So Many Things to Consider….

Hello Followers.

It is budget time at the Municipality of the District of Yarmouth. A time to consider all of the grant requests and decide how to spend your money. This is certainly a learning experience for me.  Last week we reviewed the grant requests and there are many non-profits all needing a piece of the pie. As much as we would like to give everyone their request, it just isn’t possible but I can tell you that the council worked really well in coming to the conclusion of how to distribute the money.  There were a couple of circumstances which required much debate but in the end, majority rules and that is how a council should work.  Once the final budget is passed, information with be forthcoming.

This week we look at the big ticket departments, those that require a significant amount of money, many of which are pre-determined since we share services with the Town of Yarmouth and Argyle.  We share the Mariners Centre, the airport, Waste Check, Recreation, YASTA and the Western Regional Economic Network to name a few, none of which we could manage on our own. I am thankful we can collaborate with our neighbours.

A challenge will be the capital projects like sidewalks and infrastructure. Some projects were in the works before I joined the council and they will continue to be on the books until they are finished. At the last regular council meeting, we passed the Hebron Sidewalk Phase III.  It has been in the plans for 4 years. The sidewalk which is adjacent the 340 highway in Hebron will be repaired and an extension built to the rail trail.  This comes with a steep price, approximately $800,000.  Thankfully,  gas tax money has been put aside for this project.  Sidewalks are EXPENSIVE!

Another project approved by the former council which is still being considered is a public works building.  I can tell you that our staff work outside all winter to repair equipment! This causes many delays in getting our snow removal equipment out when there is a problem.  Our staff are looking for the most economical way to build this infrastructure and keep going back to the drawing table.  We’re not there yet.

All councillors sit on the By law and Policy Review committee.  This committee sets new policies and bylaws and these require much debate. At the present time, we are considering a well drilling program whereby the Municipality allows constituents to borrow money from us and have it added to their tax bill. This would be available to those individuals who are continuing to experience lack of water due to last summer’s drought.  It is not for new construction. It is to be repaid over 10 years. The province has approved the program but hasn’t offered any financial assistance.  Here are some of the concerns:

• There is no guarantee when you dig or drill a well that it will be successful. What if you spend $20,000.00 and you do not get water or the water quality is poor? The Municipality can’t be responsible for the quality of your water.  You still have to pay the money back!! There has to be a limit on how much you can borrow.

• How much debt can the Municipality handle on behalf of the constituents?

• What if a person applies but does not have good credit? As a constituent, would you want to take a that risk of someone borrowing your tax dollars and not being able to pay it back?

• Any loan puts a lien against your property.

• Most important though is we do not want our residents to experience the same water issues as we had last year. The three necessities of life are food, water and shelter!

All of the above are being considered in the development of this by law.  Hope this rain is helping and that your basement isn’t flooding.

 

 

Lastly for consideration: The Provincial Election

As an educator and now a politician, I urge you to consider the kinds of questions you ask a candidate when they visit your home.  There are SKINNY questions and FAT questions. Skinny questions are those that a person can answer with one word, easy to answer and do not require any thought. They begin with: Who, When, Where, Will …?

Do you support the ferry from Yarmouth to the USA?  Yes

Will your government build a full cancer clinic in Yarmouth? YES!

Are you going to bring new industry to Yarmouth? Yes!!

Will you repeal the Bill 75, the one which forced a contract on the teachers? YES!

Fat questions on the other hand require the politician to think through their answers. They begin with: How, What, Why….?

How will your government support the ferry link from Yarmouth to the USA?

How are you going to bring new industry to Yarmouth?

What will you do to improve education in the Province of Nova Scotia?

 

Yes,  we thankfully have many things to consider!

 

Happy Mothers Day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Committee of the Whole meeting April 12, 2017

During today’s Committee of the Whole meeting, we had an Recreation update by Frank Grant. I am amazed at all of the programs that are available for people of all ages. Twenty students will be hired for the summer. There are so many ways to be active in Yarmouth County.
 
On January 20th and 21st, the new council met with Gord MacIntosh, consultant, to work on a strategic plan. We just received the report which highlights the process and outlines our priorities for the area. According to our CAO, the report will be reviewed and discussed at future meeting and timelines may have to be changed. Will share more info on this report in the near future.
 
We are pleased to hear that the Provincial government has dedicated $10 million annually to gravel roads. We will be inquiring as to where the money will be directed and how Municipality of Yarmouth will benefit!
 
