Masland re-offering, says PCs are the government in waiting

Queens -Shelburne MLA Kim Masland

Queens-Shelburne MLA Kim Masland will re-offer in the new riding of Queens. Photo Ed Halverson

The MLA for Queens Shelburne is coming back for more.

Kim Masland has announced she will represent the Progressive Conservatives in Queens in the next provincial election.

Masland wants to continue to work on behalf of the people in her community.

“Even though it’s not a big fancy building or it’s not a repaved highway, for me, I know I’ve made a difference, I’ve made an impact in that person’s life and no one will probably ever know about it. But I do, and they do and that’s why I entered into this job, to care for people,” said Masland.

The first-time MLA was elected in the riding of Queens-Shelburne in 2017.

She says representing a large constituency with very different populations over the past four years has been challenging.

The electoral boundaries have been redrawn for the next election to divide the two communities and Masland has chosen to run in Queens, the district she has always called home.

“Queens is home for me,” said Masland. “You know, I was brought up in Queens and I’ve never left. I’m looking forward to be able to, 100 percent focus on Queens County.”

Masland has spent her time in the legislature on the opposition benches and she is optimistic when the final ballots are tallied the PC caucus will be sitting on the government side of the house.

“I truly believe that we are the government in waiting. I truly believe that after the next election there will be a PC government caring for our province,” said Masland.

Despite her party affiliation, Masland says she would like to see an end of partisan politics and games in Nova Scotia.

“If the Liberals or the NDP bring forth great legislation, or speak to a bill that I know is going to benefit my constituents I’m the first one clapping for them. It doesn’t matter to me. It’s all about what is the best for the people we represent,” said Masland.

Often when politicians hit the campaign trail many promises are made that are forgotten once candidates are elected.

Masland says one commitment she guarantees she will keep is to bring decisions about health care back to a local level.

“The administration that was created by the sitting government, by the Liberal government, has basically put decision-making of how healthcare is delivered into glass towers in Halifax.,” said Masland. “That has made things very difficult for the delivery of healthcare in small, rural areas such as Queens County.”

Masland’s family supports her decision to reoffer even though it means they will continue to take a back seat to the people of Queens.

It was a comment from her daughter that Masland says really underscores her family’s understanding of the sacrifices she makes.

“She said Mom, you know what, it’s okay. And of course, my children are grown and are out my house but, [she said] we’ll share you again with constituents because we know they need you.”

The next general election must be called by spring of 2022.

All parties are in the process of solidifying their roster of candidates as Nova Scotia is the only province in Canada without fixed election dates and Premier Iain Rankin could call an election at any time.

Twitter: @edwardhalverson

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Business bustling as province eases more COVID restrictions

Customers flock to Memories Cafe in Liverpool on the first day of the Phase II reopening. Photo Ed Halverson

The second phase of Nova Scotia’s reopening plan kicked off Wednesday.

Restaurants and bars can now have up to ten people per group seated indoors and social distanced from other groups.

Retail stores can now operate at 50 percent capacity and personal services businesses such as hair salons, spas, and body art establishments that require clients to remove their masks can also reopen.

A quick walk around downtown Liverpool shows business owners were ready and keen to open their doors.

Andreas Arnmor, owner of Main and Mersey says while their takeout business has kept them afloat through the lockdown, it was nice to see people milling around inside.

“Today, eight o’clock in the morning, fantastic to have people inside, although it’s still social distancing. But, just to move towards normality,” said Arnmor.

Andreas Arnmor owner of Main and Mersey prepares a hot drink. Photo Ed Halverson

During a busy lunch service at Memories Café, server Angie Wilson stopped for a moment to comment on the crowd.

“Much busier than expected, lots of people coming and going,” said Wilson. “They’re very excited to be back out and into the public again and to see other faces.”

Angie Wilson at Memories Cafe welcomes patrons back to their dining room.

Angie Wilson at Memories Cafe welcomes patrons back to their dining room. Photo Ed Halverson

At Five Girls Baking, owner Leanne Arnott is relieved other owners can reopen their businesses.

