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Area residents offer their opinions on the issues of the day, from the serious to the whimsical.
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Visiting Spanish couple disappointed Green Gables House closed, surrounded by construction
By Jim Brown
Most Islanders know nearly everything tourism related, including attractions featuring PEI’s most famous redhead, are closed after the leaves have fallen and snow is on the ground.
But not a Spanish husband and wife, who arrived by taxi from Charlottetown at the Green Gables House in Cavendish in late November, only to find heavy construction surrounding it and no way to go inside.
“People go on vacation any time of the year and they leave somewhere sunny and they figure it’s going to be the same thing when they get to (their destination),” said Arnold Smith, a long-time tourist operator.
He’s also a member of the Resort Municipality’s planning board, which met on Dec 5.
“People plan vacations and it’s a lifetime dream and they’ve retired and off they go. Some of them are fortunate enough to come here in the summer and do a little extra planning and other people have just saved up the amount of money it’s going to cost them to get here and they’ve booked the flight at a little cheaper (price)…They assume because the Taj Mahal is open year year round (and) Big Ben and Niagara Falls, that other things are open year round too.”
To loud gasps from planning board members CAO Brenda MacDonald described the couple’s ordeal. They had eventually arrived at the Visitor Information Centre, where Brenda’s office is.
“They didn’t realize that wherever they stayed in Charlottetown, they (were told) the house was open,” she said.
The Parks Canada website wasn’t very clear on the attraction’s hours of operation.
“They were so frustrated, I was just trying to help,” she said.
Brenda said she drove them to a coffee shop in North Rustico, giving them a short tour, for which they were very appreciative since they were hungry and had nowhere to stay until the taxi arrived from Charlottetown (about a 40 minute drive).
Board members said efforts should be made to contact taxi companies, to make sure they knew the lack of places foreign visitors could go to in the winter months when everything is closed up.
This sort of thing happens every year and it can be very distressing to visitors expecting attractions to be open, said Brenda.
“They were happy and thankful, but it was just a bad situation because they had come specifically to see Green Gables House.”
She and the couple tried to reach Green Gables by phone but kept getting an answering machine.
There is definitely much more than can be done to reduce the chance of that sort of thing happening in the future, including better signage, greater awareness among taxi drivers and more up to date websites and guidebooks, said planning board members.
New twists in used car sales lot application saga
Dispute heading to IRAC public hearing
Story and photos by Jim Brown
It’s never over until it’s really, really over.
And even then it may not be over.
Bill Drost’s bid to open a used car sales lot in Stanley Bridge after its initial rejection by the Resort Municipality in July will now go to a public hearing in front of the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission (IRAC). He decided to go the public hearing route on Oct 26.
Mr Drost didn’t take “No” for an answer when his application was given a thumbs down back in the summer.
A lot has happened since, including getting acclaimed to the same council that had rejected his application.
“I spent many years in government at the deputy minister level and other senior executive levels,” said Mr Drost.
He was always interested in public service, so he submitted his name.
Mr Drost said he could have opted to rely just on his written submission to IRAC to make his case. The municipality also made a written submission.
“For four months now I’ve been suffering financially because of a very arbitrary short-sighted decision by council,” he said.
“I live in this municipality and I think this should be a good place to do business and I want to continue to do business and at the end of the day they may drive me out of the municipality and force me to go some place else,” said Mr Drost.
The Resort Municipality “should be business friendly, and not just for tourism business but every type of business,” he said.
Mr Drost says he’s got about 20 cars on a lot near the Stanley Bridge roundabout, but he can’t sell them.
It’s basically just a parking lot, he said.
But he hasn’t given up on his dream.
“I submitted my case and the municipality submitted their case for the denial of my development permit and then we submitted rebuttal statements to rebut each other’s positions.”
And now, another twist.
“I went one step further and made a suggestion to IRAC that we have a thorough examination of past development permits that have been given out by the municipality for the last three years.”
