No official info yet on why Sackville Councillor Bruce Phinney was cited for violating Code of Conduct

Voters in Sackville may choose a new mayor and council in the municipal elections on May 10 without knowing exactly why the present council voted to sanction Bruce Phinney twice for violating its new Code of Conduct.

Acting Mayor Ron Aiken says council’s decision to require Phinney to undergo training for his latest violation is a confidential matter that was discussed behind closed doors and under current rules, no further information can be released.

“As I mentioned to you in an e-mail, that is a personnel matter and out of respect for the privacy of everyone involved, that’s how we do it,” Aiken said during Monday’s council meeting.

“I think that is pretty consistent with how every municipality in the province would do that,” he added.

The Acting Mayor was responding to a question from Warktimes about why no information is being released to the public concerning what Phinney did to violate the Code.

“If you’re claiming it’s a personnel matter, I’m saying it’s also a political matter because it involves an elected official and not an administrative staff person,” I said.

Councillor Andrew Black agreed.

“I agree that elected officials are separate from staff with regards to information pertaining to possible Code of Conduct violations,” he said, adding that councillors are answerable to the voters who elected them.

Black suggested council may try to find ways to release more information about the decision to sanction Phinney.

“This is something that we will possibly look at in the next little while,” he said.

Councillor Bill Evans said he shared Black’s feeling the matter should be more public or transparent.

“But it’s not about what I want, it’s about following the rules,” Evans added.

“There are lots of things that I hear in confidence that I think the voters should hear about, but I am constrained by the Code of Conduct, so I can’t share that information,” he said referring to rules that prohibit members of council from disclosing matters discussed in closed meetings.

Evans also said he would like to see the rules changed in this case and would try to convince his council colleagues that it’s worth doing, but in the meantime, the rules have to be followed.

He also suggested that anyone who disclosed information to Warktimes may have acted inappropriately.

He was referring to a recent story suggesting Phinney may have criticized CAO Jamie Burke in an e-mail response to town residents concerned about the proposal for a small-scale slaughterhouse in the Sackville industrial park.

To read that story, click here.

Warnings about Code

Last May, two months after council passed its Code of Conduct, a Mount Allison University politics professor warned that it could shut down debate and dissent because it places members of council under the supervision of their colleagues as well as town staff.

“Intelligent people can…disagree on what is offensive or disrespectful. Skins can be so thin, that this invites a never-ending litany of complaints against anyone who raises their heads off the desk,” Geoff Martin wrote in an e-mail to Warktimes.

Martin who served on Sackville Town Council himself for six years added:

“I can’t imagine being a dissenter under these rules because this is a ready mechanism to shut down the dissenter.”

To read my report on the experts who warned about the new Code, including New Brunswick’s Ombudsman, click here.

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Good news may be coming for Pond Shore residents worried about speeding

Sign beside the inbound lane on Pond Shore Rd.

Help may be coming soon for Pond Shore Road residents who have been calling for reduced speed limits to protect themselves, their children, cyclists, joggers and walkers who travel the narrow, winding road.

“I’m very pleased,” said retired teacher Don Gouthro on learning that the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DTI) may give the town the power to lower the speed limits on the provincially designated highway also known as Rte. 940.

Gouthro has been asking the town for 11 years to lower speed limits on a road where he regularly sees drivers travelling well over 80 in a 60 kmh zone.

“That was always the response, ‘it’s in the hands of the province, we cannot do anything because it’s in the hands of the province,'” he says.

“Now it seems the province is turning it over to the town, so maybe now that they do have control, maybe they will act and maybe we’ll get some results.”

During last night’s council meeting, Town Engineer Dwayne Acton referred to a letter from DTI granting municipalities more control over designated highways.

“We’ve never been able to set speed limits, so we’re wondering where this came from, what the requirements are (and) what do we have to do,” Acton added.

Councillor Andrew Black said the council committee on policy and bylaw had discussed the issue at length.

“Having information from DTI about setting speed limits is a first, so rather than just jump and change the speed limit, there’s a lot of things that need to be considered,” he added.

