By René J. Roy
PORT AUX BASQUES — The most colorful area of town is Scott’s Cove Park on the harbour front, which makes it one of the first things in the entire province that most tourists see when they arrive by way of the Marine Atlantic ferry. As such an important resource for Port Aux Basques, maintenance is important to keep the condition of the park in good order.
Shauna Strickland, Economic Development Office for the Town, oversees the park. She is excited for the upcoming tourist season.
“Scott’s Cove officially opens on July 1st typically, with our traditional Newfoundland music being scheduled.”
Music takes place Mondays to Thursdays on the stage at Scott’s Cove. In the past, the town had four bands performing weekly. However, there are only three currently slated to perform this summer.
“Last year we only had three bands, with an opening on Thursday nights. So some Thursdays were filled.”
With Come Home Year scheduled to kick off in late July, there has not been mention of changing the music schedule to the weekends in order to accommodate the tourists that are expected in town.
“That would be a discussion I would need to have with the bands. That would depend on their schedules. I know that we have bands that have been scheduled for Monday Tuesday Wednesday for a number of years,” says Strickland.
Even though the park does not officially open until Canada Day there will still be a couple of vendors who will get a head start on the season.
“A couple of the kiosk vendors will be in before then. We usually let them in around mid-June once we get the water and stuff hooked up.”
With the season fast approaching, work has begun on a number of upgrades to the park already.
“You’ve probably seen that there’s some renovations being done on the kiosks. The food vendors’ kiosks are being renovated, getting a paint job, new counter tops, just to freshen it up.”
Aesthetics are not the only improvements being made.
“We’re doing repairs to the doors. We’ve installed all new steel doors down there, so that’ll help increase some of the security. Cameras will be installed this year. So we will make sure that that’s installed, and looking at additional lighting around the kiosks, making sure all of those lights are on so visibility is a little clearer.”
Security cameras were not active in place last year, despite being installed in the summer of 2020.
“We’re hoping for a vandal free summer,” admits Strickland.
Scott’s Cove Park is no stranger to vandalism and theft. There is a pattern of at least one break-in each year, with theft and destruction of property left in the kiosks being the most commonplace.
Strickland expects that the new and improved security measure will prove an effective deterrent to prevent any repeat incidents this year.
“The measures that we’re put ting in, no one’s going to risk that chance of being seen on camera. The lighting is going to be enhanced so there’s going to be more visibility from the road.”
Strickland anticipates that all renovations will be completed by the Friday, June 3 (last week), along with water hookup and the opening of the washroom facilities. Along with those objectives, there are repairs needed to the staging area.
“Where the bands play, a lot of that wood needs repair. It needs paint. There’s a lot of rot around there, so that’s going to be a big project. So hopefully by the end of June the park is going to be in tiptop shape.”
Student employees will once again be asked to step in to maintain and staff the park for the summer. Events for the park are already being planned, with Astrolabe Days coinciding with Come Home Year events at the beginning of August.
“We obviously are going to have our annual Astrolabe Heritage Days at the park. That’s the first weekend in August,” says Strickland. “We’ve planned those events to compliment Come Home Year, and to increase the activities that are planned. So we’re looking at hosting our Carnival days down at Scott’s Cove.”
New events are also in the works.
“Entertainment for the whole weekend; doing our boat tours again. We’re hosting a street dance down there for Come Home Year, which will be great for the vendors. We also will be working with Marine Atlantic again this summer to get the bus drop offs, so I’m very excited.”
A shuttle bus carries ferry passengers back and forth between the ferry terminal to Scott’s Cove daily. Strickland says vendors have told her the shuttle bus service has made a noticeable difference in their customer draw.
“It’s really increased the numbers in the visitation to the park. In speaking with the vendors that were there the couple of years that we did it prior to COVID, they said that there was an increase in their numbers. So we’re really happy about being able to offer that again.”
This also marks only the second time in her tenure as Economic Development Officer that Strickland has seen all of the kiosks reserved.
“I’ve been here eleven years and I think the last time was 2015 Come Home Year. It’s an opportunity for small businesses to make an impression and promote their product or their service.”
All of the work being done leading up to opening days, as well as planning, booking and reserving bands and vendors is no small task.
“Resources are limited. And Come Home Year is such a huge event in itself, and even just preparing for the summer, our regular maintenance, parks and recreation,” said Strickland. “Scott’s Cove is one of many parks. It’s probably one of our greatest assets, most frequently used, one of the first things you see when you enter the port. I love it there. It’s just so attractive, but it does take a lot of resources and work, and a good team to make sure it happens every year.”