Thursday, November 21, 2013

Expression of Interest - Floats for the Torbay Night Time Christmas Parade

Over the past week or so there has been some discussion about this years Santa Claus parade. At one point it looked like the parade may have had to been replaced by a Santa Drive Trough because of lack of interest shown by those who would participate. Council and staff have taken another look at the entire situation and have decided to make one more attempt to make this parade happen.

I know it is disappointing when events do go as planned or attendance isn't that great, we all start to wonder what happened. For an event like this Santa Claus parade in which community participation is essential it is incumbent on all of us to work together to make these things work. The deadline to submit a float for this years parade has been extended to December 2nd and we need to step up and make sure it is a success for our children and families.

If you would like to put a float in the parade please contact Leigh Fitzpatrick at 437-6532 ext 228 or be email

Friday, November 15, 2013

Torbay Sports Hall of Fame - 2013 Ceremony Saturday November 23 at the Kinsmen Center

The ceremony takes place on Saturday November 23, 2013 beginning at 7:30 pm at the Kinsmen Community Center and is open to the public.

This year’s inductees are: 

Athlete Category 
Ms. Pauline (Hearn) Byrne

Athlete/Builder Category
Mr. Barry Codner 
Mr. Bryan Manning 
Mr. Dave Manning

The Torbay Sports Hall of Fame was created in 2009 to recognize people in our community who have made contributions over the years. Since that time there have been numerous people inducted into the hall and honored for their contributions to sports as athletes, coaches and builders.

Last year when I wrote my story about the Hall of Fame inductions I had this to say about Barry Codner.
There are so many people in our town who have had a tremendous impact on our community as it relates to sports. One person I can think of off the top of my mind would be Barry Codner. He has been involved in sports in Torbay for as long as I can remember from the Torbay Rec Program at the old school more than 30 years ago, to coaching me and others in Junior Softball, Senior Softball, Senior Hockey and he continues to run softball programs for children in our community.

Add to that the fact that he is instrumental in the organizing and selecting of inductees in the Torbay Sports Hall of Fame. He is a great contributor and will one day be enshrined in that hall as well, I suspect it will happen sooner rather than later
Now that I see his name on the list of people being honored I feel this is a tremendous accomplishment on his part and a long overdue recognition that he so rightly deserves. That doesn't diminish the contributions of other people who are nominated because anyone who contributes to the betterment of sport and the overall betterment of our community is certainly worthy.

This event is open to the public and considering how many people have played with, been coached by or been associated with any of this years nominees should come out and show their appreciation and support.

Please lets get out and support our athletes, coaches and builders, hope to see you there.

For more information on the Hall and to see current members visit Torbay Sports Hall of Fame

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Torbay Wine Tasting Night - November 15 at the Kinsmen Center

After a great success last year the town is again hosting a Wine Tasting Night at the Kinsmen Center on Friday November 15. There are still a few tickets available so if you are interested in a night out tasting some great wine don't wait. Tickets are available at the town hall and are $20 each....this is a 19+ event.

Last day for entries in the Christmas Card Competition

Today is the last day to get your entries in for this years Christmas Card Competition. So if you are from Torbay and are in Kindergarten to Grade 6 you had better hurry.

Entries are due at the town hall by 4:00pm today.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Guy Fawkes Night (Bonfire Night)

Tuesday November 5th the Town of Torbay will be hosting a bonfire behind the Town Hall from 6:30 - 8:00pm. The event is weather dependent and a decision will be made at 4:00pm tomorrow if it will be going ahead or not.

The Torbay Volunteer Fire Department will be on hand to ensure the safety of the fire. Please come out and have a cup of hot chocolate and roast a few marshmallows.

Breakfast with Santa - Get your tickets

Tickets will be going on sale tomorrow November 5, 2013 for Breakfast With Santa in the Town of Torbay. Tickets go on sale at the Town Hall front desk at 8:30am with remaining tickets being available for purchase on the town's website through the E-Services portal from 12:00pm onward.

There are 300 tickets available so make sure you get them as fast as you can, there is no purchase limit so they may go fast. Every person attending must have a ticket.

Alternate breakfast options will be available for people who may not like pancakes or have allergies. Hope to see you there!!

Torbay Community Market was a great success!!

On Saturday the Town of Torbay held our Community Market at the Jack Byrne Arena and it was a great success. It was certainly well attended with over 3500 patrons coming through the door. It was a special treat for myself and other members of council who were posted in our booth greeting people as they came in throughout the day.

Many people passed along their compliments as they were leaving and commented on how professional and well organized the entire event was. A special thank you and congratulations to Town of Torbay staff who worked very hard to make this market the success that it is.

I would also like to pass along my thanks to the 101 vendors who took part in the Community Market because without them it wouldn't be possible.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Torbay Community Market - Saturday Nov 2, 10:00am - 4:00pm - Jack Byrne Arena

The Torbay Community Market is happening this weekend and I encourage everyone to get out and enjoy the festivities. This market is a great time and free of charge and is open from 10:00am to 4:00pm. There will be around 80 vendors there and it is a great opportunity to get some of that early Christmas Shopping done.

Along with the vendors there will be live entertainment through out the day
10:15am Nick Wells
12:45pm Hilary Moores
2:00pm Bob Taylor & Carl Peters

Hope to see you there!!

For all the market details please visit the Town of Torbay Website

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Torbay Volunteer Firefighter Wins Big At World Firefighting Championships!!

This is a great story and we should all be very proud that our local firefighters are right up there with the best in the world.

Press release from TVFD

TORBAY VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTER WINS BIG AT WORLD FIREFIGHTING CHAMPIONSHIPS Torbay –Torbay Volunteer Firefighter Karen Greeley captured a silver medal at the World Firefighting Championships in Las Vegas this past week, in just her first year competing at the event. “Team World” comprised of Greeley, along with team members from France, Slovenia and the United States captured a Silver Medal in the Ladies Relay Division with a time of 1:57:15

The competition ran from October 22 to October 29,with preliminary racing taking place on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, where Firefighters went head-to-head trying for a spot in the “top eight” time slots for each Division,who then advanced to the Finals on Saturday and Sunday. For complete results, the times are posted on the “Firefighter Combat Challenge” website. Greeley also competed in the ladies open and had an individual run of 4:18. Karen teamed up with Mark Miller from SJRFD in the Co-ed Tandem division as well. Competitors from Canada, United States, England, Germany, New Zealand, Poland, France, Australia, and Slovenia competed this year.

Karen can be seen right in the middle of this picture wearing a TVFD shirt and hat.

Trunk or Treat - Jack Byrne Arena

What has become an annual event and a well attended one at that will be happening Wednesday, October 30 from 6:00pm to 7:00pm in the Jack Byrne Arena parking lot.

This is a great opportunity for our kids to get out with their costumes on in a safe and friendly environment. I will be there, hope to see everyone come out.

I would like to say a special thank you to all the local businesses who contribute to this event to make it as successful as it is.

Happy Halloween!!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My first month on Council, busy busy busy

Well it has almost been a month since the election and I just thought I would give a little update on what has been going on. First of all I would like to say thank you to the residents of Torbay who elected me and commit to doing my best to represent the best interest of the town and all of our residents.

To say that we have been busy would be an understatement. Anyone who thinks that being on council consists of a regular public meeting every two weeks would be in for a big surprise. Under the direction and leadership of our new Mayor Ralph Tapper we have been busy as bees. We have a very enthusiastic group that is eager to hit the ground running. There seems to be a desire to get things done and that is a great feeling to have from the outset.

