Queens Place is a fantastic asset for the RQM, however it is currently impacting the general tax rate by $187,000. How do the candidates propose to approach realizing the true potential of Queens Place?
“Queens Place Emera Centre is going through growing pains,” said Hartlen.
He said he doesn’t think anyone knows what the final product will look like. The facility’s full potential will be realized through the programs that happen.
Hartlen added Queens Place isn’t just a sports facility but a venue for arts and entertainment.
“The major events that are already in the works will show the rest of the province and beyond what we are capable of.”
“Queens Place is truly something that we can be proud of,” said Clarke. “I suspect, though, we’re going to have a significant job to make it break even.”
Clarke said he sees the facility as an economic driver with many opportunities. He also talked about the importance of Queens Place giving value to people not just in South Queens but everywhere in the county.
He suggested the skills to run a facility such as Queens place are much different than those to run a municipality.
“I would look towards trying to build either an advisory council or a board for Queens Place to put it more at arm’s length,” he said.
Clarke said there has been criticism in the community regarding the facility being idle in the summer.
It’s important to open the facility to community and volunteer groups at a reasonable price, he said.
Hamlin said he was part of much of the cynicism and upset that existed before Queens Place opened, though he was in favour of the facility.
“Over there is one of the biggest pieces of infrastructure the Region of Queens has ever been involved in. Look at the top price.”
It’s not finished, he added. More opportunities are evolving.
Hamlin assured the audience Queens Place is one budget. What the public heard before hasn’t changed.
He said there are many things that have to change to make it the best centre, one of those being adding a pool. As mayor, he said, he would work hard for that.
“It is a wonderful and important asset to the Region of Queens,” said Dagley. “It provides healthy recreation to residents and visitors and will serve as a strong marketing tool to encourage new employers and families to move to Queens County.”
Dagley said the recent stage, chairs and ice cover bought will allow events to happen all year but said aggressive marketing has to be developed.
“Additional events will increase revenue and attract business to Queens,” he said.
A public consultation is necessary to develop future possibilities, he added.
Since the Resolute closure the SQCC fact-finding initiative has received a significant number of comments about the need for a post-secondary education facility in Queens County. How do you propose finishing what the current and previous councils have already started?
“Times have changed. People want to be retrained,” said Hartlen.
“The time is right to lobby all government departments to create a post-secondary facility in the region.”
He said he would look at this problem and do everything to continue with the efforts that have begun.
“I would look at putting together a committee of academics and former teachers perhaps who are better in this field than someone like myself who has not been an educator,” said Clarke.
Clarke said Queens General Hospital would have a significant teaching element. This will help Queens County in the health disciplines, he said.
He said though a lot of encouragement would be needed for people to get extra education, it could be done.
“The community college seems willing. I’ve talked to them. They seem keen to come here and work with us.”
“It’s a tough one to answer,” said Hamlin. “We’re in a very small county. I took courses. I tried to get them here to teach. We had buildings. We had places to put them.”
Hamlin said getting a site built hasn’t worked. Neither has getting professors to travel to Queens because they don’t want to go past Bridgewater, he said.
The problem, he said, isn’t unsolvable.
“The past way of doing things in education is rapidly changing,” he said.
“Post-secondary education can exist in many different formats,” said Dagley.
He said being able to access an extension service to an accredited university could be beneficial. He said training facilities, especially community college programs, are necessary.
Dagley talked about Queens County’s proximity to forests, agricultural lands and ocean as an attraction to those in the academic world.
“It is my intention to work collaboratively with council, staff, business leaders, citizens and the academic community to further expand and achieve the full potential of the Region of Queens to attract as many post-secondary facilities as possible.”
What do you think about an arts centre on Main Street potentially in the old town hall?
Dagley said he certainly supports the work of people involved with arts and culture. He pointed to the International Theatre Festival as an example of something that works well in Queens County.
He said as for the old town hall, there’s a lease on the building until 2016, and he said he didn’t know about the terms and conditions of the lease.
“As mayor, I would be prepared to sit down with representatives of the arts and culture community and Mr. (Sherman) Hines and see where this may go,” Dagley said.
Hamlin said he would like to look at multiple options for venues.
“The arts centre is a needed thing.”
He said he thinks the search for an appropriate space should continue.
Clarke said he thinks work has to be done to make town hall once again the focus of the community.
“We’ve got to make sure that it is used on a continuous basis,” he said.
The question of whether the old town hall is large enough is legitimate, said Clarke. If it’s not, work has to be done to find a better use for it, he added.
Hartlen said he agrees the old town hall would be the perfect place for an arts centre.
“I think we can get together and work something out with him (Sherman Hines),” said Hartlen.
What are your attitudes of Cooke Aquiculture coming to Queens.
Clarke said he has worked hard to defend Port Mouton Bay for a number of years.
“The goal of the Friends of Port Mouton Bay is to eliminate that fish farm … entirely,” he said.
Hartlen read a motion:
That the council of the Region of Queens Municipality send their letter to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture reconfirming is concern for the future of Port Mouton Bay and fish farming in the area and further request that before any decision is made to renew aquaculture licenses in Port Mouton Bay that a full and open public hearing be held in the area effected, including presentations by provincial scientists to address community concerns.”
The letter went to the MLA and provincial government.
“I voted for that motion, and it still stands.”
Dagley talked about being part of the Queens County Fish and Game Association for more than 35 years.
“I do appreciate the work of the Friends of Port Mouton Bay,” he said.
“I have exchanged numerous amounts of scientific information with them. They are doing very good work.”
Dagley said there is a place in this world for aquaculture, but he said Port Mouton Bay isn’t the place for it because the bay doesn’t flush and the waste is impacting beaches.
“We have a problem in that bay, and it is unfortunate that we are now in the position where the province is at odds with the license for Cooke Aquaculture,” he said.
It would be better for all if Cooke Aquaculture were willing to withdraw, he said.
Dagley said if he were mayor he wouldn’t want to see the lease continue.
Hamlin said he too voted against the motion. He thanked Darlene Norman and Norman’s group for “being persistent and sticking with it.”
He said he agrees with Dagley in that there is a place for aquaculture all over the world.
Cooke Aquaculture is not going to withdraw lightly, not only because of the lease but also because of the investment, said Hamlin.
Recently Chester, Bridgewater and Lunenburg have all passed a healthy-food policy in recreational settings, and yet when the Region of Queens had the opportunity to do so, they did not. What role do you think the council has in creating environments that best support healthy and accessible food for all?
“I would agree that healthy eating is very important. I do a fair amount of it myself,” said Dagley.
But, he added, the clientele’s needs have to be taken into account and so too does revenue.
“If you fill it with food that people don’t want, they are not going to buy your food and you are not going to earn the revenue you need,” Dagley said.
He said there’s a balance, and a variety of food should be offered.
Hamlin said he had the good fortune to serve on the Lunenburg-Queens Healthy-Eating committee.
“One of our arguments was simply that choice is ruled out,” he said.
Caution is necessary in public, said Hamlin.
“We do need a policy,” he said. “The joy of it is … that kids are learning to eat (healthily).”
He said whether society “gets all the way there or not,” it’s moving in the right direction.
Hamlin said he believes in personal choice and that people have to be educated to make the right choices.
“I’m still on the District Health Authority, so I certainly have a strong bias towards the good health of our population,” said Clarke.
Unhealthy food should not be sold in public facilities, he added.
Hartlen mentioned the “growing pains” Queens Place is experiencing and said the hope is to have some type of committee in the future.
“It was discussed at our meetings about what we could serve, and it was 50/50,” he said.
Hartlen said as Queens Place develops he thinks there will be more food choices.