Port aux Basques council discusses lights, rats

Port aux Basques council in chambers on Feb. 2, 2021. – © Rene J. Roy / Wreckhouse Press Inc.


PORT AUX BASQUES – Council got underway just prior to a storm last Tuesday night, Feb. 2. The storm knocked out power from Port aux Basques to Port au Port, but not before Council concluded the evening’s business.

Dangerous Intersection

A resident from East End Channel told Council that the lack of street lighting almost resulted in two vehicle-pedestrian collisions over the winter holidays. The resident had been walking with his young son and dog near Lillington Avenue and Legallais Street, and the lack of lighting rendered them almost invisible to passing vehicles. Both times the parent reacted quickly enough to prevent a collision, but asked Council to speak to Newfoundland Hydro about installing a proper street light before a tragedy occurs.

Coun. Melvin Keeping reminded Council that Public Works had petitioned for a street light at that intersection in Sept. 2020, and received assurances that one would be put in place.

“We are at the mercy of light and power,” noted Keeping, then added, “We will press them, let them know the urgency.”

Public Works will also take a look around town to determine other areas that need lighting installed.

Pandemic Fatigue

Another resident wrote to Council asking that the town restart some of the town’s programs for parents and toddlers, noting that there has been no known case of COVID-19 in the region. The town had shut down the programs near the beginning of the pandemic.

The resident noted that being isolated with two small children can take a toll on people’s emotional and mental well-being, and that even a small outing while continuing to adhere to pandemic protocols would be welcome.

Council has sent the request to the Recreation Committee to see what can be done. Mayor John Spencer noted that dance class has resumed, and he himself goes to the Bruce II Sports Centre facility two days a week.

“We are easing back, which is great to see,” noted Spencer.

Stephenville Airport

Port aux Basques has been invited to submit the name of a council member who might be suitable to serve on the board of the Stephenville Airport Corporation. The board hopes to have a more regional presence, and currently has two vacant seats. Coun. Ches Coffin had been nominated to serve on the board shortly after Council was elected in 2017.

“Somehow it got lost in the shuffle and with six months left in this Council, I only see it fitting that we do get involved,” said Mayor Spencer. “The air ambulance issue alone that we have to protect and preserve, is a critical piece that we don’t want to lose.”

Tender Awarded

The town has awarded the tender for a new loader to Brat Tractor at a cost of $315,823 plus HST. There were three submissions for the tender, but prospective trade-in value played a role in deciding the successful tender. Town clerk Julia Ingram advised that the new loader should arrive by April 1.

Economic Development

The town’s Economic Development officer, Shauna Strickland, told Council that the CEP grant has concluded. Under the grant, the town employed 20 people who banked 4,189 insurable hours towards employment benefits.

The JCP grant to build an additional 900 feet of trail to link the existing Grand Bay West trail to Hopedale Avenue was not able to be completed due to the cost of materials. Strickland will be submitting another funding application so that the project can be completed this spring.

The committee will also continue to explore locations before determining a final site for the new farmer’s market. Besides the train museum, sites that are being considered include Scott’s Cove Park and Andy’s Rainbow Park.

Rat Setback

The town’s funding application to deal with rats by installing large plastic garbage bins was denied. Strickland advised that this was due to lack of a long term plan, and that reaching into deep bins would eventually result on stress and back injuries for workers.

Coun. Jim Lane said that the rat problem affects waste management too, and that the problem isn’t going away so alternatives must be explored.

Mayor Spencer isn’t a fan of the bins, saying they’re too light given our winds, too deep to empty and too heavy to roll out to the curb. He’d rather see residents maintain their garbage boxes properly so that rats can’t get in.

He mentioned that one garbage box that had been emptied by town staff only that morning was already filled up beyond capacity again, and the next collection wouldn’t come for another week. Other boxes have garbage residue in them that has been there for years.

“It looks like our people aren’t doing their jobs,” said Spencer. “We need to take it in a different direction so that we don’t have the same issues that we had last summer with all the rats.”

Council will resubmit the application for funding, but Public Works will continue to explore alternative measures. One idea was to mandate that wooden garbage boxes be lined with chicken wire to keep the rats out.

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