Arnott says the pandemic forced everyone to adapt.

“Well, we had seating in here that we had to take away at the beginning and we never put it back,” said Arnott. “We did have people that would come and sit down. We have changed an awful lot to survive.”

In addition to the fresh baked goods produced on site, Arnott says they branched out to offer local fresh food and meats as well as specialty groceries.

Another business owner who had to make changes to their model is Joey Nasrallah, owner of A1 Pizza.

Because of the increase in take out orders, Nasrallah needed more space for his staff, so he expanded his kitchen and cut the amount of seating to just eight stools.

Nasrallah noticed a change in how his customers would interact during the lockdown.

“People were scared, if a person [was] in, people wait outdoors, they won’t even walk in, even if [there was just] one person or they might leave. Difficulties, people scared of each other,” said Nasrallah.

A-1 Pizza owner Joey Nasrallah is glad to see so many neighbouring businesses reopening their doors.

A-1 Pizza owner Joey Nasrallah is glad to see so many neighbouring businesses reopening their doors. Photo Ed Halverson

Around the corner at Hell Bay Brewing Company, co-owner Melanie Perron said they’re just excited to have people sit and stay a while in their space.

Perron says they’re hiring staff and preparing to serve people both in their shop and on their patio.

Each of the people we spoke with were asked how they felt about the speed of the province’s phased reopening plan.

They all agreed the phases seem to be coming at an appropriate pace to keep everyone safe.

Perron sums it up.

“I’m not a doctor. I’m not a scientist, so for me to judge or give my opinion on how they’re going about doing things, it seems to be working out, so far so good.”

Hell Bay co-owner Melanie Perron says beer sales through the NSLC have kept the doors open but she's glad to see customers return

Hell Bay co-owner Melanie Perron says beer sales through the NSLC have kept the doors open but she’s glad to see customers return. Photo Ed Halverson

Nasrallah says when it comes to the long-term impacts, a cautious reopening plan is better.

“We don’t want to open too fast and get damaged again like we did last time,” said Nasrallah.

Overall, owners were in good spirits on the first day of Phase II.

Back at Main and Mersey, Andreas Arnmor is looking ahead.

“The first mask-free day we’re going to have a party,” said Arnmor. “I’m going to sell gin and tonics. No, I’m not because I’m not allowed. So, I’m not going to do that. I’m going to sell tonics with matcha latte as a new drink.”

After struggling to survive the pandemic, business owners can begin to the light at the end of the tunnel.

Reported by Ed Halverson 
Twitter: @edwardhalverson

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Region of Queens rejects consultant’s flood mitigation plans

Council proposes to raise Market Street from the bridge to Water Street. Photo Ed Halverson

The Mayor of Queens bristles at the suggestion Liverpool is sinking.

“Liverpool is not sinking,” said Darlene Norman. “The ocean’s rising in a parking lot area that is surrounded by some businesses but Liverpool, as in main street Liverpool, is high and dry ground. The majority of Liverpool is fine.”

Norman is responding to the recently released flood mitigation strategies prepared for Region of Queens council by CBCL consultants back in 2019.

The parking lot in question is downtown along the Mersey River.

Many local business fixtures and points of interest border the lot including Centennial Park, Memories Café, Home Hardware, Hell Bay Brewing and the Royal Canadian Legion, among others.

CBCL made four recommendations to overcome the flooding ranging from the construction of a seawall, raising the parking lot or market street, to retreating from the waterfront.*

The four recommendations come with a price tag that could be as high as $9 million.

Those estimates were completed in 2019 before the cost of building materials skyrocketed during the pandemic and the mayor expects they could be much higher now.

While cost was a consideration, Norman says Region of Queens Council rejected three of the four suggestions on the basis of fairness.

“The Region of Queens is more than the former town of Liverpool and what we undertake in Liverpool we then undertake in all parts of coastal Queens,” said Norman.

Norman says council has decided to take the retreat option but council still needs to determine how that will proceed.*

In the short term, council has decided to apply for $500,000 from the province’s Flood Risk Infrastructure Investment Program to raise Market Street from the Liverpool Bridge to Water Street because it is prone to flooding.

