‘Mosque vandalism has happened on P.E.I.’

By Bradley Collins

Feb. 6, 2017

Hatred directed at Muslims doesn’t just happen in Quebec.

Richard Brown said a mosque on P.E.I. was vandalized about five years ago.

The recent massacre in Quebec City and the U.S. travel ban makes him worry about the safety of Muslims living on the Island, the Charlottetown MLA said.

“I’m quite concerned about it.”

Muslims are individuals. They have rights just like anyone else. Taking their rights away in the U.S scares him, Brown said.

“Who’s next? When will it be me?”

Brown’s not sure if this is just the tip of the iceberg or if there is something hidden underneath it.

It does concern him as an MLA, cabinet minister and an Islander. The Muslim community is a great community, he said.

“They have all the rights Islanders do.”

Mary Cowper-Smith was at a silent march in Charlottetown on Feb. 4. intended to show support and solidarity with the Muslim community.

She felt a great sadness about the shooting in Quebec City, she said.

In a world where so many terrible things happen, she has a strong feeling Canada must make its values known to the world, she said.

“We have to let refugees know they’re welcome here.”

Frank MacDonald was also at the march.

He has met a number of newcomers where he works. They are very motivated people, he said.

“They’re very enjoyable to work with.”

The shooting in Quebec was an act of hate and we can’t ignore it, he said.

“No one deserved to die like those people.”

MacDonald supports the idea of having newcomers to Canada.

It includes the right for them to preserve their traditions and meld into what we have here, he said.

“It’s about freedom in general.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amalgamation and Victoria-by-the-Sea good or bad idea, depends on who you ask

By Bradley Collins

Jan. 13, 2017

Ben Smith loves Victoria-by-the-Sea. He has lived there for 35 years. He has raised five children there. He runs a candle and jewelry store in the summer. He is the chairman of the community council.

And he hates the idea of being forced to join other smaller communities in an amalgamation.

Derrick Badour has lived in the community for over five years. He is raising a six-year-old son there. He is a school bus driver. He referees soccer and hockey. He has sat on the village council since 2014. He is a volunteer firefighter.

And he is willing to consider the idea.

Smith says the idea of forcing smaller municipalities to join larger ones will anger many Victoria residents.

Any government move could put Victoria, with a population of about 100, into a municipality of over 2,000. The province is consulting municipalities, but the public is largely unaware of the situation, Smith said.

Every time he asks the government a question about the idea, he gets no answers. The government is pushing on without all the facts, he said.

“They’re flying by the seat of their pants.”

The village still does not have a copy of the proposal. The province just can’t lump them in with other people, he said.

“It’s not fair to us.”

He wonders why no one, not even the government, seems to be talking about the issue.  The government is trying to put one over on them, he said.

“Somebody’s trying to make a fool of us.”

The transparency on this issue is hazy. This decision will give more power to the premier and the environment minister, he said.

“Why give all the power to them?”

A lot of small places have no planning board or bylaws. Victoria has all of that. They live within their budget. They don’t want to lose what they have accomplished, he said.

“Why throw it all out the window in a vote?”

A lot of rural areas don’t want to live in larger municipalities. Victoria deals with things in a certain way, he said.

“We’ve operated competently under the present system.”

They will be lumped in with people who can’t run their own communities. They’ve worked hard to get things for Victoria, he said.

“We’re reluctant to throw it away.”

The community remains hopeful this will be resolved. It’s best to stand back and see how it plays out. He’s happy to stay out of it for now, he said.

“Victoria has the most to lose around here.”

Badour shares many of Smith’s feelings, but he is open to the general concept.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to join forces with other communities that want to move forward together, but we want to stay independent and not forced to amalgamate.”

Green leader Peter Bevan-Baker sent the council an email on the issue. According to the municipal act, the village must maintain a six-person council and a mayor.

The village must have an administration office that is wheelchair accessible, open and available to the public for 20 hours a week.

No problem, said Badour.

“We know we’re a special village, but we do meet the provincial government’s criteria to proceed as an incorporated village and we want to remain just that.”

It’s a good job opposition MLAs Brad Trivers and Bevan-Baker have been asking the government questions, Badour said.

“They’re ramming it down our throats.”

The government is trying to make the village pay for services it would normally handle.

“The bottom line is dollars and politics is business.”

 

 

 

 

Small businessman lauds Self-Employ P.E.I. Program

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Julian Taylor, owner of Small Print Board Game Café, displaying one of over 350 board games on Oct. 5 in Charlottetown. Bradley Collins photo.

By Bradley Collins

Oct. 6, 2016

The owner of Small Print Board Game Café says, the Self-Employ Program made it possible for him to dedicate the time to actually start the business.

Julian Taylor, 29, said board game cafes are becoming popular in Canada. Snakes and Latte’s have two locations in Toronto. There are others in Halifax, Fredricton, River View and Newfoundland.

Taylor saw a niche market. He said micro-breweries are popping up in town and the bowling alley renovation made this a great time to open.

“We saw our spot successful.”

This is Taylor’s first business. His partner, Jennifer Campbell, was the executive director of the Small Halls Festival during the planning stage. She dealt with different government programs because of her work.

They looked at different options. They talked to a lot of people. Many suggested the Self-Employ Program because they had accessed it previously.

Taylor jumped at the opportunity. He said you get a chance to talk to program officers about what Charlottetown needs and what was available as incentive to small business owners.

“It’s an investment.”

Taylor said if you have a good idea, complete an appropriate business plan, follow the process and do your research, they will take you seriously.

 

Taylor would absolutely recommend the program to other small business owners. His business is going well and they are ahead of schedule. They have had a great reception from P.E.I., he said.

“The program is fantastic.”

Taylor said he is fortunate he had friends and family to help. They helped with construction and worked for them in the café. He even had volunteers when the business started.

He eventually hired one of those volunteers. Taylor said people should realize it is a lot of work to start a business.

“Unless you have unlimited funds.”

The Self-Employ P.E.I. Program assists clients like Taylor through the Canada-P.E.I. Labour Market Agreement. Applicants are eligible for support during their first year of operation.