Black said recommendations for council should be ready by February.

For his part, Don Gouthro says that while he’s pleased the town may finally be able to act, he believes more RCMP enforcement including speed traps would also help.

Gouthro, whose grandchildren live across from his home at 81 Pond Shore, is hoping the town will reduce the speed limit from 60 to 50 kmh on his section of road and from 80 to 60 on the stretch from Mount View Road to the town limits near the NB Power lines.

“My daughter lives just this side of that blind hill and this weekend, a car came speeding over there and unfortunately, their cat was killed,” he says.

“It was more of a speeding issue than anything else and we’re thankful it was a cat and not a child.”

The DTI letter came in response to one from Acting Mayor Ron Aiken. To read both, click here and here.

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Mount Allison releases donor agreements for new Frank McKenna school

Frank McKenna speaking about his donation on Sept. 25. Photo: Mount Allison University

According to documents obtained by The New Wark Times, Frank McKenna’s recently announced $1 million gift to Mount Allison University will not give the former premier and TD Bank executive direct control over the school that will bear his name.

Late last week, the university released agreements signed by McKenna and eight other donors in response to a Warktimes request under New Brunswick’s Right to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (RTIPPA).

The request for information was filed after the university announced in September that the McKenna family and other inaugural founders were contributing a total of $5 million to convert an existing Mt. A. interdisciplinary program into the Frank McKenna School of Philosophy, Politics and Economics.

The new school is expected to be officially launched next year.

A clause in the agreement with McKenna and other donors says that all decisions about how the money is spent rests with the university.

A second clause states that donations will “not, in any way, compromise Mount Allison University’s mission and vision, constrain academic freedom on campus [or] contravene a policy of the University.”

The agreements indicate that donations will be used to establish the school and support its goal of fostering travel and international study, student internships and access to “mentors, professionals and experts from the public and private sectors” as well as fund an annual speakers’ series.

The agreements also mention the goal of “developing entrepreneurial thinking of students studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics.”

The university has blacked out the amounts of donations as well as the signatures and addresses of the donors.

The three-page agreement with McKenna shows that his donation will be split into four parts with installments due on April 30 this year and on April 30, 2021, 2022 and 2023.

Under a clause with the heading Change of Purpose, the agreement states:

It is understood that the Gift is made voluntarily, and that the University is the owner of the Funds. It is further understood that the University can make changes in the use of the funds, in keeping with the spirit and the general intent of any gift. Where possible the University will first consult with the Donor or their representatives.

To read the university’s agreement with McKenna, click here.

The agreements, covering the period from March 12, 2018 to September 28, 2020, include eight other donations with the amount of each one blacked out.

The donations were made by: David and Lynn Loewen, Francis McGuire, Annette Verschuren, Craig Noble and Krista McLeod, Brookfield Partners FoundationThe John and Judy Bragg Family Foundation, Clark Family Foundation and David and Betty Jo Booth.

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Sackville Councillor Bruce Phinney in hot water again apparently for dissing town CAO

Councillor Bruce Phinney

Sackville Councillor Bruce Phinney has been ordered to undergo training after his colleagues found that he violated council’s new Code of Conduct apparently by making derogatory comments about Jamie Burke, the town’s Chief Administrative Officer (CAO).

At a closed meeting yesterday, councillors passed a motion declaring that Phinney had violated three sections of the Code that relate to the treatment of other people, including town staff.

One section states that members of council “must not maliciously or falsely injure the professional or ethical reputation, or the prospects or practice of the Town Administration.”

It’s believed council found Phinney violated the Code after he responded to an e-mail from residents opposed to the proposal to build a small-scale slaughterhouse in Sackville’s industrial park.

The residents worried that taxpayers could be stuck with the clean-up costs if the facility went bankrupt.

Clean-up costs an issue for Phinney

In 2019, Phinney called for the firing of senior town staff including Jamie Burke after the town manager negotiated a deal with CN Rail to buy land for Sackville’s new flood control pond that was later found to be contaminated with toxic materials, which cost all three levels of government more than half a million dollars to remove.

