It is unlikely the Town of Carbonear will be moving ahead with many proposed infrastructure projects in the next three years, unless another method of funding is made available.
The town of some 4,700 residents was one of 22 municipalities that applied for multi-year capital works funding from the provincial government earlier this year. Those municipalities ranged in population from 1,764 in the Town of Victoria to 106,172 in the City of St. John’s (as per the 2011 Canada census).
Carbonear’s application was for $6 million, which was on par with the previous approval for municipal capital works funding of $5.8 million.
A priority list of proposed projects was sent to The Compass by town administrator Cynthia Davis. Those included water, sewer and street upgrading of Mahaney’s Lane and Bond Street, Lemarchant Road phase II and III, the completion of London Road (phase III), Cross Roads and Water Street East bridge upgrades and the Pike’s Lane lift station upgrade.
Each approved project is shared 80/20 between the provincial government and the town.
It came as a surprise to some town councillors when the approved dollar figure came in at $1.25 million, one-fifth of the proposed amount.
The chair of the town’s finance committee, Coun. Ray Noel, sent his response in an email to The Compass.
“The amount received is much less than the $6 million for which we applied,” Noel wrote. “(We) certainly would have liked to received more, but (we) have done very well in recent years and (I) am grateful for that.”
Out of the 22 municipalities, only Victoria was approved for less, some $580,000. The municipality applied for some $1.2 million.
Carbonear and Victoria are the only communities outside the greater St. John’s area to apply with an MHA that is not from the governing Progressive Conservatives. Liberal MHA Sam Slade has been the MHA for both municipalities since November 2013.
During the last term, six projects were approved for Carbonear: London Road phase I and II, Lemarchant Street phase I and various paving projects, including Valley Road, where the new Carbonear Academy is located.
At the town’s regular council meeting May 5, it was revealed which projects it would be investing in, and which would be placed on hold until other funding became available.
Lamarchant Street phase II and the Pike’s Lane lift station were priority.
One priority was given to Lamarchant due to issues with water build-up during heavy precipitation. Phase II is expected to begin this summer.
The lift station will be doubling in size. Major issues with the station have been raised in recent months. And since it handles most of the town’s sewer, the project became top priority.
In an email from Hugh Donnan, spokesperson for the Department of Municipal Affairs, The Compass has learned the criteria for approval.
“A number of factors are considered in determining how much funding a community gets under the multi-year capital works program. The factors include; assessment of greatest need, alignment with key departmental priority areas, such as the provision of water and wastewater services, and consideration of prior years’ investments,” the email said.
An assessment was made by the municipal affairs staff, and Minister Steve Kent made the final decision on which towns received what funding.
Communities of smaller populations than Carbonear have received funding between $ 1.7 mil lion (Springdale) and $2.6 million (Lewisporte). Neighbouring Bay Roberts, whose population is some 5,800, was approved for $3 million.
Other funded projects
In the past, the town has received additional funding for recreation.
“It is worth noting that since 2011, the department has invested $7.4 million cost-shared (80/20) in key projects in the town such as water and sewer, paving and upgrades to recreation facilities for the recent NL Summer Games held in the community,” Donnan wrote.
Additional funding had been made available for the Newfoundland and Labrador Summer Games in 2012, which included upgrades to the town’s sports facilities. The games were co-hosted with Harbour Grace.
The district’s MHA at that time was PC Jerome Kennedy, who had held cabinet posts during his tenure in government.
As for now, Davis confirmed the town is committed to the projects and will proceed as soon as possible.
“Council has committed to making improvements to the remaining portion of ( London Road) from where phase II will end to Columbus Drive,” Davis explained. “The extent of the improvements has not been determined at this time.
“The town does not have funds available in their operating budget to complete the capital projects included in the MYCW application. Council would require another $4,437,500 to complete the other projects …”
Davis confirmed repairs and maintenance to streets and infrastructure would still go ahead, but limited, to keep taxes in the future at a reasonable level.