Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Torbay Council - Deteriorating Decorum

The Council meeting on Monday night certainly had a negative and spiteful feel to it. There was a lot of behavior that certainly wasn't parliamentary and quite frankly went beyond childish. To start the whole thing off the Deputy Mayor raised a Point of Order to let the people in the gallery know and especially because there were so many young people there that after the Council meeting there is a 15 minute question and answer period if they would like to stick around. He was immediately ruled Out of Order by the Mayor. The Deputy Mayor commented that he can't be out of order and that he didn't agree with the Chair. I have not seen the Town of Torbay Rules of Procedure regarding Council meetings but the Municipal Councillors Handbook says that a Point of Order can be raised at any time, does not require a seconder, is not debatable and can't be voted on. So I would question how someone could be out of order in a case like this. I am not saying that he wasn't out of order but no explanation was given so what are we the casual observers to think? Add to that he has made this exact same point in other meetings and wasn't ruled out of order that I can remember. With that said the Deputy Mayor does seem to get ruled out of order a lot, certainly a lot more than anyone else. I actually don't recall any other Councillor ever being ruled out of order since I started going. I am sure it happens but I don't remember it.

That was the start of it and it only got worse from there and most of the animosity seems to be directed at the Deputy Mayor Geoff Gallant. This is a pattern that has been observed by many people over the course of the past few months. This would tend to coincide with the apparent differences of opinion between Councillors related to the Open Space Management Strategy and how it is or isn't being followed. It would certainly include the recent Board of Appeals decision to require Council to change how they determine the fair market value of land when choosing the cash option in subdivision developments.

I think that this issue of land vs cash and the Open Space Management Strategy has been a clear division point within this Council. One side led by the Deputy Mayor seems intent on always taking the land from developers or if a decision to take the cash is made to get all that we can, which many view as possibly being unfair to developers and even could be a hindrance to development. I could certainly see this as a contentious issue as many developers believe they are already paying enough through fees and other requirements. There can be no question that it costs a lot of money to construct a subdivision and Council should make sure that it is not placing unreasonable burdens on these people. I have spoken to a couple of developers and they have no problem adhering to the town policies but they want to know what is going on upfront and not have any surprises coming from council after their applications are approved and they don't want unreasonable delays.

Another thing that may have people cross with the Deputy Mayor is his insistence that Council can take  land from the developer in one subdivision and then turn around and sell it or lease it or what ever to get money to spend in another area of town on green space. I have heard him mention this a few times and I think it doesn't sit well with other members of Council. Personally I don't particularly like the idea because it comes across as underhanded to me. The part I don't like about it is that if we are going to take a piece of land in a particular subdivision based on the Fair Market Value prior to development, how can we turn around then and sell it for more money after the developer builds the subdivision? I think that comes across as immoral in my mind and taking advantage of a developer. I don't disagree with the concept of selling the land but I don't think we should be allowed to sell it for more that the fair market value was when we initially acquired the land. If that is the case then we should just take the cash in the beginning instead of creating an atmosphere of greed that selling it for a higher price would create. This to me is a case of doing what is right vs doing something just because you can and I am not even sure if it would be allowed under the regulations even though the Deputy Mayor says it is.

With this in mind that still does not excuse the harshness he has been treated with in the Council chamber. I am not sticking up for the Deputy Mayors political views because we are pretty much on opposite ends of the political spectrum, he is a staunch member of NDP and I can't think of very many of their policies that I would agree with. I also don't agree with some of his views on Council but I do agree with his right to have them and voice them without being assailed at every opportunity. That doesn't mean I think he shouldn't be challenged on some of his ideas because clearly he does and as long as it is within the rules of procedure and done respectfully then there is not a problem. Lets not kid our selves there is bound to be the occasional outburst or argument but it should be exception not the norm.

