Risking tourism for oil

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Gros Morne National Park is the brilliant draw that pulls tourists from across the planet to western Newfoundland. Gros Morne is a major economic generator in western Newfoundland, and a substantial part of  the $205-million-a-year tourism sector of western Newfoundland. (In fact, NDP member of the House of Assembly George Murphy puts west coast tourism at $229 million for 2012).   

Hundreds of jobs in western Newfoundland tourism keep the communities from Port aux Basques to St. Anthony alive.

Either from Gros Morne, or on their way there, tourists explore these other places along the coast. The bed and breakfasts, restaurants, hotels, motels, beaches, parks, festivals, craft shops, kayak tours, whale-watching tours, iceberg tours of western Newfoundland and the Great Northern Peninsula are full of Gros Morne visitors. These communities all surprise and astound the visitor along their journey, but those traveller’s ultimate goal is the stunning United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated beauty of Gros Morne.

Many in the province are not aware that Shoal Point Energy and Black Spruce Exploration Corp. have proposed drilling possibly upwards of dozens of oil wells and fracking targets along the coast of Gros Morne and in one of its communities.  

Gros Morne National Park could lose its UNESCO World Heritage Site designation because of this, just as other UNESCO designations have been lost when development has ruined the inherent beauty and meaning of a place.

If Gros Morne loses its UNESCO designation because of drilling and fracking within its boundaries, what does this mean for the wider economy of western Newfoundland?  

Where will we and our kids be working and who will be living in our communities if the tourism industry withers? What will have happened to our businesses?

Alison Normore

Charlie Payne

Karole Pittman

Ken Thomas

Kirsten Oravec

Sharon Chaulk

Jessica Butler

Bonne Bay, Gros Morne

Organizations: UNESCO, George Murphy, United Nations Educational Cultural Organization Shoal Point Energy and Black Spruce Exploration

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Gros Morne National Park, Port aux Basques St. Anthony Bonne Bay

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Recent comments

  • saelcove
    March 28, 2013 - 14:49

    business man, equity companies are leeches but i guess you know that

  • EDfromRED
    March 28, 2013 - 14:08

    It's starting to look like Stephen Harper has enlisted the provincial PC's to destroy our province from the inside. With cuts to Justice, libraries, education, and the explosion in crime, it looks like plans are well underway to turn us into a North American Haiti.

  • david
    March 27, 2013 - 12:25

    Gros Morne is very nice.....for 12 weeks a year. That's when people show up to see it. July, August and September. And they generally come once...not twice, or annually. So it would be nice to think that Gros Morne could become an economic lynchpin of a sustainable economy that supports an entire region ....but it just won't. Natural areas are nice, but they are a luxury of societies that have first of all provided opportunities for people to sustain themselves and create wealth. In a few select locations of the world, tourism can become a dominant economic driver -- like Whistler BC, or Hawaii. Newfoundland is not Hawaii...no matter how nice those TV ads are. So do you want to put tourism for the mainlanders alone at the top of the lis of 'to do's', or do you want to be able to stay here yourself too?

    • Eli
      March 27, 2013 - 19:18

      One S.O.B. had to write this letter. My god! do we have to rape the landscape for every bloody predator that comes knocking?

    • Nat Gros Morne
      March 28, 2013 - 09:15

      Did you know that west coast tourism in 2010 brought 205 Million $ in to our economy. in 2005 Gros Morne directly provided 35.5 Million $ profit revenue Risk all that for minimal # of jobs, and very high risk to health and environment.

    • david
      March 28, 2013 - 12:39

      Eli: Alberta has oil being produced in every corner of its province for the past 60 years, and it has five national parks, including the two most iconic parks in the entire country: Banff and Jasper. So put down the BS shovel, stop with the doomsdaty hyperbiole, and try to use your power of rational thought...just try.

    • david
      March 28, 2013 - 17:33

      Nat: If those figures were naywher colse ot true, the 1500 people who live in Gros Morne would all be stinking rich. They aren't. The trick to a good lie is to keep it plausible... your chances of successful BS'ing would go up a lot.

    • david
      April 01, 2013 - 13:25

      Nat: Those figures are demonstrably complete lies. Simplistically, the roughly 1500 people who live and work in the park area would all be very rich. They are not. Additionally, If you would care to consider the (quite verifiable) value of oil revenues to this province's economic state, you would realize that tourism represents the equivalent of a rounding error.

