The mayor of Harbour Grace is standing by a promise made to the residents of the area that the town’s future recreation complex will go ahead with all the bells and whistles initially suggested.
Mayor Terry Barnes, who met with The Compass June 11, said besides downgrading the facility to one ice surface, the facility has “pretty much” the same plan.
Barnes spoke out after rumours surfaced that the facility will not have fitness equipment or an indoor walking track, as previous announced. Former discussions with designers, government officials and councillors all concluded the facility would be state-of-the-art, said Barnes.
“We’ve been told no different,” he explained.
Earlier this year, concerns had been raised by the provincial government that Harbour Grace might not be able to support the facility financially.
The original design was expected to cost some $21 million. The new projected cost is $14 million.
Financial statements were presented on numerous occasions to the Department of Municipal Affairs, demonstrating the prospective revenues expected.
Barnes confirmed those numbers are still projected to be accurate.
Some locals also believed the longer the project was delayed, the less likely it was to go ahead. But after an announcement last week, the project will continue on to the next phase.
Although the facility was confirmed, other concerns were raised by some residents. Would it be as good as other new facilities in the province? Will the facility live up to the expectations of the people of Harbour Grace and surrounding communities? Will it offer everything that was promised?
Barnes is confident the facility will be on par, or better, than other comparable facilities in the province.
He was also adamant that it would meet or exceed expectations from locals who will be using it.
“If we’re going to do this, we’re going to do it right,” Barned said.
He said some 780 seats are expected to be installed, the walking track and fitness centre will still be include and a minimum of six dressing rooms will be constructed. Barnes did say the idea to have council chambers at the facility has been scrapped. The building will also have “all the infrastructure in place if the town decides (in a few years) to upgrade to two surfaces."
Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Kent sent The Compass an email confirming more details for the new facility.
“The functional specification for the building is still being determined along with Stantec, who is the consultant on the project,” he said. “During this process it will be determined what exactly will be included as part of the final design, such as the walking track, fitness area, etc.
“The facility will indeed be a modern and state-of-the-art building… In terms of comparison with other facilities recently constructed or under construction in the province, the Harbour Grace facility will be comparable in many ways, and in some cases will be more modern as a result of advances in green technology in recent years.”
There will be a meeting between the department and the Town of Harbour Grace Monday, June 16 at 1 p.m. to discuss the specifications of the new complex.
Many have questioned how this project went from a two-surface, regional, multi-purpose facility to a single ice-surface sports complex operated by one town.
When asked, Barnes said it would have definitely had the two ice surfaces had other communities worked together to offer financial support.
He still sees the facility as regional.
Talks among towns broke down several years ago when then Carbonear mayor Sam Slade — now the MHA for Carbonear-Harbour Grace — argued against financial assistance unless a large mandate of the residents of the town agreed to take part. He also noted the town may not be in the financial position to assist.
Now, Harbour Grace is continuing with the project, and downsizing was the most reasonable way to do that, said Barnes.
Barnes exclaimed he stands by the residents of his town, and the region, and will fight for all the amenities the town can afford.