Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Beautiful Tribute to Young Hockey Player and Son

This past weekend at the Jack Byrne Arena in Torbay, the Neil Maynard Memorial Peewee Invitational Tournament was held. There was a special surprise awaiting everyone who was in attendance as both Northeast Eagles teams donned the old Pouch Cove and Area Combines jerseys that was worn by Neil when he played. Whether it was divine intervention or simply fate both teams won gold medals in their respective divisions to top off the weekend.

Northeast Eagles Peewee B Champs

Northeast Eagles Peewee C Champs

I received an email from Darren Bradbury to tell me about the events and he also elaborated on the terrible night that young Neil Maynard passed away. I don't know the story that intimately but with his permission I thought I would share that email as a background to this beautiful tribute. Darren told me that this is his recollection and the details may be a little fuzzy but this is how he remembers it.
Just wondering if you could maybe give a shout out or do an article on the Neil Maynard Memorial Pee Wee B & C invitational hockey tournament this past weekend in which both North East Eagle Teams won the gold medal with the Old Pouch Cove And Area Hockey Jerseys On in Rememberence of Little Neil as Sr Neil used to call him. Not sure if you remember the story but little Neil used to have headaches all the time and the Dr's could not find out what was wrong with him. One Stormy February night years ago Neil and his wife Debbie were trying to get little Neil to the janeway and had to phone Torbay Fire Dept, John Coady was driving and did all he could to get little Neil to the hospital, I believe they even had a snowplow in front of them trying to clear the road it was that bad but were unsuccessful. Little Neil died in the arms of his dad, I was at the wake and funeral, very, very sad. Neil Srs Mom, Mrs Maynard told me and Neil at the time that something good would come from this and I guess it did as there were 11 peewee teams of boys and girls playing hockey all weekend from all over the province having fun. Not all can win but both Northeast Eagle Teams won this weekend.
Darren Bradbury
As a parent I find it very difficult to accept the death of a child so early in their lives. I can only imagine the grief a parent would feel at the loss of their baby when they had so much ahead of them. Neil Maynard's family and the community as a whole have done a tremendous job keeping this young boy's spirit and memory alive. It has been more that 20 years and the memory of this special little boy is still going strong and all those people involved in this tournament should be congratulated, commended and thanked for all they have done.

Last years Tournament raised $7500 for Ronald McDonald House, Bravo!

CBC Story and Video

Northeast Eagles Website

Monday, February 25, 2013

Great Time at Family Snow Day in Torbay

I have to first say that I was a bit surprised and disappointed at the turnout Sunday afternoon for the Family Fun Day at Upper Three Corner Pond Park. For those of you who don't know where that is it is the Bauline Line Ball field. Of course I say that in jest, as for as long as I can remember it was only known as the ball field and is still how most people I know refer to it.

Anyway that being said the turnout was certainly disappointing I took a rough count and there was maybe about 20 kids and as many parents. Granted I didn't get there until almost 1:30 because it was Sunday after all and I went to mass then Sunday dinner. I wonder did that have anything to do with the turnout? I know a lot of families attend church services at 11:00 Sunday morning both at the Holy Trinity and St. Nicholas churches. I don't know if the town took this into account or not but even so I would have thought there would have been more people there.

For those of us who did go it was a pretty good time, my kids had a ball sliding on the hill, snowshoeing down to the pond, trying out the survival equipment and structures that Outfitters had constructed and snow sculpturing.

I was speaking to the lady there from outfitters and learned that on Fridays they offer a walk up showshoeing adventure. Last week they trekked out to Freshwater Bay (map). She told me that right now the hike is free except for rentals if you need them. They have done three so far and it is a really good time. If you want to find out more about those hikes you can give them a call at 709-579-HIKE (4453) or email them at They are located at 220 Water Street, that is where you meet to go on the hikes.

Anyway here are some pics that I took yesterday. Hopefully this is something that we as a town can do some more of. Maybe we need to canvas the people to see what they would like and when to have it?

