Charlton appeals to Queens councillors for more transition house funding

District 3 Coun. Maddie Charlton asked for a way on Tuesday to boost funding for the South Shore Transition House Association. (Region of Queens YouTube channel)

Thirty-four community groups in Queens County will be getting almost $150,000 in funding from the municipality, but one councillor worried on Tuesday that one organization wasn’t getting enough.

The Region of Queens approves funding requests each year from non-profit groups for operational, capital or event funding through its community investment fund.

Groups have to meet various criteria to be approved for funding. Eighteen groups applied for funding of more than $1,000. Another 16 applied for help under $1,000. Council must approve all requests over $1,000. Staff alone can assess and approve those requests under $1,000.

The South Shore Transition House Association asked for $5,000 so that the Bridgewater-based Harbour House can help clients in Queens County from a more secure location in Liverpool. 

Stephanie Sereda, the region’s community development co-ordinator, explained the association’s request to councillors.

“They currently have been in the Liverpool area serving clients for two years from a location that is just not secure. They have requested that they can find a safe and secure space, this would cover rent, transportation to and from for their clients.

“This would be for Queens County residents who are experiencing domestic violence to go and receive counselling and support and they’re brought in from all corners of Queens to the Liverpool area to this particular location. … But the space is very public and it’s a very private matter. They’re just hoping to continue to support in a better location.”

But because the organization’s cash assets made up more than half of their operating budget, they were eligible for only $1,250 under the community investment fund. The amount that can be awarded to an organization is reduced if its bank balance or assets are above a certain threshold.

Some other organizations were also not awarded all the funding they requested.

District 3 Coun. Maddie Charlton asked if there was any way to make an exception to the policy to ensure the transition house association got its full funding request.

“I want to see this request considered to be supported in the full amount because I think it’s important that women in Queens County have access to a resource like this in Queens County and they don’t have to go elsewhere.”

Charlton wanted to see the motion amended. 

Other councillors, however, said that while they support more funding for the organization, they couldn’t support going against the policy.

District 6 Coun. David Brown said he would support a standalone request, but he wouldn’t support changing the policy in this case.

“This is a very worthwhile cause but we have to have some consistency in how we deal with things. We can’t decide that one area or group is not as deserving as another area or group. I think that’s a slippery slope we go down.

“But if we decide we want to give more to this organization, it’s a very good organization, we have that option at a later time and in my mind, that’s the best way to go today.”

Mayor Darlene Norman said that she couldn’t amend the motion, because it would be a substantive change and it would be out of order. Norman suggested that Charlton make a motion at a future meeting that council fund the remaining $3,750 requested.

“This council does highly support South Shore Transition House and the outreach they provide for the women in Queens but this council wishes to keep in check with the policy that we’ve developed.”

In the end, councillors voted to support the recommendation to give the South Shore Transition House Association $1,250. 

Councillors approved all funding requests recommended by staff, for a total of $147,858.64.

Here are the organizations awarded more than $1,000 in funding through the Region of Queens community investment fund.

Operating investment funds (for eligible operating expenses up to the amount stated)

  • CJQC Radio Society (QCCR) – $5,000
  • Queens County Museum – $10,000
  • South Queens Chamber of Commerce – $5,000
  • Queens County Fair Association – $10,000
  • North Queens Heritage Society – $1,125
  • South Shore Transition House Association – $1,250
  • Mersey Point Community Association – $10,000
  • The Friends of Carroll Baker Society – $4,847.50
  • Coastal Queens Place – $5,000
  • Queens County Blades – $5,000
  • Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute – $5,900
  • Friends of Hank Snow Society – $10,000
  • North Queens Board of Trade – $10,000

Capital investment funds

  • Seaside Recreation and Community Centre Association – $33,723.64
  • Liverpool Baseball Club – $1,025
  • Westfield Community Center Society – $23,197.50

Event investment funds

  • Native Council of Nova Scotia – $2,300
  • Privateer Days Commission – $3,400

Email: rickconradqccr@gmail.com

Listen to the audio version of this story below

New supergroup aims to give South Shore businesses stronger voice

Rae Bonneville is the chairwoman of the newly formed Lunenburg Queens Business Collective. (Rae Bonneville)

Business groups on the South Shore have teamed up to form one large umbrella organization, potentially representing hundreds of businesses.

