By JAYMIE WHITE
Special to The Appalachian
STEPHENVILLE – The most recent town council meeting was held on Thursday afternoon, July 29. Matters discussed included Phase 2 of the Pleasant Ave reconstruction, a grant to complete road upgrades for the Appalachian Trail, the Port au Port Granfondo Bike Ride, incentives for medical staff retention with Western Health, and recent comments made by Marine Atlantic President and CEO Murray Hupman.
Pleasant Ave reconstruction
Coun. Maurice Hynes provided an update on the municipal share for Phase 2 of project, including the approval of engineering consulting services for the project. The town will provide $226,513 toward the funding project, which is cost-shared both provincially and federally.
“When we are in good fiscal shape and we can move forward with capital work projects, it benefits taxpayers in the community and actually helps contractors,” observed Mayor Tom Rose.
Appalachian Trail upgrades
The Bay St. George Automobile Association requested a grant of $20,000 to complete road upgrades from their parking lot north towards Kippens River, a stretch of approximately 10 kilometers.
“A considerable amount of work has been done on the trail this year,” said Hynes. “By only completing about 85 per cent of it, leaving the other part not done is throwing our money away.”
The trail completion is using a phased-in approach that may require a bit of work this year and next year to complete.
Incentives for medical staff retention
Coun. Don Gibbon, Sr. made a motion that the stipulation that an employee of Western Health must live in Stephenville in order to be in receipt of the retention strategy program incentives be removed. Currently any grants offered are only given to those employees that live in Stephenville and hey qualify no matter what close municipality they work in, even if it’s in another community.
“What we are hearing, and it makes sense, is that two nurses are working side by side in the ICU unit or emergency department. One happens to live in Cold Brook and one in Stephenville, but only the one in Stephenville is getting it, and that is the prudent reason why the amendment came forward,” noted Mayor Rose.
Council plans to contact other municipalities to see if they will join the program so Stephenville doesn’t have the entire burden of cost, but is moving ahead with the motion regardless.
“We are asking for Stephenville Crossing, St. George’s, Cape St. George, and Kippens to step up to the plate and help us. That hospital is their hospital,” said concluded Rose.
Marine Atlantic won’t relocate to PAB
In recent statements to the media, Marine Atlantic’s President and CEO Murray Hupman stated publicly that it would be too risky to move the Crown corporation’s headquarters from St. John’s to Port aux Basques. The predominant reason for that was due to the fact that most current employees would leave their position rather than relocate to a port community such as Port aux Basques, and that there would be challenges in recruiting and retaining highly qualified executives there.
“To me it is a slight against Port aux Basques,” said Mayor Rose. “My message to the CEO of Marine Atlantic is that if you want to tout something that is not right, not true, has no merit, go to the people of Port aux Basques and say it.”
Mayor Rose and Council believed this demonstrated poor leadership, agreed that it needs to be questioned, and maintained that communities like Port Aux Basques have a lot to offer and deserve support.
In an article appearing in the Wreckhouse Weekly on Monday, August 2, four West coast mayors, including Tom Rose and Port aux Basques Mayor John Spencer, spoke out against the report and took exception to the idea that qualified employees could not be found within the area or willing to relocate to the region.