GRAND BANK, NL – Grand Bank council met on Monday, Dec. 11.
Getting ready for review
The provincial government is planning to complete its first review of the Municipalities Act in 30 years.
Mayor Rex Matthews says there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed.
“The objective is to put more local authority and autonomy within the municipalities’ (control), give us more jurisdiction on regulations and policies and guidelines that we can do,” he said.
Matthews said the town should start preparing for the review now.
He asked staff to gather feedback from Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador, the Professional Management Association and the town’s lawyer on where improvements are needed.
Matthews referred specifically to one recent issue whereby the town has taken a resident to court multiple times for refusing to pay taxes and won, yet still hasn’t received its money.
“We have no way of addressing those situations,” Matthews said.
Swimming pool update
Town manager Wayne Bolt said contract change orders for the swimming pool renovations project were in the process of being finalized.
The changes have brought the project slightly over budget by about $2,000, he said.
Bolt said town staff was just about ready to make some of its own upgrades, in advance of the contractor’s arrival.
The contractor has been hired to install a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system, as well as new lighting.
Bolt said the contractor is supposed to be finished the project by the end of January with commissioning in mid-February.
Preparing for tax auctions
Several more properties may be auctioned off for outstanding taxes next year.
Finance chair Coun. Stan Burt said the committee was looking to get a head start on the process.
There are potentially eight properties that could be auctioned off, he said.
“I would think, Mr. Mayor, some of these, once they find out (their properties could be sold), that they will pay up,” Deputy Mayor Clayton Welsh said.
The town successfully auctioned three properties for taxes owed in late October.
Christmas festivities a success
Council was mostly pleased with this year’s Christmas festivities.
Instead of breaking up the Christmas parade and the Christmas tree light-up at Frazer Park on different days, the two events were held on one Saturday afternoon this year for the first time, with hot dogs and refreshments at the Lions Centre afterwards.
Recreation director Tom Burton said the turnout was huge and everything went smoothly.
“The feedback that I got was all positive. Now there is obviously some tweaking (needed). We knew that was going to happen,” he said, adding organizers would be meeting early next week to discuss the event.
Burton said he would be following up with some businesses to find out why they didn’t participate.
“Maybe we might have to do something to help them out there, I don’t know,” he said.
Mayor Rex Matthews said more encouragement is needed for residents to line the sides of the streets for the parade.
Canada 150 wraps up
The town helped organized a Canada 150 skating party at Fortune Arena on Dec. 10.
About 250 people from the area attended the free event, including Burin-Grand Bank MHA Carol Anne Haley.
Similar skating parties were held across the country on the same day as a way to conclude the Canada 150 celebrations.
Grand Bank held several special events during the year to mark the country’s 150th birthday with the help of funding provided by the federal government.
“Canada 150, we had a good year, a real good year,” Mayor Rex Matthews said.
Municipal depot project
Town manager Wayne Bolt said SNC Lavalin had started initial engineering work on the capital works project to upgrade the municipal depot.
A geotechnical investigation and topographical survey would be completed shortly, he said.
The province is contributing $288,146 to the project, while the town will pay $192,097.
Upgrades include a new roof, siding, garage doors, windows, and eaves and gutters. The building will also be extended with space for a rest room, lockers, showers and washrooms.
The town hopes to go to tender for the renovations next spring
West Street flooding
Coun. Rogers Brooks said he had been informed flooding had occurred in one area of the road on West Street.
The problem was affecting three houses on the street.
Town manager Wayne Bolt said a minor manhole issue was the cause and would be remedied soon.
Harbour authority concerns
Coun. Jack Burfitt, council’s liaison with the Grand Bank Harbour Authority, said the organization had raised a concern over a parcel of land in the waterfront area.
The property is located between the harbour authority’s building and the former Sea King fish plant.
The harbour authority felt that if the space is going to be used in the downtown/waterfront redevelopment plan, council should have met with them.
Town clerk Cathy Follett said the harbour authority was invited to public consultations about the project.
“We haven’t put a formal plan in place, but the concept was put out for all our citizens to be aware of,” she said.
Mayor Rex Matthews said the point had been made that the harbour authority needs to understand the town’s position should the plan go ahead.
Burfitt also said the harbour authority would like to see some safety signage on the Sea King building and feels the structure is a liability for them because of its deplorable condition.