring wetlands within their boundaries.

“It is a fairly significant stamp,” Black said, “a fairly significant jewel in our crown.”

Ron Kelly Spurles, manager of tourism and business development, said Black’s participation in the international mayor’s roundtable in Amiens would give him a chance to gather information.

“It’s an excellent opportunity to learn more about how other cities are managing their wetlands, how they’re preserving them, how they’re using them for recreation and other purposes and I’m quite certain that the mayor would have an excellent opportunity to learn a lot and to bring a lot to this event if he’s able to go,” he added.

Kelly Spurles estimated the trip would cost just over $2,500.

‘It’s the public’s money’

Councillor Bruce Phinney pointed out that the deadline for registration at the international mayor’s roundtable was January 13th and he wondered why the town had already agreed to participate.

“We’ve already accepted, we’re already sending somebody, how can we do that?” he asked.

Councillor Bruce Phinney

“It hasn’t been passed by council. Could I have an explanation for that please?”

Kelly Spurles responded that roundtable organizers had been told that their invitation had been accepted subject to approval by Tantramar council.

“It’s the public’s money,” Phinney declared. “I’m making sure we do things accordingly and in line.”

When the vote came on whether to submit Black’s trip to Amiens for approval at council’s next meeting on February 14th, Phinney voted no.

Tourism potential

Later, during the public question period, Black spoke about the potential for wetland tourism within Tantramar.

“Dorchester has Johnson’s Mills, the UNESCO site that has many shorebirds, we have pretty much the entire Tantramar marsh or a good chunk of it within our town borders,” he said.

He suggested that attending an international roundtable with other wetland city mayors would give him a chance to exchange ideas.

“There’s lots of opportunity for conversation around what the Town of Tantramar looks like as far as wetland conservation goes.”

For previous Warktimes coverage, click here.

For coverage by Canadian Geographic, click here.

To read a brief summary of the first roundtable of wetland city mayors in 2019, click here.

This entry was posted in Town of Tantramar and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Tantramar mayor invited to international wetlands conference

  1. Christian Corbet says:

    Let’s be realistic. If Black goes to France his intellectual being will likely be challenged and mocked. He is no specialist in this area of wetlands and he carries little weight in any capacity to find tourism prospects for this town. This will be 2500.00 of a free trip for this Mayor. Our town could spend their money more wisely.

  2. Percy Best says:

    The boundaries of our Town of Tantramar encompass such a vast array of waterfowl habitat and stopover areas. Our future as an internationally known wetlands area will be our huge selling point in the years to come.

    The massive amount of Ducks Unlimited waterfowl habitat that has been created, the Atlantic Wildlife Institute, the Johnson’s Mills Shorebird Reserve, the Sackville Waterfowl Park, the Canadian Wildlife Service Facilities, and the Canada Geese feeding areas, to name but a few things that Tantramar is now blessed with.

    Perhaps a large interpretation center should be in the works (like what Shediac has just constructed) to take advantage of what we have and it would pull travellers in basically from around the world.

  3. Tantramarshire says:

    Wasting money so far seems the agenda… I remain unimpressed Monsieur Black.

  4. Virgil Hammock says:

    Of course, he should go. It’s a honour for our town. This is one area where we have set an example to the rest of the world. We spent more money sending councillors to CMA conferences every year. Mayor Black would have something to say and things to learn.

    • Judith Holton says:


    • Tantramarshire says:

      Just realize that what he’s being educated on is more about saving ducks than people’s prosperity and the development of the area — Wetlands are anti-human settlements and development and they’re not going to grow the region with this approach and the constant fear mongering about flooding.

  5. Wayne Feindel Puppet of the People says:

    Town of Tantramar Council gets their first test. Will they break away from the previous baggage that the Town of Sackville carried,or not. It is unfortunate that this is a wonderful opportunity for recognition of the new community, but Councillor Phinney has made a good point. We the Citizens don’t want any more pre emptive Higgs moves just because it is good for us. This will set the tone for all that is to follow.. You need to get it right. As a former Mayor there are many chances to go and promote your community. But the priority for the new Mayor as stated is to get to work with and develop a working council that is going to protect the integrity of the community, before promoting it. Decisions made because of the tyranny of time created by poor management should not be foisted on you. It will come to haunt you.. You better get it right.from the get go..Since the provinical government is still knee jerking reform, council needs to put together a team to meet the Premier and Allain. A visit to Fredericton invited or not, is your first visit. Not France.

  6. Elaine says:


    If the information is correct, Mayor Black is the *only* person from North America to go to this event.

    How is that not an opportunity to take?

    The potential windfall from attending this event could span more than just ‘information gathering’. Promotion of how to protect wetlands in North America, Sackville being the source, in North America, to emulate or at least look to as a baseline. Other communities in North America coming to *us* for help, ideas and so on.

