Swimming Rock fix could cost hundreds of thousands

By Jim Brown

If the steps leading to the beach at Swimming Rock park aren’t refurbished they could become a significant public liability issue, warned an engineering consultant at the Jan 20 meeting of the Resort Municipality of Cavendish. The stairs aren’t up to code since they have four-inch gaps between the steps, when the gaps should be wider.

“I don’t mean to be negative but these stairs open you up to some (significant) liability situations…we encourage the stairs be done in accordance with the national building code, even if the national building code isn’t fully implemented here…there’s a high risk…There’s a very high bank,” said Tom Harland.

“It would not be an inexpensive proposition,” to do the work, he added.

The steep bank, which is also a concern, needs to be reinforced.

“(If) you go for a permanent long term structure to protect from erosion, $100,000 wouldn’t come close to it. Maybe not even $200,000,” said Mr Harland.
“The protection side really has to be done right, or you come out of a good storm and lose it,” he said.

That happened with the stair’s landing, which was swept away by post tropical storm Dorian.

The possible options for building temporary and permanent structures for the steps, including anchoring them into rock, featured a range of costs from tens of thousands of dollars, to hundreds of thousands.

Council will look at several options investigated by Mr Harland.

The first option involves doing nothing, while the second would involve building a “semi-permanent structure” that could used over a number of seasons and anchored on the land. Made of wood, it would be brought in and out every year with the seasons. And the third would cost as much as $300,000 or more.
Mr Harland will provide a further report at a later date.

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North Rustico and area residents need to make housing needs known to government: Brad Trivers

Story and photos by Jim Brown

There are just four people on the waiting list for subsidized seniors housing in North Rustico, which is not a true representation of the need, says District 18 MLA Brad Travers, who hosted a town hall on housing related issues on Jan 13 at the North Rustico Lion’s Club.

Provincial housing officer Jillian Scott.

Forty people joined Mr Trivers including housing officer Jillian Scott, from Social Housing and Development, and other provincial officials from Finance PEI.
Homes are getting pricey, not just in Charlottetown, but all across the Island and eligibility thresholds and subsidies are struggling to keep up.

For example, for a one bedroom in senior housing, the cutoff for eligibility is $29,000 gross, for a two bedroom $35,500 and for a three bedroom it’s $39,500.

In the private market the income thresholds are the same.

Ms Scott, who is also responsible for subsidized seniors housing in rural parts of the province including Hunter River and North Rustico, said while there were only four people on a waiting list for seniors subsidized housing in North Rustico, there were 467 in Charlottetown.

Mr Trivers expressed disbelief at the North Rustico numbers.

“When I first heard there were only four seniors on the wait list (in North Rustico) and maybe five or so (others that he knows of) for nine, I asked how can that be right? The problem is people aren’t actually going through the process. That’s one of the reasons we’re here tonight.”

He urged residents who need the subsidy to get on the list, or if they know of someone who deserves to be on the list, make sure they know about it.

He said he met with a group of seniors last spring who estimated at least 12 units could be filled in North Rustico.

A two hour town hall on housing was held at the North Rustico Lion’s Club.

Builders need that information in order to determine whether the market is large enough to sustain new projects.

“That’s the only way their going to get subsidized housing and it’s also the only way as a government we’re going to be able to fund developers to build subsidized housing in any given area,” said Mr Trivers.

People who qualify for seniors subsidies are 60 and up or 55 with a CPP disability income.

Maximum rents eligible for subsidies are $794 for one bedroom units, $951 for two bedrooms, and $1,118 for three bedrooms. Seniors must pay 25 per cent of their income toward the rent.

Ms Scott added there is a little bit of flexibility in the ceilings, depending on the programs.

Approximately 40 people showed up at town hall on housing in North Rustico, hosted by District 18 MLA Brad Trivers.

Resort Municipality of Cavendish councillor George Clark Dunning expressed some frustration at the soaring rent costs.

“I’m not leaving here with any answers or hope…Good luck finding a one room bedroom for less than $1,000,” he said.

“The numbers aren’t real…There’s been fabulous developments in the Town of North Rustico. There’s some beautiful housing, but I can guarantee you none of them start at a thousand dollars a month and I imagine they are all plus utilities.”

Mr Clark Dunning suggested building a three apartment building could cost $500,000 and rent will have to be set a level that will cover those costs, which are probably higher than the thresholds allowed for subsidies.

Tenants will likely be responsible for utilities and heat which will take a big bite of their disposable income, he said.

