'Very interesting' year; Corner Brook’s mayor looking to future

Cory Hurley cory.hurley@tc.tc
Published on January 8, 2013

CORNER BROOK — Now in the final year of his current term as Corner Brook’s mayor, Neville Greeley still has a desire to lead the city beyond September’s election.

The mayor maintains he will run for a second term in the municipal general election slated for Sept. 29. He says council was able to fulfill most of the objectives it set out slightly more than three years ago for his first tenure at the helm.

“I am very happy with the way things have turned out,” Greeley told The Western Star on Monday. “We are moving the City of Corner Brook forward, and I would just like to stay on and work with council to continue that.”

In his annual address to the Kinsmen Club of Corner Brook, the mayor said the current council still has nine months to fulfill the obligations and commitment it set in 2009 to help shape the city’s future.

“The past four years have had challenges and rewards, and each member of council has had their own unique perspective,” he said. “Despite our differences, I know each member of council shared a common vision to make Corner Brook a prosperous and growing community and a great place to live, work, play and raise a family.”

Greeley said council has strived to maintain a stable footing financially, especially while facing the challenge of designing and constructing a new water treatment processing facility. Affordability was the major obstacle in the years leading to the recent start of the construction of the plant, and the design build model saved close to $15 million, he said. Work will continue on the project in 2013.

Final approval of the Integrated Municipal Sustainability Plan is expected this spring. It has been in the making for years and will help guide future councils in dealing with land use issues and development, as well as social, cultural and environmental factors.

 

Infrastructure needs

Corner Brook, a city of less than 20,000, has been facing major capital infrastructure needs, such as the water treatment facility and pending sewage treatment.

Over the next 18 months, the city will be monitoring one of its two main sewage outfalls. It will submit reports to the Department of Environment to help determine the actual treatment requirements and timelines to meet the federal regulations.

The city has also shifted its focus to water conservation — proactively working with local businesses and residents to ensure water is only used for essential purposes. The city negotiated a deal with Barry Group Inc. to realize major savings in water usage, according to Greeley, and is in discussions with Corner Brook Pulp and Paper to implement a leak reduction and usage agreement.

The mayor said the city’s financial position remains strong, with a net debt servicing ratio for 2012 forecasted to be below 13.5 per cent. That will enable investment towards the city’s share of capital costs, further reducing the city’s borrowing requirements, he said.

Greeley realizes the importance of growth initiated by private sector investment. He said council aims to create an environment allowing for and supporting economic development created by the private industry. He said there has also been significant interest from a number of investors to establish new businesses in the city.

 

Not suitable

During his address, Greeley referred to the potential of a Costco being established in Deer Lake. He said discussions with Costco were ongoing for several years in Corner Brook, but the company decided it was not the suitable market.

The city has received much criticism over the years for the lack of business development and attractions, something the mayor considers unjust.

“I think you have to temper your expectations,” he said. “It’s pointless for one business to come in if another business will close up.

“We are doing what we can as a city to make it attractive for businesses to want to move here. But businesses are only going to come here when they can come here and make a profit. That, sometimes, is totally out of our control.”

Greeley also told the Kinsmen members it has been a “very interesting” term of office. Often faced with tough decisions, sometimes unpopular ones, he said each one is well debated and researched.

“Our decisions have always been based on what we feel is the best decision for our constituents,” he said.