Re­gional

Town feels pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment should fund re­gional fa­cil­i­ties

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY DENISE PIKE THE COM­PASS

The prov­ince should take a se­ri­ous look at set­ting up a sep­a­rate pro­gram to fund re­gional fa­cil­i­ties, which towns can­not af­ford to main­tain. That’s one of the rec­om­men­da­tions Fi­nance Min­is­ter Tom Mar­shall heard when he vis­ited Carbonear ear­lier this month.

Fi­nan­cial sup­port for ser­vices and pro­grams and a new pri­mary ele­men­tary school top the Carbonear town coun­cil’s wish list this year.

The town’s deputy mayor, Chess Ash made the re­quests for fund­ing to the prov­ince’s Fi­nance Min­ster Tom Mar­shall dur­ing a Feb. 8 pre-bud­get con­sul­ta­tion meet­ing in that Con­cep­tion Bay North town.

Be­fore list­ing the fi­nan­cial needs, Ash pro­vided Mar­shall with an over­view of the town.

“As a mod­ern and pro­gres­sive town, Carbonear pro­vides many ameni­ties for its res­i­dents and is the ma­jor re­gional ser­vice cen­tre for the Trin­ity-Con­cep­tion area,” said Ash. “ We are the ma­jor cen­tre for fi­nan­cial, med­i­cal, busi­ness, com­mer­cial and ed­u­ca­tion ser­vices in the re­gion. The pop­u­la­tion of Carbonear has re­mained rel­a­tively sta­ble and in re­cent years has shown some signs of growth with res­i­den­tial hous­ing con­tin­u­ing to grow at a rate of 25 to 30 new dwellings an­nu­ally. The com­mer­cial sec­tor con­tin­ues to grow and pros­per. This con­tin­ued growth pro­vides our town with a grow­ing rev­enue base.”

Al­though the town boasts many ben­e­fits and signs of sig­nif­i­cant growth, Ash said ad­di­tional hu­man re­sources, equip­ment and in­fra­struc­ture are needed.

“Carbonear, as well as other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, face in­creased ex­pen­di­tures as we re­spond to the needs as­so­ci­ated with an ag­ing in­fra­struc­ture, road main­te­nance, side­walks, curb and gut­ter work, snow clear­ing, waste man­age­ment, recre­ational and other qual­ity ser­vices,” said Ash. “ The mu­nic­i­pal tax base is lim­ited and is not able to pro­vide for the cost of all the ser­vices and ameni­ties which our res­i­dents ex­pect and de­serve. Ad­di­tional gov­ern­ment as­sis­tance is needed in or­der for mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to face the ever-in­creas­ing costs as­so­ci­ated with pro­vid­ing rou­tine op­er­a­tional ex­penses, es­sen­tial ser­vices and an ef­fec­tive cap­i­tal pro­gram.”

Re­gional fund­ing

Clean and safe drink­ing wa­ter, proper sewage dis­posal, fire pro­tec­tion ser­vices were just some of the ba­sic ne­ces­si­ties the deputy mayor listed off to the min­is­ter as es­sen­tial to the town.

He also noted the im­por­tance of pro­vid­ing ad­e­quate recre­ation fa­cil­i­ties.

“It is of ut­most im­por­tance that gov­ern­ment con­tinue to sup­port mu­nic­i­pal ef­forts to pro­vide for the recre­ational needs of their res­i­dents,” said Ash. “ It’s also im­por­tant to rec­og­nize that some ser­vices and fa­cil­i­ties can only be pro­vided on a re­gional ba­sis. It isn’t re­al­is­tic for ev­ery town to have, for ex­am­ple, a sta­dium or a swim­ming pool. It sim­ply isn’t eco­nom­i­cally fea­si­ble. But in cases where a town pro­vides fa­cil­i­ties and ser­vices, which ben­e­fit a re­gion, spe­cial fi­nan­cial sup­port, in ad­di­tion to reg­u­lar sup­port and as­sis­tance, needs to be given by gov­ern­ment. When fi­nanc­ing is pro­vided for fa­cil­i­ties like the sta­dium in Har­bour Grace or Bay Roberts or the swim­ming pool in Carbonear it is ben­e­fi­cial for the re­gion not just for the town in which the fa­cil­ity is lo­cated. Gov­ern­ment needs to con­sider set­ting up a sep­a­rate fund­ing com­po­nent or pro­gram to sup­port re­gional fa­cil­i­ties.”

