By Ryan King
Community News Reporter
PORT AUX BASQUES – The most recent town council meeting was held on Tuesday evening, Feb. 15. Here are some of the highlights.
Town Manager Leon MacIsaac was in contact with Newfoundland Power. The company will reroute some of the three-phase line systems in the area to the side of the road where they had placed armour stone.
“There’s a lot of tension on those poles, which seem to be cracked off,” said MacIsaac. “So they’re going to present the plan to us to review and they’ll put new poles along the armour stone side of the area. But they’ll put in their own armour stone as well, and they’ll also put in additional poles as a result.”
Mayor Brian Button said that this looked like promising news.
“That’ll be good because we were only expecting one light, and now you might get a couple more there that’ll be able to light that up.”
Marine Atlantic report
Gerry Bryne, Minister of Immigration, Population Growth and Skills, had shared a report with council about Marine Atlantic. Mayor Button had marked this as an item for discussion at the last council meeting to allow councillors time to read the report.
The report, which was commissioned by the minister, outlined the importance of the ferry service for the province and how increasing rates can hurt jobs, consumer spending, the GDP, food insecurity, and tourism.
Mayor Button said that the report seemed dated. While the minister prepared it in 2020, much of the data in the document only covered the time frame up to 2017.
“It’s a lot of the things that we already knew and what the impacts are.”
Despite that, the Mayor did say that it could be a valuable tool in tackling the issue of the ferry rates.
“The only good thing that I do see about the report is just it’s another piece of what we’re trying to do between the letters that we’ve been trying to get. In fact, we mentioned in the last meeting as well getting the rest of the province on board, that this is more of a provincial issue. It just adds to it of having another piece to go along with presentations that you make, that you got a minister to come out and prepare the report on it.”
However, some lines in the report did concern the Mayor when it came to the lack of competition for the ferry service.
“This comment that are made in there that it’s the only game in town,” said Button. “They’re charging what they want because there’s not a competitive private sector that competes against them, so on and so forth. The only thing that worries me about lines about that is, is that this is a constitutional piece that is for Newfoundland and Labrador, and I don’t think we need a competitive competitor with it. It’s our transportation link, and it should be affordable for anybody to use it.”
Bay Street basketball court
An 18-year-old resident wrote to the council regarding the condition of the basketball court in the Bay Street area. The writer noted the poor state of the pavement, which is cracked and crumbling, the lack of seating, rusty basketball poles, and nets in poor condition. The resident stated that youths had rolled and sprained their ankles due to the foundation of the poles not being level with the pavement.
Mayor Button praised the initiative of the young individual.
“I always think it’s good when we get our youth taking up concern of our recreation facilities.”
The matter was covered in the Recreation Committee Report, and the request was put in the Park and Rec file for follow up.
Mayor Button wants the town to resolve the issue.
“If you’ve been down there around it, it served its course, and it’s now a bit more of a hazard than it is a recreational site. So it does need to be fixed up. And it gets used. There’s a lot of kids that go in there.”
Royal Canadian Legion
The Royal Canadian Legion asked council to purchase ad space to support their remembrance publication that will recognize and honour veterans through biographical stories and photos.
The town agreed to support the legion by purchasing a quarter-page ad for $350.
A resident wrote to council requesting that the town do something about water draining across the property from a drain that they believe is too small. Additionally, they asked the municipality to help them find the water stop on their property.
The Mayor set this as an item for public works to address when the snow is gone so that they can adequately tackle the issue.
“I don’t know if you’ll see it in there now, especially when it comes to, it mentions in here about a water-stop.”
The owner of the former transfer shed wrote to the council to request repairs to the road leading to the transfer shed underneath the Marine Atlantic overpass. They stated that water buildup had caused damage to the pavement and required repairs. While not a main road, it is used by a local business, the Seniors Pensioners Group and ATVs during the summer.
The Mayor said that public works should examine this.
“We’ll put that over to public works to bring in for the next meeting and have a look at it and see if it is something that we’re involved with.”
Recreation Committee report
Councillor Todd Strickland presented the Recreation Committee Report. The committee held discussions on the pool operations and how to run it more effectively. The committee will discuss the matter at the next finance meeting.
The town received a grant from Recreation NL to host an introduction to the gym for youth 13 to 15. Those below the age of 16 typically require a letter from a guardian.
The town submitted proposals to access funds for Canada Day celebrations and for summer students.
The committee discussed a letter from a parent regarding allergies. Staff at the canteen were made aware of the issue. The canteen does sell products with peanuts and tree nuts, but they had posted warnings of their presence.
“There was some discussion about our staff following policies and procedures and not eating single bags of nuts at their desk,” said Shauna Strickland. “So it was just kind of an educational piece more-so with the staff and the new operator at the canteen. As soon as I discussed it, she was more than willing to do whatever was required to accommodate. And I followed up with the parent and explained the route we went, and what we did, and they were satisfied with that.”
The town submitted a funding proposal to host a senior wellness fair at the rink at the Bruce II.
The committee discussed the software RecTimes, which costs the town over $3,000 annually. The committee recommended not to renew the contract since there are free options available, like Google calendar.
A letter was received requesting to name the broadcasting booth after Hedley Clarke. The committee will discuss this at the next meeting.
Funding was approved to host an inclusive public skate, with sledges available to rent.
The committee discussed fireworks and how other communities restrict their use to benefit seniors, those with PTSD, autistic individuals, and animals. The recreation director will follow up with other towns to see what they have in place.