In­fra­struc­ture sup­port nec­es­sary

Com­mu­ni­ties hope for more fed­eral funds af­ter elec­tion

The Compass - - EDITORIAL OPINION - BY ANDREW ROBIN­SON

Re­cip­i­ents of fed­eral in­fra­struc­ture fund­ing tied to the Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment’s Eco­nomic Ac­tion Plan were more than happy to be the ben­e­fi­cia­ries of mil­lions spent on roads, har­bours, and wa­ter and sewer in­fra­struc­ture.

But what­ever may come of the May 2 fed­eral elec­tion, the next po­lit­i­cal party to lead the coun­try can ex­pect to hear fur­ther calls to con­tinue al­lo­cat­ing dol­lars and cents to­wards in­fra­struc­ture pro­ject in ru­ral New­found­land and Labrador.

Through the In­fra­struc­ture Stim­u­lus Fund and the Com­mu­nity Com­po­nent Top-up, 46 projects across New­found­land and Labrador re­ceived $66.5 mil­lion to help cover the costs of $176.5 mil­lion worth of work. Mil­lions more has been spent through the Build­ing Canada Plan, a 2007 pro­ject ini­tially in­tended to cover seven years that was sub­se­quently ac­cel­er­ated to deal with the down­turn in the world econ­omy.

In Trin­ity-Con­cep­tion, 27 projects cov­er­ing Whit­bourne up to Bay de Verde and on­wards to Bri­gus have re­ceived over $ 11 mil­lion worth of fed­eral funds since 2009 un­der the Eco­nomic Ac­tion Plan.

One of the most re­cent ben­e­fi­cia­ries is the Har­bour Au­thor­ity of Old Per­li­can. Its break­wa­ter suf­fered struc­tural dam­age at the hands of hur­ri­cane Igor last fall. The fed­eral gov­ern­ment even­tu­ally of­fered $1.2 mil­lion to cover all re­pairs.

“It helps a lot, but it only does part of the job,” said David John­son, chair of the har­bour au­thor­ity’s board of direc­tors.

A 12-month fa­cil­ity host­ing up­wards of 185 boats at a time with two seafood pro­ces­sors, Old Per­li­can is a lively port. John­son said the har­bour au­thor­ity has been ad­vo­cat­ing for more dredg­ing work to en­able Old Per­li­can to ser­vice larger ves­sels.

“If you have a har­bour au­thor­ity that’s very busy, you have to ac­com­mo­date them,” he said. “ We have a lot of boats now that will off­load in their town, and then they’ll come to Old Per­li­can be­cause it’s a safe har­bour.”

The har­bour can han­dle 80-foot ves­sels with a har­bour that’s 4.4me­tres deep at a low mean tide. John­son said some fish har­vesters now buy 89-feet 11-inch boats.

“ When you get fish­er­men that are get­ting big­ger boats and are fish­ing out of other com­mu­ni­ties and if there’s bad weather, they can’t stay there,” he said. “ Then they come to Old Per­li­can, and we need space to put them.”

Ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion avail­able on the Eco­nomic Ac­tion Plan web­site, al­most $3.2 mil­lion has been al­lo­cated to be spent in Bay Roberts on al­most $10 mil­lion in cap­i­tal works projects. The pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment and the Town of Bay Roberts cover the re­main­ing costs.

Grow­ing town

Mayor Glen Lit­tle­john said coun­cil com­mis­sioned a study in 2006 to look at the com­mu­nity’s long-term in­fra­struc­ture needs.

“ Our sys­tem is just about at ca­pac­ity in cer­tain ar­eas,” he said, ref­er­enc­ing the town’s wa­ter and sewer sys­tem. “ We need this for the growth of the town and the fu­ture of the town.”

Bay Roberts wit­nessed a record­set­ting num­ber of new hous­ing starts in 2010 with 67, beat­ing the pre­vi­ous record of 61 set the year be­fore. Mayor Lit­tle­john es­ti­mates over 400 new homes have been hooked up to Bay Robert’s wa­ter and sewer sys­tem over the last 10 years.

Coun­cil is also ey­ing the cre­ation of a new busi­ness park south of the Con­cep­tion Bay Ac­cess Road, in be­tween Coun­try Road and Vet­er­ans Me­mo­rial High­way.

“Any­time we can ac­cess stim­u­lus funds or any type of fed­eral-pro­vin­cial money to im­prove our in­fra­struc­ture, be it in-ground in­fra­struc­ture or sur­face in­fra­struc­ture like paving or side­walks, that’s great,” said the mayor. “ The work gets done a lit­tle bit quicker, we can grow as a town, we can make it more at­trac­tive, and good things will hap­pen.”

In Novem­ber 2007, the Cana­dian Fed­er­a­tion of Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties re­leased a re­port that set the price for elim­i­nat­ing the coun­try’s mu­nic­i­pal in­fra­struc­ture debt at $123 bil­lion.

“ There’s al­ways go­ing to be a need for pro­vin­cial and fed­eral gov­ern­ments to look at pro­vid­ing some type of fund­ing that com­mu­ni­ties and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties can use to­wards im­prov­ing their in­fra­struc­ture,” said Lit­tle­john. “It’s just a given.”

One ma­jor in­fra­struc­ture pro­ject on the hori­zon for Bay Roberts is its re­cently an­nounced in­ten­tions to build a re­cre­ation com­plex near Amal­ga­mated Academy. A study from two years ago look­ing into the fea­si­bil­ity of build­ing a new mul­tipur­pose fa­cil­ity for re­cre­ation es­ti­mated the pro­ject would cost $20 mil­lion.

“ We’re go­ing to need both the fed­eral and pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments to come on-side,” said Lit­tle­john.

Projects funded un­der the In­fra­struc­ture Stim­u­lus Fund were ini­tially re­quired to be com­pleted by the end of last month. In De­cem­ber of last year, that dead­line was changed to Oct. 31, 2011.

“We need this for the growth of the town

and the fu­ture of the town.”

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