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Police asking motorists to stop parking on streets

New Glasgow Regional Police officers out on the road today (Tuesday) have noted that some people are parking on streets in such a way that they may be restricting access for snow removal, which is particularly concerning for Public Works in order to clear roadways.
They are asking motorists to not park on streets until snow clearing is completed. This will allow snow removal operators to clear snow safely. As per section 148(1) of the Motor Vehicle Act (MVA), citizens are reminded to ensure they are not stopping or parking in a business or residential area when less than three metres width of roadway remains for traffic; three metres or more width of roadway will allow for emergency vehicles to pass and respond to emergencies in the community.
Snow clearing is also continuing. Vehicles interfering with snow removal or winter maintenance can be ticketed and/or towed as per section 139(1) of the MVA even when the winter ban is not in effect.

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Northern Pulp withdraws Supreme Court appeal

ABERCROMBIE POINT – Northern Pulp Nova Scotia Corporation has notified the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia of its withdrawal of the appeal of its Industrial Approval (IA). This withdrawal is the result of Nova Scotia Minister of Environment’s decision on outstanding items within Northern Pulp’s IA for the operation of the Pictou County pulp mill.
“There is no benefit to being involved in a lengthy court process. Working together to ensure the best environmental protection possible, while maintaining the long term stability and profitability of the mill, is the best scenario for Northern Pulp, our suppliers and our employees and their families,” Bruce Chapman, Northern Pulp general manager explains.
“With this industrial approval now in place, we can turn our focus to the important issue of a new effluent treatment facility and the closure of Boat Harbour,” Dave Kerr, VP of Operations with Paper Excellence Canada states.
“We look forward to working with Nova Scotia Transportation & Infrastructure Renewal, Nova Scotia Natural Resources, other federal and provincial agencies and Pictou Landing First Nation to ensure that the remediation of Boat Harbour starts as soon as possible.”
Northern Pulp manufactures Northern Bleached Softwood Kraft (NBSK) pulp, primarily for export, employing over 330 direct employees in addition to creating upwards of 1,700 indirect positions. The mill is supported by 1,300 companies with a total output value of over $485 million per year.

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Helping Hands Concert in support of Syrian refugee families postponed to Feb. 10

STELLARTON – Singer-songwriter Dave Gunning is using his talents to support the Pictou County Safe Harbour project to bring Syrian refugee families to Pictou County.
A concert named Helping Hands will feature the award winning Gunning along with school bands from North Nova Education Centre, New Glasgow Academy, A.G. Baillie, Frank H MacDonald School, Trenton Elementary and more, performing Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Nova Scotia Community College, Pictou Campus in Stellarton. Admission is by good will donation towards Safe Harbour. The evening will also feature a raffle on a canvas reprint of a lighthouse painting by Pictou County artist Luke Naylor and also there will be a few surprises.
The title Helping Hands was selected because it is symbolic of Pictou County’s willingness and reputation as a community that repeatedly helps those in need and less fortunate.
Leisa MacIntosh, vice-chair, Pictou County Safe Harbour, says, “We are thrilled to have Dave lend his talents and leadership to our project for what promises to be a great event. He is known for being supportive of his home community and also of up and coming young talent.
“This is a perfect combination that will raise funds to help us welcome and support Syrian families and also prove a wonderful opportunity for this generation of musical talents from Pictou County. It is also a chance for our youth to engage in a project such as Safe Harbour which is supporting refugees striving to find a safe haven and make a life and home for their families.”
“There are a lot of dedicated volunteers who are throwing their hearts into helping these Syrian families and I wanted to offer some help as well,” says Gunning. “I am excited about the involvement of so many talented musicians from the school bands and choirs and looking forward to this chance to play with them.”
Dave Freckelton, principal of the local Nova Scotia Community College says, “NSCC Pictou Campus is honoured to support our community¹s efforts to welcome Syrian refugee families to our area. Our campus, like our municipalities, represent a caring community that celebrates diversity. We look forward to continuing to do what we can to make our new neighbours feel at home.”
Eleven year old Hannah Byrant, a Grade 6 student at A..G Baillie who will be performing and singing a small solo part with her school in the mass choir and with Gunning, is looking forward to helping.
“It’s nice to know that while we are performing, we are also helping a new family come to New Glasgow. It makes me feel good inside to know that we are helping,” she says. “I hope they will have a nice time staying here. I think everyone should be allowed to live in safety. It’s going to be a fun experience to perform with Dave Gunning because he is a well-known artist, has written some really cool songs and we will get to sing one of his songs with him.”

