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Port aux Basques still seeking solutions

Port aux Basques council has been holding meetings in the fire hall to comply with social distancing recommendations. – © J. René Roy

PORT AUX BASQUES – Another resident of Kyle Lane asked Town Council to prohibit overnight camping at the most recent Town Council meeting, which was held on the evening of Sept. 8 at the fire hall. Deputy Mayor Todd Strickland and Coun. Melvin Keeping were the only two councillors not in attendance.

Overnight camping continues

Hiram Billard spoke again on behalf of residents of Kyle Lane and Grand Bay West who are worried about possible damage to the wetlands, the impact on native bird species like the endangered piping plover, and unpleasant encounters with tourists choosing to camp on the parking lot. Billard presented a petition signed by 9 of 10 homeowners on the street requesting the ban.

“Free parking don’t make sense to me when the residents have to pay taxes to live here,” said Billard at one point. “If you do want to put free camping somewhere, we suggest Hopedale Avenue.”

Coun. Jim Lane clarified that he’s not in favour of making the beach parking lot a free campground, but doesn’t agree that campers coming late off the boat should be prohibited from stopping there overnight before continuing on.

“My argument for it, in support of parking there – it was a band-aid effect until that fellow could get his (private campground) park up and running,” said Lane. “I do not disagree with your concerns.”

Mayor John Spencer liked the Hopedale Avenue idea and even noted that a large commercial site there had just become available, but Town Clerk Julia Ingram stated that this property had actually already been sold. The mayor also ordered another attendee to comply with the order to remove the private signs he had erected, even though they have been covered up.

Later during a review of the notes from the Aug. 18 council meeting where Lynn Jamieson made a similar presentation, Coun. Chester Coffin put forward a motion that council erect its own signage prohibiting overnight parking.

The motion failed to find a seconder and therefore did not move forward to a vote. Mayor Spencer noted that two councillors were absent and asked Coun. Coffin to put the motion to the floor again at the next meeting of council.

Matthews Lane

Town Manager Leon MacIsaac clarified that after examining documents provided to council, the town does not own what is actually a private right-of-way. He estimated that the town would have to conduct a total of seven surveys, title searches, and may incur other expenses in order to legally claim ownership of the road in order to pave and plow it. Currently the town only plows it on occasion and considers it a side road.

“I’m lost with that, Town Manager, because we’ve taken over roads before and we never went through none of that,” said Coun. Lane.

MacIsaac replied that this was the legal advice he had received. Lane made a motion to go ahead and pave the road, but Spencer asked him to wait until the next meeting of council to put forth the motion, when the other two councillors would return.

Since Coun. Justin Blackler had missed the last meeting when the matter was discussed in more detail, he also requested that the motion be delayed.

“Even if I could be able to talk to you after and you fill me in more,” suggested Blackler. “I’d feel better about it.”

Rat pack

After delivering the Public Works report, Coun. Lane asked for a bit more time to come up with a solution to the town’s growing rat infestation. Lane noted a number of contributing factors to the problem, including storm surges and construction that may be disturbing nests. The biggest factor remains the wooden garbage boxes, which either have gaps in the slats or the rats can chew through to reach bags that are left out for days, sometimes up to a full week, before the next collection.

“It’s providing a constant food source,” said Lane.

The committee is still rolling through all possible solutions and wants more time to figure out the best one before offering its final recommendation to council.

“We’re looking at the easiest financial positioning for residents,” noted Lane.

The mayor agreed to the extension, but recounted more stories of residents battling the vermin and stated that boxes cleaned out this morning will be filled up again by evening.

“We may have to take a very serious look at that,” said Spencer. “It’s an issue that we’ve created. We’ve got to try to fix it.”

Letters to Council

A new town resident wrote a letter expressing concern about the cars racing up and down Brook Hill. The resident has a child with autism, is worried about their safety and requested signage asking drivers to slow down. Council has agreed to post a sign.

The fire department is unable to secure additional bunker gear for its three new firefighters. The provincial fire department has rejected the Channel-Port aux Basques Volunteer Fire Department’s request, stating that this year’s budget has been spent and advising the department to reapply early in the new year. The cost of outfitting a new firefighter with their own bunker gear is roughly $1,000.

A resident who lost her son in 2011 wrote a letter to council asking that the town rename the Grand Bay West Trailway after her son, who helped build the trail originally. The resident had initially installed a bench along the popular hiking trail in memory of her son, but after it was vandalized repeatedly she removed it altogether. Council voted unanimously to honour the request.

Mayor Spencer shared a letter from Elvis Loveless, Minister of Fishery, Forestry and Agriculture about the live and cold storage feasibility study planned for the former fish plant. Economic Development Officer Shauna Strickland shared that she will be informed about the timeline as the project progresses.

“Hopefully that will come with some positive things for our community,” said Spencer.

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