It appears that Phinney may have referred to that clean-up in his response to the residents concerned about the proposed slaughterhouse, although it’s not known what he may have said about Burke.

Earlier this year, council found Phinney violated the Code of Conduct during a meeting in which he was the only councillor to vote against appointing Burke as CAO to replace Phil Handrahan.

“The reason I’m voting against it is I feel that the other candidates that we had were much more qualified,” Phinney said. Although it’s not known for sure, it seems likely that Phinney violated the Code of Conduct by disclosing confidential information about another candidate.

During that meeting, Phinney also accused Burke of being responsible for the CN clean-up costs.

The motion that council passed last night requiring Phinney to undergo training says other councillors may participate in the training too.

To read the motion and relevant sections of the town’s Code of Conduct, click here.

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Chief Electoral Officer says she has no authority to investigate whether laws were broken when Mt. A students were turned away from the polls on Sept. 14

Chief Electoral Officer Kim Poffenroth

New Brunswick’s Chief Electoral Officer says the investigation into why dozens of Mount Allison University students were turned away from the polls at Sackville’s Civic Centre on the day of the provincial election was strictly for internal purposes and not to determine if there had been violations of the law.

“I actually have no authority to…conduct an investigation with regard to an offence, that’s why this investigation we did was for our own internal purposes, for identifying where there were lapses in the system that we need to correct for the future,” Kim Poffenroth said yesterday during a telephone interview.

She added that it would be up to local police acting on a complaint to investigate possible violations of the law.

Poffenroth was commenting on the release this week of a one-and-a-half page report summarizing the investigation conducted by Jacques Ouellette, the independent investigator Elections NB hired to interview students, poll workers and the riding’s returning officer.

The report suggests that students eligible to vote were challenged and in some cases turned away because of confusion, misinterpretation and contradictory information.

It also singled out a political party scrutineer for telling students they could be committing fraud if they signed an oath declaring they met the 40-day residency requirement in order to be eligible to vote.

Earlier this week, MLA Megan Mitton sharply criticized the report for not acknowledging the harassment, hostility, threats and intimidation Mt. A. students faced at the polling station.

“There doesn’t seem to be consequences for the scrutineer or anyone who interfered with voting and Elections NB ultimately is responsible for making sure the election is fair and this should not have been allowed to happen,” Mitton said.

“I respect Ms. Mitton’s opinion,” Poffenroth responded, “but we took the incident very, very seriously, which is why I asked to have the investigation done and to have all of those interviews done. It’s a very unusual situation for Elections New Brunswick to hire an outside investigator.”

The Chief Electoral Officer says that on election day, she spoke three or four times by phone to the riding’s returning officer as well as members of the Mount Allison Students Union in an attempt to resolve the situation, but adds she’s still not sure why eligible students continued to have problems voting.

“It didn’t even seem to be particularly clear even after the interviews were done as part of the investigation,” she says, adding she believes it was simply because of confusion and a lack of understanding about the how residency rules applied to students.

Poffenroth says Elections NB is committed to providing more training to poll workers and scrutineers before the next provincial election.

When asked if she would release the investigator’s full report, she said no.

“The actual report [is] just a transcript of the interviews that were done with individuals and a summary of those interviews and we’re not releasing that because of privacy issues,” she says.

“We didn’t receive permission from the indivduals to release it.”

Posted in Mount Allison University, New Brunswick election 2020 | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Mitton sharply critical of Elections NB investigation into ‘voter suppression tactics’ involving Mt. A. students

Megan Mitton celebrates victory on election night after spending the day urging Mt. A. students, turned away at the polls, to keep trying to cast their ballots

MLA Megan Mitton is criticizing the results of an investigation into the harassment, hostility, threats and intimidation dozens of Mount Allison University students faced as they tried to vote at Sackville’s Civic Centre on September 14th, the day of the provincial election.

The member for Memramcook-Tantramar says a report released today by Elections New Brunswick doesn’t go far enough in making sure that what she terms “voter suppression tactics” won’t happen again.

