Marys­town mayor dis­heart­ened by court rul­ing on Placentia Bay aquaculture pro­ject

Judge rules full en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact as­sess­ment must be com­pleted


MARYS­TOWN, NL - Marys­town Mayor Sam Sy­nard is dis­ap­pointed by a de­ci­sion passed down in the New­found­land and Labrador Supreme Court last week.

Jus­tice Gil­lian But­ler or­dered the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment to con­duct a full en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact state­ment (EIS) for Grieg NL’s pro­posed aquaculture pro­ject in Marys­town and Placentia Bay.

“We fig­ured by now, go­ing into Septem­ber, we’d see some real move­ment at the hatch­ery site,” said Sy­nard.

“In fact I thought you’d see con­struc­tion started in Septem­ber, to be quite hon­est. I just never thought that it would be slowed down once again by the most re­cent court de­ci­sion.”

The re­cent court de­ci­sion re­bukes one made by thenen­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter Perry Trimper, who gave the pro­ject the green light last sum­mer.

Sy­nard said he has spo­ken with many peo­ple through­out Placentia Bay who are in favour of the pro­ject.

“… and God knows we need the em­ploy­ment be­cause we haven’t re­ally had any mean­ing­ful em­ploy­ment since the Kiewit job fin­ished in 2015,” Sy­nard said.

Ac­cord­ing to Sy­nard, he has re­ceived many calls from peo­ple in­quir­ing about when the pro­ject will be­gin and who peo­ple should con­tact about ap­ply­ing for a job.

About six months ago the com­pany held a job fair in Marys­town that at­tracted up­wards of 1,500 re­sumes, Sy­nard said.

“So there’s cer­tainly a need for work in this part of the prov­ince,” he said.

Sy­nard said mem­bers of the lo­cal busi­ness com­mu­nity were also ex­cited by the op­por­tu­ni­ties the pro­ject could pro­vide. Other than the fluorspar mine in St. Lawrence, there’s not much hap­pen­ing and the econ­omy on the Burin Penin­sula is stag­nate, he said.

Sy­nard said the Town of Marys­town viewed the Grieg pro­ject as a done deal.

“The com­pany was cer­tainly mov­ing ahead in a pos­i­tive di­rec­tion. I think it cer­tainly caught ev­ery­one by sur­prise and (with) dis­ap­point­ment that it’s go­ing to be de­layed once again …,” the mayor said.

Sy­nard said he hopes that the de­ci­sion by the court will not lead Grieg to re­con­sider the lo­ca­tion for the pro­ject.

“I re­ally hope the com­pany in­tends to say here and keep in­vest­ing in Placentia Bay, and even­tu­ally build a world-class aquaculture pro­ject for us here,” he said.

As for the com­pany’s in­ten­tions mov­ing for­ward, Sy­nard said it is a ques­tion best left to them.

“What their in­ten­tions are now I don’t re­ally know,” he said.

“I know what their in­ten­tions were a cou­ple days ago, and that was to go full shelf here in Placentia Bay – in­vest a lot of pri­vate-sec­tor money and move this pro­ject for­ward …”

MHA re­mains hope­ful

Placentia West-Belle­vue MHA Mark Browne said the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment is cur­rently re­view­ing its le­gal op­tions.

Browne said he re­mains hope­ful the pro­ject will pro­ceed in Placentia Bay.

“I don’t see this as an im­ped­i­ment to the fu­ture of the pro­ject. I’m very hope­ful we will be in a po­si­tion that the pro­ject can pro­ceed, but the prov­ince needs to con­sider what the next steps are once (we) con­sider the le­gal op­tions avail­able to us.”

Brown said he re­mains fo­cused on at­tract­ing em­ploy­ment to the area that is sus­tain­able, both eco­nom­i­cally and en­vi­ron­men­tally, and be­lieves Grieg’s pro­ject fits both cat­e­gories.

While the news of the de­ci­sion has up­set some in the re­gion, Jen­nifer Picco of Come by Chance wel­comed the news.

“I’m very pleased with the de­ci­sion,” Picco told The South­ern Gazette through so­cial me­dia. “There needs to be ab­so­lutely no doubt as to the ef­fects of this pro­ject.”

Picco has spent 18 years work­ing in the fish­ery, eight of them as a fisher and another 10 as a field tech­ni­cian with the fish­ing in­dus­try.

“There are too many pos­si­ble risks/im­pacts to the en­vi­ron­ment and our fish re­sources with open pen farm­ing through es­capes, treat­ments for salmon lice,” she said.

Picco said she bases her opin­ion on the pro­ject from pub­lished data col­lected from other lo­ca­tions where the same type of method was used for farm­ing salmon.

“I would love to see the work this could gen­er­ate for the Burin Penin­sula, in fact I wel­come the work for the area, but not if it’s at the ex­pense of the en­vi­ron­ment or the re­source.”

Grieg’s pro­ject would in­clude the con­struc­tion of a land-based salmon hatch­ery in Marys­town and sev­eral marine-based farms in Placentia Bay.

Mayor Sam Sy­nard

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