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Six questions with Wabush Mayoral hopefuls

Ron Barron, left, had 12 years on council, four as Mayor, four as deputy Mayor and four as a councillor. Terry Curran, right, has 12 years on council, was deputy Mayor four years, and has served as chair of the finance committee for eight.
Ron Barron, left, had 12 years on council, four as Mayor, four as deputy Mayor and four as a councillor. Terry Curran, right, has 12 years on council, was deputy Mayor four years, and has served as chair of the finance committee for eight.

WABUSH - The race for Mayor of Wabush is underway. Two candidates are looking to fill that position, both with lots of experience as municipal politicians.

Terry Curran presently sits on council. He has 12 years on council, of that he has been deputy Mayor four years, and has served as chair of the finance committee for eight. Curran was looking at retirement and had given some thought of leaving the area.

"That's not going to happen," he told the Aurora.

Curran has been offered part time work with Bird, the company where he presently works (Bird bought O’Connell, where Curran worked for many year.)

“This is our home, my daughter is still in high school and my son is in University and is studying geology, he'd like to return to this area, my wife is from Wabush, so we've decided to stay,” Curran explained. "Working part-time is a good thing; it will allow me ample time to do duties as Mayor if I'm elected.

Here are Curran's responses to the Aurora's questions.

1. What is the single most important issue facing the town of Wabush at this time.

The single most important issue facing the Town of Wabush at this time is the reopening of Wabush Mines.  As you know, the mine has been closed since February 2014 and the loss of jobs for the residents and loss of revenue for the town has been very difficult.  It is vital that the mine gets back up and running as on as possible

2. What are your thoughts on amalgamation or shared services, and how do you plan to present the feasibility study to residents so it's their decision on the town’s future.

Stantec is currently conducting a study to determine if the towns of Labrador City and Wabush should amalgamate/combine services.  The study will look at  three options: 1) Should the towns of Labrador City and Wabush amalgamate,  2) Should the two towns increase the amount of regionalization/sharing of services, and 3) should things remain as is ( i.e. status quo) with no changes.  Once the study is complete, the results will be presented to the residents of Wabush ad Labrador City in a public forum.  This study is on piece of the puzzle.  Another important issue is the grant in lieu of taxes that the town used to receive from Cliffs.  This grant made up approximately 30% of the town's budget.  At this time, we do not know what the grant in lieu of taxes agreement with Tacora will be or when it will start.  Once the answers to both of these questions are known, we will all be in a better position to decide what is best for the residence of Wabush.  Once we reach that point, a plebiscite will be held to determine what the wishes of the residence of Wabush are.  As mayor, I will insist that the will of the residence determines our decision at the end of the day.

 

3. How do you plan to deal with the revenue shortfall in the town because of the loss of the grant in lieu from Cliffs, and the fact that government subsidies are finished? Could we expect a cut in services or an increase in taxes?

The revenue shortfall in the town that has resulted from the loss of the grant in lieu from Cliffs has been a major challenge for our community over the past 3 1/2 years.  As chair of your finance committee, I have seen firsthand the challenges in balancing the budget each year. To date, thanks to the efforts of our town management, staff and hourly employees, as well as assistance from the provincial government, we have managed to reduce costs enough to allow us to continue to offer all of the services that our residents have enjoyed over many years without increasing taxes.  Now that the provincial assistance is no longer in place this challenge will no doubt be more difficult.  As your mayor, I will address this challenge by putting a top priority on finalizing a grant in lieu of taxes with Tacora so that we can increase revenues to the town as soon as possible.  In the meantime, we will continue to work as efficiently as possible and continue to lobby the government for assistance.  I am confident that during the time that we need to "bridge the gap" we will be able to provide all essential services to the town without increases in taxes.

 

4. What are your thoughts on recreation in the area, and how should it be handled for the benefit of both towns.

Recreation is a key component to the physical and mental wellbeing of the residents of Labrador West.  The citizens of both towns have made it quite clear that recreational services are very important.  Therefore, we, as council, need to make sure that we continue to provide these services to our residents at the lowest possible cost.

 

5. Make a list of projects (no more than six) you think are needed for the town. (These do not necessarily have to be funded from the town’s budget, but you should indicate how you think they could be funded.)

Projects that are needed for our town include:

1) Upgrade to the industrial park wastewater treatment plant. This project to be funded by federal, provincial and municipal governments

2) Patching various locations around town- This project to be funded by the municipality

3) Multi- year capital works program.  This program will be funded on a 50/50 cost-sharing basis between the town and the provincial government

4) Repairs to north end of rec center caused by wind damage.  This project to be funded by the municipality and insurance

5) Address structural issues with the retaining wall on Snow's drive- This project to be funded by the municipality

6) Upgrades to road between Barron and McGregor lane- This project to be funded by the municipality

 

 

6. After several years of difficult times, there now appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel. What needs to be done to stimulate growth, improve, and diversify the economy?

