The Department of Tourism says Buffaloland could be sold within the month, but it’s not clear who will buy it.
Tourism spokesperson Andrew Sprague said the interested group is from the southern Kings area and the department is just waiting for final details to be resolved.
The Moonlight International Foundation won’t say if it plans to purchase the provincial park in Milltown Cross.
The foundation, based in Stratford, is a non-profit organization incorporated in Murray River in 2010.
Moonlight International’s mission statement includes rescuing and protecting livestock, lab animals, and wildlife that are sick, mistreated or to be slaughtered and “establishing free-range habitat for animals,” according to their website.
Foundation member Max Wang didn’t confirm or deny involvement in the park.
“All I can say is, there’s no comment right now,” Mr Wang said. Mr Wang is in California but plans to return to PEI next month.
The foundation’s other missions include poverty relief, agriculture and lands preservation, social welfare and educational programs, and promoting peace and diversity within cultures, religions, and ethnics.
The Great Enlightenment Buddhist Institute Society denies any rumours of their institute buying the park.
“The Buddhist Society has no intentions of purchasing the park,” Executive Secretary Geoff Yang said. However, he added, “there are some other different entities that are independently operated by some lay practitioners.”
The Moonlight International Foundation was founded by the spiritual teacher of the Buddhist group, Mary Jin. However, both groups are operated independently.
Jonathon Tsamantanis, leader of the Save Our Buffalo group, is disappointed the government is close to a sale and his 3,000 members still were never consulted.
“They never once came to us. Never once,” he said.
Mr Tsamantanis said in the best case scenario, the park would stay provincially owned with his group tending to the park.
If not, he wished the group was at least offered a chance at buying the park.
“I know it would be successful, without a moment’s hesitation,” he said.
Government confirmed it will not accept a proposal for the park unless the buffalo remain, the property isn’t changed, and it remains open to the public.
Mr Tsamantanis isn’t comforted. His biggest fear is that the park will become a farm.
“They don’t say anything about herd size,” he said, fearing more animals would be pumped into the park.
“My main concern is that they’re going to generate revenue through meat. Through either meat or selling the babies.”
Mr Tsamantanis said he’s done all he can to fight for the park.
“What more can I do, go light myself on fire? What more do I do to prove that I want this?”
Now, he said he’ll be watching over the park, no matter who owns it.
“We will continue to monitor the park making sure that at least the animals are in good condition.”
The province announced it was selling Buffaloland for financial reasons last May. The 100 acre park, with a herd of around 25 animals, was costing the province $15,000 to $50,000 per year to operate and brought in no revenue, Minister Robert Henderson said.
Carson Gill at Gill Construction Inc in Vernon River says safety at the workplace is all about using your head before your hands.
“Awareness is at the top of the list, because common sense is what’s going to save you,” he said.
Mr Gill said training his staff is also key for safety. He said anyone who is hired on is trained in the company’s safety procedures, and employees take training courses specified to their jobs.
“There’s a few different courses we get the boys to take part in. First aid, obviously. Fall Arrest is another.”
Fall arrest, or fall prevention, is all about making “sure you can’t fall off a height and hurt yourself.”
Ways to prevent injuries from falls include barricading the edge of a roof or using a harness system.
Different employees need different types of training, such as cement truck drivers.
“When they clean the inside of the drum, they need a confined space course,” Mr Gill said.
Working inside a space with limited access, employees need knowledge in assessing methane gas and collapse risks.
Safety also means the right gear: be it hard hats, safety boots, climbing harness, or safety glasses depending on the work.
Having the equipment to be safe is also vital. Along with harnesses and barricades, guards on power saws are another measure to keep employees safe and “fingers and toes out of it.”
Visuals are also important. Marking hard hat areas and using cation tape around hazardous work areas keeps employees safe.
Mr Gill said in companies that aren’t unionized, like his, employees have a couple of options if they have workplace concerns.
“Hopefully their first process would be coming to the owner. I do try to instill upon them to not do anything they don’t feel safe doing,” he said.
Workers also have the right to speak to the Workers Compensation Board of PEI directly.
Mr Gill said he’s been serious about workplace safety since a workplace horror story he heard a decade ago.
