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Port aux Basques council highlights – Feb. 16


Port aux Basques councillors and staff during a virtual council meeting on Tuesday evening, Feb. 16. – © Wreckhouse Press Inc.

By ROSALYN ROY

PORT AUX BASQUES – Thanks to the ongoing pandemic and the current provincial status set to Alert Level 5, Town Council opted to conduct its Feb. 16 meeting online with all councilors and several members of the public in attendance. Here are the highlights from the virtual meeting.

Previous business

After a resident complained about poor lighting that almost resulted in more than one vehicle-pedestrian collisions, NL Power installed new lighting in East End Channel.

A mother who wrote to Council asking them re-open some limited activities for parents and toddlers at the Bruce II Sports Centre must wait a bit longer to be reviewed further by the Recreation Committee thanks to the current lockdown. The Bruce II must remain closed under Alert Level 5 restrictions.

Fire department

After the department issued a call inviting new members, seven people submitted applications to become volunteer firefighters. There are currently three vacant spots on the roster.

Meanwhile work will begin on the new smokehouse in the spring. The department has three sea-cans it will use to build the new training site.

The department also plants to do some pre-incident training, which means visiting some businesses to assess their buildings and what hazards (i.e. dangerous chemicals) might be in place. More firefighters have also signed on for hazmat training.

The fire truck that used to be stationed at the Grand Bay garage will be sent to Fire and Emergency Services. Now that the Central fire station located downtown has its new pumper truck, the old pumper truck will relocate to the Grand Bay station.

Loader loan and tender

Now that the tender for the new loader has been awarded, Town Clerk Julia Ingram reached out to the three banks for a quote regarding the purchase loan. The Bank of Montreal (BMO) had the most favourable terms, and Council voted to approve that loan in the amount of $266,787.58 at 1.71 percent for a 5-year term.

This amount has the rebate factored out, since the Town will cover the rebate until it is returned, as is normal for any heavy equipment purchase.

Power maintenance

Deputy Mayor Todd Strickland told council about his dealings with NL Power and NL Hydro with regards to outages, technology and prevention. Prior to the last storm, NL Power sent extra crews to the area in anticipation of possible outages.

In Rose Blanche the remote start up did not work, however, and the system had to be started manually, so problems remain. In Port aux Basques, a backup generator that was not in place during the last outage because it needs repair still needs another week or two before it will be fixed. A letter will be sent out to NL re-stating Town’s position that the generator must remain here when it is not needed elsewhere.

Meanwhile Channel area residents are on the literal end of the line and the infrastructure is not designed to bypass a particular area in favour of another, but must switch back on in sequence.

“In order to put 100 cold houses on, we have to take off 200 because of the power load that is required,” observed Strickland.

That’s because as technology became more accessible, many homes have multiple televisions, computers and even large appliances, which all require power.

“We don’t really conserve our power much anymore,” said Strickland. “Now when people get their power back they want to turn up every heater in the house, and turn on every light, and everybody has two and three refrigerators, two or three deep fridges and things like that.”

If the houses are brought on too fast after an outage, it can crash the entire system, which Strickland says happened in the last outage. The hospital remains the number one priority for power restoration. The second priority for power restoration is the town’s water supply, followed by the seniors homes and the fuel suppliers, and the communications tower.

“It is unfortunate that some parts of town have to go a little bit longer without power,” noted Strickland, who hopes that new technology and infrastructure will help moving forward.

He also believes that it will help now that there is now a new NL Power regional manager in place to deal with matters, after the previous manager moved on to another position.

CORRECTION: The winter parking ban runs from Dec. 30 to Apr. 30, not Apr. 1 as was reported last edition.

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