GRAND BANK, NL – Grand Bank council met on Monday, March 12.
Mayor Rex Matthews addressed the cloud of uncertainty hovering over Clearwater Seafoods Ltd.’s plant in Grand Bank following the federal government’s decision to add a new entrant to the Arctic surf clam fishery.
It was announced last month the Five Nations Clam Company will receive a licence and 25 per cent of the quota for the species.
Clearwater had previously held the only three licences and processed the clams primarily in Grand Bank.
“We’re going to have to see how this unfolds,” said Matthews, who is out of town but took part in the council meeting via teleconference.
“Clearwater hasn’t made no plan yet on adjustments to the workforce or adjustments to the harvesting capacity of their vessels,” he said.
Matthews said he had just spoken to the company prior to the meeting.
With a 3,000-tonne cut in the Arctic surf clam quota for Banquereau Bank and the loss of 9,000 tonnes to Five Nations, Matthews said roughly 26,000 tonnes are left for Clearwater.
Then there’s Clearwater’s plant in Glace Bay, N.S., Matthews noted. The company announced it was investing $2 million to establish clam-processing capacity at that facility in 2017.
“It’s a major setback for Grand Bank and our region,” Matthews said.
“Where will it all pan out to? No one knows at this particular time. We don’t know and the company is not saying.”
No approval to use theatre space yet
The town has yet to hear a response from Fire and Emergency Services – Newfoundland and Labrador (FES-NL) on whether the Grand Bank Regional Theatre space can be used this summer.
Deputy Mayor Clayton Welsh said town manager Wayne Bolt had sent a follow-up email to FES-NL.
Welsh said the town needs an answer as soon as possible as the theatre committee is proceeding with its work for the season but it could all be for naught if the building can’t be used.
There are concerns about the condition of the Samuel J. Harris building in which the theatre is located. The town has had to get permission to use the space for the past few years.
Antique fire truck needs work
The Grand Bank Volunteer Fire Department’s antique 1941 pumper truck is badly in need of restoration.
Heritage and tourism chair Coun. George Bennett said the fate of the vehicle was discussed during the committee’s meeting.
Bennett said the Grand Falls-Windsor department just recently received money to fix up two of its old fire trucks.
Ideally the Grand Bank pumper, the first fire truck on the Burin Peninsula, could be done up and housed indoors somewhere, Bennett said, suggesting the museum as a possibility.
Bennett said he would check with Grand Falls-Windsor department to find out how and where it obtained funding.
Volunteer social date
A date has been set for the town’s annual volunteer appreciation social.
Recreation director Tom Burton confirmed the event will be held at the Grand Bank 50+ Club on April 19.
Council meets with local business
A council delegation recently met with local business Dynamic Air Shelters.
The meeting included a presentation on the structure the company is planning to build in the old Centennial Park space.
Town clerk Cathy Follett said the proposed guidelines would see the building constructed later this year.
She said the company was asked to let the town know for certain if construction is a go by June so that water and sewer can be added to the area through Hyde’s Lane.
The company was also receptive to a plan in the town’s downtown/waterfront redevelopment proposal that would see the entrance to Centennial Park changed, she said.
Coun. George Bennett expressed dismay at the amount of waste being left behind around town by people walking their dogs.
He wondered what could be done to encourage people to clean up after their pets.
“You walk the sidewalks coming up through Main Street and it’s filthy,” he said.
Most of the culprits are known to the town, Deputy Mayor Clayton Welsh suggested, adding there is no way to reprimand the offenders unless they are actually caught in the act or there is concrete evidence such as a photograph.
“There’s no excuse for it,” Mayor Rex Matthews said.
An email reminder about the issue was proposed and has since been sent out to residents of the town.
Recognizing Bruce Warren
The town will look for a way to recognize the contributions of former councillor and deputy mayor Bruce Warren, who died earlier this month at the age of 64.
Warren, who did not run in last year’s municipal election, had served 35 years on council, the most of anyone since the town’s incorporation.
“I don’t see many people breaking that record – 35 years,” said Mayor Rex Matthews. “It’s going to stand for a long time.”
Matthews, who served with Warren on council for much of that time, said Warren was dedicated to the town and served as a model for other councillors as they came on board.
Warren always treated people with fairness and respect, the mayor said.
“He did so much work for our people and our community. I can’t say enough about him and he will be missed,” Matthew said.
A minute of silence was held for Warren at the start of the council meeting.
Mental health improvements
Deputy Mayor Clayton Welsh said efforts to improve mental health services in the community seem to be working.
Welsh had attended the mental health and addictions committee meeting earlier the same afternoon.
During the meeting, staff members spoke very positively about the turnaround that has occurred of late, he said.
According to discussion during the session, Welsh said the previously swamped waitlist has been reduced to zero and the associated paperwork had been cut by 90 per cent.
The amount of ‘no shows’ – people failing to turn up for appointments – had also dropped from 30 per cent to zero, he said.