Com­mu­nity cen­tre ap­proved

Bay Roberts look­ing to up­grade Wil­bur Sparkes Com­plex

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

Mu­nic­i­pal lead­ers with the Town of Bay Roberts have voted to give fund­ing for a state-of-the-art com­mu­nity cen­tre at the Wil­bur Sparkes Recre­ation Com­plex.

But, the de­ci­sion was not with­out its de­trac­tors, and was ap­proved by a vote of 5-2.

Two prom­i­nent mem­bers of coun­cil, Mayor Philip Wood and Deputy Mayor Bill Sey­mour, op­posed the spend­ing.

First-class fa­cil­ity

Coun. Wade Oates made a mo­tion at coun­cil’s reg­u­lar meet­ing on Feb. 26 that the town ap­prove the planned $500,000 project, and to al­lo­cate $200,000 im­me­di­ately in or­der to be­gin con­struc­tion this spring. Oates is also the town’s li­ai­son with the recre­ation com­mit­tee.

The re­main­ing money is ex­pected to be bud­geted dur­ing fu­ture phases of the project.

That $200,000 in­cludes the $50,000 awarded to the town by beer com­pany Mol­son-Coors.

“I think it’s a needed ad­di­tion,” said Coun. Wal­ter Yetman. “We have a first-class fa­cil­ity in our com­mu­nity. It’s used by more than just our ci­ti­zens. It’s used by the re­gion.”

Yetman made note of the many dif­fer­ent at­trac­tions at the com­plex, in­clud­ing a ball field, walking track, play­ground, and the ten­nis and ball hockey courts.

Yetman sug­gested a com­mu­nity cen­tre is a needed ad­di­tion.

“We don’t have some­thing to call our own,” said Yetman. “We’re not de­pen­dent on some­one else to put off our own pro­grams. This goes fur­ther than wash­room fa­cil­i­ties, where a meet­ing place is needed for th­ese dif­fer­ent ac­tiv­i­ties.”

Coun. Clarence Mercer also lent his ap­proval to the project.

“We’re very close to hav­ing a first-class fa­cil­ity there, when our soc­cer field gets in or­der. I think we need a first-class fa­cil­ity that will ac­com­mo­date vis­i­tors to our town. I think it is a mark on our town, in the pos­i­tive, if we have vis­it­ing teams coming in here and they can be ac­com­mo­dated in the way they de­serve to be ac­com­mo­dated,” he said.

Oates and Coun. Melvin Walsh also voted in favour of the cen­tre, more than enough for a ma­jor­ity de­ci­sion.

But Wood and Sey­mour voiced their op­po­si­tion for the com­mu­nity cen­tre.

“We have big­ger pri­or­i­ties such as a new pool, curbs, gut­ters, water and pave­ment,” Sey­mour said later.

Sey­mour does not be­lieve peo­ple will use the fa­cil­ity once it is com­pleted, and sug­gested “90 per cent” of res­i­dents would not sup­port such an ex­pen­di­ture.

“We could buy all of the land we need for the pool with $500,000,” he said.

Huge ben­e­fits

Recre­ation di­rec­tor Ian Flynn sees noth­ing but “huge ben­e­fits” coming from the town hav­ing its own com­mu­nity cen­tre.

The sum­mer recre­ation pro­gram will op­er­ate from the build­ing, he ex­plained. There are also plans for an af­ter-school pro­gram. The cen­tre will also have the ca­pac­ity to host small con­ven­tions, and be uti­lized as a gath­er­ing places for play­ers par­tic­i­pat­ing in soc­cer and soft­ball com­pe­ti­tions.

“It’s been a de­mand of the ci­ti­zens of the town to see our fa­cil­ity grow,” said Flynn. “It’s

Bill Sey­mour

just an added piece to the puz­zle.

“The pool is a pri­or­ity, and is a pri­or­ity that will con­tinue to be worked on, but this is an at­tain­able goal in the fu­ture.”

Flynn said the new build­ing will be “strictly a com­mu­nity-based ser­vice,” and will not be made avail­able for rentals.

It will be strate­gi­cally lo­cated within min­utes of both Amal­ga­mated Academy and As­cen­sion Col­le­giate. “The pos­si­bil­i­ties are end­less,” said Flynn. Flynn even men­tioned that the cen­tre will be power-ready and could be used as a “hot spot” dur­ing a power out­age.

The di­rec­tor is of the no­tion that recre­ation is not just a “soft serve” any­more.

“It’s an es­sen­tial ser­vice,” said Flynn.

Bay Roberts recre­ation di­rec­tor Ian Flynn is shown in this file photo dis­play­ing a con­cep­tual draw­ing of a com­mu­nity cen­tre. The cen­tre, which will be built at the Wil­bur Sparkes Recre­ation Com­plex, was ap­proved last week by the town coun­cil.

Water Yetman

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