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PEI quill artist scans roadsides for the remains that let her work. Click on the link for the CBC story. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/made-from-this-land-quillwork-1.5384150


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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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Growing demand for streetlights in Cavendish, but who will pay for them?

By Jim Brown

It seems everyone in Cavendish wants to get a streetlight, but should the resort municipality pay for them?

CAO Brenda MacDonald, at the Dec 9 monthly meeting, said she recently fielded a call for one in Friendly Lane and from some other people in Forest Lane.

But that’s far from the only requests.

Most of the demand for new streetlights is coming from Seawood Estates, represented by a vocal residents’ association. There could be as many 15 installed if all the demands are met from residents. The development features several sharp turns and three-way intersections, all without lights.

Councillor and Seawood Estates resident Bill Drost originally brought the issue of streetlights to council’s attention. He said many Seawood residents continue to “live in the dark.”

In areas heavily trafficked by tourists new streetlights are paid for by the municipality. Tourists descend in the summer, at a time of the year “when we have 16 hours of daylight,” said Mr Drost.

Residents, meanwhile, are faced with “16 hours of darkness” in the wintertime, long after tourists have left.

In the case of Seawood Estates, which has 23 full-time residents, any property owner wishing to have a streetlight installed must pay for it themselves. But Seawood Estates has paid for some installations, including a more recent one at the bottom of Bayview and Seawood, right inside the entrance.

Resort Municipality Mayor Matthew Jelley estimates there are three lights paid for Seawood Estates.

Some Cavendish residents, like Planning Board Chair George Clark Dunning, would prefer not to have streetlights in their neighbourhoods, opting for “serenity” over greater illumination.

Councillor Drost said lights are often pointing in the wrong direction and casting illumination too far from their source and even into homeowners’ windows. They may also be improperly shaded.

Mayor Jelley and others were worried about setting a precedent if the resort municipality began paying for streetlights on certain private roads and subdivisions.

The streetlights issue was eventually tabled for future discussion, with Mr Jelley seeking more information about how many lights would be needed and what the financial impact would be on the resort municipality.

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Getting into the festive spirit at the Stanley Bridge Hall

Photos by Jim Brown

It was bitterly cold outside the doors of the Stanley Bridge WI on Dec 7 for the WI’s annual Christmas craft fair but it was warm indoors with several vendors attending to hundreds of visitors over the four hours the craft fair ran. There were lots of wonderful gifts to purchase and the building was filled with the sights and scents of Christmas, including plenty of evergreen boughs, apple cider, wooden ornaments, candies and baked delicacies, landscape photos and paintings and woolen goods of all kinds. Some vendors also set up displays outdoors. Click on an image to view images in a lightbox

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Launching a new strategy, logo to draw tourists

By Jim Brown

A new brand and a new strategy for drawing more tourists to the central part of the Island were unveiled on Nov 25 at a public workshop in Kensington.

Presenter Brianna Flood.

The collaborative ‘Heart of the Island Initiative’ drew dozens of tourism operators to Kensington’s Murray Christian Centre.

Partners for the event were the Town of Kensington, the Kensington and Area Chamber of Commerce and the Central Coastal Tourism Partnership. One of the speakers was Kensington Mayor Rowan Casely.

Organizers want tourist operators to use the hashtag “Heart of PEI” to showcase the area’s many beautiful, striking attractions and the operators’ businesses. Tourist operators were encouraged to work together and pool their resources to draw more visitors – including working with Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. They were asked to apply the hashtags to scenic photos posted on websites and across social media platforms.

Click a thumbnail to view full images in a lightbox.
Participants described a wide variety of opportunities ready for seizing, including capturing more of the booming cycling market by making businesses ‘cycling friendly’ and even offering stations where cyclists can fix deflated tires and complete minor repairs. Others talked about the great opportunities offered by the legalization of cannabis and by drawing more tourists from the LGBTQ community.

Still others talked about the need to promote the area’s many culinary destinations, as well as local artists, farming, beaches and outdoor adventures.

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Dorian strains resources of Maritime Electric, Resort Municipality

Story and photos by Jim Brown

Angus Orford, Maritime Electric’s CEO, on left and Enrique Riveroll, the utility’s VP of customer service.

Post Tropical Storm Dorian slashed through PEI in early September, devastating much of the Island and leaving many questions in its wake.

Maritime Electric CEO Angus Orford was joined by Enrique Riveroll, the utility’s VP of customer service, for a two hour presentation at the Resort Municipality’s regular monthly meeting in early November.

