Monday, January 7, 2013

Rhindress Returns After World Under-17 Coaching Stint

The head coach for the CIBC Wood Gundy Lumberjacks calls it a great experience to be a part of. Terry Rhindress is back in Bridgewater after spending the last week as an assistant coach for team Atlantic at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Quebec. The Atlantic squad finished eighth out of 10 teams. Rhindress says it was tough competition.

Rhindress returns to the Lumberjacks bench Tuesday night when they take on the Metro Shipbuilders in Halifax.

UPDATED: Bridgewater Assured Collaborative Clinic

The Nova Scotia government is prepared to invest hundreds of thousands into a new collaborative health-care clinic in Bridgewater. Premier Darrell Dexter made the announcement this afternoon at the South Shore Regional Hospital. The CEO of South Shore Health says the funding commitment will allow the health authority to move forward with rigorous recruitment initiative to bring doctors to the area. Peter Vaughan says they will seek five to seven new doctors to help staff the facility.

Vaughan says the clinic will open in the summer allowing the health authority to attract new graduates of medical programs. The location of the clinic and exact financial commitment from the province is still being worked out.

South Shore Health Re-Opens Wing Of Regional Hospital

A section of the South Shore Regional Hospital has re-opened to visitors. The health authority restricted visitation on the medical and surgical unit last week because of a stomach virus circulating among patients and staff. Lab tests have confirmed the illness as Norovirus, a common cause of gastroenteritis. Norovirus illness usually begins suddenly and can last up to three days. South Shore Health is reminding the public that regular and thorough hand washing can help prevent the spread of the illness.

Hearing To Determine Church's Heritage Status

A public hearing to determine the status of a church in Conquerall Bank will be held Tuesday. The Redeemer Lutheran Church was built in 1863 and has been a heritage property in the Municipality of Lunenburg since 1999. But now, the property owner wants to de-register it as a heritage property because its no longer being used as a house of worship on a regular basis and is in need of repairs. The owner is also trying to de-register the building in hopes of selling it. The hearing will be held at 11am at the Municipality of Lunenburg building on Aberdeen Road.

Health Foundation Preps For Annual Radiothon

Valentine's Day is just over a month away. That means the Health Services Foundation of the South Shore is preparing for its annual "Gift For The Heart" Radiothon. Bernadette Jordan of the Foundation says this year, its hoped funds will be raised to buy at least two new ventilators.

The radiothon airs all day on Thursday, February 14th, live on CKBW and HANK-FM from South Shore Regional Hospital.

Open Letter To Premier From Businessman Affected By Ferry Loss

Darrell Dexter
Premier Darrell Dexter's recent comments about the loss of the Yarmouth ferry not impacting business and tourism are confusing to businessmen in the area. Bill Curry of Port Maitland saw his small familiy business disappear instantly when the connection to Maine was cancelled 3 years ago. Curry's fly-fish guiding service attracted hundreds of New England sport fishermen who had quick access to Nova Scotia by way of the ferry. He has now written an open-letter to the premier explaining the real impact on the economy. Curry says despite what the government claims, the ferry service could bring-in millions of dollars in revenue to the province if properly managed. He suggests the government should set it up and run-it themselves.

Curry hopes the government's promises of financial input hold water and a renewed ferry service takes shape. He says he and others likely won't start-up their old businesses again. Many, like Curry, have moved on to other endeavours.
Here is a copy of Bill Curry's letter to Premier Darrell Dexter, written late last week:

Mr. Premier,

I was interested to hear your comments the other day in your year-end interview, particularly regarding the Yarmouth, Nova Scotia to Maine ferry service. You then spent yesterday trying to clarify what you said, and it occurred to me that perhaps some explanation of why people are so frustrated when you speak on this subject might help you understand why the reaction to your comments occurred.

First, in your comments you stated the loss of the ferry “had very little impact” on the area. You also mentioned that it is a myth that the economy is somehow linked to the ferry. As a business owner that was radically affected by the loss of the ferry, to the point I had to close my tourism based business, I can personally say that your comment is not true. However, your own Government commissioned report (The Gardner and Pinfold report) clearly spells out the facts that further disprove your comment. The report states that the local area of Yarmouth is more isolated because of the loss, the Regional economy was “supported” by the ferry service and said further “The data show that the loss of the ferry contributed to reduced spending and a contraction of economic activity throughout this region in 2010.” This would disprove your comment. And finally the report said the Provincial tourism numbers were impacted by the ferry loss, and in fact the report states, “It is not unreasonable to conclude that the termination of the ferry accounted for all or much of this reversal.” This also contradicts your comments. You then stated in response, when you were clarifying your comments, that the ferry is not a panacea for the economy. Nobody ever said it was. What everyone is constantly saying is that the ferry is one part of the important transportation infrastructure that should be in place for the Province.

