‘ There’ll be noth­ing like it’

Man be­hind pro­posed power cen­tre brim­ming with en­thu­si­asm

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY TERRY ROBERTS edi­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Get him started and Brad Roberts will talk for hours about his vi­sion for a pro­posed new com­mer­cial devel­op­ment just off Vet­eran’s Me­mo­rial High­way, near the Town of Spa­niard’s Bay-Tilton.

The busi­ness­man who made his name by in­stalling eave­stroughs on homes through­out east­ern New­found­land is so filled with ex­cite­ment and adren­a­line these days that his wife Tina some­times has to rein him in.

“ It’s hard to con­trol the anx­i­ety rush and the adren­a­line rush,” he ad­mit­ted last week dur­ing an in­ter­view at his Spa­niard’s Bay home.

Roberts is the man be­hind a new 240-acre devel­op­ment that, once up and run­ning, could change the busi­ness land­scape and shop­ping habits of the peo­ple in three bays - Con­cep­tion, Trin­ity and Pla­cen­tia.

And if he’s right, it may also mean the days of hav­ing to travel to St. John’s in or­der to avail of a va­ri­ety of ameni­ties and ser­vices may soon be com­ing to an end.

Roberts boasted there will be noth­ing like it in the prov­ince, say­ing it will be a com­bi­na­tion of the Sta­vanger Drive and Kelsey Drive power cen­tres in St. John’s, and Dono­van’s Busi­ness Park in Mount Pearl.

“ If you live in Blake­town, you’ve got a 20-minute run and you’re at a power cen­tre that of­fers ev­ery­thing Sta­vanger Drive has to of­fer,” Roberts said.

“And if you want to pick up ma­te­rial for your fab­ri­ca­tion busi­ness in Bull Arm, you can cut out an hour’s drive and come right here to this in­dus­trial park.”

The project has been two years in the mak­ing, and busi­nesses from across the coun­try are tak­ing no­tice, Roberts said.

Kent Home Im­prove­ment and Tim Hor­tons are the first two names to be men­tioned pub­licly, but many more are ready to sign on, he added.

“ You’ve got ‘em jump­ing all over this from as far away as Regina, On­tario and Nova Sco­tia,” Roberts said.

“In these two years we’ve man­aged to gain the con­fi­dence, not just from the pro­vin­cial bureau­cratic and po­lit­i­cal level, but also at the busi­ness level from ma­jor gro­cery, re­tail and in­dus­trial com­pa­nies out­side the prov­ince.”

“You’ve got ‘em jump­ing all over this from as far away as Regina, On­tario and

Nova Sco­tia.”

— Brad Roberts

So what about Wal-Mart, of­ten de­scribed as the world’s largest re­tailer? Wal-Mart has a lo­ca­tion at the Trin­ity-Con­cep­tion Square Mall in Car­bon­ear, and there’s been plenty of spec­u­la­tion about its fu­ture.

When pressed, Roberts would only say, “I’m not in the po­si­tion or at lib­erty to dis­cuss who I’m talk­ing to for 80 per cent of the ten­ants.”

Af­ter months of spec­u­la­tion, the lid blew off this story on July 16 when the Town of Spa­niard’s Bay is­sued a news re­lease, stat­ing that it had ap­proved the devel­op­ment of a “power cen­tre” within its bound­aries.

Mayor John Drover said the devel­op­ment would bring “eco­nomic pros­per­ity” to the en­tire re­gion.

Drover also an­nounced the town had en­tered into an agree­ment that will see wa­ter and sewer in­fra­struc­ture ex­tended to the site, but at no di­rect cost to tax­pay­ers.

Roberts ex­plained the deal: “ Their in­vest­ment is not an up­front cost for the town. The devel­op­ment will in­cur the cost, and the town will re­im­burse the devel­op­ment. It al­le­vi­ates any pres­sure on the tax base.”

The power cen­tre is a multi-mil­lion-dol­lar project that could cre­ate an es­ti­mated 2,000 jobs within 10 years, said Roberts.

It will be lo­cated on Crown land, near the in­ter­sec­tion of Vet­eran’s High­way (Route 70) and Route 73, on the Spa­niard’s Bay side of the high­way.

The site is forested and un­de­vel­oped, but Roberts ex­pects heavy equip­ment will roll in some­time next sum­mer. He said en­gi­neer­ing and de­sign work is cur­rently un­der­way.

He said the de­ci­sion for the lo­ca­tion is ob­vi­ous, since it’s in be­tween the pop­u­la­tion bases of the towns of Bay Roberts and Car­bon­ear, and will sit at the be­gin­ning of Route 73, which he de­scribed as a “ life­line” to the Trin­ity South re­gion and megapro­jects in Long Har­bour, Come By Chance and Bull Arm.

An es­ti­mated 45,000 peo­ple live within a short drive of the site, he added.

“ We meet ev­ery sin­gle piece of the cri­te­ria and then some for a devel­op­ment like this,” said Roberts.

And this is not just pie in the sky for Roberts. He truly be­lieves in the project, and has ev­ery con­fi­dence it will work. He called on area res­i­dents to sup­port the idea.

“ This is go­ing to mean ev­ery­thing for this area,” he said. “ We’ve al­ways been re­gional; this just takes it to a new level.”

Photo by Terry Roberts

Spa­niard’s Bay busi­ness­man Brad Roberts stands on the shoul­der of Route 70, near the site of a pro­posed new com­mer­cial and in­dus­trial devel­op­ment.

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