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Skull not connected to missing persons case

UPDATE: New Glasgow Regional Police determine that human remains investigation is not of any missing persons in the immediate area,New Glasgow, N.S.
2016/02/05 10:30am
NEW GLASGOW – The skull found in Temperance Street School
New Glasgow Regional Police Major Crimes Unit (MCU) have determined that the human remains found at the former Temperance Street School are not of any missing persons cases within the area and police continue to examine any other missing persons cases outside of the region across Canada.
On 2015/07/30 New Glasgow Regional Police Major Crimes Unit (MCU) and New Glasgow Regional Police Forensic Unit and the Nova Scotia Medical Examiners Service investigated human remains found at the former Temperance Street School on Temperance Street, New Glasgow, Nova Scotia.

At approximately 4:50p.m. on 2015/07/30, construction workers working in demolition at the former Temperance Street School at 334 Temperance Street New Glasgow came upon possible human remains inside the school and immediately called police.
Preliminary investigation had revealed that New Glasgow Regional Police and the Nova Scotia Medical Examiners Service confirmed that the human remains have been described as that of a human skull.
The New Glasgow Regional Police Major Crimes Unit continue to investigate in conjunction with the Nova Scotia Medical Examiners Service Office.

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Signed, sealed…

The Province of Nova Scotia will provide $27 million to the local municipal units agreeing to enter into an amalgamation.
Minister of Municipal Affairs Zach Churchill made the announcement Friday morning at the Municipal Office in Pictou that the province would be supporting the Municipality of the County of Pictou and the towns of New Glasgow, Stellarton and Pictou with the funding over five years.
“If they choose to amalgamate, this transition funding will help establish the new governance structure and address some key infrastructure needs in the area,” said Churchill.
With amalgamation set to take place officially on November 1 of this year, the amalgamated municipalities will receive $15.2 million to support infrastructure, operating as well as capital investments for roads and transitional costs associated with amalgamation. Frozen equalization funding for the new municipality will continue for five years at the rate that each of the four municipalities are currently receiving; this totals $11.9 million.
A joint letter of intent was filed Friday as evidence with the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board as well as financial reports.
“These municipalities recognize the benefits of joining forces to provide efficient, sustainable local government for their citizens,” said Churchill.
For more information and comments about this announcement, pick up a copy of next week’s Advocate.

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Pictou County District RCMP arrest male for impaired driving

PLEASANT VALLEY – Pictou County District RCMP arrested a 41-year-old New Germany man for impaired operation of a motor vehicle Wednesday night.
At approximately 9 p.m. Wednesday, Pictou County District RCMP received a report of an erratic driver on Highway 104, near Alma. Police also received a report that the same vehicle was travelling in the wrong direction on Highway 104 and had crashed in the median near Exit 20 in Pleasant Valley. When police arrived on scene, the driver of the vehicle fled on foot but was arrested a short time later.
The accused is scheduled to appear in Pictou Provincial Court on March 21.
The investigation is continuing.

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Accused murderer make court appearance

A man accused of murder made a court appearance today (February 4).
Since his last appearance, Robert Jason MacKenzie, 36, is now facing two new charges from a unrelated incident.
A count of theft of prescription drugs with a weapon and possession of a weapon with the intent to commit a crime, both indictable, stem from a November 30 to December 17 incident in New Glasgow.
The court room was packed for MacKenzie’s appearance with every seat filled. Before the proceedings took place, Judge Del Atwood addressed the audience by noting that he understands that it is an emotional event for the community and he would appreciate order be maintained.
MacKenzie will return to court February 17 to continue the proceedings. He was initially charged with one count of second degree murder in relation to Nicole Campbell’s death. The incident is thought to have occurred December 30 at a Temperance Street apartment in New Glasgow where police were directed after a 9-1-1 call.

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Warm welcome

A group of volunteers with Pictou County Safe Harbour met Wednesday at the Museum of Industry in Stellarton to make posters to welcome the county’s newest residents who are coming from Syria. Group members wanted to provide a warm and kind welcome for when the newcomers arrive.
(Photo by Museum of Industry staff)

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Male driver hits parked car, rolls vehicle

At approximately 5:45 p.m. Wednesday, New Glasgow Regional Police, New Glasgow Fire Department, and Emergency Health Services responded to a two motor vehicle collision on Mountain Road, New Glasgow.
The male driver of a Honda CRV from Pictou County was travelling westbound on Mountain Road when he collided with a Hyundai Santa Fe, which was parked on the shoulder of Mountain Road in the westbound Lane.
The 70-year-old lone male driver collided with the parked vehicle causing his Honda CRV to flip on its roof causing extensive damage to both vehicles.
The driver was taken to Aberdeen Hospital and treated with non-life threatening injuries.
The parked Hyundai Santa Fe was unoccupied.
New Glasgow Regional Police continue to investigate.

