Kimber's Nova Scotia (Aug 19, 2007)

Kimber’s Nova Scotia

August 19, 2007

Wither Westville

It probably shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Not only did Westville’s acting chief administrative officer suggest the town dissolve itself and join Pictou County but he also took a shot at town councillors in the bargain.

“Unfortunately, the current town council seems to be more intent on dealing with non-policy issues and reacting to the many internal problems in this town,” Rick Ramsay wrote.

Ramsay is a former CAO for King’s County, who also runs a management consulting firm that has worked with troubled rural Nova Scotia communities over the years. He was hired as Westville’s CAO on a short-term contract in March after councillors had a falling out with New Glasgow, with which the town had been sharing administrative services. Ramsay’s report says merging with the county is the best way to solve the town’s escalating financial woes.

During a public meeting to discuss the report last week, councillors responded to Ramsay’s blunt assessment with a few of their own. Coun. Gary MacLaughlin, who called the report “unprofessional” and “worthless,” among other choice phrases, claimed Ramsay “took our money and ran. He’ll never be welcome in this town again.”

Ramsay, added Coun. Charlie Sutherland, his voice shaking, “gave us the most one-sided piece of fiction ever presented.”

Even Town Solicitor Charles Facey got in on the act, declaring the “Ramsay Report bothered me," and questioning the accuracy of information in it.

Which prompted a sharp retort from Lynn MacDonald, one of the residents at the meeting. She said his “ad lib… [was] totally inappropriate and unprofessional,” calling it “a classic example of council not advocating in an appropriate manner.”

Strangely — who can figure these things — the New Glasgow News reports that, after all of that, council voted to approve the report!

Got any gay sex films? The mayor asked me to check…

The buttoned-down town of Truro, which gave us this summer’s gay pride flag flap, may soon be the scene of yet another sexual smackdown.

Quebec-based X-citement Video has been posting signs in windows on a Mill Street storefront touting “X-Citement Movies… And a lot More. For Adults Only.”

The only problem is that town bylaws require stores featuring predominantly adult movies to have a permit. “They made an application,” Deputy Development Officer Juanita Bigelow told the Truro Daily News, “but the development permit was refused.”

With X-citement officials refusing comment and Truro CAO Jim Langille threatening to prosecute if the shop opens, Frank Rhyno, the owner of

another adult-oriented shop, is watching from the sidelines.

Rhyno was also turned down when he applied to open a Sister Sarah’s in Truro last year, so he now caters to the chaste sexual fantasies of Truro residents from his store across the river in — wait for it — Bible Hill.

If X-citement is allowed to open in town, he says he will too.

Ah, the x-citement never ends in Truro.

Ferry, very fast

Granville Ferry residents want the Department of Transportation to install what the Spectator described as “traffic-calming devices” to slow down drivers who zip through their community at life-threatening speeds.

More than 100 people signed a petition organized by the local Neighbourhood Watch after a DOT speed recording study on the Granville Road last fall clocked drivers at speeds up to 139.9 km per hour in a 60 km zone. In one test, 87 per cent of vehicles were caught doing more than the posted limit.

Earlier this month, the residents met with officials from DOT, the RCMP and local MLA Stephen McNeil.

Joe Crowell, District Traffic Supervisor and Authority, told the residents the department isn’t keen to use stop signs, speed bumps or rumple strips for speed control but might consider repainting the lines on the sides of the road to make the road appear narrower, causing drivers to slow down.

Psychological warfare? Sounds like a plan.

The passion of the peregrine

On a cold March day in 1997, Kip McCurdy was chopping wood in St. Croix Cove when he decided to take a break and walk along the bay to ”see what was happening in the world.”

What he saw that morning first perplexed, then fascinated and finally obsessed him.

Today, thanks in no small part to his relentless passion for the two peregrine falcons he observed that day, the birds, once thought to be nearly extinct in Nova Scotia, are finally off the endangered species list. But not, says McCurdy, out of danger.

Peregrine falcons are crow-sized predators that can soar hundreds of metres into the sky and dive-bomb their prey at speeds of more than 300 km/hr, decapitating them in mid-flight and seizing them with their talons.

