Hr. Grace councillors at odds over regulation change
McCarthy, Tetford vote against removing minimal land requirement
There were eight residents in the Harbour Grace gallery Nov. 19 for the biweekly town council meeting, with most full of concerns over proposed changes to development regulations.
The changes brought forward for approval in Regulation 38 were for removal of minimum land requirements for seniors’ development.
In plain English, anyone looking to develop property for seniors’ housing could do so on any size lot, not the required two hectares in the town’s regulations.
A previous meeting allowed residents to voice their concerns about the proposal, but many left with more questions than answers. A development is currently proposed on Doyle’s Lane in Riverhead that could only go ahead if this regulation was changed.
At the beginning of the meeting, Coun. Kathy Tetford made a motion to defer the decision to the proposed changes.
“I’ve had no discussions with anyone, I haven’t seen anything different than I seen last meeting,” she said. “I want to make a motion that we defer this until… these deliberations take place, and I as a councillor get a clear understanding of what I am voting for.”
Coun. Pat Haire disagreed, saying he spoke with the town planner, Avro McMillan, and it was decided to change the wording to exclude “seniors’ developments” from the land restrictions.
Coun. Tony McCarthy also had concerns with making a decision on the changes.
“Coun. Haire mentioned further conversation with Mr. McMillan, which sort of puts me off since I’m chair of housing and zoning,” McCarthy explained. “I haven’t met with Mr. McMillan since our last meeting.”
Tetford had previously spoken with the town planner, but felt like the information she received wasn’t cut and dry.
“When I asked him the question about changing the wording, he said, ‘ Yes you can change it, but you set precedence, and you have to be ready for what comes after it,’” Tetford said. “And that’s what concerns me.”
The motion to defer was defeated, with McCarthy and Tetford the only votes for it. Coun. Gord Stone was not present.
Change the words
Coun. Hayward Blake brought forward the motion to change the wording of the regulation to exclude seniors from the clause.
A debate ensued again, with McCarthy and Tetford sticking to their guns.
McCarthy wasn’t pleased a copy of the motion wasn’t provided to him before it was made, but he had bigger issues with the wording.
“The major concern is, why are we prepared to take seniors out of that group as opposed to any other development?” he said.
Blake explained the economic and development committee discussed it in depth, and decided the land required for seniors wasn’t the same amount as, for example, a young family.
But McCarthy wasn’t satisfied and asked why the seniors “need less room than a 40-year-old?”
Hayward just reiterated that the land requirements would not be the same for seniors as other groups.
Tetford brought up the concern for snow clearing, and where the snow would get pushed. But another issue was also raised during discussion.
“If anyone puts an application in for a senior development, or says it’s a senior development, and then they change their mind later down the road, who’s going to regulate that, who’s going to enforce that its going to be seniors’,” she explained. “That can be abused.”
When patients of Dr. Christopher J. Peddle of the Trinity Conception Medical Associates clinic in Carbonear question why they should get the “flu shot,” the answer is not what many would think.
“I swear by it,” he told a Compass reporter on Nov. 19 after finishing up with the day’s patients. “I look at it as health insurance — just improving your odds.”
So f a r t h i s year Peddle has administered hundreds of flu vaccines, and has received one himself. In fact, he has been doing so since 1997, when he began working as a general practitioner.
Peddle said there appears to be an increase in the number of people who have received the flu shot since 1997, but he would like to see it increase even more.
“A vast majority of people benefit from the influenza vaccine,” he explained. “There’s compelling evidence that everyone from five to 64 should get it, even healthy individuals.”
The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador released an influenza report earlier this year highlighting the number of confirmed cases in the province for the 2013-14 flu season. Over 350 cases were confirmed through laboratory testing. There were 12 deaths.
Flu vs. cold
The influenza vaccine is trivalent, meaning it contains three strains of virus. What many don’t know is the virus is deactivated, or split, so the person receiving it doesn’t get the
The motion passed, with Deputy Mayor Sonia Williams, Coun. Haire, Coun. Blake and Mayor Terry Barnes voting for it.
Opening the flood gates
Although the decision was made, McCarthy said it will cause issues.
“I’m going to beat a dead horse here, Mr. Mayor,” McCarthy said, addressing council. “As chair of housing and zoning, I was given this when I came here — the town plan. Every decision we’ve made has been based on that. We’ve had people come in, very upset with us about decisions we’ve made. I could stand in front of anyone who came to me and say look, I’m following regulations.”
Now, he feels like that is not an option, since the council changed regulations and now has to defend those changes to tax payers.
“What we’ve done here tonight, we’ve opened the doors for anybody to come forward with any application, they can just say it’s a seniors’ development,” he continued. “I don’t see this situation getting a hell of a lot better… I think it’s going to get worse.”
To conclude, McCarthy explained the regulation states the decisions will be at the discretion of council, referencing previous council decisions that could be appealed.
“After meeting with Mr. McMillan, he made it very clear to me that decisions made under town’s discretion are not subject to appeal,” he said. “This council is going to have to stand up individually and say why they support or don’t support something. And citizens will not have a right to appeal decisions made under (regulation) 38.” Tetford agreed. “I’ve been around the block here a long, long time. As an employee of the town for 18 years, and I served two terms prior to this term,” she explained. “And the best (decisions) at the end of the day were when the regulations were abided by. Once you go outside your regulations, you have nothing to protect yourself with. That’s my biggest concern right now.
“And we’re going to end spending probably triple, of the amount of money that we’ve spent in legal fees in the last year. Things could have been taken care of without changing any of this.”
Mayor Barnes explained his decision was solely business, not personal.
“We take advice from a person that we pay. He does the town plans. He takes advice from municipal affairs, who governs over us,” he said. “I voted for the best interest in what I felt was the best decision for Harbour Grace.
“We all won’t agree on everything here. We never will. That’s democracy.”
Dr. Peddle prepares a single-use influenza vaccine at his office in Carbonear.
Peddle confirmed there have been cases where people have experienced symptoms after receiving the influenza vaccine, but it doesn’t mean they have the flu.
“It is cough and cold season now,” he said. “The strains of viruses are inactive. You cannot get the flu from the flu shot.”
It is common to hear people say, “I have the flu,” when referring to a cold. The federal government has identified a list of symptoms associated with the flu to better distinguish between the two illnesses.
One of the most prominent symptoms is fever — usually 102 F to 104 F. Headache is often present, and general aches and pains are common. Something that is more often associated with a cold, rather than the flu, is sneezing.
Peddle noted two symptoms common to influenza are the achy muscles and fatigue. Symptoms can last seven to 10 days, but some expe- rience them for an extended period of time.
On average, some 3,500 people die annually from the flu in Canada, with some 12,200 visiting hospitals for treatment. Many of those at risk are children from the age of six months to five years, people 65 years and over, and those with cardiovascular problems, such as obstructive lung disease, which could exacerbate symptoms.
Not all want the shot
Bay Roberts resident Deanne Dawe has never received the flu shot, and doesn’t plan on it.
“I think it should be a personal preference,” she explained.
In Newfoundland, the flu shot is not mandatory for anyone. But in Vancouver, the deadline to get a flu shot if you work in healthcare is Dec. 1. Those that don’t get it must wear a mask when working with patients. One person has been fired since 2012 for refusing to do either.