Statement from Mayor David Dagley, Region of Queens Municipality
Tuesday, March 31, 2020: I hope that all residents are attempting to deal with Covid-19 to the best of your ability. Current restrictions, while difficult, are necessary. Please be assured that Region of Queens Municipality is continuing to monitor the transmission and impacts of Covid-19 and are following all Nova Scotia Department of Health protocols.
This virus is a serious health concern and the safety of our facility users, staff and citizens is of our utmost priority. While we must all continue to pull together to succeed in winning this battle;Covid-19 has severely impacted activities and become a burden for many during daily life.Residents in Queens are known far and wide for our great hospitality which is something we should all be very proud of.
Please remember to walk for exercise, not to socialise, to stay close to home, and to practise social distancing of at least 2 metres. The Premier directed enforcement officers to issue fines for non-compliance of Provincial Orders under the declared State of Emergency.
As Mayor, I want to acknowledge the tremendous work being carried out by so many people working and volunteering in our community during this difficult time, including our own municipal staff who continue to ensure our water and sewer systems operate safely, our roads are cleared and salted, permits continue to get processed and approved, and our Queens Solid Waste Management Facility continues to process waste, organics, recyclables, and commercial contractor waste.
I would recommend that all citizens read the latest Region of Queens Municipality Covid-19 Updates as they are posted on our Region of Queens Municipality web site as well as the Province of Nova Scotia Covid -19 Updates which are also available on the Provincial web site.
During the past week I conducted interviews pertaining to Covid-19 with CKBW radio on Monday morning, CBC Information Morning on Wednesday, an article appeared in the March 25 issue of Lighthouse Now on Lunenburg and Queens Counties, and I was in touch with Simple Local Life Media on Friday to arrange an interview.
We recognize that there are residents in Queens without Internet or unreliable service, which is now being compounded due to the Library closure. With such a huge amount of information available, residents are not able to regularly access all information. We placed ads on QCCR and CKBW last week and over the weekend advising residents that if they don’t have Internet ability, to contact Heather Cook, Communications and Engagement Coordinator, at 902-354-5741 and she will mail them the most up-to-date package of information and resources. We only require a name and mailing address.
The Region partnered with Bell Canada several years ago on a Federal Connect to Innovate funding program to install fibre optic cables in Central and North Queens. We again partnered with Bell Canada and Develop Nova Scotia to carry out a $1.9 million project in January forCentral and North Queens to provide last mile and hookups for up to 1250 locations. Design work on this project is underway and when materials are ordered and received, installations will begin. I also provided a support letter to Bell for a new Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission funding application two weeks ago, and if successful, up to 400 more locations will be serviced in Central and North Queens. We will continue to seek and apply for future funding to improve internet service in other areas of Queens. The window of opportunity for funding to improve internet service is short, so we must proceed quickly. The municipality has agreed to contribute up to $1 million to these and other internet infrastructure projects currently under review with Bell Canada.
Council meeting scheduled for March 24th was cancelled and the Municipal Administration Building closed to the public on March 25th. We continue to serve you while some of our staff in the Administration building are currently working from home. Please refer to our latest Covid-19 Update on our web site for particulars on Municipal services. An Order has been signed by the Minister of Municipal Affairs to allow electronic or teleconference Council Meetings, and we will hold a Council Meeting when appropriate.
A number of recent issues may be of interest to residents:
1) Queens General Hospital has elevated security at the door with a security guard and nurse present. Please call the switchboard to arrange appointments for blood tests, etc.
2) Region of Queens has applied to the Province for cost sharing of a new Queens County Economic Development initiative, similar to the previous South Shore REN. This funding will enable the Region to hire an employee focused on economic development inQueens; an ability that will be very beneficial to business retention once Covid-19 is under control.
3) Freeman Lumber has advised that they are not able to ship wood chips to Brooklyn Power and are therefore not accepting wood deliveries after April 3rd. Freeman Lumber is anticipated to be shutting down once their mill yard is empty. I wrote a letter to the Premier and Ministers on March 23rd to seek their intervention with Emera in an effort to have Brooklyn Power continue to accept Freeman`s chips and continue to produce electricity for an extended period. Freeman`s are interested in constructing a pellet mill to handle their chips which will likely take 18 months to become operational. This potential closure will impact 200 + jobs.
