Mayors and councillors from across Newfoundland and Labrador congregated in Gander this past week.
The 68th annual Conference and Trade Show, hosted by Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador (MNL), ran from Oct. 3-6.
On the final morning of the conference, representatives gathered in Gander’s Joseph R. Smallwood Arts and Culture Centre to discuss and vote on a variety of resolutions.
Before the motions were presented, both MNL President Tony Keats and Vice President Sheila Fitzgerald stressed that the work towards regionalization is a pivotal goal for the province.
Crown land disposal
The reading of a resolution to lobby provincial government on the divestiture of Crown lands was met with cheers and applause.
The resolution would see municipalities be able to acquire ownership of Crown lands in their district at no cost.
Mayor Percy Farwell of Gander spoke in approval of the motion, mentioning that it is a motion many municipalities are eager to see brought forward.
“Marystown purchased a piece of Crown land years ago that had no value and we built an industrial park with it,” said Marystown Mayor Sam Synard, voicing his approval. “Over the next 10 years with that property, Marystown will collect $8 million in development fees and property tax.
“It will not only benefit the people of Marystown, it benefits the region.”
Farwell agreed that Crown land is a valuable asset that often goes underused and this resolution could mean major economic opportunities for the region.
Mental health supports
A resolution calling for greater co-operation and co-ordination for mental health initiatives was met with a unanimous 100 per cent approval by the representatives in attendance.
“I’ve been involved in the mental health field for years and I don’t think I need to give stats for the crises that exist in our community,” Councillor for Portugal Cove-St. Phillips Tina Neary said. “The need for support and care has never been greater and this can help some of our most at-risk residents – young and old.”
The motion calls for a task force with health authorities and other elected officials to develop and expand mental health support, with a special emphasis on issues faced by youth and the increasing number of youth suicides.
Illegal all-terrain vehicle use
Representatives carried a resolution for the Department of Justice and Service NL to review legislation on the fines and penalties related to improper ATV use.
Mayor of Holyrood Gary Goobie stressed the prominence of all-terrain vehicle use across the province. With a steady increase in these vehicles being seen on main streets and byroads, the safety risk to pedestrians and other motorists is also on the increase.
“The vast majority of operators are mindful and respectful, especially when travelling through the community,” Goobie said. “Unfortunately, there’s a handful of offenders in many communities who have demonstrated no regard for public safety.”
The resolution calls for a penalty where if an ATV operator is found guilty of dangerous or imprudent driving, they should have the vehicle seized and impounded until the owner completes a safe-driving course.
Mayor Gerry Gros of Anchor Point also voiced his support for the motion.
Firefighter courtesy light
Coun. Derek Anthony of Pasadena expressed his approval of a courtesy light for volunteer firefighters.
For firefighters who have to respond to emergencies in their own vehicles, this flashing green light would signal other vehicles to safely get off the road and let the firefighter respond to the emergency in a much faster time.
The resolution also calls for a public awareness campaign to correspond with the use of these courtesy lights.
Anthony also noted that there is no offense associated with ignoring this light as it is done as an act of courtesy, and it does not require any changes in traffic legislation. Similar courtesy lights are used in Quebec and Alberta.
The motion was carried with 92 per cent approval.