Placentia Mayor Bill Hogan said he’s seen a marked improvement in the economy in his town over the past 12-18 months.
Sales of housing have increased, Hogan said. It’s more difficult to find a rental home or apartment, he said, and the town is definitely more alive because of all the activity that’s happening in the area.
“She’s busting at the seams here this year. It’s only the other day that I was saying to somebody that you could drive around this place two or three years ago and it was as dead as a doornail. But now you almost have to line up at traffic stops.”
The town is currently finishing several infrastructure and water and sewer projects that have been in the works for several years.
There’s also continued growth in the area with the Argentia Industrial Park now home to two major fabrication companies employing between 150-200 people.
Hogan said there are also some offshore companies looking to set up shop in the Argentia area.
“And Vale is quite busy in Argentia storing and shipping building materials and supplies that are being delivered to Argentia and then on to Long Harbour.”
The spinoff from the construction of hydromet nickel processing plant in Long Harbour is his town’s greatest asset, Hogan said.
However, while the smaller contractors are coming his way to do business, Hogan would like to see Placentia reap more benefits from the major construction contractors who are working on the $2-billion project that’s set to begin processing nickel from the Voisey’s Bay mine in Northern Labrador in 2013.
“I’ll take the financial activity whatever way it comes but dealing with the major contractors in Long Harbour is very difficult. ... they don’t seem to see the benefits of dealing locally,” he said.
As far as Long Harbour is concerned, Hogan said his town will continue to see the benefits of having the facility in the area long after the construction phase of the project is completed.
He’s also pleased with a new $15-million high school (Laval High School) in Placentia.
The provincial government has invested $11.8 million into the school while Vale contributed $1.8 million to enhance numerous features in the school.
Hogan sees the school as a model for other schools that will be constructed in the province.
“The soccer field next to the school is also complete and it has a state-of-the art gymnasium and music room,” he said.
As work at Long Harbour continues to increase, Hogan would like to see more housing developments in the area. If that doesn’t happen soon, he said, there’s going to be a problem with lack of housing.
“We have lots of room for projects and there are three developers that are ready to move.
“That may be small in the scheme of things but once the development starts, the houses won’t be on the market long and that will be an indication to everyone of things to come.”
Never shy on giving his opinion, Hogan said while his town is doing well, other levels of government must remember that prosperity doesn’t mean they can stop putting money into the area.
“And other levels of governments should be getting in here to see what they can do to encourage expanding development rather than sitting back and letting everything rest on its own laurels.”
The town is big on promoting the area as a tourist destination. Hogan would like to see more support for these projects coming from the provincial and federal governments.
He is also encouraging more investors to set up shop in the area.
At the end of the day, he says, he’s delighted to take a look outside and to see all the hustle and bustle.
“It’s great to see all the activity, the streets are busier, the small stores are busier and it seems to be bigger and better than other summers.”