Posted: Apr 6, 2008, 8:21 PM
Sarcstic Caper in Exile
Join Date: Mar 2004
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Cape Breton Post
Follow-up on the bus commentary for Port Hawkesbury
Bus service coming to Strait area
By Nancy King,
Regional public transit could be coming to the Strait area by June, with word Friday that the province will contribute $120,000 to the project.
The Strait Area Transit Co-operative will use the one-time contribution to purchase three vehicles, construct bus shelters and other related infrastructure to support a transit-service pilot project.
"Today can go down in history, that we'll be able to apply accessible transportation to the whole Strait area," said Malcolm Beaton, general manager of the co-operative. "This is the announcement we were waiting for and it certainly will move the projects forward very quickly."
The transit system will see vehicles travel regularly between smaller communities and the region's service centre of Port Hawkesbury, helping rural residents access services they need on a daily basis.
The contribution will help the co-operative purchase one 20-passenger accessible bus, two seven-passenger commuter vans, bus shelters and office equipment. Service will include scheduled, regular week-day main-route transit, door-to-door (in conjunction with the Provincial Dial-a-Ride program), and charter services for nursing homes, senior complexes, regional occupation centres and others.
"Our next move is to start looking at the vehicles, do the purchasing of the vehicles, get the proper licence through the Utility and Review Board, so we're anticipating that at the end of May or the first part of June we should be mobile," Beaton said. "We've done a lot of work over the past year in developing our policies, so we know where to go with our next moves."
Initially, the co-op has hoped to have buses on the road by January, but that was slowed a bit as it waited for funding approvals.
Of all the community initiatives he's work on, Beaton said the transit project has elicited a great deal of enthusiasm and anticipation.
"The need is definitely there for it," he said.
Communities including Port Hastings, Mulgrave and Louisdale would have access to the bus, which will make two daily trips into Port Hawkesbury.
"Improving infrastructure, protecting our environment, and building safer, healthier communities are three priorities of our government, and the transit proposal helps in all three," Premier Rodney MacDonald said in a press release Friday. "The province is happy to support the initiative. It will mean so much for residents who currently are in need of safe, affordable and accessible transportation."
The two vans will make pit stops in areas such as L'Ardoise, St. Peter's, Chapel Island, Arichat and Petit de Grat, and then transfer users to the bus in Louisdale and that vehicle will take them into the town.
Can't really expect much better service than this is such a small area (Port Hawkesbury ~ 3,500, surrounding area rural villages).
More info on Port Hawkesbury's entertainment venue (how is this town dominating the news?
"The premier also acknowledged the valuable contributions made by the many volunteers who assist the waterfront society with the presentation of their cultural programs."
*cough* hint to Vogue supporters, there is hope! Don't be defeatist fools and follow through, since your apparent support was based on providing a venue for Sydney's arts community!
Waterfront project gets boost from province
Premier Rodney MacDonald announced a $500,000 contribution to a waterfront development project here Friday.
The Strait Area Waterfront Development Society is planning to build Ship Harbour Place, an entertainment, education and marina venue.
"Gathering places like Ship Harbour Place keep communities active and vital, and keep residents healthy," MacDonald said. "I am confident the new facility will quickly become a centre of community activity, providing opportunities for recreation, education and culture."
Ship Harbour Place will house the Port Hawkesbury marina services, offer courses, provide retail space, and host cultural, entertainment events and meetings. It will replace the Creamery, which was formerly used for similar purposes but has been leased to a local company.
"We're very pleased to have the support of the province and thankful they also believe in the valuable contribution that a dynamic waterfront provides to the town of Port Hawkesbury," said Blaine MacQuarrie, chair of the Waterfront Development Society ceilidh committee. "This support, along with the previous support from the federal government will serve only to boost the health, well-being and cultural richness of our area for years to come."
The premier also acknowledged the valuable contributions made by the many volunteers who assist the waterfront society with the presentation of their cultural programs.
Initial cost estimates put the Ship Harbour Place project at between $1.3 million and $2 million, so the project has been scaled back. The Strait Area Waterfront Development Society said in December it is now proposing a 7,500-square-foot building that will blend in with the boardwalk.