Here is a run down of my last month to give you an idea of what I have been at.

Sept 24 - Election
Of course leading up to the election was a very busy time for everyone with campaigning and trying to speak to as many residents as possible, it was certainly a relief to have it over with that night and to be elected.

Sept 26 - New Council Sworn in
We didn't waste any time getting that over with, Mayor Codner was going to be out of town so that necessitated the haste to which the new council had to be sworn in. To be perfectly honest it was nice to get it over with and out of the way.

Sept 30 - First Public Council Meeting
Four days after being sworn in we held our first public meeting at which we confirmed the Deputy Mayor and got right to work. I was able to raise the issue of road painting in front of the Elementary School during my go around to express my desire to get this particular piece of work done.

Meetings With Mayor
For the next few days after the initial meeting each councillor got together with the Mayor to discuss our vision and intentions for this term of council and work out our committee structure.

Oct 7 - Council Orientation (Part I)
Council and senior staff participated in part one of our councillor orientation which was a three hours session and covered many items related to being a councillor and to learn about procedures and other topics. This was a very good session for everyone especially those of us who are new to council.

Oct 10 - Torbay Volunteer Fire Department Open House
I attended the open house for the first time as an elected official and was certainly proud to do so. This is something that I like to regularly attend but I made a concerted effort to get there this year to show my support for the fire department who do such great work. I am also the Council Liaison to the fire department and really want to stay involved and informed on matters concerning them.

Oct 14 - Site Visits With Council
On Thanksgiving day the entire council and the town CAO boarded Prestige's new bus and toured around the town to have a look at some sites that could be categorized as "trouble spots". It was great to get together to go around and have a look at these sites and to meet with some residents to discuss their issues. It gives you a first hand perspective on what people are going through. Literally getting down in the ditches to have a look is certainly different than looking at it on paper.

Oct 15 - Public Council Meeting
The time flew for those two weeks and here we found ourselves right back in the Council Chamber for our second public meeting of our new term. The public meeting doesn't start until 7:30 but for members of council the meeting started at 6:00. With so much stuff on the agenda of council this extra time is very beneficial and appreciated. During the meeting we confirmed our committee structure for the next two years which allows us to get to work in our committees. I was able to bring up the road safety improvements in front of the Elementary School again and am glad to report that some action was being taken on it. We were in the process of getting some quotes to find out how much it would cost.

Oct 17 - 2013 Community Awards
I was thrilled to attend the 2013 Community Awards both as a Councillor and as a nominee for Citizen of the Year. The event was a great demonstration of the wealth of amazing people that we have in our town, it was well attended and sure to grow in the future. Any time we can get together to celebrate the people who contribute substantially to the betterment of our community is a good thing. It was a special treat to have Canadian Olympian Ben Russell as the guest speaker and VOCM Back Talk host Paddy Daly as the Master of Ceremonies. Mayor Tapper performed well in his first official public appearance since being elected.

Oct 18 - Municipal Budgeting Seminar
Attended a full day workshop with Mayor Tapper and Councillor Thorne-Gosse on Municipal Budgeting. This session was well attended and very informative, especially for someone who is not familiar with the budget process. There is an awful lot of work that needs to go into a budget for a town our size and I appreciate the opportunity to get this training. It was also nice to be able to meet councillors and mayors from other communities.

Oct 21 - Council Orientation (Part II)
Well you can never get enough training and council got another 3 hours of it this past Monday night which concludes this particular session. I wouldn't call it information overload but over the course of 6 hours of this training we learned an awful lot about how to conduct our selves as councillor both inside and outside the council chamber. The most important thing I learned from this time is that we all need to work together to make the best decisions for the town and then support those decisions afterwards. Even if we disagree initially we can make our case, take our vote but ultimately we need to respect the democratic process and put the best interest of the town ahead of our own. The keys to this happening in my opinion are steady leadership and a spirit of team work. The Mayor is providing the leadership and it is up to us as a council to find common ground and work as a team, I look forward to it.

Oct 22 - Committee Meetings
I am on two committees of Council, Planning Land Use and Development (PLUD) and Public Works (PW) and also as Liaison to the Torbay Volunteer Fire Department. The two committees of council that I am on are possibly the two busiest and it is gratifying that Mayor Tapper has confidence in me to put me on both. The PLUD committee was also the one which was the most contentious over the past number of months, so hopefully we can move beyond that and have a fresh start. One benefit as far as schedules go is that they both meet on the same night, PLUD at 5:30 and PW right after at 7:00. Last night because it was the first meetings the agendas were considerable so we didn't get finished until around 9:00.

So that is a synopsis of what my first month on Council has been like and I can honestly say I am enjoying every minute of it so far. Add to that the numerous visits I have made to residents to talk to them about issues they are having or the emails and phone calls I have been quite busy.

This is only the first month and I fully expect it to be even busier in the coming months as council prepares for our strategic planning to look at where we want to go in the next four years and as well prepare the the budget. There will be more training, more meetings and more decisions to be made on behalf of the residents of Torbay and I look forward to it.

Award Recipients for the Awards Gala 2013 

Youth of the Year                                 Dawson Cole
Senior Athlete of the Year               Jeremy Mueller
Coach Recognition Award                Ron Paul, Dave Benteau, Daryll Whalen
Leader of Tomorrow                           Lucas Ings-Simms
Individual Community Builder       James Cooney
Corporate/Business Builder            Shawn Butler (owner/operator S.E.A. Contracting)

Left to RightTop Row;   Emcee; Paddy Daly, Award Recipients; Lucas Ings-Simms, Ron Paul, Dave Benteau Guest Speaker; Ben Russell, Award Recipients; Dawson Cole, Daryll Whelan, MHA Kevin Parsons, Mayor Ralph Tapper
Front Row; Award Recipients; Eugene Tapper, Jeremy Mueller, Lori Hapgood (accepting on behalf of Mr. James Cooney), and Shawn Butler

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Taking the tour with Torbay Council

On Thanksgiving day all members of council and the town CAO spent around 3 hours going around the town to look at various trouble spots and speak to some residents about their concerns. We visited a number of sights that have drainage issues related to water run off and got a first hand look at what they are dealing with.

One of the biggest lessons to be learned from an exercise like this is how decisions made around the council table effect real people and should not be taken lightly. It also demonstrates the complexities involved in planning and the need to have qualified and competent staff which we are lucky to have in Torbay.

This was a great exercise for those of us on council to actually get out and see first hand what residents are dealing with. It is one thing to hear these complaints on the phone or in an email but it is certainly better to see them with your own eyes. This is a sign of how proactive this new council plans to be and I for one am looking forward to it.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Great night at Torbay Volunteer Fire Department open house

Last night the Torbay Volunteer Fire Department held their annual open house and I was privileged to attend for my first time as a Councillor in the Town of Torbay. This is an event that I have attended for the last number of years and am always impressed by the demonstrations they put off. It gives people a hands on perspective of the extensive training they receive and the skill in which they conduct their business.

The children were certainly excited to see Sparky and pictures were in high demand. I would like to take this opportunity to pass along my congratulations to the Fire Department as well as thanks for all they do to keep our community safe. They are a highly professional force and we are lucky yo have them.

Councillor Craig Scott, daughter Kathleen and Sparky

Enjoying taking the truck for a ride

Nice crowd to watch the jaws of life vehicle extraction demonstration

Fireman Jules Dore giving the play by play of the jaws of life demo

Pumping air into the airbag to ready the car for extraction

Firemen using the Jaws to remove the roof of the car
You can see the roof of the car has been removed and sitting on top of it

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Town pursuing putting new Municipal Depot on Indian Meal Line - Madness!!!!