    Perhaps this kind of meeting here in the future, with members coming to Sackville?

    If we were just one part of a delegation from North America going to this, I could agree with maybe holding back, but we’re not. We’re it. That says a LOT about us, our community, and I think not going would damage that opportunity in ways we may regret later.

    Is there other things going on that needs seeing to? Absolutely. And considering the current status of, well, everything thanks to this… forced amalgamation… it’s more important than ever to be represented and deal with the province. But there are others in Council who could do that as well as Mayor Black. Meanwhile it makes sense to send him to France as he was/is our elected representative of the town as a whole.

    I truly hope he gets to go and shame if not all for the typical timidness and ‘fear’ from others to do anything to help Sackville in any way.

    • Judith Holton says:

      Agreed! Let’s trying thinking big for a change.

    • Tantramarshire says:

      Elaine, perhaps Black should be sure to wrap himself in the United Nations flag to really “shore up” our culture in a representative way. The Town was pushed into this designation by a zealot Kelly Spurles who frankly just did what the local Conservationists told him to do. If you think this ‘label’ is a triumph you obviously don’t understand the Agenda.

  7. Janet Hammock says:

    I trust that the Council will give Mayor Black its unequivocal support. This will be a super-important trip for Mayor Black and I am confident he will use his time there wisely. I am proud to have our achievements thus far recognized with this prestigious invitation. I have no doubt that Mayor Black’s participation in this international wetlands meeting will prove to be a positive thing for us, going forward. The importance of what he will contribute, and what he will learn, cannot be underestimated!

  8. Robert Lyon says:

    This is an incredible honour and amazing opportunity. To be recognized as the only accredited Wetlands City in North America is a huge boon for a tourism strategy for Tantramar to go along with Johnson’s Mills, Fort Beausejour, Jolicure Lakes, Tantramar Wetlands Centre and the Tantramar Marshes, to name a few. Being present at the conference should not even be up for debate. The return on investment will be substantial for this area. The $2500 would perhaps buy you a couple of one time ads in a publication with a short shelf life. From a financial perspective the benefit from attending the conference is just a good business decision and represents a return of tens of thousands of dollars annually at the minimum.
    We are gifted these natural surroundings and it would be ridiculous not to play to our strengths. The marshes connect us historically, naturally and culturally. To be able to showcase what we have on a world stage and be recognized is such a wonderful opportunity. We have something here that doesn’t exist elsewhere. We are unique, and because of that people will travel here and move here and study here and work here. All of which increases our tax base.
    There is a golden opportunity in front of us and if we bypass it because of pettiness and small mindedness then we are doomed to be mired in the mistakes of our past. For a Councillor to not even vote in favour of debating the issue shows that he is not thinking of the greater good of Tantramar. We need to think beyond ourselves.
    It is time to stop staring at our feet and start reaching for the sky.

  9. Sandy Burnett says:

    A unique and positive opportunity for Tantramar! Our wetlands, shorebirds, and conservation initiatives are central to our identity as a focus of environmental stewardship, science, recreation, and nature tourism. Mayor Black’s attendance at this conference will foster worldwide awareness of our town and its natural resources.
    He should go with our support and our blessing.

  10. Tim Reiffenstein says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with Elaine’s comment. This is a tremendous opportunity. The Mayor is skating to where the puck is going to be.

  11. Jon says:

    Minor correction: Sackville wasn’t accredited by Ramsar last month, but at a meeting on 26 May 2022.

    The first thing for the mayor to do is to ask Ramsar about updating the accreditation. Sackville doesn’t exist as a municipality any longer and he’s not the mayor of Sackville, but of Tantramar.

    I hope the mayor is looking into coordinating with municipalities adjacent to other near by Ramsar accredited sites (Shepody Bay, Mary’s Point, Amherst/Chignecto) for tourism purposes, to create a regional attraction that will draw in more people than a single site.

  12. Wayne Feindel Puppet of the People. says:

    This is all good and hard to deny. The truth is the purchase of a fire hydrant is about $2500. My ward needs six .
    I cannot really argue with old Sackville.
    It’s wonderful,it’s wonderful. The problem is the world you knew doesn’t exist. You still want a long stem cattail and a box of fiddleheads when you have to deal with the fact you live in the NOW and as announced by Saint John’s investigation into tax revenue you are being hung out to dry . The 5 rules of stupidity still apply. The Third World War is underway so expect refugees not tourist. Either way there is no room in the inn or the the staff to run it.
    Dream on folks. Wake up and smell the marshes folks. Pass me some Soma please.

  13. Bill Carroll says:

    Mayor Black should go to this conference. It’s an opportunity to learn from others, bring materials back for our own use, and to market Tantramar as an international tourist destination.

