Doyle and Slade spar over concrete barriers

By Olivia Bradbury / Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A discussion about planters near the Post Office caused a brief wrangle at Carbonear council Tuesday.

The discussion was sparked by public complaints about the planters that the Town had installed on the sidewalk some time ago, and then removed along with the trees they contained. Some residents had been concerned that the planters, which had concrete barriers, made it harder to get to the Post Office.

“In taking away the planters we took away some of the greenery,” said Councillor Danielle Doyle.

She said that while the Town had contemplated bringing in portable planters to replace the more permanent ones that were removed, they would have been significantly different. Doyle noted how she had personally bought some flowers, annuals, recently, which were costly and required constant watering. She remarked that planting trees might be a better solution when it comes to adding greenery to the town as it would require less manpower.

“I’m worried that the decision (to remove the planters) was made too hastily after a short discussion,” Doyle said, “and that we might have been able to come up with better plans for those sections without taking away the actual trees, just dealing with the issues that people had with the concrete, the barriers and stuff like that.”

Doyle said greenery attracts people to places more than the brickwork and related structures that Carbonear has.

Deputy Mayor Sam Slade said he took “great offense” to Doyle’s concerns about hastiness.

“When I come here and make a decision, I make a decision based on logic and what I feel is good, and for that to be questioned and say that we made a decision hastily, that is not fair to the people who voted to do this,” he said.
Councillor Peter Snow, while acknowledging the need for greenery, supported the decision to remove the planters, arguing accessibility is important.

“The post office is a busy place at times,” Snow said. “So, I think removing some of the planters there provides better access to the building, and it’s not that long ago we were meeting and discussing the need to improve entrances for people who have disabilities.”

Snow said he did not believe there was any malice intended by any councillor in discussing the issue and that all of them appreciate the importance of it.

Asked about the issue later, Mayor Frank Butt said the Town must be careful that adding greenery does not impede the mobility of citizens presently or in the future, and that getting the right balance might be difficult.

“We can always go back, and take our time, and decide, ‘Okay, we can put a tree here,’” said Butt. “But trees grow up.”

In other news, councillor Doyle said there is a lot of activity by residents this time of year when it comes to property maintenance, such as erecting fences and replacing decks, garages, or sheds.

“Friendly reminder that before you even commit to doing anything with your property, you need to ensure that you consult with the Town to make sure that you have the proper setbacks, you have enough land to do what you want to do, what you’re doing is the right height, etcetera,” she said.

The councillor remarked there are still some people who conduct maintenance without getting a permit, or try to acquire a permit after they have already begun the work. Doyle said it’s much easier, and in many cases less costly, to consult the Town ahead of time. However, she also gave a disclaimer that, as it is a busy time of year, it may take longer to get a permit than one might expect.

Regarding the Town’s own maintenance program, Director of Recreation Rob Button said seasonal workers have been called in for the summer to augment the usual crews.

“We’ve got those fellows working on potholes, washed out shoulders,” he said. “They managed to throw out a lot of paint today, God love them. Quite proud of them, actually; they did a lot of work today.”

Deputy Mayor Slade passed along special thanks to the workers. “They’ve done a super, super job on the markings on the road,” he said. “I tell you they were moving pretty fast today. We do appreciate all that they do do.”

As to those markings, Doyle asked whether anything can be done to make them last longer. The markings laid on in summer, she said, have often faded by fall. She cited efficiency of human resources as the main concern behind her question.

Button acknowledged there are technologies that could potentially make paint last longer, but expressed concern about how much the Town’s asphalt is already impacted by current maintenance. Whether the roads would benefit or suffer as a result of alternate technologies is uncertain, he indicated.

“We’re using water-based paint as opposed to oil-based,” said Button. “It’s a lot easier on our equipment, like on our paint machines, so we get more life out of those machines, and less down time and less repairs required. And it’s safer for handling for the workers.”

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