A lot to celebrate in 2010
When the Conception Bay North bypass road was being pushed through back in the 1990s, some C.B.N. towns feared it could spell the beginning of the end for their future growth and development.
Spaniard’s Bay was one of the towns which had some real concerns the Veterans Memorial Highway would ‘ bypass’ their town and leave them out in the cold.
John Drover, who has served as the town’s mayor throughout that period, is pleased to admit they were wrong.
In fact since the road opened the reverse has happened, “the town has actually grown and seen many improvements,” Drover said in a recent interview.
Incorporated June 8, 1965, Spaniard’s Bay/ Tilton is this year marking its 45th anniversary of incorporation.
The town has seen lots of changes over the past four and a half decades.
Perhaps one of the biggest changes occurred back in 1991 when Tilton was annexed to Spaniard’s Bay. Looking back on that move, Drover feels, “it has really worked out well for both towns.” The town’s size, tax base and population all increased with the merger.
The town’s 2,601 people live in approximately 1,000 homes in Spaniard’s Bay/Tilton.
Averaging 25 per year, housing starts are healthy. Some 36 housing starts were recorded in 2008; 20 last year (2009) and 15 so far this year (2010).
“ When young families and new families are moving in, that’s got to be good for the community. For a community this size, we are doing exceptionally well,” Drover asserts.
But times weren’t always as bright as they are now.
Back in 1997 when he first became mayor, Drover recalled the town was suffering from tight times financially. “Forty-one cents of every dollar was going towards debt charges. That has now been reduced to 25 cents per dollar. “ We’ve made progress in that area and are still making progress,” the mayor says, adding, the town is in a much better financial situation now than it was 13 years ago.
While 97 per cent of Spaniard’s Bay/Tilton is serviced with water and sewer, the mayor says council is not satisfied with that. “ We will continue working on getting services for those remaining three per cent.”
Referring to Kelly’s Pond, also known as Spider Pond, the mayor noted, “ we’re gifted with a major water supply.” The pond provides water not only to Spaniard’s Bay and Tilton, but also to neighbouring Upper Island Cove. But providing the infrastructure to get that water to every home that needs it is an expensive proposition, one the town continues to work on with the province.
“People want to move where they can get serviced building lots,” Drover says.
“ The status quo is just not good enough - you either move ahead and improve or leave everything as it is and stay behind. That’s the attitude you have to take,” the mayor believes.
“ The more services you can offer, the more it encourages people to come to town.”
And Spaniard’s Bay/Tilton has a lot more going for it besides basic services like water and sewer.