BIBLE HILL, NS
Shelby Gatti is still running Forever Memories Equestrian Centre on the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition grounds, but she feels she’s continually coming up against obstacles.
On March 5, she received notice that her business was to cease operations that day and be off the grounds within a week. Through legal action, she was able to begin operating again, but the upheaval that’s taken place since the provincial government took over the NSPE property earlier this year, has taken a toll.
“We’re not booking the amount of lessons we normally do, because customers think we’re closed,” said Gatti. “Some parents haven’t brought children back because the government said there was a safety issue, but that’s never been identified.
“When we have people riding in the MacMillan (Show Centre) security goes in during a lesson. When it’s quiet and someone suddenly comes in it can frighten the horses, and the change upsets children in the therapeutic riding program.”
Gatti’s business has been on the grounds since 2012, and she’s always been given a couple of days’ notice when the show centre was needed for other activities in the past. She said she received a text from general manager Darrelyn Hubley at 8:19 a.m. one morning, informing her that she would have to cancel riding lessons because rugby players would be using the show centre during the afternoon.
She said she was notified at 7 p.m. one day that a nearby barn was to be demolished at 9 the next morning. She had to rush to move equipment she had stored in that barn, and because of the short notice she wasn’t able to move the animals far enough away to avoid them being frightened by the noise.
She had to hurry back to the Forever Memories barn one day recently, when Nova Scotia Power showed up to disconnect power to the building.
“I was told later that it was a mistake, but Nova Scotia Power had a work order to disconnect,” she said.
“We’ve been using the time normally spent on advertising, planning and booking to handle these things, make business plans, go to bank and lawyer appointments and get quotes for a possible build. Normally, we would be hiring extra people for the summer, but we haven’t even looked at that yet this year, so it’s having a negative impact on jobs for young people.
“It is really stressful and is taking a toll on our health, as well as the business. We want to provide our services to our community and continue to be a small thriving business. We are fighters and won’t give up easily, but this is tough.”
Province of Nova Scotia media relations advisor Chrissy Matheson, replied, by email, “This matter is in litigation so we aren’t able to speak to it.”
Gatti said, as things stand now, the business has to be off the grounds by the end of June. Until then riding lessons are still being offered on the NSPE grounds, and mechanical bull rentals are still being booked.