The Region would match the provincial funding and the total cost of the elevating Market street would sit around $1 million.

Norman says council needs to ensure Market street remains passable as it is the main road in and out of downtown Liverpool for emergency vehicles.

She says the hope is to complete the work by 2023.

Council is taking advantage of the current Land Use Bylaw review to head off future flooding issues.

Norman says the draft plan dictates raising buildings eight feet on coastlines and ideally restricts new construction to be set back 100 feet from waterfrontage.

The mayor says council needs to plan for responsible development into the future.

“Knowing what we know, if we continue to allow these things, we’re just dropping more trouble onto future councils,” said Norman. “So we might as well be the ones that bite the bullet.”

Norman expects the proposed Land Use Bylaws will be coming to council in the next few weeks.

Residents will be able to comment through the public approvals process before the provincial government signs off on the final draft.

Norman hopes the new land use bylaws will be adopted before the end of the year.

*The story has been updated to reflect the Region of Queens accepted the option to retreat from the waterfront.

Reported by Ed Halverson 
Twitter: @edwardhalverson

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Dr. Strang encourages schools to steal LRHS grad celebration model

Liverpool Regional High School.

Liverpool Regional High School. Photo Ed Halverson

A local group is working to recognize Liverpool Regional High School graduates.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, large gatherings are prohibited across Nova Scotia, including graduation ceremonies.

Deborah Raddall is one of a group of volunteers who are working to find a way to allow graduates to gather together without breaking the public health orders.

“We thought, we have to do this so that, in the end we can say we did whatever we could to try and give our kids something,” said Raddall.

Schools have adjusted to allow students to receive their diplomas and awards at individually scheduled times.

The students can be accompanied by up to four guests for the ten-minute ceremony.

Raddall and her group are proposing to follow in the steps of last year’s graduating class and hold a drive-by graduation celebration.

She says using Queens Place Emera Centre again would allow the students to set up six feet apart while the community drives by and shows their support.

Raddall says a letter submitted to public health through the department’s website outlining their plan was met with a form-letter type rejection.

But Friday morning, Raddall awoke to an e-mail from Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang.

Nova Scotia chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang

Dr Robert Strang discusses what safe graduation celebrations could look like in the second phase of COVID reopening. Photo Nova Scotia Government

In it, he says under the current restrictions the gathering is not permitted.

But once the province moves into Phase II of the COVID reopening plan, which could be as soon as Wednesday June 16, the ceremony can go ahead.

In fact during Friday’s COVID briefing Dr. Strang pointed to the LRHS drive-by model as one other schools should consider.

“Communities will need to be creative and innovative again in celebrating their graduates. One example I’ve heard is a drive-past celebration. Graduates can be sitting outside, properly distanced, while family and community members in their vehicles drive-by to honour the graduate’s accomplishments. It’s a great idea and I’m sure the people who thought of it would be happy if you stole their idea,” said Strang.

Raddall is excited the drive-by idea has received the blessing of Nova Scotia’s top doctor.

She’s optimistic provincial officials will announce phase II of the recovery will begin Wednesday and their group can go ahead with their plans but regardless, they’re determined to provide some ceremony for the LRHS class of 2021.

“Really where we’re at is, we just have to move on and say, ok, if that doesn’t work, let’s go to plan B,” said Raddall. “There’s 26 letters in the alphabet and we’re not the give-y up kind of people.”

Reported by Ed Halverson 
Twitter: @edwardhalverson

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Online discussion shows communities how to wrap their arms around migrant workers

Felix Munoz with Yvonne and Al Wenninger

Felix Munoz with Yvonne and Al Wenninger. Photo courtesy of the Wenningers

An online event this weekend will provide a peek into the life of the province’s migrant workers.

“Will You Be My Neighbour” will feature a conversation with local pastor Samuel Jess and migrant worker Felix Munoz about overcoming the isolation some workers feel from the communities where they live and work.

Munoz is one of hundreds of migrant workers from Mexico who make the South Shore their home for up to eight months of the year as farm labour.

