Liverpool’s marquee festival cancelled again

Photo contributed by Privateer Days Commission

Privateer Days has been called off again this summer.

The annual event, normally held near the last weekend in June, once again fell victim to the effects of the coronavirus.

Privateer Days Commission chair Terrena Parnell says the organizers are heartbroken to cancel the event, but they had to put public safety first.

“We have thousands of people coming to Privateer Days every year and there’s absolutely no way that we can have people in there volunteering, chasing people around saying, wear your masks, social distance, that type of thing. It’s just impossible to try to deal with something on that large of a scale,” said Parnell.

Like almost every other festival in 2020, Privateer Days was cancelled last year because of the restrictions put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Parnell says many of the performers and suppliers scheduled to be part of last year’s event were waiting for the phone call to go ahead with this year’s event.

The commission has been keeping a close eye on the restrictions and the way the vaccine is rolling out across Nova Scotia and didn’t see how enough would change to allow the event to go ahead this year.

Parnell said, “We don’t think things are going to go back to normal for a while yet, and just felt that it was best for everyone involved, both spectators and the participants, to cancel early instead of waiting until the last minute and saying, oh, no, we’re not going to have it and have to turn everyone away.”

Parnell is aware some people think the event was cancelled too early but points out the logistics involved in mounting a festival of this size require time.

She says suppliers need to line up equipment and transportation to and from Liverpool. Uncertainty around border crossing rules between provinces could mean some suppliers, such as New Brunswick-based East Coast Amusement Rides may not be able to cross into Nova Scotia.

“With the restrictions and the bans in place, you don’t know what’s going to happen in the future,” said Parnell. “It may seem like we cancelled early, but it’s only six months away and those six months can go very quickly.”

Parnell says as the organization looks ahead to 2022 they are in a stable financial position. The commission is constantly looking for new sources of revenue, such as grants to fund the event.

But for next year, she would like to see locals dig in and show what the event means to them.

“I’m hoping that with everything being closed down for two years, that next year we’ll have the community and the business support when we do start our fundraising again to help us make a larger event a reality.”

Reported by Ed Halverson 
E-mail: edhalversonnews@gmail.com
Twitter: @edwardhalverson

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Developer brings new life to old buildings

Eric Gouldon outside the former Milton Elementary School

Eric Gouldon outside the former Milton Elementary School. Photo Ed Halverson

The old Milton elementary school is getting new life as homes for older residents.

It is important for developer Eric Gouldon to create units that are well-built, accessible and modern.

“You shouldn’t have low-end housing or something like that. Everybody deserves a good house,” said Gouldon. “I think these are good houses.”

While not specifically for seniors, Gouldon designed the units both with accessibility and privacy in mind. In addition to including all major appliances and laundry in each unit, electrical outlets and light switches have been placed within easy reach, doorways have been widened and kitchen faucets have been placed on the side so residents don’t need to strain to turn them on and off.

“A lot of them are seniors that have had homes all their life. The kids have moved out, sometimes the husband has passed on. It seems like there are a lot of women involved in this and we just basically looked at that and said, they’re not quite ready for the apartment, they like their independence,” said Gouldon. “So we cut in individual doors, so it’s quite literally town homes rather than apartments that you’re looking at.”

Renovated and landscaped Milton Elementary School now, the Milton Garden Homes

Renovated and landscaped Milton Elementary School now, the Milton Garden Homes. Photo credit Ed Halverson

Gouldon began renovating the former school in phases four years ago. Each phase created three new units and all six of the units built under the first two phases are already occupied.

Former classroom being readied for a transformation into a new apartment.

Former classroom being readied for a transformation into a new apartment. Photo Ed Halverson

While he has roots in Shelburne County, Gouldon spent most of his working life in Ontario. In fact, it was a bit of luck that brought him to Queens.

“I was going to buy a condo in Halifax and I saw a Brian MacKay-Lyons house for sale down this way and Liverpool wasn’t even on the plan at that time. We looked at the house. It was on the beach. I think we looked at it at 10:00 in the morning, we put a deal together at noon,” said Gouldon.

It was after buying that house Gouldon met Steve Bowers, who was looking after the home and would later become his business partner.

Bowers had experience renovating older buildings and convinced Gouldon to become involved in restoring the old Advance building on Main street in Liverpool in 2013.