For the last number of years, I heard 7 or more, the Town of Torbay has been trying to relocate the municipal depot to a new location. In the last provincial budget the money to move the depot was provided yet the relocation hasn't started.

Last night Councillor and Mayoral Candidate Ralph Tapper introduced a motion to go ahead and move the depot to the approved location off the by-pass road in the area of South Pond. He said this has gone on long enough and they finally have an approved location so lets go ahead and get the thing moved before the town loses the money. The town has already gotten an extension on the money which was due to run out in December 2013 until December 2014.

Well low and behold we learn that the town is pursuing another location and I was surprised to find out it was on Indian Meal Line next to the by-pass road in what I guess is Tappers meadow. They have sent a letter to the provincial government seeking approval for the new location.

The motion was defeated with Councillors Tapper, Roche and Mayor Codner voting for it and the Councillors, Gallant, Byrne, Whitty and Smith voting against it. So instead of going ahead with the approved location in an area away from residents and which is also contaminated they are looking at sticking it right on one of our main roads in a residential neighborhood!

This makes absolutely no sense to me, if the intent is to move the depot to a new area why would we put it right in a place that is highly visible and full of residential traffic and homes? The road is narrow and dangerous as it is for pedestrians and children riding bikes yet we want to add a bunch of commercial traffic to it as well.

As far as I know not one resident of the town and especially the ones on Indian Meal Line have been advised or consulted on this proposed location. This is another example of the total lack of regard for the wishes of the people of Torbay and consideration for our health and well being. They are going ahead with a plan to get he location approved despite not knowing if the residents in the area want it there.....maybe they don't care what we want so I think we need to make it clear.

We just get a new by-pass road and that has done wonders in reducing the amount of traffic on Indian Meal Line and now the town wants to relocate the depot so that every piece of equipment the town has will now be back travelling on Indian Meal Line. Not to mention the noise the residents will have to put up with every time one of those vehicles backs up with their beepers and the early morning preparations for the days activities. Who wants to have to listen to all those loaders and dump trucks at 4:00 in the morning getting ready to go plow snow.

I think this is ridiculous and we should be fighting to stop this foolishness and ask why the hell we are not just going ahead with the APPROVED location?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Elect Craig Scott - Torbay Council

Hi, my name is Craig Scott and I am running for Council in the next municipal election and would like to ask for your support.

I believe that I am as ready as any potential first time Councillor could be and possibly even more so. I have been heavily involved in the politics of Torbay over the past 4 years despite not being on council. I regularly attend council meetings and have been using my website Torbay Today to pass along what I feel is important information concerning our town.

As a father with a young family I believe that it is our responsibility to be active in our community and try and create a town that fits the needs of current residents and those of the future. Over the past number of years I have been trying to provide the residents of Torbay with an overview of current events and the inner workings of council both in social media and throughout the community. The number of people who regularly attend council meetings is relatively low so I felt the need to get information out to our residents was very high. I have been very vocal in my support of the town of Torbay and also critical when I feel the situation warrants it.

One of the biggest criticisms I hear from many Torbay residents is that they feel council does not listen to them. I have great determination, drive and understanding of the issues in our town and would like to be a voice for all of the people of Torbay, especially for those who feel they have none.

I have heard many first time candidates in the past give endless lists of all the things they are going to do when they get on council. How they are going to get this or that done with no appreciation for how municipal government works. Yes you can get things done, but ultimately you are one voice on council and hopefully you can forge relationships with other members of council to try and move the town forward.

After attending many council meetings and witnessing what I would call clear divisions on council, I feel that on many occasions council may have gotten bogged down. Instead of completing town business there was a lot of infighting and pettiness going on which caused hard feelings on council and, at times, caused those of us in attendance to shake our heads in disbelief.

There are a lot of things I would like to see done in this town and I want to be on the forefront of trying to make them happen. However, I am concerned if we continue down the same path as we have in the past that we will forever be asking ourselves what is really getting done? Where is the progress? What are our Priorities?

Three things I would bring to the next council are:

New Attitude - I want to bring an attitude of inclusion and transparency to municipal government. A means of governance where council asks the people what they want instead of dictating to them. A prime example of this is Pre-Budget Consultations. I have been asking about this for the past two budgets and still there has been no real movement on it. There was a failed attempt before the last budget was delivered to have an information session but it was voted down by council. I find there to be an attitude around the table that the people who elected council to do this job should now leave them alone and let them do it, basically if you don't like it come back and see them in four years. Well it is four years down the road and this type of attitude needs to change, we need people to be involved and council should encourage it instead of dismissing it.

Considering that the budget is one of the single most important pieces of legislation that council passes each year, the process should be inclusive of what the citizens of the town want. Council should tell the residents how the money is going to be allocated before the budget is actually approved so people can give feedback and provide direction. This enables the people of the town to have an actual say in what our tax dollars are spent on. If we had done this in the past maybe some of our spending priorities would have been different. That is certainly an issue I have been hearing from people who wonder why our money is spent on certain initiatives and not others they view as more important. If they had been consulted they may have had a better understanding.

Another problem that I see is that the Town of Torbay does not do enough to work with our regional neighbours. I hear a lot of people talking about various facilities they would like to see in Torbay such as Swimming Pool, Community Center, Recreation Facility or Water and Sewer improvements. Any of these large scale projects is going to cost in the millions of dollars and a town our size stands little chance of getting that kind of funding from the provincial government. However if we work together with our neighboring towns and propose regional projects we may have a better chance to get the money we need. That doesn't mean we have to move forward with every project but neglecting to even explore regional cooperation is not doing the Town of Torbay justice. There is a very real perception around our region that other towns have no interest in working with us and that has to change.

New Approach - A new approach to how decisions are made in Torbay and specifically how the citizens are engaged in those decisions. All too often I hear that many residents feel they have no input into what types of initiatives the town undertakes or the types of projects money is spent on. When residents feel they are part of the decision making process I believe they are more likely to be involved and supportive. When they feel they have contributed to the planning of a project it may prove more likely that they will participate in it to make it a success, which is comparable to pride of ownership.

People like to be informed and, with the technology available to us today, there should be no reason that cannot happen. Residents simply want to feel like they are being listened to and the more people I speak to the greater the impression I get this is not happening. One of the biggest complaints I hear in this regard is in relation to communication. I have heard so many stories of people contacting the town for various reasons and never getting a response. This to me is simply unacceptable and I know the town is working hard on improving communications and have come a long way but we need to make it a priority to work out the remaining problems. Citizens who feel they are being ignored quickly become disengaged and lose interest. How can we ever hope to build an inclusive community where people take pride in living in Torbay if we don't communicate?

New Ideas - Torbay is a growing community with people moving here from inside and outside the province. Each new family that comes here brings a unique perspective from where they lived before and ideas of what they would like to see in their new community. Many life-long residents of Torbay also have their own opinions and ideas for how they would like to see the town move forward. As a town and a community we need to encourage these people to share their experiences and ideas with the town. It is not fair to our residents to solely rely on Torbay council and staff to come up with all the new ideas for this town, and then turn around once the decisions are made and have residents complain about it. We as residents should have a forum where we can come forward with ideas and our town must be receptive to those ideas and give them the consideration they deserve.

