By Jaymie White
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
PORT AUX BASQUES — The most recent town council meeting took place on Thursday evening, Dec. 15, marking the final council meeting before the Christmas holiday. Items discussed included healthcare, senior housing, house assessments for homes damaged during Hurricane Fiona, and updates on the texting alert system for emergencies.
Unlike previous council meetings, the final meeting before Christmas this year didn’t include the budget, as approval was given to extend it to January given the extenuating circumstances surrounding the devastation left by Fiona. The town has been focused on that.
“Sometime in January we will bring down our budget. We are just not ready to do it. Hopefully we will do it in January, that’s the plan right now,” said Mayor Brian Button at the beginning of the meeting.
Mayor Button requested an update on the senior housing complex currently being constructed.
“The project is progressing. There have been some delays again with obtaining bathroom fixtures. The specialty / disability bathtubs and that, there was a delay in getting access to them,” said Town Manager Leon MacIsaac.
He added that there have also been some delays on the inside work like putting up partitions; however, money was received for the project which is a major plus moving forward.
Home Damage Assessments
Mayor Button said he is hopeful that home assessments will start rolling in soon so that necessary demolition can take place on the homes left damaged and uninhabitable by Hurricane Fiona.
“We’re continuing to work with government in order to try and get assessments done on the main homes that we want to get down. Our understanding right now is that some assessments are done and going through the final stages that they’re working through. We’re just hopeful we can get the ones we need so we can start back with demolitions and get down some of the existing homes that are in deplorable shape,” said Button. “We are not permitted to do it until that work is done and we will continue to advocate to be able to move forward and why it’s necessary.”
Mayor Button mentioned that recent meetings were held with department ministers in St. John’s and among the matters discussed were the issues surrounding healthcare in the region with Minister Tom Osborne.
“We had some conversations with him about some of our concerns, from everything from doctor recruitment to ongoing things here at our hospital as we continue to lobby for things like a new CT scanner. So we had those conversations with Minister Osborne as we had those meetings as well, and we will have more ongoing stuff here locally with our own groups as the new year comes in.”
Mayor Button said that Tech Squad is moving forward with the new text messaging communication system and the town staff have already had a few training sessions with them. The system may be up and running early in the new year.
“The idea of all of this is to make information we need to go out quickly, go out in text message form to people once they sign up. It’s as easy as pie to do it. Anybody can get in there. Then in the event of a disaster, God forbid, we can get instant messages going out.”