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PAB council discuss paving and park

By Jaymie White

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

– with files from René J. Roy

PORT AUX BASQUES – The most recent town council meeting took place on Tuesday evening, Jun. 14 and it marked the beginning of the one-a-month council meetings for the summer. Matters discussed included the multipurpose court and asphalt contract on the Trans Canada Highway (TCH), meeting with Minister Gudie Hutchings, and renovations to Scott’s Cove Park.

Multipurpose court and TCH

Town Manager Leon MacIsaac said the materials costs that were priced out came to around $26,000, and the asphalt surface prices for last year, for the asphalt finish, are approximately $19,000.

MacIsaac added that the asphalt contract for the Trans Canada Highway seems to be setting up just outside the Town in preparation for the planned paving between South Branch and Overfalls Brook.

Mayor Brian Button asked whether the contracts had been awarded, and MacIsaac said they had.

“There was a multi-year contract put out the year before last. It was to pave from North Branch River Bridge to Cape Ray turnoff. This is the second phase of that contract that has been awarded to Marine Contracting,” explained MacIsaac.

Mayor Button asked if there had been any clarification as to whether or not they will return and pave the areas of the road affected by the washout. MacIsaac said last year that was indicated, but he hasn’t heard anything about it this year.

Councillor Jim Lane said he was disappointed in this because the stretch of highway from Mountainside to Port Aux Basques is treacherous in his opinion.

“It’s far more depleted than South Branch to Overfalls when you have to drive that. The other area of concern is our old garbage dump. I don’t know if the culvert is gone, but it’s a dangerous spot.”

Mayor Button agreed.

“If they are doing this in phases, it just makes no sense. I understand they are going to do that section, but they should be picking the worst section first and doing that before coming back to the other ones.”

He added that they should make another call or send another letter to the minister to see exactly where things are going with it.

Lane, who is chair of the Come Home Year committee, said it is even more important given the ongoing summer preparations.

“Given the fact that it’s Come Home Year and people will be travelling, getting off that ferry, and the first 30 km is the worst, then they should re-evaluate when and where they’re going to put the pavement.”

The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure released the following statement earlier that day:

“Paving of eight kilometres will begin this summer on the Trans-Canada Highway in southwestern Newfoundland between South Branch and Overfalls Brook.

A contract valued at approximately $6.6 million has been awarded to Marine Contractors Ltd. to complete the work during this construction season.

The work is planned for the same vicinity of the highway that was damaged during heavy rains in November 2021. The work is unrelated to work completed last fall.

The contract also includes:

· Brush clearing and ditching between South Branch and Overfalls Brook;

· Replacing culverts and repairing shoulders between Blue Ponds and Beaver Pond Road; and

· Ditching and paving of approximately 1,300 metres of Cold Brook Road.

Other work on the Trans-Canada Highway between Blue Ponds and Pinchgut Lake and Cape Ray to South Branch is being planned for 2023-24.”

Meeting with Gudie Hutchings

The mayor asked if there had been any headway made, or any response received from Minister Gudie Hutchings (Long Range Mountains) about scheduling a meeting. MacIsaac said a date and time had not yet been confirmed.

Button said that the minister coming to the area during her summer vacation isn’t the right time.

“The problem with that is a lot of us are going to be on vacation. It’s really not good enough. It’s still not good enough and I will continue to re-iterate that it’s upsetting to know that we’ve been trying and trying, and trying to get an actual sit down to discuss items that are important to this community and region, and we can’t seem to get any headway or any answers on if we can have a meeting, but yet the minister is all over the place.”

Button said it’s not for lack of trying that a meeting hasn’t yet happened.

“In all fairness, I know she’s taking on a bigger role as minister (Rural and Economic Development) and she’s got to be more accessible to the rest of the country, but you also represent people in your own districts where it’s now going on many months and there have been many requests, and she’s been close to our area, but not come.”

Scott’s Cove Park

MacIsaac said Scott’s Cove Park has just finished hiring its summer staff and renovations are already underway with more about to begin.

“They should be able to start early next week, get the decking redone and start on the side step to prep for the erection of the sail and have it ready in time for Come Home Year. It should only take a few weeks.”

Button said he noticed some things have already been completed at the park.

“They’ve done some major work on some of the kiosks, getting them all painted up, a lot of work on those.”

MacIsaac said they’ve replaced the doors and upgraded security there as well.

“Like any area, it’s still prone to a bit of vandalism. The hope is that what they’ve got done will be a kind of deterrent against any of that happening. It won’t eliminate it, of course, but will hopefully be a strong deterrent.”

Button said it can be discouraging to see the vandalism.

“People breaking into them, starting fires and things like that, it’s just a risk to burning them completely down. I don’t understand that type of behaviour because we’re lucky enough to have some things like this in the town. When it gets built and you lose it for storms, it’s one thing, but to lose it from vandalism, that’s a little bit disheartening for everybody.”

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