If we want the Town of Torbay to be the community we all wish it could be, then we need to be proactive. Ask people for their input before we decide to go ahead with a plan. Maybe someone in the community has a unique perspective that they can offer and improve on an idea, or even make us rethink it completely. We are the people living here and may be here possibly for the rest of our lives, so we should be helping to make these decisions instead of consultants and other professionals working from an arms-length perspective, who have no real connection to the town.

Here are a couple of specific projects or issues I think are important:

Education - Plans are currently under way for a new middle school to be built in our community and $3,000,000 has been allocated this year for design work and site preparation. Although this is primarily a provincial government responsibility, I think it is important for the Town of Torbay to be engaged and work closely with our MHA Kevin Parsons in this regard. Education is such an essential part of any community and we can't leave anything to chance. Mr. Parsons has been able to deliver so far on this school but we can't stop pushing and he can't stop advocating on our behalf. We shouldn't just sit back and hope everything works out for the best. We need to be there on the front lines pressuring the government to convince them how important this new school is for our area.

Recreation Facilities - I would like the town to seriously consider building a new recreation facility at Upper Three Corner Pond Park. An ideal facility would have access to washrooms from the outside and also a multi-purpose room that could be available to the public or community groups. We could also provide an area for our minor sports leagues like soccer and softball to operate from and even some recreation employees could relocate from the overcrowded town hall. As I understand it, there is already money available from both the Federal and Provincial governments for this project. This includes $150,000 from ACOA and another $150,000 from Torbay's municipal operating grant that the province has approved to be used for this project. Add another $150,000 from the town on a 1/3 project share and we have 450,000 to construct a new facility. If this money is available and the facility is needed then the town needs to move quickly on this project and get it done before the availability of this money expires.

I would also like to see the Camp Carey building at Upper Three Corner Pond Park refurbished. It has been neglected for years and it currently being used by the town for storage. It should be fixed up and made available to residents and youth groups like Girl Guides and Boy Scouts. There were once plans to put some small camp sites in that area and a trail around the pond that fell by the wayside. That is a beautiful area and a terrific green space that we should be utilizing to its full potential.

I would also like to see some consideration of walking trails around one or more of our ponds. My preference would be to start with Great Pond. I don't believe it is a viable water supply and we should take advantage of this location. It can be accessed from several places along Bauline Line and also from Whiteway Pond Rd. It would be nice to have a walking trail around one of our local ponds instead of residents having to go to St. John's.

I have also floated an idea about how to improve the local swimming hole at Whiteway Pond. That area is well used and could use some upgrades. I would like to look at cutting back some of the trees to make the pond side area bigger and bring in some sand to create a beach. In addition to making the space bigger it would be nice to put a few fire pits there so that families can go there in the evening and have a camp fire. This is a great spot like it is but with some modest investment it could be made even better. This idea may not be for everyone but we will never know if we don't ask the questions.

Recreation is an important element that can transform our town from a bedroom community into a place where we can also spend our leisure time. As our town grows, the demand for enhanced recreation facilities and green space also grows. The Town of Torbay has an extensive Recreation Master Plan and it has some wonderful ideas in it. The problem is that many of the high priority needs identified are very expensive and years away from ever being done. That is why we need to take advantage of smaller projects that can be completed with the money we already have instead of money we wish we had.

Waste Water Treatment - There is currently a Best Available Technology study underway to try and find a way to address this serious issue. Until we find out exactly what the best approach to take with this, it is hard to know when or how much money this is going to cost. I hope that one of those options includes hooking up to St. John's, which is largest waste water treatment facility in the province. I don't know if it is even feasible to go that route but unless we ask the question we will never know the answer. No matter what happens at the beach long term, we need to make sure that it is safe for residents and visitors. The town currently monitors the quality of the water and that needs to continue and we need to ensure our signage on the beach reflects the realities of the situation.

Municipal Water Supply - The town really needs to start looking at alternatives to our current water supply, North Pond. That pond is at or near capacity and I think we really need to look at regional options. I don't believe that there is another viable option within the town boundaries that has been brought forward. I don't know if the town has ever seriously pursued connecting to St. John's water supply or if they even have the capacity. However for a town like Torbay, this close to the city, it would certainly have to be a desirable solution. If St. John's is not an option then we should pursue a partnership with a town like Pouch Cove or Flatrock to see if they would be interested. Medalsis Pond which is located in Flatrock and between Pouch Cove and Flatrock may be a great solution. One water treatment plant servicing multiple towns instead of each town proceeding on their own. I have heard that this is not an option but I have never heard the reason. I have heard that Flatrock is not interested in water and sewer, it is too far, and various other reasons but unless we really sit down and discuss these issues and look for new solutions we will never advance. The water and sewer situation in Torbay hasn't really changed in 30 years and the time has come to do something about it.

Sidewalks and Curbs - This is an issue that I have heard a lot of people talk about. I also know that it has been on the radar of council in the past but nothing seems to really get done in this area. I know that cost is certainly an issue and jurisdiction over certain roads is also an obstacle. I am not sure what the answer is when it comes to sidewalks but I do have a few ideas that I would like to investigate. For instance why do we need open ditches along the side of our roads? If we have a curb, couldn't we just put a full culvert in the ditch, cover it in and have a storm drain running from the curb into the covered ditch? Even if the sidewalk portion wasn't concrete people could still feel safe with a few extra feet to walk next to the road. I don't even know if this is possible to do but it seems quite simple and we will never know if it can be done until we ask? I also find myself wondering why we permit developers to put in new roads without curbs? If the curbs were installed when the roads are created it would save a lot of road repair work for the town years down the road. Every road in Torbay that doesn't have a curb suffers washout damage and has to be fixed, some of them on a yearly basis.

Development - I would like the town to continue to promote development and work with developers for Torbay to move forward. We need to make sure we proceed with care and in the best interest of the town, but that should not mean slowing or even preventing developers from doing projects. The town plan is currently under review and will be in place for the next council, as long as we operate within our guidelines and make sensible decisions there should be no reason for some of the animosity we experienced on this current council.

I realize that all of these things I am talking about cost money but I believe if we proceed in a sensible fashion many of these things can be done without breaking the bank. As a municipal government one of the most important things we need to do is spend tax payers money wisely. We need to try and expand our tax base to reduce the burden on current tax payers. The only way to do that is to attract new business to the town or through residential developments. Either way Torbay needs to be a place where people want to live or set up businesses and it is the job of the town council to create an environment for this to happen.

If you have any suggestions or questions for me please feel free to contact me either by phone 697-3297 or email

If you think you can support me please tell others, if for some reason you don't please tell me.


Crosswalks and Intersection Paint in Torbay - Lets just do it!!

There has been a lot of discussion lately about the crosswalks not being painted on the road in Torbay and all we ever hear from current councillors is that the province is responsible.

I don't think that answer is good enough.

I have since learned that the Town of Torbay made a request to the Provincial Government last year asking permission to paint "School Zone" on Torbay Road near the elementary school.

Public Works granted the town permission to do the work although there may have been some concern about union issues. But that should not have been a problem because this particular work was outside the normal scope of work for crosswalks for the provincial department.

Regardless I don't believe the Town did the work because I don't ever remember seeing it painted there.

I think that Council should just go ahead and direct staff to paint the crosswalks where ever we think they are necessary. All it takes is a little political will and get it done.

It always seems like things are more difficult to get done in Torbay. We have speed bumps but then the town gets a legal opinion saying that they may be a liability if someone gets hurt. But in Outer Cove they have permanent ones right on their main road Logy Bay Road near the school zone. Why is it a liability in Torbay and not LBMCOC? Then despite having a legal opinion saying that they are a liability and intending on getting rid of them we are still using them through out the town.