The­atre fund­ing

Ash wants the town’s arts and cul­ture cen­tre ( Princess Sheila Nige­ria The­atre) to be funded in the same man­ner as other sim­i­lar cen­tres are across the prov­ince.

“Carbonear is for­tu­nate to have an arts and cul­ture cen­tre, which is com­pa­ra­ble to pro­vin­cial cen­tres through­out the prov­ince such as Gan­der, Grand Fall-Wind­sor, Cor­ner Brook, Stephenville and Labrador West,” he pointed out. “I ref­er­ence this in our pre-bud­get pre­sen­ta­tion be­cause un­like all th­ese other cen­tres, the town of Carbonear is re­spon­si­ble for all costs as­so­ci­ated with the op­er­a­tion of our arts cen­tre. Staffing, op­er­a­tional, ad­min­is­tra­tive, tech­ni­cal, pro­gram­ming, pro­mo­tional and main­te­nance ex­penses of all the other cen­tres are cov­ered by the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment, but that’s not the case for the cen­tre in Carbonear - we re­ceive no fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance. We main­tain this is most un­fair.”

Ash told Mar­shall the peo­ple of the re­gion should re­ceive the same gov­ern­ment sup­port for their arts and cul­ture cen­tre as other towns. The fi­nance min­is­ter agreed. “ The cur­rent sys­tem of fund­ing for arts and cul­ture cen­tres is cur­rently un­der re­view, but this seems so bla­tantly un­fair. What rea­son was given as to why your cen­tre is not funded by gov­ern­ment?” asked Mar­shall.

“ Well the rea­sons are a lit­tle vague and it’s some­thing we are try­ing to work out with gov­ern­ment at the present time, but they feel the fa­cil­ity is owned by the town and is our re­spon­si­bil­ity as op­posed to be­long­ing to the prov­ince,” ex­plained Ash. “ How­ever it’s a re­gional fa­cil­ity and used in the same man­ner as other cen­tres across the prov­ince are and should be funded in the same way.”

Ash en­cour­aged Mar­shall to find some money to im­prove ser­vices at the Carbonear Gen­eral Hospi­tal and con­tinue with the plan to con­struct a new long-term care fa­cil­ity in the town.

He also ex­pressed the need for a new pri­mary-ele­men­tary school.

“Carbonear is the sec­ond largest mu­nic­i­pal­ity in Con­cep­tion bay North, how­ever at this point in time, we do not have schools to ac­com­mo­date Kinder­garten to Level 3 stu­dents in the town,” he said. “I an­tic­i­pate there is not an­other town in the prov­ince with a pop­u­la­tion equal or greater than Carbonear that does not have a K to 12 sys­tem in their town. There is no jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for hav­ing our stu­dents trav­el­ling out of town for their ed­u­ca­tion. It does not seem con­ceiv­able that a school would not be lo­cated in the com­mu­nity where the ma­jor­ity of stu­dents live. Gov­ern­ment must en­sure funds are in­vested in ed­u­ca­tion to pro­vide the in­fra­struc­ture for the ed­u­ca­tion of our chil­dren.|

The deputy mayor con­cluded his pre­sen­ta­tion to the fi­nance min­is­ter with a long list of pri­or­i­ties which in­cluded fund­ing pro­vi­sions for up­grades and re­place­ment of de­te­ri­o­rat­ing in­fra­struc­ture as well as guid­ance and sup­port on bor­row­ing and debt re­duc­tion.

TOWN GOALS - Chess Ash, deputy mayor of Carbonear, shares some of the mu­nic­i­pal pri­or­i­ties of his town with Tom Mar­shall, min­is­ter of fi­nance, at a Feb. 8 pre-bud­get con­sul­ta­tion in Carbonear.

Denise Pike/The Com­pass

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