“It’s not a great number…I would suggest a few dozen, likely…I just wanted to see the minutes of the planning committee (over three years).”
The Resort Municipality’s mayor, Matthew Jelley, says he couldn’t comment on Mr Drost’s IRAC appeal because it was before “an adjudicated body”.
Mr Jelley went on to say he didn’t think the appeal would hurt council’s operation, since differences of opinion will happen from time to time among councillors.
As long as conflict of interest regulations are followed it shouldn’t be an issue, he said.
Mr Jelley also noted differences of opinion over development issues can arise with he, or other councilors and have in the past.
As long as the appropriate regulations about not participating in the decision making process are followed, there shouldn’t be any problems, he said.
My friend was raped at 18 and the justice system only made things worse
By Michelle M Arsenault
A close friend of mine was raped at 18. She wasn’t raped at a college party or after a drunken escapade, nor did it happen because she was dressed ‘slutty’ or because she hung around the wrong people. It happened because she was always told to trust the police; and so, when an on duty officer stopped his car to offer her a drive home, she felt safe accepting. This was her first mistake.
After driving her into a secluded area (this was rural NB after all) he raped her. Considering the officer was in the position of power, clearly that put her at an immediate disadvantage. She followed all the rules in reporting the assault but it was swept under the rug. The cop was shoved off to another community with no charges, and as a result my friend was sent a clear message; you don’t matter.
This is the same message many women have received in various situations over the years. Whether it’s the recent case with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford in the US or many other women who’ve reported assaults only to be abused by not only the perpetrator but also the system; it’s not a new story. Unfortunately, even though it’s 2018, it still appears nothing has changed from when my friend was raped 20 years ago.
Although this isn’t always the case, as a woman I often feel that if needed the police won’t be on my side. In fact, if I am victimized, I really have no faith calling the cops will help me. They’ll show up, ask a few questions and chances are that’s where everything will end. I’ve heard too many stories from other women who have reassured me of this belief; from women who were in abusive situations to women who were stalked, threatened and one of which was eventually killed, with little or no help from the police. I recently heard one story where the female officer accused the woman involved in a domestic situation of being of fault. Not to say that women are always innocent victims but it makes me feel that my odds of being taken seriously are slim.
My friend was never the same after that day. She suffered from self-esteem issues, made irrational and sometimes self-destructive decisions and not surprisingly, had a great deal of distrust for authority. Years later, she was assaulted again by an acquaintance who asked for a drive home. She briefly – very briefly – considered going to the police but finally decided against it. In her mind, it was the people who were supposed to protect her in the first place who lost her trust. The sad part is that when I tell this story to most women, they aren’t surprised.
Fierce winds, power challenges fail to disrupt Christmas Craft Fair
Some thoughts on Callbeck, Island PCs, Brett Kavanagh and the ugly side of politics
By Mike Duffy
My wife says “this is better than any soap opera on TV!” By “this” she is, of course, referring to the slow motion train wreck unfolding in Washington.
The ugly, nasty side of politics is on full display, as the two sides arm-wrestle over abortion. They don’t make direct reference to it, but abortion is really what the Kavanaugh nomination fight is all about.
Ever since the Roe v. Wade decision, when the US Supreme Court opened the door to abortion, pro-life people have been dreaming of the day when a conservative majority on America’s highest court would overturn Roe and turn back the clock.
That’s why American pro-choice forces have put so much money and effort into trying to block the nomination of a conservative Roman Catholic judge. Brett Kavanaugh told US senators Roe v Wade is “settled law”, that means if confirmed he’s not going to vote to overturn it. But the pro-choice people aren’t buying. They don’t trust him.
We have had the same debate here on PEI about the availability of abortions for Island women. For decades successive Island governments have tried to avoid dealing directly with the issue, hoping it will quietly go away.
I am not going to wade into that minefield today, but instead want to address another big issue raised by the Kavanaugh hearing: Why would anyone go into public service when their entire life will be put under a microscope, and can be so easily and unfairly destroyed?
