Har­bour Grace sees three-way may­oral race

Terry Barnes, Don Coombs, and Gor­don Stone vie for mayor’s chair

The Compass - - News - BY CHRIS LEWIS Chris.lewis@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Three hope­ful can­di­dates are com­pet­ing for the mayor’s chair in Har­bour Grace this year, a num­ber rarely seen in past elec­tions.

Cur­rent mayor Terry Barnes, past mayor Don Coombs, and cur­rent coun­cil­lor Gor­don Stone are all try­ing their hand at a chance at take the mayor’s seat in Har­bour Grace for the next four years, and all three have strong vi­sions for the fu­ture of the com­mu­nity. Terry Barnes

Mayor Barnes, who is soon fin­ish­ing his first term as mayor, holds great pride in what he and the cur­rent coun­cil have done for the town in the last four years. He told The Com­pass that were he to find him­self back in the po­si­tion for another four, he would build on what’s been ac­com­plished thus far, and fur­ther im­prove on the things that the cur­rent coun­cil has worked hard to achieve.

Barnes holds a strong fo­cus on tourism, not­ing that the in­dus­try has been boom­ing in New­found­land and Labrador in re­cent years, and that he felt as though Har­bour Grace had a lot of room to im­prove in that area.

“We have an air field up there that’s not be­ing used, for ex­am­ple,” Barnes said. “The re­gatta should be big­ger than what it is, and what about Lady Lake? Why don’t we open that up, and let peo­ple build homes and things there? Not only would it add a beau­ti­ful area to the town, it would bring in a lot of money for us as well. Tourism is a big thing on my mind, be­cause I can see where we as a town can im­prove, and the ben­e­fits it would have for us.”

Barnes high­lighted the con­struc­tion of the Danny Cleary Har­bour Grace Com­mu­nity Cen­tre, the Grace Cen­tre, and the newly re-an­nounced road­work planned for Har­vey Street as some of the ma­jor things coun­cil has brought to the town dur­ing this term. He said that al­though some of th­ese things were in the works be­fore he sat as mayor, the ball was mov­ing slowly.

“We got things go­ing, we got things mov­ing,” Barnes ex­plained. “Some of th­ese things, like Har­vey Street, that was promised to us years and years ago, be­fore this cur­rent coun­cil, but it’s fi­nally get­ting done. We put in the work, and we brought a lot of great things to this com­mu­nity.”

Barnes is look­ing to con­tinue this pat­tern, with high hopes for the fu­ture. He said his main fo­cus is con­tin­ued im­prove­ment with in­fra­struc­ture, as well as the tourism in­dus­try, and to en­sure the Har­bour Grace of the fu­ture is one worth liv­ing in.

“This is my home – I have chil­dren and grand­chil­dren here. My fam­ily is here. I want them, along with ev­ery­one else who is for­tu­nate enough to live here, to have a good, strong com­mu­nity they can grow up and live in for many years to come,” said Barnes. Don Coombs

Don Coombs spent 20 years as mayor of Har­bour Grace in the past, and, fol­low­ing a close loss be­tween him­self and Barnes four years ago, is look­ing to re­claim the seat again in 2017.

Coombs is ap­proach­ing the race this year with a busi­nes­sori­ented mind­set, hop­ing to en­sure the town’s fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity while fo­cus­ing on build­ing a co­op­er­a­tive and friendly coun­cil.

Coombs, dur­ing an in­ter­view with The Com­pass, noted a par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est in mak­ing sure the town’s fi­nances stay where they need to be, and im­prov­ing the com­mu­nity from there.

“It’s great to prom­ise all th­ese things, and say you’re go­ing to do this or that for the town, but how can you do that if the money isn’t there? If the fi­nances aren’t read­ily avail­able to do those sorts of things, it’ll never go be­yond the plan­ning stages,” said Coombs. “Be­ing a mayor, or any mem­ber of coun­cil for that mat­ter, is a very im­por­tant po­si­tion for a town. It’s our job to im­prove the town, and that all starts at the fi­nances. That’s step one for im­prove­ment – mak­ing sure we can pro­vide res­i­dents with the things they need.”

Coombs said he feels con­fi­dent in his abil­ity to achieve his goals, not­ing his past ex­pe­ri­ence on coun­cil. He also said that in or­der for coun­cil to suc­ceed, he wants to see coun­cil mem­bers work as a team, rather than in­di­vid­u­ally, at the ex­pense of di­vid­ing coun­cil.

