As part of a launch Friday in St. John’s for government’s five-year infrastructure plan, $750,000 was budgeted for the 2017-2018 fiscal year to replace the school, which is 65 years old. Investment in the project is due annually over the next four fiscal years through to 2020-2021.
“Ultimately, it will take about two years to actually complete a school — two-to-three years,” Harbour Grace-Port de Grave MHA Pam Parsons told The Compass Friday morning, adding it will cost an estimated $21 million.
Land near Amalgamated Academy was expropriated on Eric Dawe Drive in 2015. Parsons, who attended Friday’s announcement, said no work on the project has been done up to this point.
“This is a start,” she said. “This is very positive, and the years are outlined. It’s here in writing. People certainly have to be held accountable that this unfolds as it’s planned here. I certainly have every intention of doing that.”
Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood was less enthused by Friday’s news. Acknowledging it’s nice to see some dollar figures attached to the project, Wood admitted he was hoping for more from government. He noted one new school in Paradise set to commence the planning and design phase has $2 million attached to it for 2017-2018.
“We were expecting something more substantial … This seems to be more of a delaying issue, because I assume that at least half of (the $750,000), or close to half of it, is going to go towards purchasing the land,” he said.
As of last spring, government and the former property owner had not agreed on a price. At a Conception Bay North Joint Council meeting last May, Transportation and Works Minister Al Hawkins said the province had offered $550,000, but the person the land was expropriated from wanted $1 million. Even without the settlement of a final price tag, government was in a position to work on the land.
“It is a growing school in a growing area, and as I say, I’m disappointed,” said the mayor. “This is not just a brand new issue. This issue has been at the forefront for the past 15-20 years.”