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Corner Brook city council yet to pinpoint how skateboard park relocation work began without approval

Deputy Mayor Bill Griffin, left, and Mayor Jim Parsons prepare for the Corner Brook city council’s public meeting Monday night.
Deputy Mayor Bill Griffin, left, and Mayor Jim Parsons prepare for the Corner Brook city council’s public meeting Monday night.

How a private proponent mistakenly believed he had the go ahead to start work to relocate the skateboard park in downtown Corner Brook remains a mystery to city council.

Last week, work was halted on the relocation job started by city businessman Greg Penney, who had told The Western Star he was footing the bill to move the park on Commercial Street to the former B diamond softball field on Wellington Street.

Penney owns the building adjacent to the current skate park and wants the space to increase parking capacity. He said he had been given the green light by the city to start the move, but the municipality claims that’s not the case.

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Work to relocate Corner Brook skate park on hold until detailed plan worked out

The municipality wants a detailed plan from Penney and consultations with the public, including skate park users, before the project will be considered for final approval.

The issue was a last-minute addition to the public city council meeting held Monday night. No explanation of how Penney was given the impression he could proceed with the work was disclosed during the meeting.

After the meeting, Mayor Jim Parsons said council and staff have been going through all of the back-and-forth communication between Penney and the former city council to try to find out what went awry. Parsons said it seems as though this has been an item that’s been discussed since the spring of 2016, but the negotiations were not over.

The mayor said there was no written agreement, and technical issues with some emails being caught up in the city’s computer security system may have contributed to a miscommunication that Penney may have interpreted as permission to start the job.

“I do not believe Mr. Penney is acting in bad faith here at all,” said Parsons. “He is definitely interested in getting this done because he needs parking and we’re not interested in delaying him … as long as we meet our standard of informing council and getting the job done the right way.”

Coun. Linda Chaisson had the item added to the meeting’s agenda. She still wants to know on whose end the miscommunication lies.

“I’m still not 100 per cent sure how we went from ‘yes, we will be moving that skateboard park’ to actually laying the ground to start it last week,” she said.

She was frustrated there are still no answers.

“If it hadn’t been added to the agenda, it never would have been spoken about tonight,” she said.

Coun. Josh Carey said council is awaiting some answers regarding where the breakdown in communication occurred, and agreed the issue should have been fleshed out a bit more during the pubic meeting.

“The proponent perhaps jumped the gun a little bit and commenced a development that should not have commenced,” he said, adding that the park relocation project, if it does eventually get formal approval, will be done in accordance with all of the city’s rules and regulations.

Council approves new chalet development in industrial park area

Mayor Jim Parsons is applauding the efforts of City of Corner Brook staff to help get a new development approved as quickly as possible.

During Monday night’s public council meeting, council approved an application to construct six chalets near the former Family Adventure Park location on Lundrigan Drive.

The proposed project had only just passed its advertisement requirement for public comment this past Friday. If it wasn’t brought forth to Monday’s meeting, it may have taken until next month’s meeting to get council approval.

Instead, council had time to review the plan and to give the proponent the green light.

The proponent was not named during the meeting.

“It was a straightforward application, but that didn’t mean council didn’t have the opportunity to question it,” Parsons said after the meeting.

The development is in a location zoned as general industrial but commercial residential use is considered as discretionary, according to the city’s development regulations. No objections were received after the public advertisement.

Parsons expects the development will be a tourism-related undertaking featuring short-term rental accommodations that will likely target the snowmobiling and all-terrain vehicle markets.

While he campaigned on a platform of making the City of Corner Brook more business and development friendly, Parsons said this particular undertaking’s quick approval was not a specific directive from council to staff to fast track it.

Still, he said it was good to see a proponent being able to get to work on a project as quickly as possible and not be delayed waiting for council to meet publicly again.

“This one sort of landed in our lap, but I appreciate staff for bringing it forward,” he said.

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