I did notice the other night during some exchanges that some of the other Councillors were rolling their eyes and were visibly unhappy with what Geoff was saying. I must admit that I myself on many occasions have rolled my eyes at what he says as well, BUT I am not sitting on Council. I believe it is incumbent on elected members to treat each other and the institution of Council and all it stands for with respect as well. When you are sitting around that Council table and observers in the gallery can see the disdain that you are presenting then I think people need to take a step back and reevaluate their behavior.

Later on in the meeting Councillor Roche raised a Point of Order and stated that she doesn't like the fact that members of Council are using Blackberry type devises and texting during meetings and it should not be allowed. The mayor asked her was someone using that type of device and she said yes and looked at Geoff and then stated that she believed he was texting someone in the gallery. So not only did she take a shot at Geoff she also too a shot at the people who go to the meetings to observe and take notice what is happening in our town. Geoff stated that he was looking at an email from a resident on Brown's Lane who's building application just got denied and he was asking why it was denied. He was promptly told by Councillor Smith that the reasons were in the committee minutes and that he should do his homework. One thing I would like to add to that is that although Councillors have the minutes from the committee residents seated in the gallery may have liked to know why the permit was denied when the person was contending that other permits to build on back-lots were approved in their opinion.

Then the vote took place and it went so fast that the Deputy Mayor said that he didn't even get a chance to vote. He expressed concern that the Mayor held the vote so fast that his vote did not get recorded. Then they had another vote and the Mayor asked for a show of hands which is not usually how votes normally go. Usually a Yeah or Nay is sufficient but then for a bunch of votes after that the Mayor insisted on a show of hands and Councillor Tapper expressed his displeasure with what was happening and said enough is enough and to stop the foolishness.

At the end of the meeting when the question and answer session started, with those members of council who choose to participate, the first speaker pointed out how despicable she though the behavior was at the meeting. This woman is a long time observer of council and for her to say this is some of the worst behavior she has witnessed says something. She didn't hold back and pointed out to those present exactly what they did that she found reprehensible and also expressed her offence to the suggestion that one of the people seated in the room was texting with the Deputy Mayor.

I hope that the behavior displayed at Council the last while gets rectified. The Mayor as the Chair of the meeting needs to start to take control of the situation and bring the decorum back to Council. He can't do that if he is going to be participating in the foolishness. Everyone needs to take a step back and look at what is going on and get things back on track.

Congratulations to Duke of Edinburgh Award Winners

Monday nights Council meeting started out with a well earned recognition for some volunteers and Bronze Level recipients for the Duke of Edinburgh Award. I have never really heard about this program before and from what I have read it seems like a very fun and engaging activity for our youth. One thing I did notice however was that all the young people who were involved were girls and I wonder why there were no boys participating. Anyway I just want to say congratulations to the volunteers and the award winners for a job well done. If you want to learn more about this program check it out here.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Torbay Council Meeting Tonight - Points of Interest

The regular Torbay Council meeting will take place tonight at the Town Hall at 7:30pm. With this in mind I thought I would list some points of interest that are going on in our town and the agenda for tonight's meeting.

The agenda for tonight's Council meeting can be found here

Here are some items that may be of interest.

In the most recent minutes on the Town website there was a motion put forward then rescinded in relation to adopting the minutes of a special Council Meeting dated September 27, 2012. As I understand it this was a meeting called to discuss the Board of Appeals ruling in favor of the Concerned Citizens appeal related to Motion Drive Estates - Land vs Cash as we have all come to know it.

The motion was rescinded after some discussion about the wording of the minutes and they agreed to refer to the Town Solicitor for clarification. Personally I am looking forward to those minutes being approved and published so that we can see what was discussed and how after that meeting there could be some doubt as to who won the appeal. Is is my understanding that the Concerned Citizens won the appeal however in the last edition of the North East Avalon Times the Mayor seemed to suggest the town won. I would hope those meeting minutes would shed some light on this ridiculous position.

This next item is something that I also have a particular interest in just to see how it all pans out.

