Park designation threatened?

Rob Antle
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UNESCO action highlights concern for Gros Morne

UNESCO recently pulled World Heritage Site status from the Dresden Elbe Valley in Germany, highlighting the possibility of the same thing happening here if transmission lines are run through Gros Morne National Park.

The United Nations agency removed Dresden from the World Heritage List last week for building a four-lane bridge "in the heart of the cultural landscape," a UNESCO news release noted.

- Photo by JupiterImages

UNESCO recently pulled World Heritage Site status from the Dresden Elbe Valley in Germany, highlighting the possibility of the same thing happening here if transmission lines are run through Gros Morne National Park.

The United Nations agency removed Dresden from the World Heritage List last week for building a four-lane bridge "in the heart of the cultural landscape," a UNESCO news release noted.

UNESCO said Dresden is only the second property ever to have been removed from the list.

Crown-owned Nalcor Energy unveiled plans earlier this year to run transmission lines for the proposed Lower Churchill project through Gros Morne.

The proposal would include a series of 40-plus-metre-high transmission towers through more than 60 kilometres of the park.

There is an alternative route around the park, but it is considered more expensive and more difficult from a technical standpoint.

The Gros Morne transmission plan generated opposition from environmental and tourism groups, along with Parks Canada, which must approve the project.

In February, Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador (HNL) chairman Bruce Sparkes first raised the spectre of Gros Morne losing its spot on the United Nations list.

"It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it's been suggested that if you put this corridor down through it, it (may) lose the designation," he says.

"We believe Parks Canada is correct in opposing this."

He said, at the time, that HNL supports the Lower Churchill project but not the Gros Morne transmission route.

HNL officials declined comment this week. And Parks Canada, which oversees Gros Morne, did not return a Telegram message before deadline.

Provincial government tourism materials prominently tout Gros Morne's UNESCO status.

It was named to the World Heritage Site list in 1987.

The Department of Tourism steered Telegram inquiries to Natural Resources Minister Kathy Dunderdale.

Dunderdale wasn't available for an interview, and the department did not forward a statement, as planned, before deadline.

The environmental review process for Nalcor's Lower Churchill proposal is ongoing, and is expected to be completed in 2010.

Meanwhile, the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported that Dresden's UNESCO delisting sparked concerns that the loss could hurt tourism and downgrade the city's reputation as a cultural icon.

Dresden's citizens twice voted in favour of the bridge, Deutsche Welle reported, with the issue sparking bitter debate among citizens.

rantle@thetelegram.com

Organizations: UNESCO, United Nations, Parks Canada Nalcor Energy

Geographic location: Germany, Gros Morne National Park

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Recent comments

  • J
    July 02, 2010 - 13:35

    I have been a strong supporter of Williams and his government. It is true however that Danny has not been able to stem the blood loss from the small towns and communities in this province. Like a lot of Newfoundlanders I have been understanding of the fact that the major setbacks in the forest and fishing industries are largely beyond his control. The fishing industry in particular owes much of its demise to the negligence and indifference of the national government. It would be unreasonable therefore to expect that a provincial government with meagre resources can repair that damage while the feds stand by with their fingers in their ears. But the tourism industry is very much within the province's ability to influence as are such issues as the routing of grotesque transmission lines through one of the world's finest parklands. I would gladly join others in the streets to protest such a foolish plan if I thought for one minute that government was serious about ruining this valuable scenic resource. Like others, I have been waiting for Danny to distance himself from this Martin-NALCOR madness. The day it becomes apparent that government is hell-bent on ramming this monstrosity through Gros Morne is the day I not only abandon the Williams government but the day I begin work on an anybody but Danny campaign in this province. I genuinely hope it doesn't come to that.

  • Nasty
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    VP, where have you been with these comments? especially well paying resource industries like mining, forestry, sealing, hydro, etc

    Lets see - resource industries like mining, forestry, sealing. I guess you never read the memo, those industries are dead in this province. Only thing on your list is Hydro, and thats so controlled by Danny Williams little ventre NALCOR that only his close friends can benefit from it.

    So I guess we really have nothing but our UNESCO sites to draw people to the province and earn a few extra dollars for bread and clean water to stay alive.

  • isdaby
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    All these environemental issues are being looked at from the wrong end. What we have is a population problem. 60 years ago when I was born the earth had 2.5 B people. Today we have 6.7 B. We have to get our population under control. Go back to 3 B & we dont have a problem. Let her go to 10 B & the earth is unstainable. Forget about co2 emissions etc. etc. CONTROL POPULATION.

