By Kyle Reid | for The Shoreline
As Paradise Mayor Dan Bobbett is fond of saying, “It’s a great day in Paradise.”
“But it was a great year in Paradise last year,” insisted Bobbett in a recent year-end interview with The Shoreline.
Bobbett, concluding the second year of his second term as mayor, pointed to a particularly busy year for new retail development as a sign of strong commercial interest in the town. But that was only part of the growth that occurred. Last year also saw the completion of a recreation master plan, a new municipal plan and several major infrastructure projects in Paradise.
On the commercial side, Bobbett noted that extensions to the Paradise section of Kenmount Road by Fairview Investments are underway to open a new area of the industrial park. The Karwood commercial area has begun development with more applications for new developments in the area already on file, according to Bobbett.
On the residential side, things are a little slower these days than what was long considered eastern Canada’s fastest growing town has been used to. However, the mayor said residential development is still healthy.
“Residential growth has slowed down compared to what it was years ago,” allowed Bobbett. “But now the commercial side of it is growing. We’ve got various services, amenities and programs that we didn’t have four years ago.”
Ground officially broke this past summer on the $25 million ALRE development which will see new retailers and restaurants such as East Side Marios, Dollarama, Shoppers, Starbucks and Pet Value open shop near Sobey’s this year.
“It’s pretty exciting… it’s probably one of the biggest (commercial developments in the province),” said Bobbett. “You’ve got some major retail outlets coming to the town that aren’t here already.”
With any major expansion of the commercial or residential sector comes a need for better infrastructure. The busy thoroughfare of Topsail Road, near McNamara Drive, is expected to become even busier with the completion of the ALRE plaza.
Bobbett is hoping a roundabout and upgrades to Clearview Heights will alleviate some the expected congestion. The major road project got started early last fall, and the mayor said that while it would be difficult to pinpoint an exact completion date, he is expecting the project to be finished before the end of the fall at the latest.
Planning is also underway on yet another roundabout for the town — this time at the intersection of McNamara Drive and Kenmount Road to accommodate increased traffic flow from the extension to the Fairview Investments commercial and industrial park.
“That’s going to be a four-way intersection until we can put in a way of moving traffic better,” said Bobbett. “One of the best ways to move traffic is with a roundabout… It’s getting pretty busy up there.”
Upgrading and installing new water and sewer infrastructure was also a big ticket item on council’s agenda last year. Bobbett noted the Town reduced the waiting list for water and sewer from 16 streets down to 12 thanks in large part to provincial infrastructure funding.
“At one time there (were) 47 streets on that list and now we’re down to 12,” said Bobbett. “Four got funding approvals that got started this past year.”
On the recreation end, Bobbett noted the new master plan was completed with a great amount of input from residents. He said one of the major areas identified for more development was new trails and walking areas, particularly the completion of the Adam’s Pond trail.
“People really enjoy getting out to walk,” said Bobbett. “It’s a big thing and it promotes physical activity as well.”
A major recreation project that seems to carry over year after year is the development of a new multi-use sports complex, which will, hopefully, feature a much-anticipated artificial turf field. Council has had trouble securing funds to finance the project in the past, but they have once again earmarked money in this year’s budget in the hope of leveraging additional dollars for the project. Bobbett said that he remains optimistic the town can secure the funding sooner rather than later.
“The recreation master plan identified that as one of the things we should look at as well,” said Bobbett, adding a number of sports organizations have lobbied to see the idea come to fruition. “It was always on our radar,” said the mayor. “That’s something that we’re looking at as a major piece of our recreation infrastructure.”
The new municipal plan released last year, which will guide town development for a number of years into the future, also paved the way for new urban farming regulations to allow Paradise residents to develop small hobby farms — something the mayor said was a popular initiative brought up during public consultations.
“A lot of people have actually got into it,” said Bobbett. “It’s one of those things, sustainable food sources and things like that. It’s one of the things that kept coming up.”