By Jaymie White
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
PORT AUX BASQUES — The most recent council meeting took place on Tuesday evening, May 16. Matters discussed included council’s summer schedule, updates on the energy refit at the Bruce II, necessary repairs at the softball field, the pool conversion, and concerns surrounding the town’s new texting alert system.
Mayor Brian Button shared that council is about to move into their summer month schedule, which means council meetings will only take place once per month during June, July, and August.
“We haven’t got the dates as of yet,” said Button. “We’ll try to get that all in order and it will be somewhere in the middle of the month anyway, one way or another, the 15 or 16, somewhere around there. We will keep you advised of when that will be, and we’ll take a look at that probably this week.”
Mayor Button asked Town Manager, Leon MacIsaac, what the status is on the fuel switching and energy refit project at the arena.
“The electrical upgrade system, the earliest ship date they have for the product right now is Sept. 14. Unless somebody drops out of the queue for shipping, that’s the earliest they can provide right now,” said MacIsaac.
Button asked if the Town pushed hard with the company on that date because it will mean their items arrive during the ice season.
“They said they will make themselves available if council would like to speak to them on the subject as well,” said MacIsaac.
Button said they will have to set up a web meeting with them because it’s important to try and get this completed before the ice season starts so there won’t be any delays or shut downs at the arena.
Mayor Button asked if the softball field has been looked at to see what potential repairs will be needed.
“We dug the trenches around the field. I spoke to the individual with the aerator. He’ll bring it down the later part of the week to the field area, to get it in line and prepped for when they start the season after May 24 weekend,” said MacIsaac.
Councillor Melvin Keeping looked for clarification on whether his opposition to the conversion was properly recorded in the previous meeting minutes and Town Clerk Nadine Osmond verified that it had been noted. Keeping said his stance on the matter hasn’t changed and he still has concerns and he did some research on salt water versus chlorine pool systems.
“Using the gas chlorine, you have the tendency to get the stronger smell of chlorine in your pool and I don’t know if that’s one of the reasons we went with the salt at that time as well. And if you get that smell in your pool, my concern is it getting out into the bowling alley and the complex itself. That’s why, on this, I need more information so I can’t vote for it.”
“This is chlorine pucks not chlorine gas,” stated MacIsaac.
“So does that have the tendency to give off a less-strong smell of chlorine than the gas,” asked Keeping.
“The individual indicated that the saltwater system parts are very difficult to find, and the chlorine pucks was the conversion kit, not the chlorine gas, because chlorine gas is too volatile on its own and would need its own isolation room, same as at the water treatment plant,” explained MacIsaac. “It’s not the type of chemical you want to have in the building anyway and that’s why they strongly suggest going with these pucks.”
“I was okay once I saw the pucks and saw the list of the other pools that were using it,” said Button. “My only concern was whether we did the due diligence, to go look and see, and make sure that what we were doing is what everyone else had done, not just because a company came in and said it is what we should do. I know exactly what Councillor Keeping is saying. It’s exactly what I said last meeting. The reasons why we went with the saltwater pool, seems like, from the report, the pucks aren’t the same type of chlorine that was used in pools in previous years.”
“The saltwater system is a chlorinated system,” added MacIsaac. “And if it’s not constantly checked, people could get a pretty heavy chlorine burn from the pool.”
A letter submitted to council shared concern about how the Town is using the new texting communication system. The letter detailed the current communication methods used by the municipality and town council, and the absence of a clear communication plan when communicating with residents. Suggestions as to where they believe the system could be improved and on the development of a communication plan was also included.
Town Clerk Nadine Osmond said she currently hadn’t had time to go through the list in its entirety and Mayor Button added that he hadn’t read through everything yet either.
“I can understand where the letter comes from, but as we said when we put out the text messaging thing, we were going to use it for messages like, if we have water going off in Channel, if garbage collection was suspended due to weather, those type of things. We were trying to utilize it in a manner where we could give residents the most updated information that we could,” said Button.
“When it comes to those items, simply because we don’t have the luxury of local radio and things that we had in the past, we use our social media or our local paper for long term things, but quick things, we said right from the get go that’s what we were going to use it. When there’s an urgent message, of course we’ll use it. Have we used it on items where we’ve questioned whether or not we should use it for that? We have, and that will come with the growing pains of it.”
In the event of another extreme weather event like Hurricane Fiona, alerts will go out in a different manner than the ones going out now.