New fundraising campaign announced for rec complex

Derek Montague
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Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay hoping “patrons” can seek corporate cash

Members of the Happy Valley-Goose Bay town council are turning to the private sector in their efforts to build a brand new recreation complex

Tim Powers (left) and Happy Valley-Goose Bay Mayor Jamie Snook stand next to a preliminary concept plan for a new recreation complex, or wellness centre. Powers, along with Clint Davis, will be seeking donations from the private sector to help fund the facility.

For years it’s been apparent that the town’s aging recreational facilities needed to be replaced, and new facilities installed to meet the growing demand of users.

Over the past few years, councillors and residents agreed that a large, multi-use, recreational facility would be the best solution. The facility would need a swimming pool, curling rink, indoor soccer court, and more.

On the afternoon of June 23, Mayor Jamie Snook and the rest of council announced that two men, Tim Powers and Clint Davis, have been named “patrons” of a corporate fundraising campaign to help construct the new facility. The announcement took place at the Lawrence O’Brien Arts Centre as part of Expo Labrador.

Powers and Davis will be reaching out to members of the corporate community, seeking donations for the new complex — or wellness centre, as it’s been dubbed by council members. The goal is to raise at least $10 million.

“They’re like-minded people and they’re extremely well-connected,” said Snook. “That’s the type of people that you want going out and making the ask on our behalf.”

“We know this is entrepreneurial and it’s ambitious. We need help; we can’t do it alone. So we started reaching out to people who were in the corporate world and had connections.”

The announcement comes shortly after the release of an audit on the town’s recreational facilities, which showcases the need for new infrastructure in the municipality.

According to Snook, the two patrons won’t cost municipal taxpayers a cent. Both are volunteering their time and services.

“Right now, there’s (no cost). They’re volunteers and they’re supporting this project,” said Snook.

“To me, it’s only a win situation for everyone involved.”

Both Powers and Davis have vast business experience and also have personal connections to Labrador.

Davis is a Labrador Inuk and currently the vice-president of Aboriginal banking for TD Business Banking. Prior to his job at TD, Davis was the president and CEO of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business. He also is the chair of the board of directors for the Nunatsiavut Group of Companies.

Powers is currently the vice-chairman of Summa Strategies and chairman of an opinion research company called Abacus Data. He is also a well-known political commentator, often appearing on radio shows like VOCM Open Line.

Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time in Happy Valley-Goose Bay would know Tim’s father, Barney Powers, the popular local business man who passed away less than a year ago.

His father’s love of Happy Valley Goose Bay is one of the reasons Powers decided to help the town council raise money. Now, he is hoping the business connections he made over the years will aide the community.

“We are going to look at numerous different private opportunities to try and help. And the council will work then to try and get funding through the province and the federal government, to bring all three of those funding pots together to build a new facility,” said Powers.

“We will take money from wherever we can get it, but I think you’re looking at mining, you’re looking at people involved in the Muskrat Falls development, people who are interested in future Gull Island development. There’re lots of things happening in this community and lots of potential sponsors to engage.”

The goal for Powers and Davis is a lofty one. The town council estimates the cost of a brand new recreation complex, based on the town’s needs and wishes, is close to $40 million. The two patrons are being asked to fundraise one-quarter of that money.

But Powers is confident that, based on the amount of Labrador development happening now, and in the near future, businesses will be keen to show community support.

“You have a lot of businesses that are here now taking advantage of the Muskrat Falls opportunity, taking advantage of mining opportunities. These companies are going to be here for a very long time. They often should be, and want to be, good corporate citizens,” said Powers.

“We will keep going as long as they keep giving us money and both Clint Davis and I have a great understanding of this region and the great potential that’s here. And (we) know a lot of these companies and we have a great support team around.”

Lake Melville MHA Keith Russell was also on hand for the announcement. He has been faced with the recreation complex issue since his earliest days in office.

But Russell and the previous town council never saw eye-to-eye in terms of a funding arrangement. The previous mayor, Leo Abbass, stated numerous times that Happy Valley-Goose Bay could not afford 30 per cent of a multi-million dollar facility — with the provincial government paying the other 70 per cent.

After the announcement was made at the Lawrence O’Brien Arts Centre, Russell applauded the new council for coming up with the new fundraising initiative.

“This feels like we’re moving ahead with real purpose and he municipal government and the provincial government are right in line,” said Russell.

“Basically, when I approached the previous council, there was no positive discussion about getting to the point that we’re at now, where the town covers their end of a 70-30 cost share and then, of course, we the government cover the cost of the rest. I’m very excited, I’m very confident we’re going to make this a reality.”

Snook said he can’t speculate and how much taxpayer money will be used for a new recreation complex, assuming Davis and Powers meet their goal. But he’s confident the corporate fundraising initiative will lessen the burden.

“It’s a bit early right now to speculate. Once we get through Phase II (of the construction plan), we should have more of a sense of the final number, and we’ll know what the federal and provincial amounts can come in at,” said Snook.

“And, essentially, that’s also the reason why we launched this capital fundraising campaign, to make sure that any burden on the municipal taxpayers is as little as possible.”

Organizations: Lawrence O’Brien Arts Centre, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business Nunatsiavut Group of Companies Summa Strategies Abacus Data

Geographic location: Happy Valley, Goose Bay, Labrador Gull Island

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