Secondly, you used in your comments some numbers that I would question, and that many people might call intentionally misleading.

The first number that caught my attention was your statement that there were “22,000 passengers” in the last year of operation – 2009. Knowing that Stats Canada said there were 75,000 passengers that year, I looked and looked for where you could have come up with that number. I finally found a similar number in your Government report. The GP report mentions that there were 23,000 US day tourists who came to the Province in 2009 on the ferry. The fact that the report clearly states, in italic letters no less, that this is the number of visitors, not passengers, seems to have confused you. In reality these numbers simply show how many Nova Scotians and summer residents, who may or may not be American, indeed could be returning former Canadians, used the ferry and reinforces the fact that the ferry is an important part of the Provincial transportation system. As well, you indicated that the drop in the passenger numbers was a result of the economy, not that the economy suffered by the drop. That reasoning is also faulty in that in 2005 the capacity of the ferry was reduced, with the loss of the Scotia Prince, as the ferry system went from multiple crossings a day to single crossings and in that year alone the maximum crossing possible numbers went from 2100 a day to only 900. This had nothing to do with the economy – Scotia Prince Cruises has stated as much, clearly contradicting your comment.

Thirdly, you use a number in your comments that “it cost us $450 per passenger landed”. This number you used last year as well and I challenged you on that figure at the time and received no reply. With all due respect, sir, that number is entirely a fiction. If the cost was $450 per person, even if we only use your own figure of only Americans using the ferry, your statement implies the subsidy paid by the Province to land those people was $9.9 million. In fact, the amount paid (because you used past tense, you said “what it cost us”) was $5.65 million. Let me suggest that the kind of wildly inaccurate comment you have made here and repeated is a big part of the issue with many people in the Province trusting what you are telling us. The numbers are not only inaccurate in the actual number, (22,000 you stated instead of 23,000 actual and $9.9 million you stated instead of $8.9 million that is estimated), the numbers you used are also clearly wrong in the way you portray them. Another totally reasonable way to look at those same numbers would be to take the total number of passengers (75,000) and divide into the actual subsidy paid ($5.65 million) and one could say each passenger on the ferry cost the Government $75.33 !

I have asked several times for what your Government estimated the 2010 subsidy would be, and neither you nor anyone you’ve put me in contact with has been able or willing to reply. The closest I’ve been able to come is a report from a newspaper that mentioned the operating subsidy for 2010 might have been as high as $8.9 million, which if one divides by, say, 65,000 people to account for a drop that might or might not have occurred, takes the per passenger cost to the Province to $136. - a far cry from your comment that it costs the Province $450 per person. Clearly, the figures you are using in your comments are not accurate, they are, in fact, misleading.

In summary, let us revisit the comment you started with that the ferry had very little impact on the economy. The actual numbers your own study uses says that the loss of the ferry was over $16 million in tourism revenue – which would more than offset any subsidy ever paid or contemplated, making even the CAT, which clearly was not the best ship, profitable to the Province. Your own study also mentions that over 260 jobs were lost as a direct result of the loss of the ferry, including my own. With all due respect sir, that is NOT a “very little impact” to many of us in this Province.

I am heartened to hear that your Government is now considering a subsidy to assist in getting a ferry service back. I have to end with a personal comment – it never should have gone away in the first place. The Government should take a very complete look and instead of treating this as a “business will come forward” proposition, should carefully consider the importance of the ferry as a crucial transportation link, a link that the Province should clearly be paying for, as the entire Province benefits by having this essential transportation connection.


Bill Curry

Lunenburg: Online Petition Created For Dog Park

An online petition has been created asking Lunenburg residents to sign if they're in favour of establishing a dog park in the town. The request for a dog park surfaced over the last few years but wasn't supported by council. Now, resident Peter Richardson is suggesting the idea once again. He says there needs to be an open space for dogs.

Richardson says they need between $23,000 and $25,000 to make the dog park a reality near Blockhouse Hill. The issue is expected to be discussed at Lunenburg council in the near future. You can sign the petition here .