Have Your Say: Performing Arts Facility for new Bedford High School
As most of you know, a new building to replace the current facility at Charles P. Allen High School was announced last year. This school currently serves the Bedford and Hammonds Plains communities.
Three potential sites have been selected. All three are in the Bedford West part of the catchment area.
At a recent meeting of the Legislature’s Human Resources Committee, I was reassured by Education Department officials that the site selection process was proceeding normally and that the Education Department still expects a completion date of December 2012.
The building of this new high school represents a once-in-thirty year opportunity for the Bedford-Hammonds Plains communities -and beyond to the entire Cobequid community – to enhance the facilities going into the high school. These facilities would be used by the high school during the day and would be available to the wider community during non-school hours.
(Our Birch Cove community had much the same opportunity when Halifax West High was replaced; they built the Bella Rose Theatre at the school).
A group of concerned citizens from across the Cobequid community (the same area that is served by the Cobequid multi-service centre) has been meeting to explore the possibility installing a performing arts centre in the new high school. The Cobequid Cultural Centre of the Arts Society has been examining the question of a theatre in this area for several years.
They have completed a feasibility study and started fundraising for a potential performing arts centre.
Community consultations were held in Sackville, Bedford, Hammonds Plains and Fall River.
But the society wants more feedback from residents.
You can help make this project a reality by completing several very simple steps: 1) go to the society website (www.cccas.ca).
2) Read the information presented about the arts centre.
3) Complete the survey.
(To help officials in the government understand how important this facility is to the area, the society needs a good number of responses).
If you’re interested in seeing this project happen, you can also help out by joining the society (for a nominal $10 fee), and you can also volunteer to help make this project a reality.
Blue Mountain Wilderness Area Update
I’ve received a significant number of emails from constituents concerned about the status of the Blue Mountain Wilderness Reserve.
After much lobbying by local groups, Birch Cove residents like Bob and Wendy McDonald, and Clayton Park MLA Diana Whalen, this provincial government reserve was announced in April of 2009.
Please note: this reserve is not in jeopardy. However, many people were concerned when they read that four private landowners in the area next to the wilderness reserve had banded together to ask HRM whether their lands could be redesignated and possibly allowed to be developed sooner.
Parts of these lands were designated “urban reserve” just a few years ago, and there is no reason for HRM to re-open this question at this time. Staff have recommended against any such move.
For more information on this issue, check out this document: www.halifax.ca/regionalplanning/documents/BirchCoveSusieLakeQandA.pdf.
Additional info can be found at www.halifax.ca/boardscom/rpcsc/documents/Item5.2.2Project01341.pdf.
This is an alert, not an alarm.
Residents in several neighbourhoods in our riding have reported seeing coyotes in their areas, chiefly at dusk.
You may remember that I raised this issue last fall in the media and in the House after small pets began disappearing in the Eaglewood subdivision. This winter, coyotes were spotted on several evenings at the Eaglewood Elementary School site. They have also been spotted in Basinview subdivision, in the Sandy Lake area and along Hammonds Plains Road.
I have spoken directly to Natural Resources Minister John MacDonell and indicated I would like to have these animals removed from the area. While the Minister expressed concern about this issue, the coyotes have not yet been removed. I believe that to get this to happen we will need to help the department understand just how many encounters we are having with coyotes.
Please note that I am not advocating for a coyote cull. The latest scientific evidence indicates that a cull simply strengths the pack; females produce larger litters more frequently.
The Department of Natural Resources will be conducting a province-wide programme on dealing with coyotes this spring. Coyotes generally “disappear into the wilderness in the spring when other food sources become more accessible to them.
In the meantime, I’d like to pass along some advice for dealing with coyotes:
-If you see a coyote, do not approach it or try to make friends with it. Coyotes generally avoid people. They are wild animals and should be treated as potentially dangerous.
-If you are running or jogging and you encounter a coyote, leave the area in the same direction in which you entered. DO NOT RUN from the coyote – running may provoke a predatory response and chase.
If the coyote behaves aggressively, try to appear larger and noisier or throw sticks and rocks. Fight back aggressively if the animal attacks.
-We can reduce the attractiveness of our neighbourhoods to wild animals by not feeding our pets outside.