During the last meeting the Deputy Mayor tried to put forward a motion and was stopped by the Mayor on a point of order saying that the proposed motion was out of order.

This is the motion the Deputy Mayor tried to introduce.
The Town of Torbay fulfill its Open Space requirement for the motion estates phase III development proposal by requiring 10% of the gross land to be developed be dedicated to the town for the maximum benefit of its residents (as per regulation 78(1)). If at a later date this specific area of land is deemed not to be physically required for Open Space itself, then the land be disposed of at fair market value (as determined by its sale on the open market, after being publicly advertised for reasonable timeframe, and for a fair market price - which under no circumstances can for a value less than its assessed value by the Municipally Assessment Agency) and the proceeds shall go towards the purchase of green space elsewhere in the town (As per regulation 78(2)). The goal of this motion is to acquire 10% green space, through direct acquisition of land and/or the maximum amount of currency possible to purchase equivalent green space land else elsewhere within the town.
There was no seconder to the motion, however Mayor Codner advised that the above motion was out of order. The Deputy Mayor disagreed, challenged the Chairs decision and requested a legal opinion from the Town Solicitor.

Now the reason this is of interest to me is because this is not the first time that the Chair (Mayor) has ruled the Deputy Mayor out of order in one way or another. Sometimes for trying to put forward motions and sometimes for trying to speak on a particular topic. In all the meetings I have attended I don't recall any other Councillor being ruled out of order or two members of Council so at odds with each other as the Mayor and Deputy Mayor.

I would like to know what this ruling the Deputy Mayor requested said with regards to his motion being out of order of if in fact there was even a formal request made for clarification. I find too often these exchanges take place and we never seem to find out what happens in the end.

There are also a few other things on the radar that may be of interest.

The delivery date for the new Pumper for the fire department is supposed to be October 30, 2012. I haven't read or seen anything to suggest that date had been changed so I wonder is it still on schedule.

I heard some talk last meeting about a pilot project that is underway or going to be happening with regards to garbage pickup. Apparently we are looking at an automated collection method similar to what they are doing in Mount Pearl. This is the one we have seen where they use those big bins and an arm operated from the truck lifts the bin and places it back on the curb. I am not sure how this will work in Torbay with the fact that many of our roads have ditches and the boxes would be placed away from the curb. I guess they may have to address that fact but it would be interesting to see how this pilot project is going.

That is all for now, see you at the meeting tonight.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Trunk or Treat A Great Time Despite Weather

We had a great time at the Trunk or Treat on Saturday evening, the kids really enjoyed themselves as did the other people I observed. Despite the weather which really sucked the kids got out there like little troopers. This is a really good idea and I hope something that becomes a yearly event. I know this was year two and I missed year one so I can't compare the two. I did hear a few complaints from people who may have been a little late getting there that many of the businesses giving out treats had run out.

I hear their frustration but it is difficult to get angry with people who are doing this voluntarily. I know the kids don't understand that point of view but as always we need to look at each event as a learning experience and hopefully improve the next time.

Here are a few pics we took from the event.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Citizens Appeal On Motion Drive - Who Really Won?


I have gotten a lot of emails and comments about this story basically challenging me on the scope of this story. However I need to point out and maybe I should have done this in the beginning but this is not something that I conjured up out of thin air.

I agree that the Concerned Citizens Group which I was one of by the way, won the appeal. To me there is no question that the board ruled in favor of the group with regards to how the town determines "Fair Market Value" for land.

The reason I wrote this story and framed it in the manner that I did was to draw attention to the fact that in the North East Avalon Times there was a story about this that stated that both sides were claiming victory in the appeal. Add to that the comments made by the Mayor and Deputy Mayor in council chambers where the Deputy Mayor stated that the Concerned Citizens won the appeal and the Mayor responded by saying "don't believe everything you read in the papers" and said that the town won the appeal.