As mentioned previously it is essential that the town finalize a grant in lieu with Tacora as soon as possible.  In addition to this, we need to pursue other forms of revenue by looking at ways to stimulate growth, improve, and diversify our economy.  This included projects such as other potential iron ore mines (Alderon, Altius, etc.), as well as expanding our industrial park in order to generate additional business revenue.  In order to bring these projects to light we will need to work closely with our provincial and federal partners.  During my 12 years on council, I have a proven track record of being able to work in a partnership role with all levels of government.

 

Also running for Mayor is Ron Barron. Again, no stranger to municipal politics. He's had 12 years on council, four as Mayor, four as deputy Mayor and four as a councillor.

"I was born and raised here, it's my home, my family is here, I want to make sure the town of Wabush maintains the quality of life we've been used to in years past, that's why I'm running again,” he told the Aurora. “I'm known to be vocal, and will always speak out for what's in the best interest of residents.”

Here are Barron's answers to the Aurora's six questions.

 

1. What is the single most important issue facing the town of Wabush at this time.

 I think the Question of Amalgamation is the most important issue facing

 Residents. What does it mean to them and how will they benefit or be affected by it. A lot more discussion has to take place before a well-informed decision can be made. I don't think residents have had enough involvement in the process.

 That process needs to get better so people can make a decision that will be in their best interest and that of the community.

 

 2. What are your thoughts on amalgamation or shared services, and how do you plan to present the feasibility study to residents so it's their decision on the town’s future.

 I'm all for shared service agreements. We do it now with our waste management and that works well. All that has to happen is for both towns to sit down, look at what is in the best interest of all residents in Lab West, and make it happen. It's been tried many times in the past but went nowhere. The Study is done from what I understand and the residents will have to be engaged 100% to make sure that they fully understand what it says so they can make a well-informed decision. Not enough has been done to engage discussion and I will try to make sure that that happens.

 Amalgamation if it were to happen should bring better services and less taxation.

 I don’t see how that will happen. There are to be no job losses according to the Mayor of Labrador City. So where would the savings come from so that it can be passed on to residents. If we are to continue to do the same things that is of no benefit for residents then I question why?

 

3. How do you plan to deal with the revenue shortfall in the town? Because of the loss of the grant in lieu from Cliffs, and the fact that governments subsidies are finished. Could we expect a cut in services or an increase in taxes?

The loss of the grant was a great blow to the Town. If it were not for the expansion of the industrial Park and housing development that we had here a few years ago and the support from the province, the Town would have been in a terrible state. With the renewed hope of the mine restarting the Province should step up again to help us through this time until an agreement can be made with the new owners. As for services being cut and taxation increases, we can't afford to down grade services. Residents want more to be done not less. As a taxpayer myself. I feel we are taxed to death and we don't need any increases. The only way I would even consider either of these is because we have no choice.

 

4. What are your thoughts on recreation in the area, and how should it be handled for the benefit of both towns.

The Towns have to get together on this once and for all. It has been a topic for decades.

Our Town has suffered because we had to put monies towards Recreation that we should have been putting elsewhere. Recreation is just not about Wabush. It's about Labrador west.

 75 to 80 per cent of the rec centre usage is from Labrador City. From what I understand, we use about 23 per cent of our budget for recreation and it's to the point that we can no longer continue to do that. It's time to come together on recreation and make this happen for the interest of all.

 

5. Make a list of projects (no more than six) you think are needed for the town. (These do not necessarily have to be funded from the town’s budget, but you should indicate how you think they could be funded.)

1. Seniors Home - long term care and assisted living for Labrador west. Provincial funded. They do it elsewhere so why not here. It`s needed here in this area.

2. Road work - Many of our streets are in need of work. Federal, provincial, Municipal funded.

3. Walking Trail - It's a beautiful area and we have to get it done and maintain it.  There are grants that are available and try to get business to partner in the trail.

4. Water and sewer - Our system is an aged system. I know funding has come to do the engineering part of it. But how long will we have to wait to see it actually being built. Very important part of our infrastructure. Federal, Provincial, and Municipal funded.

5. Recreation - Our Towns have to come together on this. Municipal, with help from the Province.

6. Cemetery Committee - I hope to have individuals and businesses come together to form this committee partnered with the Town to make this Area a beautiful resting place.

6. After several years of difficult times, there now appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel. What needs to be done to stimulate growth, improve, and diversify the economy?

One thing that could help our economy is for companies to hire more local people. There is still a lot of Fly in and Fly out here. I know there are people here who can't get work locally and jobs are being filled by out of Province workers. With the potential opening of the mine in Wabush are there individuals out there who might need some updated training courses to help them add to their job resume for future employment.

Election Day is September 26th. Have your say, cast your ballot. More information on polling stations will be published in the Aurora. Information is also available at the town’s websites.

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