O’Keefe drops the A-bomb

By Andrew Harvey

Amalgamation and regional cooperation has been on the back-burner of provincial and municipal politics for some time now, but at the November 16th St. John’s city council meeting, mayor Dennis O’Keefe and the gang turned up the heat. Council unanimously voted to conduct a feasibility study on establishing a toll booth on the currently under-construction extension of the Team Gushue highway—a road which would stretch from Kenmount Road to the Goulds. O’Keefe went as far as to say the toll would be for non-St. John’s residents.

This all has come from Mount Pearl’s refusal to share the maintenance costs on the new extension. But their decision isn’t much of a surprise, considering Mount Pearl also refused to share the cost of the construction of the highway in the first place.

Over the last few months, letters have been flying between O’Keefe and Mount Pearl mayor Randy Simms, with O’Keefe asking Simms to recognize the benefit to Mount Pearl in the highway, and to pay 25 per cent of the maintenance costs for the highway. He cited a study which estimated 35 to 50 per cent of traffic on the new highway would come from Mount Pearl residents. But despite any traffic relief Mount Pearl might experience from the extension, no part of the highway extension is actually in Mount Pearl.

Simms has maintained all along that the highway is provincial jurisdiction, and they want no part in it.

“Establishing the precedent whereby municipal governments accept responsibility for provincial obligations is not one that we can justifiably entertain,” mayor Simms wrote in one of his letters.

In order to get funding to construct the highway extension, St. John’s agreed to take ownership of the highway. This leaves city council—and St. John’s taxpayers—responsible for the maintenance of the highway. And it’s expected to run $712,000 a year.

Councilor Gerry Colbert may have said it best, though, when he said “from the get-go, the road should have been cost-shared” adding that, “They won. They got a road for nothing.”

My hope is that coming out of this David versus Goliath inter-city tiff, municipalities of the North-East Avalon and across the province learn not to take ownership of things they don’t want full responsibility over. Play nice.

7 comments

  1. Dan Harvey · February 23, 2011

    It’s good to see people with fresh new views paying attention to the local political scene.
    Well said, Andrew Harvey!

  2. Andrew Harvey · February 23, 2011

    Thanks Dad, and I agree. I think the more people who pay attention to Municipal (and all) Politics, the better off we will all be.

  3. BrianMallard · February 23, 2011

    Mr. Harvey “hits the nail on the head” on this issue. It seems to me the City of St. John’s, after the fact, informs Mount Pearl they are obligated to pay for a share of the costs when Mount Pearl said from the very beginning they would not participate. The fact St. John’s chose to do so is irrelevant to the issue at hand. It seems O’Keefe and cronies on council think they can bully Mount Pearl because they are “Big Bad” St. John’s after all. “We’ll push for amalgamation if you don’t play ball with us Mount Pearl”. Grow up Dennis. Threats hinder; they don’t work and we’ve been threatened by better than you…Andy Wells

    So they want to create toll booths? Go ahead. I’m all for it. It’s about time drivers paid a portion of the costs associated with highway maintenance. They had better place tolls on all other roads into St. John’s because this extension to Team Gushue Highway will see little traffic if drivers have alternate routes to take. I’m from Mount Pearl and I support Randy Simms on this issue. I am also in favour of toll booths. Happy, Dennis? By the way, the maintenance costs are substantially less than your figure as reported by the local media.

  4. The Ghost of Andy Wells · February 23, 2011

    Forced annexation of Paradise and Mount Pearl!! Tremble before mighty St. John’s, you freeloading quasi-urbanites.

  5. Peartree80 · February 23, 2011

    Well perhaps Mount Pearl will put up a toll both themselves so anyone living in the lavish gated community on the old sprung green house land will have to pay to get in and to get out…..perhaps they should fork out some dough to maintain commonwealth avenue.

    common this is ridiculous….I have an idea….lets just build a big wall on our borders like they did in Berlin.

    tit for tat leaves us all in shambles.

    Peartree80

  6. Amy · February 23, 2011

    Mount Pearl gets all the benefits of St. John’s without ever having to pay a cent. Why wouldn’t you live in Mount Pearl when it’s a 5 minute drive from the city and you pay way less taxes? I don’d even understand how Mount Pearl has city status without a hospital or a fire station. Oh wait, but you got cops now, so it must be legit.

    Time to stop milking off the townies. Join us or start paying for the services we provide. I’m sick of paying for your sewage, water, hospitals, roads, etc, etc, etc. Ugh Mount Pearl sucks! (Springfield vs. Shelbyville)

    But to be fair, Mayor Simms is way better than O’Keefe. Maybe if we amalgamate we can compromise and take your mayor.

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