Now how can this be that both sides won the appeal? In my story I point out that the board seemed to agree with the town on the basis of land vs cash on one hand but certainly came down on the side of the Concerned Citizens on the main issue and that was how the fair market value of the land is determined.

There were also other questions posed to me based on some radio interviews that the Deputy Mayor after the appeal board handed down it's decision and the fact that he gave evidence at the hearing. Some people felt that he may have been in a conflict of interest and working on behalf of the Concerned Citizens. Well I know, and the group knows that Geoff was not a signatory to the appeal and was not speaking on behalf of the group in those interviews, so it that respect he is not in a conflict of interest. That doesn't mean it is not fair to ask those questions when there is an appearance by the casual observer that there may be some conflict if for no other reason than to clear the air.

Last month a group of Concerned Citizens launched an appeal to the Eastern Newfoundland Regional Appeal Board concerning a Council decision to take cash in lieu of land. This was directly related to the motion that was voted on and passed by Council concerning Motion Drive Extension. It was later reported that the group had won it's appeal however there seems to be some confusion as to what extent the group won or in fact if they even did.

This seems simple on the surface but there is more to it than that simple explanation. There was more than just the acceptance of cash that was at question here and the board was very clear in it's decision.

First of all the appeal said this - that the Council acted contrary to it's Open Space Management Strategy, Municipal Plan, the conditions of an earlier approval of the development, and that Council improperly determined the amount of money that could be accepted on lieu of a land dedication.

Conclusion of the Board
Based on it's findings, the Board determined that it is Council, and not a committee of Council, that has authority to make a decision to accept money in lieu of dedication of land for open space related to a subdivision of land. The Board also determined that the value of land must be calculated on the value of the land prior to development, but the valuation is required to be at fair market value. The Board found that the Municipal Assessment Roll Book valuation may not be a reflection of fair market value at the time the development is approved.

Therefore the Board will grant the appeal and vary the April 30, 2012 decision, Motion 158-12, of the Town Council of the Town of Torbay to accept cash in lieu of land as valued by the Municipal Assessment Agency, for open space within an approved subdivision development at Motion Lane Torbay. The Town will therefore need to reconsider the issue of how to value the land and make a decision that is compliant with it's municipal Plan Policy 3.1.1.

Based on the information presented, the Board orders that the April 30, 2012 decision, 158-12, of the Town Council of the Town of Torbay to accept cash in lieu of land as valued by the Municipal Assessment Agency, for open space within an approved subdivision development at Motion Lane Torbay be varied by removal of reference to valuation as determined by the Municipal Assessment Roll Book.

Ok, now lets step back and see what the board actually said in regard to the matters it considered in simple language.

Is the Council obligated to accept a recommendation of a Council Committee?
NO! Only Council by a majority vote has the power to make decision like this. Committees do not have power to make decisions or binding recommendations.

Did the Town have the right to accept cash in lieu of land for open space within the subdivision?
YES! The Town was fully within its rights to accept cash instead of land for open space.

Did the Town properly determine the value of land when deciding to accept cash in lieu of land for open space?
NO! The board said that the assessed value may not be equal to the "fair market value"

So who won? It appears that the Town did nothing wrong besides improperly determine the cash amount that the receive from a developer.

Now if you have heard the Deputy Mayor on the radio talking about this decision you could get the impression he was representing the Concerned Citizens. He seemed to be very pleased with the decision of the appeal board and has been talking about all the money the town has lost over the years by taking the assessed value of land instead of fair market value. I heard him say that these lots in motion or in other parts of the town are selling in excess of 100,000 dollars.

This is where I am having some uneasy feelings regarding this whole issue. First of all I find it troubling that the Deputy Mayor would be in a position that would make it appear that he is in fact actively working against our Council which he is part of. I know he was not part of the appeal and he has said that plainly but the fact that he has been so vocal about the decision and gave testimony at the appeal has made some people question his motives.

