Courthouse pitch doesn’t impress Harbour Grace
Hayward Blake calls proposal to move court to Spaniard’s Bay ‘reprehensible’
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
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.
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.
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.