The Lunenburg Queens Business Collective includes the chambers of commerce and boards of trade from Liverpool, Lunenburg, Mahone Bay, Bridgewater and Riverport. It also includes the South Shore Tourism Co-operative. 

Rae Bonneville is the new group’s chairwoman. She says the group won’t replace the business groups in each community. It will enhance what they’re already doing and give them more voice and visibility.

“It’s just so much more of a pool that everyone can access,” she said in an interview. “If you’re a member of the Lunenburg Board of Trade, for instance, you’re also a member of the collective. And your connections are really extended. … The connections for business are much higher. And also it gives us a much stronger voice for going to council and representing the businesses with a much stronger voice. It’s not just Liverpool on their own, dealing with a challenge. It’s all of us supporting that group. … It just gives us a lot more strength.”

Bonneville, who is also the president of the Bridgewater Chamber of Commerce, said the idea was first hatched by the Bridgewater chamber about two years ago. 

“It seemed like a great idea to unite and form a united voice and have a stronger presence and support each other in the whole region.”

She said that although the group is brand new, it already has its sights set on some big issues. 

“One of the biggest things we’re trying to tap into is a really good transit system between all of these towns to help with students and seniors and all kinds of shift workers and that sort of thing.”

And it has taken over responsibility for the Lunenburg Queens Business Awards, which are planned for November at the Best Western in Bridgewater.

Bonneville said they hope to hold region-wide job fairs and to create an activity calendar, so that an event in one community doesn’t compete with an event in another.

“It’s pretty exciting, we’re getting a lot of really positive feedback. I think this is going to have a lot of legs as we go along.”

Email: rickconradqccr@gmail.com

Liverpool’s Astor Theatre eyes opportunity with Bridgewater Cineplex closure

Cineplex Cinemas Bridgewater will close on April 29. (Rick Conrad)

While moviegoers on the South Shore may be mourning the impending closure of Cineplex Cinemas in Bridgewater, Liverpool’s Astor Theatre is getting ready to welcome film fans back.

Bridgewater Mayor David Mitchell confirmed online rumours late last week that Cineplex will close its seven-screen multiplex on April 29.

No one from Cineplex was available for an interview on Tuesday, but the company sent the following statement to QCCR:

“We’ve made the difficult decision not to renew our lease and to close our Cineplex Bridgewater location, the last day of shows will be April 29.

“We are grateful to our team and the community for their support over the past 11 years.”

Mitchell said he’s contacted Cineplex to see if they would remain in town at a different location or in a smaller venue. He said Tuesday he hasn’t heard back from the company.

“Other than the date, I have no additional information from Cineplex,” he said in an interview. 

“It’s a huge loss just because it’s an entertainment venue, it’s a place where all ages could go out and socialize. It’s a loss in terms of that social aspect in the community.”

But Bridgewater’s loss could be Liverpool’s gain.

The Astor Theatre has regularly shown movies in its 200-seat space. It just recently got a new sound system installed. Executive director Jerri Southcott says they plan to begin showing movies again by mid-April. She said it may keep more Queens County moviegoers at their hometown theatre.

“Personally, I think it’s sad. The timing is really interesting. While it’s not going to make a huge difference, because we’re not sure people will make the trip here, but it might help.

“We will certainly be looking at the opportunities that it will have for us as a functioning theatre.””

News of the Cineplex Bridgewater closure comes amid a few tough years for the movie theatre industry. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, theatres have struggled to bring people back. Competition from streaming services has also bitten into the bottom line.

According to a 2023 study by Telefilm Canada on Canadian movie consumption, 95 per cent of Canadians watch feature films. But 98 per cent of that movie watching was happening at home.

Big budget action movies are still a draw to the multiplex, the study found. But many older and rural consumers watch a majority of movies at home. Fewer than a third of people made two or more trips to cinemas in the previous 12 months.

