Puck passed to prov­ince

Pro­posed Har­bour Grace sta­dium project moves an­other step

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

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.

Re­gional con­cept

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.

bbow­man@cb­n­com­pass.ca

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