The New Brunswick government has put forth a proposal that would see them take over operations at the Bas-Caraquet Naval Centre while also assuming responsibility for much-needed repairs and renovations.
Victor Boudreau, the Minister Responsible for the Regional Development Corporation, said joint provincial-federal funding for the project ceased last August when private sector funding wasn’t in place.
Now their proposal would see the New Brunswick government assume ownership of the facility and finish the original repairs, however they estimate an additional $10 million is required on top of what’s already been spent.
“The project went from a $10-million project to a $15-million project,” Boudreau said of the initial estimates. “There are overruns that happen on projects on occasion.”
Between the federal and provincial governments, just over $3 million is said to have been invested previously.
It’s estimated it will take another $10 million to finish the original repairs but a second phase which would see more renovations and repairs undertaken could cost another $28 million.
“If the federal government doesn’t participate, it’s conceivable that the tax payers of New Brunswick could be called upon to invest $38 million in that project,” Kirk MacDonald, MLA Fredericton-York said.
The Opposition says it was a bad investment then and it remains a bad investment now and thinks conditions are needed on the proposal.
“There should be an opportunity for the government to get a return on its investment so it can see the area thrive and see private sector investment come forward,” said Blaine Higgs, MLA for Quispamsis. “It should be built right into the contract, right into the business case.”
Boudreau says merit remains in the naval centre as a thriving port would create jobs, and that once in operation private investors will follow suit.
“There is no private sector investment in the port of Saint John, no private sector investment in our airports, no private sector investment in our highways,” Boudreau said. “Governments… have a responsibility to invest in basic infrastructure and then once the basic infrastructure is in place, the private sector can come.”
The province will now await a response from Ottawa on their proposal.