A man was working from 15 feet on an extension ladder with bare aluminum, instead of rubber feet, on the concrete. The ladder slipped from under him.
“He fell. He hit his head quite hard and was taken away by ambulance,” he said. The man survived. “That was a turning point in my realization of how important it is to think first.”
Now his rule is, “Think of how to do it safely before you think of how to do it.”
Robert Justin MacDonald, 26, of Shaunavon, Saskatchewan was sentenced to four months in jail for dangerous driving and failing the Breathalyser.
On June 15, 2012, at 9:20pm a police officer observed a pick up truck in Morell East driving 130 kilometres an hour with the lights off.
The truck passed three cars while going up a hill.
A second officer coming in the opposite direction also spotted the truck, which drove in the wrong lane towards the police vehicle before swerving out of the lane again. The officer then watched as the truck passed a tractor on the inside, driving up to 180 kilometres an hour. Finally, the truck turned down a road in Morell East and crashed into a ditch. The whole incident took place over half an hour.
Mr MacDonald’s Breathalyser reading was 90 mg.
Mr MacDonald’s lawyer said his client had heard disturbing family news the night of the accident and went for a drive, and noted Mr MacDonald drove on remote side roads. She also noted his car was not equipped with daytime lights and it was not quite dusk.
But that was no excuse, Judge Orr said.
“No matter how upsetting or troubling, there’s nothing that could justify putting other people in danger,” she said.
Mr MacDonald has two previous charges, including assault from 2008 and another failed Breathalyser charge from 2010.
Mr MacDonald was sentenced to consecutive 60 day jail terms for each charge, as well as a three year driving prohibition. He was also fined $1,000 plus $250 victims surcharge to be paid in one year.
Wendy Diane Blaisdell, 49, of Howe Bay plead guilty to possession of marijuana.
On October 2, 2012, police searched Mrs Blaisdell’s home and she directed them to 100 grams hidden beneath the sink.
She was fined $1,000 plus a $150 victims surcharge to be paid in one year.
In provincial youth court, a youth pled guilty to assault and breaking probation.
On February 14, the youth was fined $200 and given 12 months probation for theft under $5,000 from a Souris store.
On March 21, the youth punched a 14 year old in the face after hearing from a third party that the victim had insulted him.
On April 5, his mother called in to say the youth broke his curfew by sleeping at a friend’s house for the weekend.
The youth has only been attending one out of his six classes, and was recently suspended after cursing at his school principal.
The youth’s lawyer said the youth was cooperative with police and has employment and community hours set up in the near future.
Judge Orr told the youth there’s a reason he’s on probation.
“You’re not a free agent to come and go as you please anymore.”
She reminded him sentences will only get harsher as he commits more crimes.
Sentencing was adjourned to May 2 to monitor if the youth’s behaviour will improve.
The Town of Souris was $117,304 under budget in 2012 after spending only $898,107 of its planned $1,015,411.
“Most municipalities would love to trade positions with you,” said Michelle Burge of MRSB as she read aloud their audited financial statement.
The town made less revenue than expected by nearly $25,000 and spent more on expenditures than expected by $92,500 but still landed in the black.
One reason was that the planned boost to town beautification in 2012 was never used.
In 2012, the $21,750 beautification budget was two and a half times the $8,263 used in 2011. However, the town only spent $5,000.
Chief Administrative Officer Shelley LaVie said the savings came from a decision not to participate in the national Communities in Bloom awards this year, saving the costs of hosting judges and sending representatives.
“They just decided to take a year from it, I don’t think they’re going to participate this year either. They just felt that their money could be put towards things locally.”
This year beautification received $17,250 which will be set aside for employees if subsidies don’t come through.
“If we can get a wage subsidy we will, but we did put that in there in case we didn’t … There’s never a guarantee that money is going to be there.”
The Town of Souris spent only $182,845 of its $243,300 budget for streets and sidewalks in 2012.
COA LaVie said because they made a capital investment in street resurfacing, paving and patching only cost $1,500 out of a $35,000 budget.
“That showed up more in the capital side than the expense side,” she said.
The town also decided to stop contracting for grass cutting, dicing their budget of $10,000 down to $300.
COA said the change saved money, worked better on their schedule, and let them hire a worker.