Sliding on the Hill

Snow Sculpture


Toboggan Ride om the Ball Field

Survival Snow Hut

Ryan did some modifications and put a window in

Kathleen enjoying the heat by the fire

Getting geared up for showshoeing 

Different sizes and styles to suit everyone it seems

Off we go

Joining in

Heading to the pond

Down on the pond

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Several Events Planned For the Weekend in Torbay

There are three events scheduled this weekend that you may want to take part in or simply pass the word on to someone who might. On Saturday February 23, there is a Kidz Basketball Blitz being held from 12:00 - 4:00 at Holy Trinity Elementary School. This is for boys and girls age 9-12 and should be a lot of fun. You need to contact Allison Power at the Town of Torbay to register your team. This is a great activity to have our kids get out and be active and to make new friends. So far there have been 10 teams registered from Cape St. Francis Elementary and 2 from Holy Trinity Elementary. This is a non-competitive fun event so everyone is welcome.

There is also a Family Snow Day scheduled for Sunday February 23 at Upper three Corner Park on the Bauline Line as part of the Snow Treasure Celebrations. This event will take place from 12:00 - 3:00 weather permitting. The Outfitters will be onsite to offer Shoeshoeing demos and there will also be toboggan races and various other activities. Allied Youth will be on hand with a cash snack bar. Come out and enjot what is sure to be a fun time and a chance to participate in some physical activity with the whole family.

These two events are great family activities and something that I and other parents have been asking for. It is nice to see the town doing more events for the whole family.

For those of you who may be a little older and not into sliding and hot chocolate then there is a perfect event for you. On Saturday February 23, while the kids are running around and making a racket over at the Basketball Blitz you can relax and enjoy a 50+ Tea and Desert at the Kinsmen Centre. This event will run from 1:00 - 3:30 and entertainment will be provided. Tickets can be purchased at the Town Hall and should you require more information please contact Leigh at 437-6532 ext 228. There have already been 30 tickets sold for this event so it looks like it should be a good time.

It is shaping up to be a bust weekend in Torbay with events for all ages, be sure to get out enjoy yourself especially after the pile of snow we are supposed to get between now and tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Torbay Water Supply Maxed Out - New Water Study Coming

Last night at the Torbay Council meeting there was a discussion the capacity of the current Torbay water supply at North Pond. This capacity has been reached based on the current guidelines for how many houses can be hooked up to it and they are planning on doing a new assessment of what the actual capacity is.

There are 26 new houses being added under the current regulation and the new study will determine what the new requirements will be. Until the study is completed and the new guidelines set there will be no new houses add to the system that have not already been identified. From what I understand a water flow test was done back in October for 4 or 5 days to measure the flow coming from North Pond. A metre was hooked up to the line that measured how much water was being used. From what I gather the current flow rate suggest that we are using over 500 litres per capita a day. The Mayor said that he though the number was very high and that he wondered if we may have leaks in our system. Councilor Smith mentioned that this was a 4 or 5 day study and in such a short time anything could have happened to influence the reading so the numbers may not be that accurate.

The Town is investing in a metre to be installed at the North Pond pump house to measure how much water we are actually using. I was surprised that we didn't already have a meter in place to measure actual water flows to determine our use and capacity, especially considering the relatively low cost which I understand in in the $3000 range. The plan is to do a study that will measure water usage over a longer period of time 6-12 months which should give a good indication of exactly how much water we are using. With this data the town can then more accurately determine exactly how many households can be connected to our current water system.

This leads me to this question, what measurement did the Town of Torbay use to determine the current capacity of our water supply, 300, 400, 500 litres per day? Did they have an actual measurement or just an estimate? Considering there is no metre we don't have a reliable means to measure how much water we are using, we could already be well beyond the maximum capacity of that pond. So what happens if we have a new usage study and realize that we already have too many houses hooked up? That will be an interesting conversation to be sure. I don't think we are over capacity or we would have had a lot of notices the past summer about the pond being low. The town has some pretty smart people looking after this and I doubt they would let that happen.

I looked up some numbers with regards to residential water usage and according to a 2010 Municipal Water Use Report released by Environment Canada. The average residential water usage in Canada was 327 litres per capita, as per 2006 statistics which the report was based on. Although the stats are from 2006 they cover the period between then and 1991 and show usage rates have remained pretty stable.

As so often the case it seems that us Newfoundlanders are a people of excess and it is demonstrated in the water usage report. While the Canadian average is 327 litres per capita a day for residential use we are at 504 here in NL, second highest in the country behind only the Yukon. So when you look at that the metre reading in Torbay of just over 500 litres per capita a day is not out of the ordinary.

