Let me begin by extending to all my constituents and to all readers of The Shoreline Journal, wishes for a safe and happy holiday season. It is a wonderful time of year, and we need to pause, to enjoy our family and friends, and to support those less fortunate.
It is also a time to reflect on the past year, to give thanks, and then to look forward with hope and excitement. It is a time when communities come together to decorate and to celebrate. Countless volunteer hours are given to transform our homes, our businesses and our communities into a Winter Wonderland. I wish to acknowledge and thank those who have been busy organizing events that allow us to celebrate the Season together. These events provide great opportunities to meet, to laugh, to share and to enjoy one another.
With Christmas 2018 now in our past, we can take time to reflect on time spent with family and friends during the holiday season.
I recently had the honour and privilege to represent the Province of Nova Scotia at the Annual Christmas Tree Lighting in Boston. Over 30,000 men, women and children attended the event at Boston Commons. I was so proud to represent you and our Province as Deputy Premier. One of the best ways to share that great experience with my constituents is through the pictures that tell a thousand words.
The Christmas tree which was cut on private lands in Oxford was magnificent, with its many lights and grandeur in Boston Commons. I had the opportunity to attend the tree cutting at the private owners’ woodlot where we were joined by students from Oxford Regional Education Centre. It was a bitter cold day, but warm toques provided by the Province of Nova Scotia and lots of hot chocolate and cookies helped keep the spirits bright. Students sang Christmas carols and watched safely as the 46 foot white spruce was cut and loaded onto a tractor trailer where it began its journey to Boston.
It is that time of year when many of us are thinking ahead to the winter season and that means among other things, prepare our homes for the cold weather that we can expect. The Heating Assistance Rebate Program (HARP) launched October 15, offers rebates that range from $100 to $200. This helps low income Nova Scotians with the cost of heating their homes. Each winter the program helps thousands of Nova Scotians manage their heating costs. The online application process is easy, fast and convenient and it has helped people get their rebate sooner.
The HARP program is available to Nova Scotians who buy energy to heat their homes with oil, electricity, natural gas, wood, wood pellets, coal, or other heating source. To qualify for the rebate, the income threshold for one-person households is $29 000 and $44 000 for households with more than one person. More than 42 000 people received rebates in 2017.
Community groups in northern Nova Scotia are adding more clean, renewable solar energy to our electricity grid with support from the province. Five organizations in the region have been approved for the solar Electricity for Community Buildings Program through the Department of Energy and Mines.
“This is a pivotal time in Nova Scotia’s push toward our cleaner energy future, and this program offers local groups the chance to participate in, and benefit from, our potential,” said Ms. Casey. “Together we are reducing emissions and building on Nova Scotia’s successes as a leader in fighting climate change.”
We have been hearing a lot about climate change and Nova Scotia’s cleaner energy activities go back more than a decade. Nova Scotians have been clear. Addressing climate change is a priority. Today, we are leaders in addressing climate change by reducing emissions. Over the last decade, no province has reduced its emissions as much as Nova Scotia.
Residents in Northern Nova Scotia will have more ways to walk or cycle to key areas in their communities with support from the province's Sustainable Transportation grant program, Connect2. Sustainable transportation is about driving less and moving more. It means providing more mobility options to more people, and greater connectivity between the places we need to go.
Convenient, safe, clean, and attractive modes for sustainable transportation are key to building vibrant, livable, and low-carbon communities that are suitable for aging populations, young people, newcomers, and small businesses.
As your MLA, I am pleased to provide information regarding an expanded Energy Efficient Program. This program will help more Nova Scotia homeowners with their energy bills, as well as reduce greenhouse gases. This reduction in greenhouse gases will help fight climate change by installing energy efficient upgrades in our homes.
Just recently, Nova Scotia Energy & Mines Minister, Derek Mombourquette, announced energy efficient programs that will now be available for homeowners who heat their homes from oil and other non-electrical sources. Nova Scotia is a national leader in energy efficiency and expanding these programs provides cleaner energy for all Nova Scotians.