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Port aux Basques council meets for first time in the new year

Port aux Basques Mayor John Spencer wants the federal government to reduce the cost recovery rate imposed on Marine Atlantic. In his motion presented at Municipalities N.L. Spencer wrote, “Cost recovery tears at the socio, economic and political fabric of Newfoundland and Labrador.”
Port aux Basques Mayor John Spencer. - Contributed

Lighthouse, sports fields, and waste management on the agenda

PORT AUX BASQUES, N.L.

While the municipal budget was first and foremost on the agenda for Port aux Basques town council members, they also addressed other matters during their first regular meeting held this year, on Tuesday, Jan. 15.

Channel Head Lighthouse

The notion of running a zip line between Channel Head Lighthouse to the shore is unlikely to move forward.

Initial research revealed that the incline is not steep enough and that the insurance costs, estimated at $30,000, would be prohibitive.

Councillor Jim Lane expressed a desire to gather more information, particularly as the town continues its efforts to become more of a tourist destination as opposed to just a waypoint.

“I’m saying that sometimes we don’t think outside the box, and when we don’t think outside the box, get left behind,” noted Lane. “I think it’s worth exploring. I really do.”

Sports field rentals

Economic development officer Shauna Strickland has been in contact with other communities about rental fees for outdoor sports fields.

The recreation committee has been exploring the possibility of applying a small fee for using the baseball and soccer fields in an effort to offset the maintenance charges, but while no immediate plans exist to charge such a fee, the mere suggestion was met with strong opposition from Coun. Melvin Keeping.

“I’ll say up front here now, I’ll not support any recommendation of charging fees,” said Keeping.

New waste management truck

At a special meeting of council on Jan. 8, Port aux Basques council agreed to purchase a 2018 split-body waste collection truck from Saunders Equipment Ltd. for a total of $353,682.50 (including HST). This amount will be shared under a 70/30 provincial cost sharing program.

“Our share is coming in with the whole region,” clarified Mayor John Spencer to council.

Blue bag delays

Due to mechanical issues with the current collection trucks, blue bag collection has been postponed. Residents lacking the space to store them until blue bag collection can resume are welcome to drop their bags at the municipal garage directly across from the town hall, or at the town’s Grand Bay West facility instead.

Western Health re: Gateway Cottages

Mayor Spencer reported that Western Health has come back to council with an amended offer regarding the proposed rental increases to Gateway Cottages. The increases announced last April were met with vehement objections by council on behalf of the residents, who are seniors on fixed incomes.

Though negotiations are still ongoing, Spencer says he is pleased to see some positive movement on this matter.

“Western Health heard what we had to say on some issues and they’ve come back, and they’ve opened negotiations again for some of the tenants that were facing high light bills on top of their rent increases, and they’ve come back with an offer.”

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