By RYAN KING
PORT AUX BASQUES — On Monday, Aug. 2 a meeting was held at the Bruce II Sports Centre to announce funding from the Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund to improve Ralph Bennett Memorial Fire Hall and the Bruce II facility. These improvements ensure greener technologies put in place will lower operational costs for both.
The announcement was made by the Honourable Bernard Davis, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Gudie Hutchings, Member of Parliament for the Long Range Mountains. They were joined by MHAs Andrew Parsons (Burgeo – La Poile), Minister of Industry, Energy and Technology, and Scott Reid (St. George’s – Humber).
Attending on behalf of the town were Councillor Jerome Battiste, Town Manager Leon MacIsaac, Recreation and Economic Development Officer Shauna Strickland, Bruce II Operations Supervisor Tony Tulk, and Administrative Supervisor Toni Herridge.
The funding announced exceeds $1 million dollars. For the Bruce II, the Federal government will contribute $490,000, the Government of NL will contribute $408,292, and the Town will pitch in an additional $326,707. For the Fire Hall, the Federal Government will be contributing $58,631, the provincial Government will provide $48,854, and the Town’s share comes in at $39,092.
Hutchings was confident that the changes implemented from these funds will result in decreased operational costs for the municipal facilities, while at the same time helping to protect the environment from climate change.
“I was out in another town in my riding and they were telling me how they were modernizing their heating systems. They went from $350 dollars a day to $69 dollars a day. So, it’s amazing and it shows that we have looked at the environment. We all know that there is climate change. We see it every day – the storms are getting bigger; the winds are getting stronger. Some people go back to, ‘Oh yeah, we’ve always had storms like that.’ Well, yeah, but they’re just getting more and more frequent. Talk to fishermen, talk to people that live on the coast,” said Hutchings.
The MP added that this initiative was a joint effort by the three levels of government towards the goal of making the province a better place both environmentally and economically.
“It’s a joint effort like I said, and I’m delighted to be a part of it. That’s what we’ve got to do is work together. That’s the other message too. I’m sure you’ve heard last week that the Prime Minister was in town, and he had a great announcement of how we came to work with the province to help Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to get that Muskrat (Falls) off their backs,” observed Hutchings. “This is a partnership today. Last week was a partnership. We’ve got a lot of partnerships on the go, and we look forward to many, many more.”
Davis also focused on the benefits to local residents.
“We all understand how important climate change is, and the impacts that it is having not just on coastal erosion, but on our bottom lines. Making good decisions on the environment is also good economic decisions as well. It improves employment, it creates a lot of opportunities for you to put money somewhere else, and grow the business or association that you are working with.”
Davis also noted that while the changes may seem small, these improvements will have a large impact.
“People can say it’s small things, but it’s small things that help. We’ve done many announcements, including myself, in this past week in parts of this riding that are changing 150 tons of greenhouse gas. In this case, it’s almost 350 tons of greenhouse gas emission reduction per year, which sounds like a small number, but it’s a massive number when you get it all together. One of the things that it equates to is taking hundreds and hundreds of cars off the road each year, with the change that we’re making here today,” said Davis.
In the long term, Davis believes that the town’s taxpayers will reap the benefits of these improvements in years to come. It will mean that money that would have gone to operational costs will instead be redirected towards other investments around town. These green initiatives will allow Newfoundland to hit the target of net-zero emissions by 2050.
“It’s going to be for the long-term sustainability of this area, this region, and this facility,” said Davis.
MHA Scott Reid (St. George’s – Humber) was also enthusiastic about the development, given that many of his constituents in the Codroy Valley make use of the Port aux Basques facilities.
“Anything that can be done to make it more environmentally sustainable, financially sustainable, is good for people who enjoy this facility. So, it’s a great announcement today, and it’s good for the whole region and the whole province to have facilities like this,” said Reid. “It’s very positive.”
Parsons noted that making the Bruce II more efficient in particular will be a huge benefit to residents as the building currently consumes a lot of power.
“The fact that we’re doing something to make it more efficient is only going to help people,” said Parsons, who pointed out that continued investments in local facilities points to Port aux Basques developing further as the hub of the Southwest coast.
“For a long time when you were driving up this road you saw schools, and you saw the stadium. But the fact now is when you drive up here you see a daycare that is bustling, filled, and in fact needs an extension on it because we cannot handle it. And we see a Marine Atlantic building getting constructed over there. And then when we’ve got this huge new healthcare/retail facility constructed by a local business, that says something about our area. So, contrary to many people’s beliefs, this area is getting bigger and this riding is going to get better. You don’t see investments in areas that are going south, you see investments in areas going north, and that’s where we’re going.”