News from Saint Andrews town council

lian goodall/Courier Town hall, Saint Andrews.

SAINT ANDREWS – Town council briefs from the Monday, Dec. 6 meeting.

Tourism levy board update

Neil Shorthouse, chair of the volunteer Tourism Accommodation Levy Board (TALB), gave an informative PowerPoint presentation. Shorthouse indicated spending in 2021 was at $169,272 of which, three per cent was for Chamber administrative support, eight per cent for contingency and community recognition consisting of the Anchors program, 20 per cent went to local festivals and events, and 70 per cent for “Destination Marketing/Management initiatives.” His presentation listed some of the objectives achieved in events, advertising campaigns, tourist engagement initiatives and activating a new Welcome Centre.

Shorthouse’s presentation mentioned the organization’s challenges of capacity, the pandemic affecting consumers and labour shortage. Moving into 2022, he indicated budget priorities in the areas of marketing initiatives and developing the community profile, ongoing support of local events and the welcome centre, helping operators navigate business limitations, as well as recognizing outstanding frontline service. Discussion was generated about the ongoing labour shortage during which Mayor Brad Henderson proffered “we are going to fix this ourselves”, calling upon the people in the community “to come together and devise a strategy”. Shorthouse echoed the sentiment of “co-ordinating among stakeholders”. Mayor Brad Henderson asked about social media resources and congratulated Shorthouse for doing a good job of getting the organization off the ground. Henderson also spoke about TALB as possibly being part of a future regional tourism strategy.

Eastern Charlotte Waterways presentation

Saint Andrews town council then heard a presentation from Aldea Poirier, climate change manager for Eastern Charlotte Waterways Incorporated (ECW). According to the PowerPoint presentation the topics were the inventory being created for the town of corporate greenhouse gas emissions and forecasting, creation of an emissions and energy reductions strategy, and development of a local action plan. Chiefly, the organization determined “the greenhouse gas emissions for municipally owned assets” such as vehicles, buildings, lights, water and wastewater systems for the standardized year of 2020.

Buildings and facilities, such as the W.C. O’Neill Arena Complex, library and town hall had 40 per cent of the corporate green house emissions, the vehicle fleet was 10 per cent, and 30 per cent came from streetlights. Poirier compared 2008 building data with that of 2020 to discover a 20 per cent reduction. Poirier said this “was very promising” and would help with the next steps. The next steps she identified where to set targets, which ECW recommend be a 30 per cent reduction by 2030, and develop a local action plan. Councillor Marc Blanchard said seeing figures would help the town justify certain investments when planning for the future. Henderson called the reported reduction “positive news.” With its seaside location, Henderson stressed the importance of Saint Andrews being a “leader in reduction” and concluded council was “blessed to have Eastern Charlotte Waterways in our region”. He noted that ECW is “making an impact” and providing the town “with better resources to make better decisions”.

CAO report

Before he began his report, Chief Administrative Officer Chris Spear, acknowledged the presence on the Zoom call screens of an “elf on the shelf.” Elfie was the Explore Saint Andrews and Drive to Saint Andrews campaigns’ mascot, and present at the meeting as the Chamber of Commerce had requested a photograph of Elfie with council. Spear spoke about the third reading of the business improvement levy by-law of 20 cents per $100 of assessment on downtown business.

“While routine”, Spear explained this levy is used to provide funding for the Business Improvement Association’s (BIA) initiatives along Water Street. For the food bank [St. Andrews and Area Open Door Program] deer hunt, Spear noted the event met with some challenges in part because the end-consumers were not the hunters, which raised official questions of food safety. Spear next mentioned highlights of the year, some of them being: three returning members of council and four new members, updated zoning by-laws that will be used to govern development for the next decade, a planning advisory committee was re-established locally, but is still under the direction of the regional service commission, funding opportunities one of $5 million to refurbish Market Square and Market Wharf and the other $1.5 million for trail expansion upgrades, formalized personnel and pay scales were established, and the mill-rate was dropped.

Spear felt the new housing developments pointed towards making the process more efficient for future would-be investors. Staff, he reported, were turning to National Heritage Trust for guidance with a “visioning exercise to help determine the best use of some of our assets”. Spear touched on the recent White Paper on Local Governance Reform, specifically in the area of transportation. The fact that the Department of Transportation retains ownership and operation of roads alleviated for Spear, “a major concern about transition… ”.