When they bought the former Advance offices and the adjacent building, which housed the KFC , Gouldon and Bowers were told they would likely have to be torn down.

Undeterred, the two set about restoring and bringing the buildings up to modern standards.

Gouldon and Bowers restored these two buildings on Liverpool's Main Street

Gouldon and Bowers restored these two buildings on Liverpool’s Main Street. Photo Credit Ed Halverson

Gouldon says he is inspired by Bowers’ ability to look at a problem and work out a solution, a trait he says is shared by many Nova Scotians.

“People may not necessarily have paper credentials,’ said Gouldon. “But there’s a great ability among the fishermen and people that live along the shore and everywhere else in Nova Scotia, to be able to get things done.”

Gouldon says it’s that unique combination of people, skills and attitude that have helped shape his perspective on these redevelopments.

“This place is full of craftspeople. It’s full of art. I think the development of schools and so on and so forth is just an extension of art,” said Gouldon.

The final third phase of the Milton school development will begin in the next month. Provided the pandemic hasn’t interrupted the supply lines for building materials too drastically, Gouldon hopes to see the project finished this fall.

Reported by Ed Halverson 
E-mail: edhalversonnews@gmail.com
Twitter: @edwardhalverson

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Vaccine clinics established across Nova Scotia

Dr. Robert Strang. Photo Nova Scotia Government

The COVID-19 vaccine is now being administered to frontline healthcare workers across Nova Scotia.

The Northern Zone was the final area to establish a vaccination clinic today at the Colchester-East Hants Health Centre.

Public Health is reporting four new COVID-19 cases today. One is close contact of a previously reported case in the Northern Zone. The other three are in the central zone and are related to travel outside Nova Scotia.

The province is also expanding the program to immunize residents of long term care facilities by adding two more homes in Sydney.

The expansion comes as the federal government announced provinces will be getting much less Pfizer vaccine than they had previously been told because of the manufacturer’s plan to revamp one of their production facilities.

Chief medical officer of health for Nova Scotia Dr. Robert Strang says the province was set to receive 13,500 doses this month and is still waiting to hear from Ottawa how much of that we will actually receive.

Strang called it short-term pain for long-term gain.

“And we continue to be told that any reduction we’re getting for February will be added to the supply we can expect in March.”

Strang says their vaccine rollout plan is flexible to allow for increases or decreases in supply.

Since the first vaccines arrived December 15, 8,520 doses have been administered and 2,215 of those have received their second doses to complete their immunization.

Another 5,850 doses arrived in Nova Scotia this week bringing the total number of doses received to 28,850.

The Nova Scotia College of Nursing recently announced retired nurses will receive a conditional license, at no cost, as a measure to increase the number of people available to administer the vaccine injections.

Strang is pleased to see the number of people stepping up to help get the vaccine into Nova Scotians arms.

Based on the number of people who volunteered to assist with pop-up COVID testing clinics, the province is offering people the opportunity to again help out with the upcoming vaccination clinics.

“There was significant buy-in from communities putting their hand up and saying we want to come and help out in some way,” said Strang. “I really think that many Nova Scotians would be more than willing to come forward and say I’m prepared to volunteer my time to help support and run a COVID immunization clinic in my community; knowing, by doing that, they are contributing to their collective safety in that community.

A link to the volunteer page is on our website.

Reported by Ed Halverson 
E-mail: edhalversonnews@gmail.com
Twitter: @edwardhalverson

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Nova Scotia vaccination rollout continues despite delay

Dr. Robert Strang provides COVID-19 update. Photo Nova Scotia Government

Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health says until they can establish a stable supply of COVID-19 vaccine they will continue to hold back the second doses.

Dr. Robert Strang was commenting on news that the manufacturer of the two-dose vaccine Pfizer has said it will reduce the amount of vaccine being shipped to Canada.

That will allow Pfizer to temporary close one of their facilities in Belgium in order to expand production to meet demand.

Premier Stephen McNeil says the province has set up their vaccine schedule to protect against these kind of interruptions.

“We are continuing to give the first shot and hold back the second shot to guarantee people a full vaccination,” said McNeil. “We will continue to do this until we are guaranteed there will be no interruption in supply.”

The province has been allocated 140,000 doses of vaccine for the first 90 days of the year, 13,000 of which have already been received and administered or have been designated to be administered.

