Mayor defends council, staff in address to Rotary

Cory
Cory Hurley
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CORNER BROOK — Corner Brook Mayor Neville Greeley again publicly defended criticism of his council and staff Thursday.

It was a year later, but the mayor used his annual address to the Corner Brook Rotary Club to speak to issues in the media — specifically mentioning features in The Western Star — that have reflected poorly on the city.

He did the same in his January speech last year. Greeley questioned the merit and value of The Star’s Roamer section — citing a recent blurb about the lack of business development — and referred to the ongoing negative media pertaining to the services provided by the city. This time, however, he also referred to public criticism through “coffee talk.”

Greeley said the criticism is unwarranted and without just cause. He praised the city staff for their professionalism and commitment to their jobs, especially in the area of business and economic development — an area which is commonly chastised. He said approvals and disapprovals of developments and applications are done so with the best interest of the city in mind.

“I haven’t always made decisions that were in my best political interests, but I believe I have always made decisions that are in the best interest of the City of Corner Brook,” he told Rotarians. “Mike (Dolter, the city’s chief administrative officer) will tell you that I have often said, ‘Don’t bring me anything that is going to make me look good. Bring me something that is going to be good for the city.’”

The mayor highlighted a number of positive aspects and development over the past year, and spoke about various upcoming projects and services. He raved about the city’s new economic development strategy, in which advancing the city as an educational town is key.

“The value of the post-secondary sector to the economy of Corner Brook is huge, and should not be underestimated,” he said.

According to the mayor, there are 2,650 post-secondary students in the city and 874 total faculty and support jobs. The annual institutional spending for Grenfell Campus of Memorial University, the College of the North Atlantic, and Academy Canada is $51 million.

To reinforce the contribution of the post-secondary sector to the economy, the mayor said 53 per cent of the students are visited annually by 12 total people, with 20 per cent of those staying in hotels. Monthly spending by students is about $1.2 million and about 430 of the students are interested in working at least 18 hours per week.

“These are pretty impressive numbers, and I believe clearly demonstrate the importance of this sector to our economy,” he said. “It is important that we all make strong efforts to expand the offerings to the post-secondary sector and to work more closely with the Grenfell Campus, the College of the North Atlantic, and Academy Canada to build stronger relationships and help these institutions grow.”

Organizations: College of the North Atlantic, Corner Brook Rotary Club, The Star Academy Canada

Geographic location: Corner Brook, Western Star

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Recent comments

  • Paula
    January 18, 2013 - 22:19

    Can I also just add my voice to the Poll Tax problem. I lived in 4 provinces, this is the only place I get charged to live and guess what I'm on EI and making minimum wage, I can't even afford the $175. I only work in Corner Brook for 4 months a year, WTH! Our roads are pitiful, plowing...what's that...salt, sand, haven't seen any of that around. All I see our council doing is cutting and taxing! We have no new businesses, oh wait, another Chinese restaurant, we must be at about 7 by now. Diversity is a wonderful thing. If I didn't have commitments out of town, I would run for council! We need fresh under 50 blood in city hall.

    • Devil's Advocate
      January 21, 2013 - 11:46

      ...this is one of the last places in the whole world with such a tax. They abolished it in the U.S. "...U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that such a tax violated the "equal protection" clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution." I agree with Paula, Newfoundland is stuck in a molasses time bubble because the people running everything here are from another time.

  • Nev Greeley
    January 18, 2013 - 16:06

    I've read with interest the above comments. Funny how a reporter can take a 30 minute presentation and turn it into a one issue story. Much more was said than was reported and I understand it could not all be covered in the space he was provided. With regard to defending staff, what I said was staff are professional and dedicated to helping move the city forward and no one wants to do anything to prevent a business from starting up or moving here. We can't let development happen today however, that will tie the hands of taxpayers down the road because of poor planning. As for comments about business moving to other areas and all the talk in the Roamer and in coffee shops, I simply asked for one example of where a business had moved. The problem with the Roamer is anyone can say anything, without one single shred of evidence or proof, yet it will get printed. People believe what they read. I get it. The media has a responsibility to report facts yet it appears the Western Star refuses to let facts get in the way of a good story. I also referenced how a businessman had requested a meeting to simply compliment staff for their professionalism and knowledge in helping his business set up in Corner Brook. This council has not turned down one business looking to move here or set up here with the exception of a home based business for daycare on a busy street with parking issues. This council has implemented the Downtown Business Improvement Tax Credit. Each year, the full amount available has been utilized and staff have worked with business to improve the program year after year. This council has lowered the mill rate on businesses and decreased the number of categories all benefitting business. Two major construction firms have relocated to Corner Brook in the past three years. 49 million dollars were spent in CB last year, 16.5 in residential and 32.5 industrial/commercial. This council finalized the water treatment plant and saved about 15 million by thinking outside the box and getting the support of the federal and provincial government to do so. Now, the Corner Brook model is being used in the towns of Paradise and CBS for major projects they have ongoing. I could go on but I believe everyone gets the point.

