'We're close,' says new Happy Valley-Goose Bay mayor on deal for Spring Gulch water

The new mayor says the town hopes that a major announcement can be made very soon about bringing better water to the community.

Wally Andersen became mayor of Happy Valley-Goose Bay after 5-1 council vote Wednesday evening

Wally Andersen officially became mayor of Happy Valley-Goose Bay on Wednesday night after a vote by council. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

The new mayor of Happy Valley Goose Bay says the town hopes that a major announcement can be made very soon about bringing better water, which supplies 5 Wing Goose Bay base, to people who live in parts of town that rely mainly on a much-criticized municipal water supply. 

"We want to know exactly what it's going to cost us [and] where the money's going to come from," Wally Andersen told the CBC.

"Once we do that and get all the details worked out, then and only then will we make an announcement … We're close."

MP Yvonne Jones says the decision to provide the Valley with Spring Gulch Water is in the town's hands. (Katie Breen/CBC)

Last week Labrador MP Yvonne Jones said there is an opportunity for the town to use excess water from Spring Gulch. The additional water could cover the entire town, including Happy Valley-Goose Bay, except during times of peak demand on the base.

"Col. [Andrew] Wedgewood at 5 Wing Goose Bay has lifted the bar for the people in our town to look to get a lot more water from Spring Gulch. He's been outstanding," Andersen said.

Water in the valley part of town has been shown to have a higher concentration of cancer causing chemicals. It's also said to be harder and more corrosive.

"The quality isn't there," Deputy Mayor Bert Pomeroy said.

"People are not happy with it, and it's our job to make sure we provide the best quality water to everybody in our community."

Willing to pay more

Jones said the water would come at a cost, and in previous interviews Andersen has indicated it's not on council's radar to raise taxes — though some who live in the lower valley could pay to quench their thirst with Spring Gulch water.

"I don't drink the water that we have … I don't even give it to my dogs," a valley resident who lives on Adams Loop told CBC.

"I'd rather have clean drinking water, and pay a little bit more to be able to run water out of my tap and give it to my dogs and water my plants with it. I think it's a great idea and they should definitely go for it."

This photo of a full bathtub was posted to a community discussion board, showing water quality in Happy Valley-Goose Bay after an annual flushing of water lines. (CBC )

"I wouldn't want to speculate as to what will or what won't happen," Pomeroy said.

"What I can tell you is that we will provide the best quality service and the best quality water we can at the most affordable price."

Voted in by council

A restructuring of council was necessary after John Hickey who was elected mayor last fall died in a hunting accident in late December.

It's a lot of work that needs to be done.- Bert Pomeroy

Though a decision who would replace him was already made in a private meeting of council last week, it was made official Wednesday night. 

Council voted five to one to make Wally Andersen mayor for the remainder of the term, Coun. Jackie Compton Hobbs was the lone vote against.

"We've got the … budget that we've got to pass, we've got the health forum that's coming up and we've got the wellness centre," Andersen said.

"We've got a busy year ahead of us."

Bert Pomeroy was voted in as Deputy Mayor of Happy Valley-Goose Bay on Wednesday night. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

Council also voted four to two to put Bert Pomeroy in the deputy mayor's seat. Coun. Compton Hobbs and Coun. Lori Dyson voted against that decision.

"It's a lot of work that needs to be done," Pomeroy said. "I feel I'm up for the challenge."

About the Author

Jacob Barker

Videojournalist

Jacob Barker reports on Labrador for CBC News from Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

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