The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board has cancelled classes today due to weather conditions. E’toile de l’Acadie in Sydney is also closed for the day. Police are warning drivers about dangerous driving conditions, this morning because of blowing and drifting snow. And, Marine Atlantic has suspended crossings due to weather conditions in the Cabot Strait. Last night’s crossing from North Sydney as well as this afternoon’s 12:30 sailing have been postponed until 11:45 tonight.
A pre-trial hearing for a Glace Bay man charged in the death of Brett Elizabeth MacKinnon from Glace Bay is set to take place, today. 39 year-old Thomas Ted Barrett is charged with second degree murder in the case after MacKinnon’s remains were found in the Paschendaele area of Glace Bay in 2008. The 21 year-old had been reported missing in 2006. Barrett’s trial in the case is set to take place in January of next year. Barrett is also charged with second degree murder along with Morgan James MacNeil in the death of Laura Jessome from Bras d’Or. A preliminary hearing in the Jessome case is scheduled to take place in June.
A sentencing hearing was adjourned today for a Glace Bay pastor who’s been convicted on a single count of sexual interference involving a girl under age 16. Robert Lawther was initially facing charges involving three young girls, but was found not guilty on the other two counts when a verdict was rendered back in December. Crown Prosecutors are asking for a two-year prison sentence and a year’s probation, while the defence is seeking an intermittent sentence. The presiding judge has reserved a decision until March 12th.
A Port Hood man who was a victim of Ernest Fenwick MacIntosh says he’s relieved to hear news that MacIntosh has been sentenced to jail time in Nepal. There are reports that the former Port Hawkesbury businessman has been sentenced to seven years in prison for molesting a 15 year-old boy in that country. Bob Martin says it’s a good feeling to learn that MacIntosh has been incarcerated. MacIntosh’s convictions on 17 counts of molesting boys in this province were thrown out after an appeal court ruled it took too long to bring him to trial. He was in Nepal as the director of an online publication called the spice journal and was arrested in December after police there say he lured the 15-year-old with promises of money in exchange for sex. Now there are also reports that MacIntosh could be in more legal trouble in this province after someone else who says they were a victim of the now 71 year-old has come forward. However, it’s unlikely MacIntosh will be back to face a complaint in a Nova Scotia court anytime soon.
A federal government official says it could take some time before Whitney Pier can officially celebrate its new status as an event of national historic significance. Last week, the federal government officially acknowledged the designation in a statement. It declares that the Sydney neighbourhood was the Maritimes’ most multi-ethnic district in the 20th Century, with more than 15 different cultural and religious groups. Parks Canada historians and Whitney Pier historical society members will now work on the proper wording for a bronze plaque to be put up somewhere in the neighbourhood. However, the committee only meets in June and January and Ottawa says it’s unlikely Whitney Pier will be discussed at the June gathering. The unveiling of the plaque is usually marked with an official ceremony and the timing of the event will likely be linked to the availability of a federal cabinet minister.
A port consultant’s report reveals that the Cape Breton Regional Municipality nearly paid $4.3 million to buy Sydney Harbour from Ottawa when such transactions normally involve a nominal fee of a dollar. The July report by MacNeil Management Consultants has now been released to the public through the CBRM’s website. The offer to pay millions for the harbour was later withdrawn by the CBRM. MacNeil Consultants was paid 103-thousand dollars to carry out the study on port governance and development as well as harbour divestiture. The report also reveals that port divestiture negotiations were delayed a year ago when the CBRM found out Transport Canada was in talks to transfer a quarter of the harbour to Marine Atlantic. Eventually, the Crown Corporation that operates the ferry service between North Sydney and Newfoundland reduced its request from 700 hecatares to 300. Regional Council voted to reject the report during a closed-door meeting earlier this week partly because the document expressed doubts about the possibility of setting up a container terminal in Sydney.
One analyst is predicting another rise in gas prices this week, A jump of about a penny litre is being forecast. However, diesel is expected to drop after the Utility and Review Board used the Interrupter Clause to impose a 7.1 cent a litre price hike overnight on Monday. Meanwhile, the price of gas went up by 1.4 cents a litre in New Brunswick, last night. Diesel there went up by 5.1 cents a litre. The current minimum price for a litre of regular gas in Cape Breton is $1.05.7. Diesel now costs a minimum of $1.29.8.
The Cape Breton Regional Municipality is looking at the possible voluntary amalgamation of fire stations. The idea is included in the draft terms of reference for an independent review of fire services discussed during yesterday’s fire and emergency services committee meeting. A 2013 task force report on fire and emergency services suggests moving to a model similar to the Halifax Regional Municipality, where the fire service has one administrative zone. The CBRM has 34 zones, each with its own legal authority. However, councillors Kevin Saccary and Lowell Cormier expressed concerns about amalgamation, saying that fire department’s are integral to the communities they serve. Cormier says the review should include a reference to community interest to make sure fire services remain part of the community. Meanwhile, Mayor Cecil Clarke says individual fire departments will be the ones that decide whether amalgamation is worthwhile for them.
The development of the Sydney neighbourhood of Whitney Pier has been officially designated as an event of national historic significance. Justice Minister Peter MacKay marked the official designation in a news release sent out, yesterday. In the designation Ottawa states that Whitney Pier was the most multi-ethnic district in the Maritimes in the 20th century with more than 15 different cultural and religious groups. Meanwhile, the past president of the Whitney Pier Historical Society Museum, Sandra Dunn says she hasn’t heard how Ottawa intends to celebrate the designation. Dunn adds they sent a letter to Parks Canada nominating Whitney Pier for the distinction about three years ago. In July, she got a letter back from the federal government stating that the designation had been granted in 2011.
The Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board has cancelled classes today, due to the cold temperatures. Etoile de l’Acadie in Sydney is also closed for the day. An Extreme Cold Warning issued by Environment Canada is still in effect, this morning.