CENTRAL, NL – Gander isn’t the only municipality playing the waiting game when it comes to municipal appeals in central Newfoundland.
The Department of Municipal Affairs confirmed there are currently eight appeal hearings awaiting the Central Regional Newfoundland Appeal Board, which has been defunct since March 2017. Currently, only one out of the five board seats is filled. A minimum of three board members are required to carry out a review.
Quorum cannot be reached with four vacant seats and municipalities have been placed on the waiting list until a new board is appointed.
The need to have an appeal board in place was highlighted by the Town of Gander at its April 11 public meeting of council.
Back in January, Gander issued a demolition order for the mid-section of a strip mall on Elizabeth Drive, which has since been appealed by the owner.
However, a hearing can’t be held until the appeal board appoints new members.
While the Town of Gander declined comment on the matter, mayor Percy Farwell said, at the meeting, council tries to handle matters in an efficient manner, but disruptions on the provincial level have caused delays.
Glovertown mayor Doug Churchill knows this all too well.
He said Glovertown has been on the appeal board waiting list for more than a year.
The town works in conjunction with the Glovertown Marina committee, and Churchill said an appeal was issued surrounding the location of a purposed warehouse on the marina’s property.
The wait for a hearing date has been so long and frustrating, alternate plans had to be made.
“We’ve been waiting, and waiting, and waiting for this to happen, trying to find out what’s going on, but there was so little information out there about what was happening that the marina committee decided to move the building location to an area that wouldn’t be in conflict,” Churchill said. “Other than doing that we would still be waiting to build, because as far as I know the appeal hasn’t been dropped.”
While Municipal Affairs has indicated the appointment of a new board is nearing completion, there are no set dates as to when hearings will resume.
“The Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment uses a merit-based appointment process to determine applicants,” read a department-issued statement. “Following the merit-based process established through the Public Service Commission, the minister of Municipal Affairs and Environment will appoint members to the board.”
Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador (MNL), which provides a united front for 276 of the province’s incorporated communities, declined comment on the matter. The organization’s media relations department stated it hasn’t been an issue that has been brought to the MNL’s attention.