By Mark Squibb/October 14, 2021
Conception Bay South Mayor Darrin Bent introduced a number of sweeping changes in the opening minutes of the October 12 public council meeting on Tuesday, the first public meeting of the newly minted council.
“Right out of the gate, there are some changes that are coming, and we’ve asked staff to work on these over the coming week to bring them forward as soon as possible,” said Bent.
The first change is that all minutes of all committees, including the previously named privileged committee, or committee of the whole, will be made public, which Bent said will be a first for the town.
“We have tasked staff to develop a new policy regarding the publication of minutes, and have asked, that when approved, this policy will be retroactive to today’s meeting,” said Bent. “There will be exceptions of course, including human resource issues or competitive matters that could create a disadvantage for the town, or even personal, private information. But moving forward, this council is marking a new era of transparency. To augment this, cheque expenditures will also be included in the posted minutes once approved, so that residents of our town can see where we are spending their money. Council is marking a new era of openness.”
The second change ought to help seniors obtain their tax break a little easier.
“This council has tasked staff to end the practice of making seniors who apply for the annual tax discount to prove that they are seniors annually,” said Bent. “A new policy is being written, and we expect this to be effective for the new tax season, where seniors will only have to apply once for their discount.”
The third change applies to school zone safety.
“This council will accept and implement a new 30 kilometre an hour speed limit in all school zones along Route 60 effective between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. on school days,” said Bent. “This was something the province agreed to just before the election in 2017, but was never implemented. The new council, at the time, had requested the speed limit be for 24 hours instead of the 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. period, but did not receive a response. This council will not wait to implement this safety measure, and staff have been tasked with ensuring that this measure will be amended as soon as possible. We expect to see the change in the coming weeks.”
Bent added that a plan to place awareness signs in areas where children with hearing and visually impaired or autistic children play be fast tracked and implemented in the fall rather than the spring.
“I believe with these initiatives, council is off to a running start,” said the mayor.