First in line in Nova Scotia are frontline healthcare workers and nursing home residents. The second phase will see the vaccine enter the general population starting with the most elderly.

“We’re hopeful to be able to, not January but maybe February or March, to pilot a couple of clinics, one in Halifax, one in Truro,” said Dr. Strang.

He calls the COVID-19 vaccination program the most complex ever rolled out in Nova Scotia.

The province announced two new COVID-19 cases today. Since the start of the second wave in October there have been 461 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia. Four hundred twenty-nine are resolved and there are currently 32 active cases, none of which require hospitalization.

The low case numbers indicate the public health measures have been working according to Dr. Strang.

He is concerned some people have not been completely forthcoming when contacted by public health officials. He and the premier assured Nova Scotians their information is kept confidential and it can help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Dr. Strang says he is pleased to see the majority of people are following protocols to keep each other safe and he had a message for those who don’t.

“I would ask any Nova Scotians who think that public health measures don’t apply to them, to think again and to stop. And think about the rest of the province, the rest of Nova Scotians and the sacrifices that so many of us have made.”

Dr. Strang was blunt when asked when he expected life to return to normal.

“That’s a million dollar question,” said Dr. Strang. “Public health people like myself, experts on the virus, I think we’re all on the same page that most of 2021, we need to continue to be following COVID restrictions and COVID protocols.”

Dr. Strang says officials need time to get vaccine out and get enough people vaccinated to create herd immunity. The also need to learn if the vaccine will keep people from spreading the virus even if they don’t show any symptoms.

He expects it will be six to nine months before we’ll begin to know how a post-COVID world will look.

Reported by Ed Halverson 
E-mail: edhalversonnews@gmail.com
Twitter: @edwardhalverson

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Pandemic ignites Queens County housing market

COVID-19 has spurred home sales in Queens. Photo: Ed Halverson

A hot housing market in Queens shows no signs of slowing down.

Kristopher Snarby, owner of Exit Realty in Liverpool and Bridgewater says the pandemic created a wild ride for sellers and buyers alike.

“It’s been a crazy year in a lot of ways. We started off, pretty normal winter, last January, February, March and then the pandemic hit and things slowed down for the early spring. Then May and June came and things really took off,” said Snarby.

According to the Nova Scotia Association of Realtors, 13,923 homes were sold in 2020, a 13% increase over 2019.

Kristopher Snarby, owner EXIT Realty in Liverpool/Bridgewater. Photo submitted by Kristopher Snarby

Snarby says Nova Scotia and the South Shore in particular have been getting a lot of attention from buyers outside the province.

“We just saw a lot of people from Ontario wanting to get out. Partly because of COVID,but also partly because they want a slower pace of life and the real estate prices here are so much cheaper,” said Snarby. “So we found a lot of people were choosing to sell their properties in Ontario and then buy something here, equally nice or nicer, at a fraction of the cost.”

That attention has gobbled up the inventory of available housing.

Snarby says many of those buying from Ontario are doing so without ever setting foot in the home before signing. Buyers will arrange to either have a friend look at the property or view it virtually through online videos. Snarby estimates he has sold 25 homes since May in this manner.

Because of the increase in demand, Snarby says he’s had to be proactive in finding homes for buyers.

“I’ve been making calls to people who I know who have been thinking of selling. I’ve been putting calls out on Facebook. A lot of our agents have been doing the same thing and through that we have had some people say, yeah, I’d like to sell,” said Snarby. “But the big challenge for them though, is that, a lot of times, there’s nothing for them to go to.”

Snarby says savvy sellers are watching the market for the home they want to become available before listing their houses.

When they do manage to find the right place, they’re paying 10 to 15 percent more than last year.

“It used to be that you could get a decent house in Queens County for $100,000 to $125,000. I would say, now you’re looking in the $150,000 to $200,000 range for the same kind of house,” said Snarby.

That’s consistent with the trends in selling prices across Nova Scotia. While that jump in price may cause sticker shock for locals, Snarby says Nova Scotia still isn’t seeing the drastic swings in prices experienced by other parts of the country.

“We’re not even close to the Toronto and the Vancouvers. You can’t get anything in Toronto for under seven-eight hundred thousand dollars. We’re definitely not there,” said Snarby.

He expects the hot housing market will continue into 2021.

