By ROSALYN ROY
PORT AUX BASQUES – Town Council is hoping to avoid a fine for developing the Grand Bay West Trail, and Matador Mining asking council for some minor planning permission as the company prepares to make its return to the area.
These matters were among the discussion during the most recent virtual council meeting, which was held last Tuesday evening, Mar. 10. All councillors were in attendance at the Fire Hall, while a few members of the public attended via video conference.
Mayor John Spencer opened the meeting with a proclamation recognizing March 26 as Epilepsy Awareness Day. Also known as Purple Day, people are encouraged to wear purple to raise awareness of those with epilepsy.
Sunwing has announced that it will operate flights to provincial airports in St. John’s, Gander and Stephenville this summer. Flights will depart daily between Toronto and Stephenville on Wednesdays, starting June 9 until Sept. 1.
“I encourage people on the Southwest corner to look into that,” said Spencer.
A letter from Matador Mining requesting permission to place two shipping containers near their rental offices at the old Stan Dawe’s building on Water Street West has been approved. Council has the ability to grant discretionary permission without necessitating a permit or public advertising. The containers will be used as testing labs. The Australian-based company continues to explore its Cape Ray gold shield and prefers to test outside in the containers rather than inside the building.
“We’ve got to let these new companies know that we’re willing to work with them,” said Coun. Jim Lane.
Grand Bay West Trail
A letter from Crown Lands notified Council that the renewal application showed the trail approved under the license is dramatically different than what is actually in place. Crown Lands requires an amendment to the license to cover the development that has taken place, along with an amendment application fee of $172.50. The letter also stated that the Town would incur an occupancy fine of $1,000.
From the last time it was renewed until now, the section between the farm and Taverner Drive was not included in the provincial inventory of trail systems, explained Town Manager Leon MacIsaac.
“Because it’s not there it’s considered illegal to occupy, so we have to re-apply to get permission to have that trail in place.”
“So we have to pay that $1,000 because we expanded the plan,” said Spencer. “There’s no way we can pay that $1,000.”
Council will reach out to see if there’s anything that can be done to have the fine removed, particularly as the trail has been in place for so many years already. It may have even received funding for development in the first place, though records will have to be checked to confirm that.
“They signed on the bottom line but they didn’t realize we didn’t have the land,” observed Spencer. “We’ll just look into that.”
Coun. Lane spoke told Council that recently he took his grandsons to the bus shelter near Smallwood Drive only to find it completely filled with snow. Children were playing in the area and that almost caused an accident.
“One little kid must have gone up around, and when he came down the bus driver slammed on his brakes,” said Lane. “I tell you it was a scary thing.”
Lane asked Council if there was any plan for clearing the shelters after a significant snowfall.
“We clear the bus shelters once we get the main roads and the fire hydrants open,” replied MacIsaac.
Lane observed that three days after a storm, many of the hydrants still remain buried, which presents a problem should the fire department have to respond to an emergency.
Part of problem with snow clearing seems to stem from the fact that equipment operators must travel a bit further to dump snow, since sites they used in the past are no longer available.
“We can’t dump on private property. We’ve had a number of complaints over the years,” offered MacIsaac.
Because homeowners have asked the town not to dump snow on their property anymore, that means the snow has to be hauled further away and this tends to slow the removal process.
“Then main sites get more cumbersome for storing snow,” MacIsaac pointed out. “We’ve been fortunate this year that we haven’t had a lot of snow, but the snow we’ve gotten the past week has been quite a large amount in a very short period of time.”
Higher density sites need to have the snow removed from the streets, the sidewalks and the large banks cleared back to reach the hydrants and bus shelters, noted MacIsaac. The recent series of back to back storms also meant that some areas were unable to be cleared in between, which only made the problem worse. In addition, during heavy storms it can be more difficult for operators to judge. They must be quite careful where they are piling large quantities and not dump snow past the marker poles lest they drive the loader overboard. Then an excavator has to be brought in to push the snow out further to make room for more.
Coun. Lane also observed that during the last storm, a vehicle that had been parked on the street during clearing, contrary to winter parking rules. However it did not get towed away.
“That car was on the road for three days. The plow had to go around,” said Lane, who observed that a motorist swerving to avoid it actually struck the mirror on another truck.
Town Clerk Julia Ingram explained that the RCMP must ticket it and have it towed away, because if Town calls it in, they are liable for the towing fees, where if the RCMP initiates the vehicle’s removal, then the owner must pay the fine and the towing charge.