Sunday, February 28, 2010

Letter to Ministry of Tourism

Hon. Hédard Albert

Acting Minister

Tourism and Parks NB

670 King Street

Fredericton, NB E3B 1G1

February 28, 2010

Gerry Hicks

The Compass Institute on Campobello Island

Campobello Island Health & Wellness Committee

36 North Road

Welshpool, NB E5E 1C1

Dear Honourable Minister Albert

In light of your very recent appointment as Acting Minister of Tourism and Parks, I would like to take a moment to introduce myself, the cause of the International Friends Committee and the Compass Institute on Campobello Island, and address our concerns regarding our very recent negotiations with the Department of Tourism and Parks.

My name is Gerry Hicks and I am Executive Director of the International Friends Committee / Compass Institute (IFC/CI) which is a Not-for-Profit Organization founded in 1988 and located on Campobello Island, NB. While involved in nearly every facet of Island life through the Volunteer Committees and management of the Rural Initiatives of the Campobello Island Health and Wellness Advisory Committee (CIHWAC), our overall mandate is to facilitate a new era of self-sufficiency for Campobello Island. In response to your recent decision not to extend the lease for The Adam’s Estate, I am writing to respectfully request that you reserve any decisions until proper and transparent negotiations involving all interested parties have been concluded. For the short term, we ask that your department reconsider their decision and immediately grant a lease extension and allow us to continue to manage the Adam’s Estate Lodge for the 2010 tourist season.

The CIHWAC was formed 2 years ago as collaboration between the Atlantic Health Sciences Corporation (AHSC) lead by Senior Researcher, Dr. Verle Harrop (PhD MIT). The mandate of the collaboration was to conduct a multi-phased Needs Assessment that would examine the overall Health and Wellness of the residents according the criteria in the 12 Determinants of Health as established by Health Canada. A comprehensive island-wide survey completed by more than 70% of residents was conducted to identify and quantify the needs of residents and provide the foundation for next steps in addressing inadequacies in the access and delivery of services. This process identified Economic Development and Employment as the two most crucial elements adversely impacting the long-term viability of the island. As a result, the CIHWAC, under the direction of The Compass Institute, mobilized to assume the stewardship of the Adam’s Estate to not only salvage the invaluable employment opportunities but, to create a business unit that would provide the funding for the various programs and initiatives going forward.

Transfer of The Adam’s Estate property to another agency will certainly undermine our ongoing Needs Assessment and have immediate and profound socio-economic impacts for all residents that your Ministry needs to consider.

This CIHWAC process and the overall self-sufficiency mandate of the IFC/CI led us to our initial meetings with former Minister of Tourism and Parks, Stuart Jamieson, in January 2009. Allow me to provide you with a snapshot of that frank discussion and a bit of history on the matter with details available for discussion as we are certain a dialogue was meant to include us. At that initial meeting, Minister Jamieson spoke to us regarding the possibilities that existed between the Department of Tourism and Parks with regards to securing the Adams Estate and Herring Cove Provincial Park through a partnership with a Not-for-Profit organization on Campobello Island. Along with outlining current financial data of the Herring Cove Provincial Park, Mr. Jamieson also outlined two scenarios for consideration. First, since Campobello Island did not have a local government, there was the possibility of us acquiring the 1400+ acre park as a Not-for-Profit Organization until such time the Island secures governance, at which time the property would be included in the newly formed land use plan. “Fast-tracking” decisions, as your department refers to it, would circumvent this process and be considered both premature and irresponsible. Second, a possibility existed for a long term partnership with the Province of NB and the Department of Tourism and Parks.

