The past year in Deer Lake was a successful one, according to Mayor Dean Ball, and he foresees that good fortune continuing into 2018.
Housing starts may have been slightly down, but the mayor said he and council were happy to see the number of overall building permits was still on par with the previous year.
From what Ball said he has been hearing on the street, the town can expect another busy year for building permits.
The town was busy doing around $4 million of water and sewer upgrading and will be spending a little more than $2 million on similar infrastructure projects this coming year.
Here are five of the mayor’s top priorities for 2018, in no particular order:
1) Tourism. Taking fuller advantage of the tourism sector is always a goal for Deer Lake. The town’s strategic proximity to Deer Lake Regional Airport and the entrance to the Viking Trail automatically makes it a hub for travellers of all sorts. Ball feels there is more to do to maximize the economic spinoffs from sectors such as the snowmobiling industry. He said snowmobiling, as an economic generator, is one of the area’s best-kept secrets.
“I’m sure one of these days the province is going to see the value of this industry to this region,” he said. “For a lot of years, it’s been considered an up and coming tourism market and we’re still only just scratching the tip of the iceberg.”
2) Business park. Deer Lake is forging ahead with the expansion of its industrial park and hopes to see lots of activity in the area soon. The original business park along Wellon Drive is full and the plan to make more space available has been in the works for quite a while now. The town has roughly 70 acres available and is currently working on its first few deals, including selling off a pair of two-acre lots and one four-acre parcel.
3) Walking trails. The new walking trail extending from the Humber River to the airport is growing in popularity and Ball expects it to be a busy spot for cross-country skiers and snowshoeing this coming winter. The top priority for 2018 is to finish making the trail a loop so users don’t have to double back on the same trail.
“In the next five years, Deer Lake will be on the map for its walking trails,” he said.
4) Deer Lake beach. The sandy beaches of Deer Lake are undoubtedly one of its big attractions. Ball said efforts will continue this year to maintain and further enhance the beachfront and the Deer Lake Municipal Park campgrounds.
5) Infrastructure. Ball said work to upgrade water, sewer and street infrastructure is an annual top priority for the Town of Deer Lake. Among the goals for 2018 will be to continue efforts to remove the remaining lines that contain asbestos.
“That costs a lot of money, but it will take the forefront until we can get that all replaced,” said the mayor.