Meeting ‘a step forward’
Before they got to the meeting in Heart’s Content, the ministers were in Heart’s Delight-Islington meeting with the town council and volunteer fire department, who are looking for a new fire truck.
To underscore the province-wide demand for firefighting equipment, O’Brien said, “we have 89 requests for new fire trucks and I have $2.5 million in my budget for such equipment. The average cost of a new truck is $200,000 — so do the math.”
To meet all the demands for fire trucks alone the minister would need over $17 million in his budget for such equipment.
Suggesting the request from Heart’s Delight-Islington is not extravagant, he noted, “they’re not looking for one with all the bells and whistles.” He said they only want one to help fight fires within the area they serve without compromising their own community’s needs.
Asked about regionalization, O’Brien said, “that’s not on for us.” However, government does encourage the sharing of services for the common good of all communities in a region that stand to benefit from such an arrangement.
The minister said he saw a “real comradeship” among the Trinity South community leaders who gathered in Heart’s Content for their meeting.
O’Brien said he plans to meet with groups like the Trinity-Bay de Verde joint mayors “on an ongoing basis.”
Speaking on behalf of the mayors, Fred Driscoll said they were able to raise a number of issues and concerns, from the need to upgrade the Heart’s Content Barrens and the need for more highway maintenance, including ditching, preferably operating from the transportation depot in Heart’s Content to the condition of the Heart’s Content Cable Station, which needs some work, the lack of cell phone service in the area and the new regime for waste management.
While no firm commitments were made, none were expected.
The association members were satisfied to have had the cabinet ministers’ ears for an hour and a half.
Pointing out “we had a chance to voice our concerns,” the chairman said he felt, “they were listened to.”
“Overall, I was satisfied with the meeting,” Driscoll concluded. “It was a step forward and a step in the right direction.”
The chairman said they hope to have either the minister of transportation and works or an official from Eastern Waste Management at their next meeting, scheduled for April 20 in Heart’s Desire.