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Madison Holmes eyes Youth World Cup

WESTVILLE ROAD – Madison Holmes’ love of horses and horseback riding is about to take her to a new place.
Holmes is among five Canadians who have qualified for the American Quarter Horse World Youth Cup – an event that provides competition, as well as education and leadership opportunities. It’s based in Texas and takes place every four years in Texas and every four years elsewhere in other countries – all in even years. This year it is scheduled from June 23 to July 3 in Tamworth, Australia.
Gold medals are awarded in disciplines that include cutting, reining, horsemanship, western pleasure, trail, western riding, hunt seat equitation, hunter under saddle and showmanship.
All the five horses Holmes rides beside stables off Westville Road and shows in competitions are quarter horses: Roxy, Shorti, Harley, Cowboy and Ed. She rides in both English and western events and does some jumping.
Holmes says she can’t remember a time when she wasn’t riding, although she was actually four years old when she started.
The weekend snowstorm and lost power in some parts of Pictou County could not prevent Holmes and her parents from heading to the barn to feed the horses, let some out in the paddock for an enjoyable roll in the snow and clean the stalls.
“I like the work and having a bond with a horse,” she said.
Holmes is with a Canadian contingent that also includes two leadership members and two alternate riders in case one of the starters needs to be replaced.
As for horses, the competitors will ride mounts supplied at the event.
“None of us will have even seen our horses before, so it’s who can adapt to their horse the best that counts,” she said.
Each country is required to pay for their portions of the competition through installment, with the last one March 1.
Holmes and her family are trying to raise funds for her flight to Australia.

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Little Rocks test stones, pebbles

NEW GLASGOW – Little Rocks is becoming a fixture at the Bluenose Curling Club.
Nearly 40 young curlers as young as five years of age and as old as 11 take part every Friday for an hour starting at 6 p.m. as they learn more about curling from instructors in a program led by Susan Muirhead.
“We have 37 Little Rocks curlers this season- we’re up 30 per cent from last season,” Muirhead said. “They have more energy than I even thought of.”
Instruction includes ice orientation and equipment; the delivery, timing, release and sweeping of stones; team positions and rules of the game, strategy and sportsmanship.
Emphasis is on participation and enjoyment but Muirhead said the curlers are starting to get a competitive streak, now that they are becoming more used to the nuances of curling.
“You can see them progressing,” she said. “They get more involved in what is there to learn and they’ve become more competitive since we started in October. Now they want to scrimmage.”
Little Rocks is also part of the Curl for Cancer campaign in Pictou County.
Justin Baird began organizing the annual event in 2010. The curlers’ parents get pledge sheets that are filled out, with proceeds turned in after a special Little Rocks Curl for Cancer event that this year is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Feb. 26.
All money raised at the event will be donated to the Canadian Cancer Society.

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Nighthawks set for 2016 volleyball games, Desmond event

STELLARTON – The Pictou County Nighthawks are preparing for a season of volleyball that they hope will include a 2016 tournament in honour of Voila Desmond.
Nighthawks head coach Keith Melanson said the under-15 girls’ tournament is scheduled for March 25 and 26 at New Glasgow Academy.
“Eight teams have entered, including our team, and I’d like as many as 10,” Melanson said. “There’s a team from New Brunswick and some of the top U-15 teams in the province, but our team will be competitive.”
Severe weather cancelled last year’s inaugural tournament that was meant to coincide with Viola Desmond Day in February. It was the first observance of Nova Scotia Heritage Day.
Desmond was an African Nova Scotian business woman from Halifax who challenged racial segregation at a film theatre in New Glasgow in 1946.
Melanson has also sought to further underline the importance of the event by inviting Henderson Paris to be the tournament’s honorary chairman for his activism that included the Marathon of Hope he led for 20 years until it was succeeded by the MORE run.
The Nighthawks have been practising off and on since early December, but they are cranking up the work now in anticipation of several crucial tournaments. The first installment of what is called a Super Series is Saturday at Cape Breton University featuring five U-16 teams and the Nighthawks and one other U-15 teams.
Super Series tournaments are being scheduled for the first weekend of each month through May.
“We’re a little rusty – we need some serious practice time,” Melanson said. “We’ve been very successful, but our competition is getting better.”
The Nighthawks are also organizing a trip to a tournament in Waterloo, Ont. from May 12 to 15.

