Thursday, November 20, 2014

Lions Club Meeting - Monday Nov 24, 8:00 pm - Kinsmen Center

There will be a Lions Club meeting and information session at the Kinsmen Center Monday November 24 at 8:00 pm. I have attended two of the three meetings they have held so far and interest seems to be growing.

20 members are required for Torbay to have their own club but even with less members they could form a branch club sponsored by Pouch Cove Lions. According to the numbers I have been hearing they are very close to having the required numbers and this is a great time for anyone interested to get in on the ground floor.

I believe a Lions Club in Torbay would greatly benefit the community and those people who choose to join in the club. I encourage residents to get out and find out what being a Lion is all about and how you can help our community.

Here is a short video I am sharing fro the Lions Club District 4 website, take a look and see if being a Lion may be for you and your family.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Liam McKnight Breaking Good with Health Canada

For those of you who don't know my sister Mandy's son Liam McKnight has been afflicted with a terrible disease called Dravet Syndrome. Dravet is a rare and very debilitating form of epilepsy that has changed Liam's life and all of those around him. My heart breaks every time I see my sister posts another story on his Facebook page Liam's Journey - Epilepsy chronicling his life as he battles this terrible affliction.

Liam is 6 years old and has been having seizures since he was 9 1/2 month old and each and every one he has takes a toll on his little body. Over the past 5 years Liam has undergone countless tests, scans, diets, drugs and nothing has seemed to make his life or the life of his family any better. The doctors kept changing his medications and changing doses to try and find some balance to help him but aside from some small victories along the way the treatment process has done nothing to make his life better in my opinion. In fact the combination of the medications and the constant seizing has made matters worse for him because he has suffered setbacks in his development and even some brain damage. When my sister approached Liam's doctor in Ottawa to ask them to give Liam a prescription for medicinal marijuana they said no. Even after they had told Mandy that there was nothing else they could do for him in regards to treatment with prescription drugs. At that point Mandy scoured the country trying to find a doctor that would give him the prescription. She found one in Edmonton but that meant she had to fly Liam out there to see the doctor, which she did and things have started looking up from there.

Most recently stories published in the Telegram, Ottawa Citizen, Huffington Post, National Post, The Star Phoenix among others have told the story of how for the first time Liam has a viable medicine that saw him recently go ten days without a seizure. The problem is that in order to get this medicine in the form that is really the only option for him is against Health Canada rules for medicinal marijuana. You see Liam needs to have a very specific mixture of his medicine and it is largely dependent on the percentage of CBD in it. That is the compound found in the cannabis plant that helps him, not the THC part that makes you high.

So in order for Liam to get his medicine, the only thing that has worked in the past 6 years that doesn't contribute to giving him brain damage or developmental problems my sister has to break the law. She needs to take the dried cannabis buds, send them to Montreal to have them made into the proper oil than send a sample of that oil to British Columbia for analysis to know what dosage to give Liam. All this because Health Canada says that the only way Liam is allowed to take his medicine is by either smoking it, or through a vaporizer. Mandy states very clearly in multiple interviews why this is not an option for a child like Liam suffering from Dravet Syndrome.

I am not going to get into all the specifics but I would like my sister and her family and especially my nephew Liam that I and my family are behind them 100%. Living so far away from them and not being able to offer help with every day things we have tried and continue to support them in other ways. We have done multiple fundraisers and try to spread the word about their struggle but it always feels like it is hardly enough.

I guess the most important thing I can do for Liam is to let him know I love him and am always rooting for him to have a good day. I know that may sound strange to hope that he has a good day but that is the reality of the situation. Every day that Liam can go without having a seizure is a good day and if he can go two that is a great day for him and those who love him.

Here are some links to recent stories about Liam and his "breaking good" with Health Canada

Telegram Story - Marijuana has set him free

Ottawa Citizen - Six-year-old medical marijuana user runs afoul of Health Canada rules

National Post - 'Health Canada says he has to smoke it’: Six-year-old medical marijuana patient not allowed to use cannabis oil

Huffington Post - Health Canada Rules Require Liam McKnight, Child With Epilepsy, To Smoke Marijuana

The StarPhoenix - Six-year-old user runs afoul of Health Canada's rules

I have compiled a small video with some photos as Liam's life has progressed and want to share it. I can tell you right now that just putting this together was a very emotional experience for me and I hope that you enjoy it and understand just how special Liam is and show your support any way you can.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Town of Torbay - Great events so far this summer and more to come

Well I have to say the weather lately is certainly something to talk about but so are the events that the Town of Torbay has had so far this summer. The month of July has been a very busy time for staff and council alike and we are not finished yet.

Starting on July 1st I had the privilege of assisting to lay the Town's wreath at the Memorial Day Ceremony. The event was very well attended and former Mayor Bob Codner did a great job organizing and as MC. As always in NL July 1st has a much deeper meaning to us than just Canada Day, it is the day when we reflect on the sacrifice that so many Newfoundlanders have made especially on that dreaded day in Beaumont-Hamel in 1916.

Once that ceremony was over I went to the Fire Department for a small reception and a cool drink before heading out to Jeck Byrne Arena to kick off our Canada Day celebrations. Mayor Tapper and I were on hand for the cake cutting and the official start to our events. The weather was beautiful and despite being inside the festivities at the arena were very well attended and seemed to be popular, especially with the younger children. The bouncy castles and the juggler were certainly well received.

As the day progressed I dropped over to the Gig on the Green that was held at Pine Ridge Park and again that event was very well attended. There were great acts lined up to perform and several vendors set up selling their merchandise. Entertainment included Acrobat Danielle Aubut and musical acts, Danika Drover, Lew Skinner and Justin Martin and closing out the evening The Rolling Kings. This is the second year for this event and seemed to be even better attended than last year.

Finally to round out the evening and close out our Canada Day celebrations the Town of Torbay put off a fabulous fire works display at Torbay Beach. The fireworks lasted for a little over 16 minutes according to my watch and the reviews I received afterwards were very positive.

Overall I think that our Canada Day celebrations were very well planned and also well attended and the comments I received were positive. I would like to pass on my compliments to town staff and residents for making all the events a pleasure to attend and a great success.

Last week the town had a concert at historic Tapper Cove, Tunes at Tappers, and again this was a very well planned and attended event. The town had 200 tickets printed and they were all sold which in itself was very promising. Mayor Tapper and I attended that event as well and he gave a very warm welcome to all who were in attendance and the performers did a great job entertaining the crowd. Event goers were also treated to a bowl of fish stew in exchange for their ticket stub. One interesting point to make about this event is that there was no parking allowed at the site and all concert goers were transported to the cove by Prestige East Taxi who were contracted to provide shuttle service. Due to the nature of the access to Tappers Cove which is basically a very narrow and steep road I think this was a very good decision and the shuttle service seemed to run very good. I was speaking to a lot of people throughout the evening and every person I spoke to was thrilled with the entire event. Hopefully this is something that we can do again in the future.

This evening July 17th the Town is hosting a BBQ in Western Island Pond Park from 5:30 to 7:30. This is another great initiative that I see as neighbourhood building and an opportunity for residents to get out and meet their neighbours and also members of council and staff who may be in attendance. I look forward to it and will be on hand to help distribute burgers and hot dogs to what I am hoping will be a large turnout of residents.

We will also be hosting another of these neighbourhood BBQ's on August 12 at the Motion Drive playground, spread the word if you live in that area.

July has been a very busy month and it doesn't seem to be letting up, we also have our deadline for 2014 Silver Spades Property Beautification Awards on July 24. If you would like to nominate someone of get more information please send an email to today.

Last but not least the Killick Coast Regional Games will be hosted in Torbay this year and the opening ceremonies will take place on Monday, July 28, 6:30 at the Kinsmen Centre. Be sure to come out and show your support for our local athletes.

Here are some pictures from various events during the month of July.

Acrobat Danielle Aubut - Gig on the Green

Making balloon animals - Gig on the Green

Vendors set up at Gig on the Green

Mayor Tapper greeting crowd at Tunes at Tappers

Nick Wells and Chelsea Parsons - Tunes at Tappers

Crowd enjoying John Curran and Greg Walsh - Tunes at Tappers

John Curran and Greg Walsh - Tunes at Tappers

Monday, June 9, 2014

Torbay Wastewater Treatment Study Underway

Untreated wastewater (sewage) has been a big issue for many Torbay residents over the years including myself and there seems to be a general consensus that something has to be done about it. On the heels of World Oceans Day which occurred on June 8 I would like to take a minute to update people on where we are exactly with wastewater treatment in Torbay and express the fact that we are moving forward.

In July 2012 the Government of Canada introduced new wastewater treatment regulations designed to reduce the amount of untreated wastewater that is pumped into Canadian waterways. You can view the frequently asked questions related to the new regulations here

Each year there is about 150 Billion litres of untreated or undertreated wastewater deposited by municipalities in various bodies of water in Canada. These new regulations have a significant impact on municipalities like Torbay because not only are we required to comply with the regulations but we have to do so within a specific time frame, 10, 20 or 30 years. There are various steps and guidelines that must be followed within the federal regulations and that is where the town is right now.

Before we can take any steps towards actually building a facility to treat our wastewater we need to complete a study to determine the quantity and quality of the effluent flowing from our outfall at Torbay Beach. Based on the results of this study we will be able to find out where exactly we sit as it relates to the new regulations.

For municipalities like the Town of Torbay these new regulations are both a blessing and possibly a curse. A blessing because there are guidelines for us to follow to rectify our practice of pumping raw sewage into our beach and polluting our historic bay. The possible curse is the potential cost associated with building and maintaining the required facility to allow the Town of Torbay to comply with the federal regulations. In 2012 Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador (MNL) passed multiple resolutions to lobby both the Federal and Provincial Government to provide additional funding to help municipalities become complaint with the new wastewater regulations. The estimated cost to municipalities in Newfoundland and Labrador for the necessary infrastructure upgrades stated by MNL is approximately $500 million. This enormous price tag could potentially cause municipalities to not comply with the regulations or place unreasonable fiscal pressures on towns such as Torbay and our tax payers.

When we look at the potential cost for municipalities in NL and then project that across the entire country we can easily see that these new regulations are going to cost many billions of dollars. So where is all the money going to come from to build infrastructure and help municipalities become complaint with federal mandated regulations? I am not aware of a single dedicated source of funding where municipalities to apply to for financial help. There are however several available federal and provincial programs and funds to which municipalities can apply for to get funds specifically for wastewater treatment. Wastewater treatment infrastructure is an eligible category under the Provincial-Territorial Base Fund, the Green Infrastructure Fund, the Gas Tax Fund, the Building Canada Fund and under the Gas Tax Fund.

So with all this in mind where does this leave the town of Torbay? Well in April 2014 the Department of Municipal and Intergovernmental Affairs approved the towns Prime Consultant, Progressive Engineering & Consulting to undertake our Wastewater Treatment Study and council passed a motion to get he project underway. This is a significant first step and the study is slated to be completed by the end of September 2014.

Once the study is completed, and as I mentioned earlier about knowing where we fall within the federal regulations we can choose the technology best suited to our town and put a price tag on it. After we do that we can actively pursue all available funding options from the federal and provincial governments. A phrase that I use often and have heard even more when it comes to taking advantage of government funding is "shovel ready". I think that it will be important for the town to get our project "shovel ready" as soon as we can once our study is done. As is so often the case especially with federal funding there is a pool of money available for a specific budget cycle and many times it just sits there because nobody is ready to receive it.

As a town all we can do is make sure that we have our part done and have all the i's dotted and t's crossed. We need to have our plans ready to go so if there is a funding option available that we are in a position to take advantage of it where others may be scrambling. I think we are on the right path and certainly on the road to rectifying our wastewater woes as they exist right now.

In the mean time while we are completing our study and preparing to move forward with wastewater treatment the town of Torbay actively monitors the beach and conducts sampling in the water and on the rocks to ensure it is as safe as can be considering we have a raw sewage outfall off our shore. There were significant problems a couple of years ago when the outfall pipe was damaged but that has since been fixed and the natural currents in our bay help keep effluent off the shore area.

As always I like to remind people that all opinions stated in this space are mine and not necessarily those of the town of Torbay or Council.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

2014 East Coast Trail Tely Hike June 7 - Show Your Support!!

TETC Coyotes
The 2014 East Coast Trail Tely Hike will take place on June 7th and they are asking for our support. This is an extra special year because the East Coast Trail is turning 20. The East Coast Trail is a tremendous asset to the Town of Torbay and we should show our support by donating a few dollars to this worth while cause.

Our local Torbay Environment and Trails Committee team, the TETC Coyotes were the top fund raising team last year and they also had the top individual fund raiser Robbie Hicks. As you can see our very own Mayor Ralph Tapper is a member of the team. When I checked the pledge site this morning they were in the lead again this year and Robbie is also leading in individual donations.

I know a lot of people who use the trail in our town and the neighboring communities and this is a great way for them to give back. It cost a lot of money to maintain the trails we have and to construct new ones so every dollar helps. The fundraising goal this year is $200,000 and so far there has been around $83,000 raised which is a good start but leaves a good way to go.

WHEN: Saturday June 7, 2014 (International Trails Day!)
WHERE: King George V Park (next to Quidi Vidi Lake) St. John's
TIME: 8:00 am - Tely Hike Kick off/Hiker Registration

There are several ways that people can help raise funds for the ECTA:

1 - TETC challenge, form a team (max of 10 members in each team), raise pledges and participate in the June 7 Tely Hike.  Lots of teams are made up of families so it's makes a great family outing. Many businesses form teams and it makes for good team building.

2 - Participate in the Tely Hike as an individual hiker and raise pledges that way.  You don't have to be part of a team to participate and you'll make lots of friends along the way.

3 - Those who can't hike for whatever reason, can help by donating through the TETC Coyotes. It can be done on line: go to the web site, find the team and choose a team member and make a pledge on their page. Or, people can contact a member of the TETC and give us a donation (cash or cheque) and they will input it into the site.

4 - At any time, everyone is welcome to become a member of the ECTA and support the Association that way. It only costs $25/year and it's all tax deductible.

Here are the links you need to know to make a donation or register a team.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

6th Annual AA Towing Texas Hold'em Fundraiser Saturday April 5th

You are invited to the annual fundraiser poker tournament for our Torbay Men's Slo-Pitch softball team. This is the only fundraiser we do for the year so we would really appreciate it if you come out. This event has been a tremendous success for us the past 5 years and we hope it will be again this year.

It is at Liddy's Lounge in Torbay and starts at 7:30 pm Saturday. This is a great event and a chance to sit back and have some fun. It only cost $20 to buy in and the top 3 win cash prizes, Hopefully we will see you all there.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

East Coast Trail - An asset to Torbay

It was a pretty full night as far as council was concerned last night, starting off at 6:00 with a presentation to council from the East Coast Trail Association and finally adjourning our regular public meeting shortly after 10:00 PM.

The presentation from the East Coast Trail Association was informative and a testament to how much work has gone into that trail since it's inception. It is clear that the trail is a great tourist attraction and a valuable asset to the Town of Torbay and validates the investment of $5000 the town has made to the trail association this year. In Torbay we have the Father Troy Trail which is an 8.7 KM portion of the trail that is very popular. It is incumbent on us as council and residents to promote this trail to get more and more people to use it. It is also very important for us to be stewards of this trail and report to the proper authorities when we see damage on the trail or vandalism taking place.

In addition to the Father Troy Trail in Torbay we also have 4 other sections of trail stretching from Outer Cove to Cape St. Francis. All together the five portions of the trail that winds through the towns of the district of Cape St. Francis total almost 46 KM. That is a lot of our coast line to be explored and certainly a great way to spend some time.

Here are some links to the 5 trails in our area between Red Cliff and Cape St. Francis, please get out and experience what is right in our backyard. If you enjoy it and want to see the trial well maintained or enhanced please visit the donation page and drop a few bucks in support of the East Coast Trail.

Biscan Cove Path goes from Pouch Cove - Cape St. Francis and is 7.3 and 4 km long estimated hiking time of 3-5 hrs.

Stiles Cove Path goes from Flatrock to Pouch Cove and is 15.1 KM one way with an estimated hiking time of 5-7 hrs.

Father Troy Trail goes from Torbay to Flatrock and is 8.7 KM one way with an estimated hiking time of 2-4 hrs.

Silver Mine Head Path goes from Middle Cove to Torbay and is 2.4 KM one way with an estimated hiking time of 1-2 hrs.

Cobbler Path goes from Red Cliff to Outer and is 8.2 KM one way with an estimated hiking time of 3-4 hrs.

The East Coast Trail Association is always looking for volunteers and if you would like to help our please take a minute to check out the current volunteer opportunities.

With 265 KM of trail it is obviously expensive to maintain this vast network of trails and if you would like to help out financially I am sure any donation you make would be greatly appreciated. The East Coast Trail Association is a registered charity and all donations of $10 and above are eligible for a tax receipt. Please take a second and go to the donation page and check it out.

To learn more about the trail network or to read the organizations Strategic Plan take a minute to visit the East Coast Trail Association website.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Crossing the floor, changing lanes, jumping ship - A Cynics View

Cynic - a person who believes that people are motivated purely by self-interest rather than acting for honorable or unselfish reasons.

A Cynic might find it typical that MHA Paul Lane could so easily switch from the governing Tories to the Liberals without losing a beat. It is like an episode of Extreme Make Over political style, one minute he is the jolly blue giant then next he is Joey reincarnate. If you take Mr. Lane on his word this was all about the leadership of Premier Kathy Dunderdale and he just couldn't take it anymore. If Mr. Lane was an obscure backbench politician that was lost in the fray, a non cynical person could maybe buy that, but here is a man that was on the forefront of everything the government was doing, a point man so to speak.

Anyone who follows Mr. Lane on Twitter for instance knows there was no bigger defender of the current government and Premier. It is difficult to believe that one morning he woke up exited the bed on the other side, transformed into a Liberal and all was right with the world. Someone who isn't cynical may believe that when you join a political party you do so because you gravitate towards other like minded people and come together to formulate policies to achieve a common goal. To think that this can be done without some bumps in the road or disagreements would be a bit simplistic and naive. We don't just take our marbles and go home when things are not going our way or jump through the first opening that makes itself available.

When news of Mr. Lanes defection and transformation came across the news wire a few thoughts may have came to your head. The first thing I had to do was check the calendar to make sure it wasn't April 1st. Paul Lane? Seriously? A Liberal? Once the disbelief faded I then put my cynical cap on and tried to reason why something like this would happen.

A cynic might look at this defection and think to themselves, well I guess the rumblings about Randy Simms maybe running in the next election in Mount Pearl South have someone skittish. Maybe a cynic would think that this move was done to preempt an election between Tory Paul Lane and Liberal Randy Simms, which would likely result in the defeat of Mr Lane. A cynic might look at that defeat and the fact that Mr. Lane has only served one term as kissing his pension good bye. A cynic might look at the entire issue of party changing as more of a political opportunistic move that one of principle.

It is understandable that a person can have a change of heart and become disenfranchised with their political party, especially if the direction of the party makes a big shift. The principles that the party stood for and the goals changed then making a change could be warranted. One could understand that from the average run of the mill party member, but hardly from a party insider or heavy weight. These are the people who have the real power to enact the changes in the party that they want to happen. That is what makes a cynical person look at defections of high profile MHA's and top party executives as nothing more than opportunistic and self serving.

One thing that we can be sure of and that is there will be no bigger defender of the Liberal brand going forward that Paul Lane. The transformation will be so seamless that it will be open for debate whether he was ever a Tory. He has already spoke out against Bill 29, the Premier's leadership, direction of government, why you would think that he never had a hand in any of that. I guess changing parties mid term is like getting amnesia or being born again, seeing the light, alleluia, alleluia!!

Let us not forget, Paul Lane is not in this alone, no the Liberal Party and their leader Dwight Ball are right in the middle of this too. Of course it takes two for the transformation to be complete, you need something to transform into and it just so happens that the Liberal leadership has a case of political amnesia as well. Either that or the cynic in me would say they just don't care, it is another seat, add one on, can we take your bags? oh never mind forget those and leave them behind, welcome to the club, kumbya!!

Makes you wonder why so many people are cynical about politics.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Liam's Army Bonus Ball Fundraiser

My sister Mandy McKnight made a plea on Facebook recently asking for help for her family and in particular fundraising help. My nephew Liam suffers from a devastating disease called Dravet Syndrome, a severe form of Epilepsy that has no known cure.

Aside from the emotional and physical struggles the family has to deal with they also have tremendous expenses to contend with as they try and find a treatment that will help their son.

Anyway some members of our family here in Newfoundland are pitching together to have a fundraiser in the form of a Bonus Ball Lottery and is described in the picture included in this post.

Please take the time to visit Liam's Facebook Page Liam's Journey Epilepsy to find out more about this wonderful little boy and this terrible disease he is inflicted with. I am making a plea to my friend and acquaintances to please dig deep and do what you can for this amazing family.

If you want to buy a number or several numbers just send me an email , facebook message or call me 697-3297. We really want to make this a big effort so please tell your friends.

Friday, January 10, 2014

What is going on in Torbay? - My Council Update

It has been a while since I posted an update but with everything that has been going on lately and the Christmas season coming to an end I thought now was a good time.

November 2nd the Town had another great Community Market at Jack Byrne Arena. Members of Council were on hand to pass out programs and meet people as they came in. The number of compliments passed along to the organizers by patrons at the event was endless. Great job by all those involved!!

November 5th was the annual Guy Fawkes bon fire which was well attended despite the cold temperatures. It was a great time with lots of marshmallows and hot chocolate on hand. Thanks to the Torbay Volunteer Fire Department for helping out with this event.

On November 11th the town's official Remembrance Day Ceremony was cancelled due to the weather but those members of council who were available went to the memorial site and laid our wreath anyway. It would have been nice for more people to be involved but under the circumstances we did what we could. This event has been heavily discussed afterwards and we will be taking steps to ensure we have an alternate plan in the future.

On November 23rd there were two events. In the morning members of Council were on hand to serve up breakfast at Breakfast with Santa and the event went really well. We served up pancakes and fruit to the parents and children who seemed very excited to have a visit from Santa. Later in the evening I attended the Torbay Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony and it was a great night, some of the most deserving people in our were recognized for their efforts.

There were so many things going on over the Christmas season it is difficult to list them all here, but there were a few events that stand out. The fact that our Santa Claus Parade was in jeopardy of being cancelled and replaced with a Santa Drive Through was on the top of many people's minds. In the end Council and staff were able to take steps to ensure the parade took place and from all the feedback I received people were very pleased.

Another great event was the annual Christmas party for people with disabilities hosted by the Torbay Volunteer Fire Department and former fire department member Joe Tilley. I couldn't make this event and I was really looking forward to it. Hopefully I will be able to make it next year as this is one of the most important Christmas events held in the town. Taking the time to recognize people with disabilities should be a priority in our town and this event does just that. Congratulations to Mr. Tilley and all those involved. The Telegram did a very nice story about the party complete with pictures and can be seen here.

Another great event that we had was the Seniors Christmas Dinner on the 12th of December. This was another event where members of council were on hand to help serve dinner and wine. It was a fun time and the Mayor along with his friends entertained those on hand with some live music. I always enjoy spending time with seniors and having the opportunity to give a little back to those who have given so much in their lives. It is times like this when I think of my grandmother Bridget Hawco and all the good times we had over the years.

We also had the Torbay Magical Forest, wreath making, Christmas card contest and the town Christmas Tree lighting as part of the Christmas season activities. So much and so little time but it was a pleasure to participate in as much of this stuff as I could. Add to those the Town Christmas Party, the Fire Department Christmas Party and all other council responsibilities over the past couple of months it has been pretty busy.

In between all of these more social engagements we did manage to get some town business done and it was equally as busy if not more so.

We ended off the month of October by passing a motion to get some safety improvements made in the area of the Elementary School, specifically getting the crosswalk painted and adding the school zone markings to the road. This seems like a small thing but it has been a point of contention for some time and I am glad we could get it done relatively quickly.

The tender to complete road work on North Pond Road and Convent Lane was awarded but due to the lateness in the year the actual work could not be completed. I know this was very high on the priority list for residents in that area and for the town but circumstances beyond our control resulted in the work having to be scheduled for the spring.

On the weekend of November 15-16 council met to formulate our Strategic Plan for the next four years. We got together over a couple of days and discussed the priorities for the town and worked really hard to come up with a comprehensive plan to direct us as we move forward. This exercise was very eye opening and a challenge but ultimately I think we came up with a great document. There are so many things we want and need in our town that it is hard to limit it to just a few however the need to narrow focus so that we can actually get things done is absolutely necessary. Hopefully our plan will be ready to be adopted by council in the near future.

We also adopted our Economic Development Strategic Plan. This was very important for the town to have a clear direction as to how be move forward. One of the barriers to our town growing our economic base is the fact that around 96% of our tax revenue is generated from Residential Property Taxes. The need to diversify our revenue base and reduce the burden of residents is of great importance and this is a great step in the right direction.

Over the past couple of months council has engaged the public on various initiatives and one of them was to get feedback on a new sports club house to be constructed at the Upper Three Corner Park. The building is a joint venture between the town, the provincial government and ACOA. This is a badly needed upgrade to this facility and should be used extensively by soccer and softball programs alike. It will also provide another facility in our town that can be utilized by various groups like scouts and brownies etc.

Council also took a bit of a field trip to tour the new community center in Paradise to view what they have there. This should prove very helpful when we are trying to make decisions on the type of facility we intend to build in Torbay.

On December 9 council voted on and passed our Multi Year Capital Works funding application to the provincial government for the years 2014-2017. The application will total $9,457,878.84 and initiatives submitted for consideration were.

Community Center $8.0 Million
Booster Station on Indian Meal Line $572,364.78
Ball Field Lights at Upper Three Corner $231,262.27
Road Improvements (Mahon’s Lane and Morris Avenue) $654,251.79

These are projects that a lot of the ground work has been done on and we have cost estimates for them all so they made the most sense to move on right now.

Last weekend during the power outages council took a decision to open a warming station at the fire hall to give residents a place to go if they needed it. With help from the fire department and town staff we were able to keep the station open all night on Saturday in case there was a need. Up until I left there at around 11:30 we had around a dozen people come through with various needs from charging oxygen machines to just getting some water. We closed it up on Sunday morning when the immediate need was over but were prepared to reopen if the power situation got worse.

The past couple of months have also been very busy with regards to budget preparations. I am very happy to report that for the first time we held pre-budget consultations and requested budget submissions and presentations from the general public or community groups. I have to say I was a little disappointed by the low number of submissions but this was the first time we did it and I am confident as we involve the public more in decision making processes that the number will grow. Keep an eye out for calls from the town asking residents if they would like to participate in various committees and groups in the near future.

At our public council meeting Monday January 6 we passed our first budget as a new council. One of the main concerns during the budget deliberations was the desire to limit any spending increases and hold the line on taxes. The finance committee did a great job ensuring that we are providing the residents of Torbay with the best possible services and not increasing taxes.

There are a number of great initiatives in the budget that were announced in the public chamber Monday night but I don't want to get into too many details as it is not fair to parties who may be affected by budget decisions. All I will say right now is that it was a balanced budget in the amount of $7,737,851.69 with no mill rate increase.

Another big decision that council will have before us in the next couple of weeks is finalizing the site for the new depot. Currently there are three sites under consideration and an independent review of the feasibility of all sites is currently under way. It is expected that at our next council meeting we will be voting to move forward with one preferred site and hopefully get the depot move on the fast track.

People often ask me why moving the depot is such a high priority for the town and what is wrong with leaving it where it is? I have to admit I have asked this question myself in the past. The answer is that until the depot is moved it will be difficult to move forward with our plans for a new town center and in particular Community Center in the area where the current depot is located. So moving the depot is in essence a step in getting our new community center that I and many others would like to see constructed. It is something that people are asking for and something that I believe we desperately need.

This decision that is coming up next Monday night as to where to put the depot is extremely important for so many reasons it is not even funny. One big issue is the fact that the funding for the depot relocation is time sensitive and any delays could result in the loss of that money which would be a disaster. Depending on how the independent review goes this could turn into a very difficult decision based on the long term feasibility of each site. I can't speak for anyone else but I will be making my decision based on hard facts and numbers and what is in the best interest of the entire town for now and going forward. As in all decisions some people will agree with me and some won't but all I can do is try and make the best decision I can with the information available.

I would also like to add that town staff have been doing a great job clearing the snow and keeping the town running so far this winter and I am sure they will keep up the good work. There is an awful lot of work that goes on that we as residents never see to ensure that work gets done. People working both inside and outside of the Town Hall to make life easier for us all.

Speaking of making our lives easier and taking care of us we should never forget the efforts made by the Torbay Volunteer Fire Department. In my haste to try and get this post done I forgot to mention that the fire department had people manning the station in Torbay and Flatrock 24 hours at times during the power outage. The firefighters were extremely busy during the blackout and the fact that they did such a great job is no big surprise to anyone in Torbay.

Happy New Year to everyone and lets work together to move our town forward in 2014 and beyond.


Here are some pics of various events that I snapped on my phone

Mayor Tapper and Council at Nov 11 wreath laying

RCMP Officers at Nov 11 wreath laying

Wreath being placed at War Memorial Nov 11

Seniors Christmas Dinner at St. Nicholas Hall

Mayor Tapper and his friends entertaining at the seniors Christmas dinner

Councillors Thorne-Gosse and Smith enjoying themselves at the seniors Christmas dinner

2013 Torbay Sports Hall of Fame inductees
Mayor Ralph Tapper , Bryan Manning  , Pauline (Hearn ) Byrne , Dave Manning , Barry Codner

For those of you who may not have gotten the chance to visit Torbay's Magical Forest that was located at the Kinsmen Center here are a few pics of the various Christmas Trees that were there.