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LETTER: Regional support needed, but Port aux Basques does own the Bruce II

Letter to the Editor
Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

The recommendation on a new direction for the Bruce II was with thought and consideration for all users, particularly children. The lies, fabrications, outlandish accusations, personal attacks and defamation that followed on Facebook were hurtful.

PAB was introducing a policy that is common across this country. Residents who pay for a facility do get priority. It is no different in Mount Pearl, St. John's, Halifax, Kitchener, Cambridge, Toronto or Winnipeg. Naysayers, hiding behind a keyboard driving wedges between families, friendships and communities should take a peep.

PAB taxpayers are contributing an average a $230 per household above income to keep the Bruce II opened. The town's 2018 budget has another $430,000 to keep the building going.
And, yes. It does belong to PAB. It was PAB built. It is PAB maintained. That is reality. But it needs the support of all within the region to survive.

That ownership was assured when the NL government in 1995 refused requests for funding. Other communities on the southwest coast were given the opportunity to sign on as financial partners in creating a regional building. That is a public record. The naysayers need to crawl away from their keyboard; take the time to come and visit our town hall. The minutes are available. It is a public record.

It was a provincial government requirement that other communities in the area had to be on side before any funding would be considered. Council records of the day write of a meeting held at the PAB town hall to discuss and commit financially to a regional building. These records don't lie! Despite giving generously to a volunteer Raise the Bruce fund, no community or local service district would commit a portion of its annual budget for the arena.
Just as dollars are stretched now, dollars were stretched then. PAB council respected the decision of the surrounding communities. There was no smear campaign by the PAB council. We still needed the support, as we do today.

The record of the conversation with the government minister of the day, Roger Grimes, is available. It was Minister Grimes who gave us the news over the telephone. Our local MHA was with Mr. Grimes in St. John's. Provincial cabinet had decided. PAB was on its own. No provincial dollars!

The town's insurance money, the only bit of good news in those dark days, along with the Raise the Bruce funds, gave council a start. This building had to go up. It was about the children.
Suddenly, our little over $3 million in insurance money was running out. Time to borrow; $ 1,136,522 was financed. Gosh, as a council we were lucky we had a patient tax base. Imagine how many potholes we could have repaired!
Sorry, if I sound as coming on strong but it hurts when you hear the cry, “it's not your building.”

The curling rink and swimming pool came later as council borrowed, once again. Sure, there was government funding, much in the form of money to hire workers from the entire region. Council had a duty to the residents of PAB to find every penny possible. It is no different with any community. As an example, communities all over NL got fire trucks, water treatment facilities, community buildings and much more from the government. Every community benefitted. Does the government still own those?

No. The towns own them. Just like PAB owns the complex.

The sports and recreation program offered by our recreation committee is of a very high caliber, open to ALL in the region. It is user pay. We need the support of everyone in the area to fill programs and attend activities. We must work hard to keep fees/ticket prices down. Programs and activities need to be affordable. The whole region is welcomed and appreciated.

The discussion for preferential registration and accommodation in summer programs came from complaints from resident taxpayers. It is their right to hold council accountable. It is not about discrimination. Any tone of discrimination hurts. Every child will be guaranteed a spot regardless of where they live. This point was enshrined in council minutes.
There are not a whole lot of children in the region anymore. How could we not accommodate? This is what we are about as a recreation committee, a town and region. Let's not dwell on the negative.
As in the past, we need to work together to move forward for everyone's benefit.

John Spencer, Mayor

Channel- Port aux Basques

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