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SV council discusses Heart Force One, upcoming by-election


Stephenville Dymond International Airport - file photo


By Jaymie White

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

STEPHENVILLE — The most recent council meeting took place on Thursday evening, Jan. 25, despite a late start due to a power outage. Matters discussed included the upcoming municipal by-election, the accrued balance for Port Harmon Authority Limited, a business permit for Dynamic Occupational Health Services, and Stephenville Dymond Airport being the only one in NL not included on the list for Heart Force One.

By-election

On behalf of the Finance Committee, Deputy Mayor Susan Fowlow moved council approve the date for the town's by-election.

“Be it resolved that the Town of Stephenville will hold a municipal by-election on March 6, 2024, as per the Municipal Elections Act, NL 2001,” said Fowlow. “The town clerk shall be the returning officer for an election held under this act.”

The nomination period was also discussed.

“The nomination of candidates will take place on February 5 and 6 from 09:00 a.m. to 04:00 p.m. at the town office,” said Fowlow.

Both motions were approved unanimously by council.

Port Harmon Authority

On behalf of the Finance Committee, Deputy Mayor Fowlow moved council approve the write off of Port Harmon Authority’s balance.

“Be it resolved that the accrued balance for 2023 and prior for principal, property tax, business tax, water and sewer taxes, and related interest estimated to be $415,263.90 as of April, 2024, will be written off in consideration of $350,000 payment being made by March 31, 2024, on accounts in the name of Port Harmon Authority Limited and 69385 Newfoundland Labrador Incorporated,” said Fowlow.

“The sale of the Port of Stephenville and Associated lands was purchased by a new company, World Energy. The purchase was the shares of those companies, but it was negotiated between our tax department, our management and approved council to move forward that we would settle a $350,000 settlement to clear the taxes so the new entry could move forward and a new tax regime would start from there,” clarified Mayor Tom Rose. “So this would be revenue that will come into our 2024 budget as extraordinary income for this fiscal year, and it goes to show that we have a good corporate citizen who purchased a port because they want to pay off $350,000 of back taxes from the former owners.”

The motion was approved unanimously by council.

Dynamic Occupational Health

On behalf of the Planning and Traffic Committee, Coun. Myra White moved that council approve the issuing of a permit to Dynamic Occupational Health Services.

“Be it resolved to issue a permit to relocate the existing business to accommodate a medical clinic and an occupational health and safety testing center in the building located at 43 West Street, subject to compliance with all town regulations and approval of service,” said White.

“Sometimes we have companies that actually move into buildings and are actually not compliant because they have not applied for their business permits, and this has been operating for a few months now, which should have came in earlier,” said Mayor Rose. “But it was picked up by the Department of Permits, and we have to stay on top of our companies, and compliance and permits are always required in the town of Stephenville.”

The motion passed unanimously.

Nixon Metals

On behalf of the Planning and Traffic Committee, Coun. Myra White moved that council approve a permit for Nixon Metals to dig five boreholes on their property at 263 Carolina Avenue to complete environmental assessments.

“Whenever we issue permits on both sides of property, being a former U.S. air force base, often some of the land will require first phase environmental approval,” said Rose. “But then it'll get picked up that a second phase will be required. So with that hangar at the end of the ramp, before renovations can start, the company has to go through the environmental phases. They have to do the boreholes, get the sampling done, and before they get the green light and service and else. So it's just a part of the process, but sometimes it's a little slow.”

Heavy Equipment and Housing

Under new business, Coun. Myra White discussed a meeting she attended at the heavy equipment school in Stephenville.

“So it says that Spaces Shared is a home sharing technology platform that provides a place for students looking for safe and affordable housing and older adults interested in sharing their home to meet and match, and it's a fantastic idea. They're hoping that in this town they're going to be able to start this, and they are very adamant about how their program is being rolled out. It's a lot of background that has to be done on both sides before someone moves into a home. So they have done their due diligence and it seems like — I think this will be a great idea for a lot of people.”