I think that getting a metre installed on our system can serve several purposes. First and foremost we will know more accurately exactly how much water we are using in our town on a daily basis. Secondly, with this information in hand our town staff can be better equipped to make decisions on our water supply. Finally we can use this water usage information to inform and educate the residents in Torbay with regards to water usage and conservation. Obviously, if we are using a substantially higher amount of water than the average Canadian there is room for improvement by all of us.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Torbay Municipal Plan Review - Public Consultation This Week

The town of Torbay is currently conducting a mandatory 5 years review of the municipal plan. There is a public consultation taking place this Thursday night February 21, 7:30 pm at the Kinsmen Centre. If you are interested in hearing what is going on or want to make a presentation you should be getting it ready now.

The town will also consider written requests from groups or individuals but I am not sure if you need to submit the request to be able to speak or not. if you have any more questions check with Brian Winter at the town.

Here is the link to the notice

Torbay Watching THMs In Water Supply Closely - Actively Working on Lowering Them

As I said last week the levels of THMs and HAAs in Torbay water supply have been over the recommended levels the last couple of years. Nothing close to the reported numbers for the Town of Pouch Cove but troubling none the less. An added concern were quotes attributed to Pouch Cove's Mayor with regards to town staff not being aware that the presence of these contaminants were potentially harmful to people.

This prompted me to make inquiries with the Town of Torbay to see if they were aware, and what are they doing about it. I would assume a professionally run town with the number of resources we have employed would have someone monitoring our water supply. As I expected they are aware of the state of the water supply and working towards getting the levels of contaminants down to recommended safe levels. I was told that the average levels have started to come down over the past 2 years and it can be attributed to the maintenance being done on the system, like the flushing program.

When you look at the numbers you can certainly see a downward trend since the fall of 2010. The average levels of THMs were at a high of 170 ppb and in the Winter of 2012 they were 117.72 ppb, that is a 30% decrease in just over a year. It should be noted when we look at the most recent test numbers from February 2012, we can see that the THMs levels in the water at that time were 62 ppb, well below the 100 ppb recommended by Health Canada. It will be interesting to see what the running average is when the Spring, Summer and Fall numbers for 2012 are posted. If the trend continued then our water supply would be well within the recommended safety level right now. That is the problem when dealing with numbers that are basically a year old. That last test reading of 62 ppb should be reassuring to the residents who are using municipal water, and the town who are working to maintain a safe supply.

So what strategies besides flushing does the town employ when it comes to the safety of our water supply? I was told that Town of Torbay staff are certified and receive annual training on water distribution systems and must keep current on their training to maintain their certification. The town is issued a permit annually by the Provincial Government to operate North Pond with clear conditions that must be followed. The water is tested throughout the system on a weekly basis and sent to a lab for analysis. The lab then sends written reports back to the town with the results which are distributed to both staff and members of council for review. The town is also in the process of developing information that will be distributed to residents to educate them on THMs.

With this in mind I am personally satisfied that the town is on top of this issue and moving in the right direction. If I was on the water supply I don't think I would be worried about the water being safe but I would continue to monitor it and ask questions if I had concerns. One thing for sure is that you can never be too safe when it comes to a water supply and the effects it can have on the health of those using it.

I know one thing, if I lived in Pouch Cove I would have some very serious questions for town staff and council with regards to ridiculously high THMs in their water. Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to the safety of your citizens and simply saying we didn't know is not good enough. In Torbay not only are staff given the reports on the quality of the water but they are also distributed to council. Yes the levels of THMs in North Pond may have escalated in recent years but it appears that our town has the situation well in hand and a plan going forward. We are quick to pounce when we hear about something we don't agree with or like but we also have to give the town encouragement and recognition when they are doing things right.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

THMs and HAAs Levels Above Acceptable Limits in Torbay Water Supply

This issue has been in the news for the past few days and the numbers that are being made public with regards to Pouch Cove water supply were troubling to say the least. I have never heard of these Trihalomethanes (THMs) before so I figured I would go and check it out. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has a fact sheet on one of its websites where you can view this information.

Basically what I understand is in the case of water supply's, THMs are by-products created by disinfecting the water. When chlorine is added to water that has high levels of natural organic matter like leaves and other vegetation THMs are created. It is very common in surface based water supplies and coincidentally this is the type of water supply Torbay has in North Pond. Now that it is exposed by the by-pass road everyone can actually see where our water comes from. Subsequently we can also see a lot of vegetation both surrounding and immersed in that pond in the form of trees, both alive and dead.

So the natural question we should be asking ourselves is how does our water supply in Torbay stack up against the Canadian acceptable levels of THMs? The current Canadian drinking water quality guideline for THMs is 100 parts per billion (ppb) or micrograms per litre (µg/l). The guideline is based on an annual running average of quarterly samples to account for seasonal variations. THMs levels are generally highest in the summer and lowest in the winter. The Government actually has a website called the Water Resources Portal that publishes all of the data collected for water supplies in the province.

I looked up the data for Torbay and found that in the THMs Summary Report that our levels have been above the Canadian acceptable levels consistently since the winter of 2010. Since the Summer of 2005 I found that 17 out of 25 sampling periods, our water supply had THMs above the Canadian acceptable level. It should be noted however, that they report these levels based on 4 consecutive testing periods to have a running average. A running average is compared against the acceptable limit of 100 ppb, simple average is not because data is not available for 4 consecutive reporting periods, 3 of our samples that were within the acceptable limits were simple averages. I would also like to note that the numbers we are talking about with regards to North Pond in Torbay range from just over a 100 up to 170 which was our highest reported amount to date. That is far less than the numbers we have seen for Pouch Cove that have consistently been above 300 ppb.

While on the site I took a look at the Drinking Water Quality Index for Torbay to see what the quality of our water is and was surprised to see that our water quality has not been ranked since 2007. One of the reasons it has not been ranked is because the levels of THMs. I was then surprised to see that not only are the THMs levels above the acceptable limits there are also Haloacetic acids (HAAs) that are above the Canadian maximum allowable guideline. The presence of HAAs above the acceptable Canadian limit would also cause our water to not be ranked even without the presence of THMs.

Now what the hell are HAAs? Again, this is the first I have heard about them and they are pretty similar to THMs in that they are a by-product of chlorine disinfection in water supplies. These however are a relatively new disinfection by-product that is being tracked. The Guidelines for Acceptable Drinking Water Quality recommend a maximum acceptable concentration of 80 parts per billion (ppb) or micrograms per litre (µg/l). All of the parameters used in the reporting on THMs are relatively the same for HAAs with regards to running and simple samples so we don't need to rehash all that. Since 2008 the levels of HAAs in Torbay water supply have consistently been way above the maximum acceptable level of 80 ppm. The lowest level reported at 122.75 and the highest being 214.18.

I guess the question everyone should be asking is how safe is our water? Are there health risks to drinking water that has high levels of THMs and HAAs? On the government website it says this about health effects associated with THMs.

The Federal-Provincial Subcommittee on Drinking Water established the current guideline for THMs in 1993. The guideline is based on the risk of cancer reported in animal studies of chloroform, the THM most often present and in greatest concentration in drinking water. Since then, new epidemiological (human) studies had been published which reported associations between THMs and bladder and colon cancer, and adverse pregnancy outcomes including miscarriage, birth defects and low birth weight. In response to these new findings Health Canada, in its role as Secretariat to the DWS, established a multi-stakeholder task group in 1998 to oversee a comprehensive update of health risk information on THMs and to develop recommendations for controlling the risks.

Now our next question needs to be is our Town doing anything about these harmful by-products in our drinking water or are they as oblivious as the Town of Pouch Cove seems to be about them? I found it shocking that Mayor Patten said town staff were never informed that high levels of THMs in the towns water supply could pose a health risk to residents. What, you can't be serious? There has to be more responsibility on a municipality to maintain a water supply. We don't just send a couple of guys in a truck to drop a few pucks of chlorine into the treatment system like I do with my backyard pool. Surely someone on staff needs to be qualified to manage such a water treatment facility and to ensure it is done correctly to protect the people using the water.

I can see how something like this could get overlooked in Pouch Cove as they have a small number of staff there compared to Torbay for example. But what is happening in Torbay? Are these numbers being looked and at what are we planning on doing about it? These are all very important questions and with the 5 year review of our Town Plan currently underway this is something we need to look at.

Here is some food for thought....

The City of St. John's has HAAs levels have only once been above the maximum level of 80 and that was a measurement of 80.95 ppb.

The City of St. John's has never had THMs levels about the Canadian recommended level of 100, they are consistently well below that threshold on all of their water supplies.

The City of St. John's has only failed to have an excellent Drinking Water Quality Index once since 2008 and that was the period where there HAAs exceeded the limit by 0.95 ppb.

Now, can someone explain to me why the Town of Torbay's primary focus for a water supply is not hooking up to St. John's? That is a discussion I think we need to have. Portugal Cove St. Phillips had similar problems with THMs in their water supply and eventually they closed it and connected to the regional water supply from Bay Bulls Big Pond. Maybe we should be following suit.

If you want to see the reports you can visit the links below and you just need to choos which report you want to see from the drop down list.

Water Resource Portal Page for Torbay

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Soap Box Politics at it's Best? You be the Judge

I received an email from Councillor Brian Whitty informing me of a letter he had submitted to the North East Avalon Times. The letter deals with what he perceives as Soap Box Politics being perpetrated by the Deputy Mayor. There are some accusations that the Deputy Mayor is participating in Soap Box Politics and not attending most of the budget presentations. This seems out of character for Brian but it certainly raises questions about Soap Box Politics and who is playing it.

This is the text of that letter as it will appear in the current edition of the Times.
“Soap box politics at it’s best!” are the only words I can think of to describe Deputy Mayor Geoff Gallant’s  recent comments regarding the town’s budget for 2013.  The Deputy Mayor  Gallant claims to have been concerned for the residents of Torbay.  The one question I have for the Deputy Mayor is “Where was your concern for the residents just over three years ago when you voted for an approximately 50% increase in your remuneration.” At that time I was the only councilor to vote against that increase.  The Deputy Mayor accused me of grandstanding  and he also said that I was trying to score “cheap political points”.
The Deputy Mayor also suggested that council delay the vote on the budget which would have meant that we would  have held  a public council meeting on December 24th.  According to  the Municipalities Act the budget is to be passed by December 31st.  We are not the House of Assembly!
Finally, when I spoke with town staff and other council members I learned that the only budget presentation the Deputy Mayor had attended was the Recreation Department’s presentation.  The Deputy Mayor had suggested that we delay a number of Public Works expenditures until 2014.  He made this suggestion without consulting with staff.  In my opinion the Deputy Mayor should have made suggestions  that were based on information presented  and not politically motivated.

Councillor Brian Whitty
Town of Torbay
Well if that is not a shot across the bow of the Deputy Mayor I don't know what is. Could this be the beginning of a long year of nasty politics between two potential Mayoral candidates? I don't know but I do know one thing from observing the current council and that is Councillor Whitty is not usually one to speak out this way. I have always found him to be relatively quiet and not the type to get out in front on an issue like this. I have had discussions with Brian in the past regarding this and he basically said that he doesn't just speak for the sake of it, and likes to keep things respectful and cordial, especially in the Council Chamber. This tells me that something has happened to raise his ire and I guess he feels the time is now to start speaking out, or is it soap box politics on his part, I don't know.

One issue that Councillor Whitty has brought up is the increase in council pay that was passed back in 2010. I remember this clearly because it was the very first story I wrote about on this blog, and I criticized a couple of councillors and Brian Whitty was one of them. I said this about him at the time.
Then there is councillor Brian Whitty who was the lone councillor to vote against the pay hike.  Good for you Brian if you really and truly were against this raise in pay I applaud you.  I assume that you are making arrangements not to receive the increase in pay?  I would like to know what you are going to do with the extra money.  Are you going to donate it to charity or some children's programs in the community?  If I was a betting man I would say that you are just going to accept the increase the same as everyone else and say oh well, I voted against it, not my fault.  Again, not someone I would consider a serious person who is willing to put their words to action and stand behind it. 
As Brian has said he was accused of grandstanding and trying to score cheap political points with his stance against the pay increase. I for one questioned his motives while at the same time applauding him for having the integrity to vote against something that he publicly spoke out against. In his defense to questions I had posed to him with regards to what he was going to do with that pay increase he commented on that story saying the following.
Hi Craig,

I didn't realize that this topic was still on the radar. I took the majority of my increase and have been donating it each year since I became a councillor to the School Lunch Association ( a charity near and dear to me). I can provide receipts if necessary. 

Councillor Brian Whitty
I for one have to admit that I was wrong when I said that I doubted Councillor Whitty would do anything besides take the money and that would be the end of it. As it turns out he is indeed a man of his word and of principle where this pay increase was concerned. As for this issue still being on the radar, I don't think it is. The only reason it is on the radar not is because it happened to get mentioned during this latest bout of political infighting between Councillor Whitty and Deputy Mayor Gallant.

For the record I agreed with this pay increase at the time and still do. I also complimented the other members of council who supported the measure and didn't play politics with it at the time. Among those was the Deputy Mayor who understands the need to offer people a reasonable remuneration to participate in municipal government.

Another thing mentioned by councillor Whitty is how the Deputy Mayor tried to delay the budget vote. The night that Geoff had proposed amendments to the budget I had asked him why he did so publicly when they were not supported at committee. He told me that he was hoping that some councillors would have a change of heart and support the changes that he said would save tax payers money. At the time he was accused of grandstanding and trying to score political points in doing so. I asked him about that and he insists that his motivation was to try and save tax payers some money on their tax bill and that is it. I also suspect that he wanted it on the public record that he had indeed proposed those changes and he did vote against the budget. At least I think he did because at the time it didn't even seem clear to him how he was supposed to vote on some of the motions that were part of the budget. He voted against the first two motions setting the tax rate at 6.7 mills and approving the tax and fee structure for the 2013 tax year. As I remember it when the third motion was presented he asked the mayor if he was supposed to keep voting no and the Mayor kind of shrugged and said vote how you want. Subsequently he voted in favor of parts of the budget because the budget was broken down into many separate motions each voted on separately.

In my opinion once he voted against the first two motions he was against he budget as a whole. Without the first two motions setting the financial guidelines for the town to go forward the rest of the budget would be useless. I think he should have voted against all the budget motions to remain consistent but that may just a matter of opinion. Although it would be hard to explain voting against a 20% tax rebate for seniors which I happen to think is a great idea and something I had been talking about for a while along with some other changes

You can read the entire budget vote here in the council minutes.

Geoff has been accused of grandstanding and having some hidden political agenda more than anyone on council. I have had some discussions about this with him and he says that his agenda is not so hidden and has pretty much been on the public record since he ran for council. Anyone who doesn't  see where the Deputy Mayor stands on most issues obviously has not been paying attention. Over the last few years the Deputy Mayor has been a lightning rod for criticism on several issues. Most of the negative feelings towards him seem to come as a result of his standing up for the Open Space Management Strategy that he has worked hard on since being elected to council. There is a clear divide on this council with regards to how we should proceed with development and other policies and I am sure it will be an election issue.

Anyway I think that this is going to be an interesting year in municipal politics as people start jockeying for position, especially where the Mayors race is concerned. I don't know who is going to be on that ballot yet but as the winter drags on and we move into spring the picture should become much clearer and at the same time dirtier perhaps.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Jeremy Meuller Great Showing at the World Winter Games

Jeremy Mueller
As I mentioned here last week Torbay has a very special young man, Jeremy Meuller competing in the World Winter Games. Not only is he competing and having fun he is doing very well and should be making us all proud.

He has competed in several races and won 2 medals for his effort is both the team relay and individual snowshoeing competitions.

Jeremy is now the proud holder of a Gold medal in the individual 400M race and a Silver in the 4x100M relay. The fact that he has won these medals only add to the fact that he is representing our Town, Province and Country splendidly on the world stage.

I have never really followed Special Olympics before but having Jeremy compete has raised my interest. This often happens when there is a local connection and I have spent some time exploring the Special Olympics website and have learned a lot.

If you have time to visit the site and read some of the stories of the athletes you will be both amazed and inspired by their commitment to sport and their drive to compete. One thing that is common among many is how they never lose focus on some very important things, having fun and making friends.

I certainly hope that when Jeremy comes back home that our town gives him the recognition he deserves. I would encourage our Town Council to make a special effort to acknowledge his accomplishments and contribution to our Town.

You can view Jeremy's race results here.

I would like to congratulate Jeremy on his accomplishment and thank him for representing our town, province and country so splendidly. You can congratulate him by signing his profile page here.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Torbay residents honored with Queens Diamond Jubilee Medals

Last week deserving Torbay residents were recognized for their achievements and contributions by being presented with the Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal. This year 60,000 Canadians will receive this award and we should congratulate the worthy recipients in our Town.

All of these people have made significant contributions to our community and anyone who has been associated with them knows how valuable they are. As residents of Torbay we are fortunate to have so many worthy people to choose from and should be proud to live in such a community.

The 2012 Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal recipients from Torbay are:

Ross Traverse
Rose Auchinleck
Mary Power
Don Gallant
Joe Tilley
Kay Molloy
Barry Codner
Marie Codner
Cindy Howlett

I have also been told that Mayor Codner has been nominated and will receive his medal within the next 2 weeks.

This is quite and honor and I just want to say congratulations and thank you.

MHA - District of Cape St. Francis Kevin Parsons addressing recipients
Left to Right -  Mayor Bob Codner, Ross Traverse, Mary Power, Kay Molloy, Joe Tilley, Marie Codner, Barry Codner, Rose Auchinleck, MHA Kevin Parsons, Councillor Ralph Tapper
Absent from photo Don Gallant, Cindy Howlett

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Power to the People - Council Votes in Favor of Power Line

Last night the Torbay council passed a motion to allow cabin owners in the Middle Three Island Pond area to have a power line installed to supply electricity to their cabins. The motion was put forward despite the recommendation of the Planning and Land Use Development Committee (PLUD) against it.

The motion was put forward by Councillor Ralph Tapper and seconded by Deputy Mayor Geoff Gallant. Basically what the motion said was that the town grant permission for the cabin owners to have Newfoundland Power construct a pole line to deliver power to their cabins at no cost to the town.

This issue has been ongoing for a couple of months now and the cabin owners were very happy to finally get this thing passed and clear the way for them to get electricity to their properties. They were certainly nervous as the PLUD committee had twice recommended against the installation of the pole line and had no intention of changing their minds.

There were some points made both for and against and the following is my interpretation of what they said and should not be considered quotes.

Councillor Tapper argued that these people are tax payers and the town should do what they can to help them secure and protect their properties. He also mentioned that the cabin owners are not asking for other services and as the area is zoned rural the town is not responsible to provide any. Voted Yes.

Councillor Roche also voted in favor of the motion stating that in this day and age we should not deny people access to power if it is available. She also mentioned that although the Adventure Park is slated for that area it is a secondary issue as far as she was concerned and didn't effect this power line.

Deputy Mayor Gallant mentioned that although the Adventure Park is a long term goal there is actually some progress being made on it. I think this statement was more information for Councillor Roche than part of the debate about the power lines. He went on to say that Torbay should be a safe place to live and that the cabins are existing so we should not deny them a means of crime and vandalism prevention. This is the main reason that the owners are requesting the electricity and future access to the area for the Adventure Park will not be impacted by this. Voted Yes.

Councillor Whitty voted in favor of the motion and said that the committee using the Open Space Management Strategy as part of the argument to deny this application was not consistent. He said that Council can not pick and choose when they apply the strategy and need to tighten up the policy.

Councillor Smith voted against the motion even though it is not a popular decision and stood by the PLUD Committee's decision to recommend against allowing the power line. Her arguments against the motion revolved around the possibility of the town opening them selves up for requests from these cabin owners for additional services as well as people requesting to build in that area. She argued that council was working outside the guidelines by allowing this power line to be installed in a rural area. Councillor Smith also expressed her surprise that members of the Recreation Committee are voting in favor of this, considering the Adventure Park is a top priority. She said that allowing this could have negative effects on future councils if expropriation of land becomes an issue in that area.

Mayor Codner said that this issue required some soul searching on his part and it wasn't clear whether it goes against the recreation or development plans. He considered an amendment to the motion which would have asked the cabin owners to sign and affidavit stating that they don't want any other services, but then decided against it. He seemed to be the most concerned with the possibility of the town being compelled to provide additional services to the area to avoid liability. An example he gave was what if the people decide to spend time in there in the winter and someone gets sick. If the road is not plowed then they could be liable if an ambulance or fire truck could not get in the road. Voted Against.

