Year in Review 2013: AUGUST

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Aug. 1

A flash flood had forced a Smith’s Cove family to flee from their house. “It was just water,” said Mary Blanchard, surveying the damage. “Like a lake. It was coming over the road and hitting the house.” Blanchard had been working on her computer about 11 a.m. when her son Stephane told her she had to get out of the house. “There was something in his voice, I knew it was serious,” she said. She and a cleaner fled the house with Blanchard’s poodle through the front door. When she opened it, water poured into her house. Her son went to the basement to shut off the main power – the water there was up to his waist. He went out the backdoor to the backyard, where the water was up to his shoulders. Doug Cromwell with the Department of Transportation said he had never seen it rain so hard for so long. RCMP closed the road during the flooding. After the water subsided, transportation department personnel repaired shoulders, ditches and driveways around Smith’s Cove.

The Municipality of Digby and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (AGNS) were giving the Maud Lewis Memorial site in Marshalltown a makeover. The $30,000 project was meant to bring the site up to a level that reflected the folk artist’s prominence on the Canadian art scene. “The objective was to make the site more inviting, to bring colour to it,” said Robert Hersey, heritage coordinator with the Municipality of Digby. “We wanted to bring life to the site and literally we have with all the flowers and shrubs.” The municipality had spent about $8,000 restoring the main perennial garden and another $800 regravelling and defining the parking area. Among other things, they had installed a picnic table and benches, removed a dead tree and cleaned up the steel memorial replica of Lewis’s home. Three interpretive panels would be installed.

Aug. 8

Local clammers had gone ahead with a reseeding project, saying they couldn’t wait any longer for the Department of Fisheries to approve the work. A group of 18 members of the Clam Harvesting Area 2 Clammers Association dug 1,000 pounds of small clams from a beach in Upper Clements on July 30. They took those clams down the Annapolis Basin and dumped or seeded them in Smith’s Cove and at the mouth of Bear River. “We have to do this to save our industry or we’re going to starve to death,” said Ken Weir. “We already missed one spawning this year and we want to get these in or we’ll miss another one.” Beaches at Smith’s Cove had been heavily harvested and it’s harder and harder to find a good clam there, he said. The seed clams were meant to help repopulate those beaches. A proposal for the reseeding project was part of a collaborative management plan the clammers were working on with the Clean Annapolis River Project (CARP) and other partners.

Officials with the Cornwallis Military Museum said they had found a new home for the two vintage airplanes that had been on display in Cornwallis for the last 26 years. An old CF-101 Voodoo supersonic jet fighter sat beside the museum in Cornwallis Park and a T-33 Silver Star jet trainer aircraft sat out near the highway almost hidden in a grove of trees. Museum president Gordon Magee said it wasn’t an easy decision to seek new homes for the former military hardware. “I didn’t want to see them go,” he said. The museum had decided to donate the planes to the Jet Aircraft Museum (JAM) in London, Ont., which was raising funds to transport the planes to London. JAM was hoping to raise $25,000 and, according to its website, so far had raised $7,300.

Aug. 15

By a vote of 4-3, Digby town council had passed a budget that included a significant tax increase, Mayor Ben Cleveland breaking the tie in favour of the tax hike. The budget raised the commercial tax rate from $3.99 to $4.18 and the residential rate from $1.94 to $1.99. Deputy Mayor Jean Brittain, councillors Danny Harvieux and Peter Turnbull all voted for the increase, with councillors Brian Manzer, Mike Bartlett and Bob Handspiker voting against it. Turnbull said approving the tax increase was a tough decision. “It wasn’t done lightly,” he said. “Everything in that budget we looked at and we tried to cut where we could.” Handspiker said ideas put forward by the councillors who voted against the budget could have amounted to as much as $60,000 in savings – enough, he said, to keep the tax rate increases to one cent for residential and five for commercial.

Aug. 22

The search for a new Digby-Saint John ferry was in the hands of Transport Canada. Don Cormier, vice-president of operations for Bay Ferries, said the federal department was working on a statement of requirements. Bay Ferries was providing input into the requirements. Cormier said any new boat must fit the needs of the community, customers and taxpayers. The community wants an efficient transportation system that supports the fishery and forestry, local businesses and tourism, he said. Cormier said the new boat should be efficient to operate. It should have built-in redundancies, like the Princess of Acadia, which has four main engines, he said. This allows Bay Ferries to do maintenance on the engines while the boat is still in operation and leads to increased reliability, he said. Cormier suggested the new boat should be able to do at least 14 knots or 24 knots, if a two-hour crossing is desired.

The announcement Aug. 13 of a possible ferry service between Yarmouth and Maine had given the tourism industry throughout southwestern Nova Scotia a cause to hope. Seafood producers, however, had begun celebrating in June when the federal government announced it was putting $60 million into a replacement for the Princess of Acadia on the Digby-Saint John run operated by Bay Ferries Ltd. Said Marc Surette, executive director of the Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association and a director of the Bay of Fundy Marine Transportation Association, “The seafood industry has built our business around Digby and it works.” He said securing a new vessel for the Digby run was as important for the future of the seafood industry in southwestern Nova Scotia as the proposed Yarmouth ferry was for the tourism industry. “The Digby-Saint John run is the preferred route (for seafood),” he said.

Aug. 29

Premier Darrell Dexter said most of the provincial Fisheries and Aquaculture department jobs promised for Cornwallis had been filled. During a walking tour of downtown Digby, the premier said employees for 18 of the 22 positions had been hired and were working in Cornwallis. The government had promised in April 2012 that 22 jobs from the Halifax headquarters of the fisheries department would move to Cornwallis by December 2012. The employees were working out of temporary space belonging to the provincial agriculture department until renovations were complete on permanent offices. The fisheries department was in the process of hiring for three of the remaining four positions.

Boat owners were busy checking boats at Digby Marina after 11 boats were robbed of liquor and small valuables. Neil Nichols, commodore of the Royal Western Nova Scotia Yacht Club, said the break-ins were upsetting. The marina would be beefing up security with video cameras and by expanding the screening around the gateway area, he said. Digby RCMP said the robberies at the marina had occurred since Aug. 1. During the same period there also were also four break-ins of vehicles and a break-in at Bayview United Church. Police reminded people to lock their vehicles or vessels, to remove any items of value and to report any suspicious activity.


Organizations: Department of Transportation, RCMP, Bay Ferries Ltd. Department of Fisheries Clammers Association Cornwallis Military Museum Jet Aircraft Museum Digby town council Transport Canada Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association Bay of Fundy Marine Transportation Association Fisheries and Aquaculture department Royal Western Nova Scotia Yacht Club Bayview United Church

Geographic location: Digby, Nova Scotia, Cornwallis Marshalltown Clam Harvesting Area Upper Clements Bear River Annapolis River Cornwallis Park Silver Star Acadia London, Ont. London Yarmouth Maine Halifax

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