To add to this cloud of uncertainty at the October 1, 2012 Council meeting the Deputy Mayor said the following while trying to put forward a motion.

Deputy Mayor Gallant advised that there was good news regarding the recent citizens’ appeal. He put forward a motion to address concerns that were clarified by the Eastern Regional Appeal Board for discussion and debate purposes.
Good News? I know that the Deputy Mayor is probably the staunchest advocate for open space on our Council but I think he needs to remember that he is also the Deputy Mayor of Torbay and a member of the Council that voted on and passed that decision on Motion Estates. Regardless of the fact that he voted against that motion it passed and once a motion passes council it is in my opinion the responsibility of Councillors and staff to implement the policies of the town. You can't pick and choose which decision you are going to abide by and which ones you will ignore.

I have no problem with a Councillor or Mayor or who ever voicing concerns about motions and policies prior to a vote. That is their job to try and represent the residents of the town to the best of their abilities. However once that vote is taken it is a decision of Council as a whole and Council need to move forward. Yes fight for what you believe in and what you think is right but don't do it in a way that undermines the integrity of our town or our Council.

Last week I was at the council meeting and the Mayor and Deputy Mayor couldn't even agree on who won or didn't win that appeal. I thought the whole exchange was childish and certainly not something that should take place in the public chamber. Too much grand standing going on for my liking.

So, I ask again who won in this whole mess? I don't know if anyone actually won, sure the town may get some extra cash from developers but not as much as some people would have us believe. The board decision said that the value of the land has to be determined prior to development to get the fair market value. That means all the talk about 100,000 building lots and the town has lost so much money is seriously misleading. In fact what will need to be done in the future to satisfy this requirement is that the town will need to hire an appraiser when the developer puts in their application to get the land appraised. Certainly this cost will have to be absorbed by the town for every subdivision application received.

For a case like Motion the task of finding the fair market value prior to development would be a little more tricky. They will have to go back in time to the initial application and then determine what the value was at the time. How do we determine that? Do we go all the way back to Phase 1 before there was even a stick cut down in there or a road? How much is land worth with no roads or services are anything leading to it? I don't know but that is what the appraiser will have to find out. I guess is some cases the appraised value of the land prior to development could actually be less that the assessed value, I don't think it is likely but it is possible.

So it is my opinion that if anyone believes that this Town Council is going to change it's decision on Motion Drive Estates Phase III they are crazy. There will not be any going back to get the land instead of cash. I don't even know if they will even be going back to get more money from the developer. From reading the Order from the Board it seems to me all they need to do is change the current motion to remove the reference to Municipal Assessment Roll Book and that will be the end of it. I don't know how they do that because the motion has already passed. Maybe they have to draft a new motion, rescind the other one, I am not sure but anyone who believes that this appeal decision is somehow an earth shattering event and going to result in many thousands of new dollars flowing into the towns coffers are delusional.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Trunk or Treat - This Saturday at Jack Byrne Arena

Trunk of Treat is back this year and is taking place at Jack Byrne Arena this Saturday, October 27 from 5:00pm - 7:00pm.

This is a free event where local business owners open their trunks to provide kids with a safe and easy way to do some trick or treating. It will take place on the parking lot following the community skate Saturday so get out and have some fun.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

High Assessments Prompt Call For Renewed Municipal Funding Framework

Yesterday, October 23, 2012 Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador published a press release that says the recent increase in the Municipal Assessments prove that a new funding framework is needed now more than ever. You can read the entire article here.

Basically what they said is that homeowners are gaining artificial wealth based on the assessments of their homes and municipalities are having to respond to this by adjusting their mill rates to try and mitigate the negative effects on homeowners.

