In his opening remarks, Mayor Dennis Greene commended the new owners of the old show hall, Claude and Sharon Ingalls, for the great improvements. He also complimented the Christmas decorations that have been brightening up our island. He thanked our long time serving dentist and his wife Donna for their many years of service to our island and wish you both a well-deserved enjoyable retirement. Last but certainly not least he stressed the importance of exercising COVID precautions, especially over the holiday season.
Council received a letter of inquiry from Cooper Bokkers on what became of our skate park equipment and the possibilities of setting it up at the community centre if we still have it. It was verified by the recreation director we still have it and with that I made a motion with a second by Councillor Roger Fitzsimmons to refer this matter to the recreation committee along with the recreation director and to report back to council with a recommendation. Motion was passed unanimously.
Crave Technologies is an island business providing many islanders and now many abroad with improved internet services. They made a request that council provide them a letter of support to receive funding from the Universal Broadband Fund. I made a motion to that effect with a second by Councillor Kirk Cheney. Motion was passed with unanimous support.
Councillor Cheney addressed council on the erosion problems in the Castalia Ballpark and Playground area. He made a motion with a second by Councillor Fitzsimmons for council explore all funding sources to help rectify the problem. Motion was passed with the full support of council.
At the end of the year, more often than not, there are surpluses left over from the annual budget. Traditionally charitable organizations make requests for some of these monies. Two of those requests were Charlotte Dial a Ride who provide medical transportation for those in need by calling 506-466-4444 and the Grand Manan Animal Welfare League. It was moved by Councillor Fitzsimmons and seconded by myself to donate $1500 to Charlotte Dial a Ride and $1000 to the Grand Manan Animal Welfare League. Motion was passed unanimously.
Mayor Greene updated council on the conversations he has been having with the province. Council currently has two major infrastructure requests, Airport repairs and upgrades as well as the Wellness Centre, also known as the pool. Council has been asked to prioritize the two projects. Now it’s important to note we weren’t being asked to say what’s not important, just what must be our number one priority. While we all understand that the wellness centre is more than just recreation but a major draw in professional services recruitment, it’s impossible to ignore that our airport is degrading to the point that medical evacuation by air may become an impossibility.
To say council didn’t take this decision lightly is certainly an understatement. After much discussion it was moved by Councillor Cheney and seconded by Councillor Tammy Worthen to state the airport is our number one priority and the Wellness Centre as our second. Motion was passed with the full support of council.
New residential construction off of Shady Lane and Thoroughfare Rd. necessitated a new street name. I moved with a second by Councillor Fitzsimmons to name the new street name as Philips Point Rd. Motion was passed unanimously.
I addressed council on the fast developing plans for vaccination throughout our nation and provinces selecting who would be doing the planning of the roll out of vaccinations including timing, locations and prioritization. The NB head is Greg MacCallum of the Emergency Measures Organization (EMO). I expressed to council that Grand Manan should be part of the plan from the beginning, not a hastily organized afterthought. We want to ensure that our citizens can safely get vaccinated on our island over a few days in a few locations to avoid close contact and also to reduce the risk of exposure away. I made a motion with a second by Councillor Bonnie Morse to send a letter to EMO head Greg MacCallum with a cc to Premier Higgs to ensure our unique situation is considered in the plan. Motion was passed with the full support of Council.
As chair of the By-laws Committee, I read the first and second reading of the new Building By-law. In the process, we have invited and received public input as well as from our island contractors. The purpose of the new bylaw is to simplify the process, especially for our do it yourselfers and to have more of the expense of the enforcement shouldered by those who are actually building and not solely by the taxpayer. It has been tabled for a few months to ensure clarification and legalities. I gave the third and final reading with a second by Councillor Morse. The new building by-law passed with unanimous consent.
We appreciate village staff because they work diligently for our community. I made a motion with a second by Councillor Morse that we issue the same Christmas bonuses as we did last year and a $100 to staff who have been with us for six months. Motion was passed unanimously. I also moved that the Personnel Committee meet to discuss staff raises and other personnel matters and to make a recommendation to council. Motion was passed unanimously.
As aforementioned, there has been much coverage and excitement on the development of COVID vaccines and their roll out. However, this is not the time to become lax in this time of jubilancy. As Winston Churchill stated after the allied victory in North Africa; This is not the end, this not even the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning.