Bypass road helps drive new potential, new growth in Holyrood

Steve Bartlett
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Holyrood Mayor Gary Goobie says council is trying to position the town for anticipated growth. — Photo by Steve Bartlett/The Telegram

Sharon Metcalfe is hoping to ride the tsunami of development expected to come her way.

Earlier this year, she bought The Pantry Bakery and Cafe and is anticipating success as the development boom that’s swept through Newfoundland's Northeast Avalon in recent years reaches this picturesque Conception Bay town.

“That’s the reason we sort of got into it, because we saw the potential of a growth area,” Metcalfe says.

The sights and sounds of growth are all around Holyrood — real estates signs, new homes, cleared lots, the buzz of heavy equipment, the roar of dump trucks, the “beep, beep, beep” of big rigs backing up.

Things are going forward at an unprecedented rate in the town of 2,100.

At a meeting last Tuesday, council dealt with nine applications for residential development, two for commercial garage extensions and one for a commercial development.

Those might not be big numbers in St. John’s or Paradise, but the figures are huge for Holyrood, considering the town issued just six building permits in all of 2002.

And there should be many more applications on the way. Permits will soon be sought for two subdivisions being developed, one with 60 homes and another with 40-plus.

Holyrood’s development dial is expected to be turned up a notch or two when an extension to the Conception Bay South Bypass Road opens this fall.

The road will be 2.8 kilometres away from Holyrood, making access to the capital region easier than ever.

“I think that’s also going to expand the amount of people living here, for sure,” says Metcalfe.  

“Once that road goes in, you’ve got five minutes to free-sailing into C.B.S., St. John’s and Mount Pearl.”

Her business is already benefitting from the boom, as people involved in building new homes are stopping by for coffee or lunch.

As he takes this Telegram reporter around Holyrood and tells his town’s developing story, Mayor Gary Goobie says the challenge is balancing the town’s rural nature with the progress.

“We’ve got one chance to do it, and one chance to do it right,” he says.

There are whispers about all this development taking place without a town plan.

However, Goobie says the finishing touches are being put on a new 10-year plan, a document that will soon be made public and one that maps out a usage for every square centimetre within Holyrood’s boundaries.

And all current and future developments, he notes, must meet standards adopted by council last year. Those same guidelines are in the new town plan.

Goobie also stresses that the town will dictate what developers do, not vice versa.

Developers and landowners are complying, and because of the demand, the price of land in Holyrood is soaring.

The price of homes is soaring to St. John’s-like heights, with new three-bedroom houses fetching more than $350,000.

Bob Maxwell has his name on Mountain View Estates, one of Holyrood’s new subdivisions.

“It’s still a work in progress, but we’ve have active interest in it for the past month and a half,” says the realtor with Royal Lepage Vision Realty.

“We’ve got a fair number of people ready to make deposits right now.”

Maxwell anticipates “tremendous growth” in Holyrood.

Metcalfe, the bakery and cafe owner, is feeling the pricing punch from the anticipation.

She lives in St. John’s, but wants to buy or build in Holyrood.

“I’ve noticed an increase in the pricing of homes and the availability of land, and the price of land has increased substantially,” she says.

With demand and dollar figures spiking north, Goobie doesn’t offer a prediction on how much the town will grow.

Instead, he talks about “positioning Holyrood” for what’s headed its way.

On top of everything else, he says the town is in a prime location to benefit from growth at the Marine Institute’s base in Holyrood harbour as well as Vale’s nickel plant at Long Harbour and work on the Hebron project at Bull Arm.

Maxwell expects developments like the latter two will bring a lot of high-paying jobs into the Holyrood area.

“They’re going to need houses,” he says, adding, “We’ve also had a lot of interest from people working out of the province who are looking to come back home, but not necessarily go into the city of St. John’s.”

Goobie says the town is also endeavouring to improve conveniences in Holyrood through efforts like trying to attract a grocery store and hiring a recreation director.

