HARBOUR GRACE, N.L. — Funding earmarked for upgrades to Harvey Street in Harbour Grace have dried up.
Last September, the provincial and federal governments jointly announced over $1.6 million in funding for phase four of Harvey Street upgrades, which would have included roadwork and water and sewer upgrades.
The town was expected to contribute $373,600 to the project, which was supported through the joint federal-provincial Small Communities Fund and valued at $2 million altogether.
However, it was not a no-strings-attached deal. As confirmed by a Municipal Affairs spokesperson, a stipulation of accepting the funds was to take ownership of Harvey Street from the province.
“Funding for Harvey Street phase four was approved under the Small Communities Fund on the condition that an agreement in principle was reached between the Department of Transportation and Works and the Town of Harbour Grace to transfer ownership of the road to the Town,” the spokesperson wrote an in emailed statement to The Compass. “As a transfer agreement was not reached and the deadline to sign the funding agreement had elapsed, the project was cancelled.”
The previous council had shown a willingness to take ownership of Harvey Street, but that was not the case with new council sworn in following last fall’s election.
The new council attempted to have those funds reallocated to look after the western portion of Water Street and Infrastructure on Mercer’s Road. A well in that area has proven to be an issue for years, with residents routinely calling on council to permanently address the matter.
However, the town received a letter from Municipal Affairs indicating Minister Andrew Parsons could not make the reallocation request happen, as the substantial changes would amount to a new project and breach the terms and condition of the Small Communities Fund. The letter was discussed at the Tuesday, May 22 council meeting.
Mayor Don Coombs reiterated his concerns about the town’s ability financially to takeover Harvey Street.
“The Town of Harbour Grace is not in a position to takeover Harvey Street,” he said.
The town intends to request a meeting with Parsons to discuss the letter from Municipal Affairs.
Councillor Kathy Tetford voiced her own disappointment at seeing the funds pulled away from the town.
“And the other thing about holding us for ransom on Harvey Street when Municipal Affairs are supposed to be looking after our economic viability and expect the Town of Harbour Grace to take on an extra $200,000-$300,000 a year to maintain a road that we cannot afford to do, I mean, it’s just totally out to lunch,” she said.