By Chad Feehan / Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
If you let him, Mayor Dan Bobbett could talk to you all day about his excitement for the Town of Paradise, both in reflection of 2023 and in anticipation of the year to come.
He says a year can seem brief given the laundry list of items a town can try to accomplish in that timeframe. But if the checkmarks on Bobbett’s list are any indication, a year can be a very long time indeed.
The Town’s involvement in the Regional Economic Development Agency, also including St. John’s, and CBS, was one of the Town’s first big announcements of the year, and the first that came to his mind as he looked back on the year gone by.
The Agency is a joint creation of Paradise, St. John’s and CBS that aims to align resources to encourage economic development in the region. Bobbett says it’s only natural to work together economically, given the municipalities already cooperate on fire protection, water services, and waste management.
“The three of us together have a lot to offer,” Bobbett said. “Paradise has lots of land to offer for economic growth and industrial and commercial areas.”
Although the tribulations of Lift Station No. 10 – the sewage pump house that suffered a catastrophic failure in 2019 – has been a thorn in the Town’s side since long before this year, Bobbett is looking forward to its replacement in 2024 as an accomplishment rather than a $27 million setback. He spoke of its necessity, given its service to the majority of the town’s residents.
“It’s a major project, but people want to flush their toilets,” he said. “It’s an essential service that you must have, no different than snow clearing and roads.”
Infrastructure replacement in Evergreen Village, one of the oldest parts of Paradise, commenced in 2023 and will continue for the next number of years, said Bobbett, something he sees as another positive. Water and sewer lines are being replaced and the roads will get some shiny new blacktop and curbs.
Bobbett is excited about the moldable traffic-calming implements the Town began using last year, which he said is essential for growing traffic in a growing town.
“We’ll be checking with the residents to see how they like it,” he said.
Bobbett was also “quite happy” to participate in the traffic camera pilot project announced by the Provincial government last year, as well as the revamping of the Town’s snow clearing policy which was enacted to ensure efficiency.
Increased ridership on Metrobus Route 30, which services Donovan’s Industrial Park, is another one of Bobbett’s highlights of 2023, as it is effectively a boon to the Town in tangible economic ways.
This coming year, meanwhile, will mark the first full year of Paradise’s new five year plan, which includes “pillars” such as infrastructure and economic growth, social and cultural health, environmental stewardship, governance and engagement, and regional collaboration. Each pillar is broken down into specific goals, strategies, and targets.
“We’re looking forward to these long-term objectives,” said the mayor. “We will be measuring as we go along how well we’re doing. That’s our roadmap. That’s going to be what we follow… You’ve got to know where you’re going to go and how to get there.”
The new year will also see the continuation of council’s lobbying for a new high school. Bobbett said he has had “good meetings” with Premier andrew Furey and the Minister of Education, which have given him some hope the town will get a high school.
“Our purpose is to advocate for services that the province provides, so we’ll continue to do that,” Bobbett said.
The continued growth in all sectors of the town leads Bobbett to refer to Paradise as “a place of choice” for residents.
“You build a place that people want to come live, work and play, and that’s what I think we’ve done and we continue to reap benefits from going forward,” he said.
Bobbett remains as enthused as he was at the onset of his election four years ago, and looks eagerly to the next election in 2025.
“I’m very pleased to be Mayor of Paradise, for sure. I enjoy what I do,” he said.