Louisbourg, Gabarus link road.
Case unveiled for Gabarus link
In retrospect it might have been smarter to start at the other end in 1994 by building a highway between Louisbourg and Gabarus, leaving it for others to lobby for the upgrading and paving of the rest of the Fleur de lis to St. Peters. Did David Dingwall and Richie Mann, the federal and provincial ministers who launched the project so controversially, really think they'd be in a position to ensure its completion?
Five years, the original timeline, is a long time in politics. Dingwall soon moved on from federal public works, but more significant was the lurch of the provincial Liberal government into deficit-fighting mode. Highways, existing and proposed, slid further to the back burner. That priority decision that would help bring the Conservatives to power in 1999, and indeed they're still campaigning as the party of roads.
The return of road construction and maintenance as a high government priority has not brought completion of the Fleur de lis back to the fore, however. A campaign fronted by Louisbourg area tourism operator Germaine LeMoine has been underway for more than two years to change that, and now there's a $100,000 report by the Halifax consulting firm Gardner Pinfold to buttress the case.
Lead author Michael Gardner unveiled the study Monday, arguing that the business development potential that would be tapped by building the final 17 kilometre link, along with other benefits, outweighs the negatives. The chief obstacle remains the cost, now estimated at $20 million, twice the number thrown around when this campaign started. Back in 1994 it was thought that $24 million would do the whole thing.
Among the pieces of evidence assembled is a survey in which 60 per cent of visitors to the Cabot Trail who didn't visit Fortress of Louisbourg said they would if it wasn't necessary to backtrack to Sydney after seeing the national historic site. Even a third of those extra visitors would make a huge difference for Louisbourg, and potentially for other localities along a completed Fleur de lis, which features virtually no tourism businesses east of St. Peters.
LeMoine sees the Louisbourg-Gabarus link as an opportunity for the federal government right a historic wrong it committed by closing the dirt road that joined those communities along the coast until 1966. Indeed that does look today like an example of the imperious mindset of federal parks administrators who thought little of disrupting living communities for the sake of preserving the undiscovered artefacts of dead ones.
Bringing in federal funding would be a big help in getting the province onside, as it was in 1994, but it remains to be seen how feasible that is today. Local authorities, including both affected municipalities (Cape Breton regional as well as Richmond), along with the Cape Breton County Economic Development Authority which commissioned the study, appear to be firmly in support.
Funding a new stretch of "tourist highway," as this has been dismissively called, will take some determined lobbying in the era of green policy filtering. Last time we checked, however, Nova Scotia was still promoting motor tourism as an economic engine for the province. Completion of the Fleur de lis has to make economic sense but now there is a researched case that says it does.
Too bad it wasn't Inverness County that was affected, Rodney would be jumping on the bandwagon!
Work at cooling pond winding down; dealing with dust
As work on the project is nearing an end, construction work resumed at the cooling pond Friday, after it was shut down Thursday evening when dust limits outlined in the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency's environmental management plan were approached.
Work was also halted last Friday, when dust levels were exceeded for the first time on the project. It resumed the following day.
The Sydney cooling pond is a manmade, circular body of water and sludge, located on Inglis Street. The function of the pond was to cool water once used by Sysco's rolling mills.
The agency's real-time air monitoring program is intended to protect the health of the general public and on-site workers from being affected by cleanup activities.
"Each day they have almost like a dust budget," agency spokesperson Tanya Collier MacDonald noted. "Last Friday there was an exceedance of that budget and (Thursday) night they came close, but they didn't actually exceed, they were shut down as a precautionary measure until the air monitoring people had time to crunch the numbers."
The real-time data, collected as 15-minute averages, are monitored continuously during construction activity to identify sources of volatile organic compounds and dust. This approach allows site managers to modify activities immediately and to implement controls that lower dust levels before they become a hazard.
Work on the cooling pond project is expected to be completed within the next two weeks.
