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Lake Melville MHA pleased with budget

Lake Melville MHA Perry Trimper was elected Speaker of the House of Assembly Tuesday, only the second time in Newfoundland and Labrador’s history that a contested election has been held for the position. Trimper was endorsed by Premier Dwight Ball.
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The provincial budget recently came down and the Labradorian met with Lake Melville MHA Perry Trimper to discuss how it impacted the region.
The first topic that came up was the Labrador Wellness Centre. The province allotted $11 million for the centre, with $4.2 million committed for this year. Trimper said it’s not just a recreational facility, it’s an important part of the community that could help in many ways.
“I just have to go to, for example, health care and attracting health-care specialists to our community,” he said. “What they’re looking for is a safe community to raise a family. Part of that, of course, are good recreational facilities and infrastructure. The wellness centre gives them that. They can see their kids will enjoy the same type of opportunities they can in an urban setting.”
He said people have to realize it’s not just about who is going to use it, it’s about other people needed here who will use it too.
The second item Trimper sees as a boon to the area is the further paving and widening of the Trans Labrador Highway. More than $83 million is committed for the highway this year, with $42.4 million in the Lake Melville district. He said while it’s taken some time the political will is there to finish the highway.
Transportation and tourism are two areas that will benefit from this work, Trimper said. There are four major paving projects planned from Blanc Sablon to Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
Another item that’s been getting attention locally is the $1 million for flood-risk mapping and flood forecasting for Mud Lake and Happy Valley-Goose Bay and $200,000 annually for satellite imagery, field data collection for ice thickness monitoring, and weather data collection. This comes following flooding in the Lake Melville region last year, which saw many in Mud Lake and parts of Happy Valley-Goose Bay have damage to their homes.
Trimper said they are now wrapping up the disaster relief funding for those who had claims for damage to permanent homes in the area and are now working on a system to try to make sure it doesn’t happen again. 
“What I don’t want residents to ever have to go through again was what happened last year, people knocking on the door at 1:30 a.m. telling them they have to leave their homes,” he said. “It’s amazing no one got hurt or killed.”
There was increased monitoring for the water and ice on the Churchill River announced in recent months to try to forecast this type of situation and this mapping will help forecast the areas most likely to be impacted.
“It’s a very effective tool to understand what parts of the community are susceptible and what you might be able to do to prevent that,” he said. “It gives you objectively driven information that will give you information for different types of situations and where you can expect problems.”
He said to come up with the million for the mapping wasn’t easy but was needed.
Six more mental health beds are slated for Happy Valley-Goose Bay in this budget as well and two new permanent psychiatrists are being recruited for the area. Trimper said these are sorely needed in the area and he’s really happy to see this commitment. 
Also in the realm of medical services, the budget contains improvements to the Medical Transportation Assistance Program.
For airfare costing up to $1,000, the program will pre-pay the full fare price up to $1,000 per year. For airfare costs exceeding $1,000 per year, government will pre-pay $1,000, plus 50 per cent of the remaining cost of the fare.
“It’s a big part of what I deal with here in the office,” he said. “People were making choices if they didn’t have the cash up front. I’m really glad to see this, this is great help.”
The budget also contained $500,000 for the Labrador Winter Games, $100,000 for the Labrador Correctional Centre, and $68,000 has been allocated for the Labrador Trail Grooming Subsidy, which is a 185 kilometre marked trail between Nain, Natuashish and Hopedale.
All in all, Trimper said he’s very pleased with the budget and happy to see so much investment in the region.

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