By Kyle Reid | for The Shoreline
It may be a small town, but it certainly has not been a small year for the Town of Holyrood and Mayor Gary Goobie.
Despite being a rural town, Holyrood saw a big jump in commercial growth last year, particularly in the area dubbed “The Stores” where a new Tim Horton’s and North Atlantic Gas Station sprung up. A new two storey commercial building is also on tap for the area. In a year-end interview, Goobie noted the new commercial development is a sign the Town’s economic diversification strategy is working, despite a rather sluggish provincial economy — most notably in rural areas.
“We’ve spent several years planning and positioning our town for future growth, and now it’s really starting to come together,” said Goobie.
Goobie said the development of a new industrial park at the top of the recently re-branded Liam Hickey Drive is receiving a lot interest from developers. The Town had already struck a deal with global oil giant Haliburton to set up shop inside the park, and Goobie said the Town is nearly finished another deal to sell land to another party.
“We are in the final stages of a purchase-sale agreement for a piece of Crown Land we acquired which will yield the town approximately $700,000 (net) in additional revenue,” said Goobie. “There was a fair amount of negotiations and due-diligence involved, but thankfully, we’re just about there.”
With the recent announcement of the next phase of provincial and federal funding for the Ocean’s Holyrood Initiative (OHI), Goobie said the Town is looking to further its relationship with the Marine Institute to push forward with the marine base.
“I had a personal conversation a few weeks ago with Glenn Blackwood (vice president of the Marine Institute) regarding future plans for the marine base here in Holyrood,” said Goobie. “It’s going to be a game-changer.”
The Town has also made use of provincial and federal funds to improve infrastructure in the past year, Goobie noted. The mayor pointed to several improvements made to local roads, including new pavement and upgrades, improvements to water, sewer and waste water systems, and the repair of a long-deteriorating retaining wall on Northside Road.
Goobie added the development of a strong relationship with Harbour Main MHA Betty Parsley pushed forward the timeline for the much-needed repaving of the Salmonier Line, which wasn’t scheduled to be completed until the 2020-2021 round of provincial infrastructure funding.
“The Town is delighted to see that major upgrades and paving have been made to Salmonier Line and a section of route 60,” said Goobie.
Citing an increase of 400 residents over the past five years, an average increase of four per cent year-over-year for the town, Goobie said Holyrood has made significant investments in recreation infrastructure to add amenities to accommodate the growing population. The latest addition was a dog park on the Salmonier Line.
Additional new parks, playgrounds and a new community garden are on tap for development in 2019, Goobie said. A federal grant also enabled the Town to refurbish the George Cove Mountain trail last year, which the mayor said has attracted “hundreds, if not thousands, of residents and visitors alike” to the peak.
Of course, the most exciting recreation project in Holyrood this year will be the planning of the upcoming Holyrood Come Home Year, which will recognize the 50th anniversary of the town’s incorporation.
“We have a fabulous committee in place with lots of exciting events and activities spanning the entire year,” said Goobie, adding that if anyone wishes to volunteer to help with the effort, they can contact the town office.
“Expect a huge number of former residents returning for this special occasion next summer, said Goobie.”