“I think the secret of South Shore is out,” said Snarby. “I think people realize that we live in a great area with a lot to offer, close to the city but still that slower pace of life, it’s affordable, people are friendly.

Snarby suggests now may be the time for anyone looking to sell to put their home on the market.

“The thing right now is there’s still buyers out there who can’t find homes and there’s not much on the market. So right now, if you were to list a property, you don’t have a lot of competition. In the spring, you’re going to have more competition.”

Reported by Ed Halverson 
E-mail: edhalversonnews@gmail.com
Twitter: @edwardhalverson

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Firefighters fundraising plummets due to COVID-19

North Queens Fire Department

Trucks outside North Queens station. Photo Credit: North Queens Fire Department

The COVID-19 pandemic seriously hurt fire services fundraising efforts in 2020.

The North Queens fire department would normally hold suppers and events throughout the year to support the community and help pay for new equipment and trucks

Those fundraisers would usually net between $60,000 and $70,000 over the course of the year.

Because of the pandemic, those events had to be cancelled.

North Queens fire chief Chris Wolfe is optimistic about restarting the fundraising efforts in the new year as Nova Scotia has begun to administer vaccines and residents have been supporting efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“We’re hoping to get back to the way it was. It’s one of those things you’re uncertain of and you just don’t know at this point but we seem to be holding our own where we are,” said Wolfe. “ Of course with what’s coming up for truck purchases, it’s going to be difficult to do that if things keep going the way they are.”

North Queens is scheduled to replace their 25 year-old pumper truck within the next three years.

Region of Queens has an agreement in place with the five departments operating in the county to contribute $275,000 towards the purchase of any new truck.

That leaves North Queens on the hook to raise the remaining $225,000 to buy the half-million dollar pumper.

In an effort to continue to raise money, the department signed on with other fire services across the province last summer to participate in a weekly 50-50 draw.

“It was a slow start there, but as the jackpot climbed, we started getting more and more people buying. We’re going to use it towards the replacement of trucks,” said Wolfe.

The jackpot reached it’s highest total of $461,595 on New Years Eve with the winner taking home $230,798.

North Queens fire service share of the proceeds for 2020 is $4,550. That’s less than 10 percent of what their fundraising efforts would normally bring in.

Wolfe says there isn’t much that can be done until the pandemic is under control.

While many groups have petitioned public health for exceptions that would allow them to resume their functions, Wolfe says they have not contacted Dr. Strang and public health about any measures that could see their hall reopen to community or fundraising events

“We haven’t mentioned to much to him there. You know they’re doing a good job with what they’re doing, trying to keep the COVID down.,” said Wolfe. “So I’m basically just following the rules and waiting for things to improve.”

Reported by Ed Halverson 
E-mail: edhalversonnews@gmail.com
Twitter: @edwardhalverson

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Ironic fire at Liverpool fire hall quickly extinguished

Liverpool Fire Engine. Photo Ed Halverson

Liverpool firefighters were surprised when a fire call came from their own hall on Tuesday.

Captain John Long was at the Liverpool Fire Hall that morning delivering first aid training when he heard the alarm go off around 8:30.

A fire had broken out in the apparatus bay at the back of the hall.

The fire knocked out power to the department’s paging system so the call went out by text to the member’s phones.

Despite the change in routine, the bulk of the Liverpool fire service were quick to respond.

“Everytime a door opened, more crew came flooding in to see what they could do,” said Long.

He said the power was also cut to the automatic garage door openers which made moving the engines out of the bays difficult.

What really stood out for Long throughout the incident was the teamwork and camaraderie of the members.

“I’ve worked with this crew on how many structure fires before. Never have I been the first person on scene at ours,” said Long. “But just watching them come through, and everybody dug in. It was great to see and not surprising at all, but it was almost magic.”

Port Medway, North Queens and Greenfield fire services responded to the mutual aid call, but the fire was knocked down by the time they arrived.

Long said the damage to the hall and equipment was minimal. Crews had the water from the sprinklers mopped up and the soot from the fire cleaned by mid afternoon.

The department didn’t miss a beat as they turned out to fight a chimney fire that evening.

Because the situation turned out so well, Long said he can look at the lighter side.

“I can remember back when our teachers in school [were] teaching us the definition of irony, they always used the example, the fire hall catches on fire. That’s a great example of irony.”

