CLARENVILLE, N.L. — Bonavista-Burin-Trinity MP Churence Rogers says he’s been acclimating to his new position, both in the district and in Ottawa, since his election this past December.
The Liberal MP was the guest speaker at the weekly Rotary luncheon on Monday, May 14.
Rogers told those in attendance the geography of the district has been a challenge, establishing offices in Clarenville, Grand Bank and Centreville-Wareham-Trinity.
He adds the biggest challenge during his time in office was dealing with the federal government’s controversial decision on surf clams and how it affects Grand Bank. In February, the government introduced a new First Nations collective license with a quarter of the quota in the area.
He also touched on the summer jobs funding issue as well.
In addition, he looks forward to lobbying for more funds for the communities of his district.
Clarenville Councillor Paul Tilley asked a couple of questions about the federal government’s involvement in local issues.
First, he wondered if the federal government would be offering assistance regarding the recent closure of the Shoal Harbour Causeway bridge. The town has recently stated they do not have the funds required to replace the bridge by themselves.
Rogers says it’s a provincial responsibility, with the federal government providing hundreds of millions of dollars to the province to be allocated for infrastructure development.
However, Rogers says he talked to the provincial minister of Transportation and Works, Steve Crocker, and Terra Nova MHA Colin Holloway.
“If there was some support we could provide as feds and he needed to get in contact with me, he certainly could,” said Rogers. “Unfortunately, that’s just the process and that’s the way it is.”
Regarding wastewater management, with the federal government requiring towns to introduce treatment options for high-risk outflows by 2020, Rogers says this issue is a challenge.
Having been a mayor and on the Federation of Canadian Municipalities prior to his election as MP, Rogers says he’s quite familiar with it and actually lobbied for a special pot of money for wastewater improvements.
Now, Rogers says the Liberal government has allocated $180 billion for infrastructure redevelopment over 10 years, besides regular programming. But he also adds that they’ve looked at possibilities with the small communities fund, and municipal gas tax funding.
“Whether or not they’re going to do anything about wastewater technology in terms of some additional funding, I couldn’t say,” he noted. “The lobby is there.”
Rogers adds municipalities will start seeing proposals from technology groups, referencing the natural method used in Appleton — Abidas.
“I’m starting to see technology where the prices are coming down,” says Rogers. “They know there’s a lot of money to be had in waste management and companies are jumping in with international companies.
“So hopefully we’ll see those prices come down and that will make it achievable with gas tax, by purchasing the technology and financing over 25 years (with provincial contributions).”