Town hears from community groups with budget asks
With the end of the year fast approaching, the Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay is underway with its annual budgeting process.
Michelle Baikie, chair of the town’s finance committee, said for this year’s budget they’re looking to ensure the town’s infrastructure is maintained and wherever possible improved.
“Items such as road repairs, and water and sewer infrastructure are vital to our community,” she said. “As a town we also take the time to analyze our communities’ recreational facilities, and walking trail networks. In the past the town has enjoyed a great working relationship with regards to developing and enhancing ATV and snowmobile trails.”
To assist in the process, the town held a pre-budget consultation on Oct. 14 at town hall to hear from residents about what they want to see in the budget. Representatives from three local groups presented at the meeting with asks for council.
Colin O’Brien spoke on behalf of the Early Childhood Development Corporation. He gave an update on the Pumpkin House project and what they need to complete it. He said they’re managed to pull together over $2 million so far from various funding sources and what they had in the bank. They have most of the money they need at this point, he said, but need some extra funding to finish some parts of the project.
“There is no shortfall on the building,” he said. “To do all the components our shortfall is $173,000. The request that we had put into council some time ago was for $45,000, which would allow us to finish the rear site grading, the concrete walkways around the building to allow for ease of access and mobility.”
He said they hope to have the building open in April and plan to have an official grand opening in the summer to coincide with Expo.
The second group that spoke was the Eastern Labrador Arts Alliance (ELAA) on behalf of the Lawrence O’Brien Arts Centre. They gave a history of the building and organization, which was formed when Goose High School closed and the community was potentially going to be left without a theatre. At that time the ELAA formed and worked with the town and province to get the current theatre up and running.
For funding purposes the arts centre is owned by the Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
“Our annual provincial funding comes in the form of an operating grant from the provincial government,” said Mavis Penney, chair of the ELAA. “We get $160,000 to operate and what we found in the first couple of years was this was short of what we needed.”
She said in the time since the cost of running the theatre has just continued to vastly increase. It was brought up as well they are not an Arts and Culture centre, like in many communities around the province. If they were they would get more funding but would not be able to provide all the services they do in the community, such as a rehearsal space and a lower rental cost for local groups.
“Most theatres in the Atlantic province do receive municipal funding in one way or another,” she said. “As we stand right now the ELAA covers all of its own costs. Our building insurance is processed through the town but the town bills us for what the insurance premium would be.”
She said the annual cost of the building insurance is $8,000, and their liability insurance is $4,000. They are asking council to cover that cost.
The final group to present was the Happy Valley-Goose Bay Recyclers, who are hoping to have the town assist them with their volunteer recycling efforts.
Cora Hamel-Pardy spoke on behalf of the group, giving council a rundown of what they do and how much it costs.
She said since March of 2017 they began gathering materials that cannot be recycled locally, processing it and sending it off to be recycled. In the last 18 months they have sent over seven tonnes of materials to Norris Arm North on the island to be processed.
“Approximately seven tonnes of what used to be household garbage was kept from the landfill,” she said. “The cost of this project has been borne by the participants.”
She said they need $18,000 from the town, two thirds of which would cover the cost of three truckloads of material and the processing fees associated with each. The remaining money would help them purchase a used baler to help with cardboard, some garbage cans and some folding tables.
Hamel-Pardy said the funding would also help them hopefully leverage further funding from other sources and they are in the process of applying to the MultiMaterials Stewardship Board to help with costs. They have received funding from the Mennonite Central Committee in the past, which has helped them keep costs down.
Baikie said the presentations were very informative and very engaging.
“Council would like to thank the delegates for submitting their proposal for consideration when we review our 2019 Budget,” she said.