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More headaches for PAB affordable housing units

Nadine Osmond is the Town Manager of Channel-Port aux Basques. — © File photo

By Jaymie White

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

PORT AUX BASQUES — After unavoidable delays, the affordable housing units on Stadium Hill have been completed and tenants have moved in. The delays were due to numerous factors outside the town’s control, such as supply chain issues due to COVID, the Trans Canada Highway outside Port Aux Basques flooding in 2022, and Hurricane Fiona in 2023, which meant the completion date took longer to arrive than originally anticipated.

Now that residents have been in the units for weeks, there are still a few concerns that have to be addressed. Among those are Bell Aliant services, as residents have had some issues with installations due to the fact that the new addresses of the building were not in their systems as the building had not previously existed.

“Construction was started on the two buildings up there. I believe the former town manager (Leon MacIsaac) had notified Bell and let them know that those buildings were going there, and I believe maybe sometime in the fall Bell Aliant was informed again. Now, Bell Aliant did have a plan to put Fibre OP up there, but then something changed within Bell Aliant. I don't know what the issue was, but they had intended to have the infrastructure up there, and then it was put on hold,” explained Town Manager Nadine Osmond.

“So the tenants moved in on Nov. 1, and we didn't want to have satellites attached to the building because of the wind. When you're doing a new building you really didn't want to have too much attachments anyway, but we did grant a couple of people that inquired about it, we granted them permission to get one (satellite). There's a couple of small satellites installed up there for that reason, for Internet and television, but towards the end of January, I think Bell’s going to be back on track to continue installing the infrastructure up there. I'm not sure what the issue was with Bell Aliant.”

Currently, not everyone in the units has TV and Internet service hooked up.

“A couple of them, two or three of them do that I know of. I don't know if anyone else had went and sought out other options. I'm not sure,” said Osmond.

Access to service installations aren’t the only issues for the residents in the building, but it is nothing overly serious.

“A couple of minor things, which are inevitable, because we had constructed a garbage box for them, and that may have to be relocated at some point, but the lids were kept blowing up, clunking, so our workers went up and applied some sort of closure or latches or bungee cords or something, and then the other things we had a couple of things related to hot water, a couple of washers up there was tripping out the electrical, so the electrician had gone up and fixed those,” said Osmond. “Just regular stuff, being it is a brand new building. When everybody is inside and they're using everything, then a couple of little things like that are bound to be found.”

When problems started to arise, the town responded quickly to fix them.

“Well, once the residents went up there, they realized, they started making the calls maybe a couple of weeks beforehand to let people know. They had to phone with Newfoundland Power to get accounts switched over and that sort of thing, and when they started calling to line up appointments to get some sort of Internet service up there, that's when they started realizing the issue,” said Osmond.

“And we sent off a couple of letters to Bell and a couple other places like Starlink. We sent off letters just letting them know because they didn't have the building addresses. Of course, it hadn't been built yet. So I had to send off a couple of letters just verifying the addresses for people. But once they got in contact with Bell, then that's when they found out that there wouldn't be the Fibre Op, and there was nothing set up for that.”

In a previous email to Wreckhouse Press regarding blackout issues with their service, Bell did not specify what the reasons were for the delays in their infrastructure installation, but they did say that Bell recently added two microcell sites in Port Aux Basques to help address the population growth and increasing demands on their network.

Osmond said Bell themselves are aware of the issue and are actively working to get the matter resolved.

“I know that Bell is quite aware that the tenants there are waiting on their service, and from what I know and understand, the plan for Bell is that they’ll probably resume (work) the end of January.”

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