Talk about your mixed messages. In fact some members of council reacted with surprise the last time the issue was discussed at a council meeting when they found out we were still using them. Councillor Smith commented that she thought the town was selling them. I guess to another town who sees no problem using speed bumps, go figure.

It seems our town council is very quick to pass the buck on this safety issue to the province, always under the "it's a provincial responsibility" moniker. Is Torbay Road a Provincial responsibility? Absolutely. However it is the responsibility of the Town of Torbay to ensure the safety of our residents and our children. If that means we go ahead and pain the crosswalks on a provincial road if the province is slow to act then we should do it.

There is no way that we should allow the opening of the schools to pass without ensuring that we are taking every precaution to protect our school children and any other pedestrian that wants to cross the road.

Whenever those crosswalks are faded or not done we should contact the province through Kevin Parsons and tell them to get it done or we are doing it. Buy the paint and direct our public works staff to go and paint the crosswalks and let the chips fall where they may.

This is what the Town of CBS does. They made a request about 7 years ago to the province to have the crosswalks painted and when they couldn't get action on it they started painting them and haven't looked back.

We should look at them as an example of how a town steps up to ensure the safety of their residents instead of just throwing our hands up in the air and getting nothing done.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Development in Torbay - How do we go forward?

I think that the town of Torbay needs to promote both residential and commercial development to occur. That doesn't mean to slap up a house on every piece of land we have but to proceed in a manner that is responsible and sustainable.

The main source of revenue for the town of Torbay is residential property taxes, they amount to 75% of total revenues in the latest budget and when you add the water and sewer tax to that it grows to 80%. Add another 7% to that for the money we receive in business taxes and you can see that in order to sustain any kind of spending in the town there is a need to increase the tax base.

Increasing the commercial tax base in our town should be a high priority and we need to do everything we can to encourage commercial development. If we can increase the percentage of taxes coming into the town from businesses the burden on the residential tax payers would be less.

Convincing businesses to set up in our town is not as easy as snapping your fingers. Any person contemplating setting up a business is going to want to put it in a place where it can grow and prosper. That means in order to make the town attractive for new businesses we also need to promote residential development. New development is a sign of growth and growth is what attracts businesses to a potential lucrative customer base.

People tend to have opinions about candidates running for council and try and label them on certain issues such as pro-development or anti-development. I have been asked which of these categories I fit into and I would say that on every issue I am PRO-TORBAY. If I look at it and I think it is good for the town in the short and long term then I am for it. I don't like to make decision based on some ideology or preconceived notions based on a political philosophy.

There is a great need in Torbay for increased services and improved recreation facilities for residents. The only way to get the money to provide these things is through increasing the amount of revenue coming into the town coffers. As I have already pointed out the town gets 87% of it's revenues from property taxes and without a new funding formula for municipalities this ratio is not likely to change any time soon. That is not to say there won't be new funding formula because as recent as the last provincial budget the government made strides towards creating a new funding formula for municipalities, which added much needed funds to our towns operating grant.

As it stands right now, in order for the town to increase revenues the easiest way to do that is through residential development. Over the past number of years the amount of development in Torbay has been tremendous but I don't think it has gotten out of control. There is no secret that our housing development has outpaced our water and sewer services and up until the bypass road opened was putting a strain on our main artery Torbay Road. However almost all of our new housing developments are large lot 3/4 acre or more and have their own water source and septic fields. All of these developments are subjected to various ground water and runoff studies to ensure they can be done without having a negative effect on the environment.

It is my belief that every single development proposal that is submitted to the town needs to be looked at on it's merits and considered with an open mind. If a development proposal meets all the required regulations and rules there is no reason it should take years to get through all the red tape and delays.

In Torbay we have some big problems with our infrastructure that will require significant investment in the coming years. In order to pay for these things we need to be able to collect revenues through development fees and residential taxes. That facilitates the need for Torbay to continue to grow and develop in a way that is reasonable and beneficial to the town and our residents.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

As election nears is Torbay council too political or is it just broken?

Just when we thought the current Torbay council had turned a corner and started to act like a more cohesive unit the wheels seem to have fallen off over the last couple of months. I don't know what the reason, it could be that council is simply broken from years of animosity and division. Maybe the upcoming election may have something to do with it, that is the opinion of at least one councillor. Councillor Carol Ann Smith chair of thPlanning and Land Use Development Committee (PLUD) has said quite clearly that she believes some of the recent votes were politically motivated. She even went so far as to accuse other members of council of actually trying to buy votes. These involved decisions taken by council that apparently were in direct contravention of town regulations and the recommendations of PLUD. In the most recent edition on the North East Avalon Times (NEAT) she mentioned there were three such instances, however I can think of 4 that might fall within the parameters she described.

The first two were at the April 15, 2013 meeting in which not surprisingly there were around 30 people present, this usually happens when there is something controversial on the agenda.

124-13 Motion – Councillor Smith / Councillor Roche
RESOLVED THAT the Town of Torbay refuse Application 9941-13, under the Applications to be Refused section of the Building Application Report, dated April 11, 2013, for the following reason:
1. The proposed extension to Byrne’s Lane is contrary to the Towns Development Regulation number 80 (c) (ii).
80. Subdivision Design Standards
No permit shall be issued for the development of a subdivision under these Regulations unless the design of the subdivision conforms to the following standards:
(c) The maximum length of any cul-de-sac shall be:
(ii) 300m in areas not served by or planned to be served by municipal piped water and sewer services.
Question called. Motion defeated.
For Motion: Councillor Smith and Councillor Byrne.
Against Motion: Mayor Codner, Councillor Roche, Councillor Tapper, and Councillor Whitty

The following is from the meeting minutes of the discussion that took place over this motion.
Council discussed the above motion, referencing the Town’s Development Regulation 80 pertaining to subdivision design standards. Council members questioned if the regulation related to the application. They discussed definition of cul-de-sac and the 300 meter maximum road length. It was noted that the applicant is willing to extend the road and construct a bulb at the end, which would provide turning room for heavy equipment and emergency vehicles. It was mentioned that a previous permit was approved for a home beyond the 300 meter maximum, at which time the lane was also extended.
Director of Planning indicated that a cul-de-sac is any dead end street. The road is over 400 meters, so any further extension is adding to non-confirming of street. Councillor Smith advised that the above application was discussed at Committee in full. Committee cannot support the application as it is contrary to the Town’s established regulations.
This particular motion and vote prompted me to send an correspondence to council concerning their new definition of Subdivision. I suggested that the proposed new definition didn't make any sense, was confusing and contributed to the results of this vote. You can view a copy of the letter I sent to council in this story Do the New Engineering Design Guidelines for Subdivisions in Torbay need a second look? At the next council meeting my letter was actually well received by some councillors who told me I raised some very good points. So good in fact that they decided to take a second look at it for clarification as indicated here in the April 29, 2013 minutes.
3. Correspondence from resident concerning new Engineering Design Guidelines for Subdivisions. Meeting to be arranged with Council and Newfoundland Design Associates Ltd. for further review and clarification. Also discussed under the Planning and Land Use Development Committee Minutes, dated April 24, 2013.
The second instance that went against the recommendation of PLUD happened on the same night and was related to a company wanting to set up some office spaces on Indian Meal Line.