“The seriousness of what happened on election day does appear to be lost in this summary report,” Mitton said in a telephone interview. “Voters’ rights were being compromised, they felt like they were under attack,” she added, “and we can’t take that lightly.”

The Elections NB report summarizes the findings of independent investigator Jacques Ouellette.

It suggests that confusion, misinterpretation and contradictory information resulted in election workers challenging students’ eligibility to vote based on the rule that they must have lived in the riding for 40 days.

The law states that students who attended university in the previous academic year are considered local residents and are eligible to vote even though they may have been away for the summer.

Among other things, the report says poll workers need better training about the residency requirements while political scrutineers need to be reminded about their proper role and behaviour at polling stations.

The report singles out an unidentified scrutineer for challenging the proof of residency letters Mount Allison provided to returning students who live on campus.

“One of the scrutineers present at the poll, who should not have directly engaged with electors, incorrectly told some students the letter was not acceptable as proof, and they could be committing voter fraud if they voted,” the report states.

Mitton says that in spite of such findings, she’s far from satisfied with the report.

“I am glad to see all of the recommendations about improving the education and the training of poll workers,” she says.

“However,” she adds, “there doesn’t seem to be consequences for the scrutineer or anyone who interfered with voting and Elections NB ultimately is responsible for making sure the election is fair and this should not have been allowed to happen.”

Mitton says the process for making complaints about interference with voting didn’t seem to work on election day.

“There were still voters being denied the right to vote at 7:59 p.m.,” she says. “What’s to keep this happening again if there’s no consequence for this type of behaviour?”

Elections NB launched its investigation after complaints from the Mount Allison Students Union.

President Jonathan Ferguson says members of the MASU executive committee are generally happy with the Elections NB report.

“They’ve clearly outlined some actions to be taken and we approve of these actions,” he says referring to Chief Electoral Officer Kim Poffenroth’s pledge to implement better training of poll workers.

He also said he’s pleased with Poffenroth’s comment in the report that the fixed date for the next provincial election is October 21, 2024, which would allow more time in the fall university term to reduce any confusion over the 40-day residency rules.

At the same time, Ferguson acknowledges that students did face hostility from poll workers and inappropriate behaviour from one scrutineer.

“We are hopeful that this promise here to review the [election] materials and really go back to the drawing board about what poll workers are being trained to do will help address that,” he says.

To read the summary report from Elections NB, click here.

To read in-depth coverage from CHMA reporter Erica Butler about what Mt. A. students experienced on election day, click here.

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AFMNB calls on Higgs to implement full municipal reform by 2025

Frédérick Dion

The association representing 50 francophone and bilingual municipalities in New Brunswick is calling on Premier Higgs to follow through on his pledge to reform the fragmented patchwork of local governments in the province.

“Municipalities need to play a role at the local level in development,” says Frédérick Dion, Chief Executive Officer of the Association of Francophone Municipalities of New Brunswick (AFMNB).

During a telephone interview on Thursday, Dion said many of New Brunswick’s 104 municipalities and 236 local service districts (LSDs) lack the financial resources needed, for example, to promote economic development, attract immigrants and provide public transportation.

“Many rural communities cannot talk about immigration or economic development, they cannot play a role because they certainly don’t have the capacity or fiscal resources to do so,” Dion added.

He pointed to a 70-page report the AFMNB released in September calling for an overhaul of local governance in the province by December 2025.1

The report outlines various options including one that would see LSDs joining with neighbouring municipalities and the consolidation of those municipalities into what the report calls “communities of interest” along the lines recommended by Commissioner Jean-Guy Finn in 2008. (The Finn Report suggested, for example, that Sackville join with the villages of Port Elgin and Dorchester along with nine LSDs to form one municipality within a regional service district.)

Alternatively, the AFMNB report says individual towns and villages could remain after absorbing their neighbouring LSDs, but would enter into formal cost-sharing agreements for common services overseen by an inter-municipal council governed by their mayors.

Tax reform and economic development

The report says municipal restructuring could be accompanied by tax reforms that would give local governments the money needed to provide other essential services such as emergency preparedness measures and climate change adaptation.

