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