Shar­ing the bur­den

Car­bon­ear to make pitch to Har­bour Grace about fund­ing for new arena

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - THE COM­PASS BY BILL BOW­MAN

Pay fair share

Lat­est twist

A mu­nic­i­pal leader in Car­bon­ear feels the time is ripe for his town to join forces with neigh­bour­ing Har­bour Grace to help se­cure a new re­gional arena for the area.

Coun. David Kennedy would like to see the may­ors and coun­cil­lors from both towns sit down and take a se­ri­ous look at how Car­bon­ear can help out fi­nan­cially with the op­er­a­tion of the pro­posed fa­cil­ity.

Con­vinced Car­bon­ear can only stand to ben­e­fit from a new arena in Har­bour Grace, Kennedy feels it’s only fair that his town come across with its fair share of the costs of main­tain­ing the pro­posed fa­cil­ity. In fact, he feels all towns and com­mu­ni­ties which ben­e­fit from such re­gional re­cre­ation fa­cil­i­ties should be pay­ing their fair share to­wards op­er­a­tion and main­te­nance.

Re­mind­ing mem­bers of the Car­bon­ear coun­cil their town has al­ways been for­tu­nate to have a grow­ing pop­u­la­tion and healthy com­mer­cial tax base, Kennedy said the town spends over $100,000 yearly to sub­si­dize its swim­ming pool, which is a re­gional fa­cil­ity.

Hav­ing sub­si­dized its sta­dium for 60 years, Kennedy said Har­bour Grace has also spent a siz­able chunk of money on that re­gional fa­cil­ity.

Kennedy de­scribed the pro­posed new arena for Har­bour Grace as a win-win for both towns.

His mo­tion, passed unan­i­mously at the Feb. 20 coun­cil meet­ing, calls for the Car­bon­ear coun­cil to meet with their coun­ter­parts in Har­bour Grace “to of­fer our as­sis­tance to en­sure that a new sta­dium is re­al­ized in the area.”

Har­bour Grace Deputy Mayor Terry Barnes, who at­tended last week’s coun­cil meet­ing in Car­bon­ear, said he likes the con­cept.

Sug­gest­ing towns in the re­gion have to get in­volved in more re­gional co-op­er­a­tion and shar­ing of ser­vices, Barnes said the sta­dium is just one ex­am­ple of how this could be done. “I think we should be do­ing more cost-shar­ing,” he said.

Barnes said his town plans to write let­ters to other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in the re­gion, seek­ing their co-op­er­a­tion as well

Kennedy also in­tro­duced a no­tice of mo­tion that, “the Town of Car­bon­ear set up a re­gional re­cre­ation fee to be charged upon res­i­dents out­side of Car­bon­ear for use of our re­cre­ation fa­cil­i­ties.” That no­tice of mo­tion could change to a mo­tion and be voted on dur­ing the next Car­bon­ear coun­cil meet­ing, pend­ing the out­come of pre­lim­i­nary talks with Har­bour Grace.

When con­tacted for his re­sponse to the pro­posal, Mayor Don Coombs said it has merit, and it was to be dis­cussed at a Feb. 27 coun­cil meet­ing in Har­bour Grace.

“If all goes well with my coun­cil, we’ll set up a meet­ing with the Town of Car­bon­ear and we’ll go from there,” Coombs said last week.

Kennedy’s pro­posal is the lat­est twist in the on­go­ing de­bate over the pro­posed new sta­dium. Last Au­gust, the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment an­nounced it was mak­ing up to $21 mil­lion avail­able for a new arena in Har­bour Grace. The town is to cover 20 per cent of the cost.

The town coun­cil voted last fall to ac­cept the fund­ing ar­range­ment, though two coun­cil­lors — David Mur­phy and Wen­dell Hunt — voted against the mo­tion.

There has been grow­ing sen­ti­ment in re­cent months about the town’s abil­ity to fi­nance its share, with some ex­press­ing con­cerns about an in­crease in taxes.

The is­sue once again made head­lines last month when Car­bon­ear-

I’m not talk­ing amal­ga­ma­tion be­cause that’s a ways down the road, but more re­gional co­op­er­a­tion needs to come into ef­fect.

— Coun. David Kennedy

H ar­bour Grace MHA Jerome Kennedy chas­tised Coombs for his overly op­ti­mistic ex­pec­ta­tions for when the project would get started. Kennedy also said a fi­nan­cial anal­y­sis of the town would have to be car­ried out be­fore any money would be re­leased.

When asked last week about the fi­nan­cial re­view, Coombs stated: “that hasn’t been touched. We haven’t heard a word from gov­ern­ment, not a word. It’s a slow process, slower than I ever thought.” Pool reg­is­tra­tion Mean­while, to un­der­score the re­gional na­ture of the pool, David Kennedy told The Com­pass, in a re­cent reg­is­tra­tion for swim­ming lessons, “only 25 per cent of the chil­dren reg­is­tered were from Car­bon­ear,” with the re­main­ing three quar­ters com­ing from other towns and com­mu­ni­ties in Con­cep­tion and Trin­ity Bays.

Aside from the an­nual sub­sidy Car­bon­ear tax­pay­ers pro­vide to­wards the pool’s an­nual op­er­at­ing costs, the coun­cil­lor also men­tioned that $1 mil­lion was spent last year on ma­jor ren­o­va­tions at the fa­cil­ity — 20 per cent of which (ap­prox­i­mately $200,000) was paid by the town.

Point­ing out, “the other smaller com­mu­ni­ties don’t have to main­tain these fa­cil­i­ties,” he won­dered, “how long can towns like Car­bon­ear keep pump­ing money into re­cre­ation fa­cil­i­ties that are used for the greater good of ev­ery­body?

“Why aren’t all these peo­ple pay­ing to use our fa­cil­i­ties? Why is it just the towns of Car­bon­ear and Har­bour Grace?”

Eco­nomic spinoff

Any time there is a hockey tour­na­ment or other event at the Har­bour Grace sta­dium, Kennedy said chil­dren and their fam­i­lies come to Car­bon­ear to eat, shop and spend their money. And that kind of eco­nomic spinoff ben­e­fits not only Car­bon­ear and Har­bour Grace, but all com­mu­ni­ties in the area be­cause peo­ple from those com­mu­ni­ties work at the var­i­ous food out­lets, hospi­tal and other fa­cil­i­ties found in the larger towns.

Ex­plain­ing, “the more you get in­volved the cheaper it is for ev­ery­body,” Kennedy feels it’s time to ask the other towns and com­mu­ni­ties “to come on board, and give us some re­gional co-op­er­a­tion.”

If com­mu­ni­ties don’t want to come on side, and if Car­bon­ear and Har­bour Grace can come to an agree­ment, ”any­body out­side our mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties are go­ing to have to pay some kind of user fees on top of reg­is­tra­tion fees,” the coun­cilor sug­gested.

The best way to do that, Kennedy ex­plained, would be for other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to col­lect the fees on a per capita ba­sis from their tax base and con­trib­ute them to­wards the sta­dium and pool.

Both Kennedy and Barnes agree that as re­gional fa­cil­i­ties, the pool and sta­dium, like the Bay Arena in Bay Roberts, should also be op­er­ated by boards with rep­re­sen­ta­tion from other com­mu­ni­ties. Cur­rently, the sta­dium and the pool are run by their re­spec­tive mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

No free ride

“Maybe there will come a point in time when we can’t main­tain the cur­rent fa­cil­i­ties we have. That’s not right, it’s not ac­cept­able for us alone to to­tally foot the bill.

“I’m not talk­ing amal­ga­ma­tion be­cause that’s a ways down the road,” Kennedy said, “but more re­gional co-op­er­a­tion needs to come into ef­fect.”

Kennedy said, “this whole con­ver­sa­tion needs to be started, and if we don’t start talk­ing about this now, we’re go­ing to be in trou­ble some­where down the road.

“We need to be more strin­gent with our money — if not we’re not go­ing to be able to main­tain these fa­cil­i­ties, and if we can’t main­tain them they got to close up, and the greater pop­u­la­tion is go­ing to lose out be­cause of it.

“The bot­tom line is we’re ex­pect­ing these peo­ple to pay their fair share. The day and age when you’re not go­ing to pay any­thing if you’re not liv­ing in a mu­nic­i­pal­ity is gone. Noth­ing comes free any­more.”

bbow­man@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Photo by Bill Bow­man The Com­pass

David Kennedy has a vi­sion for fund­ing re­gional re­cre­ation fa­cil­i­ties like the Car­bon­ear Swim­ming Pool.

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