Bonavista Mayor Betty Fitzgerald moved to Bonavista in 1959 and says every year she’s been living in the community, she’s seen improvement.
She says 2016 will be no different.
“It’s a vibrant town,” Fitzgerald told The Packet. “If we can keep things going ahead, I think there’s going to be more jobs and more things happening here.”
With the provincial government currently dealing with huge debt and an economic downturn, Fitzgerald says she refuses to remain anything but positive for her town.
“I’m a positive person who believes in thinking positive and looking at things in a different light,” she said. “People might say gloom and doom. I don’t believe that.
“I believe that there’s still movement here and it’s going to continue … to grow in economic development in tourism and otherwise, if we all work together.
“That’s not only for my town but for the whole region.”
That being said, she’ll be awaiting the province’s budget before making any further predictions.
As for what will go ahead in Bonavista this year, Fitzgerald was right to say there is plenty of improvement planned.
One of the most major projects, the replacement of the town’s water tower, is expected to begin in 2016.
The $2-million endeavour was deemed a better solution than a mere refurbishment of the existing tank near Coster Street. Replacement is cheaper and more reliable in the long run, said the mayor.
Fitzgerald also says the town has applied to have plenty of road work done around the community and continue with an extension of water and service towards Birchy Place on Route 230.
The town has also seen the first actions taken on the next stage of the harbourfront redevelopment program on Campbell Street, which will continue this year. The program is done by the Bonavista Historic Townscape Foundation.
“Government is already saying that they want to see development in regions that’s moving forward,” said Fitzgerald. “Our area is doing that.”
There is also a splash park planned to be installed in the playground this year; a program that saw a lot of fundraising leading up to 2016.
Fitzgerald says the basic services like water and sewer, recreational facilities like the splash park, and aesthetic elements like the harbourfront development all factor into people enjoying living in their town. She says it even attracts new residents and business owners.
As far as events in 2016, Bonavista will also see the annual Canada Day, Bonavista Day and Church Street Festival activities in the summer.
She is also looking for volunteers for a planning committee to have events at the Matthew Legacy site.
“We believe June 24 (Discovery Day) should be brought back and we should have an event there.”
The Matthew has been in disrepair in recent times and needs a lot of funding to restore the replica vessel. The mayor says people are needed to come together and help with fundraising opportunities.
This year is also the 50th anniversary of the Bonavista Volunteer Fire Department, which will be recognized by the town.
Fitzgerald says she’s only has until the end of this term in fall of 2017 before she’ll be retiring as mayor. It will also signify her 20-year mark in the position — she started as mayor in 1997. She says the only reason why she’s retiring is because she thinks she’s been there long enough and “change is good.”
“My heart will still be in Bonavista and the area to see it move ahead.
“I’ll be around. And for whatever new mayor gets elected, if they ever need me, all they have to do is call.”