Premier, ministers announce $1M for Bonavista
By Shawn Hayward
Bonavista is hosting a Tory cabinet retreat for the next three days, and the PCs kicked off their stay Monday with a flurry of spending announcements.
The first came at 12 p.m. at the local fire hall, where Premier Kathy Dunderdale promised
$1 million in capital works funding so Bonavista can upgrade its water system.
“It will greatly enhance the drinking water, which is very important to residents everywhere, particularly the residents of Bonavista.”
Mayor Betty Fitzgerald of Bonavista says she knew money was coming, but didn’t know it would be $1 million until the announcement. The money will help the town finish replacing asbestos-bearing pipes, which some scientists believe pose a health risk.
Fitzgerald hopes the money will allow Bonavista to finish the upgrades next year.
When asked about the recent federal cabinet shuffle, Dunderdale said she’s particularly interested in the appointment of Rob Moore, a New Brunswick MP, as representative of Newfoundland and Labrador in the federal cabinet.
“It’s extremely important we make contact with Mr. Moore to make sure he knows what’s important to the people of this province.”
“It is what it is,” she said when asked of the switch from the former provincial rep in Ottawa, Peter MacKay. “We don’t have a cabinet minister representing the region. It’s just one more challenge we’re dealing with.”
The next announcement of the day came at Cabot Stadium, where Terry French, the minister of tourism, culture and recreation, presented a cheque for $15,000 to purcase a new Zamboni.
French said while $15,000 isn’t a lot, it’s part of $172 million the province has spent on recreation since 2007.
“I personally think that on the ground, in small communities, this is where it is,” he says. “It’s all about getting kids active, and certainly with Zambonis, it keeps people in the stadium.”
At 3 p.m., Dunderdale joined the mayor, local MHA Glen Little and Environment Minister Tom Hedderson at the signing of a Municipal Habitat Stewardship Agreement. By signing, the town promises to protect wildlife and habitat in the area.
The signing was celebrated with a brisk walk around the Old Days Pond boardwalk, led by the premier and Little.
Derrick Dalley, the minister of fisheries and aquaculture, led the last event of the day, a tour of the OCI fish plant. The plant is the town’s largest single employer, with a staff of more than 300 workers.
Dalley said the busy plant shows an upswing in the local fishery since the loss of near by Port Union’s plant in 2010.
“It was devastating for the region, but I think there’s been some optimism and encouragement, in terms of investment by OCI, but as well by catch rates and raw material,” Dalley said.
With the day done, the PC cabinet will focus on three days of conferencing, presentations, and meeting local people. Dunderdale says it’s a time to hear the concerns of the people first hand, to better inform decision-making in the coming year.