SOUTHWEST COAST – The Federal and Provincial governments have pledged 1.2 million dollars in 8 projects to support public and road infrastructure on the West Coast, including Port aux Basques. The announcement came last Tuesday, Apr. 13 via a Zoom call led by MP Gudie Hutchings (Long Range Mountains), who was joined virtually by MHA Andrew Parsons (Burgeo – La Poile), MHA Elvis Loveless (Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure) and representatives from the Town of Channel-Port aux Basques.
In Port aux Basques, the money will go towards the reconstruction of Cox Avenue. LeGrow Street to Carson Crescent will see the replacement of asphalt, curbs, gutters and sidewalks and improvements to the supporting road infrastructure. Another 270 metres of Grand Bay Road will be upgraded, and the storm water collection system along a portion of the road will be replaced with 150 metres of new storm water piping, as well as new manholes and catch basins.
“That’ll keep you busy, John,” joked Hutchings to Port aux Basques Mayor John Spencer.
The communities of Corner Brook, Cox’s Cox and Hughes Brook will also receive upgrades to road infrastructure and public buildings.
“These improvements are going to benefit every person living in these communities, and we’re going to continue to make investments like these because we all know when our small communities thrive, we all do,” said Hutchings.
The MP cited the pandemic more than once, urging people to get their vaccinations.
“This pandemic has been incredibly challenging, but it’s also offered us an opportunity to think about what really matters.”
Hutchings noted that there have been sizeable investments in over 660 projects in the province through its infrastructure plan.
“Infrastructure requires maintenance and upkeep and sometimes it needs to be replaced,” said Loveless. “Repairs can be costly.”
The Minister stated that $700,000 has been invested by the provincial government as part of the project funding.
“An improved road is a safer road, and we certainly saw what happened with the Trans Canada Highway in the last couple of days,” said Loveless, an apparent reference to the washout near Springdale last week that delayed inter-provincial traffic by almost a full day. “We know that with infrastructure investment dollars, also employment comes with it.”
When it comes to funding for his district, Parsons said that his role is simply an advocacy one.
“You’ve got to work with your communities to identify priorities. Obviously that’s up to councils, but you get an idea generally of the art of the possible,” said Parsons. “The funding pots are limited all over the place, so you’ve got to come in with what’s the most important, where does it rank? Again, I have to do that for every community.”
Parsons has experienced some recent success in advocating for his district. On Jan. 15, it was announced that the Town of Burgeo would receive a little over 1.5 million for Phase 6 of its water main replacement. A little over $550,000 came from the federal government, $503,000 came from the province and the town itself chipped in over $480,000.
That same day Burnt Islands was also earmarked to receive federal and provincial funds to upgrade its lift station, with roughly $76,000 coming from the federal government and $95,000 coming from the province. Burnt Islands chipped in the remainder; just a little over $38,000.
The Carson Crescent improvements in Port aux Basques received $272,929 from the federal government, while the province contributed the same amount. The town’s share came in at $206,564 for a grand total of $752,422 for this project.
Parsons hopes to see still more money for his district.
“I think those are coming.”