Pender wants 2014 to be start of new era for Corner Brook

Gary
Gary Kean
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Charles Pender

CORNER BROOK — After a rough start to 2013, Mayor Charles Pender and his council hope the fortunes of Corner Brook will turn around in the new year and beyond.

A year ago, the ominous clouds of Corner Brook Pulp and Paper’s uncertain future loomed large over the entire region as the paper company continued to work out deals with all of its unions in order to access a $110-million loan from the provincial government.

Then, in the spring, the area was hit hard — like most other parts of Newfoundland and Labrador — by the lean provincial budget that cut back on spending, shut various programs and put people out of work.

“We started out 2013 with a bit of a rough first seven or eight months,” said Pender in a year-end interview with The Western Star.

“I think some of those things have settled a bit.”

Pender and five of the other six members of city council were just regular citizens until they were elected in late September. They see their civic duty as helping turn the local economy around.

Pender and his council claimed to be leading by example as they cut back on some discretionary spending, like council travel, and froze council remuneration for the remainder of their term in office.

In its 2014 budget plan, council included a review of the entire municipal operation to find further savings.

Creating a road map for what the next four years and beyond will look like is an important step, said Pender, in Corner Brook shrugging off its reputation for not being a great place to do business.

“Whether it was true or not, the perception was that Corner Brook is a bad place to do business,” said Pender. “We have to turn that perception around and we have been doing our work to do that.”

Council has been meeting with the local business leaders and organizations and plans to do so again in the new year to keep in touch with what the community wants and needs to effect that positive change.

Pender said there are already signs that people are encouraged to invest in Corner Brook.

“We have met with people that are looking at doing investment in the city in the spring,” said Pender. “These are people who have been here before, but went away and they have come back hoping there has been a change.”

Corner Brook is ready to welcome that new business, said the mayor.

Geographic location: Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador, Western Star

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  • Tony
    January 03, 2014 - 13:49

    Mayor Charles Pender and council. Mr. Pender you make promises of turning the corner and you state how you and council are leading by example with a salary and travel freeze. It was stated in your statement to the press that a further review will take place at city hall during 2014 regarding further savings. Do you take the public as fools? On January 3, 2014 the city placed a ad in the Western Star to hire a full time assistant to the city clerks office. Now we know why the city clerk office is being renovated, to include additional office no doubt for new assistant town clerk. This position no doubt is highly paid. Mr. Pender I assume this lastest addition to the city clerks office has your approval along with council. This is not true restraint. We expect more from you and council thats why you and council were elected. Did you forget? Why do we now require a assistant city clerk while this city is supposed to be cutting costs? The costs saved by freezing mayor and council wages and travel expenses are redirected to hiring additional staff in the Mayor's office. Strange way to achieve cost savings at city hall. I hope you are not up to your old ways. Lest we forget Mayor and council.

  • david
    January 01, 2014 - 10:41

    I wish you luck, Mr. Pender. I really do. But deeds are more revealing than rhetoric, and your unilateral, deceitful decision to build a new palace for your club, while the rest of the city dies and crumbles around you, is impossible to spin. Just a couple of weeks ago, you all voted to renovate chambers to "fix" incredibly minor issues that obviously arose out of planning & design incompetence. So give it a rest.....we really can't afford any more of your your 'leadership efforts'.

  • dave
    December 31, 2013 - 16:45

    the poll tax is NOT discriminatory!

  • SayWhat
    December 31, 2013 - 10:16

    Lets have an open and transparent Corner Brook City Hall. How about we start with the LEED Certification process? Tell the taxpayers of Corner Brook how much it cost to get a plaque and that includes consulting fees to tell you that the building better be non smoking or you don't get a plaque. As for the 110 million dollar loan for the mill, that's to cover the unfunded liability for the pension when Joe Kruger leaves town. The only way that mill will keep open is if the Goldman-Sachs prediction on the dollar holds true and it drops another 15 percent against the American dollar. Notice there's nothing about the new hospital, I guess you don't want to upset de facto premier Ross Reid. . As for attracting new business to the area, remember you are the Mayor of a city in one of the top five unemployed regions of the country. Fat chance of that improving. So are you telling Corner Brook taxpayers, the Alberta economy will soon no longer be the main private employer? By the way, the Pepsi Center is suppose to be a reflection of the community. I guess it was appropriate to be designated as a temporary dump during the holiday season.

  • John H.
    December 31, 2013 - 09:45

    Mayor Pender leading by example is a good concept however cell phones and travel is only a symbolic gesture for what's truly required at city hall. The tax payers elected you and the council to make effective changes in the administration of how city hall is run. City hall operations has to be downsized to reflect the size of our population. Taxation is way to high for the size of our city and must be curtailed. Taxpayers cannot meet the additional tax burden placed on them anymore. Where is the money coming from? Look within the city hall structure and find the money need.... Mayor Pender and council this is my expectation for a new start for city hall. Stop burdening us with taxation and new taxation such as water meters, and garbage tax. I personally have had. Chances are that I will move from this community if taxation levels are permitted to increase. What a shame to be driven from your community because of taxation.....

  • Jackie Barrett
    December 31, 2013 - 07:25

    Mayor Pender, if you want a new start for Corner Brook, the first step is stop lying to the people of this city. For starters, during your recent election campaign, you promised to get rid of a tax that discriminates against my disabled brothers and sisters, the Poll Tax, but you failed to deliver on that promise during the recent budget. Secondly, he has to start making an effort to ensure Corner Brook's infrastructure is reliable and good working order as the city experience many water outages this month. If Pender and Corner Brook City Council doesn't get their act in order and continue to fail to deliver on their election promises, not only will Corner Brook turn into the "Detroit of Newfoundland", but Pender will also proved to the city that he didn't learn from his mistakes. Besides, we need a leader with integrity, vision, and competence, not another Neville Greeley.

    • david
      January 01, 2014 - 10:57

      Detroit has a much higher chance of eventually turning around, whether automotive-driven or not. Corner Brook simply does not have any particular or obvious economic tools or advantages to exploit, let alone the ambition to do so. And if Detroit had a political spigot of oil royalty money coming its way for the next 20 years, it\s pretty certain they'd do more with it than we will. A walking trail in every yard!

  • Mark
    December 31, 2013 - 07:07

    The First thing he can do is fix up the bus service which is more hours and weekend service, in addition the online bus petition is https://www.facebook.com/groups/429493163766730/ if you want to join and support this cause.