    • Jack
      January 18, 2013 - 20:57

      Mayor Greeley, you stated that council has not turned down one business looking to move here or set up here with an exception of a home based business for daycare on a busy street with parking issues. However, I find this statement is now true and I'll give you a few examples. The first example was the proposed modular home plant, referring to "The Western Star" news story entitled "Business turned down by council; City should be open for business: proponent" dated October 19, 2011, which was eventually approved. The second example was the Teen Dance Hall referring to "The Western Star" news story entitled "Council turns down teen dance hall" dated January 17, 2012 as Corner Brook City Hall used foolish excuses such as lack of regulation. The third example was a real estate developer wanting to build a modular home or trailer park to help alleviate the housing crisis in Corner Brook, but once again, council turned it down due to unprovable reasons such as violent crime; however, most people whom live in trailer parks are not criminals but honest and hard working citizens. Finally, while many people heard that Corner Brook was going to get a Costco Wholesale outlet as many residents shop at this store, you stated last week that Costco is not coming here due to a foolish reason, we are not a unsuitable market. The fact is that when you have many Corner Brookers shopping at Costco Wholesale stores all over Atlantic Canada, doesn't that prove to you or Corner Brook City Council that we are a suitable market? In light of these good examples of business ideas rejected due to illegitimate reasons, especially the Modular Home Plant (eventually approved), Teen Dance Hall, Trailer Park, and Costco Wholesale, I now believe that Corner BrookCity Hall has not just rejected one business idea, but several great ideas. Business rejections are not the only problem. Your city's policies are attacking disabled persons, single families, low income individuals, and students as city council increased the Poll Tax instead of getting rid of it like nearby Steady Brook did last year. Keep in mind that these population segments typically don't own property as they can't afford to buy a house. The other problem is that while you're trying to turn Corner Brook into a "Campus City", your policies are going the opposite direction as City Council has significantly cut transit service, and they will no longer provide service during in-demand periods like evenings and weekends. If you want to attract students, you need to create a good climate to bring them to Corner Brook, and cutting transit service is not one of them. In light of the numerous facts, I don't agree with you or City Council that they have never rejected one business idea nor you're trying to encourage economic growth, or are they creating conditions for attracting new businesses. Lowering taxes is one thing, easing off on government red tape is another.

    • Jack
      January 18, 2013 - 21:15

      Mayor Greeley, while lowering taxes and giving tax credits are a step in the right direction, if lessons learned from Stephen Harper's tax cuts is that they are not good enough. To attract businesses to this city, you and City Council need to create a better business climate instead of using every regulation to crush great business ideas such as the Trailer Park, Teen Dance Hall, or Costco Wholesale. Believe it or not, excessive government red tape and bureaucracy are two reasons why Greece is on the brink of bankruptcy as well as having difficulty attracting entrepreneurs. If red tape and bureaucracy are hurting Greece, it could hurt Corner Brook too. Second, you need to have a positive attitude as well as be visionairies, something that you and Corner Brook City Council lack at times. Other Western Newfoundland towns like Stephenville, Pasadena, and Deer Lake are experiencing rapid business growth due to a leadership whom have great attitudes as well as being visionairies. Third, the Corner Brook populace needs to start supporting business regardless of where the owner lives. When I first moved here from Halifax, Nova Scotia, the one thing I noticed with Corner Brook is that Corner Brookers typically shop at businesses or franchises that are Corner Brooker owned or operated. In Halifax, people don't care where a business owner lives. Fourth, Corner Brook City Council recent cut their public transit service, meaning no more evening or weekend service, which hurts the very demographics you're trying to attract, particularly students. Lessons learned is that tax cuts are not sometimes not good enough to attract business.

  • student
    January 18, 2013 - 13:31

    If the educational sector is so important, why is the student union constantly asking council to heed their requests here in The Western Star. Obviously council is not listning

  • Jack
    January 18, 2013 - 13:07

    Citizenv, Deer Lake is taking many businesses away from Corner Brook and attracting new ones due to its status as a crossroads town between Northern Newfoundland, Quebec Lower North Shore, Labrador, and the rest of the island, pleasant business climate, and leadership with strong vision for its future. Think about their plans to build a new power centre complete with a Costco as a good example. However, the biggest weakest with Deer Lake are their Poll Tax that is grossly punitive towards disabled persons, single families, and low income families. In fact, Deer Lake has Newfoundland and Labrador's highest Poll Tax at a whopping $340 per year, and Town Council seems reluctant to take the root of Steady Brook and eliminate this dreadful tax once and for all. If Deer Lake gets rid of its tax, they will definitely be Western Newfoundland's new "alpha settlement". Maybe if Corner Brook's Mayor and City Council acted like visionaries, create a pleasant business climate, make an effort to attract new high quality employers with great paying jobs before Corner Brook Pulp and Paper is gone for good, eliminate the Poll Tax, increase public transit access, and stop concocting one excuse after another for not allowing business to operate or constantly making excuses, then the city will start attracting new businesses like Deer Lake.

