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Port aux Basques council responds to Bruce II concerns

Port aux Basques council
Port aux Basques council - Submitted

Snowmobile route, Grand Bay West Beach, power outage protocol among meeting highlights

At the Feb. 6 meeting, town council reviewed four letters about the new two-tier registration policy at the Bruce II, discussed support for the Stephenville airport, and expressed concern about the recent power loss that saw some residents go without heat for almost 22 hours.

The following is a summary of the meeting.

Recreation committee

Fitness classes at the Bruce II should be announced coon. Final details are not yet available, but classes will likely be held on Monday and Wednesday nights.

As part of the outdoor recreation program an application has been made for $1,300 to hold fly tying classes. The Bruce II has also received $9,200 from New Horizons for its Active for Life program, which focuses on seniors’ activities and events.

Now that a sledge and sticks have arrived to support sledge hockey at the stadium, the committee is keen to apply for more funding for 10 more sledges.

“For such a big hockey town the only place that is not fully inclusive is the rink,” said Robyn Noseworthy, recreation director for the Bruce II. “We’re putting steps forward now to allow that to become more inclusive involving sledge hockey, which is for able-bodied people as well as those who live with disabilities.”

Economic development

An application will be made to ACOA to fund the third phase of the downtown improvement project. A grant for $300 was received to assist with the community café, which is proving popular.

The committee reported that Marine Atlantic’s new board of directors includes Gary Joseph O’Brien from Port aux Basques, which marks the first time since 2008 that someone from the west coast has been appointed to the board.

A minor water leak resulted in a bit of pebbling to the floor of the train museum, but it has since been cleaned up. Town manager Leon MacIsaac says he will take another look in the spring once humidity levels rise.

Grand Bay West Beach

The town has scheduled the second stage of its public consultations regarding the future of the popular beach and walking trail. The meeting will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 20 at 10 am at the fire hall.

Snowmobile crossing update

The public works committee and the Port aux Basques Legion have agreed on council’s plan to drop the chain and mark a proper snowmobile route past the War Memorial. Councillor Jim Lane reported that even the snowmobile owners were pleased with the plan.

Collaboration re: municipal asset management

A PhD candidate from the University of Waterloo has reached out to council with an invitation to collaborate on the town’s municipal asset management plan as part of his research.

“As you may be aware, future provincial funding received by municipalities will rely more and more on their ability to put forth an effort to develop asset management plans and processes,” the student wrote.

The town manager will follow up with the student to clarify the possibility of collaboration and determine costs.

Bruce II registration program feedback

Council received four letters regarding the change to the registration system for some of the Bruce II sports programs. Two were from residents of Port aux Basques, both asking council outright to reconsider their decision, while the others were from residents in other communities.
Mayor John Spencer read out all four letters and told council he has exchanged emails and phone calls with some of the letter writers.

One letter stated the swim programs suffer from an excess of demand that the town has been unable to meet, but Coun. Justin Blackler refuted that claim after speaking with the aquatics manager.

“She told me in the 14 years that she’s been there she can’t remember anybody ever being turned away from the program,” said Blackler. “She’s seen people not register because the slot wasn’t there that they prefer, but in 14 years they’ve never turned anybody away.

“In the minutes it reflects that no child will be refused,” said Coun. Melvin Keeping, who read the relevant section aloud. “That was put to the floor twice. No child will be left out.”

Spencer also pointed out that contrary to the letter writer’s claim, the official records show the local MHA at the time did not contribute funds to the Bruce II.

Stephenville Airport Committee

Spencer nominated Coun. Chester Coffin to serve on the Stephenville Airport board of directors, which is looking for support from Port aux Basques. The Stephenville Airport Committee focuses on the operation, maintenance and promotion of the airport.
Up until now the mayor has been attending the meetings.

Currently PAL Airlines operates out of Stephenville but has taken to cancelling flights when there are only one or two passengers travelling. The airline also ran a special on flights into Deer Lake but not into Stephenville, a result of a Marble Mountain promotion.

The committee advised PAL it would not see an increase in usage until its service became consistent. Spencer reported that the Stephenville mayor said 50 per cent of regional users who drive to Deer Lake for a flight to St. John’s will opt to keep driving instead.

“They’ve gotten that far,” he said. “They might as well keep driving the rest of the way.”

Meanwhile, Porter Airlines doubled its number of flights into Stephenville this summer, brought about in part by the success of “Come From Away” and the resulting exposure to potential tourists.

Stephenville will be hosting the 40th anniversary of its theatre festival this year, and there will be some benefit reaped by Port aux Basques, including local events such as a dinner theatre.

Rotating power problems

The mayor wants to speak with representatives of Newfoundland Power, even though he offered praise for the company’s recent efforts during the Feb. 5 storm when some residents experienced almost 22 hours straight without heat.
The town understood that available generator power would be rotated to different areas, but that wasn’t done due to concerns that the switch-over would knock out the generator.

“It wasn’t warm, but it was reasonably warm,” said Spencer. “Had it been freezing cold like minus 8 or minus 20, then we would have had some serious issues to deal with today.”

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