Puck passed to province
Proposed Harbour Grace stadium project moves another step
The Town of Harbour Grace has written the minister of municipal affairs asking him to approve its preference for a primary consultant on the proposed new stadium in the town.
Council passed a motion to that effect at its last regular council meeting on July 16.
But like earlier motions on the arena project, the vote was not unanimous.
Coun. David Murphy, who has voted against all earlier motions on the project, remains steadfast in his opposition to the move, casting his vote against the most recent motion. From the first time the province offered its share of funding towards the project, Murphy has wondered why the town needs a new facility, when, as far as he is concerned, the 54-year-old S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium still has a lot of good years left.
Mayor Don Coombs said last week, “(Coun. Murphy) believes the old stadium could last forever — he is entitled to that opinion, and I respect his right to express it.”
Meanwhile, Coun. Wendell Hunt, who has also voted against the project in the past, last week, cast his vote in favor of the latest motion. Coun. Hunt has raised concerns about his town’s ability to finance its share of the cost and maintain the facility without having it become a burden on future taxpayers.
Coun. Hunt voted in favor after a condition was included in the latest motion which states: “Council agreed no financial commitment will be undertaken by the town until the town contacts the appointed consultant to proceed.”
The first part of the motion states: “(Council) requests ministerial approval to award a request for proposal for prime consulting services for Harbour Grace arena. Upon approval, the town will instruct the consultant to prepare a draft and standard form of agreement between the client (town) and prime consultant for review and approval of your department.”
Basically, Forward explained, council and government will tell the consulting firm what it is they would like to see in the recreation facility, and the consultant will advise them on how their goals can be achieved. The consultant will also have input on site selection.
The town manager recalled council had actually accepted on June 5 a recommendation for the consultant made by a review panel made up of officials from the town and municipal affairs. He noted both levels of government have already done a lot of homework on this project in preparation for this stage.
The identity of the successful firm will not be made public until the province signs off on the selection
Meanwhile, dissension amongst the rank and file of council has raised concerns for Carbonear-Harbour Grace MHA Jerome Kennedy, who has said he would like to see stronger support from council before the province commits to the project.
Kennedy has also expressed concerns about the mayor making premature announcements on radio about certain timelines for the proj-
“I’ve had a lot of positive support from the people of Harbour Grace on this — this is the opportunity
of a lifetime.” — Mayor Don Coombs
ect, before the proper steps in the process could be followed.
Despite the council dissension, Coombs said: “I’ve had a lot of positive support from the people of Harbour Grace on this — this is the opportunity of a lifetime.”
While the province had initially offered to make up to $21 million available for the project, the mayor has since played down that figure, admitting the town could not afford to finance such an ambitious undertaking, and settling for a more modest facility. which could now run around $12 million, according to the latest figures being tossed around.
Overtures have also been made to neighboring towns to come on board and make the stadium a regional facility by sharing in its maintenance costs. Carbonear councilor David Kennedy first floated that concept earlier this year.
But the response thus far has been lukewarm with the mayors of only three of the 11 other towns in Conception Bay North (Bay Roberts, Carbonear and Victoria) turning out for a meeting in Harbour Grace earlier this month to explore those possibilities (see related story). Another town, Brigus, has already stated it is not prepared to support the new facility when it is built.
Mayor Coombs, who favours the regional concept, was quoted as saying last month: “I think if this is going to work, it’s going to have to be a regional facility.” While he would still welcome other towns to come on board, last week he said if they choose not to do so, Harbour Grace is prepared to go it alone.
Getting the stadium project off the ground has been a lengthy, drawn-out process, a lot longer than he expected it would be, Coombs admits.