Jess is the pastor at Barss Corner Baptist and Emmanuel Church of Parkdale and Maplewood.

The two became friends after Jess invited Munoz to join his family for dinner.

Jess says it’s that personal connection that makes migrant workers feel welcomed.

“They’ve said it’s so nice that you care. Thank you for caring for Mexicans here. And caring about their families, caring to know them, caring to stay in touch with them, that’s probably a pretty big need,” said Jess.

Pastor Samuel Jess.

Pastor Samuel Jess. Photo contributed by Samuel Jess

He says a first year university course in Spanish and a trip to South America in his younger days has helped him speak with Felix and the other workers.

“Getting over that language barrier, it takes time and it takes misunderstandings and it takes, it just takes a lot of patience,” said Jess. “Felix has a lot of patience and people in our churches have a lot of patience.”

The event is being presented by the group, “No One Is Illegal – Halifax”.

Stacey Gomez, a member of the Halifax chapter says the organization has offices across Canada and around the world to help migrant workers navigate life and regulations in a foreign country.

“We field questions from migrant workers about the vaccine, for example, about worker rights and other issues around access to services, for example,” said Gomez.

She says this is the first in a series of events they’re planning where residents can engage and learn more about the migrant population that is part of their community.

“We wanted to organize it around the theme of being a good neighbour because I think that really resonates with people, especially in the COVID-19 context where we’ve had to rely on our neighbours a lot,” said Gomez.

The event will be presented Saturday night beginning at 7:00pm on YouTube and FaceBook Live.

Reported by Ed Halverson 
Twitter: @edwardhalverson

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South Shore Drive-in waiting on the word to reopen

South Shore Drive-In screen

South Shore Drive-In screen. Photo Catherine Croft

Organizers of the South Shore Drive-In say this season will be worth the wait.

Catherine Croft, one of the principal organizers says people are asking when the local drive in will begin operations, pointing out other drive-ins in Nova Scotia have been operating for a few weeks.

Croft says the season will get underway soon and she’s asking patrons to be patient just a little while longer.

“Our drive-in is a bit different,” said Croft. “We’re run by volunteers and unlike some drive-ins that are able to do no-person contact essentially. You can buy your ticket online and you park yourselves.”

Croft says their operation is based on in-person interaction.

Her team of volunteers, including members of the Queens County Ground Search and Rescue, are responsible for everything from selling tickets, directing where to park, selling concessions and cleaning washrooms.

That support team alone, can include up to 30 people which could see the operation run afoul of public gathering limits set by public health.

Croft says their group had hoped to start showing films June 5, but now expects they will have to wait until sometime this summer when restrictions ease.

When the facility is up and running, Croft says they have plans to offer more than movies to their audience.

She is working to showcase local live music. Performers will play on a stage in front of the big screen while their image is shown behind them.

Croft also wants to expand their offerings into the community by bringing their smaller screen to private events.

That would allow people to watch movies, or play video games as part of their gatherings.

The screen is being installed this week at the South Shore Drive-In home on the Hank Snow Museum property.

Croft says she and her team are as anxious as everyone else to get the season underway.

“I’m ready. I’ve been all winter ready. I am ready to go with concessions, our screen is ready and cleaned this year and we’ll be ready to rock and roll whenever the government says or Dr. Strang can say that we can do it.”

Reported by Ed Halverson 
Twitter: @edwardhalverson

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Students safe after bus tangles with power line

Photo Ed Halverson

A downed power line briefly trapped students inside a bus Monday afternoon.

Shortly after 3:00pm a bus carrying 23 students on route 122 from Liverpool Regional High School, South Queens Middle School and John C Wickwire Academy, encountered the power line on Barss Street in Liverpool.

Captain John Long of the Liverpool Fire Department explains what led to the downed line.

“Another vehicle had hit the pole, or rubbed the pole and pulled the mast off the house. The bus came along and didn’t notice the low-hanging wire and so it got tangled up in it,”said Long. “As soon as they realized what they were in they stopped the bus and called for help.”

South Shore Regional Centre for Education officials contacted the parents of the 23 students on board to make them aware of the situation.