125-13 Motion – Councillor Smith / Councillor Byrne
RESOLVED THAT the Town of Torbay approve Application B1113-13, under the
Applications for Approval section of the Business Application Report, dated April 11,
2013, subject to the following conditions:
1. The approval is for a change in use from a residential dwelling to an office use only.
2. There shall be no parking of large commercial vehicles on the property.
3. There shall be no storage of commercial materials on the property.
4. The business will be subject to business tax in accordance with the published schedule of taxes and fees for the Town of Torbay.
5. The development shall comply with the Town of Torbay Parking Requirements.
6. The Town reserves the right to inspect the site at anytime, if the above noted conditions are found to be in default then approvals may be withdrawn.
7. Approval from the following Government Agencies is required:
a. Service NL (Fire and Life Safety Division)
b. Service NL (Accessibility Division )
c. Service NL (Operations Division)
Question called. Motion defeated.
For Motion: Councillor Smith and Councillor Byrne.
Against Motion: Mayor Codner, Councillor Roche, Councillor Tapper, and Councillor Whitty

The following is from the meeting minutes of the discussion that took place over this motion.
Council members discussed the above motion indicating that the application was to turn a home into an office building with approximately six to eight employees as per residents’ correspondence. It was noted that neighbours were strongly against the application; and, that the home would be for office use only and not residential in any part. It would be completely business in a residential area. Council discussed the Town’s regulations and most members agreed that the application was against zoning and regulations and would alter the character of the neighborhood.
Councillor Byrne noted that Committee reviewed all correspondence received from residents relating to the above application. The application was recommended to be approved with the seven conditions. Councillor Smith also advised that Committee spent considerable amount of time reviewing the application and correspondence to make best decision within the Town’s regulations. She noted that the property does have a considerable amount of capacity, therefore parking would not be an issue. The application dealt only with taking a large home and converting to business site for approximately six to eight engineers. With regards to traffic on Indian Meal line, the road does run through a couple communities therefore you cannot control increased traffic
The Third instance where council went against the recommendation of PLUD happened just a couple of weeks ago at the June 25, 2013 meeting. This relates to the application to build a house on a parcel of land where Cole's Tavern used to be half way down Piperstock Hill. I don't have the text of that motion because there was some bickering at the last meeting about some wording in in the minutes and they deferred passage so we will have to wait another couple of weeks to see them.

I won't go into it too much but you can see what I did say about it at the time when it was fresh in my mind after the meeting in this story Surprise decisions and accusations fly at Torbay council meeting.

This was the second time this application came before council, the first being in April 2012 at which time it was rejected unanimously. The most recent application was the exact same as the first with the exception of the name of the applicant. Again PLUD recommended against the application but the majority of council decided to approve it. Accusations flew in the council chamber about buying votes and members of PLUD decided to consult with staff to find out if there is even a need for the committee to continue meeting and making recommendations if council is just going to ignore them. They apparently received advise that they should continue to meet and make recommendations and it is my understanding that they will. Mayor Codner was pretty blunt in his reaction to the matter when he said in the NEAT something along the lines if they don't want to do the job they can resign.

Now the fourth time hasn't happened yet but I suspect there is a chance it might next meeting judging from the discussions at the last one. There was an application relating to a trailer on 17 Reddy Drive that needs to be removed and the owner is trying to build a house there. As of the last meeting Councillor Smith communicated that the application does not meet the development requirements and that she would be voting against it. There was a lot of discussion but the general feeling I got was that the majority of council is willing to allow this application based on discretionary use. You can see more of the discussion surrounding this issue in this story I did on last council meeting Last Night at Council - A Synopsis

In the end a motion to send it to committee for a closer look and a recommendation was passed and that is what will happen. Now depending on what they recommendation will be will determine if council rejects the PLUD recommendation again or not. Regardless of what PLUD comes back with I have no doubt this application is being approved and the resident will be allowed to build the house.

Does the entire council have to vote in favor of a committee recommendation every time? Of course not, a committee makes a recommendation based on their interpenetration of the regulations, and in consultation with senior town staff who are supposed to be subject matter experts. In the end it is council who makes the final decision and if you are a councillor and you don't agree with a particular recommendation of even a regulation you don't have to support it. This happens all the time, but it is not that common that a majority of council votes against their own regulations that they created or were created by a previous council. If this is happening this often then maybe the councillors voting against the regulation is not the problem but the regulations them selves. Sometimes we are so wrapped up in regulating everything to death we forget that we live in a largely rural town and not all circumstances fall into the cookie cutter pattern.

So there you have it, is there politics going on with regards to these votes? Quite possibly but is it politics in the voting or the aftermath of the votes? Who knows I will let you be the judge, I suspect that there is a little going on from both sides of the issue.

Is council simply broken? Have the hard feelings and obvious political divisions finally taken their toll? I would like to say that it bothers me when we have members of council publicly criticizing decisions made by council as a whole. If a member of council disagrees with a motion or other matter before council they have ample opportunity before the council meeting and during the council meeting to air those concerns and offer alternatives.

After a democratically elected council votes on a matter it is now the decision of council. Even though a council member may have voted against it once it has passed it is now their decision as well. In public they should support the decision of council even if they were against it. There are two prime examples of this right now in the public spotlight, this issue raised by Councillor Smith and the issue of the Commissioner for the Gosse's Pond public hearings raised by Deputy Mayor Gallant.

Councillor Smith has publicly accused other members of council of vote buying and voting against regulations and disagreeing with the decision of council on a couple of matters.

The Deputy Mayor has openly questioned the decision to choose Commissioner Tom Strickland to hold the public hearings into the Gosse's Pond Development. This decision was discussed at council and voted on 6-1 in favor of selecting him.

These are not isolated incidents over the last 4 years and I am sure they won't be the last. As the election starts to ramp up over the next couple of months I am sure there will be other examples. I have heard people call the behavior of our council divided, dysfunctional, deplorable, disgusting, delirious, devious and down right nasty. I haven't just heard these in the street but I also remember a woman say similar statements to council in one of the 15 minute Q&A sessions after a council meeting. That meeting was so nasty that the word bully was actually used to described one member of council.

I wonder if the atmosphere of council and the perceived divisions doesn't have something to do with all the dissension that is displayed outside the council chamber. When council is supposed to show a united front and move forward with their decision something is always dragging them back over the same old stuff again and again.

This is not just my opinion but the opinion of the Department of Municipal Affairs. They have a document online called A Councillors Guide to the Golden Rules for staying out of trouble. I wonder if anyone on this current council has ever read this or a similar hand book?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Last Night at Council - A Synopsis

Nothing earth shattering happened at the regular council meeting last night bu there are a few tidbits I though I would share.

There was some discussion about a correspondence from a Church about an adjacent property that has a house on it that is in a dilapidated state. (I assume that this refers to the Anglican Church) The Mayor commented that this issue has been on the books now for two years and he wants action taken on it. Council agreed to have staff take a look, contact the owner and try and find a resolution as soon as possibly. Mayor Codner said that this is an embarrassment to the town and should be demolished.

There was also a correspondence from a resident at 17 Reddy Drive concerning their development application. As I understand it the resident has already proceeded with some of the work even though he only had approval in principle and not a permit and it is really a mess up there now. The trailer is jacked up and footings and forms have been poured and some other work may have been done, I haven't seen the site so that is all I can say about it. There are issues with the lot size that prohibit issuing a regular permit so it needs to be issued under discretionary use with variances. Council spoke about this and it appears that they are prepared to permit this applicant several variances to enable him to proceed with the work. Here is a sample of what was generally said.

Councillor Tapper said that is it quite the site. It used to be a trailer lot and now the owner wants to build a house on it. The owner is in a big jam because the trailer has to be removed by a certain time. He believes the work should go ahead but the town must take precautions to ensure it is done right.