We are working on a 150th Celebration, as decisions are made more info will be shared.
Following an in-camera meeting we held a short council meeting to pass three motions:
Accept the tender for the update to the envelope of the Cape Forchu.  Construction will begin very soon!
Provide a letter of Support for the Western REN Rural Broad Project which is an application process for the Federal Government’s Connect to Innovate Program.
Support the hiring of a economic development officer for a limited time period  though the Western Regional Economic Network to develop carrier service at the Yarmouth airport.

Dog POOP!

 

POOP!! I don’t like to mince words. Just took a walk down to Port Maitland Beach. Please pick up your dog’s poop and take it home or put it in a garbage can. I don’t get the concept of putting it in a bag and tossing it on someone’s lawn. It totally defeats the purpose and who is supposed to clean it up?? We don’t want kids or adults stepping on dog poop on the beach or having it pollute our oceans. I have contacted DNR and requested a poop bag dispenser for the park. It won’t help unless people use it. Will be requesting one for Cape Forchu from the Municipality, dog poop being left on the ground is a big issue there as well. My rant for the day! No picture on purpose!

 

 

Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities Region Meeting

Attended the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities Regional Meeting today at the Mariner’s Centre. UNSM is a very important association which advocates on behalf of all the municipalities to the NS government. Five resolutions were made in 2016 and when we meet in the spring it will be interesting to review how effective the Province has been with addressing these needs. It was very helpful to meet with members of other councils in our region. Highlighted issues are: doctor shortage and retention, rural internet, forestry, public transportation in the region, economic development, sustainable funding for the seniors safety program. Thanks Pam Mood, Lyle Goldberg and UNSM president Laurie Murley for leading the meeting.

Committee of the Whole March 8th

Committee of the Whole March 8th

Welcome to March…. spring is on its way and so is the misery of driving on gravel roads. Some notes from today’s Committee of Whole meeting.

Don Houston of Transportation, Infrastructure and Renewal answered questions today and of course they will be getting to the gravel roads after the spring thaw.  FYI, higher volume roads are done first as well as those closest to the coast since they dry out faster.  We will be getting a Main Shore Road sign in Port Maitland in the spring!  I thanked him for installing the slippery road sign and repairing the highway in Sandford. You can find their 5 year plan for capital projects online.

https://novascotia.ca/tran/highways/5yearplan/Plan_2017_18.pdf

Paul Beazley and Hubert Surette presented information on Property Valuation Services. Valuable information can be gathered on their website.  www.pvsc.ca  There are approximately 82 appeals on assessment in the Yarmouth County area and only 1 in 25 go to the appeal tribunal.  If your home is described incorrectly, for example, it says you have 2 bathrooms when you only have one, then you should contact PVSC to let them know. 1-800-380-7775.  The valuation of properties is based on: 1) Cost 2) Income  3) direct comparison.  PVSC always takes the capped value of your home.  The assessed value of a new house is higher than an older home due to 0% depreciation.

For those families in the Lake George area who have received letters from the Environment regarding land contamination, you can apply for a re -assessment. The assessed value of your property will likely be reduced while you are experiencing contamination issues. Please contact PVSC for more information.

Roger Devine, Development office, has been partnering with PVSC on Pictometry.  He has access to aerial shots of the coastline and heavily populated areas as well as many lakes in our county.  Fortunately, he is able to see illegal dumpsites, locations of derelict vehicles, and buildings where none should exist.  This is a reminder that you must apply for permits when building and adhere to local by-laws which are available online.

 

February 22, 2017 Meeting

February 22, 2017 Meeting

It is spring, well at least it feels like it today!

The regular council meeting was held on February 22, 2017. Here are a few highlights:

• Council approved a letter of support for YASTA to apply for hosting the Canadian Cross Country Championships for 2019- 2022

• We approved the first reading of the Tax Reduction By Law

The purpose of this By-Law is to provide a reduction of taxes to nonprofit community, charitable, fraternal, educational, recreational, religious, cultural or sporting organization if, in the opinion of council, the organization provides a service that might otherwise be a responsibility of the council as allowed under Section 71(1) of the Municipal Government Act.

South Ohio Community Centre property acquisition is to be added

There were two housekeeping items of name changes.