Could that be why none of the MLAs in the PC caucus plan to seek their party’s leadership?
At the rate we are going, it will be difficult to find bright, talented people to serve in politics or any other aspect of public life.
Which brings me to this weekend, and the installation of Hon. Catherine Callbeck as Chancellor of the University of Prince Edward Island.
After a successful career in business, and serving with distinction as Premier, MP and as a Senator, Ms. Callbeck would be entitled to say, “I’ve met my obligation for public service.” But no, like the great Islander she is, Ms. Callbeck has once again answered the call to serve at UPEI. (She studied business at Mount Allison University. One of her fellow students was John Bragg, Eastlink Cable, Oxford Frozen Foods etc.)
Ms. Callbeck’s background in, and deep knowledge of business and politics will be important to the continued success of our province’s university.
As chancellor, she follows business great Don McDougall, who brought the Blue Jays to Toronto, and whose optimism and boundless energy helped save Summerside after the CF base closure; and before him, Calgary oilman William E. “Bill” Andrew, who even with his great success in the oil patch, has never forgotten his alma mater.
UPEI has been fortunate to have a long list of distinguished chancellors, a who’s who of eminent Islanders who saw this public service as a way to give back to their home province.
As our economy continues to evolve, we will need our educational system to evolve with it. It will take strong, determined leadership.
Chancellor Catherine Callbeck will lead our university forward with confidence and vigor, just as she has led in every endeavor she has undertaken over the years.
Do you have any comments you’d like to submit about this article? Please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org and they will be posted in as timely a manner as possible.
Why can’t I get a treat at an ice cream stand after Labour Day?
By Michelle M Arsenault
I recently had a few people say to me it was unfortunate all the ice cream stands on PEI seem to close as soon as September rolls around. It’s almost as if the unwritten rule ‘do not wear white after Labour Day’ on PEI extends to ‘do not have anything touristy open after the first week of September.’
It seems kind of shortsighted, considering we do have some tourists into the fall season. Furthermore, we also have local residents who might want to take advantage of the tourist scene when it’s less crowded, less hot and less busy. That might even include some of our neighbours in New Brunswick or Nova Scotia. It’s a crazy idea, I know, but I’m almost willing to bet that if that ice cream stand was open into the fall, they would have customers.
Of course, within reason – I’m not saying that everything should be open right to Christmas! However, why not experiment and go further into the season and see what happens?
I was recently at a local restaurant on its second last day of the season. The place was packed. I looked around and wondered what about that crowd suggested it was a good time to close the doors until next spring? How does this possibly make good business sense? What about the people working? Is it maybe just possible that these people would appreciate a couple more weeks of work for the season? Then again, are locals becoming too comfortable with only working the minimum to go on EI? I once had a relative say to me: “A person gets tired if they work year around.” Yes, I’m sure millions of people around the world are well aware of that fact.
Not only does closed doors in September suggest that the island is no longer open for business, it also closes the doors on Islanders. In fact, maybe what it is really saying is, “we were never opened for you in the first place”.
Empty parking lots surrounded by empty businesses in Cavendish on Sept 24. On many days in the summer parking lots throughout the Resort Municipality are jammed with cars.
Jim Brown photos
Parliamentary teamwork in the era of Donald Trump
By Mike Duffy
A year from now we’re expected to be heading to the polls in a federal general election, and we may even have a provincial vote at about the same time.
All to say the partisan rhetoric is going to amp up substantially. So before we get lost in the fog of partisanship, a tip of the ol’ cap to two political gentlemen, whom I know personally.
Last week James Aylward stepped down as leader of the Island’s PC Party. He’s a good, decent man who would have made a very good premier in the mold of Pat Binns – quietly competent.
But in the era of Donald Trump, being a nice, competent guy isn’t enough. You need something special to break through. It is good news that James will run for re-election. He’s been a great MLA for Stratford. We’ll see whom the Island Tories pick to fill James’ shoes as leader.