This sentiment reigns true in Torbay in particular because property values are so high. Even when your property values go up you are not really in a better financial position, in fact most times we end up in a worse situation. For instance if our property values rise by 50 percent and our income stays the same or has a modest increase then we could be negatively impacted by municipal property taxes. Add to this the fact that we have a segment of our population who are on a fixed or lower income and are basically house poor. This is a term that has become more prominent over the past decade especially in areas where property values have sky rocketed.

House Poor people are not easily identified because they can range from people who have low or modest income to people who make a significant salary but are in over their heads with household expenses. House Poor describes a person who spends a large proportion of his or her total income on home ownership, including mortgage payments, property taxes, maintenance and utilities. House poor individuals are short of cash for discretionary items and tend to have trouble meeting other financial obligations like vehicle payments. How many of those people do you think are in Torbay? I would suggest quite a few.

I know many people in our town are frustrated with the perceived lack of services and progress. For example I hear people talking about the need to have a sewage treatment plant, parks, sidewalks and a array of other projects in the town. What this article from Municipalities NL points out is that without a new source of funding for municipal governments it is going to get harder to fulfill their obligations.

Basically what that means to me is that if the major source of revenue for municipalities is property taxes then we will be in a never ending cycle of balancing the needs of the town and the burden on residential tax payers. There is no way that a town like ours will ever be able to afford all the projects we want and need without additional funding, the tax base just can't handle it. So what do we do?

That is the tough part. There was no mention in that article of how we are to get that new revenue stream or where it is supposed to come from. In reality when you look at sources of revenue there is a finite list that includes revenue from governments (municipal, provincial and federal) and revenue from the private sector. With every municipality in Canada facing the same issue with revenue streams the opportunities to get additional funding get fewer each year. Recently the Town of Torbay submitted a capitol works funding request to the Provincial Government for something like 24 million dollars to complete various infrastructure projects like a new town center and water and sewer projects. We got somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 million dollars over multiple years, hardly enough to start a major project in our town. With this in mind remember that per-capita we received more funding than any other municipality in the province. So where do we go from here?

Considering the funding we did receive from the province and recent comments from the Premier about cutting back on spending, we can be pretty confident that we won't be inline to get additional funding in the near future. Now that could change and funds may come available but it is hard to plan and do a budget based on that. Basically our municipal government is stuck relying on property taxes and that never ending cycle of pitting raising revenue to balance the budget against the burden on tax payers.

I think we could start looking at some Public-Private Partnerships or PPP's as they are known. Basically the purpose of these partnerships is for the public sector (Town of Torbay) and the private sector (some company) partner in a project. For instance, say the town wants to build a new town centre but they don't have the money. They have the land and need the building so they enter into a partnership with a company to do the project. A private company will come up with the financing to do the project based on predetermined obligations by both partners. This could be a signed lease agreement by the municipality to rent the space for an extended period guaranteeing the private partner a secure source of long term revenue to use as leverage to secure funding to build the facility. In many cases the agreement entered into by the Public partner will offset the cost to build the facility over many years. Basically if it costs 10 million to build the place the town may agree to lease payments over 30 years in the range of 350,000 a year to rent it. This type of arrangement is a considerable lower burden than building and operating a facility. The Private partner would be responsible for operating and maintaining the infrastructure, it is a win-win for everyone.

There are many examples of these types of partnerships across the country and they have proven to help municipal governments get infrastructure in place that they could never have been able to afford any other way. There are a lot of different types of PPP's which have different funding and operating regimes but there may be one that is a good fit for our town.

This type of project coordination has not really taken hold in NL as it has in other provinces but we need to start thinking outside the box. We need to explore every option to try and get our infrastructure needs addressed and if we simply wait around for the province or federal government then we will remain in a constant state of flux and hand wringing.

I don't know if this is the answer for our town, but as far as I know an approach like this has never been investigated. We will never know if it is possible unless we start asking the questions.

This is the link to The Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships. Have a look at the Project Database under the resources menu and see what kinds of projects municipalities have been able to achieve based on this principle of partnership. It certainly peaks the interest that is for sure.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Torbay Community Market - A Great Success!