Nova Scotia Power, Liverpool Fire Department, and RCMP worked together to remove the line from the bus.

The ordeal lasted about an hour but with no air conditioning and temperatures approaching 30 degrees in the mid-afternoon, the only relief students had from the heat was to open the windows.

Liverpool Fire Department provided students with bottled water when they were able to exit the bus.

Some parents arrived to pick up their children from the incident site.

SSRCE Communications Coordinator Ashley Gallant says students were checked out by EHS before being released.

Gallant credits the quick actions of the bus driver for ensuring the safety of everyone on the bus.

“Really have to give some recognition to the bus driver who immediately recognized that something wasn’t right and stopped, according to procedures and contacted Nova Scotia Power, as we should,” said Gallant. “So it’s really the best outcome here. Everybody was safe and no injuries.”

Reported by Ed Halverson 
Twitter: @edwardhalverson

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Region of Queens making bicycles available to residents

Some of the bicycles handed out during the 2020 Bike Exchange campaign.

Some of the bicycles handed out during the 2020 Bike Exchange campaign. Photo Credit: Norm Amirault

The annual Region of Queens bike exchange is once again up and rolling for 2021.

Beginning Monday, residents looking for a gently used bike in good working order can choose from one of the many that will be posted on the bike exchange Facebook page.

Throughout the year, the Region accepts donations of used bicycles and turns them over to be repaired before being offered to the community.

Region of Queens active living coordinator Norm Amirault says the first bike exchange held in 2019 was modelled after other similar programs that were successful around the South Shore.

With the help of their partners Liverpool Adventure Outfitters, 18 bikes were distributed in person that first year and that number increased to 25 bikes in 2020 with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Amidst COVID increased demand for cycling or bikes, bike parts and bike supplies went way, way up,” said Amirault. “So God love ‘em, they’ve continued to do our repairs and they’ve always done a great job.

Now in its third year, another partner has come on board to sponsor the bike exchange.

The Liverpool Kinsmen club has stepped up to cover the costs of repairing the donated bicycles.

Each bike the Region gives away also comes with a helmet, and the Kinsmen are covering the costs of buying those as well.

In honour of that generosity, the Region has renamed the event the, “Kinsmen club of Liverpool bike exchange”.

The event will be held exclusively online again. Fifteen bikes will be listed to start this year’s bike exchange. Amirault says they have another 15 or so that will be offered up after the initial batch has been distributed.

Amirault said the aim of the bike exchange is to provide people the opportunity to be more physically active but you can’t overlook the positive impacts of a community looking out for one another.

“It’s been really, really gratifying to see a couple of things. People of all ages in our community receiving bikes who might not otherwise have gotten them and it’s been really gratifying to see people, residents who say, yup, I’ll get you a bike and donate it,” said Amirault.

Anyone with a bike they would like to donate to the bike exchange program can drop it off at the Region of Queens municipal office on White Point Road.

To view the available bikes head to the Kinsmen club of Liverpool bike exchange event Facebook page.

Amirault says the bikes will be listed starting at 7:00pm.

To claim a bicycle, simply leave your name in the comments under that bike and Region staff will contact the recipients on a first come, first served basis to arrange delivery.

Reported by Ed Halverson 
Twitter: @edwardhalverson

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Houston says PCs ready to lead NS

PC Leader Tim Houston addresses crowd at Shipyards Landing, Bridgewater in July 2020

PC Leader Tim Houston. Photo Ed Halverson

The leader of Nova Scotia’s official opposition party says the PCs are the government in waiting.

Tim Houston says the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservatives have a strong team of sitting MLAs and qualified candidates who are ready to lead after the next election.

“From top to bottom we have a solid team of incredibly talented people. We have it in the caucus now and you’ll see that in MLA Kim Masland and MLA Colton LeBlanc. These are incredible community leaders,” said Houston. “And the slate of candidates that we are assembling, I’m just really humbled with the quality of people that are putting their name forward.”

Houston says Nova Scotia has great potential for success, due in no small part to the increasing population the province has enjoyed over the past few years.