“High spectacle genres are the preferred lures to cinemas, especially for younger moviegoers,” the report found. “By contrast, many older and more rural consumers watch an overwhelming portion of their movies in the home.”

Ironically, Cineplex has been reporting better audience numbers in the past year, though box office receipts are still lagging behind 2019.

Smaller theatres like the Astor, which are considered second-run movie houses, had been restricted in what kinds of movies they could show. They had to wait until new releases cycled through Cineplex. 

With the Bridgewater theatres closing, Southcott isn’t sure how that will affect what the Astor can offer.

“We tended to be a place where they could see movies that they wouldn’t necessarily be able to see at a big cineplex anway. We’re excited about getting it up and running again. I’ts a great venue. Seeing a movie here is a really great experience.”

Mitchell said he thinks there’s still a great moviegoing market in Bridgewater. 

“I don’t think this is the end of movies in Bridgewater. You can watch a movie in Liverpool and you can watch a movie in Chester at the two playhouses, which is great. But regionally, this is the only multiplex. There is a market here for the multiplex.”

In the meantime, an online petition has been created to convince Cineplex to reverse its decision. It has more than 800 signatures so far.

Email: rickconradqccr@gmail.com

Listen to the audio version of this story below

Organizers lift lid on Nova Scotia Lobster Crawl Festival

The Nova Scotia Lobster Crawl Festival kicks off Thursday. (Nova Scotia Lobster Crawl Facebook page)

By Rick Conrad

Get your shell cracker ready, sharpen your lobster pick and loosen your belt. Thursday marks the beginning of the Nova Scotia Lobster Crawl Festival.

The month-long celebration of the succulent shellfish includes businesses all along the South Shore, from Barrington, the lobster capital of Canada, to Peggys Cove, and as far inland as Kejimkujik and New Ross.

Things really get going on Friday, when Lucy the Lobster marks Groundhog Day in her own special way. If you’re at the Cape Sable Island Causeway at 8 a.m., you’ll get to see if Lucy predicts a longer winter.

The South Shore Tourism Co-operative launched its first lobster crawl in 2018 to help bring visitors to the South Shore in a typically slow time of year.

Stephanie Miller Vincent, the co-ordinator of the co-operative and the festival, says that with more than 100 events at 80 different businesses around the South Shore, it’s a great excuse to get out of the house.

“February is the longest shortest month of the year and we all need a reason to get out and crawl,” she says.

“There are just always great reasons to either come and visit the South Shore or crawl around the South Shore if you already live here.”

The festival features five signature events — Lucy and her shadow on the 2nd, the Lobster Roll Off competition at the Michelin Social and Athletic Club in Bridgewater on Feb. 4, the inaugural Chowder Chowdown Showdown on Feb. 11 at the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre in Birchtown, the Tail End Party at the Old Fish Factory in Lunenburg on Feb. 23, and the Beachside Bingo Brunch Buffet at the Quarterdeck Inn in Hunts Point on Feb. 25.

The chowder showdown is already sold out and there are only a few tickets left for the lobster roll competition, Miller Vincent says.

But there are events all over the South Shore to tickle your lobster fancy. The Region of Queens is also getting in on the lobster-loving action with Light Up Queen’s, an outdoor nighttime party in Centennial Park on Feb. 24.

“The economic value of lobster crawl has increased every year,” Miller Vincent says. “It’s now an anticipated event. We have businesses that stay open because of lobster crawl or extend their hours because of lobster crawl.

“It’s a little bit of everything. It’s truly taken a month where hibernation might have been the most popular activity and really encouraged people to get out.”

If you’re really into the crawl, you can find something to do for all 29 days of February, Miller Vincent says. You can pick up a passport at participating businesses or on the website at lobstercrawl.ca, track your progress and enter to win prizes. 

As for Lucy, she gets to return to her bottom-dwelling ways a few days after she sees her shadow or not.