    Mayors are leaders in their communities. An informed leader makes better decisions. This conference will add to the knowledge that Mayor Black has on these related topics.

    There are always other ways to spend taxpayer money, but I believe that this is a good investment.

  14. Wayne Feindel Puppet of the People says:

    Any way its all good except for one thing. Unknowingly, the new council which is no excuse may have just broke not only Robert’s Rules, but possibly Federal Parliamentary rules governing lapsed files from previous sessions.
    The question from the start concerning the legality of bring forward unfinished business by councilor Phinney was not given much attention by the new council who unwittingly went ahead ignoring the rule of law and parliamentary Federal laws, just because the idea is a laudable action.
    So without knowing the all the details as to who was advocating this file and seemingly no vote taken the file by federal law is considered lapsed at the end of the last session of the former council.
    Possible lack of proper oversight meant the item never reached the plenary stage (all council got a look ) therefore council has no legally valid position on this remaining file.
    An action was taken by whom with out getting it brought to a committee for ratification by the former council at a regular duly constituted regular meeting. The new council is fortunate this file was a mom and apple pie issue, not a cat by-law in the Dorchester Ward.

  15. Tantramarshire says:

    Some others who also received accreditation in 2022 that Mr. Black will be expected to schmooze with in 2023 in France are:

    China: Hefei; Jining; Liangping; Nanchang; Panjin; Wuhan; and Yangcheng

    What could possibly go wrong Ronnie Kelly Spurles?

    Do not send Andrew Black over into this nest of snakes.. best advice from a curious and concerned local with no Agenda and no financial reward for the advocacy of liberty.

    • Wayne Feindel Puppet of the People says:

      Too good to be true. Never mind the low ball figure, or what an amazing place the new Community of Tantramar will be. I would be very interested in the staff and Mayor laying out the history of the application and documents that were sent to this conference. I wasn’t at the last meeting, but besides fooling around with the file which was legally dead because no action was taken with a motion. Just because someone after the fact now says it was understood that the action depended on the support of council. All actions (sending a document) that includes a pecuniary matter must be moved unless already ratified by the required six steps. Robert’s Rules. The Town of Sackville is legally dead. You cannot go to a dead identity and extract from its anus sphincter an item you like and call it unfinished business of the municipality of Tantramar. You have to start from scratch. It is not always necessary for a lot of whereas details, but on motions of this sort that are not simple housekeeping items, there should be more supported documents as to the background to the origins of the motion. Since this invitation is quite something this information should be provided to all our communities, so that all New Brunswick can see how applications like are this prepared and how they may result in success.

      • Tantramarshire says:

        “The scheme “encourages cities to highlight and strengthen their positive relationship with wetlands as valuable ecosystems that provide multiple benefits to its citizens,” said Jay Aldous, Deputy Secretary-General of the Convention on Wetlands. It also gives cities international recognition and publicity — and possibly a boost in tourism — for protecting their wetlands.

        Kelly Spurles worked closely with the Canadian Wildlife Service to put together the application. The CWS has a long history with the town of Sackville — the first CWS office in the Atlantic Region was established in the town in 1947 by biologist George Boyer. Boyer chose Sackville because of its salt and freshwater wetlands on the Bay of Fundy and their known importance to migratory birds.”

        This was an initiative but not by the politicians here… minion Kelly Spurles appears to have “U.N. Fever”…. hope it is not contagious…

        from the article mentioned by Black with Canadian Geographic on “Sackville NB” which no longer exists as you state.. it is not and never was a “Wetland City” and why would it ever want to be? Why are people not questioning what “policies” Kelly Spurles would see flowing to us [more lockdown of land to keep humans out doesn’t sound economy-building to me]

  16. Mike Gallant says:

    This all pretty hilarious – of course the Mayor should go to France. This “small town cheap” is getting pretty tired. However (never good), if one of the other mayoral candidates had been elected, we’d be hearing a very different tune from the same current campaign “Mayor supporters” about international travel emissions or climate change.

  17. Is there possibly funding available from other government agencies either federal or provincial to cover the cost? In the case of a staff person being sent to Geneva to receive in person the accreditation award, there was no money in the budget to send either the mayor or alternate at that time so money was secured elsewhere.
    Is there also the possibility of attending virtually for the initial round table to get a better sense of what benefits attending will achieve, then budget for it in future years?

    • Tantramarshire says:

      A teleconference was something I had suggested too… much more sensible. They will be wanting advice from the people here on how they did it… its as though they’ve now become a model for the rest of N. America and in so doing Andrew Black should assemble those responsible for this accreditation as a panel at that teleconference, wildlife people and Ronnie K.Spurles.

Leave a Reply