On Saturday morning my family and I went to the Torbay Community Market at Jack Byrne Arena and I was very impressed with the entire event. Prior to the start of the market there was pumpkin carving for the kids and we had a great time doing that. The pumpkins were provided by the town upstairs in the Community Room and they even had all the insides taken out of the pumpkins, all the kids had to do was start carving.

There were a good few kids and parents there although I think there and some of the pumpkins that were carved were quite impressive. Here are some pictures of the pumpkin carving.

Community Room Ready For Carvers
Kids and Parents Creating Their Masterpieces
Ryan and Kathleen Carving Away
The Final Product, Looks Good!
After the pumpkins were done it was off to the Market to see what the vendors had on display. I must admit when I first heard about this market I had the image of your typical flea market in mind. I can honestly say that it is much more than that and the entire layout of the booths and displays was well done and very professional.

There is a wide range of products and services being represented at the market and something for everyone as my 8 year old daughter can attest. She was the big spender for our family, it seemed like she was buying something at every booth we stopped at. There were people selling everything from jewelry, crafts, food, art, real estate services you name it and you could find it there among the merchants. I am not sure of the exact number of booths that were set up but it must have been close to 70. I was sorry that I had to leave before the entertainment but I am sure that The Masterless Men and Connemara were great as they usually are.

One thing that I found interesting and a good incentive to get all shoppers to visit each vendor were the cards being handed out by a couple of our Councillors at the entrance. They had a list of all the vendors on it and a check box next to the name, as you visit the booth the people would initial your card and when you had them all checked off you enter your card in for a draw to win some great prizes. One of the items up for grabs Saturday was an Ice Caps jersey.

Booths At Community Market, it is a sharp setup.
Town of Torbay Booth
Wanda Hammond staffing her booth for the Arthritis Society.
Wanda was selling bracelets that she makes to raise money for Arthritis Society and they are quite nice. She named them the Bridget Bracelet in honor of her mother and they would be a perfect gift for that special someone. Wanda is a tireless advocate for Arthritis research and causes and this is just a sample of all that she does, She was also selling tickets on a Christmas basket with a bunch of rum and stuff in it so I couldn't pass that up. Good job Wanda.

Shelley O'Brien - Little Princesses Leah & Haley Boutique
Here we have Shelley O'Brien another local vendor of Little Princesses Leah and Haley Boutique. You can check out her Facebook Page and see what items she has to offer. Shelley sells a variety of items to turn your little monster into a little princesses such as hats, bows and hair clips etc. She did have an impressive display and you can tell she puts a lot of work into her enterprise.

Overall I thought that the market was well organized and well attended. The arena is the perfect place for it because it is spacious and there was room to move around without bumping into everyone. Like I said before there is something there for everyone if you take the time to look for it. I think the town has done a good job with this market and hopefully it will be something that they will entertain having again in the future.

Monday, October 22, 2012

RNC Investigating Suspicious Boat Fire At Tappers Cove

Yesterday afternoon I saw a lot of smoke coming up from somewhere in Torbay as I was heading out the by-pass road but it wasn't clear exactly where it was coming from. As it turns out a boat that was sitting on a trailer in Tappers Cove was on fire. The RNC is investigating what they suspect is arson so if anyone has information about suspicious people in the area at the time please let the RNC know.

What is our town coming to when you can't have a friggin thing without some arsehole trying to destroy it on you. Is it jealousy? Or are people so self centered that they don't care for anyone's property or safety anymore.

A couple of weeks ago it was St. Joseph's Scout Camp burned down, this week a boat and god knows what some idiot will catch fire to next week. Lets us hope that it is not a house where people can be put in danger because that seems to be the logical progressions of things.

I heard some discussion a while ago about the possibility of the town installing a security camera down at Tappers Cove because of all the vandalism that happens down there. Let us hope that they do have something like that down there and who ever lit this fire is caught and punished.

