HARBOUR GRACE, N.L.
The Town of Harbour Grace has given its stamp of approval to a five-year capital works plan that makes updates to Harvey Street its first priority.
The move didn’t come without considerable discussion in light of other infrastructures needs facing the community. Among those is Mercer’s Well, which services approximately 22 homes in Riverhead and has been a thorn in council’s side for years due to frequent service disruptions.
Under the five-year capital works plan to be submitted to the provincial government, the town will look to have phases four and five of Harvey Street upgrades funded in 2019, followed by Mercer’s Well water, sewer and paving in 2020, Bannerman Street and LeMarchant Street water, sewer and paving in 2021, phase one of upgrades for southside Harbour Grace in 2022 and Cochrane Street water, sewer and paving in 2023.
Paul Fitzgerald, chair of the town’s capital and public works committee, explained there was a change of plan for the town’s top priorities as the result of a meeting with Transportation and Works Minister Steve Crocker and local MHA Pam Parsons. In the meeting, government officials advised the town Mercer’s Well did not meet the government’s rating system to be considered for joint provincial-federal funding, under which the town would only pay 10 per cent of project costs.
The town has since been informed by government it will fund the Harvey Street paving work without a previously-pitched stipulation requiring the town to take ownership of the provincial road. Fitzgerald said the province has also requested engineering drawings and cost estimates for water and sewer upgrades for phases four and five of the Harvey Street project.
Mayor Don Coombs indicated the approximate value of the Harvey Street work is $5 million.
Coun. Kathy Tetford, noting she would like to see Mercer’s Well dealt with sooner rather than later, said the money at stake ultimately does not belong to the town.
“The money is not coming until Mercer’s Well meets the rating and right now (government’s) ratings are based on upgrades, not new (infrastructure), and Mercer’s Well and a sewer system up there would not be considered an upgrade,” said Tetford.
“I’d stand here for Mercer’s Well, but if the government is telling me they’re not giving me the money for it, it’s out of the council’s hands right now … We can’t turn down the money for Harvey Street.”
Councillors voted unanimously to adopt the proposed five-year plan. Coun. Lyda Byrne, who is among the town’s residents serviced by Mercer’s Well, excused herself from the meeting while the plan was discussed and voted on.