“Lucy is often a different Lucy. She does her duties, spends a couple of days at the spa at Capt. Kat’s (Lobster Shack in Barrington Passage) so you can pop by and get a ‘shellfie’ with her and then Lucy gets released,” Miller Vincent says.

“We do not eat Lucy, nor do we allow anyone else to eat Lucy. Lucy gets released.”

For a full schedule, visit lobstercrawl.ca or follow Nova Scotia Lobster Crawl on Facebook.

Email: rickconradqccr@gmail.com

Listen to the audio version of this story below

Scotiabank closing Liverpool branch in spring 2024

Exterior of a Scotiabank location adjacent to a mainstreet

Scotiabank on Main Street in Liverpool. Photo Google Maps

Scotiabank customers in Liverpool will have to travel up the road 1/2 an hour to do their banking.

A notice posted in the Liverpool branch announced it would be closing its prominent location at the corner of Main and Market streets and moving all accounts to Bridgewater as of April 11th, 2024.

The bank did not provide a reason for the change or provide any indication if the employees would be retained or moved to another location.

The decision has spurred a great deal of conversation in the community and online with many current customers discussing the possibility of moving their accounts to another bank.

Once Scotiabank pulls up stakes, Royal Bank and Bank of Montreal will be the last of the big five Canadian banks to maintain a presence in Liverpool. Loblaws’ Presidents Choice banking will also continue to service Liverpool customers.

To hear the broadcast of this story click play below.

E-mail: edhalversonnews@gmail.com

The Liverpool Privateers have set sail to Bridgewater

Lights reflect off the ice surface of a hockey rink

Queens Place ice surface. Photo Ed Halverson

The team announced on June 29 that they would be leaving Liverpool and a week later staff at the Lunenburg County Lifestyle Centre posted to social media that Jim Bottomley is bringing Junior B hockey to the LCLC.

Owner Jim Bottomley says travel time for the coaches and players and the opportunity to increase the fanbase were the main reasons for moving the team from their home at Queens Place in Liverpool.

Bottomley encourages his hockey players to be student athletes which means most of the team lives in and around Halifax to be close to their universities. He says relocating to Bridgewater will make a big difference in the amount of time the players need to spend on the road, especially during the winter months.

For the past ten years the Liverpool Privateers have built a competitive team and a devoted fanbase and Bottomley hopes that support will follow the team a half an hour up Highway 103.

“That’s our biggest loss is the fans were so supportive down there and since they announced the move, I’ve heard from a number of fans that said you can still count on us coming up [to Bridgewater] so I’m looking forward to that,” said Bottomley. “But we had the best fans in the junior, Nova Scotia junior Hockey League over the last number of years and we’re just hoping that it will continue right there in Bridgewater. It’s going to be a South Shore team so hopefully everybody along the shore there will come and support us.”

Head coach Ryan Faulkenham and the rest of his staff will be staying on.

Bottomley says a few players from Bridgewater have suited up for the Privateers. He plans to expand those ranks by making his players and staff available to minor hockey organizations across the South Shore.

“If they want the players or coaches to come out anytime to work with their teams we’ll be there. We want to be involved in the community; we want the players out around the community.,” said Bottomley. “We want to basically a community team that’s well representitive throughout the whole South Shore, not just right in Bridgewater.”

One of the things that will remain constant in the move from Liverpool to Bridgewater is Bottomley’s desire to win.

“I think what Bridgewater lost in the last number of years was a quality hockey team that was competitive. You know I’m not in the business just to put a hockey team on the ice. I want to win every year I love winning and we’re going to try as the year goes on, we’ll continue to build our team,” said Bottomley.

The name of the new Bridgewater team is being kept under wraps until the official kick-off event at the LCLC on Thursday July 13 at 6:00pm.

Bottomley says there’s a great deal to organize and many plans to make before the hockey season opens September 15.

E-mail: edhalversonnews@gmail.com

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

Outpouring of support brings safe grad to North Queens

A graduation cap from 2022

Photo contributed Emma Goulden

Students at North Queens Community School will enjoy a safe grad adventure after fundraising efforts exceeded expectations.

