Bay Roberts wait­ing for its ships to come in

Town coun­cil­lor hopes to at­tract new ven­tures to the town

The Compass - - PORTHTE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

Hav­ing a vi­sion al­lows some­one to see be­yond what is in front of them, to look be­yond the larger than life salt ships and the small docks that dot the shore­line around Bay Roberts har­bour.

For Bay Roberts coun­cil­lor Clarence Mercer, this hap­pens when he looks through the win­dow over look­ing the banks and into the har­bour mouth from his Water Street home.

Mercer has a short-term vi­sion for the har­bour.

A vi­sion that in­volves the smaller cruise ships as­so­ci­ated with the Ad­ven­ture Cruise line.

Bay Roberts is a mem­ber of the Cruise As­so­ci­a­tion of New­found­land and Labrador (CANAL).

The Ad­ven­ture Cruise line would bring in the de­cid­edly smaller ships with fewer pas­sen­gers to the CBN port.

“They, now, are do­ing reg­u­lar tours of the is­land and head­ing north to the Labrador,” said Mercer. “More and more, these ships with prob­a­bly 500-600 peo­ple are stop­ping at dif­fer­ent ports around the prov­ince and hav­ing a day or so where they ex­pe­ri­ence the cul­ture and the var­i­ous things those com­mu­ni­ties have to of­fer.”

With that in mind, he started think­ing, “why not us?”

Mercer be­lieves pur­su­ing Ad­ven­ture Cruise “makes sense” for the town, and there is “a po­ten­tial for de­vel­op­ment.”

Bay Roberts has al­ready many of the ameni­ties to at­tract a smaller cruise ship.

“We have a food dis­tri­bu­tion cen­tre in the town,” said Mercer.

He also points to the dis­tance be­tween Bay Roberts and the prov­ince’s only fuel re­fin­ery Come by Chance as an­other rea­son the part­ner­ship could work be­tween the two parites.

“We are closer to the re­fin­ery than St. John’s,” Mercer noted.

Work­ing to­gether

Mercer is look­ing to have a pro­gram de­vel­oped for the time when cruise ships are travers­ing Bay Roberts wa­ters.

He noted the area is rich in his­tory and he would love to see the de­vel­op­ment of a pro­gram in “co-op­er­a­tion with other towns.”

This would in­clude tours of not only Bay Roberts and its his­tor­i­cal land­marks, but also neigh­bour­ing com­mu­ni­ties like Bri­gus, Cupids and Spa­niard’s Bay.

“We have to re­al­ize that we can­not oper­ate in a vac­uum,” said Mercer.

Coun­cil sup­port

Mercer said Bay Roberts town coun­cil has been sup­port­ive of the idea of bring­ing cruise ships into the har­bour.

“Coun­cil sees the need to move in the di­rec­tion that I am sug­gest­ing,” he said.

Mercer would like to see a vi­a­bil­ity study done re­gard­ing the har­bour and the pos­si­bil­ity of bring­ing this in­dus­try to the town and to “do some­thing con­struc­tive about it.

“We’ve had our ear to the ground for the past six years now, and we haven’t made any moves in the di­rec­tion I think we should be go­ing,” he said.

Dur­ing the Nov. 29 coun­cil meet­ing, Mercer tabled a re­port to coun­cil re­gard­ing his find­ings at the most re­cent CANAL con­fer­ence held in St. John’s.

“I just wanted to put a bug in the ear of coun­cil­lors, to the ef­fect of, “hey, this is some­thing we should be pur­su­ing,’” he said. Per­mis­sion to study Cur­rently, Mercer said his com­mit­tee has gained ap­proval from coun­cil to look at con­duct­ing a har­bour de­vel­op­ment study in the fu­ture.

“We’re work­ing to set up that study right now,” he said.

The study would look at all aspects of the Bay Roberts har­bour, what is there and what the town can do to im­prove it, as well as what in­fra­struc­ture is needed.

“We are ac­tively pur­su­ing a di­rec­tion that would al­low us to make a de­ter­mi­na­tion on whether or not this is a vi­able op­tion for the Town of Bay Roberts,” said Mercer.

Mercer was quick to point out that Bay Roberts does “not have the in­fra­struc­ture to han­dle cruise ships right now.”

The town is cur­rently work­ing with govern­ment to­ward a start date for the study.

Pos­si­ble di­rec­tions

Mercer ac­knowl­edged that there is more than one di­rec­tion the town can move in, with re­gards to the har­bour.

For ex­am­ple, he said they have been con­tacted about the pos­si­bil­ity of a div­ing com­pany com­ing to con­duct train­ing out of Bay Roberts.

“We are look­ing at pos­si­bil­i­ties for the har­bour, whether it is tourism re­lated ini­tia­tives, in­dus­trial ini­tia­tives, we’re look­ing at all pos­si­bil­i­ties,” said Mercer.

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