Car­bon­ear still wait­ing for fed­eral trea­sure ship to come in


When the fed­eral gov­ern­ment an­nounced March 17 it was spend­ing $19 mil­lion to re­pair har­bour dam­age from hur­ri­cane Igor and storm surges in late De­cem­ber, Car­bon­ear was con­spic­u­ous by its ab­sence from the list of com­mu­ni­ties for fund­ing.

Eight har­bours in Trin­ity and Con­cep­tion Bays were among 15 on the Avalon Penin­sula and 43 around the prov­ince to re­ceive fed­eral money. Heart’s De­sire, Red Head Cove, Lower Is­land Cove, Grates Cove, Ochre Pitt Cove, Old Per­li­can, Hant’s Har­bour and Si­b­ley’s Cove were all on the list.

The is­sue sur­faced at last week’s reg­u­lar Car­bon­ear town coun­cil meet­ing, with deputy mayor Ches Ash and Mayor Sam Slade ex­press­ing dis­ap­point­ment at the snub.

Slade said he had been lob­by­ing pro­vin­cial and fed­eral politi­cians for as­sis­tance since the be­gin­ning of the year.

“ They’re say­ing to us the only way we can get fund­ing ( for re­pairs) is on an 80-20 (per cent) ba­sis,” Slade said. That’s the same cost-shar­ing ar­range­ment used for all other cap­i­tal works fund­ing projects.

The mayor said he tried to con­tact the Car­bon­ear Har­bour Au­thor­ity to find out the ex­tent of dam­age to the area around the pub­lic wharf, but had yet to hear back from them.

Be­sides the dam­age to the sea wall along the beach, a sec­tion of the Lower South­side Road near the foot of Fraize Av­enue also in­curred some ero­sion “right up to the pave­ment’s edge.” These ar­eas are owned by the town, Slade ex­plained.

There was also dam­age to pri­vate prop­er­ties along the Lower South­side Road.

Slade said the fed­eral gov­ern­ment is “wash­ing their hands” of the sit­u­a­tion. How­ever, the mayor sug­gested the sea wall was likely funded by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

Coun­cil did not ap­ply for any fund­ing be­cause no one knew what, if any, pro­grams were avail­able to cover such dam­age. Slade had been pos­ing that ques­tion to fed­eral politi­cians.

What’s more, a cost es­ti­mate of the dam­age was never car­ried out.

Im­me­di­ate ac­tion needed

Slade out­lined the dam­age in a Jan. 26 letter to Fish­eries and Oceans Min­is­ter Gail Shea, not­ing “ This is a very se­ri­ous is­sue that re­quires ac­tion to be taken im­me­di­ately.”

Shea replied that fund­ing through the Small Craft Har­bours pro­gram is meant to “pro­vide and main­tain fed­er­ally owned in­fra­struc­ture at sched­uled core fish­ing har­bours that sup­port the com­mer­cial fish­ery. Pri­or­ity for fund­ing is di­rected to­wards safe­tyre­lated re­pairs of de­part­men­tal fa­cil­i­ties at these har­bours.”

She added: “ The road and sea­wall in ques­tion are not fed­eral fa­cil­i­ties, and as such pro­gram fund­ing can­not be di­rected to­wards these re­pairs.”

As such, only har­bours ad­min­is­tered by Small Craft Har­bours were el­i­gi­ble for a share of the $19 mil­lion fed­eral money an­nounced March 17.

Ma­jor dam­age

Slade told coun­cil an 84-foot sec­tion of wharf was lost dur­ing the De­cem­ber storm surges.

Herb Butt, chair­man of the Car­bon­ear Har­bour Au­thor­ity, told The Com- pass he be­lieves Slade was re­fer­ring to a sec­tion of crib­bing in the ves­sel stor­age area east of the pub­lic wharf.

He said they did not seek any fed­eral gov­ern­ment fund­ing for that par­tic­u­lar sec­tion be­cause it falls un­der pro­vin­cial ju­ris­dic­tion.

Butt said his un­der­stand­ing is that, “as long as they ( feds) don’t own the prop­erty, they can’t spend money on it.”

He ex­plained the only fed­eral prop­erty in the area is the pub­lic wharf it­self.

The chair­man said a four-by­four-foot sec­tion of as­phalt on the wharf was taken out dur­ing the storm. And an 80-foot sec­tion of the east side of the wharf has been tipped for some time, he said.

Butt be­lieves there was some move­ment un­der­neath that sec­tion dur­ing the last storm, which caused the pave­ment to crack.

His big­gest fear is that, “if some­thing is not done with it soon, it’s go­ing to end up in the ocean.”

Butt met with Small Craft Har­bours in Fe­bru­ary and asked for an en­gi­neer­ing study on the wharf. And in late Jan­uary, the Har­bour Au­thor­ity wrote pro­vin­cial Fish­eries Min­is­ter Clyde Jack­man, seek­ing some pro­vin­cial fund­ing — just over $2,700 — for short-term re­pairs.

“All we’re try­ing to do now is keep it patched up un­til the feds can take it over,” Butt said, re­fer­ring to the short-term work on the pro­vin­cial prop­erty around the wharf.

It’s gen­er­ally agreed that the best so­lu­tion is a break­wa­ter to the east of the wharf, which would pro­tect the prop­erty on both sides of the wharf. Shea ac­knowl­edged Small Craft Har­bours staff have iden­ti­fied the break­wa­ter as “the main pri­or­ity within your har­bour.”

Shea said her depart­ment is cur­rently in the process of ac­quir­ing the prop­erty from the prov­ince to ac­com­mo­date the break­wa­ter. The pro­ject is es­ti­mated at some $2 mil­lion, though the min­is­ter could not com­mit to a time­frame when it will get done “due to fund­ing pres­sures.”

Butt thinks it’s time for pro­vin­cial politi­cians to start lob­by­ing Ot­tawa on be­half of the Har­bour Au­thor­ity.

Ex­cept for $200,000 in fed­eral fund­ing spent on cos­metic up­grades a few years ago, very lit­tle gov­ern­ment money has been spent on the pub­lic wharf since it was built in the 1950s.

While he doesn’t be­grudge the other har­bours that re­ceived money, Butt pointed out mil­lions have al­ready been poured into some of these places. And too of­ten in the past he has seen costly in­fra­struc­ture in­stalled in un­pro­tected har­bours washed out to sea, while ports like Car­bon­ear still wait for its ship to come in.

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