The polls suggest tough times for Joe Byrne and the New Democrats, but all lights are green for Peter Bevan Baker, Leader of the Green Party. Oh what a year awaits Island political fans!
Speaking of quiet, competent Island leaders, I was reminded last week during the Premier Doug Ford notwithstanding debate of the late Hon. J. Angus MacLean, a war hero who served as MP in the dual riding of Queens, and later as Premier of PEI. In 1982, Premier MacLean stood with Sterling Lyon of Manitoba and Alan Blakeney, the NDP Premier of Saskatchewan, in insisting that a notwithstanding clause be part of the Charter of Rights.
Premier Blakeney made an eloquent pitch for what he called “positive discrimination.” He said a Charter without the not-withstanding clause would open up Saskatchewan to Sunday shopping, strip clubs and porno books stores, all of which could be found just south of Saskatchewan in North Dakota. Looking back now 36 years later, how smart they were in their predictions of the future. It was another example of political teamwork involving leaders from various political parties.
Still with team work, a tip of the cap also goes to my federal colleague Hon. Wayne Easter, MP. He’s been elected MP for Malpeque for the last quarter-century. Last week I was reminded how he does it.
A young woman visiting from Ireland had run into problems getting her visa renewed. She contacted me through a mutual friend in Rustico.
I wrote the minister to explain her visa problem. My letter was probably one of dozens he gets every day, so I was settling in for a long wait. Then, while shopping at the Cavendish Tourist Mart, I bumped into Wayne Easter. I mentioned I was awaiting a response from the visa people. We agreed to exchange information, and within a few days, the file had been processed, and she had her visa renewal.
It might have happened anyway, but the team approach surely helped. The public wins when Island parliamentarians work together. That’s why they call it “public service.”
Thank you Wayne!
Cavendish resident Mike Duffy represents PEI in the Senate of Canada. Comments are welcome and can be forward by email to email@example.com.
A surge of PNP investors over the past decade made PEI Canada’s fastest growing province
So now that the gold rush is over, what happens next?
By Mike Duffy
If there’s one subject – other than the weather – that Islanders like to grumble about, it’s the Provincial Nominee Program or PNP. Who got it, how much, and how can I get some of that “free money”.
In our area, some long-time tourist operators were able to retire because immigrant PNP investors were in the market to buy a tourist property. Understandably, they think the program is great.
Others complain the presence of the new rich investors hasn’t helped them. In fact, they say the program has driven up rents and house prices, making life more difficult for young Islanders who can’t compete with the big bucks coming from overseas.
The surge of PNP investors over the past decade made us the fastest growing province, and boosted our population above 150,000 for the first time in our history.
It is estimated that, over the years, the PNP program has delivered more than $500 million of new investment into the Island economy. That’s almost as much as the federal government sends to the provincial government every year.
Under the PNP program, off-shore investors were to move to PEI, and invest in a local business.
They were bringing cash, business expertise, and diversity to the Island culture. At least that was the theory.
At least 177 of the PNP investors never bothered to take up residence in PEI, preferring to grab their Canadian passport and forego their residency deposit. At more than $100,000 each, it’s not small change. Last year the province reported it is holding about $18 million in residency defaults. It’s a windfall.
And the windfall is not just for the provincial government. A select group of lawyers, agents and accountants got fabulously wealthy processing the PNP paperwork.
PC Opposition leader James Aylward was blunt when he told the CBC, “We were a bit of a laughingstock within the immigration community,” he said. “People weren’t taking us seriously, they were just seeing us as an easy way through” to getting a Canadian passport.
So now that the gold rush is over, what happens next? Who will replace these new Islanders?
Last week, chatting with visitors in Cavendish, and in the lineup at Richard’s in Covehead, we met two retired couples, one from Columbus, Ohio, the other from Hartford, Conn. Both were first-time visitors.
They were dazzled by the Island scenery, by our tranquil way of life, (the rush of the summer season had just ended), to say nothing of the 30 per cent premium they were getting for their US dollars.