  • Liam
    July 02, 2010 - 13:29

    Putting a road/bridge that's four lanes through a parkland does a lot more damage to the natural surroundings than a transmission line right-of-way. A four lane bridge is going to cause a lot of traffic and human impact on the surrounding environment, both during construction and operation. A transmission line's negative effects are far more skewed toward construction than operation.

  • Lloyd
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it's been suggested that if you put this corridor down through it, it (may) lose the designation, he says.
    We believe Parks Canada is correct in opposing this.
    He said, at the time, that HNL supports the Lower Churchill project but not the Gros Morne transmission route. Unquote

    Questions: What is more important, really, to lose the designation or the environmental damage? What about the hundreds of km of transmission line (in Labrador) from 'the project' to the straits crossing area? How could such a group 'supports the Lower Churchill project' and has no problem with the environmental problems and the cultural heritage of the Labradorians, including the Innu on the same basis but who lived on the project site for millenia? How come any person is more concerned with the status of a park than the simple fact that there are no long term benefits to the people who live in Labrador and in the immediate adjacency of 'the project'?

  • Frankie
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    Lets face it ... Tourism as a globally viable industry is on the wane ... Travel/Tourism depends upon affordable transportation, which is in large part tied to the price of crude oil ... in the very near future, the cheap travel will non-existant and Tourism as we now know it will cease to exist ... and then, whether or not Grose Morne N.P. carries a UNESCO World Heritage Designation will be totally irrelevant from an economic point of view ...

  • intheory
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    Well i'm sure things will go off the deep end as always..however be aware of somethings...

    Outlying areas have complained for some time about dwindling populations, so the Lower Churchill Project will in no way impact population on a negative impact.

    This story and the proposal to put transmission through the GMNP has one distinct difference..

    THERE IS ALREADY A TRANSMISSION LINE AND A HIGHWAY GOING THROUGH THE GROSS MORNE PARK..

    Please tell me we are smarter then the rest of canada gives us credit for and that we don't try to compare these 2 situations. From the article, the Dresden Elbe Valley in German just built the highway and bridge, however, we have had a transmission line and highway through Grose Morne for along time. no one complains when they can drive through the park or receive power on the transmission line already in existance.

  • G
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    I hope the government and Nalcor will learn from Germany!!! The lines may cost less now to install, but will cost us a lot more if Gros Morne loses this designation!! Please use the alternate route for the transmission lines! Use your heads, think about the future, not just the here and now!

  • VP
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    The minimum wage tourist/environmental racket cannot peacefully co-exist with any other industry, especially well paying resource industries like mining, forestry, sealing, hydro, etc.

  • David
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    Tom from Terra Nova: I guess that would make you an electric socket hugger....I'd like to see that. Really.

    Is there anything beyond the overpass that even registers as a concern or a priority with this government? Anything at all? Just tell us, and we'll all move to the Avalon and get this farce over and done with.

  • tom
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    oh well this should bring out the tree huggers . they have one planted in the telegram writing articles to wake them up. i guess save the seal people will be having their 2 cents worth to say.

  • amazed
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    Sure the government can fix this easily, just photoshop the transmission lines out of the new tourist ads when new ones are printed, the photoshopping in the current NL/Lab ads is abundant. :)

  • kris
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    Ironically they don't allow clothes lines up in the posh end of St. John's because it looks unsightly but they are okay with this! I'm sure another solution can be had to this destruction of a natural. Money never seems to be a issue if something is really wanted so just spend the extra cash you bunch of enviroments money grubbers.

  • Brian
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    While I'm still a mild supporter of Premier Williams, all his government's misteps of the past year is making it harder and harder for me to give him the benefit of doubt. If he insists on a transmission line through Gros Morne or don't soon make a public statement against it, I think Mr. Willimas will have met his match and the days of the teflon premier will be numbered.

  • Richard
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    Gros Morne, and its international reputation support the only viable industry left on the Northern peninsula. Any Lower Churchill development will have zero meaningful economic impact to those communities who depend on the Park for their survival. As Williams as already clearly illustrated to the people of Grand Falls, hydro in this province belongs to the Townies, and to Danny's friends who sit on the board of the secretive NALCOR board.

    The communities of Woody Point, Rocky Harbour, Cow Head and several others have survived in spite of all efforts by East Coast politicians to take their livelihoods away. NALCOR does not represent or serve the interest of real Newfoundlanders.

