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Cruise ships continue to grow in popularity

By Jim Brown

I recently bumped into someone who works in the cruise ship industry on PEI.

When I asked him about the dark cloud overhanging cruise ships – thousands of passengers quarantined on vessels around the world for the coronavirus, he smiled and took a moment to explain why the industry wasn’t in the dumper.

“Every shipyard in the world that is capable of building (cruise) ships has one in production and (the ships) are bigger,” he said.

The growth in capacity is stunning. Ship sizes have soared from a range of 1,400 to 2,000 passengers to 3,000 passengers and up.

But not everything is rosy. There is a dark side to the growth.

Cruise ship demand has grown so much several European ports simply can’t handle them and many residents of communities besieged by the ships don’t want them there, or the hordes of tourists they disgorge with every visit.

Too much of anything is never a good thing. And seaports have lost many of the qualities that made them attractive places to settle down and raise a family. All because too many cruise ships were dropping anchor and disgorging too many passengers.

And last year’s hurricane Dorian posed huge logistical challenges for Caribbean ports, which were severely damaged and could not support cruise ship visits while repairs were being undertaken.

So guess what? That means more cruise ship traffic for the Eastern seaboard and for eastern Canada and the Maritimes.

The route “along the eastern seaboard in the states, Boston and even further down, all the way up Quebec City and Montreal and turn around and come back, is a winner for them,” said the source.

Last year Charlottetown received just shy of 100 cruise ships, while this year’s total should reach 120.

“And bigger ships, not 1,400-1,500 person ships like the Holland America boats are…but the 3,500 and up ones. They put another dock in the waterfront in Charlottetown so they can park two alongside. There’s a potential in Charlottetown right now, if everything went just right, for five cruise ships (to dock) in one day.”

So far the maximum number has been four, “and that was a real nightmare,” he said.

It’s easy to see why cruise ship visits are so desirable to our provincial government, since on average each cruise ship generates $350,000 per trip to PEI.

“There’s a huge amount of employment, the Island is just humming – people are working,” said the insider.
But in Europe the welcome mat has gotten awfully frayed.

Cruise ship traffic “is over-running the place, there’s so many. There’s not enough taxis, there’s not enough seats in the restaurants, there’s not enough facilities – it’s becoming unmanageable.”

The cruise ship insider compares the situation to that of Airbnb.

“In Europe there’s a huge revolution against Airbnb, to the point where the locals are up in arms – the local rental facilities have gone up in price because of demand.”

Will we be getting something like the coronavirus on our shores because of cruise ships?

“There have been many times when we’ve had the norovirus,” and it wasn’t good, he answered.

All those people crammed into small spaces is “a recipe for the transmission of any virus,” said the insider, who believes the coronavirus is more likely to arrive from Asia by plane, with many Islanders travelling to the continent to visit family and for work commitments.

He recalls several years ago when tour buses were fumigated and wiped down.

Still, the industry is awakening to public demands for improved service. For instance, newer ships will take less of a toll on the environment.

But is that enough to keep our love affair with cruise ships alive?

It’s safe to say we should know a lot more by this summer.

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Building permit revenues soar in resort municipality

By Jim Brown
 
Look up, look way up.

The Resort Municipality of Cavendish had budgeted for $2,000 in revenues from building permits this year. But the revenues were more than three times that, at $6,491.24. And there is still two months left in the fiscal year, ending March 31.

“It was obviously an underestimate,” said Mayor Matthew Jelley, at a public information meeting on Feb 24
to gather input on the resort municipality’s operating budget, capital budget and five-year capital expenditure program.

Mayor Jelley suggested part of the reason for the sharp rise was developers trying “to get ahead” of looming national building code changes which will increase the costs of construction.

“There are two factors that led to the number of building permits (going up). One is the feeling that people are trying to get ahead of the building code, and second, the province is in a period of unprecedented building construction and the resort municipality is part of that,” he said.

“The national building code, generally, makes the requirement for architect and engineer stamped drawings more explicit and will expand it out to properties that currently aren’t covered by the Architect’s Act and the Engineering Professions Act. For the most part there are increased requirements under the National Building Code for energy efficiency…”

Projects must be built to take into account a changing and more hostile climate, featuring more and fiercer storms and a greater risk of flooding and other natural disasters.

Commercial projects must include architect’s drawings and because of that, whether they are built before the national building code’s changes are implemented or after, must still reflect those anticipated changes.

For residential developments, up to a certain size, architect’s drawings are not required and therefore “builders can build to their own best practices, which may not be strictly to the building code,” said Mayor Jelley.

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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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The rape of the Palestinians

By Richard Deaton, Stanley Bridge

Trump’s so-called “peace plan” for the Palestinians and Israel is blatantly one-sided: his farcical proposal allows Israel to make yet another massive land grab, as it has already done with Jerusalem and the Occupied Territories.

This so-called peace plan destroys any possibility of nationhood for the Palestinians.

Virtually every major international organization and media outlet has condemned the proposal, including the UN, the OIC, the European Union (EU), the British Guardian, the Independent, B’Tselem ( a group of decommissioned Israeli soldiers), our own Globe and Mail, and Haaretz, one of Israel’s leading newspapers. This so-called “Deal of the Century” has been rammed down the Palestinians throat. They were never consulted. Trump’s so-called “peace plan” is built on a series of crimes against humanity, and the Palestinians.

For example, the forcible transfer of people, called for by this proposal, is what the Nazis did to the Jews during WW II. Trump’s “Deal of the Century” includes relocating 200,000 to 400,000 Israeli-Arabs. This is expressly forbidden by the Geneva Accords and ignores Israel’s many violations of international law, as well as their defiance of over a hundred UN General Assembly resolutions.

Israel’s brutal policies in the Occupied Territories have continued unabated and have created an increasing schism between Israeli and North American Jews, resulting in increased support for the BDS movement. According to a US-based poll reported in Haaretz (Feb. 4, 2020), Israeli PM Natanyahu’s support for Trump’s policies is the main reason why North American Jews are increasingly disenchanted with Israel.

Importantly, Trudeau’s Liberal government and the federal NDP have remained silent on these recent developments, effectively making them complicit in this crime against humanity. Why the silence?

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