Wastewater on agenda at budget meeting

Ty Dunham
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Wabush mayor says treatment plant a No. 1 priority for town

Pre-budget consultations were held in Labrador City Feb. 4, inviting the public and stakeholders to share their input on priorities for Budget 2014.

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The meeting, held at the town hall, was sparsely attended, and hosted by Labrador West MHA Nick McGrath, who is Minister of Transportation and Works.

The province is facing significant deficit again this year, Premier Tom Marshall noted in a recent statement.

Marshall said difficult decisions will need to be made to manage spending while maintaining important programs and services.

 

Worries about wastewaster

Reached after the meeting, Wabush Mayor Colin Vardy said he would liked to have seen more residents in attendance, especially from the volunteer sector. However, he said it was beneficial to have a high profile member of cabinet and local MHA in attendance.

“If you can get it to stick in an MHA’s ear, it’s going back to the cabinet table. If you have a cabinet minister in his own district and hearing suggestions from community leaders it’s a definite plus,” said Vardy.

Vardy said he raised a few important issues on behalf of Wabush, including the wastewater situation, which he hopes will be resolved by having the provincial government as a partner.

“The wastewater situation in Wabush is nothing less than embarrassing. It’s something the current council has earmarked as priority No. 1, and we’ve put a lot of time, money, and energy into it so far.”

A wastewater by CBCL Limited was completed to give recommendations on how to proceed and where the town’s deficiencies are.

Vardy said the town also made a commitment to the provincial government to design a new facility capable of being expanded if the Town of Labrador City was interested in a regional wastewater plant.

The towns have not reached an agreement on such a facility, and Vardy said the two towns appear to have different priorities.

He suggested Labrador City is more focused on constructing a new multi-use recreation facility.

“I respect that fully,” said Vardy. “The Town of Wabush is interested in participating in a (recreation) facility, or at least having a discussion around it.”

Vardy said it’s hard to spend money on a recreation facility when wastewater runoff is contributing to one of the larger environmental hazards in the area.

“Once we get our wastewater under control, by all means, we'd be interested in looking at how we can make an investment together to increase recreation in our area.”

It’s a difficult decision for council, Vardy said, and he hopes there will be some out there who appreciate the millions that will go into a new wastewater facility.

“If you build a new wastewater treatment plant very few residents are going to notice it. But if you build a recreation facility that's probably going to cost the same amount of money everyone directly sees it. But that's the job, making tough decisions.”

 

Status of women

Meanwhile, Noreen Careen, executive director of the Labrador West Status of Women, expressed to McGrath that she wants to see the return of the five per cent budget increase that was cut from the centre last year, saying it makes the work difficult with staffing and resources and getting out to the community for

outreach.

The small budget creates barriers for women trying to move out of violent situations, as well as the problem of affordable housing in Labrador West.

“I have families and women I work with staying in a violent household because there’s nowhere else to go,” said Careen.

Careen said childcare is still in demand despite the recently opened Building Blocks Childcare Centre, creating another barrier for families and women moving out of relationships and establishing their own independence.

Careen brought similar concerns to last year’s pre-budget meeting and said there’s been some progress, such as approved funding for a 10-unit affordable housing complex.

And after a year-and-a-half advocating for a change in income cut-off for residents in Newfoundland and Labrador Housing, a new income rate was established for those making below $65,000.

“I always feel it’s important to present at these consultations and to keep asking. I’m at the mindset to give them the opportunity to say no, but at least we asked and put our concerns forward. “

 

Opposing cuts

Careen felt confident McGrath will take her concerns seriously.

“It felt like I was talking to the choir. Many of the challenges I spoke about, he has been a part of over the years so I didn’t have to go too far for him to understand.”

Organizations cannot do it alone, she said, and the provincial government needs to continue its support rather than making cuts.

“We can only be the driving force and we have to have the support of all these people on board to make the changes.”

reporter@theaurora.ca

 

The meeting, held at the town hall, was sparsely attended, and hosted by Labrador West MHA Nick McGrath, who is Minister of Transportation and Works.

The province is facing significant deficit again this year, Premier Tom Marshall noted in a recent statement.

Marshall said difficult decisions will need to be made to manage spending while maintaining important programs and services.

 

Worries about wastewaster

Reached after the meeting, Wabush Mayor Colin Vardy said he would liked to have seen more residents in attendance, especially from the volunteer sector. However, he said it was beneficial to have a high profile member of cabinet and local MHA in attendance.

“If you can get it to stick in an MHA’s ear, it’s going back to the cabinet table. If you have a cabinet minister in his own district and hearing suggestions from community leaders it’s a definite plus,” said Vardy.

Vardy said he raised a few important issues on behalf of Wabush, including the wastewater situation, which he hopes will be resolved by having the provincial government as a partner.

“The wastewater situation in Wabush is nothing less than embarrassing. It’s something the current council has earmarked as priority No. 1, and we’ve put a lot of time, money, and energy into it so far.”

A wastewater by CBCL Limited was completed to give recommendations on how to proceed and where the town’s deficiencies are.

Vardy said the town also made a commitment to the provincial government to design a new facility capable of being expanded if the Town of Labrador City was interested in a regional wastewater plant.

The towns have not reached an agreement on such a facility, and Vardy said the two towns appear to have different priorities.

He suggested Labrador City is more focused on constructing a new multi-use recreation facility.

“I respect that fully,” said Vardy. “The Town of Wabush is interested in participating in a (recreation) facility, or at least having a discussion around it.”

Vardy said it’s hard to spend money on a recreation facility when wastewater runoff is contributing to one of the larger environmental hazards in the area.

“Once we get our wastewater under control, by all means, we'd be interested in looking at how we can make an investment together to increase recreation in our area.”

It’s a difficult decision for council, Vardy said, and he hopes there will be some out there who appreciate the millions that will go into a new wastewater facility.

“If you build a new wastewater treatment plant very few residents are going to notice it. But if you build a recreation facility that's probably going to cost the same amount of money everyone directly sees it. But that's the job, making tough decisions.”

 

Status of women

Meanwhile, Noreen Careen, executive director of the Labrador West Status of Women, expressed to McGrath that she wants to see the return of the five per cent budget increase that was cut from the centre last year, saying it makes the work difficult with staffing and resources and getting out to the community for

outreach.

The small budget creates barriers for women trying to move out of violent situations, as well as the problem of affordable housing in Labrador West.

“I have families and women I work with staying in a violent household because there’s nowhere else to go,” said Careen.

Careen said childcare is still in demand despite the recently opened Building Blocks Childcare Centre, creating another barrier for families and women moving out of relationships and establishing their own independence.

Careen brought similar concerns to last year’s pre-budget meeting and said there’s been some progress, such as approved funding for a 10-unit affordable housing complex.

And after a year-and-a-half advocating for a change in income cut-off for residents in Newfoundland and Labrador Housing, a new income rate was established for those making below $65,000.

“I always feel it’s important to present at these consultations and to keep asking. I’m at the mindset to give them the opportunity to say no, but at least we asked and put our concerns forward. “

 

Opposing cuts

Careen felt confident McGrath will take her concerns seriously.

“It felt like I was talking to the choir. Many of the challenges I spoke about, he has been a part of over the years so I didn’t have to go too far for him to understand.”

Organizations cannot do it alone, she said, and the provincial government needs to continue its support rather than making cuts.

“We can only be the driving force and we have to have the support of all these people on board to make the changes.”

reporter@theaurora.ca

 

Organizations: Labrador West Status, Building Blocks Childcare Centre

Geographic location: Wabush, Labrador, Labrador West

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