Town needs funding to pave the way
The journey to new pavement is proving too long for Colinet council.
The municipal government reached the end of its road when its members discovered they weren’t getting any funding to fix the community’s road.
Last September, when it was time for candidates to toss their hat in the ring to run for municipal election, the council in Colinet took a stand.
They didn’t resign. They simply didn’t run again.
Former mayor Bill Gambin says for two years council had made applications to the provincial capital works program to get funding for a little pavement on the local roads — just over a kilometre of pavement, according to the former mayor. It was rejected last year, and when council was told this year by MHA Felix Collins it wouldn’t see the money again, council refused to run.
“We were pretty much pissed off,” says Gambin. “(Collins) had promised us. That was the biggest thing.
“He had told us, ‘Look, don’t worry about it. Colinet is going to be taken care of this year.’”
Asked for $250,000
The town wanted about $250,000 for the upgrade.
Collins says he encouraged the people of Colinet to put in for capital works money and had them as his first priority for that kind of financial help.
“The (municipal affairs) minister at the time advised the council of Colinet that I had been an ardent advocate for Colinet, to the point where I was driving him silly over the Colinet application,” says Collins.
Kevin O’Brien was municipal affairs minister at the time. The reason he gave for not being able to fund the Colinet application — or any application like it — was that the projects were too isolated, says Collins.
“To try and fund them on their own presented a challenge to the department because, while the estimates for the projects were relatively small, if there was no other paving project in the area, then to bring pavement from considerably outside, the cost of the project would be considerably higher than the estimates,” Collins says.
Gambin says council was given this reason, too — that if there had been more paving going on in the area, Colinet could have piggybacked on another project.
“We advocated for it and at the end of the day I could understand the minister’s position,” says Collins.
I said to myself ‘Well, that’s enough of politicians’. We haven’t had anything done since Loyola Hearn was here. And John Crosbie was in Ottawa. Bill Gambin
Gambin has a harder time understanding it. After the last capital works rejection, Gambin set up a meeting with Collins and O’Brien.
“Two days before I went into the meeting, I drove over two kilometres of new fresh pavement that had been put down on the North Harbour Road, which is about two kilometres away from my house,” Gambin says. “I said the trucks drove by my door every day and that’s where we wanted some paving done in Colinet, on the local roads.”
Gambin says when he told them about the paving project happening near Colinet, Collins and O’Brien looked at each other, confused.
“Neither one of them knew anything at all about it. I mean, that’s how they acted.”
But Gambin had his mind made up after the meeting.
“I said to myself, ‘Well, that’s enough of politicians.’ We haven’t had anything done since Loyola Hearn was here, and John Crosbie was in Ottawa.”
Gambin didn’t resign, and neither did the rest of the council. Not running again is their form of protest. But since then, Gambin says, some of the councillors have resigned. He’s not worried. The former mayor says he knows he could put a council together quickly if the town could just get confirmation on its bit of pavement. He made no mention of an election.
People in the area have also been lobbying to get two provincial roads paved that are increasingly being used by workers — one that leads to Whitbourne and Bull Arm, and another that leads to Placentia.
Municipal Affairs has called a meeting in the town for Dec. 12 to outline what the options are if a council doesn’t step forward. Gambin says there’s a fire department that can’t run without a council and a town hall that can’t be kept up, either. All that is up in the air because of a kilometre of pavement, Gambin says.
Collins says if there’s a larger paving job in the area in the future, Colinet will likely get its paving done.