Port Elgin Council Meeting – November 2010

The community of Port Elgin may lose its Army Cadets if council members, school administration and interested citizens do not step forward to increase recruitment and help create a stable environment for cadets to study and practice.

Captain Rebecca Roberts, the Area Cadet Officer (Land) from Gagetown, delivered this strong message to council last night, accompanied by Mr. Robert Langevin, President of the Army Cadet League, Captain Wendy Paterson and Captain Barb Butler who runs the Port Elgin Cadet league.  Roberts told council that Port Elgin was being reviewed as to whether it is a ‘viable unit’ due to decreasing numbers and a lack of community support from both the Port Elgin Regional School, that was accused of giving priority to organized basketball games over pre-scheduled Cadet meetings, and village council , who sign checks but are not, according to Captain Roberts, aware that “as a sponsoring body they are responsible for  the viability of the unit including recruitment, providing a consistent space , staffing and communication with the Provincial cadet league”.

Mayor Judy Scott responded that they had never been told that they were responsible for anything other than signing checks, while Councilor Joanne Trenholm, (who has volunteered with Cadets for the last 15 years) defended the low numbers by reminding the Captain of Port Elgin’s small population.

The principal from Port Elgin Regional School, Brian Dean, was in attendance at the meeting for a separate issue and remarked that he would meet with Captain Roberts at another time in order to clarify the situation and clear up any misconceptions. Captain Wendy Patterson, a young captain who is in place to take over for  Captain Butler when she retires in two years, made an impassioned speech for the support of the Cadets, which have been active in Port Elgin for at least 30 years. She argued that the Cadet League, which is free of charge, is somewhere where any child can feel safe and included, while offering the structure and discipline that many children crave.

In a separate delegation to the council Principal Brian Dean from the Port Elgin Public Regional School, and local restaurant owner George Fagan were in attendance to bring attention to the rampant vandalism in Port Elgin and the school area.   Dean said that it had been a long 19 days, referring to a stretch of vandalism at the public school that included thousands of dollars of damage to outside lights.

Councilor Val MacDermid, who has dealt with many acts of vandalism and theft while acting as the director of PEDVAC (the local nonprofit organization that runs the food bank), George Fagan and Brian Dean were all concerned that charges of vandalism were not being taken seriously by the RCMP.  RCMP Corporal Alain Leblanc who attends the Port Elgin council meetings and acts as a liaison, said that he would talk with the officers involved and take action to improve the communication between the RCMP and the complainants. The council and concerned citizens were relieved to hear from Corporal Leblanc, that “he had been advised, right before the meeting, that someone of interest had been arrested regarding the vandalism”.

Council also heard from Michael Ross, the Director of Operations for Habitat for Humanity,  who reported that  although ‘the ink was not dry on the deal’ he was confident enough about it to announce that an old RCMP house on Shemogue  Road by the traffic circle in Port Elgin would be fixed up and offered to a family in need.  The eligible family does not need a down payment but must earn fifty percent of their income and not be carrying a huge debt ratio. Related family members must volunteer 500 hours of ‘sweat equity” either in renovating the house or working for the village.  Applicants can apply from outside of Port Elgin. Ross emphasized that it was the Habitat for Humanity’s goal to give a family a hand up, saying that being able to leave a house for your children is “leaving a legacy for the kids”. Mayor Judy Scott said it was a great opportunity for Port Elgin.

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