By ROSALYN ROY
PORT AUX BASQUES – The first town council meeting of the year got underway at 6 p.m. on Wednesday evening, Jan. 13. Before delving into council matters, Mayor John Spencer, councilors and attendees observed a moment of silence in honour of former Mayor Aneitha Sheaves, who passed away on Friday, Jan. 8.
Two taxi companies, two letters
Both owners of the two taxi serves operating in Port aux Basques sent letters to council.
The first outlined the difficulties he’s faced in 2020, in part because of the pandemic. The owner wrote that a reduced demand for the service prompted the removal of four cars from his fleet. “My employees and I would like the town to reconsider the expansion of another taxi business in our community,” concluded the letter.
The second letter by the newly established taxi service requested permission to add on a second car to its fleet. The request was approved.
“There’s no way we can stop new businesses from starting. That’s not what we’re here for,” noted Coun. Chester Coffin. The sentiment was echoed by several other members of council.
Councilors don’t enjoy dodging potholes anymore than any other motorist.
Deputy Mayor Todd Strickland stated that upon leaving work one evening he narrowly skirted a deep pothole that lacked reflective signage or lights to warn motorists or clarify the flow of traffic. On another occasion he observed a tractor trailer swerve at the last minute to avoid it, and considers it fortunate that no accident occurred. Town workers are currently focused on patching up the worst spots.
Members of Public Works are also going to take a look at some of the narrower sections of Main Street where vehicles are having trouble passing. One solution may be the removal of a couple of parking spots.
“Across from Bar & Billiards, people have lost mirrors there,” observed Coun. Jim Lane.
Downtown municipal depot
Council has not yet decided what to do with the downtown municipal depot. One suggestion is to re-purpose materials from the building to help build a new smokehouse for the town’s fire department.
“The building should be demolished in a proper way, not haphazardly,” noted Town Manager Leon MacIsaac.
Outdoor skating rink
Mayor Spencer showed hesitancy to support the idea of outdoor skating rink, noting that at the Bruce II use of the rink is tightly controlled. The weather has not permitted its construction anyway, but as the outdoor rink is monitored by volunteers who can’t be there all the time, he is worried about social distancing, especially when children are present.
Coun. Justin Blackler was of a different opinion.
“I don’t see an outdoor rink as any increase,” said Blackler, noting that he oversees 300 students and is active in youth hockey.
Council is aware that some residents and children not active in hockey or who don’t use the rink at the Bruce II regularly take advantage of the rink. Despite that, the consensus is not to have the rink this year, assuming the weather ever decides to co-operate.
Mayor Spencer asked councilors to support efforts to have the railway reinstated in Cape Breton. He noted that there is no dominant Eastern seaport, but Sydney could fill that role for offloading freight. The port has received significant upgrades but is really only receiving cruise ships. Were it to become a predominant entry point into the country, it would create more jobs and drive economic growth.
Newfoundland and Labrador would indirectly benefit by the reduced wait times for freight.
“What’s happening is that there’s a power base that goes up through the St. Lawrence that’s blocking any development on the Eastern seaboard,” said Spencer. “If you look out here tonight, beautiful big container vessels out here waiting to go up through the Gulf of St. Lawrence. That same freight could come ashore in Sydney.”
Council voted to allow Spencer to sign on behalf of the town.