A big part of their presentation dealt with criticism levelled at the Province for not declaring a state of emergency and accessing additional federal resources.

Sometimes you can just have too many people in one place, causing complications, said Orford, especially if they aren’t specially trained to deal with massive electrical disruptions, such power line technicians and utility arborists.

Mayor Matthew Jelley observed Parks Canada brought in trained personnel from places like Jasper, Alberta, Quebec and Newfoundland to cut trees, since they had the level of chainsaw use training required by Parks Canada.

Being out of power for a prolonged period of time doesn’t exactly create warm and fuzzy feelings for utility companies trying to restore everything to normal.

“Customers out for a week are probably not going to fire any accolades at Maritime Electric. But from our perspective it was an extraordinary response,” said Orford.

Workers were busy across the Island, including Kensington, for weeks after Dorian.

Re-energizing lines safely takes time, he said.

Trees fall across lines forcing workers to “isolate, clear the tree, re-energize that section and go on to the next section,” said Orford

He added there could be “beautiful weather” to work on power restoration, “but 1,500 fuses go.”
The Island’s Emergency Measures Organization believes people should be able to take care of themselves for three days, said Orford.

Of course that calculus could change in really cold weather that includes ice-storms and heavy snow.

Fortunately, Dorian struck PEI in early September and in the immediate aftermath the weather was sunny and warm.

“The reality of this type of storm is that it creates a lot of labour intensive damage” and people would run up to a lineman and ask to have power restored to their homes when that isn’t possible, said Orford.

A tree on top of a power line in New London, shortly after Dorian.

It’s a lot different than a car striking and knocking over a pole and a reasonable time frame for repairs can be given, such as four hours.

In the case of Dorian, “Some roads you couldn’t even get down till the trees were out of the way for assessment,” he explained.

Mayor Jelley said hotels booked during Dorian saw significant losses, with guests leaving after just a couple of days – believing the power would be out for much longer. In fact, the power was often restored a short time later, though many were without power for six days.

Maritime Electric has 120,000 poles in the power system, with 100,000 replaced since the 1980s. A total of 80 crews were available to handle the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.

The Resort Municipality, despite its status as a small community, swells to a population of 20,000 or so in the summer due to a heavy influx of visitors and seasonal residents and as many as 25,000 when the Cavendish Beach Music Festival (CBMF) is on, in early July.

Discussions eventually moved to the problems faced in Cavendish peak periods of the spring and summer.

Deputy Mayor and local businessperson Linda Lowther said her frozen yogurt took a hit last summer.

“We have a frozen yogurt business and we have five ice cream machines and every time Maritime Electric has done any kind of a switch or played with the wires our machines would go down and we’d lose product.”

Lines of communication should be improved, she and other councillors said.

Mayor Jelley said brownouts also happened on the Cavendish Beach Music Festival Weekend.

And he went on to explain that when maintenance to the Rattenbury substation was done earlier this summer in mid-June: “We had fuses blowing, capacitors blowing on motors (and) refrigeration equipment in restaurants failing.”

Maritime Electric is hoping to get a St Mary’s Road project launched before the summer to bring a new transmission line to Cavendish. Mayor Jelley said he hoped it wouldn’t cause too much disruption during the CBMF and other busy times in the high season.

That project is part of a budget application in front of the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission.
Mayor Jelley want to to say: “If you need room for a substation in Cavendish I’ll probably donate the land…Certainly if there’s a transmission line up Route 6 I would do what I could to advocate…and if you need land slightly off Rte 6 and it means more reliable power then I’d be happy to donate the half an acre to make it happen.”

Cavendish is growing and so is the demand for electricity.

“Every cottage operator is putting in those heat pumps on all of their units,” said Linda Lowther.

Mayor Jelley, who is the president of Maritime Fun Group which operates Shining Waters Family Fun Park, said his business is “looking at four new waterslides…120 horsepower total, run 10 to 12 hours a day.”

When the St Mary’s Road project is finished Cavendish will have three feeds running into it.

The Resort Municipality has 14 lift stations, five telephone exchanges and three electrical substations.

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North Rustico remembers its fallen soldiers

Photos by Jim Brown

Hundreds of people attended Remembrance Day ceremonies at the North Rustico cenotaph on Monday, Nov 11, joining thousands of others in services across the Island marking the sacrifices of Canadian soldiers in wars and peacekeeping operations. Attendees were greeted with snow, rain and fierce gusts of wind that forced many to seek shelter under umbrellas. The bleak weather matched the solemn, somber mood during the ceremonies.

Click on a thumbnail to view full image in lightbox.
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