ARNOLD’S COVE, N.L. — While aging infrastructure and a general economy slowdown can be a constant battle for a municipality like Arnold’s Cove, Mayor Basil Daley says 2017 was a productive year for the town.
In an interview with The Packet, Daley said they completed a $900,000 capital works project last year under the clean waste water fund, cost-shared with the federal and provincial governments.
That project, finished last July, saw the completion of phase three of water and sewer, curb and gutter and pavement for Harbour Buffett Road.
It was work that was long overdue.
The pipes had been installed over 50 years ago, when people resettled from the Placentia Bay islands to Arnold’s Cove.
Looking ahead to this year, Daley says they’re continuing with these types of projects to address the older infrastructure, doing smaller projects with town money but seeking government funding for larger projects.
“We have $1.2 million (in capital works funding) to do Bar Haven Heights, which is in desperate shape for water and sewer problems,” he noted.
He says this past year this area had three water leaks in one day — so they’re glad to be able to replace the old pipes.
They’ve also decided to purchase a sidewalk snow plow, which doubles as a sweeper, to accommodate their 7.5-kilometres of sidewalk.
Daley says they’ve been able to do all of this while maintaining their tax rate.
They’re proud of their balanced budget, which has no residential or commercial tax increase, at 5.75 and 6.25 mills respectively. And the collection rate is very high — about 99 per cent — and on time, he adds. The debt service ratio — the percentage of every dollar the town pays towards the money it owes — is 16 per cent.
According to Daley, other areas of the community like the fire department, recreation and heritage committees continue to thrive.
When it comes to solutions on how to get ahead, Daley would like to see easier access to capital works funding — as they’ve only addressed about half of what is needed when it comes to aging water and sewer.
“We’re working with MHA Mark Browne to try and get funding,” he says.
He believes projects like water and sewer should take priority because they are necessities.
“I know the provincial government has money issues … but it’s something for us that’s a big issue. The main thing you provide for your residents is water and sewer.
“We’ve been lucky enough so far because the federal government has been putting in 50 per cent to be able to do this work.”
Daley adds another major piece of work is on the horizon for Arnold’s Cove, and other towns.
The federal government wants municipalities to transition to sewage treatment plants by 2020, under the national wastewater strategy.
Currently the waste water and sewage from many towns flows directly into the ocean.
Arnold’s Cove has three outfalls.
Daley says a sewage treatment plans would be a major expense and the town will have to figure out how to pay for it.
The answer may be worked out in the town’s next strategic plan.
The process of developing that plan roll out in 2018, Daley said, and will likely involve
public consultations with citizens to help the town understand what its residents want.