Stephenville turns to key provincial ministers for assistance on multiple issues
By JAYMIE L. WHITE
Special to the Appalachian
STEPHENVILLE – Mayor Tom Rose said letters will be sent to certain ministers in the province, outlining matters of importance to Stephenville.
“It’s something that, in my role as the mayor, I brought it forward to council and said, ‘I think would be very beneficial for us to engage and communicate with key ministers of key departments’, because every department affects every community in this province.”
Rose said there are a couple of reasons that prompted the council to use this approach.
“Our previous council had met with Minister (John) Abbott. We met with Premier Furey when he was the leader, and we’ve had zoom meetings with Minister (John) Haggie in the past, but we are a new council and we thought that it would be appropriate to write the ministers in key departments where issues are raised in our community or projects that we’ve been working on. We want to apprise them of the needs and the wants of what we have as a growing municipality,” said Rose. “We are a regional center of 25,000 people. We are a very significant community, and by officially writing to the ministers and inviting them to visit us in Stephenville, it’s an opportunity for us to start a dialogue on key files that we are working on with the government to move them forward.”
Mayor Rose said there are many important issues that face the town and through discussions he hopes to find solutions with the ministers of specific portfolios.
“First of all, we’ve been working closely with Minister Abbott regarding the courthouse. It’s very high profile from an accessibility perspective. We’re due for a new courthouse in Stephenville and that is on our radar,” said Rose. “The other key one from a health care perspective would be through Minister Haggie, regarding our Sir Thomas Roddick Hospital and the Health Accord that’s being talked about and the impacts that could have on Stephenville. We’re a town poised for growth now and our services will need to be enhanced and not retracted.”
Rose believes there are other ministers who also can assist with a wide range of outstanding matters.
“We believe Stephenville is in need of a new long-term care facility. We also believe that Minister Andrew Parsons would be critical to speak with as the industry grows more in Stephenville because he is the minister responsible for that portfolio,” said Rose. “Minister of Transportation – we’ve still got some issues with the flooding at Noel’s Pond. There have been band-aid solutions, but we need a permanent solution to that bridge because it’s ready to go at any time and it’s a main artery into Stephenville.”
Rose said, as an Indigenous community, it is also important to get the Minister of Indigenous Affairs and Reconciliation to come to Stephenville as well.
“We’ve picked areas that are important to us and aligned them with the ministers’ portfolio and our goal is that, in the new year, most of these ministers will put it on their schedule to come to Stephenville and meet with our Town Council.”
Approximately 10 letters are currently being drafted to address outstanding issues, and Rose said he should be signing them any day now. The mayor’s goal is to have all of the invited ministers to visit Stephenville by the summer. Rose thinks that getting the ministers to visit the town and understand what is going on is the best way to get these issues on their radar.
“When you come in, you touch the ground, you feel the culture, you actually see the issues,” said Rose. “Another one we have is the Women’s Penitentiary. We’ve been lobbying the government to demolish the building. It’s an eyesore, it’s dangerous, and we’ve got Come Home Year coming and our town has to spruce up, our province has to be ready for the tourists coming in 2022. That’s a big issue for me.”
Rose sees this as a great opportunity to enhance the town and ensure matters don’t fall by the wayside.
“Most of these issues are in their area of responsibility. It lays directly on their shoulders and their departments’ shoulders. By prompting meetings and jointly coming to an agreement to move forward, that’s how projects get done,” said Rose. “The biggest outcome is to build a collaborative relationship with the province and moving some of these files forward instead of these files sitting there and not getting fixed, not getting built. This is the game of politics. They represent the people, we represent the people – we are just at different levels. We are all in it for the same reason. We are the champions here.”