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PAB council talks housing and cost recovery

By Jaymie White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter –with files from Rosalyn Roy

PORT AUX BASQUES — The most recent council meeting took place on Tuesday evening, March 14.

Petition for MNL Mayor Tiller from New-Wes-Valley asked that PAB council support the petition he will be submitting to MNL regarding properly compensating the volunteer fire departments for their time and efforts spent maintaining accident scenes when the RCMP are unavailable and responding to medical calls when ambulance services are unavailable. Council discussed how it is a concern across the province, having volunteer firefighters waiting for hours in some circumstances for the necessary departments to arrive. Coun. Todd Strickland shared a story about a Burgeo volunteer firefighter who was obliged to wait six hours for RCMP to arrive from Stephenville to respond to a death. Burgeo no longer has its own staffed RCMP detachment. The worry discussed amongst council would be where the money would come from, as municipalities fund volunteer fire detachments and the RCMP is a federal agency, but it was agreed that the matter is important enough to warrant discussion at the next MNL meeting. As both Strickland and Deputy Mayor Mark Andrews are volunteer firefighters, they did not vote on the motion, but it was subsequently passed by the remaining five members of council.

Seafood Processors Update Town Clerk Nadine Osmond read out an email with an update to the seafood processing project. “Three lobster holding pools, each with 40,000 pound capacity, have been poured and stripped. The cement is cured in two of the pools and we are waiting on the third pool to be cured which should be on the 22nd of this month, which is 28 days from pouring,” relayed Osmond. “The next step is preparation of the surface area with an epoxy coating, which is needed in a closed system. We started to sand blast the first two pools but the weather was too cold and the compressor repeatedly froze up. We will resume sand blasting next week when temperatures are supposed to be more favourable.” The epoxy coating should be completed and cured by mid-April, and the projected completion date is mid-May.

Marine Atlantic Cost Recovery Osmond read out a letter that MHA Andrew Parsons (Burgeo – LaPoile) copied to the Town of Port aux Basques but addressed to Ottawa and federal ministers. The letter discussed the importance of ensuring Marine Atlantic receives sufficient federal funding to maintain its contributions to NL. Parsons called on the federal government to remove the MA cost recovery policy or lower it on a permanent basis, stating that the province is unique and not comparable to other federally funded services like Via Rail. He included data about the negative economic impact that the mandate has on the province and on the cost of living for its residents. Mayor Brian Button remarked that cost recovery issues have taken a back seat to Hurricane Fiona efforts, but it’s time now to refocus on cost recovery, starting by meeting with MHA Parsons and MP Gudie Hutchings.

Senior Housing Update Town Manager Leon MacIsaac offered an update to the senior housing plan. MacIsaac said numerous people have expressed interest in the units and once the notice of assessment has been received from qualified applicants, screening will be done to ensure they fall within the wage income bracket and if so, they will be asked to complete an application for tenancy. The eight-unit facility is expected to be completed by August.

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