January 2022 council highlights
By Jaymie L. White
Special to the Appalachian
STEPHENVILLE – The most recent Stephenville town council meeting took place on Thursday evening, Jan. 13. Council members attended both virtually and in-person, however, due to the increase in COVID cases the meeting was closed to in-person attendance by the general public and was streamed online.
Matters discussed included Christmas Adventure on Main Street, a Mike Tobin memorial scholarship, a healthcare grant, the accessibility committee, and updates on the airport purchase.
Councillor Myra White recommended that, on behalf of the Finance Committee, business tax credits for the Christmas Adventure Decorating Contest winners be approved as follows: Death Valley Ink 1st Prize: $3,000; Pizza Delight 2nd Prize: $2,000; and Nixon Metals 3rd Prize: $1,000. The motion was carried unanimously by council.
Mayor Tom Rose was proud of the hard work of everyone involved in the holiday celebration.
“I want to applaud everybody that participated in Christmas Adventure this year, especially the businesses which we decided as a council to give a reward to for businesses that stood out. For the businesses, our public works department that did a phenomenal job, to the Canadian military, our reserve unit the C Company, to our town staff, to Marissa with recreation, I can’t say enough. It was probably the best event that Stephenville has ever seen on Main Street as a Christmas event.”
Rose believes that the exposure from the media will pay dividends from a marketing perspective. The Christmas Adventure also came in under budget and items can be repurposed for future events.
“The good news is, we still have a lot of inventory from these expenditures. For example, we have 60 trees with lights. I think that came in around $4,000. Maybe over the summer we can do another event where we can utilize these trees because trees lit up any time of the year looks absolutely beautiful.”
Mike Tobin Memorial Scholarship
Coun. White recommended approval of Mike Tobin Memorial Scholarship in the amount of $500 to Stephenville High School. The motion was approved.
“Mike was a legend here on council. He spent so many years representing the community, played a big role in the Knights of Columbus, he was an educator, and I believe some of the information I received from his family and friends was, in Joe Batt’s Arm on Fogo Island, Mike was the first or second person to receive a university degree. It’s so fitting for us to have a scholarship in his honour,” said Mayor Rose.
Legion Healthcare Grant
Also on behalf of the Finance Committee, Coun. White recommended approval of a grant for the Royal Canadian Legion in the amount of $86,000 to administer and deliver recruitment incentives. The incentives are a one-time payment of $50,000 signing bonus and $36,000 towards living expenses to recruit a surgeon for the Sir Thomas Roddick Hospital.
Mayor Rose said that council has had positive meetings with the Western Health recruitment team and the Health Accord Committee.
“The greatest challenge today is the recruitment of physicians, nurses, specialists, anesthesiologists, internists and so forth.”
The big issue at the hospital is understaffing. Currently they are supposed to have two surgeons and two internists but they do not.
“We challenge anybody that’s trying to diminish any services that we have, and we will step up to the plate and we swing the bat pretty good. If anybody wants to step in the way to downgrade our services, they have a battle on their hands.”
Coun. Lenny Tiller agreed.
“Sometimes you’ve got to take matters into your own hands and, in this case, put our money where our mouth is. We’re showing we’re willing to take the initiative to keep what we have and to eventually expand as well. In doing this it shows we are serious, we are here for the residents, and we are ready to play ball if anyone tries to take anything from us.”
Coun. Laura Aylward moved that it was the recommendation of the Planning and Traffic Committee that the terms of reference for the Accessibility Committee be approved.
“This is a big responsibility that our Public Works can work on to ensure our accessibility, our bylaws, anything that we can do to make it safer and easier for people with disabilities,” said Mayor Rose.
Rose said the role of the committee is also to use the council as a catalyst and voice to move at the province to ensure that better accessibility happens.
Mayor Rose provided a brief update on the airport sale.
“Basically, where it’s at, the announcement was made on Sept. 9 for the plans for the Dymond Group. They have a binding agreement with the airport board, in writing, that after due diligence, purchase and sale agreement gets completed based on the terms of that binding agreement. The board votes on it and the deal happens.”
Rose said the airport has struggled for years due to lack of proper support from the provincial and federal governments, and that taxpayer money has been in the past to maintain 40 jobs at the facility. There are other potential benefits to the sale besides tax relief.
Said Rose, “That airport now is playing a critical role in attracting business to our town.”