We have been working diligently on various proposals and scenarios with regards to the Herring Cove Provincial Park for the long term and the Adam’s Estate Lodge in the short term with regards to their potential for broadening our appeal to the travelling public and continued access by the residents of Campobello Island. The Adams Estate plays a key role in the ongoing pursuit of economic development and self-sufficiency for the island through direct employment and reinvestment of any profits back into ongoing community initiatives. Its demise will be met with considerable immediate hardships that will echo for years to come. Since Mr. Jamieson laid out a timeline for his team in conjunction with ourselves that set forth fulfilling the transition of the property to the International Friends Committee, we have remained clear and forthright in our intentions to work in partnership with the Department of Tourism and Parks. The timeline included a meeting with Hon. Greg Thompson and his Special Assistant Team to pursue ideas for future development of the Adams Estate and other parts of the present Herring Cove Provincial Park system.

Minister Jamieson’s role as the Regional Minister for Southern NB subsequently led to a meeting with Maureen Conley, Rick Hunter and Stephen Smith from MP Greg Thompson’s Office to discuss the mutual interests and responsibilities from both a provincial and federal perspective. Subsequently, we have letters and correspondence from Mr. Stuart Jamieson, various members of your department and Greg Thompson’s office that substantiate our continued commitment to the process. The frequent turn over of staff in the Department of Tourism and Parks has always made it challenging to maintain continuity but we have taken every precaution to do so.

The Adam’s Estate Lodge, in particular, has become a jewel for the tourism industry on Campobello Island. The IFC/CI invested over $35,000 in upgrading the property since acquiring the lease in late August of 2009. We invested money in good faith from a Not-For-Profit organization based upon direction we received from the Department of Tourism and Parks and those changes showcased the property in a way which brought nothing but praise to your Ministry. The Board of Directors of the IFC/CI have continued to contribute their own time and money to ensure that the Herring Cove Provincial Park property thrives and remains of, about and for the benefit of the community and those who are fortunate enough to visit the island of Campobello. This deficit as a result of your decision takes operational funding directly from our programs.

After everything the IFC/CI, as a Not-For-Profit Community Organization, have done in good faith with the Department of Tourism and Parks, it was inconceivable to simply receive two days notification from new Director, Alain Basque stating he would be on Campobello Island (Jan 22, 2010) to pick up the keys and would not be offering an extension to their lease. It is of utmost concern to us that our repeated requests for face-to-face meetings to continue the dialogue on moving forward have met with such unresponsiveness by your Department. After all of our meetings and hard work by a dedicated board and staff we did not even receive an explanation as to the decision that was made. To be certain, considering our relentless efforts to continue a dialogue with the department, this abrupt notification has been met with disbelief by the IFC/CI, the CIHWAC and the residents of Campobello Island. In the past year Campobello Island has seen the closure of its one bank and the continued demise of its fishing industry. We cannot afford to see more job losses, nor can the travelling public or Island residents afford to lose public access to an established property.

We have been told on numerous occasions that the Department of Tourism and Parks had not been in discussion with the Roosevelt Campobello International Park (RCIP) with regards to acquiring the Adam’s Estate or the Herring Cove Provincial Park. During the past few weeks, we were made aware that Roosevelt Park Management met with its Senior Staff to tell them that THEY had been approached by the Department of Tourism and Parks regarding the acquisition of the Provincial Park property. It was again, with disbelief and shock, that we learned about simultaneous sidebar negotiations with the RCIP while your Department assured us as late as January 26th, 2010 of this year that the Department was definitely not entertaining other proposals nor had made any decisions but what looking at their options.

The mission of the International Friends Committee / The Compass Institute is to empower the community to become increasingly self-reliant, to develop healthy lifestyles, a life-long passion for learning and focus on our own social responsibility. We are proud to have continually operated in good faith, assuming responsibility whilst waiting on contractual commitments, and managed to stay true to our vision of the restoration, preservation and evolution of the Adams Estate and Herring Cove Provincial Park in the process.

In closing, I would like to reiterate our desire for an immediate extension to the existing lease and resumption of negotiations towards reaching a long-term and mutually beneficial relationship with regards to the stewardship of the Herring Cove Park property. We expect an immediate response from your office and that negotiations will resume accordingly.

