Harbour Grace preparing for a major tax sale
By Craig Westcott/October 28, 2021
Harbour Grace council is finding itself something more than an interested spectator in a brewing dispute that involves a local property owner, provincial Crown Lands, and the owners of trailers that are occupying land in the Cow Pond area.
Mayor Don Coombs apprised the newly elected council of the issue at last week’s public meeting, which dealt with a bevy of agenda items in a crowded hour-long session that attracted some 71 viewers to the online broadcast.
“The situation is we have a number of trailers in there and it’s become a little trailer park,” said the mayor. “The housing and zoning (committee) of the previous council wanted to get it dealt with and it seems that Mr. Brophy has come in and shown ownership of the property and he wants it cleared up, and some residents have contacted Crown Lands and Crown Lands says it’s Crown Land, so it’s going to be a battle between Crown Lands and Mr. Brophy.”
Coombs asked the new members of council’s housing and zoning committee, councilor Lee Rogers and Deputy Mayor Keith Skinner, to monitor the situation.
“We certainly have to get something done in there,” Coombs said of the mess the Town has been trying to see cleaned up for months.
Coombs asked the committee to review the file, discuss it with the Town Manager and come back with a recommendation for the rest of council.
“It’s a title thing, but we want to get it cleaned up, no matter what,” said the mayor.
In other council news, the Town has agreed to sell a property on 200 Thicket Road for $105.
Finance committee chairperson Sharon Reynolds made the motion to approve the sale, pointing out it was offered during a recent tax sale of properties.
“This has been ongoing forever and nobody wanted to buy it,” said Mayor Coombs. “We had a bidder for $200, but when they visited the property, they didn’t want to (go ahead), so under the Municipalities Act we’ve tendered it twice for sale and are permitted to sell it.”
Councilor Brendan Chafe seconded Reynolds’ motion, which passed unanimously.
Reynolds said the Town is researching the potential sale of a second property, located at 107 – 109 Thicket Road, for which it has received an offer from a bidder in a previous tax sale.
“I think we should have an answer for that at the next meeting of council,” said Coombs. “I think it was 1991 that it was supposed to have been offered for sale, and upon reviewing it that will give us title.”
Later in the meeting, during her finance committee report, Reynolds made a motion that all town-owned properties that are not an asset to the municipality be identified and offered for sale. It was seconded by councilor Randy Wrice and passed unanimously.
Coombs said selling the properties will return them to the tax base and allow for development, which will also generate needed revenue. “Councilor Reynolds, it’s nice to see you take that initiative,” he said.
The second recommendation from Reynolds’ report was that the Town advertise a call for applications from any businesses that would like to set up shop in the Danny Cleary Community Centre. The motion passed unanimously.
Council has approved a 10-lot subdivision for 339 – 349 Water Street.
“It’s a new development,” said the mayor, who asked councilor Chafe for a committee report on the application.
Chafe said after reviewing it, the committee recommended approval-in-principle with the condition that it meets all provincial and municipal guidelines during construction.
The Town has received a request to allow scuba diving in Lady Lake.
Mayor Coombs referred the matter to council’s housing, zoning and environment committee for a recommendation after it gets a chance to review the regulations pertaining to Harbour Grace’s watershed. Coombs pointed out that special permission had to be granted for the annual regatta to be held on the lake, because of its watershed status.
Council’s business and economic development committee is off to a fast start, according to chairman Gordon Stone.
The councilor noted that a “business sharing session” held at the Danny Cleary Centre on October 15 attracted some 20 business operators and generated lots of positive discussion.
“Council was interested in getting together with all the businesses of our community,” said Stone. “We know how important business is and we wanted to hear first hand from them what their thoughts were and to give us feedback so that we could take the information and work together with them to move the town forward.”
Stone said six major topics were identified, including that the town’s harbour is a very important asset; Harbour Grace needs a long term plan; downtown needs beautification and revitalization; the town should build on its recreation opportunities to attract young families; the entrances to Harbour Grace need better signage that is more visible and highlights local attractions; and the importance of cultivating open communications.
“It was a really beautiful meeting,” Stone reported.
“I want to thank you and your committee for putting that off,” Coombs responded. “I was very impressed… It was very positive and good. Sometimes we just take things for granted when we shouldn’t be taking things for granted.”
Coombs asked Stone if his committee can look at developing a five-year strategic plan that will incorporate much of what was said at the session. “If we can get that put together over the next several months, if we can get the strategic plan in place, I would really like to see that based on what we had the other day.”
Stone said doing that will be a priority.
EARHART DISCIPLES ENROUTE
Council’s civic events liaison, councilor Wrice, said Harbour Grace will be visited next May by the International Association of Women’s Pilots, who want to honour the town’s aviation history. It will begin with a dinner meeting at the old courthouse, which was sold last year to a private developer. “Also in July, they are interested in having an airport event,” said Wrice, “with numerous activities and planes at our very own Amelia Earhart Airfield, expecting up to a thousand people and hoping to attract lots of tourists and visitors to our town.”
LOST, BUT NOT HOPELESSLY
And finally council will look at improving signage along the walking trail in Bristol’s Hope following a discussion between Deputy Mayor Skinner and Richard Johnson of the Bristol’s Hope Community Development Association.
“He said they have people who come to Bristol’s Hope looking for the trail and can’t find it,” said Skinner, who noted he intends to meet with Johnson again for further details on what his group would like to see added.
Mayor Coombs said town staff will also check on the signage as it is part of the Pirate’s Path Walk.