“There's no doubt for students, for people requiring accommodations, it's a really good move to see this happening, and sometimes seniors may want a student because it's company. Also, a lot of seniors are sometimes alone. We have roughly 3,000 homes in Stephenville, most of those homes got one, two, three people in it — 50 years ago most of them homes had six to eight people in them, and I just noticed that the federal government is announcing a program for homeowners to receive subsidies to renovate basement apartments so that they can actually solve some of the homeless problems that we're having and the challenges with rental properties and so forth,” said Rose. “So all those measures take time, but hopefully it'll solve some of the woes when it comes to living spaces.”

Stephenville Fire Department

With members present in the gallery, Mayor Rose highlighted some of the important impacts the fire department has on the community.

“We are very blessed in the town of Stephenville to have a full-time fire department supported by an auxiliary fire department,” said Rose. “But I'd like to speak about the latest purchase that we received for our fire department ­— and let me clearly say that when we have a budgeted item that's in our budget, it's something that, it's protocol of procedure when it comes to the procurement and the purchase of that equipment. So we purchased a new piece of equipment for our fire department. It's a rapid response suburban that has special equipment that is housed in that suburban. It has the ability to take additional firefighters. It's designed for rapid response. It's part of the MOU requirement that we have with Emera because of the threat of emergency and danger to life at the substation in Bottom Brook. We received funding through Emera to support our ability to respond. When we have a professional fire department, in order for that professional fire department to do their job, they have to have the toolkit. They have to have the tools, they have to have the equipment, and when it comes to safety and standards, we do not take that lightly. When we spec something, it is vetted through our fire chief and our department, and is vetted through upper management and vetted through council. So I just want to clearly say that this is a great addition to the town of Stephenville, great addition to our professional fire department.”

Heart Force One

Mayor Rose stated his dissatisfaction that the Stephenville Dymond Airport was the only airport in the province not designated as a site for Heart Force One.

“I want to talk about air ambulance in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, but also about the tender that's out for Heart Force One, which is a special air ambulance with a special team of health professionals that will pick up residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, from Labrador to the island, take them to the health science for a procedure, and bring them back that day,” said Rose. “We got a problem. For some strange reason, some bureaucrat left Stephenville airport out of the equations. So Wabush, Goose Bay, St. Anthony, Deer Lake, Gander are all in the equation to take people who need the work that's going to be required for them in St. John's. So when you think about it, in Newfoundland and Labrador, we have the busiest demand for just emergency air ambulance as it is, and that's for somebody that could be awaiting an emergency heart procedure, could be a vehicle accident with critical, injured people. We have 100 to 150 air ambulances that come in and out of Stephenville every year. We're the busiest in the province. Our catchment area is significant from Corner Brook right to Port Aux Basques and Burgeo, Isle Aux Morts and so forth. Why is Stephenville so important to air ambulance? It's probably the most important airport in this province outside of, I would say, Labrador airports, because if you're on the island, you could actually get into a road ambulance and get to St. John's if you had to. That’s very challenging for our neighbors in Labrador, but in Stephenville, the airport is five minutes from a 24 hours emergency hospital.”

The plan is to write the appropriate ministers about this.

“This is a great service, so we will write the minister, Minister Abbot, Minister Osborne of Health and the Premier to ensure that RFP (Request For Proposals) gets edited and changed, and whoever the bureaucrat or whoever decided to put every single airport in Newfoundland on that RFP to provide Heart Force and leave out Stephenville, should be removed from their office,” said Rose. “From my perspective, when you think of what has happened, the residents of Stephenville, Port au Port, Isle Aux Morts, Robinson's, Codroy Valley, Port Aux Basques, we deserve that service just like any other resident in this province. So we're going to send a strong message to our elected representatives to find out who dropped the ball. And you often hear the old adage, you can't fix stupid, well, something stupid has happened and we're going to fix it. So we'll get the clerk to send a strong message, we'll get that drafted and hopefully we'll get a resolved to that issue.”

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