We are social creatures, forced to live apart from friends and family. But that doesn’t mean we can’t reach out to each other, even in these difficult times. How are you coping in the age of social distancing and self-isolation? What is it like living in this strange new world? Why not share your story with our readers. You can email your personal account to the Stanley Bridge Centre website, where we will publish it for other Islanders to read. Please send your story to email@example.com. We can get through this together.
The Stanley Bridge Centre website has the wind in its sails after funding was recently secured for another year. Now we’re ready to take the next step, with your help. Support true, independent, community-based journalism by purchasing a yearly ad for $500, or a six month ad for just $275. You can even pay with post-dated cheques in monthly instalments – less than $42 a month for a yearly ad or $45.84 a month for six months.
Why not grow with us? To find out more you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the website’s editor, Jim Brown, at 902-886-2363 or 902-856-1870.
Letter from tourism groups to PEI government officials expressing growing concern for seasonal operators
Hon. Matthew MacKay, Minister of Economic Growth, Tourism and Culture Mr. Kent MacDonald, CEO, Tourism PEI
Regional Tourism Associations of Prince Edward Island
March 31, 2020
Minister MacKay / CEO MacDonald,
During this challenging time related to COVID-19, Prince Edward Island’s collective of Regional Tourism Associations(RTAs) are writing to you with a shared concern for our Memberships, a representation of 750+ tourism operators of all sizes and types. We are also supported in this communication by the Tourism Industry Association of PEI.
Tourism is a vital industry in Prince Edward Island that provides 7,700 full time equivalent jobs for Islanders. It accounts for over $500 million in economic activity each year and 6.3 percent of GDP, the highest percentage of any Canadian province.
By way of this letter, we would like to express that our first priority is to work with Public Health to determine a feasible timeline for tourism activities. PEI’s tourism industry will work with government to ensure government has the funding and technology needed to help screen Visitors and protect the public.
With that said, our greatest growing concern is for seasonal operators and their need for support. Currently, it is unclear how seasonal operators are included in initial rounds of support and there is a growing uneasiness within the industry with how they fit in.
While we understand the landscape may change in due course, it is important that we do not lose sight of seasonal operators at this time. Our Island’s seasonal operators are currently weighing decisions related to whether or not they will open for the 2020 tourism season.
As one of PEI’s top three industries, it is our shared goal for tourism businesses to be open for the upcoming season: if attractions, accommodations, dining and other tourism experiences are closed, it will leave visitors with an impression that there is ‘nothing to do on PEI’, negatively impacting future tourism for our province. Operators are eager to contribute and generate some form of an economic impact that will get our province back on its feet.
We look to the government to offer incentives by ways of offsetting labour costs, expenses and revenues so that businesses will stay open even if tourism traffic isn’t there. This is outlined further in this letter.
We are pleased to see the many federal and provincial business support programs that have rolled out in the last few days and weeks. Will these programs be made available to seasonal tourism operators, and will they be available to operators and workers within the timeframe they are needed (i.e. June 1, 2020 and onward)?
RTAs suggest the following additional ways that government can assist PEI’s tourism industry this season:
Many long-time employees in tourism operate on a seasonal basis. Many of them have been eligible for EI benefits since last fall. Given that there is currently no work for them to return to, will provisions be made to extend their EI coverage? Will this allow for the possibility that they are unable to return to work at all in 2020 and carry them through until late spring 2021? What plan does the government have for them?
Wage Subsidies – Wage subsidies recently announced for employers to cover 75% of employee wages is a very positive announcement. It is important that these subsidies are available to seasonal operators at the beginning of the summer season. Offering these options to them as well, in June, July or August may mean the difference between many operators opening or closing.
For seasonal workers who are on EI now, extend or top up EI payments when they go back to work to provide owner-operators an opportunity to reduce operating costs.
Consider reducing the $50,000 threshold to receive salary relief for small and medium sized enterprises (Canada Emergency Business Account). This still leaves a large gap for small operators who will not meet this amount.
Loan options*. While loan options will benefit some tourism operators and we welcome loan options, many operators do not want to add to their current debt load – therefore the suggestions that follow are of great importance.