Regards,

Gerry Hicks

Executive Director, The Compass Institute on Campbello Island (CI)

Chairman, Campobello Island Health and Wellness Committee (CIHWAC)

Cc: Premiere Graham, Greg Thompson (MP), Tony Huntjens (MLA)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Credit Union Closes...

Gerry Hicks, chairman of the Campobello Island Health and Wellness Advisory Committee, speaks at a rally to protest the closure of the Campobello Credit Union Friday.

CREDIT UNION CLOSED By BARB RAYNER
barbrayn@nbnet.nb.ca

CAMPOBELLO – Friday was the end of an era on Campobello as the island’s branch of the Charlotte County Credit Union closed its doors for the last time leaving islanders without any financial institution.
To protest the closure, which will mean islanders will have to drive to St. Stephen to do their banking, Mary Fowler organized a rally and about 60 people showed up.
“The whole idea is to let them know we are not happy about the way we have been treated. We would expect this from a bank but not from a Credit Union.
“We were supposedly owners of the Credit Union and we were not given any notice. If we had been given notice we would have been able to do something. This (rally) is just to show our frustration.”
Islanders marched around the parking lot outside the Credit Union chanting “Shame on you CCCU” and brandishing placards expressing such sentiments as “We are not going to St. Stephen,” “We are not the problem – CCCU management is”, “Campobello is a forgotten island”, “Does no one care about us?”, “The CU sold us out”, “Where does this leave seniors?”, “Down with CCCU”, “Shame on you CCCU” and “We cannot survive without a bank.”
Armed with a megaphone, Gerry Hicks, chair of the island’s Health and Wellness Advisory Committee, accompanied by some of the protestors, went to the locked door of the Credit Union during the lunch time rally calling for someone from management to come out to speak to them. No one did, so they marched around to the rear door but still got no response from those inside.
Speaking to the crowd, he said islanders have to take control of their own futures since it was clear they didn’t have support from the local, provincial or federal governments when it came to preserving the quality of life for residents.
He said they either accept defeat or fight to maintain the kind of life they deserve and the level of services they are entitled to. Hicks said the committee has been working very hard to find another bank, for a year-round ferry and on local governance.
“As an island community we are handicapped by our own government and they hold the keys. A petition is being circulated to have our status determined that we are, in fact, an island community and with that we are entitled to a certain degree of services.”
While everyone knew the closure of the Credit Union was coming, he said he didn’t think the inconvenience of this will sink in until next week.
“This is not just about the closure of a bank. This is about the preservation of the community and the people and the quality of life... It is up to us to say how things are going to be run and not simply to be dictated to.”
Hicks questioned what the island may lose next and said they have to fight to keep what they have because they didn’t see this coming and there was no collaboration or negotiation so they were just left to deal with the ramifications. He urged people to continue to support the businesses which are on the island.
The decision to close this branch and the one in Blacks Harbour was announced in April and Gerald Adams, president and CEO of Credit Union Centre in New Brunswick, blamed lack of business. The Campobello branch opened in May 2001 following the closure of the Scotiabank branch there.
Glen Alexander, who is a member of the island’s Health and Wellness Advisory Committee, commented as he put up posters, “I feel they have abandoned us for no good reason. They have not made any concessions. We know we are not going to change their minds. There is no hope of that. We just hope someone will come along.”
Debbie Barker, who created a huge banner protesting the closure, said, ”I feel strongly about how it happened. There was no community awareness. They just came in and announced it to the staff.
