Carbonear mayor offers optimistic outlook for year ahead

By Mark Squibb/January 27, 2022

Carbonear Mayor Frank Butt says that in the face of the looming COVID-19 pandemic, he is excited and optimistic for the year 2022.

Butt said the main challenge for the past year was of course COVID-19, and heading into the new year, it looks like not much has changed.

“The COVID-19 situation didn’t go away,” said Butt. “We did have an emergency pandemic committee set up so that was a great help.”

Butt said staff have worked in groups so as to reduce the risk of transmission.

“We have to space out our workers, so that if one group gets it, they’re isolated form the other group,” said Butt. “That’s a big concern, making sure that our town can operate during COVID, because there’s still a lot of unknowns, and this new variant seems to move quicker. But if we keep doing what we’re doing, we should be able to make sure the town is run properly, even if it’s on a modified schedule.”

Town work is continuing, he added.

“Our town kept going, and we were able to ride out this wave of the storm,” said Butt. “I think we did okay.”

He said while the pandemic has but a damper on the Downtown Revitalization Program, the work will continue.

Phase 1, which included sidewalks, lights, and landscaping, has been completed, and Butt, a long-time champion of the revitalization project, said the upgrades have been an asset not just to the town, but for the region, as people from the other side of the overpass visit to see the newly beautified downtown.

“People come out from St. John’s to visit and they want to go downtown Carbonear to see the lights and see the walkways, so it certainly paid off big,” said Butt.

He hopes Phase 2, which will include more underground work, will go ahead this spring, funding permitting (though Butt says some of the money for Phase 2 has already been acquired.)

“As soon as we apply for that, we are all ready for Phase 3,” he said.

Meanwhile, private commercial development has been going well, said the mayor, despite the havoc caused by the pandemic, and he is hopeful to see more activity this year. In particular, Butt hopes to see more development on the west side of town, near the intersection of Powell Drive and Columbous Drive. A recently installed set of traffic lights along Columbous Drive speaks to the Town’s hope in the area’s business potential.

Butt said he is also excited for the town to host the Under 20 Softball Nationals in 2022 — COVID permitting of course.

Hosting the tourney comes with a price tag, as many upgrades will have to be made to make the ball field game ready for such an event. The town has set aside $75,000 in this year’s budget for electronic scoreboards, fence protection, stone and sand, an infield groomer and a multipurpose utility vehicle.

“Any addition to our recreation complex and our programs is a benefit to the residents of the Town of Carbonear, as well as to our visitors,” said Butt. “So, every year we invest heavily into the recreation department because we have a good complex here. Anybody who comes in and looks at it, they comment and they say, ‘Your resources here are second to none.’”

Butt said economic development officer Kerri Clarke is actively searching for funding opportunities to help with the cost.

“There’s money to be found out there to assist with any kind of program, and she has proven that over and over, and I don’t mind saying that,” said Butt.

Council also intends to tender out the creation of a master plan for the recreation complex area and green space to guide development of the space over the years to come, he said.

“Instead of just adding things and hoping for the best, this plan will tell you where things should be in five or 10  years time, and this is how you should start to do that,” said Butt.

As for council itself, Butt said things are going well and that folks are getting along, despite a post-election hiccup in which comments made online and in print set some councillors teeth on edge.

“As I have said before, I am willing to work with anyone and will continue to work with anyone,” said Butt. “When individuals run for office, everyone can’t win. Everyone can’t be a winner. If you have 10 people running for seven spots, there are going to be three unsuccessful individuals. And you’ve got to be able to take that, you’ve got to be able to handle that, and accept it, and just move on.”

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