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Still hopeful

Carbonear mayor hopeful next phase of downtown funding in the works despite rumours to the contrary

Mark Squibb | July 9, 2020

Carbonear Mayor Frank Butt said that although he has heard rumors that funding for Phase Two of the Downtown Revitalization Project, a multiyear, five phase project tagged at roughly $5.5 million, has been denied, he remains optimistic that federal and provincial funding will come through this year.

“We haven’t had an official notice that we didn’t receive funding that I’m aware of,” said Butt, who said he reached out to Avalon MP Ken McDonald after hearing that funding had been denied.

“The bottom line is that we haven’t heard any official word that we were declined. And when I heard that we were, I phoned Ken McDonald’s office and I spoke to Ken and he said no, that no decision had been made.”

Butt said that McDonald told him there had been decisions made on certain capital works projects, but that no decision had yet been made on funding for the revitalization project.

Butt said he also spoke with MHA Steve Crocker during a July 1 ceremony, and that Crocker had not heard that any official decisions had been made.

The federal and provincial government contributed a combined $746,000 in September of 2018 towards phase one of the project, and Butt said that government funding is essential to seeing the project through to the fifth and final phase, saying it just wouldn’t be feasible for the Town to take on the roughly million dollar price tag attached to each phase.

Butt added now is the time to be looking for funding, before the full economic ripple affect of COVID-19 is felt.

“This is the time now that the Town and council has to be more aggressive in reaching out to different parties, just to what the status is, instead of waiting for a letter to come back,” said Butt. “I even said to Ken McDonald that if I had it my way, I would go for the whole project now. Because in two years time, chances are you’re not going to have any funding available for us.”

Meanwhile, Butt said, those who may have first opposed the project seem to have come around to it.

“They had to put the curb in first to get the dimensions of the road and the dimensions of the sidewalk. And with nothing else done, all a lot of people saw was that concrete strip on both sides of Water Street, and they said, ‘My God, this is ugly, this is no good,’” allowed the mayor.

But things look much nicer now that the sidewalk, street lighting, and greenery have been installed.

“I always say, wait for the finished product,” said Butt. “And then you come back and tell me whether you like it or not. And people are coming back to me and saying they changed their mind, and it looks great.”

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