Mount Pearl stands firm, won't chip in on highway maintenance

The mayor of Mount Pearl is defending the city's refusal to share the costs of maintaining the Team Gushue Highway extension.

Team Gushue extension agreement sets a dangerous precedent, Randy Simms argues

Mount Pearl defends its refusal to not pay a share of the maintenance costs for the Team Gushue extension, reports Carolyn Stokes 2:13

The mayor of Mount Pearl is defending the city's refusal to share the costs of maintaining the Team Gushue Highway extension that is now under construction.

St. John's has agreed to pay for part of the costs of maintaining the extension, which will make a quick connection between Kenmount Road and southern areas of the city and Mount Pearl.

Randy Simms says Mount Pearl appreciates the Team Gushue Highway extension, but should not have to pay for its upkeep. (CBC)

Mayor Randy Simms said the decision is not about shirking responsibilities, but refusing to take part in what he sees as a dangerous move that could cost council money it cannot afford.

"I think it sets a precedent from the perspective of downloading," Simms said.

Mount Pearl's decision has put the city at odds not only with St. John's — which will be footing the maintenance bill on its own — but also with the Newfoundland and Labrador government, which traditionally has promoted regional co-operation rather than entertaining notions of amalgamation between neighbouring municipalities.

"St. John's stepped up to the plate and said 'you build it, we'll take it over,' " Hedderson said during a tour earlier this week of the Team Gushue extension.

"It is about co-operation, because … you can't just talk about St. John's, you can't just talk about Mount Pearl, or Paradise or Torbay. This is all a region now."

Not about regional co-operation

Simms doesn't buy that argument.

"This wasn't a battle about regional cooperation," he told CBC News.

"This was a battle of reworking other people's responsibilities, and this would have been downloaded on us, and we said nope, we're not taking it."

It will take about two years for crews to complete the Team Gushue extension, which when finished will allow motorists to within minutes travel from the Goulds to Mount Scio.

Simms knows that many residents of Mount Pearl will use the road, but he said maintenance is a provincial responsibility.

"The road is needed, no question. The province has lived up to its responsibility, and we appreciate it, believe me," he said, adding that the agreement with St. John's on the extension could open other doors.

"[But] there's always the fear that at some point the provincial government will say, sure, if you're going to do that road, why not [include] Pitts Memorial Drive, why not do it to the Manuels Bridge, why don't we get C.B.S. to do the bypass?"