-Please report coyote sightings to the Waverley Field Office of the Department of Natural Resources by calling 861-2560. Please report any sightings to my office as well by emailing email@example.com or calling 407-3777. For more information on coyotes in Nova Scotia, check out a news release at www.gov.ns.ca/news/details.asp?id=20100311003 or the Department of Natural Resources website: www.gov.ns.ca/natr/wildlife/nuisance/coyotes-faq.asp.
The Power of Positive Change Awards honour Nova Scotia students in grades Primary to 12 who have demonstrated leadership in promoting safe and positive environments, building social cohesion and cultural diversity in their schools or communities.
Up to 10 students will be awarded a $2000.00 bursary to be used for post-secondary educational opportunities.
To nominate a student for the 2009-10 school year, visit www.powerofpositivechange.ca to download a nomination package.
The deadline for nominations is March 31st, 2010.
The Nova Scotia Medal of Bravery is a provincial program that recognizes persons who have risked their own lives or safety in assisting another person or protecting property.
Anyone can be nominated for the medal, including those who have demonstrated exceptional bravery beyond that expected of them in the course of serving the public.
If you’d like more information of the programme, or on the procedure to nominate someone, check out www.gov.ns.ca/govt/bravery.
There was for many years a quotation that hung on the side of the Halifax Herald building:
My public life is before you; and I
know you will believe me when I say,
that when I sit down in solitude to the
labours of my profession,
the only questions I ask myself are,
What is right? What is just?
What is for the public good?”
Joseph Howe penned that sentiment more that 200 years ago, and it seems to me that his guidelines remain appropriate for anyone in public service.
While the Auditor General’s report covered only three weeks of my time as MLA, I want you to know that no expense I’ve claimed since becoming an MLA was named in the report. Nor have my expenses been of the type about which the AG has raised concerns. One of the reasons I decided to seek public office was that I felt the previous government had failed in its duty to be a good steward of the resource given to it to safeguard. I was determined to do better.
When I set up my constituency office after being elected last year, I made it clear that all items purchased for my office would be passed on to the next MLA when I leave office – just as our federal MPs do. It simply doesn’t make economic sense to have every newly elected MLA buy an office full of brand new furniture and equipment. I’ve tried to equip my office on a budget -buying used furniture and equipment when possible, and bringing other items from home.
I do want you to know that beginning last fall, the legislature took some steps toward accountability and expenditure reduction. They include:
-eliminating the annual technology allowance
-eliminating the $45,000 tax-free severance
-reducing constituency office budgets for the remainder of fiscal ‘09 and
-freezing MLA salaries. I
I welcomed these changes.
Further changes were announced in the first week of March, including requiring receipts for all expenses and eliminating the $1,050 monthly allowance. I welcome the requirement for receipts to justify expenses. I want you to know that many MLAs (myself included) used out $1,050 monthly allowance to provide help to people who (for example) could not heat their houses and were ineligible for the province’s Keep the Heat program. People who do not qualify for assistance programs have now lost that “last resort” help their elected officials could give them, and I regret the situation has impacted on them.
I’m sorry recent events have given you reason to lose faith in your provincial politicians. But I want you to know that I will work with you and and with my colleagues to restore your trust in your provincial legislators. I will try my best to do what is right, what is just and what is for the public good.
Finally, I’d like to invite you to sign up for my electronic newsletter. Simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “newletter signup”.
I promise not to inundate you with updates – probably only every two months, unless there’s a public emergency like H1N1. I do hope this will be a cost-effective way to keep in touch.
Budget Consultations: HST Hike?
In advance of the provincial budget, Finance Minister Graham Steele announced a series of pre-budget consultations in cities and towns across the province.
I was disappointed to note that Bedford-Birch Cove – and all of Mainland Halifax, in fact – had been left off the list of planned consultations.
In January, I called on the finance minister to reconsider. I was pleased to see that he listened, and added a consultation in Halifax in February.
The finance minister has been quoted in various newspapers as suggesting a lot of people think we should raise the HST. Do you agree with this? Are there other ways we could improve our economic performance – either by raising income, cutting expenditures, or growing the economy?
Please feel free to share your views with me on the budget by emailing me at email@example.com. You can also share your thoughts with the finance minister by emailing www.gov.ns.ca/finance/backtobalance/feedback.htm.
Kelly Regan, MLA
Suite 555-1550 Bedford Hwy
Bedford NS B4A 1E6