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Scotians face hockey playoff preview

TRENTON – The Pictou County Scotians are facing a countdown to their regular season and a certain playoff date with the Strait Pirates.
The teams have had two playoff previews in Trenton, including their match last Sunday when the Scotians got three goals from Adam Downey in a 5-2 victory.
The Scotians have three straight road games, including one on Monday in Springhill against the Cumberland County Blues before visiting the Glace Bay Miners on Saturday and the Pirates on Feb. 12.
The Miners will visit the Scotians on Feb. 14 in the final scheduled regular-season game for both teams.
The Scotians do not have a home game scheduled for next Sunday to avoid conflict with the Super Bowl broadcast.
Sunday’s home game with the Pirates was the third of the week for the Scotians, who outscored the Blues 8-5 on Jan. 25 in Trenton and downed the host Antigonish Bulldogs 4-1 on Jan. 26.
Chris Brooker and Blair Dewtie also scored for the Scotians, while James Murphy had three assists and Bradley MacEachern added two.
The Pirates took 17 of 29 penalties.
Affiliate player Caelan Blaikie and regulars Liam Murphy and Josh Cunningham each scored twice to lead the Scotians past the Blues on Jan. 25.
The Scotians scored four power-play goals, including singles by Josh Hartley and Ryan Dunfield. They utilized five affiliate players to furnish a full lineup, while the Blues had just 10 skaters.
The teams traded goals in the first period, while the Scotians scored three straight goals in the second period but the Blues got two of them back before the period ended.
The Blues blanked the Scotians 5-0 in Monday’s game.
In Antigonish, the Scotians entered the third period trailing 1-0 before answering with goals from Brad MacEachen, Jordan Yochoff, James Murphy and Liam Murphy – the latter into an empty net.
Scotians goalie Joel MacLean stopped all but one of the 26 shots that he faced from the Bulldogs after picking up the win against the Blues.
Before Sunday’s game, Ryan MacDonald of the Scotians was presented with the Scott Forbes Memorial award that is presented to the most dedicated Pictou County raised player on the team.

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We can’t let our newspapers die

Newspapers have been a huge part of my life since early childhood.
I was just five years old, still not in school, when my grandfather on my mother’s side – a retired railroad conductor – used to take me down to the CNR station in New Glasgow to watch the train come in from Halifax.
Standing there on the platform with him, my attention was drawn to the bundles of newspapers being thrown from the freight car.
It was wartime and the up-to-date news from overseas was coming to Pictou County in two papers – the Halifax Herald and the Halifax Chronicle. We always got the Herald at our house.
Soon after that, I got in the habit of reading the comics each day.
There was something else that got me interested in the paper long before my young friends paid much attention.
A cousin, also on my mother’s side, used to come to visit. He was a sports writer with the Herald and, boy oh boy, did I ever love siding up to him to talk sports and his job.
Little did I know then that, 15 years down the road, I’d be working alongside that cousin, Larry McDorman.
I’ve often said my own newspaper career began when I was 12, when I started a family paper on my own typewriter. But maybe my dream of a media career originated when Grampa McDorman and Larry were around.
In 1949, the two rival Halifax papers that I used to see arriving in New Glasgow merged to become The Chronicle Herald. A decade later, I was hired by the Halifax daily.
Why am I discussing these matters now? Because of the labour disruptions at the Herald involving management and the union representing reporters, editors, columnists and photographers, a bitter impasse that saw newsroom employees put down their computers and tape recorders and head for the picket line.
What a sad state for Atlantic Canada’s biggest newspaper. What a sad situation for the newspaper business in general. The industry is being hit from all sides. Papers are struggling, trying desperately to retain the status quo. It leaves us to wonder where the profession is headed.
The Toronto Star laid off almost 300 employees. A 140-year-old daily paper in British Columbia ceased publication. The Postmedia chain merged its papers in four major cities, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.
The Montreal La Presse now publishes once a week instead of daily. Some weeklies in Nova Scotia have merged. A paper in Guelph no longer has a print edition. Rogers Media cut 200 jobs.
It’s happening everywhere.
So what’s it got to do with sports? A lot. I’ve been a sports junkie forever and I can’t imagine getting my sports news without newspapers. Sure, I’ve got a couple dozen sports channels like many others. I’ve got the Internet. I listen to CBC every morning. But I can’t imagine being without the sports section.
My final sports column in The Chronicle Herald was in 2007. Despite being gone for nine years, I can’t help but sympathize with my old colleagues, my old friends, who face changes that seem inevitable.
I think of my 48 years at the Herald, 48 years in which I was treated very, very well. Publisher Graham Dennis was so supportive, so considerate, through the years that he was like a second father to me. He treated me with respect, kindness and generosity. The day he died I lost a dear friend.
Conditions at the paper, I’m told by newsroom staff, changed dramatically since I retired. It makes me feel fortunate I was gone before the current atmosphere began to exist. But it saddens me greatly to see what the staff – great journalists – are battling.
I was fortunate my writing didn’t end the day I left the Herald. Though retired, I’ve enjoyed doing this weekly column in The Advocate since 2004. It’s been a pleasure to work with the editorial folks in Pictou.
There have been good people in the editor’s pew.
Six decades ago, I entered a profession I thought would last forever. Now I have no idea where daily newspapers are headed. So many are fighting just to survive. One thing is obvious: the social media world in which we find ourselves is a very different place than the journalism world I entered with the New Glasgow Evening News in 1954.
Since the arrival of the Internet, Twitter, Facebook and other forms of online life, old habits have been disappearing. We may adapt, but it’s sad nonetheless.
I still believe the best way to keep up to date is the printed word, reading people from Toronto columnists like Damien Cox and Stephen Brunt, to The Advocate’s Steve Goodwin, to The Chronicle Herald’s Chris Cochrane, to the reporters who work alongside them. I want to read sports news in the sports section.
There have been reports – rumours, really – that The Chronicle Herald may not survive if the current problems aren’t solved.
If that happened, it would be more than just employees affected. All Nova Scotians would be losers if there was no provincial daily.
I enjoy the product that’s published weekly in Pictou. It’s so much better, so much more informative, than the Advocate I knew in my Pictou County years. It’s enjoyed by Pictonians at home and far away. I discovered that personally because I’ve received emails from all parts of North America since starting this column.
The Advocate has a vital role to play in the community, just as a paper like The Chronicle Herald has in a bigger region.
The technology and economic factors that are forcing major changes in the media world, affecting not only newspapers but radio and television conglomerates as well, cannot be ignored.
We must all do what we can to ensure that such an important part of our democratic society is not lost.
No matter what, we can’t let our newspapers die.

