GREAT NORTHERN PENINSULA, N.L. – The Great Northern Peninsula Joint Council hosted a meeting May 27 to address and discuss the major concerns of municipalities.
Attending the meeting as part of the joint council were councillors and mayors from Port au Choix, Port Saunders, Anchor Point, Flower’s Cove, St. Lunaire-Griquet, Englee, Main Brook, Roddickton-Bide Arm, Hawke’s Bay, Conche, Bird Cove and St. Anthony.
St. Barbe – L’Anse aux Meadows MHA Christopher Mitchelmore and RCMP Superintendent Dave Cook also attended.
Meeting with RCMP
Cook was invited by the joint council for a presentation at the start of the meeting.
The presentation centered on the RCMP’s decision to “hub” detachments together in St. Anthony and Roddickton-Bide Arm and also the Port Saunders and Flower’s Cove detachments.
This means that during after hours, neighbouring detachments will respond to calls for service at their own detachment and the neighbouring detachment on an alternating basis.
The joint council wanted to know why the RCMP made this decision and what information was used.
Cook explained the rationale. He provided a statistical breakdown of the number of calls they receive at different hours. The numbers showed that after hour calls for the four RCMP detachments were low.
But if it is an urgent matter – such as a violent crime or life-endangering incident – they will try to use RCMP within the nearest community.
Cook also informed the joint council that the RCMP will monitor the situation and make any adjustments deemed necessary.
The RCMP confirmed this to the Northern Pen later by email.
Joint council chair and Anchor Point Mayor Gerry Gros told the Northern Pen the joint council was pleased with the explanation, and that they are willing to review and make adjustments.
But the joint council is still cautious.
“Response times still are a concern,” said Gros. “I’m still concerned what happens if we have two officers on call way at the southern end at the district and they get an emergency call at the north end of the district.”
After the meeting, Gros also said many members of the public had the impression that the detachments would lose officers. He felt it needed to be clarified that this is not the case.
The five positions in Port Saunders, three in Flower’s Cove, three in Roddickton-Bide Arm and four in St. Anthony will all remain filled.
The joint council are hoping detachment commanders will be able to attend the beginning of each of its quarterly meetings to provide an update on how the call system is working.
Municipal Legislative Review locations
In-person consultations for the municipal legislative review are taking place across the province this month.
But there isn’t one on the Great Northern Peninsula.
To attend one of these sessions, municipal leaders would either have to travel by ferry to the session in L’Anse au Loup on May 31 or to Stephenville for the session on June 6.
These were the nearest locations.
The joint council feels the distance is too great for any councillors on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula to attend.
But they want to be able to participate in this discussion.
It has therefore decided to write a letter to the Department of Municipal Affairs, requesting an in-person public consultation be held somewhere on the Great Northern Peninsula.
Possible Federation of Canadian Municipalities funding
Roddickton-Bide Arm Mayor Sheila Fitzgerald told the Northern Pen the joint council is looking at whether they can avail of funding from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to mitigate climate change.
“It would be a joint venture,” she said.
Waste management research
The joint council is concerned about proposals to have all of the Great Northern Peninsula’s waste shipped to a waste management facility in Norris Arm in central.
This would greatly increase transportation distance and, therefore, fees for residents.
Council discussed alternatives at the meeting.
Gros, who also serves as the chair on the NorPen Regional Service Board, told the Northern Pen that the board is aware of a northern community that has disposed of garbage using high heat incineration.
The NorPen board, he said, is hoping to get in touch with the community, with the intent of conducting further research on heat incineration.
Great Northern Port support
The joint council supports Great Northern Port’s proposal to develop Cremaillere Harbour, near St. Anthony, as an international port.
It was decided to submit a letter to government expressing its support.
Municipal cost-share ratios
The joint council continues to advocate for a decrease in the municipal cost share ratios for different projects.
Cost-sharing for a number of different capital works projects were increased for municipalities last year.
The joint council feels this has made certain projects, including road work and the construction of buildings such as fire halls, unaffordable for small municipalities.
The issue is raised routinely at each joint council meeting since the announcement last year.
Memorandum of association update
The memorandum of association and rural and procedure for the joint council was discussed. It will be looking to review and update certain sections of the memorandum for the first time in 14 years.
This will be done by Gros and Flower’s Cove Mayor Keith Billard.
According to Gros, when the joint council started, it was originally just for mayors. But subsequently, deputy mayors and councillors have become members.
He says the memorandum needs to be changed to include individuals in these positions.
Northern residents’ tax deduction
The joint council is still fighting for a northern residents’ tax deduction for communities on the Great Northern Peninsula.
It is now asking other municipalities to join the town council of St. Anthony in sending a letter to Finance Minister Bill Morneau.
It may also look at starting an electronic petition.
Annual general meeting scheduled
Gros told the Northern Pen that the Great Northern Peninsula Joint Council’s AGM is scheduled to be held in Hawke’s Bay in October.
The joint council intends to invite Premier Dwight Ball and other cabinet members in the provincial government.