Working with lending agencies and financial institutions to encourage multi-month deferrals (12-18 months). While some financial institutions are currently promoting 3-month deferrals, this is of little benefit. Operators need time in which to achieve revenue in the 2020 and early 2021 seasons, to be used to pay back existing loans.
Explore opportunities where Finance PEI could potentially assume operator loans from financial institutions, followed by a 12-18 month deferral.
Explore mechanisms for cash flow / cost recovery to operators at the beginning of the 2020 tourism season. Example: monthly grants.
Work with suppliers – Maritime Electric, Bell Aliant and others – to encourage deferred payments and rollbacks on rates for these services. Example: Eastlink has scheduled price increases for April – could the government work with such suppliers to provide breaks for tourism operators and the business community?
Provisions to assist tourism operators/owners who cannot currently access the EI program.
Forgiveness or deferral of federal/provincial tax and business-related fees (ex. Environmental Health,
Tourism Licensing, Visitor Guide Listings, etc.) for an extended time period (12 – 18 months).
Tourism is a year-round business that requires planning, maintenance and other expenses in the lead up to the season. Given that many operators are now facing either a complete elimination of the season, or a shortened season with decreased demand – has thought been given to assistance related to expenses already incurred that may be difficult to recover, such as advertising, training, inventory purchases and more?
Acknowledgement of lost reservations, cancelled events, season passes, group bookings at attractions, etc.
The window is closing on tourism operators’ ability to make decisions about operating within the 2020 tourism season landscape. We call on the government to take these issues very seriously and offer support that will provide seasonal tourism operators with some level of confidence moving into the ever-important summer operating season. This will provide continuity to our tourism industry’s ability to contribute significantly to the economy of Prince Edward Island.
On behalf of all the Regional Tourism Associations, Derrick Hoare, President of the Central Coastal Tourism Partnership, and owner of The Table Culinary Studio in New London, will follow up with Minister MacKay in the coming days. Alternatively, Derrick may be reached at 1-647-920-1542.
Yours in partnership,
Stanley MacDonald, President, North Cape Coastal Area Tourism Partnership Don Quarles, President, Explore Summerside
Derrick Hoare, President, Central Coastal Tourism Partnership
Steve Murphy, President, Tourism Cavendish Beach
Ben Murphy, President, Discover Charlottetown
Tanya Calver, President, Points East Tourism Partnership
Kirk Nicholson, President, Tourism Industry Association of PEI Kevin Mouflier, CEO, Tourism Industry Association of PEI
Hon. Dennis King, Premier of Prince Edward Island Hon. Robert Morrissey, MP for Egmont
Hon. Wayne Easter, MP for Malpeque
Hon. Sean Casey, MP for Charlottetown
Hon. Lawrence MacAulay, MP for Cardigan
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 Stanl]ey 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.
The 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.
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.
A new vision for Stanley Bridge
Story and photos by Jim Brown
I am surrounded by trees at my Sutherland Lane home. Behind my house I can step into the woods and be transported into a magical world of beauty and enchantment.
A short walk later I break through the woods and am on a well-worn path carved into a farmer’s field. I can look in one direction and see a line of trees standing like flagpoles, arched to the sun and clouds and in another direction see the blue waters of the Stanley River, framed by large bales of hay.
Just a few minutes walk down Rattenbury Road past more fields and beautifully kept homes, partially hidden by shrubs and trees, and I am at the roundabout, where I can go straight ahead and walk for another half hour or so to Cavendish, or hang a right and head down St Mary’s Road past rolling hills, seasonal and permanent homes and historic farmsteads. In the winter fields that stretch from the road to the sky are draped with snow and ice.
Turn left at the roundabout and walk past the gas station and there is the Stanley Bridge Centre, a historic site upon which stands a decommissioned church – a favoured haunt in the summer and fall of Islanders and tourists alike for farmers’ markets, musical performances and history circles. Just a few minutes more and I am at the Stanley Bridge Harbour wharf, home to dozens of pleasure craft and lobster and mussel boats. There I can look across to see the inviting waters of New London Bay.
It’s something all people who live in the area, whether as seasonal or permanent residents, take for granted and know, deep down, they really shouldn’t
Many tourists would be thrilled to live in a community like ours.
Joyce Phillips, who lives in the area, says she sees tourists outside her home transfixed by the sight of something we see every day, the Cavendish dunes nestled on the other side of New London Bay.