  • Dump
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    If we want to keep the status then be strone enough to use the alternate. There is an alternative route around the park, but it is considered more expensive and more difficult from a technical standpoint.
    Nothing and no nmaoney should stnad in the way of keeping out parks' status
    Easy solution

  • David
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    Liam:

    Thanks for that. I guess I couldn't find the master list of acceptable infrastructure projects in wilderness areas. Perhaps you could reproduce youer own list, in order of acceptability. Thanks in advance, much appreciated.

  • Pfft
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    Way to go NALCOR. Seems like King Danny doing as he pleases will cost more in the long run. But then again who cares as long as Danny has made a bundle off of the same thing he refuses to permit the other residents of the province from doing.

    Double standards are great!

  • isdaby
    July 02, 2010 - 13:08

    Just returned from a trip to Ny area. Power lines everywhere. Sign of prosperity. However you would be surprised how much green you see. How about we planted the tallest bushiest trees we could get to grow in nl along by the line. Would that solve the problem?

  • J
    July 01, 2010 - 20:25

    I have been a strong supporter of Williams and his government. It is true however that Danny has not been able to stem the blood loss from the small towns and communities in this province. Like a lot of Newfoundlanders I have been understanding of the fact that the major setbacks in the forest and fishing industries are largely beyond his control. The fishing industry in particular owes much of its demise to the negligence and indifference of the national government. It would be unreasonable therefore to expect that a provincial government with meagre resources can repair that damage while the feds stand by with their fingers in their ears. But the tourism industry is very much within the province's ability to influence as are such issues as the routing of grotesque transmission lines through one of the world's finest parklands. I would gladly join others in the streets to protest such a foolish plan if I thought for one minute that government was serious about ruining this valuable scenic resource. Like others, I have been waiting for Danny to distance himself from this Martin-NALCOR madness. The day it becomes apparent that government is hell-bent on ramming this monstrosity through Gros Morne is the day I not only abandon the Williams government but the day I begin work on an anybody but Danny campaign in this province. I genuinely hope it doesn't come to that.

  • Nasty
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    VP, where have you been with these comments? especially well paying resource industries like mining, forestry, sealing, hydro, etc

    Lets see - resource industries like mining, forestry, sealing. I guess you never read the memo, those industries are dead in this province. Only thing on your list is Hydro, and thats so controlled by Danny Williams little ventre NALCOR that only his close friends can benefit from it.

    So I guess we really have nothing but our UNESCO sites to draw people to the province and earn a few extra dollars for bread and clean water to stay alive.

  • isdaby
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    All these environemental issues are being looked at from the wrong end. What we have is a population problem. 60 years ago when I was born the earth had 2.5 B people. Today we have 6.7 B. We have to get our population under control. Go back to 3 B & we dont have a problem. Let her go to 10 B & the earth is unstainable. Forget about co2 emissions etc. etc. CONTROL POPULATION.

  • Liam
    July 01, 2010 - 20:17

    Putting a road/bridge that's four lanes through a parkland does a lot more damage to the natural surroundings than a transmission line right-of-way. A four lane bridge is going to cause a lot of traffic and human impact on the surrounding environment, both during construction and operation. A transmission line's negative effects are far more skewed toward construction than operation.

  • Lloyd
    July 01, 2010 - 20:11

    It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it's been suggested that if you put this corridor down through it, it (may) lose the designation, he says.
    We believe Parks Canada is correct in opposing this.
    He said, at the time, that HNL supports the Lower Churchill project but not the Gros Morne transmission route. Unquote

    Questions: What is more important, really, to lose the designation or the environmental damage? What about the hundreds of km of transmission line (in Labrador) from 'the project' to the straits crossing area? How could such a group 'supports the Lower Churchill project' and has no problem with the environmental problems and the cultural heritage of the Labradorians, including the Innu on the same basis but who lived on the project site for millenia? How come any person is more concerned with the status of a park than the simple fact that there are no long term benefits to the people who live in Labrador and in the immediate adjacency of 'the project'?

  • Frankie
    July 01, 2010 - 20:11

    Lets face it ... Tourism as a globally viable industry is on the wane ... Travel/Tourism depends upon affordable transportation, which is in large part tied to the price of crude oil ... in the very near future, the cheap travel will non-existant and Tourism as we now know it will cease to exist ... and then, whether or not Grose Morne N.P. carries a UNESCO World Heritage Designation will be totally irrelevant from an economic point of view ...

