Monday, March 23, 2015

Maritime Bus calls this most challenging winter season yet

Mike Cassidy of Maritime Bus says Sunday afternoon was a nightmare

By Angela Walker, CBC News Posted: Mar 23, 2015 1:46 PM AT Last Updated: Mar 23, 2015 1:46 PM AT
The president of Maritime Bus says this has been the most challenging storm season he has ever faced.

Mike Cassidy said he has been involved in the transportation industry in one form or another on P.E.I. since the 1980's and he has never seen anything like this year.

He said it's particularly challenging for a bus service that runs between all three Maritime provinces, sometimes with very different weather patterns and road conditions.

"Yesterday was a nightmare for Maritime Bus," said Cassidy. "In Halifax we were all set to go and New Brunswick was open for us, but we couldn't even get across the Confederation Bridge."

Cassidy said the company had to tell 70 passengers in Halifax Sunday afternoon that they would not be travelling to P.E.I. They were asked to go back home and try again another day.

"Number one if you are in the passenger business, you do not want to have equipment, buses and passengers stranded on the road. Yesterday afternoon, last night, there were hundreds of cars on the other side of the Confederation Bridge New Brunswick side, waiting to get across. We don't want that." 

Cassidy said blizzard conditions and heavy snowfalls have been making it difficult for transportation crews to clear the highways.

He said the safety of passengers has to come first when making a decision about cancellations and delays.

Snow days start to worry some Nova Scotia parents

Calls for the cancellation of Friday's evaluation day

CBC News Posted: Mar 23, 2015 9:05 PM AT Last Updated: Mar 23, 2015 9:05 PM AT
As the winter weather continues with no end in sight, some Nova Scotia parents are starting to worry about lost school days.

Classes were cancelled Monday in many parts of the province in order to give crews the ability to clear snow from school properties.

Kelly Connors with the Halifax Regional School Board says many of their schools weren't ready to open yet.

"When information came in from the people who were on site and seeing the mounds and mounds of snow and the sheer volume that was in front of doors the decision was made that we couldn't with confidence open schools today," she said.

Some parents are saying it's time to cancel professional development days to make up the time.

"I think it would be better to give the kids the full benefit of being in school," said Christie Singer.
"Have a March Break, and not have to have them make up days in summer or some other time."

Parent Sue Ann Lambert understands there are other issues at play.

"I mean I understand that things are written in contracts and all of that, but I feel bad that my kids are losing days," she said.

In the Halifax region, Friday's PD day isn't exactly for professional development. It's more of an evaluation day for teachers to go over report cards and talk to other teachers about students' progress.
Teachers like Grant Frost say it's not a day they want to lose.

"I think that day is very, very important for the teachers and important for the kids too," he said.
Frost says Friday's planned evaluation day is a contractual obligation the board must meet with the union.

"The assessment and evaluation day is all about the students and getting report cards done and looking at report card comments," he explained.

"Teachers put a lot of time into those report cards. And you might be meeting about how a student is going to advance, what needs to be done for the last little bit of the semester."
There are four  PD and evaluation days left on the Halifax Regional School Board calendar and none have been cancelled.

100 Prince Edward Island.-bound motorists stranded overnight in New Brunswick

Red Cross set up emergency shelter after Confederation Bridge was closed due to white-out conditions

CBC News Posted: Mar 23, 2015 11:51 AM AT Last Updated: Mar 23, 2015 11:51 AM AT
About 100 P.E.I.-bound motorists, who were stranded on the New Brunswick side of the Confederation Bridge overnight, are expected to continue their travels today.
The bridge linking the two provinces reopened at about 3 a.m. after being closed Sunday shortly before 2 p.m., due to high winds and white-out conditions.

Canadian Red Cross staff and volunteers set up an emergency shelter for the stranded motorists at the East Botsford Recreation Centre, located on Trenholm Road off Highway 955, about two-and-a-half kilometres west of the bridge.

"Authorities notified travellers who were parked in cars along the highway and recommended that for their safety and comfort, they relocate to the shelter," Dan Bedell, communications director for the Red Cross, Atlantic region, said in a statement.

"Most opted to do so," he said.

Volunteers and staff from Moncton and Shediac brought in cots, blankets, and other emergency supplies for the shelter, said Bedell.

They also made arrangements to provide breakfast for the motorists, he said.

The Confederation Bridge has been closed more often this year compared to other winters, according to Keith Sigsworth, the toll and traffic supervisor.

Prior to Sunday's closure, the bridge had been shut down for a total of 78 hours since the start of January, Sigsworth said.

Most of the closures have been due to visibility, weather conditions or roads being blocked, he said.