It’s not enough to simply witness it – visitors want to lay claim to the landscape, as Islanders do.
That’s the whole point of the Stanley Bridge Accelerated Destination and Design open house, held Nov 7 at the Sterling Women’s Institute Community Hall. It was one of several held recently.
“People would literally walk down our lane, cross our property and stand there amazed (at the sight). It’s the view. Where can I go? Where can I get out to those dunes? How come those boats are going out there,” said Joyce.
Weaving all of Stanley Bridge’s many attractions into one seamless experience would help make the area a much more desirable destination.
Tourists are increasingly looking for unique, original and immersive experiences – something off the beaten path, that includes history, culture and wildlife.
The world doesn’t need more tourist traps, it needs more of what Stanley Bridge offers.
Another presenter, Adam Hickey of Maritime Fun Group, said a pedestrian walkway would help connect Stanley Bridge’s most sought after attractions.
“A pedestrian walkway from Stanley Bridge Resort to the Gables to the pier to the Swimming Rock, (would connect) all of the major points in the community,” he said.
The exercise is volunteer driven and co-ordinated by Mr Sawler and the firm iImagine.
“Tourism is only these things: accommodations, retail, food, entertainment and outdoor activity, ” said Mr Sawler.
Those five things are the key with every destination.
Among the priority initiatives discussed by volunteers was the ability to just get out and stroll. To do that and get enthusiastic thumbs up from visitors, these things were needed: a boardwalk, light posts, hanging baskets, a place to walk behind the cemetery, picnic tables, attractive signage, wooden materials for a playground, parking, small shops, bike racks and somewhere to visit away from the road.
The Stanley Bridge Roundabout and its corner also got a close look and volunteers saw the need for more parking, greater accessibility and lighting for evening use.
They also investigated the idea of an ‘oysters and mussel’ motif and the use of nautical ship wheel and carriage sculptures, with that becoming a feature for park benches and resting areas.
Preserving and enhancing Stanley Bridge’s natural beauty and promoting the area as eco-friendly were top of the list.
But Mr Sawler warned even if a comprehensive plan is developed that has the support of all levels of government it could still take years for the transformation to occur. Patience is needed.
Similar programs have been implemented for Georgetown and Souris.
“What does it take to build tourism? Time and money,” said Mr Sawler.
Royal haters are a particularly vindictive lot
By Nils Ling
If you’re an Islander ‘through and through’ it’s a good bet you know Nils Ling or have heard his name.
Mr Ling, who ran for the Green Party in 2015 in the federal riding of Egmont, is an author, playwright, actor, filmmaker, syndicated newspaper columnist and former broadcaster who has served as president of Film PEI. A resident of Breadalbane, he is also an unabashed royalist and a fierce fan of Harry and Meghan.
I grew up in a family where arguing was a blood sport.
There were six kids – three along each side of the table. And at supper time my dad would throw out a topic. One side would argue from one position, the other diametrically opposed. And half way through my dad would stop the noise and say “Okay – now switch.” And we would have to stand and defend that which we adamantly opposed only moments earlier.
It was good training on seeing the other side of the argument.
I am a royalist. And if you think you have the perfect argument opposing the idea of hereditary privilege and why Queen Elizabeth is a drain on the economy and how in these times, royalty makes no sense, you go on ahead and make it – but please understand I have argued from your side and you are unlikely to give me anything new to think about. I love the Royals more and more every day because every frigging day we see the cost of inconstancy and lack of a foundation in tradition.
We see con artists and ne’er-do-wells. We see flavours of the day. We see those willing to promise the moon for five years of power with no regard to what has happened before and what will happen after. We see the daily cost of a lack of any continuity and it is staggering.
And there – always there – is the Queen. She is a bridge to the past and a stabilizing example we can follow for the future.
That’s why I don’t get those who spew animosity towards Harry and Meghan as they break from The Firm and try to go their own way.
And it’s there. When you read the comments on Facebook posts (which I do not recommend), there are those who couch their arguments against these two young people in vile, derisive terms. “Well, it better not be Canadians on the hook for their security.” “Oh, poor little rich boy, can’t take his life of entitlement.” And on and on, ad infinitum.
Just … stop. These kids are doing the right thing – for them and, by extension, for everyone else.