Dion argues that the Equal Opportunity Program of the 1960s was a great success in eliminating regional inequalities. “But one of its weaknesses was the fact that we centralized economic development in Fredericton,” he says, adding there were good reasons for that at the time.

“But as we saw after that, municipalities need to play a role at the local level in economic development.”

The AFMNB report calls for tax reforms that would give municipalities more independence by reducing their reliance on provincial transfer payments.

It suggests providing other potential sources of revenue such as sharing one per cent of provincial income, sales and corporate taxes as well as the provincial portion of property taxes and revenues from cannabis sales.2

Excerpt from AFMNB report The AFMNB report says other potential sources of municipal revenues could be taxes on hotel rooms, entertainment taxes on ticket sales and sharing the provincial portion of fuel taxes. (The federal government already transfers more than $2 billion of its gas tax revenues to municipalities. Sackville’s share this year amounts to $367,359.)

Dion says combining the restructuring of municipalities and LSDs with provincial tax incentives represents a “carrot and stick” approach.

He adds that residents of LSDs, for example, who chose not to participate, could be required to pay higher taxes to cover administrative and road maintenance costs that the province now subsidizes.

Excerpt from AFMNB reportDion responds with a chuckle when asked whether he thinks the Higgs government will actually proceed with municipal reform given the reluctance of previous governments to tackle it.

“That’s the one million dollar question,” he says.

Dion adds that Higgs himself is an engineer, not a career politician.

“We think that Premier Higgs wants to do some reforms and local governance is one of them,” he says. “At this time, we think we can work with the Higgs government to improve the local governance.”

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Mt. A. expert says Higgs government unlikely to push hard on municipal reform

Mt. A. politics professor Geoff Martin

An expert on municipal government in New Brunswick says the Higgs government risks political suicide if it presses too hard on municipal reform.

Geoff Martin, a politics professor at Mount Allison University, says that may be why the commitment to reform seemed so weak in Tuesday’s Speech from the Throne.

“It’s a lot more timid than I expected,” Martin says referring to the government’s promise “to have a new conversation with citizens of this province” about how to improve a fragmented municipal system with 104 local governments, 236 local service districts (LSDs) and 12 regional service commissions.

“Governments have been saying they’re going to have conversations about municipal reform for 10, 15, 25 years,” Martin says. “I would have thought that they would have something more definite to say right now.”

He argues that one of the system’s biggest problems involves the rural LSDs which have no elected representatives and are governed by officials in Fredericton.

“We do badly need rural elected democracy,” Martin says. He adds, however, that rural residents may not want it especially in a neoliberal age when people have become so accustomed to austerity and cuts in services that they look with suspicion on any increase in taxes.

“You’re going to hit a high degree of opposition in rural New Brunswick from people who figure that the only thing municipal reform really can mean is tax increases for them,” he says.

“They won’t necessarily focus on any of the benefits they could get,” Martin says, adding that many rural residents aren’t aware of how the property taxes they pay don’t cover the full cost of the services they receive for such things as road maintenance, snow plowing, policing, fire protection and emergency services.

He points to figures showing that while the average tax rate in 2019 was only 97 cents per $100 of assessment in the LSDs, the average rate in cities, towns and villages was $1.52. (Sackville’s residential property tax rate is $1.56.)

recently updated report from the association that represents the eight cities of New Brunswick claims LSDs receive about $100 million more in subsidies than they pay in taxes:

Excerpt from 8 cities report, August 2020

Martin, who wrote a 25-page academic paper on municipal reform for the Journal of Canadian Studies in 2007, says that making significant changes would take all the political capital the government has this term.

“I think it’s either you do municipal reform or you do health-care reform, you can’t do both,” he says, adding that either could jeopardize the re-election chances of a government with a narrow majority.

“I personally think Blaine Higgs will see health care as a higher priority and if he’s got to make a sacrifice, it’s going to be for changes in health care, not for changes in the municipal sector,” Martin says.

