Court­house pitch doesn’t im­press Har­bour Grace

Hay­ward Blake calls pro­posal to move court to Spa­niard’s Bay ‘rep­re­hen­si­ble’

The Compass - - NEWS - BY ANDREW ROBIN­SON TC ME­DIA edi­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

A po­ten­tial pitch to move pro­vin­cial court ser­vices to Spa­niard’s Bay doesn’t sit well with at least one Har­bour Grace coun­cil­lor.

At last Mon­day night’s coun­cil meet­ing in Spa­niard’s Bay, Coun. Brenda Sey­mour sug­gested the down­stairs por­tion of the mu­nic­i­pal build­ing could be a good fit for a court­house. With the sit­u­a­tion look­ing grim in Har­bour Grace, where court­house em­ploy­ees re­ceived lay­off no­tices last week and a pitch from that mu­nic­i­pal­ity went nowhere, Sey­mour said it’s im­por­tant to give govern­ment op­tions for the sake of the re­gion.

“What I’m get­ting at is that is looks like the Con­cep­tion Bay North area could pos­si­bly lose its court ser­vices. I don’t think the de­ci­sion is done. Maybe we could not lie down and die and go with­out a strug­gle. What do we have to lose?”

Coun. Hay­ward Blake read about Sey­mour’s pro­posal on The Com­pass’ web­site and was quick to re­act.

“This is ac­tu­ally un­be­liev­able,” he wrote in a com­ment at­tached to the ar­ti­cle on The Com­pass’ Face­book page. “How can a neigh­bour­ing mu­nic­i­pal­ity take such ac­tion! I find this rep­re­hen­si­ble. The Spa­niard’s Bay Coun­cil should apol­o­gize for tak­ing such ac­tion, and sup­port Har­bour Grace in its ef­forts to re­tain the court in its present lo­ca­tion.”

In a sub­se­quent in­ter­view with The Com­pass, Blake said ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties in New­found­land and Labrador are un­der at­tack. He said com­mu­ni­ties like Har­bour Grace and Spa­niard’s Bay need to work to­gether to keep re­gional ser­vices.

“If we go at­tack­ing each other or try­ing to al­most steal ser­vices and busi­nesses and ac­tiv­i­ties that go on in a town, then it’s just not called for,” he said.

Sey­mour asked for her fel­low coun­cil mem­bers’ sup­port to set up a meet­ing with Justice Min­is­ter Andrew Par­sons to make the pitch. Deputy Mayor Paul Brazil agreed to con­tact lo­cal MHA Pam Par­sons to see about do­ing just that.

The Spa­niard’s Bay coun­cil­lor said her pro­posal was about en- sur­ing ser­vices pro­vided by the court re­main in the Con­cep­tion Bay North area. She said it was not her in­ten­tion to un­der­cut Har­bour Grace.

Blake doesn’t buy it. He noted the mat­ter of los­ing pro­vin­cial court has been brought up at Con­cep­tion Bay North Joint Coun­cil meet­ings, with the town re­quest­ing the sup­port of fel­low mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

“We are wag­ing an on­go­ing cam­paign to re­tain the court in this re­gion, and of course with Har­bour Grace hav­ing the court now, we are tak­ing the lead to en­sure that the court re­mains in the area,” he said.

Blake noted his town would never look to build or ob­tain fund­ing for a swim­ming pool with Car­bon­ear hav­ing such a fa­cil­ity next door. In the case of Spa­niard’s Bay and its in­ter­est in the Vet­eran’s Power Cen­tre busi­ness park, Blake said the town has sup­ported the project and is not try­ing to court the kinds of busi­nesses they may be sniff­ing around Spa­niard’s Bay.

“We are more of the opin­ion that a strong re­gion re­quires us to work to­gether to en­sure that we have all the ser­vices that we need,” he said, adding the town in­tends to for­mally bring up the is­sue with Spa­niard’s Bay Mayor Tony Men­chions.

The prov­ince has been leas­ing the Babb Build­ing in Har­bour Grace for court­room pro­ceed- ings since the be­gin­ning of this year at a cost of $280,000 an­nu­ally — ap­prox­i­mately $23,333 per month. Govern­ment has re­port­edly re­jected an of­fer from Har­bour Grace that would al­low the prov­ince to lease space from the town for as low a price as $5,000.

Sey­mour said Har­bour Grace was in a dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tion since it was look­ing to pur­chase a build­ing to ac­com­mo­date their pitch to govern­ment, whereas Spa­niard’s Bay al­ready owns its build­ing, which used to serve as an Eastern School Dis­trict of-

Maybe we could not lie down and die and go with­out a strug­gle. What do we have to lose? Brenda Sey­mour

fice.

Har­bour Grace Pro­vin­cial Court is sched­uled to close by the end of this month, and dates are al­ready be­ing booked to move cases to St. John’s and Clarenville.

TC ME­DIA FILE PHOTO

Har­bour Grace Coun. Hay­ward Blake doesn’t get why Spa­niard’s Bay would con­sider try­ing to lease space in its mu­nic­i­pal build­ing to the pro­vin­cial govern­ment for a court­house.

TC ME­DIA FILE PHOTO

Spa­niard’s Bay Coun. Brenda Sey­mour said her pro­posal to set up a meet­ing with pro­vin­cial Justice Min­is­ter Andrew Par­sons is not meant to un­der­cut Har­bour Grace.

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