New funding for Whale Sanctuary Project; call out for derelict fishing gear

The Whale Sanctuary Project (WSP) announced a big step forward with a commitment of $5 million by the Wendy P. McCaw Foundation toward construction of the sanctuary buildings, perimeter net that will surround sanctuary waters and infrastructure (power, water and Internet).

“This is a major milestone toward the time when we will welcome the first whales,” organizers stated in a release.

Meanwhile, according to recent post on the WSP’s Facebook page, “When it comes to constructing sanctuary buildings, we acquire the land by purchasing it from the people who own it. While nobody owns the water itself, the submerged land that’s covered by the waters of the Bay is owned by the Crown – meaning the federal government, as represented by the head of state, who is the British monarch.”

Federal and provincial Crown lands comprise nearly 90 per cent of Canada’s territory. To acquire the use of 200 acres of this submerged property in St, Mary’s, the WSP explains, “We applied to the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources and Renewables. In March 2022, the Department responded with an Offer of Lease for a period of 20 years (renewable after that).”

The offer outlines the terms for building a perimeter net and related infrastructure, including an annual payment of $15.37 per hectare, or about $1,200 for the full lot. “All in all, the whales will consider that a very good deal,” the post says.

Giving up the ghost gear in St. Mary’s

With financial support from the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Ghost Gear Fund and the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s, the Fishing Gear Coalition of Atlantic Canada (FGCAC) is now accepting PVC-coated wire lobster mesh and wire lobster traps, fishing rope and netting. The FGCAC will coordinate the responsible disposal of these materials, free of charge to the public, for recycling until Saturday, Dec. 31.

Municipal Awareness Week in St. Mary’s

Do you know the difference between a warden and a mayor? The Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s spent some time last week – Municipal Awareness Week in Nova Scotia – giving residents the lowdown on the mechanics of local government.

What is municipal government? How does municipal government work? What’s the difference between a mayor and warden? These were just some of the questions posted to St. Mary’s Facebook page and website.

“Municipal government is a form of democracy,” the page states, as an example of answers. “Local citizens [who are at least 18 years old] elect councils to represent their interests. Mayors are elected at large by the people while most wardens are elected by the council once in office. Mayors are in towns and regional municipalities and wardens are in rural municipalities.”

How can you get involved? “People can call, email, or speak directly to their councillor on things they are concerned about, to ask a question, or to get information. Councils meet at least monthly to discuss important issues that impact the community. Residents are free to attend council meetings and can present issues to council at a public meeting if granted permission.”

Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal