Witless Bay council treads carefully with MOU requests

By Craig Westcott | The Irish Loop Post

The Town of Witless Bay expects to receive a formal request next month from the regional fire department to arrange the purchase of a new tanker truck.

Mayor René Estrada noted at the November 13 public council meeting that there seems to be a great necessity for the vehicle.

"This is something that is being taken care of by the Fire Chief," Estrada added. "At our next meeting they'll present the necessary information that we need to know just what it will entail. Then we will make a decision on the request."

In other council news:

Council has approved to maintain its annual financial contribution to the Bay Bulls to Bauline Athletic Association for one more year. The BBBAA had been requesting a four-year funding agreement.

Finance Committee chairperson Lucy Carew made the motion to make the payment. "At this time no MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) is signed," she noted. "This will be reviewed on a yearly basis until further notice."

Councillor Neil Stratton asked about the status of the four-year agreement.

"The BBBAA forwarded an MOU for the towns (Witless Bay and Bay Bulls) to sign," said Carew. "We're not entering into an MOU for four years, we're going to look at it annually. Maybe in another year or two if things change (we'll look at it) but at this stage of the game we're just going to continue with our yearly contribution."

Councillor Fraser Paul said that approach is a good idea because in three years time the town will have a new council that may want to take a different direction, or go forward with the present arrangement.

In a related decision, council has voted to continue its annual contribution to the Southern Shore Arena Association.

Deputy Mayor Maureen Murphy noted that back in August council agreed to provide the $6,500 grant pending receipt of the association's financial statements. "That correspondence has come in," Murphy said. "I make a motion to move forward with that request in the amount of $6,500."

Councillor Vince Swain seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.


Witless Bay has received a request from the East Coast Trail Association to restart talks with the town regarding a new Memorandum of Understanding. ECTA is also asking the town to sponsor a major fundraising event including a luncheon and entertainment, in June in Bay Bulls.

Murphy pointed out that back in August council passed a motion that it seek a meeting with ECTA to discuss concerns about some of the requirements the association was requesting in the proposed MOU.

Murphy suggested council write the president of ECTA notifying him Witless Bay won't sign the MOU prior to that meeting. Murphy added the letter should also inform ECTA that Town policy prohibits council from granting funds to associations that have not been ratified by council for donations.

The latter point involved a policy passed by the previous incarnation of Witless Bay council which ended its term last fall.

"Associations seeking ratification by council must submit a duly completed association application form," Murphy added, quoting the policy.

Councillor Chris Brinston asked Murphy if ECTA has asked for a specific amount of money.

"This is what they're asking for: the community centre rental fee, hiker bus transportation, a luncheon - they're targeting 500 hikers so it's quite a feat - it's a lot of money," said Murphy.

Councillor Swain asked whether council should set a figure for the donation "and say we'll give you this much now and that's it," so that the group will know how much money it has to come up with on its own.

Swain added that giving the group free use of the Puffin Centre for a day shouldn't be a problem.

Murphy said the group is planning on holding the event at the Bay Bulls Regional Lifestyle Centre.

Carew said the Trail Day is June 1, so the Town has time to request a meeting with ECTA to get more details about the request.

Put to a vote, Murphy's motion passed unanimously.

Posted on December 13, 2018 .