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JP Cormier humbled by Juno nomination

Pictou County’s favourite adoptive son and multi-instrumentalist J.P. Cormier may have a reason to celebrate come April 3rd as the singer-songwriter’s latest album ‘The Chance’ has just been announced as one of the five contenders for the 2016 Juno Award for Traditional Roots Album of the Year.
Cormier was surprisingly thrilled to find himself shortlisted for the award.
“I imagine there’s hundreds of submissions for Junos,” Cormier said. “God knows how many people are legible to go in and put their records in, it’s hard to say. There’s more and more records made in this country all the time. The technology is so cheap and the younger kids are getting more and more talented quicker. It’s fairly rattling to be recognized among a crop of musicians like that.”
Cormier said that due to the unique way he writes, records, collects and stores songs the writing process for ‘The Chance’ clocks in at more than four years with the recording process taking two to three years to complete.
“I have so many projects on the go at once it’s hard to concentrate on one thing until I’m ready to let other people hear it,” Cormier said. “I don’t mean the audience either, I mean people like Dave Gunning, Thom Swift who is instrumental in this record because they came and we listened to the album as pre-pro and decided together what should be on it and how it should be treated.”
Cormier’s respect and friendship with Gunning led to some of his songs being re-recorded at Gunning’s Wee House of Music.
“The big hit off the album,’Hometown Battlefield’ “was actually produced by Dave Gunning at his studio the week that I wrote it. I have a very odd recording technique/schedule. A lot of guys will sit and work for months at a time on one record until it’s done but I have always tended to record things as well as I possibly can when I write them and then I put them away, until there’s a common thread among the material – then it becomes a record.”
Cormier credited Gunning, recording artist Thom Swift and his manager Sean Russell as being instrumental in helping to shape and create ‘The Chance’. Cormier said he put his trust in those peers to let him know when the album was “done”, something he said would not have been the case five years ago and something he feels leads to better records.
“It’s an interesting process all the way around,” Cormier said.
The 2016 JUNO Awards will be awarded April 3rd in Calgary.

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Financial statement for town from mayor failed to mention additional information

To the Editor:
I am writing in response to recent remarks made in The Advocate by Mr. Barrie MacMillan, mayor of New Glasgow. I thank the mayor for his remarks; however, things might not be quite as rosy as the mayor implied.
First, the mayor did not mention that the Town of New Glasgow’s net financial liabilities are over $10 million as of its latest audited financial statements dated 31 March 2015. This means that the town’s financial liabilities exceed its financial assets by more than $10 million. (In layman’s terms, that is over $10 million in the hole).
Second, the mayor did not mention that the Town has a contingent write-down pertaining to the demolition of the Maritime Building. This contingency is stated in note 17 to the audited financial statements. The town is carrying on its books the vacant lot, on which the Maritime Building sat, at a value of over $1 million. The note says that an appraisal of the property should be done in order to determine the amount of the write-down. My estimate is the amount of the write-down will be about $1 million.
Third, the mayor did not mention the significant contingent financial liability of over $3 million that the Town incurred when it took on loan guarantees for the New Scotland Business Development Incorporation.
I praise Mayor MacMillan for his dedication to the best interests of the people of New Glasgow.
John Baker
Little Harbour

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Mayor’s personal comments were on the mark

