Pre-budget discussion in Bay Roberts

Nicholas Mercer
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Town amends RCMP MOU at Feb. 25 regular meeting

Like any community in the Trinity-Conception-Placentia region the Town of Bay Roberts has certain wants and needs when it comes to the 2014 provincial budget.

Bay Roberts councillor Bill Seymour.

That’s why a delegation of town leaders, including Mayor Philip Wood, Deputy Mayor Walter Yetman and chief administrative officer Nigel Black, registered to make a presentation to finance minister Charlene Johnson at the Comfort Inn in St. John’s on Feb. 14.

The group was allotted up to five minutes to speak on behalf of the town, and covered a variety of issues.

The town’s presentation notes were included in the agenda for the Feb. 25 regular council meeting.

Read by Wood, the town breaks down what it feels are the top priorities and issues facing its residents.

The first of which is  multi-year capital works funding and how the delivery of this funding is made.

“This funding remains an essential component for communities such as Bay Roberts,” the presentation explained.

Much of Bay Roberts’ revenue is generated through taxation, which is difficult given the size of the town and many of the town’s residents are on fixed incomes.

Furthermore, much of the town’s infrastructure is aging.

“It is important, however, for the Department of Municipal Affairs to look at how this funding, when announced can be accessed by towns,” wrote Wood. “The consensus around the province is there should be a quicker and easier process in place than is currently the case.”


The case for Coley’s Point

Also included in the presentation was the need to replace the aging Coley’s Point Primary.

The facility is more than 60 years old, and community officials have long been trumpeting the need for a replacement for the past several years.

“It has outgrown its ability to meet the needs of the students,” it reads. “The gym is too small, the staff room is being used as a computer lab, a janitorial closet has been used as a classroom, the school population is growing, the needs of its current parking lot and location are dated and it does not have a lunch room for its students, the majority of whom are bused.

“Indeed, it is clear to see that the educational needs of its students would be met much more effectively and efficiently with an updated, modern school in 2014.”

Other topics brought up by Bay Roberts included the following:

• Recreation facilities;

• The return of the Bay Roberts RCMP satellite officer to a full detachment; and

• A new fiscal/funding arrangement.


MOU discussion

Last month, Bay Roberts entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Trinity Conception RCMP with respect to the town’s municipal enforcement officer (MEO).

Now, the RCMP has recommended a pair of amendments to current policy.

The first amendment deals with the MEO’s access to information from the RCMP’s operational communications centre radio system.

The police feel “the agreement should specifically allow the MEO to have full access to information on this system,” Black wrote in his report to council on Feb. 25.

“They feel, and we feel as well, that if our MEO is approaching a person in a vehicle or otherwise, that they should have all of the information they can possibly have for his safety. So, that he is fully aware of what he is walking into,” said Black.

“I think that’s a given. He needs that,” added Wood.

The motion passed.

The next amendment to the MOU regards with the inclusion of intervention equipment — pepper spray and a plastic baton. etc.

Coun. George Simmons and Perry Bowering, the MEO, had raised the issue during a previous meeting with the RCMP.

“(RCMP) wanted to put that in front of council and make council aware that if the MEO had this type of equipment there is, obviously, some liability that goes with that,” said Black.

Council voted to approve the amendment that would allow the MEO to carry intervention equipment “with the proper training,” added Coun. Charlene Dawe-Roach.


Vehicle usage amended

The amendments to the MOU were not the only policy to be altered by the town at the meeting.

Also on the table was a proposed change to the town’s vehicle usage policy.

Adopted in 2010, the policy does not mention the director of public works and technical services. The position was not added until 2013, with a vehicle for the director being purchased in late 2013.

The amendment would change any references to public work superintendent to the director of public works and technical services.

Dawe-Roach had a question with regards to vehicles being taken home.

“Does it say who is allowed to take a vehicle home?” she asked.

In the policy, the fire chief, director of public works and the MEO are the only people who can bring their vehicles home. This is because the town may require their services after hours.

This drew the ire of Coun. Bill Seymour who said he had been approached by residents about concerns of more town vehicles being used in the evenings.

“I don’t see why four or five vehicles should be taken home after hours, weekends and all. I don’t agree with it and I don’t think it should be,” he said.

After some discussion, Black said if there was any abuse of the policy to report it and the town can “deal with it.”

Organizations: RCMP, Comfort Inn, Department of Municipal Affairs

Geographic location: Bay Roberts

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