Councillor Roche said that she visited the site and the application was approved in 2012 and it should go ahead. She commented on how the trailer had to go and that not to hold this up, give the variances which are only a couple of inches and move on. This will enhance the neighborhood.

Councillor Byrne said that he visited the site and that he is not going to comment on it.

Deputy Mayor Gallant consistent with what he said the last meeting when discussing a similar issue related to granting a permit he said that he wants to try and help the applicant if he is allowed and within the rules. He visited the site and thinks that the variances are only inches and should be allowed. He talked to the neighbours and none of them have a problem with the house going there. He questioned what are the option? Does the town halt the work and bulldoze the property and put the resident out on the street? He feels that the town should make the best of a bad situation and take the best of two evils and get out of the mess we are in. He would like to send it back to committee for them to do the homework on it and work out the details.

Councillor Whitty said that he spoke to the person and he is in favor of letting it go ahead.

Councillor Smith said that she too had visited the site and saw the situation the man is in with the trailer jacked up several feet. She said that the town had asked the applicant for a survey and based on that survey the applicant is allowed one variance but requires more than two. She said that safety is paramount but the applicant doesn't meet regulations and that she will not support it.

Mayor Codner said that the trailer has to go, he went with Brian and measured the lots and doesn't see a problem. When he measured it he questioned if the applicant needed any variance, places like this are difficult for surveyors to get accurate measurements, many times it is a best guess. It can proceed under rule 10 discretionary use.

Councillor Whitty had the last say on the motion and said that there are a lot of existing properties in the town that don't meet all regular conditions that were allowed in the past and need more consistency in the future. Introduced motion to allow the permit to be granted under discretionary use.

Deputy Mayor Gallant introduced an amendment to the motion. He doesn't want to proceed without taking proper precautions and the committee taking a good look at it to make sure everything is done correctly. He doesn't want to delay the applicant any longer then necessary but also wants to make sure they do it right. Gallant introduced an amendment to the motion to send the application back to the PLUD committee for a closer look and suggested a time frame of two weeks. So the application would come before council again in two weeks. The amendment passed 4-3.

The original motion with the amendment was put to a vote and passed unanimously.

Another piece of information I found interesting is this. There is a property along the by-pass road that the town has been trying to get cleaned up for years. The one we all know as Hel Jacks Pondarosa off Quarry Road, with the pond in the middle and the car wrecks in the woods. So for years the town has been battling with the owner to get the place cleaned up to limited success and finally that owner passed away and while dealing with the estate the town finds out that he didn't even own the land. As it turns out the province expropriated that property when they were constructing the by-pass road 4 years ago. How could we not know who owns the land we are trying to get cleaned up? I stand to be corrected on this and if anyone one from council reads this and doesn't agree let me know but that is what I heard last night.

Councillor Smith was quite upset that the town in cooperation with a developer closed a section of Quarry Road. I noticed the big rocks blocking the road last week when I went to the Gig on the Green. There have been a lot of complaints from that area lately concerning noise, people hanging out in there and dust. It was mentioned by Councillor Tapper last meeting that the resident is trying to pain his fence and can't because there is too much dust. At the time Tapper said that these people pay a lot of taxes and we should try and do something for them. Well I guess it got done, so if you pay a lot of taxes and can't paint your fence the town will close the road for you. Now that statement is completely facetious but as Smith argued closing roads can't be an answer to people hanging out and illegal dumping. She said that it is the property owners responsibility to take care of the situation. Apparently the road has been closed for a month and nobody has complained so I guess it is no big deal to anyone but Councillor Smith.

Here is something that might be interesting to some and that is the proposed Manning development in Gosse's Pond has been released by government and is moving on to the next stage. That would be public hearings on the proposed amendments to the town plan and development regulations required to proceed with this subdivision.

The Commissioner has been selected for the hearing related to the Gosse's Pond development and it will be Mr. Tom Strickland. Deputy Mayor Gallant questioned the selection of Mr. Strickland because there had been an issue with him before related to another hearing and he would like someone different. The problem at that time was Mr. Strickland would not accept submissions from people on the floor unless they had been submitted in writing prior to the hearing. This was later overruled by Municipal Affairs and a new hearing was ordered. There was some discussion related to this and it was pretty much agreed that the issue before was more of a procedural thing and that Mr. Strickland had proceeded with how the hearings were traditionally done. It was mentioned that he is a certified commissioner and they are not a dime a dozen, he is qualified and the issue before should not be a problem now. The vote was taken and it passed 6-1 with Gallant being the lone No vote on the appointment as Mr. Strickland as commissioner.

One last thing, the Deputy Mayor brought up the topic of the beach and asked if it is safe. The Mayor explained that there is regular testing that goes on both at the shore and out where the outfall is. The samples that have been taken are within the parameters set out by the province. In other words they are within the acceptable levels for a beach with raw sewage flowing into it.

Councillor Tapper mentioned that there are two signs on the beach, the new one telling people to enjoy the beach at their own risk and one on the south side of the beach as you come down the hill saying that the beach is closed. There is a conflict there and it should be resolved. The Mayor suggested that nobody ever comes to the beach that way so they wouldn't' see it.

Gallant asked if the beach was safe to use repeatedly and kept getting the same answer that the levels are within the acceptable levels and there is continuous testing. Councillor Roche said that she doesn't think people should go in the water...the Mayor said people don't go in there the water is too cold anyway. I guess he hasn't seen the CBC stories with kids wading out into the water.

Anyway, my advise for the beach is this. The beach is what it is for now. We are not getting a sewer treatment plant any time soon although hopefully we will in the future and may find a better solution. The town is always testing the water to make sure there are no issues that would cause the beach to have to be closed.

IF YOU GO TO THE BEACH....don't wade around in the water. Don't allow your dog to go out in the water. Don't eat any fish that comes directly from the water on that beach. Even though I am sure I have done it in the past along with many other Torbay residents. Remember this outfall was there when we were kids and it has not changed, I am still alive and don't remember ever getting sick because if it but that doesn't mean I would do it now. No matter what Torbay Beach will likely never be Middle Cove Beach, don't have your expectations that high, it is not going to happen.

As always if you have any questions of suggestions feel free to contact me.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Piperstock Hill Festival - Thrills, Chills and Ills - A Night for Dermot

The finale and big event of the inaugural Piperstock Hill Festival had a great lineup and town staff should be commended for putting it together. That is not to say that everything was perfect but in my opinion they did their job to ensure the concert went off as planned.

It was certainly thrilling to see all those performers entertain and treat the crowd with some great performances. Throughout the evening and into the night a large and varied cast of artists took to the stage and did their thing. Dermot O'Reilly certainly had a tremendous influence on many people and that was evident with the portion of the show called the friends of Dermot. One after another they took to the stage and performed songs that had special meaning to them and a connection to their friend. This set culminated with a large gathering of musicians on stage for one final tune in honor of Dermot with a well earned standing ovation to follow.

I think the highlight of the night would have to be a chilling performance of Let Me Fish of Cape St. Mary's by Denis Ryan. This acapella rendition was tremendous and displayed a beautiful voice that still rings clear after so many years. I only wish I had a video camera so that I could have recorded it to share with everyone or that the town had video taped the entire event and sold DVD's so that such a special tribute could have been preserved for ever.

With all the great performers that were rolled out throughout the evening it is hard to believe that there would have been a downside but their was. I have spoken to people and a common theme seemed to be that the concert was too long and they were surprised more people didn't attend.

