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Stephenville Council highlights

Stephenville Mayor Tom Rose. – File photo

By Jaymie White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

STEPHENVILLE – The most recent council meeting took on Thursday evening, Aug. 7, and matters discussed included new bylaws, community grant proposals, better communication, Stephenville Day, and future plans for the town.

New bylaws Mayor Tom Rose received an update from the town manager that new bylaws and regulations will soon be presented to council. “Our departments are working feverishly on new bylaws that will come in front of the council for reviewing, editing, and adoption, and we’re hoping in September for a whole suite of bylaws,” said Rose, “and that will get us in sync with the new era of counseling.”

Community grant proposals Mayor Rose said council decided to move forward in a bit of a different direction by rolling out the community grant proposals to all community groups publicly a week or two ago. “It was a new procedure that council adopted and supported because we felt it would create a higher level of due diligence and communication, but every time you do something new, as you well know, there are challenges with it,” said Rose. “But the good thing was it gets every community group out there recognizing that the town of Stephenville will have a community grant procedure, and we did see some new entrants coming from the last step.”

Community communication Mayor Rose said he mentioned previously that council and staff could do a better job when it comes to communication. “That goes for everything we do as a public body, that we could actually do a better job of communicating. Just like we’re handling a public meeting tonight, I’m sure we could be critiqued about we could have done a little bit better job communicating, but it’s a little challenging in the town where you don’t have a radio station now. You don’t have a paper in the means other than social media or Facebook Live Stream. There’s not a whole lot of mechanisms. Websites you can do. Print media, we’re going to look at doing that. We’re looking at having public meetings starting quarterly in September,” said Rose. “The intent of my public statement to the media a few weeks in reference to our new Community Grant program was to clarify that council and the town of Stephenville should continuously improve our communications with our community. It was not my intention to suggest that staff did not communicate as directly. I and my council have the greatest respect for our employees and in the exceptional public service work they do every day except for holidays.”

Stephenville Day Deputy Mayor Susan Fowlow said Stephenville Day was a success. “Thanks to our Recreation and Wellness Department for putting together a wonderful event. There was lots of good feedback while we were there, and also a thank you to the RCMP who actively participated and did some fundraising by putting us in jail. They did raise $2,006 to go split between the Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Sick Children’s Foundation, so that was a wonderful thing,” said Fowlow. “Tracy (Boland) and I and the fire chief got soaked today at the Run the Rock event, so that went very well too. They seem to be having a great event there and raising some good money. Also shout out to Darrell Chipp who placed in the Disc Golf Nationals. He’s, as you know, instrumental in getting disc golf up and going here in Stephenville, but he’s certainly making a name for himself on the tour.”

Future plans Mayor Rose said council has many priorities, and with the commitment coming up over the next three years of $3.3 million from World Energy, discussions are underway for how the money will be spent. “From a vibrancy or community perspective, you can never go wrong with recreation as a part of that contribution that we’re going to receive, and we’ve had many discussions of a positive space indoor facility that our soccer players and baseball players or softball players and track and rec athletics could be in, where tennis could be twelve months of a year,” said Rose. “At the end of the day, they said to become a master, you’ve got to spend 10,000 hours at something, and that’s a lot of hours, but short summer seasons for summer sports, there’s not enough time, so that’s something that we will look at.”

Port of Stephenville Mayor Rose said the purchase of the port was historic. “It is now owned by World Energy and Horizon Maritime. They have in their fleet 14 vessels, but the Polar Prince actually sailed in and spent a day in Stephenville. Coun. Aylward and Coun. White attended the event with me. There was a presentation at our council chambers that morning with young environmental science, university students and mentors and coaches, and the program that they’re on is called The Blue Economy. It’s about supporting and finding ways to protect our ecosystems around our water, and that’s our oceans, our lakes, our streams,” said Rose. “The work that they’re doing is instrumental. Some of these university students could end up becoming policymakers of the future. But what was nice about the Polar Prince was the epic docking of their first ship at their own port. It was pretty impressive.” The Polar Prince is an icebreaker vessel built in 1959. “Canada was the first country in the world to build icebreakers, so if anybody’s trying to say that the Arctic and the North is not Canada’s, oh, yes, it is,” said Rose.

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