PORT AUX BASQUES — The most recent town council meeting took place on Tuesday evening, Nov. 8, in chambers. Matters discussed included updates on Town Manager, Leon MacIsaac, RCMP in the region, Kyle Lane overnight parking, correspondence related to Hurricane Fiona, Joe Lane inducted into NL Hockey Hall of Fame, and demolition orders for some homes.
Mayor Brian Button opened the meeting with a message to the families devastated by Hurricane Fiona, and council observed a moment of silence for the life lost to the storm.
“Us as a council are certainly there to try to support all our residents, but I wanted to take a moment before we started tonight, and unfortunately in all of this that we had to go through, we had the ultimate sacrifice into it. We had a person who lost her life. That’s the overriding thing of all of this, and I’d like to take a moment on behalf of council and let our minutes reflect that, for Thelma, who was quite known in the community by many people, and her family and her partner, I’d like to take this time to recognize her and pass along our sympathies to her family. I know it’s gotta be a tougher time for them than any of us.”
Mayor Button offered an update on how Town Manager Leon MacIsaac is doing and how it was previously decided that, given his previous experience serving in that role, Councillor Melvin Keeping would take a leave of absence from his role as councillor to step into the role of town manager until MacIsaac is able to return.
“He’s still home in the recovery stages, and we’ve certainly been in contact quite a bit with him. In the meantime, we found ourselves in a very desperate situation, having to have somebody on the ground and someone to work. We needed to have someone right away with some experience,” said Button. “Melvin has taken a leave of absence as a councillor and has stepped back into the role of what we call a ‘Fiona Co-ordinator,’ position. He has been the person now on the ground for us managing the affairs from a town manager perspective and dealing with all the activities happening on the outside with our workers.”
Button added that MacIsaac is expected to return to work in December, but Keeping will remain in the role to help him ease back into things before he returns to his regular position as a town councillor.
Mayor Button said there were a few items brought up with the RCMP in a meeting earlier that afternoon, and there is a specific update he wanted to mention.
“When it comes to the Fiona piece, we have concerns of properties in certain areas, but the RCMP have made it a priority to step up for all their members, to step up in certain areas in town where we have the homes that are closed up with people out of them. They will be stepping up their patrols and keeping a watch on all these properties”.
Mayor Button did an overview of what was discussed in previous meetings regarding overnight parking by campers at Grand Bay West beach. It was previously suggested to forward campers to the new RV park at Shark Cove, and to install signage at the beach and other areas around town to encourage day parking only at Grand Bay West beach.
The motion was approved by council to move forward with designing professional signage to be approved at a future date.
Mayor Button said communities across the province and country, and even in the United States, have sent correspondence to the town offering considerable support and encouragement to Port aux Basques after Fiona devastated the region.
“We’ve had communities not only reach out to us to offer monetary donations, but we’ve also had communities reach out to offer equipment, resources, people if we needed them,” said Button. “We’ve availed of some of those things that communities have offered. It’s been overwhelming to tell you the truth, and it’s been hard to respond to all of them. When there’s stuff going on, other communities want to reach out to help and we would certainly do the same for another community, but I hope another community won’t have to go through what we are going through currently. Just a blanket thank you to each and every community for everything they’ve been doing.”
Joe Lane recognized
Mayor Button took a moment to recognize long-time volunteer Joe Lane in the community. Lane was recently inducted into the NL Hockey Hall of Fame.
“I wanted to recognize Joe for his volunteer work within the community, involved with minor hockey, senior hockey, for the referee's association. Joe spent many years dedicated to these organizations and to get this recognition is very much deserved. I’m sure it was a great honour for him this week and for his family.”
Mayor Button and councillors went through a long list of properties one at a time, a total of 60 homes, that required approval for demolition orders as a result of irreparable storm damage.
“It’s very difficult to know that we have to make 60 motions and it’s related to 60 homes in our community that have nothing to do with being deplorable properties that we would be making regular demolition order motions for. So it’s unprecedented that we would even have to do this. It’s actually heartbreaking to know that we have to make these types of motions,” said Button. “Nobody would ever want anybody to be in this position, especially the residents. This is just mind blowing.
Jaymie White, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wreckhouse Weekly News