The cause of the fire is still under investigation but Long said it appears to be electrical in nature.

Even though everything turned out well Long expects members will discuss the fire at their meeting this week to determine what went right and how they can be better prepared to deal with a fire I n the hall.

“There’ll certainly be an evaluation of, is this the best we can do for preparedness? We now know it can happen. At the end of the day, nothing may change and that may not be a bad thing. Maybe this is the best that can be done.”

Reported by Ed Halverson 
E-mail: edhalversonnews@gmail.com
Twitter: @edwardhalverson

To listen to the broadcast of this story, press play below.

QCCR welcomes talk show host to Queens airwaves

Photo Ed Halverson

With the new year comes change and some new programs here at QCCR.

The host of one of those new shows has been in broadcasting for over 20 years. Todd Veinotte joined me in conversation to discuss his new podcast, which will air twice a week beginning Monday, January 18.

Click play below to listen to the full discussion.

Highway safety being improved, bridge repairs to begin in Queens

Temporary arrows have been in place since the fall at Exit 22A along Highway 103

Temporary arrows have been in place since the fall at Exit 22A along Highway 103. Photo Kim Masland

Travellers to Queens will have an easier time getting to some of the area’s beaches and attractions.

The intersection of Highway 103 and Exit 22A will have new directional arrows painted this week.

The turnoff leads to popular locations like White Point, the Quarterdeck and Summerville beach.

Queens-Shelburne MLA Kim Masland said that stretch of Highway 103 has become particularly dangerous since it underwent repairs this summer.

After the micro-sealing took place Masland said the directional arrows were not properly repainted over the multi-lane intersection to indicate to drivers whether or not they could turn.

And the temporary arrows painted on with a spray can are insufficient.

“They look like they were drawn on by my grandson,” said Masland. “It’s absolutely pathetic.”

Temporary arrows at Exit 22A along Highway 103

Temporary arrows at Exit 22A along Highway 103. Photo Kim Masland

Masland has heard from constituents for months how difficult it is to see the arrows and how dangerous that stretch of road can be especially at night or in bad weather.

She followed up on one call and was concerned with what she found.

“I actually got in my car myself that night and drove up to the intersection,” said Masland. “It was pouring rain and it was dark. I’m familiar with that section of the road and I really didn’t know where I was supposed to be because there were no arrows to indicate where I was supposed to be in the road.”

Masland has been in repeated contact with the Nova Scotia department of transportation and infrastructure renewal since October about getting appropriate arrows in place.

She was pleased when she received a call indicating the painting will get underway this week.

A spokesperson from TIR confirmed crews will be out to perform the work as soon as the weather allows.

The department is also set to get to work on a much bigger project in Queens.

Signs are going up this week to detour cars around the Mill Village Bridge.

The condition of the bridge surface is another concern Masland has been hearing about from residents for years.

Mill Village Bridge surface needs repair

Mill Village Bridge in need of resurfacing. Photo Kim Masland

While Masland said she has been assured the bridge is completely safe, and has no reason to doubt those assurances, many residents don’t feel safe when they are crossing.

“I had one lady tell me that she travels across that bridge everyday and she literally just holds her wheel and closes her eyes as she goes across. Because, the appearance of it, it does look unsafe, but I have been assured that it is not [unsafe],” said Masland.

The bridge will be resurfaced beginning late this week or early next, again, depending on the weather.

That work is expected to take several months to complete.

Reported by Ed Halverson 
E-mail: edhalversonnews@gmail.com
Twitter: @edwardhalverson

To listen to the broadcast of this story, press play below.

MP for South Shore-St.Margarets looks back on 2020

Minister Bernadette Jordan speaks in Mahone Bay in July 2020

Minister Bernadette Jordan speaks in Mahone Bay, July 2020. Photo Ed Halverson

This is the first in a two-part series with South Shore-St. Margaret’s Member of Parliament Bernadette Jordan. Along with her role as an MP, Jordan is also the federal minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, a role which came with many challenges in 2020.

Here, Jordan explains how the fisheries was one of the first industries to feel the impact of the global pandemic.

 

In the second of the two-part series Jordan discusses a turbulent year for Nova Scotians and highlights some of what went right over the course of 2020.

Reported by Ed Halverson 
E-mail: edhalversonnews@gmail.com
Twitter: @edwardhalverson