Both couples had questions about immigration rules, taxes, and health care. Is it really as good as it looks? (Yes even in winter!).
With all of the turmoil in the US, the heat and humidity and uncertain weather, etc., they were seriously thinking of moving to PEI for at least six months of the year. Interestingly, neither couple mentioned President Trump.
Making PEI a retirement haven sounds nice, but it comes at a cost. Senior newcomers will need health care, space in our retirement manors and all of the other services seniors require.
With PNP in eclipse, are these the new Islanders we’ve been waiting for?
PEI has over its modern history had wave after wave of immigration starting with our first people, the Mi’kmaq’. The French, the English, Irish and Scots, Lebanese, Dutch and more recently Chinese, Koreans, Taiwanese, Eastern Europeans and from within Canada, the Amish.
These people came here to find a better life for themselves and their families and were enticed by the Island’s natural resources and beauty, the promise of prosperity, a tolerant community and many other reasons. Integration was not always easy or even amicable. Change is difficult, both for the immigrants and for the existing residents, but over time a slightly different and some would say somewhat stronger community emerges with each new wave.
The Government of Canada’s PNP program is the latest attempt to attract new citizens. Prince Edward Island’s administration of the program has come under significant and legitimate criticism and a lot of Islanders are embarrassed by the behavior of a few.
They believe any wrong-doing should not be tolerated but properly investigated and punished.
That said, there is no question the program has attracted new residents to the Island and that at least some of them will make their new Canadian home here. When legitimate concerns have been properly dealt with the memory of PEI’s PNP will fade but our new residents and their families will remain a lasting legacy.
Cavendish resident Mike Duffy represents PEI in the Senate of Canada. Comments are welcome and can be forward by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lucky ticket wins this beautiful painting
Connie Morrison, a member of the Stanley Bridge Memorial Society’s (SBMS) board of directors, holds a beautiful painting of the Stanley Bridge wharf by acclaimed Margate artist and author Karen Slater. The SBMS is raffling off the painting, with tickets selling for $5 each or three for $10. They can be purchased on Wednesdays and Saturdays, from 9 am to 1 pm, beginning in July at the Stanley Bridge Centre. Money from the ticket sales will go towards needed renovations at the SBC.
The Stanley Bridge Centre – A Venue for Culture and Events
In September, 2008, due to declining membership and financial costs to maintain the building, the Stanley Bridge United Church, in Stanley Bridge, Prince Edward Island, was decommissioned. The United Church Presbytery of PEI and Maritime Conference decided in 2009 to officially turn the building over to the former members of the church and they in turn applied to be incorporated as the Stanley Bridge Memorial Society Inc. Directors and trustees were appointed to provide the leadership and direction for the building, as they felt that it was important to maintain its rich heritage and legacy.
The Board’s Mission Statement was the historic preservation of the church and heritage of the Stanley Bridge church. The Stanley Bridge Centre would provide a Cultural/Events Centre and Archival Room that will house historical items and artifacts of significance as well as genealogy records. The Farmers Market is an undertaking that continues the tradition of this community meeting place.
This renewal project will require a large financial undertaking as a new basement is needed as well as washrooms, a kitchen, window restoration, a new roof, insulation and accessibility for all. The Stanley Bridge Memorial Society Inc, owner of the building, has charitable status and is continuing a campaign to raise funds for building improvements. This website provides an historical background, a virtual tour of the interior and exterior, a viewing of the plans for the building, a Donation page and many other features.
We ask that you consider a donation to our renewal project as we believe that the building is a landmark in the community and deserves to have it’s legacy continue for years to come. We trust that you will support this important community effort in Stanley Bridge.
Stanley Bridge Memorial Society
This website will include developments in the planning, historical research and the ongoing process of fundraising and of the restoration, repair and reconstruction of the Stanley Bridge Cantre. Check back often to keep abreast of what is happening and how your contribution is helping to realize the goals of the Society.
Three Day Weather Forecast For Stanley Bridge, Prince Edward Island, Canada
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