• We approved the Low Income Reduction Policy L068-09

The purpose of this Policy is to provide partial tax relief of current taxes on primary residences for low income property owners as permitted under Section 69 of the Municipal Government Act

• We approved the  Baby/Family Friendly Policy B-032-17

MODY acknowledges that under the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act women have the right to breastfeed any place in public. MODY supports breastfeeding mothers to breastfeed within Municipal facilities and will provide the conditions (time, space and support) necessary to facilitate breastfeeding by both the public and employees.

• We approved of the changes in the Western Regional Economic Network funding allocations

• Grant requests will be heard during our budgetary meeting

• We have a number of properties that have come up for tax sale which haven’t sold. Since we have no use for these properties we approved that our financial officer put them up for sale via tender

I was please to see that a slippery road hazard sign was erected in Sandford near the boat builders. The shoulder will repaired as soon as the ground thaws. Thanks Don Houston of T.I.R.

I have been in touch with local businesses in the Port Maitland area to check for interest in erecting a group sign on the #1 Highway. S0 far, we have 7 businesses that are interested!! If you are a business and want to find out more, send me a message.

I have suggested that the Port Maitland sidewalk continues on the other side of the school as recommended by a constituent. Will continue to pursue.

Please let me know if you would like me to attend a meeting or event!!

Best regards to all and please share this website with your neighbours!

 

 

 

Lots of Snow and Rough Seas in Sandford

Lots of Snow and Rough Seas in Sandford

February 17,2017

Hi Folks,

At least the sun is out and the snow is starting to melt!!! We have had more than our share of snow this past week.  Thanks to all those who worked hard to clean up the mess including my husband who has been keeping the driveway shovelled.

Received an update from Derek Sutherland today re the sidewalks.  They are doing there best, but we have a problem.  The process is delayed because homeowners and private snow removal contractors are plugging the the sidewalks with driveway snow which creates unmanageable piles.  The ice that forms plugs up the blowers and breaks shear pins, etc.  Until the warm weather melts some of the snow and reduces the piles, they can’t get through. Hopefully, it will happen on Tuesday. Please remember not to pile snow on the sidewalks when cleaning up your driveways.

Took a drive down the Sandford Road today to check conditions. Please be advised that there is quite a dip in the road near the boat builders where water accumulates and freezes. TIR is aware and will work on fixing the shoulder as soon as the snow melts.

I spoke to Don Houston of TIR, please be aware that if your lawn goes right up to a street or road and the lawn gets ripped up because of the snow plow, unfortunately they will not fix it in the spring. The reason being is that technically there should not be lawn up to the edge because of roadway clearance belonging to the Department of Transportation.  If you live on a dirt road and there are bad ruts, they can take grate the edges off so please let them know if there is a problem. Sorry, potholes will not be repaired until spring.

The upcoming weeks will be very busy as we review capital expenditures for 2017.  There are many possible projects which require large amounts of money:

The airport needs updating and keep in mind that it is presently used by Air Search and Rescue, the Hospital and large companies who fly in their executives. We just got our ferry functioning which will take time to grow. Do we want to lose a vital transportation link or invest and make it grow?

Our industrial park also needs attention to make it investment ready for companies.  Keep in mind, economic development equals an increase in the tax base which in turn can be used for sidewalks etc.

The ferry terminal is certainly in need of an update

The Mariner’s Centre just completed a feasibility study which shows there is room for growth.

Cape Forchu Lighthouse is getting a facelift on the outside this summer. Do we invest more to make it a better attraction for both locals and visitors?

The idea of a Marine Centre of Research/Excellence has been suggested maybe with an aquarium. Our fishing industry is vital to our communities and it would be nice to see ongoing research here to make sure it is sustainable.

A regional arts centre would require investment by all levels of government.

These are all big projects.  Would love to hear your thoughts. Please send me an email, respond to my blog, give me a call, message me on FB!!

If you would like me to attend an event or meeting, please send me an email to let me know.

I am researching the costs of repairing the Sandford Drawbridge and will be soliciting different levels of government to assist in the cost of repair.  I will also be looking at some signage to direct visitors to our landmark!

Reminder that the Lakes and District Fire Department offers Bingo every Thursday night. They are working very hard to purchase a new truck and build an addition to house the trucks, host events and be able act as a comfort centre.  They are appreciative of all and any support.

Best wishes to all, safe driving and stay healthy!

Patti