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Harbour Grace heritage committee seeks incorporation

Town of Harbour Grace.
Town of Harbour Grace. - file photo

Council worries about use of town resources

HARBOUR RGACE, NL — The Heritage and Redevelopment Committee in Harbour Grace is asking the town to reconsider the possibility of incorporating committees of council.

During a regular council meeting held on Monday night, Nov. 27, committee member Don Regular opened the meeting with a presentation to council members. During his presentation, Regular thanked them and the previous council for their support and attempted to shed some light on the committee's work in recent years.

“Our committee was formed about two years ago, and were formed with the understanding that we were to assist the town of Harbour Grace, and were formed as an arm of council – a sub-committee,” said Regular. “We were asked to see what kinds of things we could do to help, and part of that was to find an inventory of what we have – and what we don’t have – in our community.”

Regular went on to detail some of the projects the committee, which currently consists of 12 people, had been involved in recently, as per the minutes of their own meetings. These efforts included involvement in the 2016l Wooden Boat Conference, which was held in Harbour Grace, the recent Irish-Newfoundland Connection, and the Pirates to Pilots Festival as well as a new branding idea – the open gates concept, which highlights the many iron gates found throughout the community.

Regular’s presentation was not just to showcase the recent efforts of the committee, however. He went on to bring up the topic of incorporation for the committee – a subject that had been brought forth in the past as well.

“When the committee was formed, we never envisioned incorporation, but it’s been encouraged upon us on many occasions by several people we’ve held meetings with,” he said.

Regular went on to explain that operating as an incorporated committee would allow them to access extra resources, such as more provincial and federal funds that are in place for such groups. Liability and protection for the committee was also a topic of interest Regular brought forward.

During a previous council meeting, held on Oct. 23, Coun. Kathy Tetford made a motion for the Town of Harbour Grace to not sanction or support incorporation of committees of council. The motion was carried unanimously.

Regular stressed the committee had no intentions or desires to work separately from council, and in fact wished to work closely with the town and explore any further opportunities incorporation would create.

“We may ultimately decide that incorporation is not a good move for the committee, but my purpose of bringing it forward here tonight is to open up discussion, and see where it could go,” he said.

However, Mayor Don Coombs feared that incorporation could lead to future issues when it came to the use of town resources between council and the committee.

“The reason for not supporting incorporation right now is the use of town resources,” Coombs told Regular. “Speaking on other municipalities who have incorporation with their committees similar to yours, they have their own resources, their own staff, and other things that make it easier. We thought there might be some issues, if council wanted to use resources one way, and the committee wanted to go another way with it. We didn’t want to butt heads.”

While Coombs said that incorporation was not something council was looking into at the moment, he wanted to make sure the door for discussion remained open.

“If you as a committee want to incorporate, that’s your right to do it,” said Coombs. “But right now, that’s the reason for our thoughts on this. The committee does marvellous work, so it isn’t that we don’t want to work closer or anything like that, there’s just some concern over the use of town resources.”

Coun. Kevin Williams currently serves as a liaison for the committee, and will continue to attend committee meetings in the future.

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