Victoria council members vocal on issues of recreation, public works

Melissa Jenkins
Published on January 29, 2014
Jennifer Baker is the chair of the recreation committeein Victoria. She had no trouble stating her frustration over a skatepark issue at the meeting.
Photo by Melissa Jenkins

The atmosphere was lively, energetic and at times tense during the regular council meeting Jan. 27 at the town hall in Victoria.

Councillors were quick to give opinions, and had no problem stated their concerns when an issue was presented.

Several big situations were discussed during the marathon, three-hour meeting.


Recreation tension

Recreation committee co-chair Coun. Jennifer Baker appeared visibly frustrated while delivering an address from her committee.

Last year the town announced intentions to build a new skateboard park. The committee — chair by Victoria resident Holly Parsons — went to work fundraising, seeking donations and grants, as well as using $4,000 from the annual budget to afford some $40,000 worth of skateboarding equipment.

Baker explained the equipment was ordered in October, but an invoice did not arrive to the town office until January, although dated for December 2013. Town regulations prevent funds from each budget be reallocated to the following year.

Baker could not fathom why the money, which was approved in 2013, couldn't pay the invoice.

“I’m disappointed," she said. "This is money that was promised to the committee.

“Recreation, heritage, every committee are not doing things for themselves, they are doing it for the betterment of the community."

She continued, saying there are members ready to give up the committee — which is entirely volunteer — because of the issue.

This year the town allotted an extra $4,000 to the recreation committee, but that was a standard increase the department was to receive.

“I voted on the budget because the money was there,” Baker stated. “Not because the money from last year was included.”

Deputy Mayor Sharon Snooks, who chairs the finance committee and is the former town clerk, said she believes it is worth a second look.

Council agreed, and the decision was placed in the hands of the finance committee.


Bin issues

At one point Mayor Barry Dooley opened the floor to residents, which consisted of three locals, to voice their questions and concerns.

Local business owners Mel and Kate Clarke, who run Clarke’s Salvage on Swansea Road —a road without street signage — were the only ones to address council.

NLL Recycling from St. John’s is said to have delivered a metal recycling bin for metals on request from the Clarke’s. It was placed next to the main roadon Route 70.

Kate received a letter telling the couple to remove the bin because of location and advertising.

The letter included that it was against the town’s regulations to have the container where it was, and could not operate in the town without a permit. The permit would cost $25. Clarke’s Salvage is not advertised on the container.

The couple believes they have helped get waste off the street, something they said wasn’t happening at that time.

Dooley explained there have been complaints of the container.

“There have been concerns from citizens that engines, car parts are being collected and leakage of oil,” he said. “Our regulations do not allow the container to be in the area or a business to operate without a permit.”

Coun. Glenn Clarke said it should be NLL, and not Clarke’s Salvage, who should be held responsible.

The couple left the meeting after the discussion, but with a confirmation from council to replace the street sign. The decision on the container remained the same.


Truck won’t be auctioned yet

A Victoria resident who had his 2006 Ford pickup truck impounded over a year ago will have to wait a little longer to learn the fate of his vehicle.

The council discussed what should happen with the vehicle, but Butt said she was still waiting on more information, including what other municipalities do in similar situations.

Town clerk Shelley Butt also confirmed a few weeks ago that an auction was being considered to cover towing and impounding fees.

This is the first time the municipality has faced the situation, so council decided to seek advice from an auctioneering company about protocol, including transferring ownership.

The vehicle’s owner, Ed Cole, still sternly states his vehicle was “unlawfully” removed and concealed. It is still sitting in the work yard behind the municipal building.


Curb-stop confusion

Butt brought up an issue that has been happening in the town for some time regarding water and sewer hook up.

There is a policy that once a house is occupied, the occupant begins paying for water and sewer.

“It’s not proper for us to go around looking in people’s windows to see if they are occupying the home,” Butt explained.

There has been some concern with residents not telling the town when they have moved in, and since contractors are turning on the water at the curb-stop, the town does not know when they do.

“I believe our men should be the only ones to turn on the curb-stop,” Dooley stated.

Snooks suggested the water and sewer tax should begin as soon when the home is hooked up.

All members agreed if a permit is issued, it should include any changes, including if the town decides to restrict the curb-stop usage to town workers.

In the end, the council agreed to send the information to the planning committee to determine what changes will be made.