The provincial budget came down on March 28 and Happy Valley-Goose Bay Deputy Mayor Bert Pomeroy said it brings some definite benefits to the region.
Pomeroy said the biggest thing that stands out is the money for the Labrador Wellness Centre. The province committed $11.5 million to the centre and, combined with the federal funding that was announced on April 4, it makes the project a reality.
“It was a big priority of council and has been for a few years,” Pomeroy said. “It was a priority for the previous council and carried into this one. It’s something badly needed in our community and long overdue.”
He said it was something council heard loud and clear during the campaign and the previous one. As a growing community Happy Valley-Goose Bay has a lot to offer, he said, and this wellness centre will enable the town to offer more to residents and can also be a recruitment and retention tool.
“To say we were pleased would be an understatement to see this project finally off the ground,” he said. “The plan is to break ground this summer and be up and running in 2020.”
Another item in the budget that Pomeroy said is good for the area is the proposed $83 million in upgrades to the Trans Labrador Highway. The plan is to pave the highway from Blanc Sablon to Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Pomeroy said while the upgrades aren’t in the community more and more people will travel in over the highway from the south coast.
“It makes the community more accessible and people can see what we have to offer here,” he said. “People here are looking forward and being able to drive to other parts of the province and country. Thirty years ago the Trans Labrador Highway was a pipe dream and now it’s a reality. It’s been a long time coming and we’re to a point now where we’ve entered into the 21st century. Having road access to other parts of the province will be great for the community and we see any upgrades to that highway as a plus.”
The province also set aside $1 million to conduct flood-risk mapping and flood forecasting for Mud Lake and Happy Valley-Goose Bay, along with $200,000 annually for satellite imagery, field data collection for ice thickness monitoring, and weather data collection.
“We’re very pleased the province has made emergency preparedness a priority for the Upper Lake Melville area,” Pomeroy told the Labradorian. “We’ve been working with the province in terms of sharing data and updating flood risk mapping within the town. That will help us plan for future developments and things like that.”
He said the town is also working very closely with Mud Lake, North West River and Sheshatshiu, as well as Nalcor, to implement a mass distribution emergency notification system for Upper Lake Melville.
“We all know what happened last year, it’s very concerning and let’s hope we don’t have those issues this year,” he said. “In the meantime, to look at having emergency preparedness and this mass notification system hopefully it can provide some comfort. Let’s hope and pray that we don’t have a situation like we had last year and we’re able to respond if need be.”