“I thought the credit union was run by the people. We are working on trying to get another bank but nothing has been confirmed. We are looking at having to drive 40 miles and there are people who don’t have vehicles.”
Marianne Alexander said the closure of the Credit Union was just something else that had been taken from island residents. She said every community needs a bank and there was also the loss of the jobs as well.
“It is the seniors I am most worried about. It is devastating. It is another nail in our coffin but we are not going down without a fight,” she said.
Inside the Credit Union, where customers waited to do their last minute banking, a number of residents brought in flowers and treats for the four local staff while staff from the head office in St. Stephen and the Credit Union’s Risk Management Agency worked in a back office.
As she waited in line, Joanne Matthews said it was a sad day for the island and it is going to be tough especially for seniors because many of them will have to rely on someone else to take them to St. Stephen to do their banking.
“That takes away their independence. Everything is funnelling off the island and very little is funnelling back. It’s just like you don’t see much hope here and our children cannot stay. It is pretty sad.
“If it were not for a dead U.S. president we would not even have what we have now because we are pretty well running on tourism. They are cutting back at the provincial park but the Roosevelt Park is the only one that can weather it.
“My husband doesn’t want to go to St. Stephen and I don’t want to go over that bridge. What are business people going to do? I use this bank a lot and these girls are excellent.”
Diane Getchell said business people are going to have to take time out of their busy schedules to go to St. Stephen to do their banking and no matter how many ATMs there are on the island – there are two – you cannot get coin out of them.
Janet Cline, chair of Campobello Cooperative Ltd., which owns the building the Credit Union shares with Value Foods and Herring Cove Pharmacy, said they are concerned about the loss of the rent for that portion which goes towards paying the mortgage and taxes.
“We are losing approximately $1,800 a month in rent with their demise. It is going to be very difficult for us, as a cooperative, to continue to stay in business.
We are trying to find someone to rent the space. We have been working on this ever since we were notified they were leaving. We will make it for a while but once that income is lost there is a strong possibility everything is going to be lost and we won’t have a grocery store anymore. We will be back to square one.”
She said it was about 15 years ago that the people of Campobello rallied round and formed the cooperative. The original grocery store was a co-op and the pharmacy moved into the complex about three years later.
Alan Seeley said devastated was not a strong enough word to describe how islanders felt. He said they have been let down and lied to especially as their branch was the one which was carrying the outfit.
“We were the first one and they told us they had to have four branches in order for it to run and now they are kicking out two of them and figure they can run on two. In St. Stephen, the very best they can do is 20 per cent because there are four other banks in the town plus a currency exchange.”
Lloyd Getchell said what bothers him is that they all paid $300 membership fees to join and were told they were an intricate part of this Credit Union.
“Then when they made the decision to rip it out of here they never asked any of us. It is an hour to go to St. Stephen. It costs me about $40 in gas to get there and back.
“One thing we are really worried about is that if people have to go to St. Stephen to do their banking they will buy their groceries and pick up their drugs there so we could lose Value Foods and the pharmacy as well.”
Following the rally, Hicks said the committee are continuing to look at possibilities for another bank on the island and have been talking to both the National Bank and RBC.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Passport Info and Mobile Passport Office on Campobello