You can contact the RNC at 729-8000 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). You can also provide information anonymously on the NL Crime Stoppers website

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Torbay Green Communications - Are You Signed Up?

The Town of Torbay has been forging ahead with its Green Communications Strategy and it is about to go into full effect. Over the past number of months the town has been rolling the plan out and signing people up to the email option. The intent of the plan is to get the entire town to receive communications through email, robo-call and through the internet via the town website, Facebook and Twitter.

The overall theme of this strategy is to keep residents informed as best as possible, while at the same time reducing the town's environment footprint. I suspect that it will also save the town some money considering the amount of flashy promotional material that is currently mailed out. This overall communication strategy is a good one but it only works to its fullest potential if as many people sign up as possible.

I inquired with the town about how this will effect people who don't use the internet and in particular seniors who would most likely rely on the mail-outs to get their information. They told me that the intention is to have all town communications handled electronically however they realize that it would be unrealistic to have every resident signed up. With this in mind it would require possibly 500 mail-outs to be produced instead of the 2900 they currently circulate to reach those without the means to receive electronic communications.

Here is what the online version of a recent mail-out about Property Assessments would look like.
Here is another example, the September 2012 Newsletter

This is an example of the email communication I received this morning about the Community Marketplace.

The Town of Torbay will be holding its Community Marketplace this Saturday (October 20, 2012), from 9am - 3pm at the Jack Byrne Arena.
 There are 72 vendors confirmed. Ross Traverse will be speaking about fall gardening at 11am. Music by Connemara and The Masterless Men will start at 12noon.
 Please come out and support your local business community.
Attached is a copy of the most recent advertisement.
 We hope to see you there!

It had this attachment with it.

If you have not already signed up for the Green Communications then you can do so here. We should all do our part to try and help the town reduce waste and streamline communications.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Torbay Fire Fighters Open House

This week is fire prevention week and tonight the Torbay Volunteer Fire Department are having an open house. The open house will take place from 6:30 - 8:00 PM and judging from previous years it should be a great event.

I encourage everyone to get out and show your support for our volunteer firefighters. All too often the contribution they make to our town and the surrounding communities goes unnoticed. That is until we have a fire, accident or other emergency like the last tropical storm and we can see them out supporting our community when we need it most.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Former St. Joseph's Scout Cabin Burned To Ground

 Last night someone burned the former St. Joseph's Boy Scout Camp to the ground. The cabin was located at the end of Camp Carey Road and has been there for many years. I was speaking to a member of the family that currently owns the facility and they are not very happy to say the least.

He told me that they have been having more and more vandalism there the past couple of years and they had been trying to maintain the place and had been doing repairs after each incident. However in the past six months to a year the number of vandalism incidents had been growing and increasingly difficult to keep up with.

Well last night sometime after 9:30 PM. someone committed the ultimate act of vandalism and burned the structure to the ground. The owner showed up around 10:30 and the building was engulfed in flames and the Fire Department were on the scene fighting the blaze. This is hardly how we want our volunteer fire fighters having to spend their time and risk their safety going around putting out fires intentionally lit by some idiot. I don't know for sure that the fire was intentionally set but why else would the place burn?

When I went there today and was speaking to the people who looked after the building they showed me another cabin near by that some kids had constructed with logs that too had been burned.

This is a scary thing to be happening in our town and especially for the residents down around Camp Carey Road. If this fire had spread there are many homes in that area that could have been in danger of burning as well. It is certainly a wake up call to the residents in that area and other areas of the town to keep an eye open for possible vandals and other people who could potentially damage property belonging to you or your neighbors.

The good thing here is that nobody was injured or worse, although there was a loss of property that has been a part of our town for many years. Hopefully they find out who did this before it can happen again.

This is a video that was on CBC, There is no audio, I guess it wasn't important enough to warrent a few questions from the reporter on the scene.