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.”