Finance PEI officials were on hand later to explain to builders how they could tap into sources of financing that could help reduce the cost of borrowing and make it easier for them to get their projects off the ground.

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Cavendish man has defibrillator in home, wants residents to know they can access it if they have a cardiac emergency

Story and photos by Jim Brown

Ten minutes.

That’s roughly how long a person can live without medical intervention after a sudden cardiac arrest.

In PEI’s largest urban centres, Summerside and Charlottetown, the average response time for ambulances is nine minutes.

The problem for many rural Islanders, including those living in the Resort Municipality of Cavendish where councillor Chris Robinson resides, is that it can take up to half an hour or even longer for an ambulance to arrive.

“We’re a lovely rural area of the province, but we’re almost equidistant between Prince County Hospital and the QEH in Charlottetown. We’re almost as far away from those two facilities as you can be, short of being in Tignish,” he said.

“Defibrillators are key. If you don’t have access to a defibrillator within the first 10 minutes or so after a sudden cardiac arrest, your odds of surviving are only about five per cent,” said Chris, who also chairs the Resort Municipality of Cavendish’s emergency services committee.

Chris has taken the need for defibrillators to heart, and is offering access to the one at his house on 8537 Cavendish Road, across from Captain Kidd’s Dairy Bar and Take-out. His mission to spread awareness and potentially save lives is shared by his wife Stephanie Scharf, who is a registered nurse supervisor and a registered massage therapist, working from her home clinic.

AED sign in front of Chris Robinson’s home in Cavendish

A sign on the lamppost in front of their house, installed by the municipality, shows local residents that an automated external defibrillator (AED) is available for public use 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Chris wants people to know one is there if they need it. If they can get there he will help them hook up to it.

“If people wish I would be prepared to go out as a first responder in an emergency if people had chest pains and were waiting for an ambulance. They can call my cell phone, which is 628-9831.”

Chris went on to say “we want to make sure local residents are aware that waiting for an ambulance for half an hour, particularly in stormy weather with icy roads, is not a feasible proposition. You only have eight to 10 minutes in the case of a full sudden, cardiac arrest when the heart is stopped. You only have that 10 minute window, so being prepared and knowing where to find the nearest AED is an important precaution to take, just as people should be checking their smoke detectors this time of year and having a fire escape plan in case their house catches fire.”

The Cavendish Resort Municipality has several publicly accessible AEDs. There is one at the municipal office, but the office is only open during regular business hours. There are also several other AEDs available at local businesses, which are only available during certain hours and certain times of the year.

Chris Robinson wants to improve the odds for local residents who suffer sudden cardiac arrest

Chris says it’s a also good idea for anyone who might be at risk of a heart attack to carry orange flavoured 80 milligram aspirin, which can be very effective.

“You don’t swallow them, but hold them in your mouth under your tongue and the large blood vessels under your tongue will allow the aspirin to dissolve quickly in your blood…and may make the difference while the ambulance is in route or until you can get to a defibrillator.”

Chris’s defibrillator was bought for personal use for about $1,000, but he decided “why just keep it for my own selfish use when others in an emergency may need it.”

In one of her AED community presentations Stephanie stated “I am speaking to you today as a member of the community who owns an AED for personal use…This topic is especially concerning for me since I have a family history of heart disease and I live in a rural setting, which means slower emergency response times.”

Every year more than 45,000 Canadians suffer from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).

“Of those SCA that happen outside a hospital, less than five per cent survive due to delays in recognizing the cardiac emergency and access to appropriate care such as CPR and an AED…The survival rate from sudden cardiac arrest without CPR and AED is zero,” she states in her presentation.

Stephanie says using an AED with CPR within the first three minutes of a cardiac arrest can boost the chance of survival by up to 75 per cent.

Chris says anyone in the Cavendish area experiencing a heart attack after calling 911 to get the ambulance on its way, can give him a call and hopefully find someone to drive them to his house within 10 minutes.

Canada has a very poor survival rate for cardiac arrest, only about five per cent.

“It’s largely because of very poor awareness and access to defibrillators on a timely basis,” said Chris.

One other thing he thinks would make a big difference to improve emergency response times in PEI would be for Health PEI to implement a PulsePoint Network of volunteer first responders, who would receive early notification of a nearby emergency on their Smartphone.

“This PulsePoint app has been shown to have a significant impact in improving survival odds for cardiac arrest. Volunteer first responders such as off duty nurses, firefighters, police (and others) can respond to the scene of a cardiac arrest by phone notification and they can stabilize the patient before the ambulance arrives.” he said.

“Saving minutes can save a life.”

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