By RYAN KING
The most recent town council meeting on the evening of Tuesday, June 15, was held in person in the council chamber at the town hall. This marked a return to normal procedures, as the previous meeting had been held virtually due to pandemic alert levels.
Among the topics discussed were the upcoming ATV route in town, a proposed softball league for ages seven to nine, and the search for a location for an animal shelter.
The Economic Development Committee met on May 19. Among items discussed was the ATV route, with proposed in-town access. There was a discussion on a list of streets, and the location for a flashing red light for the route.
During the current council meeting, Mayor Spencer noted that some displayed maps of the route on picture boards in town would be useful. These could be put on display in Scott’s Cove, in town for the local residents, and also in the local newspaper.
Town Manager Leon MacIsaac made a note that the Town will have an ATV warning light that will mark the location of the route installed for when the ATV route goes into use.
“They’re better to have up prior to, then after,” noted MacIsaac.
Councillor Melvin Keeping noted that the committee visited the entrance to the route off the TCH by Port aux Basques to determine the location of the ATV warning light, and the ATV path from Tim Hortons to the ATV ramp through the light. The path will be highlighted, and signs installed.
This will need to be completed before the implementation of the ATV route.
The town received a letter from a minor league softball foundation. There will be a league this summer, and currently 64 children have signed up. It will take place in Port aux Basques, and will be open to all children in the Southwest coast region, ages 7 to 9. The foundation’s letter sought a donation for the program.
This is a separate group from the other minor softball league in town, which caters to children 10 and up. It was noted that the town provides softballs each year for this older group. The older group also do their own fundraisers, such as helping clean up the town when the town could not get enough high school students to help. Mayor Spencer was pleased that there is a revitalization of softball/baseball in the town.
“I think it’s unbelievable, fantastic what I’m seeing and hearing,” said Spencer.
To raise funds for the new team, MacIsaac suggested having a lottery, where each bag of garbage gathered would provide a ticket for a prize draw. Coun. Justin Blackler noted that there are now three softball groups using the ballfield, with three sets of gear, which they have to maintain and pay for. He suggested that the groups should come together on this, where the town could provide the field equipment, and they pay a fee to maintain it.
“Right now the school’s got to go buy bases, the 10+ got to buy bases, this young group got to go buy bases. You’ve got three lots of gear on the field, and you don’t need that,” Blackler observed.
Town Clerk Julia Ingram noted that when the 10 & Up group first started, the town had provided the group with $400 worth of equipment.
The Mayor then suggested that Council should get in contact with them and find out what they need and offer them $400 for startup equipment, as the precedent had already been set. They would then also get in contact with the other teams to find out what they may need, and also provide funding opportunities for all three, along the lines of what MacIsaac suggested. All teams would also be encouraged to work together, as Coun. Blackler suggested.
Seeking shelter continues
Peggy Savery has been seeking assistance from the town in finding a location for the new animal shelter, For the Love of Paws. The issue in finding a suitable location is complicated somewhat because there currently is no zoning to allow for the shelter at possible locations in town.
MacIsaac noted that they have attempted to explain the process for rezoning, but the process may not be fully understood by For the Love of Paws.
“Previously they were asking for a specific site, and now it would be in a much broader area. As I’ve cautioned before, attacking a full zone vs. a specific area is probably going to open itself up to much more pushback from the public,” said MacIsaac.
The town manager observed that looking to change a broad zone would affect hundreds of homes, which is naturally more challenging, and likely to cause the public to take issue. Though For the Love of Paws has been warned, this is the course that they are pursuing.
“My point of view is that they are really going to make the process much longer than it should be,” said MacIsaac. “What they are looking for is going to require changes to our government regulations and our municipal ones. That is what is going to take time and process to do.”
“It’s difficult. It’s a slow process, and there’s no way that we can amend the process,” said Mayor Spencer.
It was noted that Stephenville had a shelter on its Main Street, and MacIsaac clarified how this was possible.
“It was allowed to exist there because they provided veterinary services at that location. That’s the only reason that it existed. They’ve moved up into the industrial park, across from the hospital, and that’s zoned to permit an SPCA organization,” explained MacIsaac.
MacIsaac did point out that the industrial landing zone or a commercial zone that allows veterinary clinics would permit a similar situation as the shelter in Stephenville, provided that the shelter could offer veterinary services even part time. He noted the interpretation of how often the services would need to be provided would be up to the council.
“Whether a full-time veterinarian, or once a week, twice a week, it doesn’t really specify,” said MacIssaac.
Mayor Spencer seemed hopeful that this may offer a solution.
“So, a trailer or a house there, would just be a matter of publishing it, and asking for people’s feedback, and then council either yea or nay. If the council went yea, and the people in the area disagreed, they would appeal it to the reasonable appeals board,” concluded Mayor Spencer.