COLUMN: Who will win the great Conception Bay North arms race?

Nicholas Mercer
Published on July 14, 2014
Compass reporter/photographer Nicholas Mercer.
Compass file photo

Whether you know it or not, there is an arms race going on in Conception Bay North.

This race has nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction or any thing scary like that, rather it has to do with recreation facilities.

In the Town of Harbour Grace, a new, state-of-the-art stadium is on the horizon, while some 18 kilometres away in Bay Roberts, there is a new aquatic facility being proposed.

The stadium has been in the works for a couple of years, ever since funding was first announced in 2011.

Meanwhile the pool in Bay Roberts is a relatively new effort from officials. While it has been talked about for some time now, the last couple of weeks have seen an increased effort to get everything in place due to issues with the current facility.

While they deal with two different sports there are a lot of similarities in what the facilities will bring to the area.

Both will replace aging facilities and become a boon to the local sporting communities.

Both will feature amenities only previously dreamt about in the region.

There is one more similarity that might surprise you.

Both projects are in the exact same place when it comes to getting the work done.

Harbour Grace has a design done for the stadium, while Bay Roberts is in the process of wrapping up meetings with TRACT Consulting and a design will be coming in short order.

Similarly, each community has designated a preferred site where the facility will be built.

With all of these similarities, there is one question on my mind.

Which facility will be built first?

If this sort of thing was plastered on a big screen inside the betting den of a Las Vegas casino, Harbour Grace might be the favourite.

In the same scenario, Bay Roberts would be a slight underdog. Slight I say because no form of government funding has been announced so far.

But, are they really the underdog?

We’ve heard promises of sod turning and test holes being dug at the preferred site for the stadium, which is said to be located at the corner of the Veteran’s Memorial Highway and Jamie’s Way. Still there has been no movement to speak off at the area.

Nevertheless, Harbour Grace has the money waiting for it to start and in relatively short order.

Whereas, Bay Roberts is getting everything in place for funding, but there has been no announcement to speak of and might not be for some time.

Still, the Harbour Grace project has been in the works for a long time and there have been extended periods of silence since it began.

For every piece of good news that filtered out, there were equally long periods of nothing that had people questioning.

Other centres in Conception Bay South and Paradise are close to opening and their funding was announced at the same time.

But, there is a sense of optimism in Harbour Grace that has to count for something. People are excited about the facility and there have been whispers of a top-flight contractor coming on board to build it.

In Bay Roberts, there is a buzz about the possibility of a new pool. Officials are determined to get something new for its citizens … and quickly.

The current pool does not have much time left and it would be a sham for the swim program to take a hiatus because of a lack of facilities.

I think that’s what closes the distance between the two towns. Bay Roberts is in dire need of the pool, while Harbour Grace seems to be comfortable in what will happen.

So, what happens first?

Are they skating in Harbour Grace before they’re swimming in Bay Roberts or vice versa?


— Nicholas Mercer is a reporter/photographer with The Compass. He lives in Bay Roberts and can be reached at