To the Editor:
In response to Mayor Gennoe’s comments in which he voiced his own personal opinion: Well done, Mr. Mayor. It certainly hit a sore spot, judging by comments in the media. There haven’t been enough candid comments from Pictou County councillors; don’t say there are no personal opinions!
The people of Pictou County have long memories of promises made in the bright days of political optimism (read opportunism), only to be disappointed when the fiscal realities came home to roost at the doorstep of the ratepayer. What I read and hear on this issue isn’t making me any less cynical.
Take the state of the ‘Pictou County Wellness Centre’ which is anything but well in the fiscal sense!
This may be the unmentionable ‘Elephant in the Room’ for Pictou County. It certainly appears to have an insatiable appetite for cash. Where do you imagine the future newly empowered ‘Amalgamated Council’ would turn to for funding in the unlikely event of a YES vote on the public plebiscite?
How long before public arena competitors would be squeezed for the benefit of the expensive and distant facilities of the PCWC? Guess who would likely pay big time to play?
I’m just noticing the local news regarding the ‘hockey’ squabble going on in the county. I don’t subscribe to conspiracy theories, but this is carrying a whiff of something, but I’m being cynical, eh.
My tax dollars have enough to do in my rural district #12 before we need to participate in this town-sourced amalgamation MOU. If it’s such a good concept, why haven’t the towns that are ‘for’, first managed to welcome the other two towns that are on the outside, into this union of compromise and cooperation?
Show me what you can do before you spend my money!
Ken Fraser
RR#2 Hopewell
Trafalgar Road

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Town’s independence at risk with amalgamation

To the Editor:
I have been following this process for the amalgamation for the three towns and rural Pictou County. I attended a meeting in late October 2014 at the fire hall in Stellarton. It is now referred to as “the meeting that did not matter.” There were approximately 100-150 people at this meeting.
I was just talking to my mayor about it when I was abruptly pushed aside as this guy took the mayor away to meet someone like I was a nobody. I had the feeling that they did not want the mayor to discuss the meeting which was about to happen. I watched as he shook someone’s hand and the meeting was called to order.
We went there to voice our opinion and thought to our council to maybe convince them this was not a good idea. About 20 to 30 people took to the mic and only one person spoke in support of amalgamation.
By the way, the three councillors sat in the front row with their backs to us, not up on the podium. I guess they could not look us in the eye. They would not answer any of our questions. I was really upset over this. They can come to your door and ask you for your vote to get elected as your councillor but could not defend their actions in this “meeting that did not matter.”
After the meeting was ended, the person chairing it called for a recess of 15 minutes and then the council would vote on this so-called study. Fifteen minutes went by and a vote was to be taken on the future of our town. All three of the councillors pulled out of their binders a pre-written statement saying they were in favour of this process and did not even take in any of the residents’ concerns. Only the mayor voted against it. He said at that time it was in his mind a very bad move for the Town of Stellarton, hence, we have the “meeting that did not matter.”
I have been keeping close eye on this process and in late 2015 a series of meetings were held throughout the county regarding the amalgamation and the process was as follows: They would put on a show and then you could go to the mic and ask questions. For four or five meetings this was followed, but when the meeting finally came to Stellarton the process changed. I went there to ask a question as a tax payer and was told we are going to break up into a pod and you can voice your concerns there. This upset me and I told them you are trying to put a muzzle on anyone that is opposed to this amalgamation idea. I wanted to ask if Stellarton was going to have a separate vote from the other three groups and they did not want to answer. I got it in the newspaper anyway.
And then I talked to a councillor from the town. She just wanted me to fill out papers about my concerns. I asked her a question: If Stellarton votes against this idea, who are you going to support? She said, reluctantly, her constituents.
I then asked her, Why are you in favour of this amalgamation? And she thought and then replied, ‘It might attract business.’
I do not want to risk my town’s independence on a might. I feel that they are trying to railroad this process in as the province will save $2 billion on downloads to the towns in Nova Scotia if they can get us all into regional government throughout the province.
Brian Atkinson
Stellarton

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Military profile errors come from mis-information

To the Editor:
It has been brought to the attention of the Pictou County Military Museum and to the Pictou Advocate that a very few of our “On Guard for Thee” military profiles contain inaccurate facts.
We are very sorry about the fact that these three or four out of more than 2,000 profiles are incorrect.
The museum gets these facts from the relatives or friends of the military person. We do not make up these facts or do them on our own.
It is also very hard to correct this information because we have no way of checking these facts, only the families can. If an error is made entirely by us, we apologize for that error. At no time is The Pictou Advocate responsible for these mistakes.
After you do more than 2,000 profiles, two or three is not bad.
Thank you very much for your understanding and your support for 10 years now; your patronage is greatly appreciated.
Vincent Joyce
Founder/President Pictou County Military Museum

