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PAB gets $50K to support revitalization strategy

The funds will go to support a number of projects including outdoor events. (Astrolabe Days in August 2023). – Courtesy of © Natalie MacIsaac

By Jaymie White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter PORT AUX BASQUES — On Friday, Sept. 22, the Department of Industry, Energy and Technology (IET) announced the regional development funding that was awarded to the town. IET Minister and MHA Andrew Parsons (Burgeo – LaPoile) made the announcement that Port aux Basques has received $50,795 to support their community economic development. “The Town of Channel-Port aux Basques knows all too well the importance of community, especially following the impact of Hurricane Fiona,” said Parsons. “We are pleased to provide this investment that will give the town the opportunity to enhance the ability for community events and festivals. This will be a benefit for both the well-being of residents, as well as to create experiences that will attract tourists to the region.” According to the Department, the money will be allocated to enhance a number of projects. “This investment will support the town’s revitalization strategy and will complement a number of additional capital works and community development projects. Funding will be used to invest in equipment for outdoor events and festivals, such as collapsible indoor/outdoor staging, portable washrooms, steel security fencing, as well as some necessary electrical upgrades. “Through the Regional Development Program, the Provincial Government provides support by way of non-repayable contributions to organizations for the development and implementation of economic initiatives with respect to regional and sectoral development, diversification, innovation, and key emerging sectors. The funding is intended to support and enhance infrastructure, capacity building, marketing and research.” Mayor Brian Button is equally enthused about what this funding will mean for Port aux Basques. “The Town of Channel-Port aux Basques is pleased to receive this important investment that will contribute to both strengthening and revitalizing our community,” said Button. “As the gateway to Newfoundland and Labrador, this will also help boost our local tourism efforts to provide a great experience for both residents and visitors.” Town Manager Leon MacIsaac said there are a few specific projects the money will likely be earmarked for. “Typically we get funding from the government every year and it goes towards downtown initiatives,” said MacIsaac. “Like last year, you’ve seen what they call the removable boat, seen significant upgrades and repairs to it, the sail systems, flags around town, all of that. They all cost money and the funding received goes towards those repairs and upkeeps and replacements that have to be made on a regular basis.” Each year, these type of projects usually begin around the same time to capitalize on the summer construction season. “They start early spring every year. A lot of times when the funding is announced, those projects are already well underway,” said MacIsaac. “They just can’t officially announce them until it’s given by the Minister or whoever it may be in that department that it comes from. But typically, repairs are made well in advance of receiving any funding.” The way this type of funding works is that normally the government provides a certain percentage towards a project and the town will also contribute its percentage share of the cost. “Every project the town takes on, there is an amount that the towns contribute to it where it could vary anywhere from 10 per cent to 50 per cent, depending on the project and the amount of funding,” said MacIsaac. “Some projects are split 70 per cent to 30 per cent, 80 per cent to 20 per cent or even 50 per cent to 50 per cent.” The type of project the town wants to undertake factors in to what percentage the town contributes. “If we’re paving a road, that’s 50/50. That’s for a straight paving,” said MacIsaac. “If it’s water and sewers, typically 70/30 or 80/20, depending on the project. Every project has a different parameter of financial commitment from the town.” There are multiple benefits for the residents of the town as a result of the completion of these projects, beyond the obvious. “A lot of it is the increase for town beautification and the pride in your community,” said MacIsaac. “We try to maintain as many roads as we possibly can. There’s many to be done, but there’s only so much money that’s incorporated into each financial year. This year, we did as much paving as we possibly could. The amount of funding available is done under the Gas Tax agreement and also through the town’s own personal finances to make this achievable.” The amount in the budget each year can’t hope to cover all of the projects the town has to undertake, and without the assistance of funding from the provincial and federal governments they wouldn’t be completed. “All we do is we apply more and more projects every year,” said MacIsaac. “The town has a $5 million annual budget, but our projects are nine to ten times that.” Even though Hurricane Fiona repairs are still taking place, there are far more projects that have to be covered that aren’t related to the storm recovery efforts at all. “We have a very large slate of projects on the board, not just Hurricane Fiona related. There’s a lot that have been completed, and there’s still more to come. But there could be anywhere from $30 to $40 million worth of projects on the board at any one time, so there’s a constant gauntlet of projects to be done, and it’s between myself and Town Clerk Nadine Osmond,” said MacIsaac. “We spend the last part of our time trying to stay on top as best we can because it is a large time commitment and to make sure that they get done on time. And every consultant is busy, so while we’d like to have them done quickly, a lot of times it depends on their availability and their timelines as well.”

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