By MATTHEW MOLLOY
FOR THE SOU’WESTER
Transcontinental Media/The Coaster
Four Coast of Bays, N.L. communities will see four new wharves sometime in the future thanks to $10 million from the provincial and federal governments.
This year's budget committed $1 million for infrastructure on this part of the island, with a total provincial commitment of $5 million over two years. However, the federal government matched the $5 million, upping the total to $10 million, which will cover the cost of new wharves in Hermitage, Harbour Breton, Belleoram and Pool's Cove.
While speaking in the House of Assembly, the provincial Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture said the level of aquaculture industry production in this province has doubled over the last four years. This has necessitated the need for more infrastructure to support a fast growing industry. "I am pleased to announce today that my department is delivering on our commitment to provide for more aquaculture infrastructure on the south coast of the province," said Tom Hedderson.
Tracey Perry, MHA for Fortune Bay-Cape La Hune, was thrilled to hear the announcement and added that while she was with the Coast of Bays Corporation, they lobbied constantly to get such infrastructure. "It was great news to see this happen," she said.
Perry said she wasn't surprised that the federal government matched the provincial government's commitment of $5 million. The total amount of $10 million over two years will be strictly used for inflow wharves to address bio-security needs of the aquaculture industry.
The tender for the Hermitage wharf has been called and Perry expects the others to follow suit shortly. She is also hopeful that everything will be completed by next summer. Not only that, but she said there should be job opportunities when the wharves are being constructed. "We should see some employment generated in the construction of these wharves over the course of this summer and next summer as well," said Perry.
Although nothing was officially announced for Milltown, Perry said another announcement should be made sometime in the future to help the wharf situation in that town. However, Perry said more work has to be done before anything is made official. "Milltown has been identified as a very high priority," said Perry. "We're trying to resolve an ownership issue with Transport Canada and once we're able to work through that hurdle, work in Milltown will happen as well. "We're not sure if it's going to be a brand new facility or an upgrade to the wharf that's there now," she added. "Transport Canada has decommissioned that wharf...but there will be a clean inflow wharf in the bay d'Espoir area."
Now that the wharf situation is clearly being taken care of, Perry is already looking at ways to continue helping the aquaculture industry. The fish health diagnostic facility is going to tender in June and construction should begin this summer. She also said that feed storage facilities are other huge pieces that are aquaculture industry specific. "We're also looking at working with municipalities to upgrade municipal infrastructure, like water and sewer systems, and roads," said the MHA. "Our district needs a substantial investment of multi millions of dollars. That's why I'm here - to continue plugging away to try and expedite the process as much as possible."
Perry feels very confident in saying the provincial government strongly supports the aquaculture industry. She said they recognize the potential it has to revitalize rural Newfoundland and Labrador, they recognize the impact it has on job creation and is able to sustain our population and create opportunities for young and old alike.
Judy Foote, MP for Random-Burin-St. George's, also chimed in on the wharf announcement. The new MP issued a statement regarding the announcement as it pertains to the town of Belleoram. "The construction of this new wharf will generate short and long term economic benefits," said Foote. "The project will result in employment opportunities and revenue for the community and surrounding area. It will also provide more room for fishing and recreational boating. It is a development that is designed to facilitate economic sustainability and prosperity for the region."
By MATTHEW MOLLOY