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Pharmacare changes amount to a tax grab

To the Editor:
Many seniors in Nova Scotia are rightfully outraged with the McNeil government’s attempt to sneak through a 19 per cent pharmacare premium hike.
Many of my constituents are seeing a huge increase in their pharmacare premium. Many of them don’t spend the current premium amount of $424 per year on their healthcare. They certainly won’t be getting anything extra for the increase in premiums that they are now expected to pay.
Does the pharmacare program need to change? Yes. All programs should be routinely re-evaluated for sustainability and efficiency. The former pharmacare structure had a 75:25 payment ratio between government and seniors. Under the new structure, seniors will contribute 37 per cent. This is nothing more than a $10 million cash grab for the government in the year heading into a provincial election. The McNeil government cannot expect to attempt to balance the books on the backs of our seniors.
The PC party is calling on the Liberal government to immediately stop the proposed changes and go back to the drawing board in an effort to find efficiencies within the pharmacare program.
To sign the petition, please see http://pcparty.ns.ca/stand-up-for-seniors/
To see what your new pharmacare premium will be, please see https://novascotia.ca/dhw/pharmacare/seniors-pharmacare.asp
Karla MacFarlane
MLA Pictou West

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Pharmacare changes may be harmful to seniors

To the Editor:
The Liberals recently announced changes to the Pharmacare program that will impact every single Nova Scotian in some way. Your family, your friends and, ultimately yourself (it not yet, eventually).
There are reasons to be concerned about the changes and the way they have been sprung upon us.
Why did they try to do this under cover of darkness?
Consider this: Not only do the proposed changes have the potential to immediately, negatively impact many seniors, the changes could actually jeopardize the entire system (if too many people are pushed out of the program).
This is serious stuff. And yet, the Liberals can’t/won’t answer basic questions.
On behalf of the people of the Province, the PC Caucus is demanding that the Minister and the Premier immediately put the brakes on their bizarre attempt to ambush the People until they can properly explain and justify this aggressive policy change.
I can’t stress enough the significance of this change and the impact it will have on people. Folks, we the People have the right to answers from the Liberals.
Where are the facts?
Why are they hiding them?
Who did the research?
We must get these answers before this moves any further. We are calling for an immediate halt to the changes. Please join us. Don’t let the Liberals try to pit groups against each other. We are all Nova Scotians and we must unite on this issue.
Any changes must be properly thought-out, analyzed and communicated. Nova Scotians understand and will accept change but they must be respected by the process. Where has that gone?
Please Premier, hit pause and work with and for the people, not against them.
Tim Houston
MLA Pictou East

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Petition to ban dog and cat fur products in Canada

To the Editor:
Attention all animal lovers.
There’s a new online petition out to “ban the importation of any dog and cat pelts or furs, and prohibit the sale of said products in Canada.”
It has over 8,000 signatures in just a few days; it needs 100,000 signs to be introduced into the House of Commons. It’s sponsored by Federal MP Don Davies. It’s one of the first official online petitions to the House.
News article on the petition, Jan. 27, 2016 http://bit.ly/1OSaI4F – How Canada gets dog and cat fur – 2012 investigation by Toronto Star http://on.thestar.com/1G0jf15
Few people realize that when you buy a fur or faux-fur trimmed garment in Canada, that came from elsewhere – like a fur or faux-fur trimmed jacket, mitts or boots – that there’s a good chance it has dog or cat fur on it. It’s not so easy today to tell faux from real fur, and fur from dogs and cats in China can be cheaper to use on garments than faux fur. So, even when labeled faux-fur, it could well be from a dog or cat.
As surprising as it is to learn, there are currently no labeling requirements to tell people from which animal fur sold in Canada came from. In the US, they have animal of origin labeling. Even with this requirement, tests there consistently show that the labels cannot be trusted. A jacket labeled faux, coyote or fox fur, for instance, could well be really from a dog or cat. Commerce is like that, big surprise huh. It’s ‘Buyer Beware’ for sure.
Google ‘China dog or cat fur’, and you’ll quickly learn the cruel reality of what happens to dogs and cats there.
The petition link is : http://bit.ly/23d4qEr or search for ‘e-Petitions House of Commons e-123’ Please sign and share widely!
Ty Savoy
Lake Echo

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Rock carving of Frank Sobey would be tribute to his legacy

