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Stephenville council talk healthcare, airport

Stephenville Town Council – file photo

By Jaymie L. White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

STEPHENVILLE — The most recent council meeting took place on Thursday evening, June 15. Matters discussed included the cancellation of the Western Health recruitment program, the code of conduct investigation, and the sale of the Stephenville airport deal.

Western Health recruitment Coun. Myra White moved that the Western Health recruitment program be cancelled, but all signed agreements be honoured. “It’s really not in the fray of what we traditionally do as a municipality. We tend to provide drinking water, clear streets, pick up garbage, do recreation and so forth, but we stepped forward when a lot of communities were really struggling. There was a health care crisis, not just in Stephenville, Newfoundland, but in the province, in the country and actually in the world,” said Rose. “The demand for acute care is increasing, the demand for mental health services is increasing so fast in our in our communities, but it’s time now. We’ve spent, I would say, well over a half a million dollars, and that’s a half a million dollars that we could have spent in more recreation or paving roads, but at the end of the day, I felt that the pulse of the community, that the number one issue in this town, just like every other town in this province was, do you have a family doctor? And if we were to add up our family doctors, our specialists, our internists, our anesthesiologists, our surgeons, the whole suite, from our clinics to our Sir Thomas Roddick 24-hour Emergency hospital, we have close to 20 doctors in Stephenville.” The town can take a step back from active recruitment, but noted the province continues its efforts. “The province has really stepped up with recruitment efforts. They’ve increased it significantly. They’ve actually shouldered the responsibility, and the other great news is on two fronts for us in Stephenville, is that there’s now a new provincial healthcare authority that has now taken the reins to kind of measure, demonstrate, and manage health care in our province, and this is a time also that steamrolls into a growth sector with the World Energy, the hydrogen, the wind, the airport transferred to the Dymond Group of Companies. That steamroll is becoming more of a vibrant community,” said Rose. The motion was passed. Code of conduct investigation Deputy Mayor Susan Fowlow brought two late motions to the table. “As council is aware, we did have a number of code of conduct complaints that came in at the very early stages after we adopted the code of conduct, and there are certain timelines attached to that. We had to involve a lawyer and a mediator, and the lawyer contacted me this past week and asked, as per our code of conduct, that council consider giving an extension on the timeline because it took a while to get the mediator up to snuff in terms of what was happening and so on. So that’s kind of the background from which these motions come,” said Fowlow. The first motion was to approve an additional 40 business days to complete the investigation complaints for officials, and the second motion was to approve an additional 40 business days to complete investigation for councillors. Both motions were passed.

Stephenville airport sale Mayor Rose put forth a motion for the Town of Stephenville to support the sale of Stephenville Airport to the Dymond Group and Greater NL Partnership. The motion passed. “This council, probably four councils before this council, have supported the Stephenville Airport Corporation. I think it started really in the early days of 1989 when Air Canada announced pulling out, and we have put in significant money to help with the operations to keep the airport open, technically. The Airport Corporation boards have done their role over the last 30 years but really haven’t had the success of getting the airport into a profit-making position,” said Rose. “The Dymond Group and our partnership have met the terms and transferred the millions of dollars that’s required to purchase the airport, and I felt that it was appropriate for us as a council to support the Airport Corporation sale of that airport because it’ll take the financial burden off of the taxpayers of this town.” Rose believes the sale will actually bring in more money to the Town, not just relieve the taxpayers. “It will actually accrue financial benefits as now we have actually, over the years written out millions of dollars of taxes because the airport couldn’t pay taxes. Now we’re in a position we don’t have to spend money to keep the lights on technically and we can start invoicing for taxation. So it’s in a really good position for us,” said Rose.

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