"They're almost at the very end of the solidification and stabilization part of the project, so all the sediment that was in there is almost completely solidified and stabilized and they're almost finished capping as well," Collier MacDonald said. "To look at it, pretty well most of the cooling pond just disappeared."
The cooling pond project was the first aboriginal set-aside component of the cleanup of the tar ponds and coke ovens sites, with three local aboriginal construction companies working on the project. They are currently working on the last cell of the project.
Aboriginal construction companies are already looking toward future contracts as part of the cleanup process.
"This experience has also allowed these Cape Breton aboriginal construction companies to build capacity and expertise and has positioned them to play a significant role in future contracts and other major construction projects in Nova Scotia", said Dan Christmas, chair of the Unama'ki economic benefits steering committee and senior adviser to Membertou First Nation.
Frank Potter, president of the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency, called the cooling pond project a success, largely due to the aboriginal contractors working on the project.
"They have responded to the challenge of a demanding environmental project and in the process have acquired valuable skills and training from some of the top experts in the field of solidification and stabilization," he said.
History in the making
Beaton Institute bringing archives into digital age
By Erin Pottie,
Much like history itself, traditional archives are becoming dated as research centres move toward the future.
The Beaton Institute of Cape Breton University is taking a step toward the future by putting several of its historical items and online through digitilization.
The institute will scan approximately 150 items from its inventory which will be made available through the province's ArchWay website, the Atlantic Scholarly Information Network hosted by Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Beaton Institute website hosted on www.cbu.ca.
The items are among the tens of thousands of pieces within the institute's archives. Hundreds of those contain documentary evidence of elders and tradition bearers in, such as the Mi'kmaq, Ukrainian, Italian, and Polish to Belgian, Hungarian, Jewish and African Nova Scotian communities.
Institute staff have spent months working on the project which is funded by National Archival Development Program. The project will help maintain the island's diverse multi-cultural heritage and will include the most representative Cape Breton ethno-cultural items.
"We've been working with stakeholders in the cultural communities to identify which records the community would see as important as having scanned and available online," said institute manager Catherine Arseneau.
Working with six of the most prevalent cultural community groups, the institute has also established its own selection criteria.
The first priority is the need for preservation, such as a fragile item that requires protection. The second criteria is how often an item is accessed. Item selection may also consider a piece's ability to increase representation of underrepresented ethno-cultural groups in Canada's archival heritage.
"The initial inventory was done in 1985, so we wanted to update some of that and also (ask) stakeholders in the community what they see as important. With that information we then had to ensure there were copyright clearances in place and that there weren't any restrictions place during that initial donation to the archive," said Arseneau.
Items include audio tapes, newspaper clippings, photographs and manuscripts that cover topics such as community history, religious practices, gender issues, folk songs, and personal narratives.
The Beaton Institute believes in the rich cultural heritage of Cape Breton that extends beyond the waves of 19th Century Scottish and Irish settlers and the empire-building French and English explorers of 100 years ago.
From the indigenous Mi'kmaq to generations of immigrants seeking better opportunities for their family. Many immigrants from Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Caribbean Islands brought their customs and traditions with them to Cape Breton.
Throughout the years, some of the heritage was preserved and remains intact today, while some has all but disappeared.
"This project is to start the process of making some of our holdings available almost on an Internet basis. People could, rather than going to a card catalogue, be able to search through a database for some items," said Arseneau.
Funding was completed in March and institute staff are now working toward uploading the final selection to the provincial archival database.
The digitization project will be ongoing as the Beaton Institute works with the Centre for Cape Breton Studies and the university community to make its archives widely available in a safe format. Considered a timesaver for researchers, faculty and staff across Canada, people will eventually be able to search and access information from their home computers.
An archive and research centre mandated to collect and conserve the social, economic, political and cultural history of Cape Breton Island, the Beaton Institute is located within a 17,000-square-foot complex at CBU.
Its origins date to 1957 when the late Sr. Margaret Beaton, former librarian of Xavier College, the predecessor to CBU, began collecting material on Gaelic language and culture. Upon her death in 1975 and the subsequent renaming of the institute in her honour, the mandate of the Beaton was expanded to incorporate all aspects of the island's life and history.