There are other things happening, too, including an organizational review and lobbying for a new municipal building, but Goobie believes council is working towards building a town that’s vibrant, safe and attractive.

Joe Byrne is a longtime resident and is watching Holyrood change like never before.

“Traditionally, if a person came here every 10 years, he was considered a drifter,” he jokes.

Neither in favour or against all the development — “We got to move on with the times, I suppose” — one of Byrne’s wishes is that people moving to Holyrood learn about its history as a vibrant fishing community settled by names like Hawco, Gushue and Besow.

“If anybody comes here today, I would suppose they become aware of the long traditions that were in Holyrood for 200 years, 250 years,” he says.

There’ll likely be more change in the town over the next 10 years than in all of those 250.

Twitter: @SteveBartlett_

Organizations: The Pantry Bakery, Royal Lepage Vision Realty, Marine Institute Hawco

Geographic location: Holyrood, Northeast Avalon, Conception Bay Mount Pearl Mountain View Estates Long Harbour Hebron

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Recent comments

  • truvei
    May 08, 2012 - 11:00

    I think it's wonderful to see Holyrood growing and businesses booming, but it's so important to keep Holyrood's natural beauty up front and centre. I agree with previous comments that mention how important it is to have a good town plan. I've noted the three houses being built in the bog, with bog for fill that comes up over the siding... what's with that... are their any town regulations about that? I've also noted the many leaks in our water system... may be time to look at more than just a patch up job!!.. Tiny lots and backyard development should also be a no no!!

  • Ken
    May 08, 2012 - 09:39

    They have a hard enough job to keep up with the snow clearing as it is now! Imagine when all this new development happens....Good luck...We are going to need it!

  • Prroud Resident Of Holyrood
    May 07, 2012 - 14:47

    I am excited to see that good things are happening in Holyrood .Don`t loose sight that we want to preserve our character and rural charm. Keep up the good work!

  • Dare to Dream
    May 07, 2012 - 10:26

    A full-fledged grocery store would be most welcome. With all this anticipated growth, imagine if we could also get a recreation complex to service Conception Bay Centre, whether it be located in Holyrood or not; facilities such as the pool or Robert French stadium in CBS are over-crowded now. Personally, I would like to see Holyrood have more to offer its residents besides a place to sleep.

  • Holyrood taxpayer
    May 07, 2012 - 08:32

    Sure things are happening or will soon be happening in different areas of the town. Let;s not lose sight of our communinty to these bigh builders and developers. Driving through the southside area of the town and look at three basements being built, back filled with "Bog". Doesn't seem to be the ideal building development!!! Antipciapte trouble there. Where are the regulations for these. Let's keep the size of lots they way we are used too. We don't need small lots, cramped locations and reach out and touch your neighbor construction. Of course with this jump in housing and increase of people we need increased services. Garbage collection, recycling increased, water & sewer services which are current, updated, and available. What we currently have is old, water leaks everywhere. Can the services handle the additions, water services, fire protection, snow clearing, recreational needs. Town PLan!!!! It's going to have to be what it needs to be and has to be enforced. Personally, can't see it happening myself. Status Quo!!!

  • Mike Walsh
    May 07, 2012 - 06:49

    Goobie better get a town plan in place if he wants development in Holyrood that balances rural and urban aspects of the town. The last thing he wants is another mess like the one that has occurred and continues to occur in Paradise.

    • Hopeful Resident
      May 07, 2012 - 11:11

      As a resident of Holyrood, I am very proud to see the town develop and grow into a thriving community. I just hope that with the increased develoment and a soild town plan, we can finally take care of some long outstanding infrastrure issues. Gravel roads should now be a thing of the past!

    • Jake
      May 07, 2012 - 11:23

      ...and in CBS. Cripes what a mess there. That so-called CBS By-Pass has been touted for about 10 years and critical infracture for it's completion ONLY TO SEAL COVE are not even tendered yet . I'd estimate the distance from the By-Pass at Seal Cove to the Holyrood bridge to be a good 16 kms.