Bet­ter days lie ahead for Bay de Verde

Work starts to re­build fish plant; Quin­lan Brothers ey­ing spring 2017

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON TC ME­DIA

Mayor Ger­ard Mur­phy says it’s been a good cou­ple of weeks for Bay de Verde.

First, there was news of a mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar in­vest­ment from the Depart­ment of Fish­eries and Oceans in har­bour in­fras­truc­ture through the Small Crafts and Har­bours pro­gram. Then there was news of a fur­ther $1.5 mil­lion in­fras­truc­ture in­vest­ment tied to a joint fed­er­al­provin­cial an­nounce­ment on wa­ter and waste­water projects.

But per­haps the best news of all came last Wed­nes­day when Quin­lan Brothers con­firmed ac­tiv­ity would com­mence in the com­ing days to re­build the lo­cal fish plant. In April, the snow crab pro­cess­ing fa­cil­ity burned to the ground, leav­ing hun­dreds of work­ers in limbo.

“For a com­mu­nity of less than 400 peo­ple, it’s a lot of good news com­ing to­gether,” Mur­phy told The Com­pass Fri­day. “Things looked pretty bleak af­ter April 11 when the fire did oc­cur. How­ever, since that time things have re­ally re­bounded, and the com­mu­nity is buoy­ant. There’s go­ing to be a lot of ac­tiv­ity.”

Ac­cord­ing to a Quin­lan Brothers news re­lease, the plan now is for the plant to be back in busi­ness next spring. Mur­phy can­not stress how im­por­tant that is to the town and the Bay de Verde Penin­sula as a whole.

“Bay de Verde is a com­mu­nity where there are mil­lions of pounds of raw ma­te­rial in the form of seafood un­loaded, and the fa­cil­ity it­self … was em­ploy­ing ap­prox­i­mately 700 peo­ple,” he said. “To get that to a nor­mal sit­u­a­tion is in­deed good for the com­mu­nity and good for the area gen­er­ally.”

The com­pany has since se­lected Marco Group to lead the build­ing process, with an en­gi­neer­ing and de­sign team al­ready en­gaged in prepa­ra­tions for the project. The com­pany said geotech­ni­cal sur­veys and in­ground in­fras­truc­ture as­sess­ments have been com­pleted.

“We re­main con­fi­dent that with con­tin­ued com­mit­ment and sup­port we can fully re­cover from the loss,” the com­pany said in the re­lease.

Since the fire, Quin­lan Brothers has worked with other snow crab pro­duc­ers to en­sure har­vesters were not neg­a­tively im­pacted by the loss of the plant. The com­pany said in the re­lease plant work­ers who have found em­ploy­ment else­where will qual­ify for Em­ploy­ment In­surance ben­e­fits.

“That is good news in the sense that it could be a lot worse, be­cause the prod­uct could have gone ba­si­cally any­where to be pro­cessed, but in­stead the com­pany chose to se­lect two close sites and ar­range that the pro­cess­ing be done there by their work­ers,” said the mayor.

With so much con­struc­tion ac­tiv­ity ear­marked for Bay de Verde, Mur­phy ex­pects there will be some eco­nomic spinoff lo­cally.

Pro­vin­cial Fish­eries Min­is­ter and lo­cal MHA Steve Crocker was more than pleased with last week’s news about the plant.

“I’ve met with the com­pany on a reg­u­lar ba­sis,” Crocker said. “Re­ally good to know that they’re go­ing to re­build, and we’re go­ing to end up in Bay de Verde in all like­li­hood with the most mod­ern crab plant in the world.”

As­sess­ing the time­line set by Quin­lan Brothers to be ready for next spring, Crocker be­lieves the com­pany’s track record speaks for it­self.

“If you look at the track record of this com­pany since April 11 and what they’ve done for their em­ploy­ees, the way they’ve han­dled their busi­ness and then ex­e­cuted a crab sea­son without re­ally hav­ing a fa­cil­ity — yeah, I’m con­fi­dent that if there’s any­body that can do it, Quin­lan Brothers can do it.”

TC ME­DIA FILE PHOTO

Quin­lan Brothers ex­pects work to com­mence shortly in Bay de Verde to re­build the com­pany’s crab plant.

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