Dieppe — Dieppe residents voted to dedicate all of the funds from a city budgeting experiment to an early Christmas present for the neighbouring town of Riverview — a 10-metre Chocolate Starfish statue to complement the town’s Fundy Chocolate River Station tourism and activities hub. Riverview hopes the monument will squeeze out Shediac’s giant lobster as New Brunswick’s most popular roadside attraction.
“We can’t thank Dieppe enough,” said Riverview Mayor Ann Seamans, speaking to The Manatee while shooting skeet off her back deck. “There’s always been that simmering tension between us what with the anglophone-francophone divide, but this serves as a reminder that we’re buds after all.”
The vote marked Dieppe’s first foray into participatory budgeting, in which citizens as young as 11 were given the opportunity to vote on how to spend $300,000 of the city’s budget. Other ideas included a Chiac-only city bus, as well as specially trained law enforcement to deal with overstimulated PEI residents trying to find the strip club. But the gift to Riverview quickly caught on with the public and the vote saw the entire amount directed toward the project.
When completed next spring, the starfish will face traffic next to Chocolate River Station on Coverdale Road in hopes of attracting tourists driving to the Hopewell Rocks or Fundy National Park. The massive, brown fiberglass echinoderm will be mounted over a white porcelain basin adorned with a pile of locally sourced logs. Adding to the fudgy fun, brown water and tidal mud from the nearby Petitcodiac River will be piped in through the centre of the starfish.
A tabletop model of the Chocolate Starfish is on display at Chocolate River Station, and while most are enthusiastic about the gift, some question its aesthetic appeal.
“There’s just something about it that makes me feel kinda gross,” said Lower Coverdale resident Gordie Steevenson as the model starfish spluttered out blobs of mud. “I love mud, like mud-boggin’ and suchlike, but when I seen this it reminded me of the morning after I drank a skunky Alpine and ate a bunch of expired donair meat out of a ski boot.”
Despite these concerns, the starfish will be built over the winter and installed by local contractors in the spring.
“Just as France gave the Statue of Liberty to the United States, it is our distinct pleasure to bestow this on our esteemed and cultured Albert County neighbours,” said Dieppe Mayor Yvon Lapierre during a ceremony to commemorate the gift at Riverview Town Hall. “When you Riverview people are getting drunk or eating beef jerky sticks and pickled eggs or whatever it is you do, I hope you gaze upon this monument and know this is what Dieppe thinks of you.”