En­tre­pre­neur fac­ing road­blocks get­ting started with gran­ite busi­ness

Lo­cal busi­ness­man hav­ing trou­ble due to red tape

Advertiser (Grand Falls) - - Front Page - BY SA­MAN­THA GAR­DINER

Mark Brace, a young en­tre­pre­neur from Bishop’s Falls, be­lieves the pro­vin­cial govern­ment’s claims that it sup­ports bud­ding en­trepreneurs is less than sin­cere.

The 24-year-old ac­quired the rights to the gran­ite-pro­cess­ing quarry on Jumpers Brook near Bishop’s Falls in April 2017 and plans to start a busi­ness called Ocean Floor Gran­ite.

The busi­ness will pro­vide a rare type of gran­ite to a va­ri­ety of mar­kets around the world. The prod­uct is su­pe­rior and has no com­pe­ti­tion in the area, as it is the only quarry of its kind in At­lantic Canada, Brace told the Ad­ver­tiser.

Brace hoped to have busi­ness run­ning by Septem­ber, but that didn’t hap­pen thanks to some govern­ment red tape, he ex­plained.

He said he ac­quired the land through some­one who had been in the gran­ite busi­ness back in the ‘80s; how­ever, back then it ap­pears it was much eas­ier to start a busi­ness.

Brace needs to first ac­quire the min­eral rights to the prop­erty be­fore he can be­gin mov­ing for­ward, even though ev­ery­thing at the site is ready.

“It is easy to get the min­eral rights, but a min­eral lease is dif­fer­ent,” he said. “To get the min­eral lease, you would need (to hold) the min­eral rights for three years. Af­ter three years of test­ing rocks they (govern­ment) will then con­sider giv­ing out a min­eral lease. Also, a min­eral lease re­quires en­gi­neers in­volved and sur­veys, so this could add an ex­tra year to the process mak­ing it four years of wait time,” Brace ex­plained.

The De­part­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources noted it would be pleased to see Jumpers Brook restarted as a di­men­sion stone mine.

The de­part­ment has had dis­cus­sions with Brace and area MHA Jerry Dean, of­fer­ing ad­vice and as­sis­tance, ac­cord­ing to a re­sponse sent to the Ad­ver­tiser on be­half of Nat­u­ral Re­sources Min­is­ter Siob­hán Coady.

“At present, the area of in­ter­est to Mr. Brace is held by an­other per­son, whom is in good stand­ing. In other words, an­other per­son holds the min­eral li­cense rights and in ac­cor­dance with the Min­eral Act, is there­fore the holder of the prop­erty and min­er­als in ques­tion.

“Mr. Brace does have an agree­ment for sur­face rights to ac­cess and use the prop­erty. How­ever, this agree­ment does not pro­vide the right to ex­plore and mine the di­men­sion stone min­eral.”

In or­der for Brace to op­er­ate Jumpers Brook mine, he re­quires the min­eral li­cense, ac­cord­ing to the state­ment.

The road lead­ing into the quarry is also a con­cern.

Brace said the road was badly dam­aged by a hur­ri­cane and he be­lieves it’s govern­ment’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to fix it; how­ever, he said govern­ment isn’t do­ing any­thing about it.

The Ad­ver­tiser reached out to the De­part­ment of Fish­eries and Land Re­sources, which con­firmed the road is its re­spon­si­bil­ity. The de­part­ment is aware of re­pairs re­quired to this par­tic­u­lar road.

“We are cur­rently as­sess­ing the cost to re­pair the road,” the de­part­ment ex­plained in a state­ment sent to the Ad­ver­tiser. “Work con­ducted un­der the For­est Ac­cess Roads pro­gram is cur­rently ad­min­is­tered by the De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion and Works, and is pri­or­i­tized based on ap­proved five- and one-year for­est man­age­ment plans.

“Pri­or­ity is given to new, re­con­struc­tion, main­te­nance and struc­ture re­place­ment projects in sup­port of cur­rent com­mer­cial har­vest­ing ac­tiv­i­ties. The pro­gram bud­get is al­lo­cated for the cur­rent fis­cal year.”

Be­cause of the con­di­tion of the road, New­found­land light Power won’t go in to set up power for Brace.

Mean­while, van­dals been on his prop­erty, caus­ing dam­age re­quir­ing thou­sands of dol­lars’ worth of re­pairs, he said

Ac­cord­ing to Brace, New­found­land and Labrador is the only prov­ince in Canada with so much red tape sur­round­ing di­men­sion stone. He said in other prov­inces and in Labrador, a per­son only needs a quarry per­mit in or­der to pro­duce di­men­sion stone.

“New­found­land is the only place that has this pol­icy and not even Labrador has this red tape. I would like to see them change to the same as Labrador where you only need a quarry per­mit to do di­men­sion stone,” Brace said.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Mark Brace is ready to start pro­duc­ing di­men­sion stone but is hav­ing trou­ble get­ting through some red tape.

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