In his opening remarks, Mayor Dennis Greene stated how fortunate our province was in having a low case load of COVID-19. However, he reminded everyone we didn’t get here by dumb luck but by playing safe. Let’s continue to follow safety restrictions.

Our ferry traffic is up, but 60 passengers is the maximum currently allowed. Be prepared to wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose if you choose to go on the ferry. Service New Brunswick is now opened by appointment only on Thursdays. If you want to make an appointment please call 1-888-762-8600 before your preferred appointment time to ensure you’re on the appointment list.

The grad banners look great! Thanks to those who placed them and to the 100 Island Women Who Care who sponsored the banners.

Council received a letter from various accommodation owners asking for council to provide a tax break because COVID-19 has decimated the upcoming tourism season before it’s even started. While council certainly understands and truly sympathizes with the accommodation industry on their plight, it just simply can’t be done.

Because the province guarantees the tax warrant, ensuring municipalities get their taxes, it’s illegal for municipalities to refund or give any tax breaks to anyone.

NB municipalities are fortunate compared to most Canadian municipalities, as most are responsible for collecting their own taxes. For these municipalities, if someone doesn’t pay, they’re out the spout. While federal and provincial governments can run deficits, municipal governments cannot. COVID-19 has many municipalities in real danger of running out of money before they run out of year.

On April 27, 2020, Mayor Dennis Greene sent out a letter of support to the CRTC Broadband fund expressing support for Bell’s application to that fund. When it was brought up in May’s council meeting, Deputy Mayor Robert Moses declared conflict of interest and removed himself before the discussion. It was asked why council didn’t write a letter of support for our local company instead of Bell. It was explained that Bell asked for a letter of support from council that was needed before a deadline of the end of April.

The local company did not ask council for a letter of support, but would have got one if they’d have asked. Council has met previously with the local company, took in their presentation, asked questions and being satisfied, we’d be willing to show them nonfinancial support of any kind in the future if requested.

It was also noted that the letter of support for Bell was not exclusionary and council would still be willing to send a letter of support if the local company requested it. Council realizes the desperate need of better broadband access for all of our island residents and businesses and we are willing to support anyone who can deliver!

Council has received a letter of resignation from Councillor Mitchell Brown. He has been busy in post-secondary studies and was hoping to simply not re-offer in what would have been in May’s scheduled municipal elections. But, alas due to COVID-19 precautions, that will not happen for some time yet. It was moved by Deputy Mayor Moses and seconded by Councillor Kirk Cheney to accept the resignation letters of Councillor Jayne Turner and Councillor Mitchell Brown. Motion was passed unanimously.

I noted in this article last month that we truly appreciated Councillor Turner’s time with us and again we express the same appreciation to Councillor Brown.

I had the pleasure to serve with his grandfather William Daggett in my first term as councillor, who was a true mentor to me. Mitchell we wish you the best in your studies and your bright future. It was moved by Councillor Bonnie Morse and seconded by Councillor Cheney to send letters of thanks to Councillors Turner and Brown. Needless to say, it was passed unanimously.

The day after the May 4 council meeting, council received a letter of resignation from Deputy Mayor Robert Moses, effective immediately. We were all shocked and saddened but respectful of his decision.

This is a man who served 20+ years faithfully to the people of Grand Manan and it’s easy to see why he was repeatedly chosen again and again to be one of those to make decisions for the better good. I’ve always felt that you get your first term by convincing voters to take a chance on you, terms after that are definitely earned.

Each year, council gives $2,000 bursaries each to a Grand Manan Community School (GMCS) graduate who will be going off to college and also to a GMCS grad heading off to university. All applicants are very deserving and it’s challenging every year to narrow it down to two choices. Thanks to all who contribute to scholarships, bursaries and other gifts to make higher education a financial possibility. This year, Councillors Tammy Worthen, Bonnie Morse and myself will be making the decisions on recipients of the village bursaries.

Councillor Cheney spoke to council on the horridness of the mass shootings in Colchester County, Nova Scotia. It was a senseless act, leaving the families and communities to grieve. Councillor Cheney asked councils history and possibility of making donations to tragic events such as this. After much serious discussion on the matter, it was moved by Deputy Mayor Moses and seconded by Councillor Roger Fitzsimmons to make a donation to the families of the victims through the Canadian Red Cross in the amount of $10,000. Motion was passed unanimously, but not lightly.

Recreation Director Chris Rayner addressed council on the challenges of providing recreation in a COVID-19 world. Daily he has to deal with the uncertainty and lack of clarity of what’s allowed and what’s not, and sometimes things change literally by the hour.

Of course our recreation director doesn’t work with an unlimited budget, so decisions must be made on where things are most unlikely to change, but nothing is guaranteed. The province has stressed continuously that even though some activity may be opened, it’s the owner’s decision on whether that activity may open or not.

Rayner stated he’s willing to work with all guidelines if he feels things can be done safely. Council politely requests patience from the public as we navigate through these uncharted waters as we try to safely provide very much needed recreation through these stressful times.

Council believes now, more than ever, the public needs to be informed on what services are available and what precautions must be taken. We daily update our village Facebook page and encourage those with COVID concerns to call 1-844-462-8387 or email helpaide@gnb.ca

In closing, council would like to thank those who provide the essentials every day in this global pandemic. The list of businesses and workers who ensure we’re cared for, fed, supplied and safe are too many to list. But rest assured, you are noticed and appreciated. It’s interesting to note that 2020 is the year of the nurse. It’s been a hard year to earn the recognition they gained and so richly deserve!