Bay Roberts waiting for its ships to come in
Town councillor hopes to attract new ventures to the town
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.
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.
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.
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.