  • intheory
    July 01, 2010 - 20:08

    Well i'm sure things will go off the deep end as always..however be aware of somethings...

    Outlying areas have complained for some time about dwindling populations, so the Lower Churchill Project will in no way impact population on a negative impact.

    This story and the proposal to put transmission through the GMNP has one distinct difference..

    THERE IS ALREADY A TRANSMISSION LINE AND A HIGHWAY GOING THROUGH THE GROSS MORNE PARK..

    Please tell me we are smarter then the rest of canada gives us credit for and that we don't try to compare these 2 situations. From the article, the Dresden Elbe Valley in German just built the highway and bridge, however, we have had a transmission line and highway through Grose Morne for along time. no one complains when they can drive through the park or receive power on the transmission line already in existance.

  • G
    July 01, 2010 - 20:00

    I hope the government and Nalcor will learn from Germany!!! The lines may cost less now to install, but will cost us a lot more if Gros Morne loses this designation!! Please use the alternate route for the transmission lines! Use your heads, think about the future, not just the here and now!

  • VP
    July 01, 2010 - 20:00

    The minimum wage tourist/environmental racket cannot peacefully co-exist with any other industry, especially well paying resource industries like mining, forestry, sealing, hydro, etc.

  • David
    July 01, 2010 - 19:59

    Tom from Terra Nova: I guess that would make you an electric socket hugger....I'd like to see that. Really.

    Is there anything beyond the overpass that even registers as a concern or a priority with this government? Anything at all? Just tell us, and we'll all move to the Avalon and get this farce over and done with.

  • tom
    July 01, 2010 - 19:59

    oh well this should bring out the tree huggers . they have one planted in the telegram writing articles to wake them up. i guess save the seal people will be having their 2 cents worth to say.

  • amazed
    July 01, 2010 - 19:58

    Sure the government can fix this easily, just photoshop the transmission lines out of the new tourist ads when new ones are printed, the photoshopping in the current NL/Lab ads is abundant. :)

  • kris
    July 01, 2010 - 19:58

    Ironically they don't allow clothes lines up in the posh end of St. John's because it looks unsightly but they are okay with this! I'm sure another solution can be had to this destruction of a natural. Money never seems to be a issue if something is really wanted so just spend the extra cash you bunch of enviroments money grubbers.

  • Brian
    July 01, 2010 - 19:56

    While I'm still a mild supporter of Premier Williams, all his government's misteps of the past year is making it harder and harder for me to give him the benefit of doubt. If he insists on a transmission line through Gros Morne or don't soon make a public statement against it, I think Mr. Willimas will have met his match and the days of the teflon premier will be numbered.

  • Richard
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    Gros Morne, and its international reputation support the only viable industry left on the Northern peninsula. Any Lower Churchill development will have zero meaningful economic impact to those communities who depend on the Park for their survival. As Williams as already clearly illustrated to the people of Grand Falls, hydro in this province belongs to the Townies, and to Danny's friends who sit on the board of the secretive NALCOR board.

    The communities of Woody Point, Rocky Harbour, Cow Head and several others have survived in spite of all efforts by East Coast politicians to take their livelihoods away. NALCOR does not represent or serve the interest of real Newfoundlanders.

  • Dump
    July 01, 2010 - 19:53

    If we want to keep the status then be strone enough to use the alternate. There is an alternative route around the park, but it is considered more expensive and more difficult from a technical standpoint.
    Nothing and no nmaoney should stnad in the way of keeping out parks' status
    Easy solution

  • David
    July 01, 2010 - 19:52

    Liam:

    Thanks for that. I guess I couldn't find the master list of acceptable infrastructure projects in wilderness areas. Perhaps you could reproduce youer own list, in order of acceptability. Thanks in advance, much appreciated.

  • Pfft
    July 01, 2010 - 19:47

    Way to go NALCOR. Seems like King Danny doing as he pleases will cost more in the long run. But then again who cares as long as Danny has made a bundle off of the same thing he refuses to permit the other residents of the province from doing.

    Double standards are great!

  • isdaby
    July 01, 2010 - 19:43

    Just returned from a trip to Ny area. Power lines everywhere. Sign of prosperity. However you would be surprised how much green you see. How about we planted the tallest bushiest trees we could get to grow in nl along by the line. Would that solve the problem?