“We knew when our events were coming up and we knew what areas needed to be cut when, so we had a little bit of control over the look of the grass. We did save a little bit and we employed a young person.”
The Town of Souris faces a small surplus for their 2013 year after the surprise loss of OCI building money and the purchase of a decrepit drug mart, but they also have two new festivals to look forward to.
The town has budgeted $37,000 towards the purchase and destruction of the old drug mart on 88 Main Street.
Deputy Mayor Denis Thibodeau it’s a shame the town has to put money towards the rotting property when it could go to better things.
“It’s very unfortunate. The citizens are left picking up the remains,” he said. “If we didn’t have drugmart to tear down we could do more.”
In 2012, the town of Souris budgeted $4,650 for emergency measure operations but spent $8,227. The town faced the surprise cost of on environmental clean up after discovering a diesel fuel spill. No one ever claimed responsibility for the spill, which cost the town $7,366 to clean up.
For 2013, the town budgeted only $2,900.
COA LaVie said oil spills aren’t something that come around that often.
“In the 22 years I’ve been here, that’s the only oil spill we’ve had to clean up. It could happen twice this year, it may never happen again, we just don’t know. Some things you just can’t budget for.”
Two new events in Souris this year increased town promotion by $10,000 from 2012, COA LaVie said.
Artisans on Main is receiving $12,000 and the Mermaid Tears Seaglass Festival is receiving $3,500.
The Mermaid Tears Seaglass Festival previously ran in Wood Islands but was adopted by the Town of Souris this year. The festival will run at the Souris Lighthouse grounds July 26 to 28 with 19 vendors from across Canada and US participating.
Their guest speaker will be Richard LaMonte, vice president of the North American Sea Glass Association, and author of the award-winning book Pure Sea Glass.
“He’s going to be available all weekend long to autograph books and have people bring their shards in and tell them their value and their clarity,” said Joeanne Roche, administration and special events coordinator for the town.
“There’s some sea glass people in this area that are very serious sea glass collectors,” she said.
“It’s going to be quite a first kick at the can. People travel from eastern United States and all around the Maritimes for things like this.”
Up to 5,000 attend the festival each year in Wood Islands.
A 15 year old youth involved in bludgeoning 50 seal pups pled guilty at Provincial Court in Georgetown on Thursday.
On January 26 the youth took part in bludgeoning the Atlantic Grey seal pups in the Beach Point area and left them dead or dying.
Two of the youth’s friends also face charges.
The youth pled guilty to cruelty to animals causing injury, suffering, and pain and disturbing a marine mammal under the Marine Mammal Regulations in the Fisheries Act.
Sentencing was adjourned to June 6 and the youth has been released on an undertaking.
A 17 year old youth facing the same charges came to court prepared to enter a plea without a lawyer, but Judge Nancy Orr strongly advised the youth and his mother against it.
“It’s in your best interest in the long term,” she said.
The 17 year old and his mother agreed and a plea will be entered next Thursday.
Colton Hal Clements, 18, was the third person and the only adult involved in the bludgeoning case.
Mr Clements pled guilty in Charlottetown last Tuesday and will also be sentenced June 6 in Georgetown provincial court.
Edwena Arbuckle’s Grade Five class is spreading the word to save at risk birds.
In March, the children saw a presentation from Island Nature Trust on two at risk birds, the barn swallow and the bobolink.
Mrs Arbuckle said when they reached their persuasive writing unit in class, students knew right away what they wanted to do.
“Students wanted to make posters and educate people about them,” Mrs Arbuckle said.
Now, the posters are finished and students will be asking locations in Montague to show their work.
Student Alec MacDougall of New Perth said he wants to protect barn swallows because he likes seeing them around.
“They’re in my big old barn. I want to learn more about them,” he said. “They fly around and they’ll swoop down in front of your face.“
In the past 40 years in Canada, the bobolinks have lost 88 per cent of their population and the barn swallow has lost 76 per cent of their population.
Bobolinks in nest in hay fields and livestock pastures and a often killed because their breeding season coincides with the farming season.
Barn swallows live in traditional wood barns, which are increasingly being abandoned or destroyed and not being rebuilt.
