About Last Night…

The first thing I need to tell you about last night’s CBRM Council meeting was that it was blessedly short—just over half an hour. That’s because the agenda was light in recognition of the CBRM’s ongoing struggle with the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona.

The second thing is that, due to technical difficulties, staff was unable to play the recording of “O Canada” that usually kicks off the meeting; so instead, council and staff sang the anthem a cappella and…they were really good! Mayor Amanda McDougall seemed as (pleasantly) surprised by the quality of the rendition as I was, praising the singers for a “good job” and suggesting it could constitute something a team-building exercise before continuing with the meeting.

 

Proclamations & Resolutions

There was but one proclamation—a belated one, declaring October 1st Cadet Day.

 

Fiona

Next came an “update” on Hurricane Fiona from Bruce MacDonald, the municipality’s manager of Emergency Management (which, now that I’ve written it, sounds kind of funny, but is nevertheless his title.)

This was for information purposes only and while there was certainly a lot of information disseminated, it wasn’t necessarily the information I was most curious to hear. I will forgive this, given that, as MacDonald put it, “the recovery is ongoing for many citizens and may be for some time.” But eventually, I hope we get more solid figures on things like how long people waited to have their power (and internet) restored, where waits were longest (and why) and how many people were ordered out of their homes or were unable to return to their homes following the storm (MacDonald said only “quite a few.”)

Bruce MacDonald

Bruce MacDonald presents to CBRM Council, 11 October 2022. (Source: Livestream)

MacDonald’s presentation was basically a recitation of steps taken by his department and its various “partners”—a word asked to do some very heavy lifting, encompassing, as it did, government agencies, private businesses and NGOs—before, during and after the hurricane which “made landfall” in Nova Scotia at “3:00 AM on Saturday, September 24.” (MacDonald’s information was presented in a sort of modified “cop speak,” although he at least refrained from referring to Fiona as a “perp.”)

Most of what he had to say was about comfort centers, but not how many people accessed them or whether they had adequate resources to deal with the people who showed up. I heard Mayor McDougall tell the CBC’s Tom Ayers this morning that the municipality will review its response to Fiona to see what could be improved before the (inevitable) next big storm, and I look forward to seeing the results of this review.

Picture of fallen tree blocking street

My personal Fiona story.

MacDonald had lots of praise for everyone deemed to have had a role in the municipal response, but I have to think this sort of praise would be better coming from the people who were assisted rather than from those doing the assisting, so I’ll start: the crew from New Brunswick that cut up the tree blocking my street were incredibly patient (sitting in their trucks for I don’t know how long waiting for the all-clear from Nova Scotia Power) and the municipal workers who removed the remains of that tree from my driveway were skillful, efficient and good-humored, despite the long hours and lack of meal breaks (they told me they’d worked 12 hours the previous day before getting a chance to eat). I had no power at the time they were doing the work, so sat on my steps and watched them and it made me wish I knew how to operate a backhoe.

 

Deputized

The next piece of business on last night’s agenda was the selection, by secret ballot, of a new deputy mayor, Earlene MacMullin’s second term having come to an end. (Deputy mayors are elected annually and can serve no more than two consecutive terms).

District 12 Councilor Lorne Green nominated District 1 Councilor Gordon MacDonald for the position, while District 5 Councilor Eldon MacDonald nominated District 8 Councilor James Edwards.

CBRM District 8 Councilor James Edwards

Edwards won and declared himself both “humbled” and “honored,” but my immediate thought was that this might also be good news for Kameron Collieries, owner of the recently re-opened Donkin Mine, which Edwards has been cheering on as a member of the company’s community liaison committee.

 

And the nominators are…

Council also appointed a nominating committee, which will consist of Earlene MacMullin (District 2), Eldon MacDonald (District 5), Glenn Paruch (District 6), Steve Parsons (District 7) and Darren O’Quinn (District 11).

 

Financials

CFO Jennifer Campbell was on hand to answer questions about financial statements to end-July 2022 (there were none), nor were there questions regarding the Port of Sydney’s financials for the same period.

Council will meet next on Thursday at 1:30PM to discuss consultant John Heseltine’s report on council size.