Baie Verte will have a new mayor in coming weeks
Clar Brown’s only term had its accomplishments and disappointments
Baie Verte Mayor Clar Brown says any concerned citizen who wants to impact the future direction of the town they live in should take a run at municipal politics.
Admitting he had no previous intention to run, he says this was the reason he put his name forward in the last municipal election.
It was time consuming and, at times, frustrating work — with little monetary reimbursement, he said — but his four years on council were satisfying, according to the long-time resident.
“It has been rewarding for me,” he said. “It has taken up a lot of my time, especially if you want to be hands on. Most mayors in small communities really get involved in a handson way. A number of us (on council) did.”
Brown says he served his intended one term, and will walk away satisfied with what was accomplished. At the age of 68, he said it is time to fully enjoy retirement with his wife Nancy.
When the current council assumed leadership, the mayor said the new fire hall project was underway, but with many questions surrounding it. The project has since been completed, with the exception of Clar Brown, mayor of Baie Verte, will not be seeking re-election in the upcoming municipal election.
several minor things. In future, he believes it is incumbent upon the town to strengthen its fire department from a regional perspective, while maintaining its training and resources.
The plan for a new community centre under this council was quashed because of finances. However, the town is about to assume control of the former Beothuk Collegiate/ Baie Verte High facility and will turn that into a community centre. Progression and completion of that project will fall upon the next council.
Brown was particularly proud of the renewed focus this council brought to recreation in the town. The Sam Blagdon Memorial Trail has been upgraded and work will continue to complete that project. Centennial
Park has been replaced, and only minor beautification work remains. Two new dugouts were erected at the softball field.
“The biggest emphasis toward recreation is, you have to maintain recreation facilities,” he said. “You can’t let them degrade on their own. When you have to fix them again, it costs quite a bit of money.”
The town also underwent considerable staffing changes, highlighted by the hiring of new chief administrative officer (CAO) Brian Peach. The town is currently seeking a new financial officer.
It wasn’t all rosy during the term. In fact, the mayor admits there were several frustrations in running the small town, which has seen a recent boost from the mining industry.
He said there are a lot of problems with infrastructure, particularly roads. With government no longer offering a 90/10 funding split, he said the small town can’t afford to replace deteriorating infrastructure at 50/50 cost sharing. He also said the provincial government is not maintaining Route 410 and other roads under its jurisdiction throughout the region.
“There is no indication that in the next five years there is any money for upgrades for that,” he said. “If you don’t do anything in five years, and the infrastructure is deplorable, what you are going to have to do (later) is almost next to impossible. It will be beyond repair.”
Brown said when he ran for council, he assumed if a town made a compelling case for funding and could afford its share — at the 90/10 formula that existed — the money would be made available.
“We haven’t gotten any municipal capital works funding for the last two years, unless something comes now in the next month or so — and that wouldn’t have any impact on this year, it will be for next year,” he said.
The mayor said council meeting minutes were available to residents and, if asked, he would be open with residents about town operations. But he said he was disappointed with the level of communication between council and its residents. That doesn’t reflect poorly on what was achieved though, according to Brown.
“I see the results around town,” he said.
He considers Baie Verte to be experiencing a mini, controlled boom strengthened by a volatile mining industry. He hopes it is something for the town to grow from, and believes economic development is the key to its future.
He said the town is in good shape for a new council, but, like many rural communities, there is concern about the level of interest in municipal politics. Brown said he believes a couple of members of the current council plan to run in the upcoming election, and there has been talk of interest from a few people in the community.
The mayor has been encouraging some prominent community volunteers he believes would make good councillors to run. He has some advice for those contemplating it.
“I have heard people say they want to be on council because they want one specific thing to change,” he said. “Don’t do that. Getting on council with a sole purpose is not what it is about. You have to look at the big picture. You have to look at all residents, not just one aspect — not just youth or just seniors.
“If you do campaign, don’t make too many commitments. You can’t resolve them all, but you can start some of them.”
Brown hopes there is need for an election in Baie Verte. He believes it is healthy for the town to have people run on a platform and to better enable residents to elect people they want leading them for the next four years.
“It’s rewarding,” he said. “I would recommend it to anybody.”