They were pushed to the brink of extinction in the fifties and sixties, thanks largely to the widespread use of pesticides.

McCurdy eventually persuaded skeptical biologists to come and confirm what was then the first sighting of mating falcons in the province in 40 years. They made him part of their peregrine falcon recovery team. He helped monitor the nest on behalf of the Department of Natural Resources. Between 1998 and 2005, McCurdy watched 23 chicks hatch and grow. After her mate died in 2005, Madelaine disappeared and didn’t return to the cove. Their nest is now home to another set of peregrines — McCurdy believes the female is probably Madelaine’s daughter — and other pairs have also been spotted in the Minas Basin area.

Despite that, McCurdy isn’t confident the birds are out of danger. “DDT is still used in South America where they spend the winter," he told the Annapolis Spectator. “And we continue to introduce pesticides that are contaminating the environment and their prey.”

They know how to party

The big windstorm that ripped through Nova Scotia earlier this month also shredded the Big Tent in Cheticamp’s Acadian Village. The tent was the venue for a four-nights-a-week “Acadian Kitchen Party,” one of the summer’s most popular local tourist attractions.

Clarence LeLievre, manager of operations, says they initially tried to roll up the sides of the 60’x120’ tent to let the wind blow through, but then gusts reached 139 km/hr. Eventually, one guy line snapped, and then another and another. “It was heartbreaking to see it happen and be able to do nothing,” he told the Inverness Oran.

The bad news is that the $75,000 tent and its infrastructure were completely destroyed.

The good news is that the party must go on. And it did, in a nearby arena.

The even better news for the long-term hopes of the area’s tourism industry is that Les Soirées chez Gélas (“Evenings at the home of Gélas”) — the name of the event where residents and tourists gather to enjoy music, humour, stories, songs and dance reflecting Acadian traditions — has been attracting four times as many people as projected.

It will continue. Declares general manager Paul Gallant: “We do what is difficult immediately, the impossible tasks will take an extra day.”

First we vote, then we party?

Gary MacLean and Anne Tracey were waiting with eager anticipation and more than a little trepidation yesterday as voters in Ellershouse and Brooklyn trekked to the polls to decide whether the two histori
cally dry communities would finally allow liquor to be sold in their local corner stores.

Tracey and her husband Grant run the Ellershouse Kwik-Way while Gary and his wife Pat operate the Brooklyn Petro-Can. Both have tentative liquor commission approval to sell booze in their shops if the vote goes as they hope.

“We’ve got to get with modern times,” MacLean says hopefully. “There’s not the mindset there was 30-40 years ago.”

There is certainly interest in the plebiscite, says Tracey. People are “always coming in asking where and when they can vote, and how many people they can bring with them,” she joked.

Voting more than once, of course, is a fine old Maritime political tradition. As is a little liquor treat in exchange for voting the right way, though we’re sure that wouldn’t ever happen in West Hants.

Though MacLean expected residents to vote yes, he wasn’t taking anything for granted. “The people that don’t want it will definitely turn out, but we want those that support it to come out too,” he told the Hants Journal last week. “It’s up to the public now. If they want it, they’ve got to vote for it.”

Vote early, vote often, take two

Yarmouth residents are flexing their fingers in anticipation of tomorrow night’s edition of Canadian Idol while still muttering darkly about phone system gremlins they believe might have been responsible for almost bringing down hometown favourite Dwight D’Eon last week.

Though he survived the latest cut in the popular CTV series, D’Eon ended up near the bottom of the heap for the first time since he made it into the top 10-contestants.

D’Eon supporters suggest that may have been because they encountered more busy signals than usual. One fan told the Yarmouth Vanguard callers had been able to get through to vote 90 per cent of the time previously but only 10 per cent of the time during the most recent balloting.

Meanwhile, as the weeks dwindle down to a precious few — the new Canadian Idol will be crowned Sept. 11 — excitement is building in Yarmouth. The local Empire Theatres carries live feeds of the performances and results on one of its big screens. They’re hoping for a full house — and no busy signals — tomorrow.

Stephen Kimber is the Rogers Communications Chair in Journalism at the University of King’s College. His column also appears in Thursday’s Daily News.



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