That brings me to the Ills. In my personal opinion I think the concert could have ended with the final song from the friends of Dermot and the standing ovation they so rightly deserved. Instead we had to endure the Punters for another set. It saddens me to say this because I like the Punters but I think they really missed the boat with this performance. Their first song was a slow country tune filled with electric guitar solos by Larry Foley and if that wasn't enough they followed it up with more of the same. Every time Foley went into one of his guitar riffs it was like someone pulled the fire alarm and people started filing out of the building. By the time they finished their third song the place was virtually empty. It kind of reminded me of that scene with Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future where he is playing the guts out of the electric guitar and rolling on the floor only to finish with a dead quiet room and everyone staring at him. The biggest difference here is that there was nobody left to stare except for those of us diehards and people who bought beer at last call and didn't want to waste it. My 8 year old daughter who loves Patrick Moran and was hoping to hear "I had a Hat" and other crowd favorites turned to me and said "this is boring". I think that just about sums it up. I know some people will disagree with me but when you take a crowd that one minute is on their feet giving standing ovations and the next minute running for the exits that is an epic fail. Maybe it was an omen when the Mayor gets on stage to address the crowd and refers to the festival as the Hill Side Festival, surely he should have at least been able to get he name right.

As for the overall attendance, I don't know what more town staff could have done. This event and in fact all the events that took place this past weekend were well publicized. Short of grabbing people by the scruff of the neck and dragging them to a show there isn't much else we can do. This concert was advertised as an all ages family event but I am pretty sure the only people there under the age of 19 were my daughter and the daughter of Councillor Brian Whitty. I don't know what the final numbers were but I hope to find out in the next little while what the attendance was for all the events that took place.

One more thing that I think deserves a mention and that is the fact that there were no fireworks in Torbay for Canada/Memorial Day and that is a shame. The fact that it would have coincided with the end of the Piperstock Hill Festival would have been a fitting end. Although there were other celebratory activities on July 1st I know a lot of people look forward to fireworks when ever we have them and Torbay does do a great job on them.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Torbay council should answer to this beach fiasco

On the weekend we were discussing the Torbay beach and the fact that people were down there catching capelin. At the time I commented that I hope they are not eating those capelin because of the raw sewage running into Torbay bight.

Well low and behold the Telegram runs a story today about a family that was there catching capelin and then going home and eating them. Once they found out later on that there was sewage running into the bay they consulted a doctor and now need to get medical treatment to protect them from contracting Hepatitis B. The family stated in the Telegram story that they had no idea that there was pollution in the area and now they have months of doctors visits and needles to worry about.

The town has erected a new sign that has no mention of sewage or the possibility of pollution in the area. I think that this signage is potentially misleading and what started out as a family outing has turned into a potentially serious issue for one family in particular.

This is not a new problem for those of us who have been living in Torbay but our town is growing and new people are moving in. Not to mention people who may just be passing through that want to visit our town. Every member of this current council needs to take responsibility for this current mess. They didn't put the sewage there but they certainly need to take responsibility for the safety of residents and visitors of our town.

To put a sign on that beach that tells people to enjoy at their own risk is dangerous and potentially misleading when we don't also include what those risks might be. I have no problem with the beach being open if it is safe but we also need to make people aware of the fact that there is a sewage outfall a stones throw from the shore. This is the type of sign we need on that beach, at least people will understand what the risks are.

Related Story from the Telegram
Family unaware of pollution concern before eating caplin

Surprise decisions and accusations fly at Torbay council meeting

To say that last nights council meeting was not entertaining for us onlookers would be an understatement. Most of the discussion revolved an application by a resident to build a house on a portion of 1150 Torbay Road, that would be where Cole's Bar used to be on Piperstock Hill. This is the second time this application has come before council, the first time was April 2, 2012 and it was refused by a unanimous vote at the time on the recommendation of the Planning and Land Use Development Committee (PLUD).

So here we are a little over a year later and the application comes before council again and it passes by a vote of 4-2. So what changed to convince council to do an about face on this particular application? I have been told that the applicant had begun an appeal process of councils decision then withdrew it and simply resubmitted the same application again. That action itself seems a little odd considering the original vote was unanimous in it's rejection why would council change it's mind?

The reason the application was rejected the first time was because the development only had enough frontage for the existing dwelling. This is the same reason that the PLUD committee gave this time to recommend rejection again. However this time councillor Smith elaborated on the reasoning and stated that the current house has been there for years and does not conform to the towns regulations. By permitting another house to be built on the property they will be adding another nonconforming development with shared frontage.

Once the motion was open to discussion each councillor had their say and stated their opinions on whether the application should be approved or not.

Councillor Tapper said that he believed the regulation is not looking out for the best interest of the town and that is a reason to look at it in the five year review of the town plan. He stated that 5 years ago a previous council dealt with similar issues and he doesn't believe this is a backlot development.

Councillor Byrne stated that the town has spent a lot of money on these regulations and the towns outside consultant advised against approving this application and he is as independent on this matter as you can get.

Deputy Mayor Gallant said that he would love to help these people if it is within the rules to do so. He said that a previous council back in the 80's created this backlot problem by allowing the original house to be built. He says that people don't realize that when they build so far back on their property that the front portion would be no good. He thinks they should be grandfathered in and allowed to build.

Councillor Whitty stated that he feels there are a lot of places in the town that don't conform to the town regulations. He also stated that in the last 4 years council doesn't seem to be consistent in their decisions.

Mayor Codner stated that he believes that the applicant does have a case and that council in 1982 approved the original development and he believes it is within the authority of council to approve this application.

Councillor Smith who is also the chair of the PLUD committee had the final say on the motion. Smith said she was speechless and wanted to remind council of the impact of voting against rejecting this application. She stated that council would be setting a precedent by approving a backlot with shared frontage and the phone will be ringing off the hook by other people looking to get similar developments approved. Smith said that it is not popular to be a member of the PLUD committee right now and that this is the second time in 2 months that council has voted against their own regulations. The job of the committee is to bring forward sound recommendations and no council in the future will be able to refuse a backlot development.

The motion to reject the application was defeated 4-2 with Councillor's Smith and Byrne voting in favor and the Mayor Codner, Deputy Mayor Gallant, Councillors Whitty and Tapper voting against.

On the heels of that vote Councillor Tapper introduced a new motion to approve the building application and the motion passed along the same voting lines as the previous motion, 4-2 in favor of approval.

Once the motion was passed Councillor Smith stated that this whole thing is nothing more that vote buying and that is when the fireworks started. Councillor Tapper raised a point of order and said that he is sick and tired of councillor Smith throwing around accusations of vote buying. He doesn't think this is a backlot development and disgusted with comments about spinning the vote against the committee. He asked for an apology from Smith and tried to present a motion forcing here to apologize. Smith countered and said that she doesn't believe that council can pass a motion forcing here to apologize. There was some discussion back and forth and I think councillor Tapper put forward a notice of motion regarding the apology and I guess we will see if it will be put forward next meeting.

Now I don't know if this application should have went ahead or not based on the town regulations. I do know that there is a lot of land in that area and it would be a shame of nothing could be done with it. On the surface looking at it through untrained eyes I don't see the problem. Then again I didn't see a problem with allowing a bed and breakfast to be built on Dominion Hill either but that was apparently against regulations as well. It is funny how regulations are held up by some members of council as the gospel in one instance and totally disregarded in others. Maybe Councillor Whitty has a point when he says that there is no consistency when it comes to rulings by this council.