Nfld. & Labrador

Funds promised for Wabush rec centre never delivered, forcing closure, says mayor

Donation money for Wabush earlier this year never materialized, contributing to the town's dire financial state.

Money slated for donation from Labrador City, mining companies to Wabush never materialized

The Mike Adam Recreation Complex is located in Wabush, and the annual cost to operate it has become a source of tension between the town and its neighbour, Labrador City. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

A funding plan to keep the Mike Adam Recreational Complex in Wabush open last winter fell apart, leaving the town on the hook for the cash and leading council to decide on the facility's permanent closure, says the mayor.

"We had a contingent agreement in place for 2018, and that's fallen to the wayside," Wabush Mayor Ron Barron told CBC News Friday.

In February, Labrador City promised Wabush $115,000 to help cover the running costs of the complex after Wabush said it couldn't foot the bill alone. That money never materialized, Barron said.

Wabush Mayor Ron Barron says it's not fair to the rest of the town to worry about funding the rec centre every year. (CBC)

Wayne Button, Labrador City's mayor, declined to say why the town stopped offering to share the cost of running the facility, regularly used by residents of both towns.

"We were on the hook for that," Barron said. "Because they pulled their funding, other stakeholders followed suit."

Two companies, the Iron Ore Company of Canada and Tacora Resources, were also slated to grant Wabush a combined $350,000. "We had to take it out of capital works projects to make it up," Barron said.

Barron also did not elaborate on why Labrador City didn't follow through with its offer.

"This has been happening for decades. We've been taking away from the rest of our community … and just putting it into this facility.… We're not in a position to do that anymore," he said.

The facility, which includes a swimming pool, gymnasium and bowling lanes, costs about $1 million per year to operate — a feasible expense back when the mines were open, Barron said.

But now, without a permanent solution — and due to the ongoing funding feud between the two towns — the centre will close for good.

"There's no point in us getting together every year at this time to try to come up with a plan to move forward," Barron said, especially after funding partners reneged on their share this year.

"None of us are here trying to call a bluff," Barron said. "The reality is the town just cannot do this on its own anymore." 

With files from Here & Now

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