Hi All

2 Things:

1. There will be a Passport Canada official conducting an information session on Monday May 4th at 6:00pm at the school. Everything you need to know about getting or renewing a passport.

2. The Canada Passport Office will set up a mobile passport office on Campobello Island on Thursday May 7th from 2:00 - 8:00 at the school. Passport forms will be processed on site as long as you have everything in order. Come to the meeting to find out and read below to make sure you have what you need. This could save you the time and expense of traveling to Fredericton.

Please tell everyone you know....

-Applicants need to follow instructions provided in the form, but in general they will need to provide the following:

Renewal
Current passport
2 pictures
form filled

General Application (3 page-application for adult)

form filled including the guarantor part
2 pictures signed by the guarantor
original birth certificate (which will be given back on site)
an original supporting ID (driver's licence, health card... which will be given back on site)
payment (credit card, money order or certified cheque)

Child application

form filled including the guarantor (the applicant is one of the parent and the guarantor is for the applicant, not the child)
2 pictures signed by the guarantor
original birth certificate (if the parents were not married at the time the child was born, we will need a long form birth certificate. Birth certificate will be given back on site)
Any court papers regarding adoption or separation or divorce

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Credit Union fight alive....

Community A mayor and council would give island solid representation when dealing with other levels of government

C8

Derwin Gowan
Telegraph-Journal


CAMPOBELLO ISLAND - The impending loss of banking services on Campobello Island makes the need for elected local government more pressing, Gerry Hicks says.

Derwin Gowan/Telegraph-Journal

The Charlotte County Credit Union intends to close its Campobello Island branch on June 26. At a recent public meeting, the community formed a committee to look at alternatives for banking services.

"Really, what you need to work for is that legitimate voice," the co-chairman of the Campobello Island Health and Wellness Advisory Committee said the day after a community meeting to organize a response to the decision by the Charlotte County Credit Union to close its branch on the island.

Several hundred people attended the standing-room-only meeting at the Campobello Island Community School, a huge percentage of the adult population of a community of about 1,000.

The health and wellness advisory committee, a partnership with Regional Health Authority B, organized the meeting.

However, an elected local government with more authority than a local service district advisory committee would provide leaders who could claim to speak for the community, Hicks said.

An elected mayor and council could deal with the government on issues such as year-round ferry service, or discuss options with the credit union, Hicks said.

If they want a municipal government, Campobello Islanders will have to convince the province to enact it contrary to the recommendation of commissioner Jean-Guy Finn in his report Building Stronger Local Governments and Regions. The government released this report in December, then tabled it.

The health and wellness advisory committee wants a link to the New Brunswick mainland as an alternative to driving through Maine and crossing the international border twice to get to St. Stephen.

The province dropped the Campobello ferry when the Franklin D. Roosevelt International Bridge opened in 1962, linking the island to Lubec, Maine.

With tighter restrictions since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, more people believe this island needs a ferry.

The credit union intends to close shop June 26, a few weeks after the Americans intend to demand that Canadians show passports to enter their country. To many people this provides another argument for a ferry.

Charlotte-Campobello MLA Tony Huntjens, a Progressive Conservative on the Opposition side of the legislature, calls a year-round ferry to Campobello "an absolute necessity."

However, the budget that Finance Minister Victor Boudreau released March 17 has no money for a ferry to Campobello Island. Instead it proposes to cut two historic ferries crossing the lower St. John River and one on Belleisle Bay.

The government plans to build new ferries for Grand Manan, White Head Island and Deer Island - but intends to cut the number of daily trips in the winter.

Leadership on the ferry and the credit union issues fell to the health and wellness advisory committee since there is no elected group to represent the community.

"I really see it (the pending credit union shutdown) as a catalyst to pushing the other two forward," Hicks said, referring to local government and a ferry.

The people at the community meeting wanted alternatives to do their banking.

"There was certainly an element of frustration but it was more 'what can we do?' " Hicks said.

The group formed a committee, which Hicks will head, to come up with proposals. The committee will meet the board of the Campobello Island Co-operative, which rents space to the Credit Union. New Brunswick Southwest MP Greg Thompson appointed one of his staff to deal with this file, Hicks said.

The committee will crunch numbers and "put it out as almost a request for proposals" to any financial institutions interested. "We're going to market the opportunity for somebody to come in and say, 'This is what we've got to offer.'"

The Credit Union opened a branch in Campobello Island in 2008 after the Bank of Nova Scotia closed its local branch. The island will not likely draw another full-service banking institution, Hicks said.

Pat Purcell, manager of the Bank of Montreal in St. Stephen, attended the meeting Monday night "just to become informed" and to understand the needs of customers.

"We were there to inform them of alternative banking if that's required," Purcell. She "certainly got a tremendous understanding" of problems on Campobello Island, and came away "very respectful of the leadership that's there."

"There's no business case to put a full financial institution in five days a week," Purcell said. "I think they're doing a really good job at looking at alternatives," she said, referring to the community leadership.

