Better days lie ahead for Bay de Verde
Work starts to rebuild fish plant; Quinlan Brothers eying spring 2017
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.”
Quinlan Brothers expects work to commence shortly in Bay de Verde to rebuild the company’s crab plant.