The class also covered bank swallows, which are at risk because their nesting areas are being covered by erosion prevention.
The agricultural birds project ended March 31, but the Island Nature Trust staff is looking for more funding.
Photo: Edwena Arbuckle’s Grade Five class is spreading the word to save at risk birds with posters they’ll put up in the community. The students are, back row, from left: William Wheeler, Breanna Kendall, Faith Ann Haight, Max VanWiechen, Alec MacDougall, David McCarron, and Brayden Benoit. Front row: Bethany McMullin, Emily Stewart, Zachary Gordon, Savannah Morrison, Jessica Parsons, Alexander Mallard, and Margaret MacLean. Heather Jordan Ross photo
Organizers of the sixth annual Eastern Kings Giant Yard Sale are looking forward to another great event and hope to raise enough money to finish paying for a new cenotaph at Souris Legion.
The Eastern Kings Giant Yard Sale will run from Dingwells Mills to East Point June 7-8 and will feature vendors from across the Maritimes.
Yardsale chairperson Mildred McCormack said after poor Sunday sales last year, the event will now be held on Friday and Saturday instead of Saturday and Sunday.
“Our big sale is always just Saturday,” Ms McCormack said. The change should also allow local vendors to visit other sites before starting their own.
Ms McCormack would like to see more vendors from across the Island this year and hopes being sponsored by UsedPEI.com will help. Ms McCormack said the yardsale also serves as a tourism boost.
“We do it as a fundraiser and to promote the eastern part of Prince Edward Island in the off season,” Ms McCormack said.
This is the second year proceeds will go to Souris Legion, and if enough funds are raised they could afford their new cenotaph by next Remembrance Day.
The Souris Legion has been fundraising for six years and is now only $4,000 short of its $42,000 goal.
Yard sale coordinator Melvin Ford said the monument will include 1,500 names of people who have served in wars, the Armed Forces, the Navy and the RCMP.
“The nice thing about our monument is we’re putting all of the people’s names on it. They could be still here, or still serving,” Mr Ford said, adding there is 80 years worth of additional space.
The current monument only carries the names of those killed in action.
In the past, the yard sale has donated to Harbourview Training Centre, the Eastern Kings Sportsplex, and Special Olympians.
Fundraising has already begun with an online yardsale: the committee is currently taking donations of furniture, small appliances, and paintings to be sold with money going directly to the Legion. The furniture is being sold on their previous year’s Facebook page 5th Annual Eastern Kings Giant Yard Sale.
Ms McCormack said after paying the $15 registration, vendors can fundraise for whatever they like.
“If you want to get together and have a fundraiser, it’s a great opportunity too.”
Interested vendors can contact Mr Ford or Ms McCormack at 743-3111, or at their office in the Main Street Mall in Souris, Monday to Friday from 9am to 4pm.
More than 300 Islanders made their way to legislature Thursday evening to protest proposed changes to Island hospitals and demand dialogue with the Department of Health.
“We are here today from across this island to lend our voices to stop the proposal to eliminate Island-wide hospital access,” said Alan MacPhee, chairman of the Islandwide Hospital Access Committee.
Representatives from O’Leary, Alberton, Souris, Summerside and Lennox Island First Nation spoke followed by Minister of Health Doug Currie and Premier Robert Ghiz.
Last month, the Department of Health announced Community Hospital in O’Leary and Souris Hospital would become extended-care facilities, removing acute care. Stewart Memorial Hospital in Tyne Valley would become a 23-bed long-term care facility.
Derek Key, a Summerside resident associated with the Board of Prince County Hospital and the Prince County Hospital Foundation, said the idea of PCH being a “pillar of acute care” is news to him.
He said they’ve had their staff, pediatrics, emergency surgery and general surgery threatened in recent years.
“Today it is suggested that we are a ‘major referral hospital,’ a ‘pillar of acute care.’ Four months ago they were trying to shut us down.”
Mr Key said all hospitals outside of Charlottetown are at risk.
“This is a promise of better access, better care and there will be – but not for you and me, because we have not chosen to live in the capital city.”
Mr Key called for the changes to be put on hold until dialogue was open with communities.