Emily Noddin, former assistant treasurer, accepted another position and Spear gave her warm wishes. Among the services portion of the report were the Sparkle by the Sea, Lobster Trap Christmas Tree, and Skate with Santa programs. Additionally, Spear encouraged everyone to shop locally. Leaf and branch collection had finished for the season. A reminder was issued for parking bans on municipal roads and parking lots. The Youth Centre partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters for programs that teach youth life skills such as banking and more. The town’s operation manager worked with others to drain and clean the steel reservoir. A report from consultants is expected about the current condition and life expectancy of the reservoir. The Ross Memorial Library offered a “grab and go” seasonal bag for patrons to make at home. Spear concluded with seasonal wishes and hopes for working together to meet challenges in 2022. It was moved to accept the staff and financial reports as presented.

Movement of funds

Council moved that the acting clerk or accounting clerk be given cheque signing authority. Deputy mayor Kate Akagi read an application to the Municipal Capital Borrowing Board for $2,124,000 for capital expenses. This was to cover expenses such as a ladder fire truck, water and sewer mains. This motion was moved for amounts previously debated during budget discussions. Year end reserve transfers were made as per regulation of the Local Governance Act. Authorizations were moved for: $250,000 from the General Capital Reserve Fund and the General Capital Fund for 2021 capital projects, $900,000 from the General Operating Fund and the General Capital Reserve Fund for future capital projects, $50,000 from the General Operating Fund and the General Operating Reserve Fund to offset future shortfalls, and $85,000 from the Utility Operating Fund and the Utility Capital Fund for future capital projects.

Wastewater rate adjustment

For Public Works Chair, Councillor Marc Blanchard’s motion regarding Amendment A-4 to by-law 19-07 related to water systems water rates, as well as wastewater systems and wastewater rates was passed. A previously passed change in residential and commercial rates meant that an adjustment had to be made to the by-law.

Housing developments discussed

Councillor Lee Heenan spoke to planning and economic development for upcoming rezoning amendments by-laws being considered for both Limited Van Horne Garden Homes and Belmax Inc. (see The Saint Croix Courier, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021 edition) projects. Hirtle expressed the opinion the Belmax development was “the wrong fit for this particular location,” while Gumushel pointed out those with objections could bring them to the first reading. Electronic public hearings were scheduled for both developments for Monday, Jan. 10.

RCMP retroactive pay query

Councillor Steve Neil brought forth that the Federation of Canadian Municipalities was looking for support for a resolution to the federal government regarding municipal costs of the new Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Collective Agreement. Although they were not consulted in the process, the municipalities are responsible for the significant pay increase and retroactive pay to 2017 for their local RCMP contract policing. The costs are estimated to be as high as $95,000 for Saint Andrews. The motion was to call upon the federal government to help absorb the costs associated with “the implementation of the new labour relations regime”. The Canadian Municipalities resolution also asked that municipalities be consulted on matters that might impact them financially. The motion was passed to support the resolution.

Radios for fire department

Although it had not been previously budgeted, council voted $12,000 for portable radios for the Saint Andrews Fire Department as part of the new trunk mobile radio system. Neil pointed out that this would bring the department’s radios to eight, two units shy of their goal of a radio per officer and per truck.

Garbage collection extension

Councillor Jamie Hirtle spoke to the 36-unit seniors Anchors Landing request for an extension agreement of five years for residential garbage collection. A discussion ensued about possibly setting precedent for other developments and the future need for policy in this area with points from councillors Heenan, Blanchard, Hirtle and Henderson. An amendment was passed for a two-year extension.

Recreation director position

Councillor Kurt Gumushel brought forth a job description for the permanent position of recreation director with the Town of Saint Andrews, which was passed. The Council approved the Southwest New Brunswick Regional Cooperative Recreation Cost-Sharing Agreement between the town and the Southwest New Brunswick Service Commission.

New business

New business arising included Charlotte County Dial-a-Ride van receiving a parking space and winter- vehicle-parking-ban exemption at the W.C. O’Neill Arena Complex. With a mayoral proclamation, the town supported 2022 as the Year of the Garden through the Communities in Bloom and Canadian Garden Council, with June 18 to be recognized in the town as Garden Day.

Blanchard was supported in gathering more information about Earth Day Canada’s programs that might interest the community, such as their funded tree-planting. Deputy Mayor Akagi offered thanks and seasonal wishes, which were echoed by all. Mayor Henderson acknowledged the long service given by fire department members Robin Craig (40 years), Jeff Cross (35 years), JoAnne Haughn (15 years), Chief Kevin Theriault (30 years), Captain and Councillor Neil (15 years). Henderson commended the firefighters and noted that the department was always looking for new volunteers. The mayor closed the public portion of the meeting.