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Wood proud of how Bay Roberts coped during the Covid year

By Mark Squibb | Jan. 21, 2021

Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood says although there’s light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, residents ought to stay diligent in 2021.

“It’s still important to keep your guard up,” said Wood. “I’m optimistic that 2021 is going to be brighter than 2020, but I think some things from the pandemic may carry on and it may take a while for people to gain confidence again. But some practices may in fact stay with us for a while, like social distancing.”

Last year started off with Snowmageddon, the record-breaking snowstorm that’s already become the stuff of local legend.

“For the first time, and I’ve lived in this house for 30 years, I had to get a front end loader to dig me out,” said Wood, who added that making decisions during the snowstorm reminded him of his days as a school principal weighing whether to open school or not.

“As a mayor, and as a council, you always wonder if your equipment and your workers are going to hold out, and you hope there’s no emergencies,” said Wood.

But, in true 2020 fashion, there was an additional emergency.

“It was first reported to be a shed fire. But it was a garage fire, with vehicles in it,” said Wood. “And this is where you rely on your staff and your volunteers in the case of the fire department, because we had firemen going to that fire on snowmobiles. The fire truck would have never gotten there without our heavy equipment beating a path for it. In the end, ironically, after the fire department did its thing, the front-end loader dumped snow on the garage.”

In March the COVID-19 pandemic hit and a provincial lockdown followed. That meant the cancelation of almost all in-person events in town facilities.

“On top of our own Sea Food Festival and Light the Lamp ball hockey tournament being cancelled, I think the biggest disappointment of them all was the postponement of the Newfoundland and Labrador Summer Games this past summer,” said Wood. “We had money allocated, we had volunteers, we had started some of our renovations to make sure we could run it effectively at our Wilbur Sparkes Sports Complex, and we were blessed to have some great committees and great committee chairs.”

As of yet, there has been no official word on when the NL Summer Games will take place.

Wood said he was sorry to miss out on so many community events, from suppers and teas to craft fairs and breakfasts and fundraisers. The Town, and other businesses and groups, were able to port some events to an online platform or other modified format.

“Even back when the pandemic first stared, we hosted events, because we thought it was great to continue to do things,” said Wood. “We felt it was important for community spirit and to keep morale up, and our staff was good for it.”

Wood said despite the pandemic, town business carried on as much as could be managed.

“Planning continued, everything didn’t just stop. We didn’t come to a complete standstill,” said Wood. “Despite the pandemic we had a lot of ongoing projects. We had water and sewer projects and storm water upgrades and, of course I’m very proud of the new school that is being built in Bay Roberts that will be opened next year. Over the course of the year, the Town did run smoothly, and I tip my hat to our residents who have been very supportive and our business community, and our staff and workers and council.”

Wood noted that residents were busy as well; the town issued 15 building permits, in addition to permits for sheds and decks.

“They were running out of lumber left, right and centre and all over the place,” joked the mayor.

All in all, Wood said he is was proud of the residents of Bay Roberts, from school children to councillors to front line workers, for doing their part, and is optimistic for a bright 2021.

“A lot of people are pulling together. Newfoundlanders, and residents of this town, pulled together to get through this. But maintain your guard, because we are not out of this altogether yet. But together, we will persevere, and we will get through this,” said the mayor.

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