Sackville honors poet laureate Douglas Lochhead

Council honours cultural icon
Published Thursday April 14th, 2011
Sackville councillors also introduce a number of bylaws and discuss RCMP subsidy
BY MEG EDWARDS
TIMES & TRANSCRIPT STAFF

Not many town council meetings begin with the reading of a poem, but in Sackville, the Cultural Capital of Canada, it is not unexpected.

In an ode to Sackville’s official Poet Laureate Douglas Lochhead, who died last spring, Sandy Burnett thanked council for their “vigorous support” of cultural activities and then read the poem, Breakfast at Mel’s, as well as a short poem about Sackville that was only recently discovered and will now be part of a bronze sculpture honouring Lochhead that is planned for the new City Hall. Senator Carolyn Stewart-Olsen was in attendance, shaking hands and introducing the beaming Evelyne Chapman as the Conservative candidate for the Beauséjour Riding.

An award presentation followed, with Director of Tourism, Rebekah Cant, giving a slide show of winning photographs of wintery scenes in Sackville and presenting the winners with prizes from local businesses.

As the actual meeting began, a selection of bylaws were introduced, reminding all present of the difficulties of a Maritime winter; a street traffic bylaw that highlighted the problem of sightlines on the street and snow piles, another to discourage residents from creating their own culverts, and the third, a bylaw on backflow prevention that is meant to “protect the town’s water supply,” says George Woodburn, Sackville’s Public Works and Engineering director. Woodburn said that although the Drew Nursing Home, the Sackville Hospital and Mount Allison University had proper systems, there are existing and new constructions that need to be monitored.

Fire Chief Craig Bowser reported that the fire department has decided to charge $500 plus HST for false fire alarms. Every house owner or PID number is allowed one free call a month. Bowser says that false alarm calls are costly, and that many calls were either “horseplay by students, mischievous pranks at commercial pull stations, or burnt food calls in the university.”

Bowser added that some alarms are faulty and set themselves off and that it is the responsibility of the owner to maintain them properly. The RCMP also announced some changes, with Corporal Denis Hache reporting that the RCMP will no longer attend fire alarms that are run by alarm companies, and that in the case of subpoena letters, the witness will receive a letter in the mail advising them of the court date and a location for them to pick up their own subpoena letter. Councillor Merrill Fullerton agreed with the changes saying that the police should “be on the ground and not spending their time delivering parcels.”

Sackville CAO Eric Mourant reported that after a preliminary evaluation, it was determined that the Town of Sackville provides approximately $200,000 of services to non-residents in surrounding communities for fire protection services and services related to the Civic Centre. Mourant says that the province’s contribution towards the services for non-residents is not enough and he has set up a meeting with the Department of Local Government to find out how to apply for financial compensation from the province.

Mourant also reminded the council that Sackville and the communities serviced by the Codiac RCMP (Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview) are the only ones in Canada that pay for 100 per cent of the costs related to police protection. Mourant reported that other communities of Sackville’s size pay 70 per cent of the cost, and that this inequality adds up to $350,000 per year, or approximately 7 cents on the property tax rate in Sackville.

Mourant urged councillors and citizens to consider this issue before voting. Councillor John Higham was supportive of the report, saying the amount of money that the CAO was trying to save the council was considerable and would go a long way to balance the budget when property assessments were down and the unconditional grant from the province “could be reduced or not even around” next year.

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