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Too much recognition of Carbonear’s ‘old boys club’, says Doyle

By Craig Westcott/November 18, 2021

It was perhaps the most detailed recreation committee report in a while and the councillor who presented it, Malcolm Seymour, likely wasn’t expecting controversy, but opposition to parts of the report was presented by councilor Danielle Doyle.

In his first report as chairman of the recreation committee, Seymour took care to update his colleagues on a compendious list of projects and issues the group is working on. But two items – signage and the repaving of a basketball court – attracted the attention of Doyle.

The paving discussion began with Seymour making a motion to hire Concorde Paving for $12,500 plus HST to install new asphalt on the basketball court outside the swimming pool.

“Can I ask a question?” said councilor Doyle. “Are we repaving our basketball courts? We’ve done quite a bit of conversation and had a lot of talk about an accessible playground and a splash pad and all the rest of it. And I’m not so sure we should be repaving anything until we come to some decisions on accessible playgrounds and splash pads and all the rest of it, because if we’ve got to run pipe and this and that and design other stuff, are we spending money on something now that we might want to look at redesigning? Can we not defer that until this spring?”

Seymour, a newcomer to the council table, pointed out the tender and contract was something that had already been in the works previous to the election of this new council.

“But it hasn’t been done,” Doyle countered.

Previous recreation committee chairman, councilor Ray Noel, then entered the debate.

“The basketball court in there has some cracks in it and has been getting worse for some time,” he said. “It’s one of the more utilized facilities we have here – non-structural I call it, because the kids go and play on their own there. And it’s deteriorating. Some work is already completed on it and to get that much asphalt for $12,500 is cheap. It is a definitely utilized facility…It was supposed to have been done in the past and it’s been put off.”

Noel added that he understands the point Doyle is making but the work is necessary. “It is an extensively used facility and we want to get it done so that nobody trips and the next thing you know you have some other kind of issue with it.”

Deputy Mayor Sam Slade asked Noel and Seymour for clarification on where a splash pad would be located if the Town was to proceed with one. “Is it handy to this area that you are going to pave?” he said.

“There’s been some discussion about adding to what we have in there,” Noel said. “Splash pads were included, an accessible playground, all of that. It was decided at the (Recreation committee) meeting that we need to get someone – rather than have us do it haphazardly – to get a plan going to see how we can best utilize the facilities we have there and do it in a cost-effective manner in the area that we have available in there right now. It had nothing to do with the basketball court. It is two totally separate issues. I just want to clarify that.”

“That was my question,” said Doyle. “If we’re looking at the bigger picture, I didn’t want council to be spending over $12,000 on something now that if a consultant was going to come in and design something and say, ‘Oh, okay, I know you just paved that, but we’re just going to tear that all back up now.'”

Put to a vote, Seymour’s motion to order the asphalt passed.

Doyle then raised a second matter that has been bothering her for a while. Earlier in his report, Seymour referenced the need to improve signage in some areas around town and also discussed the naming of some facilities in honour of past prominent citizens. “It’s been something that’s been on my mind since it came up in Recreation when I was sitting on it in the last term,” Doyle explained. She then cited a request by a citizen to donate a couple of benches to the town in memory of past citizens, whom Doyle characterized as having been part of an “old boys club.”

“And while I sincerely understand the sentiment and nostalgia that goes around with the old boys club, if we want to be a forward thinking, all inclusive community, we’ve got ballfields named after men, we’ve got a fire hall named after men, we have the Davis Earle Walking Trail, and other than a walking trail named after Nell Finn and a fictional princess, Sheilagh, I can’t think of any other female labelled story boards or initiatives, or anything about other cultures. There’s the German storyboard, but we’ve had Chinese businesspeople present in our community on Water Street for a long time. Like, I understand the sentiment and I’m very nostalgic, but we had an all-girls school here for a very long time, we’ve had some great business leaders here in our community, Mary and Dorothy Udell, who contributed to the history of Carbonear and stuff like that. I think in a forward thinking (community) I think that anything that references an old boys club has a very negative (message). I think the sentiment is 100 per cent the most genuine thing, but I just question like there was probably no girls club at that time because they probably weren’t allowed to have it, or they weren’t given the space to have it, or they weren’t given the support to have it. So, I think on a go forward basis like maybe we need to think about, you know what I mean, those kinds of things. And maybe in 50 years they’ll put a storyboard somewhere about something else.”

Seymour said Doyle raised a good point, but added when you talk about an old boys club, that’s going back 50 years. “What we have to talk about now is a new generation with a new look at the future and a new way of doing things and (looking at) women and colour and race and society today,” he said. “I understand where you are coming from and yes, we can look at this down the road. It’s probably something that we can do in recreation when we’re naming stuff. Eventually that will happen.”

Doyle said whenever the town is about to erect a new storyboard, it “should look at a bunch of diversifications” and erect multiple storyboards “that represent multiculturalism, females, the LGBTQ community, initiatives within our community. And I don’t think we need to look that far down the road. I think change starts today,” she argued. “So maybe that should go on the agenda for the next week.”

There was no motion made following the discussion.          

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