“At the end of the day, coun­cil mem­bers are not em­ploy­ees of the town, they’re pol­icy mak­ers and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the com­mu­nity,” Coombs ex­plained. “So be­cause of that, it’s very, very im­por­tant that ev­ery­one works to­gether as a team. Com­mu­ni­ca­tion is key, not only amongst our­selves, but with the res­i­dents.”

Coombs said that his vi­sion for the fu­ture of Har­bour Grace in­cludes straight­ened fi­nan­cials, as well as res­i­dents who have the things they need, not­ing in par­tic­u­lar River­head’s is­sues with water, and the state of Har­vey Street.

“I’d like to see things get done, at the end of the day,” said Coombs. “Places like Har­vey Street and Kitchen’s Hill, they all need work. I want to see water ac­cess in parts of town that don’t have it. Lastly, I’d like to see more con­sis­tency in our po­lices. What hap­pens for Don Coombs should hap­pen for Joe Blow down the street as well. No one gets any spe­cial priv­i­leges – what hap­pens for one per­son, hap­pens for the com­mu­nity, be­cause that’s what makes a com­mu­nity.” Gor­don Stone Gor­don Stone cur­rently holds a seat as a coun­cil­lor for the Town of Har­bour Grace. How­ever, his po­lit­i­cal his­tory dates back to the days of Har­bour Grace South act­ing as its own mu­nic­i­pal­ity, pre-amal­ga­ma­tion, where he spent two terms - one as a coun­cil­lor, and one as mayor.

Af­ter four years on coun­cil, Stone looks for­ward to the pos­si­bil­ity of mov­ing into the mayor’s chair this year.

“It’s been a long his­tory with pol­i­tics for me,” Stone said, “but it’s been a very en­joy­able one. I’m look­ing for­ward to this next chap­ter. I like to try every­thing, and I en­joy life a lot – there’s no ad­ven­ture I’d turn down, and pol­i­tics is cer­tainly an ad­ven­ture.”

Stone told The Com­pass that there are three an­gles he has his sights set on for the Town of Har­bour Grace. Those in­clude a set num­ber of pub­lic con­sul­ta­tions to be held in the town hall ev­ery year, a mayor’s group with lo­cal busi­ness lead­ers in the com­mu­nity, and con­stant com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween coun­cil and res­i­dents.

“I want it to be a very trans­par­ent, and in­volved, pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion process this time around,” Stone said.

Stone also made note of his hopes for a five-year plan for coun­cil, which would iden­tify the town’s pri­or­i­ties, as laid out with in­put from res­i­dents.

“We’d use that to iden­tify the funds needed to do it, and a timeline for when we ex­pect things to get done,” said Stone. “I have a par­tic­u­lar fo­cus on in­fra­struc­ture, par­tic­u­larly water and sewer for the prob­a­bly 30 per cent of the town that’s been with­out it for many years. That’s the start­ing point, at least, and I look for­ward to mov­ing on from there.”

Stone went on to ex­plain his de­sire to have cit­i­zens of Har­bour Grace rec­og­nize the as­sets avail­able in the com­mu­nity, and to see res­i­dents work to­gether to bet­ter the town as a group. He said his vi­sion of Har­bour Grace has mem­bers of the com­mu­nity act­ing as a team, rather than as in­di­vid­u­als, and that he wants to see Har­bour Grace be­come a vi­brant eco­nomic cen­tre.

“I’d like to see busi­ness re­ally grow here in Har­bour Grace. (Such as) some small busi­nesses open­ing up, like cof­fee shops and things like that, to re­ally give the town a sense of char­ac­ter,” said Stone. “I want to see peo­ple come into our beau­ti­ful com­mu­nity, so they can learn and talk about the town and its story.”

PHO­TOS BY CHRIS LEWIS/THE COM­PASS

Terry Barnes is hop­ing to main­tain his seat as mayor in the Town of Har­bour Grace in the up­com­ing mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions.

Don Coombs held the mayor’s chair in Har­bour Grace for sev­eral years. Now, he’s look­ing to re­gain his old po­si­tion on coun­cil.

Af­ter spend­ing the past four years as a coun­cil­lor, Gor­don Stone is look­ing to move up on coun­cil and take over as the town’s mayor.

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