By ROSALYN ROY
SOUTHWEST COAST – Several communities and towns along the southwest coast received a late Christmas present this past week. Funding was approved for a variety of municipal enhancement projects around the province, including six municipalities around the Southwest Coast region.
The total amount of the monies being handed out by the province under the COVID-19 Stimulus Program (CSP) to municipalities along the Southwest Coast totals $519,323.56.
Towns that will receive funding include Burgeo, Burnt Islands, Channel-Port aux Basques, Isle aux Morts, Ramea, and Rose Blanche.
The CSP was designed for small or medium municipal enhancement, and COVID-19 refurbishment such as repair, maintenance or upgrades that are not usually covered under the existing Capital Works funding program.
Projects in each community that are approved are based on a 90/10 cost shared ratio, making these smaller projects more affordable for towns that have taken a financial hit thanks to the pandemic, which forced business closured and stymied the influx of summer tourism dollars.
Under the program, the maximum amount available to a municipality was capped at $150,000. Mayor John Spencer of Channel-Port aux Basques is pleased with the announcement of funding.
“It is a great announcement, to recondition an industrial building in the Grand Bay West area that has been an important part of our community infrastructure. This announcement will provide short term local employment in restoring the building. However, for the community at large, the $179,687.00 funding on a 90/10 provincial split is tremendous,” wrote Spencer via e-mail.
The building, sometimes referred to as the Brad Kennedy building, is near the Department of Highways depot and salt storage area. Spencer noted that the building exterior was “in tough shape”.
The Town of Isle aux Morts also has plans for its funding, which is earmarked for a couple of different facilities, including the fire hall and community centre. Isle aux Morts will receive $111,743.73 from the province to cover 90 percent of the repairs, which are expected to begin once winter is over and the weather becomes more favourable.
The Town of Rose Blanche-Harbour Le Cou has been approved for $27,469.65 to repair its salt shed, located adjacent to the town office. Work on that is also not expected to begin before the spring.
Burnt Islands has been approved for $57,130.59 to upgrade its water treatment system, while Burgeo will use its $ 132,568.97 to complete repairs on several municipal buildings. The province has also agreed to give Ramea $55,410.62 to repair its fire hall and heritage building.
MHA Andrew Parsons (Burgeo-La Poile) says there’s nothing but positives with this announcement.
“I was impressed two-fold,” said Parsons via phone interview on Tuesday, Jan. 6. “The province not only turned it around quickly, they processed it quickly.”
Parsons admits he was pleased to see towns, including those in his riding, move quickly to get in their applications.
“That’s not always easy,” noted Parsons. “That comes down to people in the communities realizing that this is a chance to get some work done that normally wouldn’t get done at 10 percent of the cost.”
The program launched on Nov. 23, 2020 and by Dec. 17 the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Municipalities announced that over 250 communities would benefit.
“Less than a month,” observed Parsons. “That’s pretty impressive on all fronts.”