Always remember, people matter

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Good on Mike Alexander for speaking up to Finance Minister Charlene Johnson at pre-budget consultations in Stephenville this week on the effects a government decision made on people last year.

He was referring to the stress and damage to physical and mental health that people had to endure because of the announcement the West Coast Training Centre was closing in two days at the end of March last year.

An outcry from the community resulted in a three-month extension to the centre staying open but, as promised, the doors were locked in late June. Later the Town of Stephenville agreed to an offer from the provincial government to take ownership of the facility with a $515,000 payment from government for upgrades.

After that there was an agreement with the YMCA to operate the sport and recreation centre and renovations are now pretty well complete and equipment is being set up for an opening in the next while.

Alexander recognized this is a good thing, but his point to the finance minister was that people didn’t have to be put through the misery they were, with some having no place to turn to when the facility was closed.

During last year’s defence of closing the facility, Terry French, minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, said there were other facilities in the province that government was also going to divest itself of.

Those include the swimming pool in Corner Brook, the swimming pool in Gander and the recreation centre/swimming pool in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, facilities which government still operates. Alexander said if government is intent on removing itself of those facilities, he pleaded that it not treat the facility users and communities the same way Bay St. George was treated.

No matter how long a government is in power, elected officials still need to realize that people matter and that there are other ways to do things than just coming in and shutting down a place without prior notice to users and the community.

While he was addressing the consultations as a private citizen, Alexander is also well known in the town and area as a promoter of sport and recreation, with good knowledge of many of the things that took place in the West Coast Training Centre.

He made some very good points to the minister on the effects government’s decisions have on people when they make cuts and it’s good to see him expressing concern for other communities that may be affected if those promises are followed through.

No matter how long a government is in power, elected officials still need to realize that people matter and that there are other ways to do things than just coming in and shutting down a place without prior notice to users and the community.

That’s especially true when it’s a recreational facility that results in a positive influence on people’s lives, actually helping keep them out of the health care system — which represents the largest expenditure for government.

Organizations: YMCA

Geographic location: Stephenville, West Coast, Corner Brook Gander Happy Valley Goose Bay

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