Harry had no choice as to the circumstances of his birth. None. Yet he has not sat idly by.
He served on active duty in harm’s way in Afghanistan, only being removed when some Aussie asshole reporter got a “scoop” and revealed his whereabouts, endangering those around him.
He and his wife have raised millions for charities using their fame and his position which, it bears repeating, he had NO CHOICE ABOUT.
He has opted to leave the life of privilege for the sake of his family’s safety and he and his wife are paying back the British taxpayers for renos to their London home. They will not be immediately self sufficient but will get there within a few years and in the meantime their major costs, including security which will be substantial will be covered by Prince Charles – not the Canadian government.
Royal haters are a particularly vindictive lot. They hate people for who they are and now, it seems, they are able to find hate in their hearts when people try to do the right thing.
I feel badly for them. It must be so tiring.
Tips on how not to be a jerk this winter
By Michelle M Arsenault
I think all islanders were horrified to watch Newfoundland getting hit with storm after storm, followed by a blizzard that required residents to go home, stay home and not move until the army came along to save them. Let’s face it PEI – it was a little too close to home. Not only did those fierce storms bring back some terrible ghosts from winters’ past, it reminded us there’s still time to get blasted by Mother Nature’s wrath. After all, it’s January and spring is still about another four to five months away. Hopefully.
Meanwhile, there’s a few tips that I would like to pass along just in case we have a few more storms on the way. Consider them ‘thoughtful suggestions’.
1. If you head out on the roads after a storm and feel that some areas need extra attention, let the proper people know. Even though there’s some satisfaction from ranting to your best friend, boss or everyone on Facebook, you’ll probably have more chance of a resolution if you call or text one of these numbers (from the PEI Government website).
You can report road issues via email, phone, or text message. Staff will use this information to investigate concerns and dispatch crews as needed.
Report provincial road issues via text message by texting the information, photo and/or video to your county road issues text line.
Kings County (902) 200-2122
Queens County (902) 200-6649
Prince County (902) 200-10142. If you happen to be cleaning out your driveway, don’t be a jerk by putting your snow on the road. It’s dangerous and if I’m not mistaken, it’s also illegal. Not to mention the fact that snow plow operators probably want to pummel the morons who do it since it’s essentially making more work for them. Think of it like mopping your floor, only to have an inconsiderate relative walk in with mud all over his boots and walk through your kitchen. Except of course, there’s little chance of someone having an accident. Although if you’re walking across the right person’s freshly mopped floors with muddy boots, you could be having an unfortunate ‘accident’ of another kind.
This morning I drove past at least three people who were pushing their snow onto the road. One particular moron wasn’t just spraying snow onto the road but also onto passing cars as they drove by. I guess having blobs of snow everywhere wasn’t enough to potentially cause an accident, they wanted to blind drivers too.
Of course, if you know the person involved or the house number there’s always the option of calling the police and reporting the incident. Don’t want to seem like a jerk? Try reporting it on Crimestoppers and be an anonymous jerk.
3. When there’s a bad storm and you know of elderly or sick people or vulnerable neighbors (for example, a single mother of young children) you might want to check on them. Chances are they are fine but what if they need help cleaning off their walkway? If they have health problems, are they ok? Do they have enough medication or necessary supplies? If not, is this something you can help them with? Also, remember that stormy weather makes a lot of people anxious for obvious reasons. Feeling trapped in their home, worrying about road conditions, sudden issues with furnaces, plumbing (if pipes freeze) and concerns around power outages can cause a lot of stress. Speaking of which….
4. If the power goes out, call Maritime Electric at 1-800-670-1012. Don’t assume your neighbor did it because she could be assuming you did. Also, she might have her power and it might be an issue outside your own home. If the power is out for any amount of time (think Hurricane Dorian) then it’s even more important to check on those around you who might be vulnerable (see No. 3) Not everyone has a generator and if you happen to have one that is mobile (apparently some are) then maybe someone nearby could use some power to warm up their house, keep their freezer full of food from spoiling and if they have their own pump (as many rural people do) run off some water. A hot cup of coffee is greatly missed when you have no power. Oh, which reminds me….
5. If you live nearby and the power is out and you’re getting a hot coffee, for God Sakes, get me one too!