Pre­mier says prov­ince do­ing its best to tackle in­fra­struc­ture deficit

Nor'wester (Springdale) - - FRONT PAGE - BY CORY HUR­LEY

Pre­mier Dwight Ball says the prov­ince has taken an ag­gres­sive agenda to ad­dress the tremen­dous in­fra­struc­ture deficit it faces.

He made the com­ment last week shortly af­ter an­nounc­ing more than $1.8 mil­lion in a se­ries of mu­nic­i­pal in­fra­struc­ture projects for the Baie Verte-Green Bay area while in Spring­dale. He also made stops in Bot­wood — where he an­nounced $38.8 mil­lion for projects sup­port­ing im­prove­ments in mu­nic­i­pal in­fra­struc­ture — and Badger — where he re­vealed de­tails of the about $230,000 in cost-shared fund­ing be­tween the prov­ince and the Town of Badger for a wa­ter and waste­water in­fra­struc­ture project.

The $38.8 mil­lion in­cludes 77 projects, with money com­ing from the Small Com­mu­ni­ties Fund and the Mu­nic­i­pal Cap­i­tal Works pro­gram. The projects in­clude road­work, wa­ter and sewer up­grades, recre­ation fa­cil­i­ties, and more.

Ball said the in­fra­struc­ture deficit was ap­par­ent dur­ing the elec­tion cam­paign as well as even through work­ing with towns prior to that. Safe drink­ing wa­ter was the top pri­or­ity among those needs, he said. Lev­er­ag­ing fed­eral and mu­nic­i­pal money to cost-share such pro­grams is of vi­tal im­por­tance, ac­cord­ing to the pre­mier.

The de­mand for such in­vest­ments within towns across the prov­ince is huge, he said. Ap­pli­ca­tions for fund­ing are con­tin­u­ous, and placed on a pri­or­ity ba­sis when they are re­ceived.

“The other thing that is im­por­tant is we have laid out a multi-year in­fra­struc­ture pro­gram of nearly $3 bil­lion, much of which will go into safe drink­ing wa­ter, the com­mu­nity in­fra­struc­ture, sewer projects, and in some cases roads as well,” he said.

Th­ese projects also cre­ate jobs for peo­ple in the prov­ince, ac­cord­ing to Ball.

While sev­eral projects in the com­mu­ni­ties of Spring­dale, Shoe Cove, South Brook, Miles Cove, and La Scie were an­nounced last week, the need through­out the Green Bay and Baie Verte Penin­sula is mas­sive.

Baie Verte Mayor Clar Brown has been con­stantly lob­by­ing for in­creased fund­ing to as­sist with de­te­ri­o­rat­ing in­fra­struc­ture through­out the town and re­gion.

“When we are in a po­si­tion to be able to do more, we would like to do that as well,” Ball said. “But, al­ready it is a very ag­gres­sive ap­proach to the in­fra­struc­ture deficit.

“…It is 10,000 kilo­me­tres of road in this prov­ince, and much of that needs re­pairs or re­place­ment in some cases as well as 1,300 bridges and cul­verts. All of that is part of the long-term in­fra­struc­ture plan in this prov­ince.”

MNL praise

Karen Old­ford, pres­i­dent of Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties New­found­land and Labrador (MNL), was pleased with the prov­ince’s an­nounce­ment of fund­ing for mu­nic­i­pal in­fra­struc­ture. She also com­mended the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties’ con­tri­bu­tion.

“Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in this prov­ince have in­vested on av­er­age 30 per cent of the to­tal cost of their cap­i­tal works projects and in some cases up to 55 per cent for road re­pairs and paving,” Old­ford stated in a press re­lease. “Work­ing to­gether with the fed­eral and pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments we’ve been able to lever­age a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of the fed­eral in­fra­struc­ture fund­ing that our sec­tor so des­per­ately needs.”

The pres­i­dent says it is crit­i­cal all three or­ders of gov­ern­ment con­tinue this in­vest­ment if com­mu­ni­ties are to face the chal­lenges ahead. Clean and safe drink­ing wa­ter; ac­cept­able waste wa­ter treat­ment; and safe, ef­fec­tive trans­porta­tion net­works are es­sen­tial for the fu­ture of home­towns, she said.

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