BISHOP’S FALLS, NL — The Advertiser recently caught up with Bishop’s Falls Mayor Bryan King to talk about his goals for the town for 2018.
What is your top municipal priority for 2018, and why?
I don’t know if there’s one real top priority that we’re looking to achieve, other than complete the amount of projects we already have in the works right now. We’ve already got a lot of things happening in 2018 that we got started in 2017.
We’re looking to do some asphalt work, so we’re going to be paving about a half a kilometer of asphalt – hopefully some more than that – but we’ve got half a kilometer of Main Street that’s going to be paved.
We’re looking to get our riverfront development started come early spring, We’re looking to get our Main Street enhancement project completed and started in 2018.
Our water tower, we’re going to be replacing that in 2018, and our Riverside Drive boardwalk – we’re going to complete that in 2018.
We’ve got a lot on the go right now, so our goal is to start and finish all of those projects and if we can do that in 2018, I’ll call it a successful 2018.
One of the big things that we want to do as a council is clean up our community and we’ve got that process started now and we’re going to continue through to 2018. We’re really going to be coming down on residential and commercial properties that aren’t compliant with our anti-litter regulations, be it from scrap vehicles, etc. to get those gardens and commercial properties cleaned up.
What are some challenges Bishop’s Falls is facing in 2018? Is there a plan in place to address possible difficulties?
There are always challenges, no doubt about it. One of our big issues that we have is compliance, and that’s when it comes down to our municipal rules and regulations. Unfortunately, we don’t have a municipal enforcement agency in town – a lot of it is done by staff. We’re looking at how we can address that and there are a couple of avenues that we’re looking at. We’re looking at trying to increase our enforcement authority, so our municipal bylaws are taken more seriously and adhered to a lot more than they are right now.
It’s that and budgetary, like every municipality, within the province and the country. We’re feeling the finical restraints from the economy – we’re no different than anybody else, so it’s budgetary.
We’ve really got a tight budget this year and we’re going to have it for at least the next two years, because this year is when our full payment is now starting to come into effect for our sewage treatment plant, and now the repayment process is starting this year on that.
By adding that to our budget line items this year and next year, in addition to some other loans that we have right now which are due to retire in a couple of years, we’ve got a tough couple of years coming up financially. If we get through these okay, we’ll have a couple more loans paid off, so the hit of the sewage treatment plant won’t be as cumbersome as it is right now.
What is one thing the provincial government could do or change that could help municipalities do better in the future?
I’d like to see them bring back what they took away this year, which was the provincial/municipal cost-share agreement for a lot of capital works projects and different projects where a town of Bishop’s Falls’ size – we’d qualify under the 70/30 cost share agreement.
Whereas that was taken away in some aspects of different projects, so right now that’s gone; the asphalt work that we do right now, it’s now 50/50 whereas before it was 70/30. Right now, we have to pay 50 per cent of the cost of the overall project compared to 30 per cent. That has really taken away maybe some projects we’d like to get done that right now, due to our financial situation, we probably got to scale back until the next year or the year after. I’d like to see them bring back that formula.
As a newly elected mayor what are some of the things you’ve learned since being elected?
I learned it’s busy – and I thought it was going to be, but it’s busy and I’ve chosen to sit on every committee that council has. I really want to be engaged to what all committees are doing. Not that I’m hands-on as such, because committees have their own chairs. I just want to at least sit in and listen and be somewhat vocal as to what committees are doing and what I can do to help out.
When it comes to being involved with different community groups that are sending out invitations to you to be a part of things that they have on the go – it’s busy.
I had half a clue of what I was getting into anyway. Other than just the amount of time that’s required, all in all its been going very good actually, I’m really enjoying it.