“This government takes a lot of credit for the population growing. But if you’re planning for an increased population then you plan for the other things that go with it, increase the access to health care, understand the needs around housing,” said Houston.

He says that lack of planning for the needs of increased population demonstrates government is taking credit for something that was already happening and is concerned government hasn’t done more to address the housing crisis in Nova Scotia.

“The only solution to the housing crisis is more housing supply. That means looking for ways to get more tradespeople in the province, working with those not-for-profits that are building affordable housing and the development community to see how do we get projects moving quicker and how do we increase supply,” said Houston.

Turning to the pandemic response, Houston says Nova Scotia should be further ahead in its vaccine rollout.

“We were told to be patient. They were building a plan, building a system and that when they turned it on and flicked the switch we would ramp, ramp right up. But we haven’t.”

The PC leader is frustrated it’s taking so long to get needles into the arms of all Nova Scotians.

Houston says from the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, opposition parties have voiced their concerns to government outside of the public eye so Nova Scotians would see their leaders taking on the pandemic as a united front.

He was confident in the approach taken by then-premier Stephen McNeil to follow recommendations made by chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang.

Houston says the relationship developed by the two men inspired Nova Scotians to work together to keep the pandemic at bay.

He questions whether Premier Iain Rankin has the same willingness to follow the advice of public health.

“For the past year we got used to seeing Premier McNeil and Dr. Strang and they certainly seemed to be one unit. They seemed to be totally in sync with each other. I just don’t have that vibe from the new relationship,” said Houston. “In fact, the government has issued a couple of releases where they’ve said Premier Rankin directed Dr. Strang to do certain things.”

Houston says politicians giving directives to public health is not what Nova Scotians are accustomed to seeing from their government.

He is hopeful whenever the writ is dropped the people of this province will recognize the work his party has done to prepare plans to provide dignity to seniors, address addictions and mental health and provide better healthcare to all Nova Scotians.

“We want to be very, very open,” said Houston. “We know we need to be accountable, that’s the job of government, to be accountable to the people. So we’re being very transparent about what we think is possible and where the focus needs to be and right now, that focus needs to be on healthcare.”

Reported by Ed Halverson 
Twitter: @edwardhalverson

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LRHS Warriors vote for new look

New LRHS Warriors logo designed by student Autumn McDonald

New LRHS Warriors logo designed by student Autumn McDonald

Liverpool Regional High School has a new logo to represent the Warriors.

The winning design features a shield with a small letter W in the top right corner and three swords crossing behind from corner to corner and down the center.

Students were asked to vote last week for one of four final submissions and selected 15-year-old, grade 10 student, Autumn McDonald’s logo.

“It is pretty neat that my design is going to be used for a couple of years to come,” said McDonald.

Principal Souhail Soujah says he hopes the design will be in use for more than a couple of years.

Soujah says the idea of using a shield in the design is a great way of representing what it means to be a warrior.

“It fits right in with the ideology that a warrior is somebody who protects others, who stands up for the weak or for those who need protection,” said Soujah. “It works on many levels.”

The decision to replace the Warriors image of an Indigenous man wearing full traditional headdress was made by the students themselves late last year.

Many in the community spoke out against replacing an image that has been tied to the school for generations.

But current students felt using the image of someone from another culture in this way was inappropriate and no longer represented who they are.

This is not the first time McDonald’s art has been chosen to represent the school.

The cover of the Liverpool Regional High yearbook will feature another of her designs.

She is happy the students liked what she did enough to vote for her work. She says her friends have been very supportive.

“Some of them said they weren’t really surprised and others said they were very proud of me,” said McDonald.

She designed the image by first drawing a freehand sketch then using an app on her iPad to put together a polished submission.

McDonald has agreed to further refine her design to provide the school with a few options that can be used for a variety of applications.

Soujah says the SAC has set aside some money to get a copy of the new image into students’ hands in the next few weeks. He wouldn’t say how the logo will be delivered, only that it will be a surprise for all students.

Reported by Ed Halverson 
Twitter: @edwardhalverson

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