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Stephenville council earns accolades at MNL

Stephenville Town Council – file photo

By Jaymie White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter STEPHENVILLE — The most recent council meeting took place on Thursday evening, Sept. 28, and matters discussed included the Hospital Radiothon, the recruitment of a new Chief Administrative Officer, the wastewater treatment facility, and MNL meetings.

Conner Butt At the start of the meeting, Mayor Tom Rose asked for a minute of silence to honour Connor Butt and his 2-year fight with cancer. “It’s been a rough week for the town of Stephenville, a rough week for our fire department, but most importantly, a rough week for the Butt family. Chris and Nadine Butt lost their son Connor, he put up a good fight, he was a Stephenville hero,” said Mayor Rose. “So on that note, I’d like for everybody to bow their heads for a moment of silence. Our deepest condolences go out to the Butt family, the immediate family and to their friends and family. They had a very large extended family supported so well by the community.” Hospital Radiothon Coun. Lenny Tiller read a motion asking for the town to donate $500 to the Sir Thomas Roddick Hospital Radiothon. “The foundation has done so much work in the town of Stephenville,” said Rose. “The amount of money they’ve raised over the last 36 years is over $3 million to get some of the latest innovative equipment for our specialists and our professionals that work at our hospital. GP’s, nurses, surgeons, anesthetists and all the suite of professionals from administration onshore.” “Our total today was close to 30,000, and that’s only in like, four hours and then we got $50,000,” added Coun. Laura Aylward. “So that’s $80,000, but buying new equipment is important, it’s like being a carpenter mechanic, you’ve got to have a toolbox and you got to have the right equipment, and the innovative around equipment now that can assist nurses with lifting patients, moving patients, because a lot of nurses actually have a lot of back injuries because they do a lot of lifting and so forth. I’ve seen some of the equipment that we’re looking at purchasing, and I got to throw accolades to you (Laura Aylward) and your committee for all you do because it’s a lot of work year-round.” The motion was approved. Wastewater treatment facility Coun. Tiller moved that the town submit a capital investment plan application to the Canada Community Building Fund Secretariat, Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs in the amount of $59,250 plus HST to reconstruct the sludge bed extension for the wastewater treatment in Stephenville, which will extend the perforated drainage pipe at end of the sludge bed system into a rock pit for absorption. “I do know that these systems are old and require repairs and upgrades, and management has done a really good job on our sewer treatment facility and our upgrades to our water systems, doing maintenance on our wells, drilling new wells – new wells are in the forecast for 2024 as our town grows, but we’re in really good shape,” said Mayor Rose. New Chief Administrative Officer Coun. Lenny Tiller stated that it was the recommendation of the Finance Committee that council approve a motion to move forward with the recruitment of a new Chief Administrative Officer for the Town of Stephenville. “I just want to say, Colin, it’s been a pleasure. You’re not gone yet, we’ve got to get your replacement in and we got a little bit of time for that, but let’s hope that we can find a new CAO that will be able to handle the many files of the town of Stephenville, and they are lofty and they are intense at times, because of what’s happening in Stephenville, with the expansion and the growth, it’s going to be a busy, busy time for not just Council and staff, but for our unionized members, our business community, it’s also going to get busy,” said Rose. “There’s no doubt we’ve been getting really busy because of the new code of conduct that has been brought in by the provincial government through Municipal Affairs. We all receive training, all staff receive training so we actually all know how to complain and do it in a professional manner. But unfortunately, it takes a lot of administrative time that we are spent doing a lot of paperwork instead of being proactive, and unfortunately it’s costing the taxpayers of this town a lot of money. It’s probably going to hit over $100,000 this year, and that’s $100,000 that we could have put into something else. Not saying that we don’t live in a society where you can’t complain, but it’s just so easy to complain and this code of conduct has made it easy. It’s part of freedom of expression, freedom of speech, freedom to complain, but at the end of the day, that’s $100,000 we could have done in road paving and recreations and community grants and raises for our staff. I could go on.” Coun. Aylward asked for additional clarification for the residents of Stephenville, on exactly what the code of conduct means. “It’s a legal framework. Legal investigators, lawyers are involved every time a complaint happens, and for the most part, a lot of these are just kicked out because there was no merit, no validation. It was just somebody that might just have sour grapes, which is unfortunate, but that’s the life we live right now,” said Rose. “But it is tough on Council, but it’s tougher on the administration because they’ve got to do all the work, and instead of dealing with day-to-day issues in the town, whether that’s our cleaning up our town or preparing our roads or helping permits and business permits getting processed in a fast track manner, guess what? They’re in the office dealing with ATIPs and lawyers and paperwork and submissions and deadlines. There’s only so many hours in a week.” MNL Meetings Coun. Lenny Tiller attended the MNL meetings on Sept. 8 and 9, and gave a brief recap. “Most of the West coast communities were there, and up the Northern Peninsula. They talked about housing a lot, talked about waste management collection a lot and the Town of Stephenville was given accolades for three things in particular. The first was our wastewater treatment facility, and when we were in the room, they thought we were the only one in the west coast,” said Tiller. “We were the envy of everybody because everyone now has to come up with millions and millions of dollars to get a new program, and we’re already ahead of the game. Our next one was our tiny homes development, and a lot of communities, for some reason, have said no to tiny homes because the provincial government didn’t do a good enough job explaining the process of how to go through amending their zoning to allow it to happen. So they could have had some and all said no because they didn’t realize how simple it was and MNL was actually going to reach out to the town to see what we did and the process we went through to make that happen. The last one, I’m not sure if we do it anymore, but we used to have a renter’s list, and this was something that Memorial University had put out to colleges and municipalities a number of years ago, for people going into placement in the hospital, doctors and nurses to see if they had housing or people that they could get a hold of, and the town of Stephenville at the time was the only community that reached out to MU and gave them a list of every renter they had in their community.”

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