To the Editor:
Recently, I gazed to the right while rolling in my wheelchair along the walkway that runs between the Highland Square Mall in New Glasgow and the Walmart store. As I stared at that barren rock face, a vision of Lincoln’s head came to mind as it is carved at the Mount Rushmore Memorial in South Dakota. The Mount Rushmore rock carving likenesses of famous people was conceived by South Dakota historian Doane Robinson as an idea to promote tourism in the region.
It was a great idea! Mount Rushmore has become an iconic symbol and now attracts over two million people annually.
Frank H. Sobey came to mind as I wondered whose face would be an appropriate rock-face art carving work to adorn that barren rock face in New Glasgow. Here is why.
In September 1986, my wife Anne and I were privileged as invited guests to the launching ceremony of Harry Bruce’s book, Frank Sobey the Man and the Empire. This event was held in Abercrombie at Crombie House the former home of Frank H. Sobey.
There, I was introduced to Sobey’s collection of 19th- and 20th-century art by Canadian artists and featuring works of art by Cornelius Kreighoff, the Group of Seven and other Canadian and Nova Scotian artists, with a diversity of style, subject and interpretation. Those present on that day received a free copy of Harry Bruce’s book which now occupies a treasured spot in my library.
Frank Sobey began that wonderful art collection found now at Crombie House. And his family has continued the tradition to become patrons of art through his son, Donald, who setup the Donald R. Sobey Family Foundation and continues today through Rob Sobey.
“Since its inception in 2002, the Sobey Art Foundation has aspired to enhance the role of contemporary art in Canadian culture,” said the chair of the Sobey Art Foundation, Rob Sobey in early December of 2015. “We are tremendously grateful to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia for its efforts in highlighting and celebrating the best of Canadian contemporary art. For over thirteen years, our founding partner helped raise the award’s profile to achieve remarkable success.”
Frank Sobey left a wonderful legacy to his family but as well a legacy without precedent to us all here in Pictou County. I think it would be very appropriate for the Sobey foundations to commission a rock carving of his likeness as a fitting tribute to this great man who stands out in the history of this area.
And yes, it would also be likely to become an attraction that boosts the interest of tourists and others in our area.
Ralph Ferguson
Pictou

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Winter scores another big hit

We like winter when it’s pleasant. Winter like we had last Friday and Saturday, we like a whole lot less.
We’ve had snowstorms that absolutely close down communities for a day or two, like the time some years ago when one January 1 snowstorm was so overwhelming that all of the scheduled New Year’s levees were cancelled.
This time, we got a double whammy – heavy wet snow in combination with widespread power failures.
Those whose power was restored within hours or never lost it may well sympathize with those still without it. They would also be wise to consider the big picture.
It has been said that oil has made life too easy for too long. So has electricity. Our over-reliance on it magnifies our distress when we’re without it. Lack of preparation is also not helpful.
There was a time 60 years ago when a sleet storm knocked out power over parts of Nova Scotia for several weeks. Ample provisions and the more prevalent wood heat in households then allowed people to adapt, endure and overcome the inconvenience.
We can debate the causes endlessly, but that fact is we’re experiencing more extreme weather more often – and last week’s snowstorm was extreme.
It had all the elements to wreak real havoc: wet snow, temperatures hovering around the freezing mark, trees and shrubbery bent and broken to the ground from the weight of the snow and limbs falling seemingly everywhere onto power lines.
No amount of snow removal and power crews can prepare adequately for a storm like this one.
Money is tight for governments and businesses, so tight that it is more challenging to have enough resources at the ready – whether a power utility is publicly or privately owned. If a private utility controls the size of crews to maximize profit, governments do it to save money, our money.
It is admirable how inter-provincial power crews help one another. And in this case, crews from neighbouring New Brunswick came to help out.
Miraculously, there have been no reports of fatalities linked to this weather event – not stranded residents or those entrusted to enforce the law, remove the snow or restore electrical power. Let us be thankful for that.
If we see storms as a personal inconvenience, we’re not seeing much. Seen through a snow plow window or from a bucket on a crane beside a live electrical current, one gets a different and valuable perspective.
Power crews face particular and added danger.
Much discussion through the ages has drawn many of us to conclude that we were put here for a reason, and while we figure that out, the best thing we can do is take care of one another. It is not too late to start.

Steve Goodwin

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Celtic Tenors headlining deCoste Gala

PICTOU – The deCoste Performing Arts Centre is planning its opening Gala Concert with the Celtic Tenors on March 8 and will be partnering with two community organizations to assist in raising funds for Syrian refugees.
CAiRN(Communities Assisting Refugees Now) and Pictou County Safe Harbour have both been matched with a refugee family and they will be part of the Gala evening. The evening will feature a cocktail reception, a unique fundraiser to assist the two groups and a main stage performance by the Celtic Tenors, an internationally known group with numerous awards to their credit.
Northern Pulp will be the presenting sponsor of this event, bringing together these organizations who are committed to creating a safe and welcoming home for Syrian refugees in our community.
Tickets for the season kick off are available at the box office during open hours for February on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

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