Towns heating up

Terry Roberts
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Resources Green light for Long Harbour nickel plant has instant impact on municipalities

The calls started Friday morning, and Long Harbour Mayor Gary Keating hopes they keep coming.

"It's very encouraging now that people realize this project is a reality," Keating said.

Premier Danny Williams and Natural Resources Minister Kathy Dunderdale announced Thursday evening that the government had reached a modified agreement with Vale Inco Newfoundland and Labrador for the construction of a new US$2.2-billion commercial nickel processing plant in the tiny community of less than 300 residents.

The calls started Friday morning, and Long Harbour Mayor Gary Keating hopes they keep coming.

"It's very encouraging now that people realize this project is a reality," Keating said.

Premier Danny Williams and Natural Resources Minister Kathy Dunderdale announced Thursday evening that the government had reached a modified agreement with Vale Inco Newfoundland and Labrador for the construction of a new US$2.2-billion commercial nickel processing plant in the tiny community of less than 300 residents.

Keating said the town office was fielding calls Friday morning from business owners looking for land, and people interested in land acquisitions and the availability of housing.

Keating could barely contain his enthusiasm.

"The planning we have done to date has been significant, and now we can start implementing those plans and make things happen," he said.

The announcement came following a month-long delay as both sides worked out a new agreement, one that will include a longer construction period and stronger guarantees by the province that the work will go ahead as planned.

The announcement also comes during a worldwide economic slowdown, when other megaprojects are either being downsized, delayed or cancelled.

The delay in approving a construction plan led to speculation the project may have been in trouble, but Keating and Bill Hogan, mayor of nearby Placentia, said they never lost faith.

Hogan hopes the cynics will finally accept the fact the project is going ahead, and the area will experience some much-needed and long-awaited economic growth.

"Even after it was released (from the environmental assessment process), people seemed to be cynical. Then again, this has been on the go for 12 years," Hogan said.

Placentia is the regional hub and is expected to benefit greatly from the construction and operation of the plant. Hogan is expecting an influx of businesses, expansions of existing businesses and an increase in population.

He said the town is preparing as best as it can, and plans to construct a new school that will also serve as a drawing card for those who may relocate to the area.

It's not the first time "big industry" has set up shop in Long Harbour. The town was once home to a phosphorous plant, but it closed two decades ago, and the town has been dwindling ever since. Keating said lessons from that experience are still fresh in people's minds.

"We're in for some very good years in this town and we're hoping to maximize from the benefits that come from this industry," he said. "Twenty years later we've learned so much about what to do and what not to do."

The Long Harbour town council finalized a tax agreement with the company late last year. Under the agreement, the company will pay a $500,000 annual grant in lieu of taxes, which will triple the town's current annual budget.

The company will also fund the purchase of a new fully equipped fire truck, and the construction of a 3,200 square-foot fire hall.

The town of Placentia is expected to begin discussions with the company in the coming days on a tax agreement, Hogan said.

Keating, meanwhile, offered praise for former Liberal premier Roger Grimes, who signed the original agreement in 2002, as well as for the current premier.

"I think there will be a good relationship between the province, the town and the company, and we're working together to move forward in the best interest of the people we serve," he said.

Williams told reporters Friday that opening the contract was an opportunity to strengthen it in some areas where it was weak.

But he quickly gave Grimes his due.

"I don't want to take anything from Roger Grimes," he said.

"I would like to share in the glory with him, for want of a better term, but this is not - under any circumstances - to put Mr. Grimes and his government down."

Williams said strengthening the deal only adds to Grimes' legacy.

troberts@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Keating and Bill Hogan, Long Harbour town council

Geographic location: Long Harbour, Placentia

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • Jefferia
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    That sounds like a nice piece of news for Long Harbour and Placentia. Hopefully there will be some good jobs there that will keep some of our skilled workers at home. In these tough economic times its great to see NL moving foward.

  • Bob
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    I am very pleased that development is going ahead in Long Harbour. there should be long term benefits for the entire province arising from this project. I am especially pleased to see Premier Williams acknowledge the piece former Premier Grimes had in the dvelopment. I hope this marks a change in the bitterness that has been apparent between the two. This project is large enough and important enough for both premiers to stand in its glow.

  • g-man
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    i dont wanna rain on long harbors good fortune,but i hope they relize that just because they live out there,dosnt mean all the jobs go to your district. everyone interviewed on the TV news in placentia seems to think they have first dibs on jobs..there is 274,000 people in and around st johns area..as the scouts always say,BE PRAPARED ! im sure skilled workers will be there from all over the province and country..

  • Jefferia
    July 01, 2010 - 20:21

    That sounds like a nice piece of news for Long Harbour and Placentia. Hopefully there will be some good jobs there that will keep some of our skilled workers at home. In these tough economic times its great to see NL moving foward.

  • Bob
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    I am very pleased that development is going ahead in Long Harbour. there should be long term benefits for the entire province arising from this project. I am especially pleased to see Premier Williams acknowledge the piece former Premier Grimes had in the dvelopment. I hope this marks a change in the bitterness that has been apparent between the two. This project is large enough and important enough for both premiers to stand in its glow.

  • g-man
    July 01, 2010 - 19:57

    i dont wanna rain on long harbors good fortune,but i hope they relize that just because they live out there,dosnt mean all the jobs go to your district. everyone interviewed on the TV news in placentia seems to think they have first dibs on jobs..there is 274,000 people in and around st johns area..as the scouts always say,BE PRAPARED ! im sure skilled workers will be there from all over the province and country..