Electronic banking could provide the solution with paper money and coins accounting for an ever shrinking volume of financial transactions.

"I think they've got a good group and they will come up with an alternative plan," Purcell said. However, "It's going to be difficult."

The Charlotte County Credit Union will respond this week to a proposal by Campobello Island insurance agent Mary R. Fowler to provide space at her business location for a pared down banking service, New Brunswick Credit Union Central president Gerard Adams said Wednesday in Riverview.

However, the credit union will not revisit the decision to close the Campobello Island branch, he said.

"I would term it as a system decision," he said, involving the Credit Union Central, Risk Management Agency and the management of the Charlotte County Credit Union.

"In a nutshell, we just can't afford to lose money," he said. "That money is coming out of credit union owners' pockets."

The Charlotte County Credit Union has 4,270 members, depositors who are also shareholders, he said. Less than a quarter of them live on Campobello Island, he noted.

The credit union lost money on the island because not enough people borrowed at the local branch, Adams said. Complaints about difficulty getting loan approvals did not arise until after the credit union decided to close the Campobello Island branch, he said.

"I will say this, we did not receive any complaints of this prior to the announcement (March 30)," Adams said. "None of that certainly was brought to the attention of this office."

The credit union held off its decision to close its automated teller machine on Campobello Island on April 3, but it will not stay after the branch closes. "It will be gone by June 26," Adams said.

Border / Passport Information Session May 4th

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) is a U.S. law that requires all travellers, including U.S. and Canadian citizens, to present a valid passport or other approved secure document when entering the United States from within the western hemisphere.

Starting June 1, 2009, Canadian citizens will be required to present a valid passport, a NEXUS or Free and Secure Trade (FAST) card, or an enhanced driver's licence/enhanced identification card when seeking to enter the United States at its land or water crossings.

The U.S. document requirements for air travel took effect in January 2007, and require Canadian citizens flying to, through or from the United States to present a valid passport or a valid NEXUS card when used at a NEXUS kiosk at designated participating Canadian airports or at any U.S. airport when returning to Canada. The air travel requirements apply to all Canadian citizens, regardless of age, including children.

You’re invited to a presentation by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) about U.S. entry requirements for Canadian citizens on May 4, 2009 located at Campobello Island Consolidated School.

For more information about U.S. entry requirements for Canadian citizens, please visit the CBSA web site at www.cbsa.gc.ca or call the Border Information Service at 1-800-461-9999.

Please note: Processing procedures and entry requirements into Canada have not changed as a result of this U.S. law.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Response from Credit Union CEO

March 31, 2009

Mr. Gerry Hicks
Campobello Island Health and Wellness Advisory Committee
36 North Road
Welshpool, N.B.

Via e mail: campobelloislandhwac@gmail.com

Dear Mr. Hicks:

I am in receipt of your letter to Ms. Kathy Woodside, forwarded to me by her, concerning your opinion on the closure of the Campobello Island branch of Charlotte County Credit Union. We respect the mandate of your Committee, and further acknowledge your disappointment with our decision. That said, the decision to close this branch, or for that matter any branch, is not one which is taken lightly. We have analyzed the financial results from this operation and the impact which it has had on the Credit Union as a whole. That analysis made it crystal clear that the decision to close this branch, as well as the one in Blacks Harbour, was both necessary from a business perspective and in the best interests of all the Credit Union’s owners when taken as a group.

We understand your emotion and characterization of our decision. However, a Credit Union, despite its co-operative basis, must operate on sound business principles and therefore must be able to justify its branch network on a financial basis. We regret the loss of jobs and the other impacts on the community; however, we are confident that in the last eight years we have given the community every opportunity to support the Credit Union more fully and have made every effort to create success in this location. Unfortunately, these efforts have failed and we are left no choice but to make this difficult but necessary business decision.

I thank you for your expression of concern on this matter.

Yours Truly,


Gerard M. Adams, C.A.
President & Chief Executive Officer