Parents of North Queens grads have been working for two months to raise $9,000. A recent online auction raised close to $4,300 pushing them past their goal for a total just shy of $11,000.

One of the parent organizers Marie Gernon says it was a lot of work but worth it to give students a memorable final night together.

“It’s important that they go have fun and then they just [can say] I graduated, I’m done, you know?” said Gernon.

After COVID restrictions were lifted, the South Shore Regional Centre for Education informed schools they could make their own determination around what graduation celebrations to hold.

North Queens is moving forward with a pre-pandemic schedule of events including prom for grades 7-12 on June 27 and a full, in-person graduation ceremony in the gym on June 29.

Gernon is pleased the students will be ending their time together as a group.

“A lot of the kids have grown up together so it’s nice for them all to have that camaraderie and just see it through and support each other,” said Gernon.

Following the graduation ceremony, the students will board a bus to Halifax to start their safe grad night at Putting Edge and Get Air. Then it’s off to Bridgewater to spend time at HB Studios sports centre before swimming at the Best Western Pool. Once back in Caledonia, they will sit down for breakfast together at the Hollow Log restaurant before heading home.

Gernon calls the way the community rallied to support the graduates a blessing.

Going forward, she hopes parents continue to take an active role in planning graduation activities, not only to take the burden off teachers but to also be part of the celebration.

“You’ve raised them up to this point,” said Gernon. “It’s the parent’s celebration as well. So, it would be nice to see the parents get involved in it again.”

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

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

A new way of living is coming to the South Shore

A large crowd gathered in construction site listens to a person speak

Bridgewater Mayor David Mitchell addresses crowd at the groundbreaking ceremony for Treehouse Village Ecovillage. Photo Ed Halverson

After three years of planning Atlantic Canada’s first co-housing project is becoming a reality.

A groundbreaking ceremony for Treehouse Village ecohousing took place Saturday in Bridgewater.

The 30 unit co-housing project is the dream of co-founders Cate and Leon deVreede.

Cate says they didn’t take the conventional route to buying a house.

“We initially started when we were still renting an apartment. We skipped the single-home ownership and went to let’s build a whole neighbourhood,” said deVreede. “That’s the ambitious part maybe, or the dreamer part in us.”

Cohousing is unique in that the future residents work together to decide on the design and pay for the project. It balances privacy with community involvement.

Homes in Treehouse Village will be arranged to allow residents to easily socialize.

Each family will live in their own townhouse-style home but will have access to a large communal kitchen, playroom, library, co-working space, fitness area and dining room for shared meals.

Cate deVreede says going through the process of figuring out how decisions will be made to planning the design has helped the community form before the first foundation is poured and she’s excited to see it taking shape.

“This is really the first physical example that we have of the social community that’s come together already to design and get this thing built,” said deVreede.

A man stands behind a woman speaking into a microphone

Cate and Leon deVreede address the assembled crowd. Photo Ed Halverson

Treehouse Village isn’t just socially progressive. When it is complete, the development will be Atlantic Canada’s largest multi-unit Passive House construction.

That means all structures will be built and tested to meet extremely high-energy efficient standards to lower energy costs and save on long term maintenance.

Bridgewater Mayor David Mitchell was on hand for the groundbreaking ceremony. He is pleased not only with how the development is attracting people to the town from all over but also how the ecohousing project aligns with the energy saving goals of the town’s Energize Bridgewater initiative.

“As we try to be more green, reduce our carbon footprint and try to find innovative ways to reduce our energy consumption, that this is the largest passive community in Nova Scotia, it’s a great template that we can build upon,” said Mitchell.

Of the 30 units only six are still available.

After three years of planning, the development is scheduled to be complete in the fall of 2022.

Leon deVreede says when Treehouse Village is complete, moving truck companies better be ready.

“We’re looking at having everything done and having everyone move in together so we can be a community, all at once,” said deVreede. “[It’s a] single-phase build, the money’s in place. It’s going to happen.”

E-mail: edhalversonnews@gmail.com
Twitter: @edwardhalverson

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