“If the minister is truly sincere in wanting better access, better care for all Islanders, he needs to talk with us. Do not talk at us. Do not serve up empty platitudes and fancy slogans. Have a dialogue.”
Rod MacNeill spoke on behalf of Stewart Memorial Hospital.
“The sweeping changes are sweeping away our hospital,” he said. “We’re asking this government to please, please reconsider.”
Mr MacNeill said the government promised consultation from tip to tip, but instead traveled the island to tell islanders what would be happening with health care.
Mr MacNeill warned his hospital is only the first to see these changes.
“If the trends continue, we will not be the last to go,” he said.
Michelle Arsenault spoke on behalf of Community Hospital in O’Leary.
She said Minister Currie is always talking about advancing and evolving, but she’s seen the opposite.
“Thousands of Islanders without family doctors is not progress. A hospital that 15 years ago could deliver babies but now has a sign on the door that says ‘in case of emergency call 911’ is not progress.”
Ms Arsenault called for a reversal in changes and an independent health board.
“Bring in an independent health board. Let that be your legacy,” she asked of Premier Ghiz.
Chief Darlene Bernard spoke on behalf of the Lennox Island First Nations, who depend on Stewart Memorial Hospital.
It troubles her that Islanders may travel three hours for healthcare.
“It’s not like PEI has a public transit system tip to tip,” she said. She worries people won’t be able to travel to see their family members.
“I have no idea where my people are going to end up,” she said.
Eastern Kings, Central Kings, Cardigan, Souris, and Morell Fire Departments also attended. They have a standing threat to stop acting as first responders if the government doesn’t reverse the changes.
Minister Currie said the province is facing an aging population with an increase in chronic disease.
“We recognize that the needs our population requires has changed and will continue to change,” he said. “My priority is to continue to make sure that we have services, that we continue to sustain a system under intense pressure.”
Minister Currie noted nothing has been closed.
“We have closed not a single bed, nor a single facility in this province and our focus is to make sure we have services for all Islanders in every community.”
Premier Ghiz said though not everyone may agree with the changes, the government is trying to do what’s best for all Islanders.
“Yes we do talk about evolution and about change, and some might disagree with the direction we’re moving in but let me say this: the changes we are making we believe we are making in the best interest of all islanders,” he said.
He said all hospitals will still be contributing.
“It’s about using the resources we have to deliver the health care islanders need and deserve,” he said.
“I can guarantee you this, 15 and 20 years ago things changed, and in 15 and 20 years they will change again. We’re going to try and do the best we can for islanders.”
At the beginning of the evening, protesters were given flowers to put on the legislature steps if they were dissatisfied with provincial government’s decision.
As Mr Ghiz finished his speech, the crowd flooded the front of the legislature to throw their flowers.
The province has increased 33 Liquor Control Act fees since 2011, according to a report prepared by legislature researchers.
While some business owners say increases are only natural, others are saying increases to entrance fees could scare away new businesses.
Anne Dewar of Sir Isaac’s Restaurant and Mister Gabe’s Pub in Montague said the increase in fees she’s seen are totally unreasonable. She pays to renew her dining room and lounge license each year. Both rose from $200 to $250.
“It’ll affect my business of course, mainly because when you’re a small business it’s that much more money,” she said, adding that these are just two of many bills she pays as a businessperson. “You can’t put your prices up because people don’t like that either,” she said. “You’re kind of fighting an uphill battle when you’re paying higher fees and not able to charge any more.”
Ms Dewar worries for new businesses trying to start up. Since 2011, the application fees for a dining room license and for a lounge license went from $25 to $200 each.
“It might discourage someone else from getting in,” she said. “If people aren’t getting in, the rural areas aren’t going to grow.”
She says the increases are a tax grab.
“I guess they needed more money to pay off the debt that we all owe,” she said.
Jackie Aitken of the Bluefin Restaurant and Black Rafter Lounge in Souris disagrees.
“I think it’s fair. The people who work at those offices … they have to go to that place and do a complete check to make sure it’s up to standard. Someone has to pay for that, otherwise you and I as taxpayers have to pay it.”
She also said for anyone looking at getting into the restaurant business, the licensing fees are on the smaller side.
Mrs Aitken doesn’t agree with the high price of catering fees, however. The annual catering license fee rose from $200 to $250.