“Maybe the throne speech promise on municipal reform is so timid because the government has finally figured out, Gee this is not going to be easy, this is going to be very controversial and there’s a good chance we won’t be able to do very much of what we’ve hinted we want to do,” he concludes.

Posted in Mount Allison University, New Brunswick politics | Tagged | 3 Comments

Sackville’s acting mayor puzzles over municipal reform plans

Lt. Gov. Brenda Murphy reads Throne Speech promising municipal reform

Sackville’s acting mayor says it’s hard to tell from yesterday’s Speech from the Throne what the Higgs government has in mind when it comes to municipal reform.

“We just want to see what they come up with,” Ron Aiken said during a telephone interview.

He added that it’s one thing if the province wants to give political representation to New Brunswick’s 236 local service districts (LSDs) which have no elected mayors or councillors, but quite another if it intends to create big regional governments by amalgamating smaller municipalities.

“And if it’s shared services they’re talking about, tell us what services you mean and how you’re going to share them,” Aiken said.

“For example, they say let’s amalgamate all the fire services so we have one big fire department for the area,” he added. “Sackville citizens have invested millions of dollars in fire equipment and we’re not just going to give that to somebody else,” he said.

“They can talk about these sorts of things, but when the rubber hits the road, I think there’s a lot of stuff that has to be worked out.”

Finn report

Yesterday’s Speech from the Throne declared that the province intends to a have a conversation with citizens about ways to improve a fragmented local government system that has roots in the 1960s.

“There have been dozens of studies highlighting the need for reforms, and it’s time to move to action and implementation,” the speech added.

Finn Report’s map of proposed regional service districts

One of the most recent and comprehensive of those studies — the Jean-Guy Finn report of 2008 — recommended combining more than 100 local governments and hundreds of LSDs into 53 municipalities grouped into 12 districts that would deliver regional services such as planning, solid waste management, policing, emergency measures and economic development.

Sackville would have merged with the villages of Port Elgin and Dorchester as well as the nine LSDs in the Tantramar area to form a single municipality.

But Finn’s recommendations went nowhere when the Liberal government of the day said the $88 million cost of implementing them was too high.

In 2013, a Conservative government established 12 regional service commissions (RSCs) including the Southeast RSC that oversees land-use planning and garbage collection in Sackville and other municipalities in Westmorland and Albert Counties.

‘What is the problem?’

Acting Mayor Aiken says he’s not sure why the Higgs government is so concerned about the number of municipalities in New Brunswick.

“What is the problem they’re trying to solve?” he asks.

“Frankly, I don’t see a big problem with a bunch of small municipalities; there’s this regionalization kick and I have yet to see anywhere where that’s saved anybody any money. All you end up doing is slapping another layer of government in there.”

Acting Mayor Ron Aiken

Aiken says that for Sackville, the real issue is that residents in the nearby LSDs get subsidized fire services from the town and enjoy facilities such as the Civic Centre arena while paying much lower property taxes.

“That to me is where the problem lies,” he says, adding that the province hasn’t done anything to solve it.

“If you wanted to incorporate Westcock and British Settlement and maybe Midgic into Sackville itself, well that kind of makes sense in a way given the kind of economic bubble we’re in around here, but to put Dorchester, Sackville and Port Elgin in one community to me is just nuts; it’s a huge area and I would ask what’s being gained from that.”

Meantime, Premier Higgs told reporters in Fredericton yesterday that it may take more than one, four-year term to implement municipal reform.

As Ron Aiken puts it, “there’s a lot of stuff that has to be worked out.”

This is the first in a three-part series on the prospects for municipal reform in New Brunswick.

Posted in New Brunswick government, Town of Sackville | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

More questions than answers after public hearing on proposed Sackville slaughterhouse

Planner Lori Bickford

Monday’s public hearing on the proposal to open a slaughterhouse in the Sackville Industrial Park yielded no information on the cost and financing of the project, the numbers of animals that would be killed there or the volume of truck traffic that would be required to transport animals to the site and to haul away their waste products.

Chris Pierce, the local farmer who wants to open the slaughterhouse at 72 Crescent Street, did not appear during the online public hearing.

