Arena committee will report to council
Harbour Grace councillor questions whether board will delay progress on new facility
One of the most recognized issues in the Town of Harbour Grace in recent weeks has been the stadium committee that was put in place just over a month ago. It was discussed at the town council meeting May 6.
The committee consists of six appointed male members — some by the provincial government, some by the town council.
The group, which is now officially called the Harbour Grace Arena Steering Committee, held their first meeting on May 1 to discuss the purpose of the committee and to determine who would have primary control over the decisions of the stadium.
It was decided during that meeting Harbour Grace town council will maintain financial and physical control of the new complex, starting immediately, and the committee would only be a liaison between it and the government.
No authority for committee
“The committee has no authority to spend money,” Mayor Don Coombs, who is also a committee member, told the council. “Their recommendations will come back to council, and the council will say yea or nay.”
The committee will also discuss with user groups, such as minor hockey and figure skating organizations, their needs and requirements of the stadium.
Coun. Bud Chafe referenced the new stadium in Paradise, and questioned why they didn’t need a committee, but Harbour Grace did. He felt the government did not trust them enough to make their own decisions.
Coombs said they may be the only committee out of all the new and future stadium constructions in the province.
Meanwhile, Coun. Joan Short believes many of the committee’s duties have already been decided by council in previous months, saying they are “reinventing the wheel.”
“It seems like we are taking a step forward and two steps backwards,” she stated. “We’ve got our work done, so why can’t we progress any further than this?”
Coombs told the group discussions are already taking place with Stantec, an enginnering firm, to design layout possibilities with the attributes previously decided by council.
Short also referenced some of the criticisms coming from town constituents.
Some residents do not believe the project is ever going to get off the ground, and she believes their previous decisions should help get construction started sooner, instead of repeating the same process again.
Another concern brought up about the committee is the lack of female representation, but it was determined that females would have a place on the board of directors when the time comes.
A councillor stated the group chose “Don Coombs” and not “Mayor Don Coombs” as the representative on the steering committee. Councillors then voted to remove the mayor designation from the committee’s list.
A serious accusation about a councillor was also brought up during that meeting. Short, who is the only female in the group of seven, asserted her frustration with what she calls “unprofessional behaviour” from some councillors.
“Someone in their wisdom left council chambers (after last meeting) and said that I spoke about two members of the committee,” she stated, describing what she called inaccurate and distasteful comments provided by an anonymous councillor to residents of the town.
“I don’t know why we have to leave here and twist something that was said. I only spoke about the committee and I never named anybody,” she protested.
Short told the council she has contacted her lawyer on conditions of slander.
No councillors commented on the accusation, but Coombs quickly came to Short’s defence.
“If it is said in public, it can be repeated as fact,” he said. “It was somebody’s character that was damaged in this situation.”
The discussion ended when Coombs suggested the town might have to invest in a microphone system to prevent this from happening again.
Temporary water disruption
An area of Riverhead near Thicket Road had some water disruptions in early May.
Coun. David Murphy brought the issue to council after receiving phone calls from residents in the area who are on artesian wells.
“One lady called me and said she’d turn on her tap, and it’d be 15 minutes before she got any water,” he explained.
The situation was already known to Coombs and the town manager, Lester Forward, who explained there was a low water supply due to overuse in the area.
“From what I understand, someone filled up a pool in the area,” Coombs said.
Forward added there is no way they could control that, but remind people that they have to conserve water, especially when precipitation is low.
Disgusted by Doyle’s Brook
Residents in the area of Alberta Drive in Harbour Grace have put forth a petition to council to have nearby Doyle’s Brook cleaned out.
Debris has accumulated in the narrow waterway, filling it in, and the town agrees the situation needs to be taken care of.
Coombs and the councillors said federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans needs to be contacted as soon as possible because the town has been taking care of it up until now.
Council said the department will have to conduct an area survey and take necessary steps once they determine if the area needs to be cleaned up.
The next meeting was schedued to take place May 20 at 3 p.m. at the Harbour Grace Town Hall.
Harbour Grace Mayor Don Coombs discussed the Harbour Grace Arena Steering Committee with councillors during a meeting May 6.
Harbour Grace Coun. Joan Short believes the new arena committe is delaying the stadium because they are responsible for decisions already discussed by council.