Coombs disappointed over loss of government service centre

By Mark Squibb

Harbour Grace Mayor Don Coombs was not surprised last week when the Province announced it was moving the Government Service Centre to Bay Roberts, but he was disappointed.
The centre, where people can renew licences and conduct other business with the Crown, will relocate to 25 Bareneed Road, Coley’s Point South, Bay Roberts from the former Pirates Cave Lounge building in Harbour Grace.
Coombs said he had been following the tender process and knew the previous landlord had not put in a new bid, and so was not surprised by Friday’s news.
“You don’t like to lose anything in your town, and government buildings are good buildings,” said Coombs. “I’m disappointed, of course. You don’t want to lose anything in your town.”
Coombs noted only one other bid was made to host the centre, and that came from a building owner in Carbonear.
The centre drew people in the region to Harbour Grace to renew their licenses or get their drinking water tested, said Coombs, and many likely bought gas or stopped at a restaurant in town, an economic spin-off that will be missed.
Coombs ventured the old Terra Nova Shoes building might have made a good home for the government service building, and acknowledged the question of that building’s future is at the forefront of council’s mind. His fear is that the building will join the list of other derelict structures around town such as the old Canadian Tire building, which council recently ordered to be demolished.
“These buildings are not looked after, they fall into a total state of disrepair, and that’s what we don’t want,” said Coombs. “It’s another empty building in our town, which is a disappointment to me.”
Council, said Coombs, hopes to meet with the building owner soon regarding the building’s future.
Coombs said while he’s heard some folks around town complain that ‘council could have done more’ to keep the service centre in Harbour Grace, the matter was a provincial government responsibility and was entirely out of council’s hands.
Moving forward, Coombs said, he’s choosing to focus on the positive, of which there is much in Harbour Grace.
The provincial government, meanwhile, said the same in-person services that were offered in Harbour Grace, including Motor Registration Division services, private water sampling collection, environmental protection services, and electrical inspection services, will be available at the new location.

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