“It’s not worth it. You’d have to be catering 24/7 to make it up,” she said. “If you’re only catering three times a year, that’s a big expense.
Many people ask me to do a bar for their weddings … but it’s not feasible.”
This year, the annual fee for a winery license increased from $200 to $400. The annual fee to ferment on premises also doubled to $400.
John Rossignol, owner of Rossignol Estate Winery in Little Sands, said he would prefer that the annual charge stayed at $200, but understands the government’s decision.
“The wine license fee has been the same for the last 18 years, I’m not surprised that it (went) up,” he said.
Mike Newman, owner of Newman Estate Winery in Gladstone, also sympathizes with the increase.
“There’s a lot that they have to do, in regards to the licensing process. They’ve got admin fees as well.”
Mr Newman said increases are more likely to affect new wineries.
Since 2011, the Liquor Control Act’s application fee for a winery license and for fermenting on premises both rose from $25 to $300.
“I think the jump hurts more people who are just starting off,” he said.
However, Mr Newman said the winery business is expensive from the start, so people will now have to be more serious about entering it.
“It’s so hard in the sense that there’s a lot of costs up front in regards to your equipment and your vines and all that. It probably will discourage people, but it may discourage the people that shouldn’t be looking into it in the first place,” he said.
Mr Rossignol agreed. He said if a person is seriously interested in developing a winery, they should be prepared to invest half a million dollars.
“It’ll just make sure that people are serious about it.”
Fees for distilleries also rose. Annual licenses doubled to $400 and the application fee for distiller’s license rose from $25 to $300. A new annual fee for off-site distillery retail outlets was also introduced, at $100.
No distillers in eastern PEI could be reached for comment.
Seven year old Brayden Ford of Georgetown is bashful about his time with country star George Canyon, but he does pipe up to say, “I played his ’tar.”
Brayden not only spent one on one time strumming with the star before the show, he also was given a special gift to help with his education.
His father Melvin Ford runs the Georgetown Inn, where Mr Canyon stayed during his two performances at the King’s Playhouse last week. Mr Canyon is an ECMA, CCMA, and Juno Award winner from Pictou County, Nova Scotia now based in Calgary, Alberta
“George is very much a family guy, and he took a liking to Brayden. He took Brayden to the theatre, he let him play guitar, and he gave him a special chair to watch the show on Thursday night,” Mr Ford said.
When Mr Canyon realized Brayden was going to be watching his performance at the back of the theatre, he set up a chair right in front of the stage for him.
Mr Ford said Brayden went wild with the air drums and air guitar.
“He was mimicking everything George was doing,” Mr Ford said.
Mr Ford said while Mr Canyon was staying at the inn, they discussed getting support for children with disabilities. Brayden has down syndrome and needs constant help from educational assistants and occupational, speech, and physical therapists.
Mr Ford was trying to get funding so Brayden could have his own computer tablet for school. The school has a couple of shared tablets, but if Brayden had his own he could load his own applications for educational tools including combination games, alphabet flashcards, math programs and story books.
“For Brayden with down syndrome, visual is everything and repetition is everything.”
When Mr Ford explained the process of applying to different groups for financial aid only to be turned down and starting over with other groups, Mr Canyon was appalled.
“He just found it appalling that parents would have to go through that much rigmarole to get something for a special needs child. He said when it comes to a child’s education, it shouldn’t be ‘Should we or shouldn’t we, who pays for it and who doesn’t.’ It should just be done.”
Mr Ford didn’t expect what was coming next when Mr Canyon left him a card after his stay.
“Before he left he came up and gave me a hug … He had a card, and most guests leave a card and a little thank you,” he said.
But this card had “a little note that said ‘I want you to go pick up the iPad (tablet) that you and I were talking about for your son Brayden.’”
In the card was $300.
Mr Ford is overwhelmed by Mr Canyon’s generosity.
“The band said he does this all the time. He’s a big believer in families and he misses his own kids when he’s on the road too,” Mr Ford. Mr Canyon has two children of his own.
“It was quite an emotional day for me because you don’t get that every day,” Mr Ford said, looking at his son Brayden as he played on his new tablet from his new friend.