4) A large firewood supplier, as well as a firewood customer, advised me that without the Freeman Mill operating, the local fire wood supply to sell to customers will significantly decrease. Additional memos were forwarded to elected Provincial officials on March 26thand 27th.
5) All anglers should be aware that Provincial Fisheries has announced that Nova Scotia’s sport fishing season is on hold until at least May 1st.
6) Open fires of any kind are not permitted in or within 1,000 feet of woods under a Provincial Fire Ban Order. Enforcement efforts have occurred in Queens.
7) The 2020 Olympics were cancelled and have now been re-scheduled for July - August 2021. We were proud to host a local celebration event for Sarah Mitton of Brooklyn recently. We are cheering for her and will continue to follow her progress over the next year.
8) Coach Betty Ann Daury accompanied athletes Michael Moreau and Colby Oickle to the Special Olympics National Games in Thunder Bay in February. Both athletes were successful in winning several medals each in the Snowshoe Event. Region Certificates of Congratulations were not able to be awarded to all of them at Council due to restrictions in place as a result of Covid-19 therefore Betty Ann has agreed to deliver the Certificates on behalf of Council. We are very proud of Betty Ann, Michael and Colby.
The main Trestle Trail bridge from the west end at Main Street to Bristol Avenue is open to walkers, as well as the outdoor walking track next to Queens Place. Please note that the Anniversary Trail next to the Trestle Trail bridge is closed.
During this time of reduced travel and self-isolation, we are asking residents to not hoard food or other household items as it will only harm others in our community who may need those items. When residents do require food or household items, we ask that you maintain the 2-metre social distancing rule and support local businesses. Please select one person from your household to do grocery shopping, and adhere to safe practices by washing hands frequently and refraining from touching your face, eyes or mouth. If you feel unwell, or are self-isolating, please have others deliver required supplies to you.
While many businesses have been required to close or reduce operations, we expect all residents to be respectful of others including staff in our operating businesses and medical providers, who are all working above and beyond, to continue to provide the services which we require. Our compassion is extended to those who may be laid-off including those due to a federal or provincial directive. The Municipality purchases a significant amount of items from local businesses, and we are now issuing cheques weekly to provide a quick turnaround time to our suppliers to support their cash flow. It is my responsibility to review all invoices prior to signing cheques.
Many local businesses are accepting phone orders and electronic payments. Residents can have purchases delivered by some businesses or picked up by a friend or relative. Queens Transit at 902-356-2670 advises that they provide pickup and delivery services, and our Senior Safety Coordinator Shelly Walker also has volunteers helping. Please call her at 902-354-5721 to arrange deliveries if required.
Federal financial support programs for residents and businesses can be found at https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/03/canadas-covid-19-economic-response-plan-support-for-canadians-and-businesses.html#Income_Support_for
If you develop a fever, with a temperature of 38 C or higher, or a cough, and you have travelled from outside of the province, or been exposed to a traveller in recent weeks and suspect you may have contracted Covid-19, you are advised to complete the online 811 Screening Tool questionnaire, to determine if you should call 811. If the results advise you to do so, please call 811 for an assessment. Self-isolating for 14 days is now mandatory for anyone who enters Nova Scotia. Those not adhering to this requirement are subject to a fine of $1000. For the greater good of all of our residents, please heed this advice.
Councillors are receiving updates on evolving issues regularly and I continue to work closely with our MLA Kim Masland and MP Bernadette Jordan on many issues of importance to citizens of Queens.
While Covid-19 changes are a major inconvenience, they are necessary. We must be proactive and do what is in the best interest of residents and staff to ensure their safety. I am hopeful that these preventative measures will lessen the amount of time we are required to reduce services while continuing to provide essential services to our communities. It will take time to substantially reduce present disease risk according to senior medical experts. Until new cases on the Covid-19 curve flattens, present controls will continue. We have 127 known cases of Covid-19 in N.S. as of March 30th, and one case of community spread has now been determined by the Province. Evolving concerns will be monitored daily and our plans adjusted as required. With your cooperation we will be successful in winning this battle.
Please continue to be safe.
Mayor David Dagley