By Jaymie White
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
STEPHENVILLE — The most recent town council meeting took place on Thursday afternoon, Apr. 20, and matters discussed included camping around the beach at Port Harmon, the new provincial health authority board, progress in doctor recruitment, and the updates on bankruptcy clearing at the airport.
Port Harmon Camping
Under new business, Chief Administrative Officer, Colin Maddock, said conversations have taken place with the airport regarding the places where campers usually congregate around the beach.
“With the understanding that there is potentially new significant growth with the airport coming, they are asking us to look at developing new regulations maybe with respect to limiting the amount of campers in that area due to the fact that campers bring garbage, garbage brings gulls, and gulls are dangerous for aircraft. So I think that is something we are going to have to look at very, very soon and then maybe find another location where campers may be able to be placed, but I think that area is becoming increasingly dangerous.”
Deputy Mayor, Susan Fowlow, who lead the meeting as Mayor Tom Rose attended via Zoom, said that discussions will be taking place surrounding these concerns.
“If there are people listening who have traditionally set their camper up down in that area on the beach, we would encourage you to wait until we’ve had time to look at this a little further and hopefully, maybe, designate an area where campers can go that will be safe for everybody. Hopefully by next meeting we will have that worked out for sure.”
Provincial Health Authority
Councillor Laura Aylward said she checked out the new board, and she was disappointed in the low representation for the West coast of the province.
“I have a list of the board and, from what I can gather, it ended at Corner Brook. Lloyd Walters, who has been on there for about six years, Lloyd is the member for Western, we’ll say, when before we had two members from Stephenville. All the others are doctor this and lawyer that and some are living in St. Anthony, some on the Avalon in different places, mostly, I believe, in St. John’s. So I feel that we should’ve had more representation on the West coast instead of it stopping where it stopped. That’s something we can think about as we go along.”
Deputy Mayor Fowlow asked Coun. Aylward for an update on doctor recruitment efforts in the community.
“I can say that the latest is that recruitment is still ongoing,” answered Aylward. “It’s going to be different because the people that we dealt with at the helm, some of them aren’t there right now because there are other things on the go for them. We have a surgeon here until August. Doctor Crowley is here. He’s been here since early April, but he’s retired. He used to be here in the 80’s, and he’s a really good surgeon, but he’s not one that’s going to be working full-time all year. There’s rumblings about another doctor/surgeon that’s supposed to be coming out from Corner Brook here to work. Not sure if she’s started already or not. It’s something I’ll have check on.”
Aylward added that there are currently two anesthesiologists working.
“We still have the one internist and, as for the general practitioners, the ER is pretty well staffed. There are five, but you don’t have five on at the one time. You have two on at one time. I think there might be some kind of trial going on where they may be able to get permission to call in someone if needed, in emerg(ency). The government has to approve that. Say if you went in tonight and you started off around 7:00 and around 8:00, it’s already an hour gone and then say you get an ambulance coming in, that doctor will be tied up for two or three hours, so in that case, if you’ve got a crowd in the waiting area, why not call in a backup doctor?”
Aylward said, regardless, there is still a shortage of general practitioners.
“That’s a given, and the nurse practitioners are doing a lot of work. That’s good too. We’re not where we’d like to be, but we’re a lot better off than a lot of other communities in the province,” said Aylward. “We haven’t had to close the ER and we do have really good, up-to-date equipment here.”
Mayor Tom Rose said that World Energy GH2 announced the acquisition is in place to purchase the Port of Stephenville, and Carl Dymond is in the process, in the next three weeks, for the purchase of the airport, which will mean big things for Stephenville.
“Those major transportation facilities have not been very busy or active and now we have private capital, new business plans, new energy, international development coming in to move those structures forward, which will actually help the community, build jobs, and create vibrancy and growth, not just for Stephenville, but for Western Newfoundland and Newfoundland as a province.”
Coun. Lenny Tiller wanted to congratulate those involved for the clearing of the bankruptcy at the airport but wanted clarification on the 20-day window for the transfer.
“I guess my confusion, if someone could answer, is now the time to send in our notice, because we have to give 30 days, and if it’s done in 20 days we’re going to have public money going into private hands. That’s how I see it, and I’m asking the question, if that’s the way it is or not. If it’s 20 days when all of this is done, does our next payment go over to a private enterprise and not the airport?”
Mayor Rose said they will have to get clarification from management on that question.
“Technically speaking the bankruptcy did clear, the certificate was given to the airport authority yesterday (Apr. 19), but in the terms of the sale, Carl Dymond has up to 20 days to transfer the funds in the trust to meet the terms of the agreement. Now that could happen tomorrow. I would think that, once we know the transfer of funds has happened, that would be the time to give notice, and that could happen tomorrow or today,” explained Rose.
“The thing is, once we get that communication from the chair of the airport authority, I think that’s when we would give our notice because that was the intent anyway. The minute the validation of transfer of funds and the transfer of the airport was completed, we would give notice so we would not have to use taxpayers’ money to help with the operations of the airport. We’ve done it up to this point, and I applaud this council and previous councils for doing that, but the great news is it’s coming to an end.”