After all the statements were made and the votes taken Councillor Tapper addressed some of the concerns raised by the Mayor and Councillor Smith. He said this is not a residential area so the town is not responsible to provide any services, the Municipal Plan is clear on this and doesn't see the town in a liable situation.

The motion passed 4-2 with Councillor Byrne absent.

I listened to the arguments both for and against this motion and I really don't see the problem. These cabin owners are paying for this power line to be installed and it is not costing the town a cent. Also the threat of the cabin owners requesting additional services is pretty weak in my opinion. This area is zoned rural and is frozen to development, putting power in there is not going to change the zoning. Does the pole line that runs right through Torbay down to Flatrock change the zoning of the land it passes through? Are people lining up to put in applications to get zoning changed because a power line runs past their land? I don't know, but the town still has the right to turn down development and service requests in rural areas.

I also find it a bit ironic that when the debate was ongoing with regards to Land vs Cash in Motion Drive Estates that the Open Space Management Strategy was labeled as a guiding document and not official policy. This was part of the argument put forward by members of the PLUD committee against taking the land there instead of cash, despite the fact that a Coastal Park was designated in that area in the Open Space Management Strategy. Unbelievable, in one instance the open space plan is downplayed as a guiding document and in another it is held up as a reason to deny tax payers the right to spend their own money to supply power to their own properties. That is something else that has to be recognized in this whole thing is that these cabin owners are only asking permission to run the power lines. They are not asking the town to pay for it, they just want to have some power supplied to their own properties paid for with their own money.

This was a good and reasonable decision by Council in my opinion.

If you want to read some background on this issue here are the Related Stories.

Cabin Owners Dumbfounded By Town's Refusal To Allow Power Line (12/12/12)

Three Island Pond Cabin Owners - Powerless! (01/29/13)

Monday, February 4, 2013

5 Year Review of Town Plan - Have Your Say

The Torbay Municipal Plan which was created in 2007 is due for a mandatory 5 year review this year. The Municipal Plan is basically the blueprint for Council with regards to the goals, policies and objectives during the time frame that the plan covers. In this case it covers the 10 years from 2007 to 2017.

The town plan is is subject to a mandatory review every 5 years to be amended or altered to accommodate the towns changing needs for example land use requirements or rules for subdivisions to name a couple. To read the full text of the Town Municipal plan you can access it from the Council Documents of Interest on this blog or just click HERE.

Anyway this is a very important time because during this plan review there will be public consultations and if you want to make a submission and have yourself heard you need to keep an eye out for the public meeting announcement. I am trying to get some information with regards to who is allowed to make submissions and what format they have to be in. Do they have to be put in writing and submitted prior to the meeting or can anyone just make a submission at the meeting? There was an issue last year where residents were not allowed to make a submission at a public consultation on an amendment to the Town Plan because they had not submitted it prior to the meeting. You can read that story here.

The point is that there is an election next year and some or all of the current members of Council may not be there. Anyone who has an interest in the direction our town plans to take over the next 5 years should check out the town plan and see if there is something they would like to see in it.

I am going to speak to some of the people in out Torbay For Families Facebook group and see if we can come up with some ideas that we would like to have expressed at the public consultation. Feel free to send along any comments or concerns that you may have and we can start a discussion about the direction we would like the town to go in.

Torbay Athlete Wins Silver Medal At World Winter Games

Jeremy Mueller

As I mentioned here last week Torbay has a very special young man, Jeremy Meuller competing in the World Winter Games. Not only is he competing but today along with his team mates won a Silver Medal in the 4x100M Snowshoe Relay in a time of 2 mins 44.08 secs. They finished around 9 seconds behind first place United States who has a time of 2 mins 35.46 secs. They held on to second place by only around 8 tenths of a second over Uzbekistan who finished with a time of 2 mins 44.86 seconds. I am sure that must have been an exciting finish considering how close it was.

You can view the race results here.

I would like to congratulate Jeremy on his accomplishment and thank him for representing our town, province and country so splendidly. You can congratulate him by signing his profile page here.