  • jimmy
    January 18, 2013 - 12:21

    I have to agree with all the statements I have read on the subject of city council and their unpopular mayor. I have lived and worked in Corner Brook for all my life and it is only now that if something do not change for the better for senior citizens and the retired of which I am one,there will be no choice for me other than move away with some of my children in either ontario or Alberta. The stress of living here in Corner Brook at the present time is unbareable for many reasons. One major one is:I have no Liabilities and I have many assets which are being stifled by city regulations,to do with land.(more to come on this) If in the next election there is no change,I guess i will be saying goodbye ,Corner Brook.

  • cut through the fog
    January 18, 2013 - 11:24

    This has nothing to do with the Mayor being defensive (although he always is). This has everything to do with upcoming labour negotiations with the unions. The Mayor is trying kiss the City's employees butts in hopes the negotiations will go more smoothly. Sorry, Greeley, too little too late. You made your bed...

  • Shawn
    January 18, 2013 - 11:08

    I have said and heard enough about Neville Greeley. Our votes will speak clearly on election day.

  • George
    January 18, 2013 - 11:08

    It seems the mayor is constantly defending the actions of his employees.Maybe it's time to evaluate their performance.If I had constant complaints from my customers I would make moves to rectify the problems.

  • Mr Corner Brook
    January 18, 2013 - 09:07

    To Mr Greeey: "WHAT?!" Where are you living man? Business and economic development? Really? Have you looked at the failing local businesses in the Broadway area alone? They are practically panhandling trying to bet business while development is soaring in Deer Lake because it is so much easier! Another pizza shop failed BTW! Mr Greeley, enjoy your last few months as mayor, no chance of winning another term anyways.

    • Steady Brook Saint
      January 18, 2013 - 12:05

      Corner Brook's new pizza loss is Stephenville's gain! Yummy Pizza.

    • Jack
      January 18, 2013 - 12:58

      Mr. Corner Brook, don't forget about Oppy's Diner as well.

  • Mike
    January 18, 2013 - 07:52

    If those students are so important, then why are they, and anyone else that is not able to purchase a home, targeted by the city through its imposition of a poll tax? Or is it that the sector is so important because the city can squeeze an extra $400,000 dollars annually out of the less fotunate.

  • CitizenV
    CitizenV
    January 18, 2013 - 07:21

    The citizens of Corner Brook are critical because we see things happening elsewhere when we know they should be happening here. Opportunities appear - optically - to be slipping past Corner Brook because this town is notorious for being a bad place to do business. There is no justifiable reason why Deer Lake should be getting new business development and Corner Brook getting - apparently - little to none. I don't begrudge Deer Lake for their successes... but it's time for something BIG to happen here as well. The very fact that new business developments are being rejected "for the good of the city" is ridiculous! Let the business setup. If it succeeds, GREAT! If not, then who cares? But for the town administration and elected officials to prevent a business from starting due to THEIR opinion is just, frankly, silly. Additionally, it sounds like our politicians would like a town where the media only prints approved political rhetoric and citizens are not even allowed to level "coffee talk" criticism at OUR EMPLOYEES. That's right, citizens have got to start understanding that elected officials work FOR US... the people who put them there. If they can't handle criticism, they should reconsider their political aspirations. It comes with the job description. Finally, in my experiences, if someone isn't offering criticism you are either doing your job unbelievably well, or not at all. Maybe rather then defending the criticism the Mayor, Council and Town Staff should consider what is being reported / said and take action to improve their collective professional reputations.

  • Jack
    January 18, 2013 - 07:05

    Mayor Greeley says that education is Corner Brook's most important sector, but at the same time, he keeps taking important services away from them, particularly public transit. Mayor Greeley, stop being a hypocrite for a change, and also start taking criticism, or you and Corner Brook will never grow.

  • Jack
    January 18, 2013 - 07:04

    Once again, it seems that Mayor Greeley cannot handle criticism relating to his poor economic development and business climate record. That arrogant and ignorant attitude is a reason why Corner Brook are struggling to attract businesses, retailers, and employers. Famous restauranteur and chef, Gordon Ramsay, once again that "if you can't handle the heat, stay out of the kitchen". If I can paraphrase Chef Ramsay's quote, it seems to me that Mayor Greeley can't handle the heat of being Corner Brook's Mayor, then he shouldn't serve as our Mayor anymore. Secondly, since Mayor Greeley constantly criticizes the media, it seems to me that he's also against Freedom of the Press, and Freedom of Speech, meaning he is also against human rights as these rights are enshrined into the Canadian Constitution. Mayor Greeley, all I can say is that in the upcoming civic elections is that I hope you will be voted out as Mayor as you can't take criticism, you're anti-business, and you're against human rights.

    • Jill
      January 18, 2013 - 12:07

      Jack you must be young. I'm pretty sure the expression "if you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen" was stated LONG before reality tv star Gord Ramsay said it. LOL

    • Devil's Advocate
      January 19, 2013 - 07:50

      @ Jill, you must be old, because you have nothing imaginative to contribute to this thread, except for pointing out someone may be young. More proof to me that Corner Brook resents youth...for some reason. At least Jack is passionate and pretty much "bang on" in all his statements, from my perspective anyways.