Instead town council heard a presentation from Lori Bickford, planning manager/planner with the Southeast Regional Service Commission.

“They are proposing to process cattle, sheep and swine at the property, approximately 15 head of cattle a week to give a general idea of size,” Bickford said. However, she did not provide numbers on the slaughter of sheep and pigs.

“As well, wastes such as hides and bones would be removed daily to an approved location or a licensed composting or disposal site,” she added, “and any of the blood from the kill area would be going into an underground holding tank on site which would be transferred off at a later date.”

However, Bickford did not say whether the proponent has found an approved location or licensed composting or disposal site for these animal wastes.

She told council that the slaughterhouse would need licenses from the provincial departments of agriculture and health which regulate issues such as smell, waste disposal and food safety.

Bickford added that federal regulations governing the transfer of waste products from the site would also apply.

Bickford told council the nearest house is just over 100 metres (328 feet) from the proposed abattoir while other houses are more than 190 metres (623 feet) away.

She said the Southeast Planning Review and Adjustment Committee is recommending that Sackville change its municipal plan and zoning bylaw to permit abattoirs in special intensive use zones within industrial areas.

Council heard only two objections to the proposed slaughterhouse, although Deputy Mayor Ron Aiken said he had received two e-mails opposing it that he would circulate to his colleagues.

Les and Faye Hicks wrote to express strong opposition based on “the poor working conditions and long term psychological damage to slaughterhouse workers that have been documented, as well as the potential health and environmental concerns related to the slaughterhouse industry”.

Jean-Pascal Lavoie expressed concerns about the municipality’s ability to enforce sanitary regulations.

“The proximity to residential areas remains within too close of a margin to reassure us,” he added.

Deputy Mayor Aiken said other members of the public who wish to comment on the proposal should get in touch with him, CAO Jamie Burke or Town Clerk Donna Beal.

For previous coverage that questions the economic viability of the project, click here.

Posted in Town of Sackville | Tagged | 4 Comments

Sackville councillor raises questions about RCMP quarterly reports and opinion surveys

Councillor Shawn Mesheau says he’d like to see the RCMP appearing before council again to explain its quarterly reports on policing in Sackville.

“I think it would be really important if the RCMP was actually presenting this report to help break down the information they’re providing and also to be able to answer any questions of the public or council,” Mesheau said during Monday’s monthly council meeting.

The RCMP stopped appearing before council after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March when council meetings moved online.

Mesheau also called attention to RCMP opinion surveys in the last year showing that the force needs to do a better job providing information and service to its contract partners which include the town of Sackville.

“I just found some of the results quite interesting because 22% of the respondents thought that the value of money spent on the policing services was good,” Mesheau said. “That’s not a really high mark,” he added.

He also pointed out that only 41% felt that the RCMP was providing useful information about its work.

The RCMP surveyed 52 contract partners in New Brunswick during 2019-20 including mayors, Indigenous leaders, as well as local and provincial representatives responsible for RCMP policing contracts within their jurisdictions.

Overall summary

The numbers below show the percentage of respondents who agree or strongly agree:

When Mesheau asked about Sackville’s participation in the survey, Treasurer Michael Beal said that he, then-CAO Phil Handrahan and public safety liaison councillors Allison Butcher and Joyce O’Neil filled it out together online.

Beal explained that the town does not have a copy of its responses because survey pages disappeared from the screen as soon as they were submitted.

More specific results

The RCMP surveys of its contract partners produced mixed results (click to enlarge)

The RCMP also surveyed 162 New Brunswick residents and 24 policing partners including other police services, government agencies and departments the RCMP works with, as well as non-governmental organizations such as civil liberties associations and legal organizations.

It says that while overall results show a general level of satisfaction with RCMP services in New Brunswick, they also point to areas for improvement such as the need for “increasing transparency, increasing involvement or visibility within the community and sharing information with our partners.”

To view all of the survey results, click here.

The latest RCMP report for the town of Sackville covers the first two quarters of the force’s 2021 reporting year which began on April 1, 2020. To read it, click here.

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