    • MS
      April 02, 2013 - 10:21

      Gros Morne is beautiful, not just very nice, 52 weeks a year. So is the area that I live in. . I know that the air I breate is relatively clean and safe to breathe, the soil is safe to grow vegetables for my family, the water is relatively safe to drink and bathe in, the wildlife is safe to eat, the berries are safe to eat, the beaches and woods are safe to walk on, the roads are safe to drive on and the beauty is breathtaking. Horizontal slickwater hydraulic fracturing will take away my breath, my clean air and soil, etc. and all that I enjoy and depend on, which is why I moved here in the first place. The oil industry will provide a few local jobs for each well fracked, which is about a year, then move on to the next well until every square mile is a toxic wasteland. The local businesses will boom for a year or two and then crash. The oil/gas industries act like alcoholics, they MUST get every drop, an addiction that needs deliverance. Is there any help for greed? Do I have any human rights left? Does anyone? Respiratory diseases will skyrocket and cancer is an epidemic in Newfoundland now....Shhhh...the vaccine makers think only flus are epidemics. The silence of the medical Lung Association and Cancer Society is out of character. If we are going to "beat" cancer or continue the "war on cancer" where are their voices when more than 1000 toxic chemicals, many carcinogenic, will be used. Is the health system buried in politics too? Beating or curing cancer would not benefit their industry, perhaps. Texas has the highest rate of cancer and respiratory diseases in the US. Ohio and Pennsylvania are catching up. Money isn't everything, profit isn't everything. I am tired of the intimidation, bullying and corruption of this industry to get what they want at all costs. And I am tired of comments like yours David. If you love the city, stay there. I'm not interested. I have been there, done that. When they come fracking near you, it will be your backyard. Rejoice! I was hoping that Danny Williams would come and build his huge development on the Port au Port and Northern Peninsulas, such beauty for the rich to enjoy without having to travel to distant pristine places.

    • david
      April 02, 2013 - 18:47

      MS: Being as there has never been any notable economic prosperity to ever have occurred on the Great Northern Pensinsula ---- well, beyond a few good seasons of turbot or salmon at the local plant ---- it's amazing that anyone would fear the letdown of a possible economic 'bust'. Fearing even short-term prosperity seems an odd choice, given the alternative of hopeless, long term poverty, the only thing people in rural Newfoundland have ever known. The possibility of wealth, even if it proved ephemeral, is at least something. And "nothing" doesn't seem to work, does it? It is a slap in the face of Canadian taxpayers, who have subsidized your "charmed existence" to the tune of millions of dollars for far too long, to continue qualifying for stamps and relaxing for the winter. Get over yourself: you're just not worth that cost unless you pay it yourself.

  • a business man
    March 27, 2013 - 12:13

    Dear Author: I am not at all concerned about what drilling and fracking will mean for the wider economy of western Newfoundland because that economy does not matter to me. I am not at all concerned about where YOUR kids be working and who will be living in YOUR communities if the tourism industry withers because it is not my kids and not my community. I actually want the communities to fail so that more people will have to move to the city and spend money in the city. I hope they fail soon. Lastly. I am not at all concerned about what will have happened to YOUR businesses because there are not my businesses. Frankly, you wrote a nice article about your problems, but for me, a city dweller, you gave me no reason as to why I should care. Everything you mention is YOUR problem, and I do wish you well, but Newfoundland's economic health is more important than your problems. Furthermore, I want the communities on the west coast to fail and I want tourism industry to wither and die because that will result in more people moving to the city. Then, in turn, this MIGHT result in more customers for my city-based businesses. So for that reason, and that reason alone, I, as a taxpayer and voter, completely support drilling and fracking in the west coast. As long as the majority agrees, then democracy is working.

    • Frank M
      March 27, 2013 - 15:03

      Will you please go back down to your basement lair and spare us your idiotic diatribes. I guess you are not busy enough running your hundreds of companies, you need to fill your time trolling websites all day writing this rubbish. You are obviously no businessman, you ooze failure from every pore. It is getting tiresome, you had your fun now go play in the sandbox.

    • a business man
      March 28, 2013 - 08:34

      Frank, I don't own hundreds of companies, I own dozens. And I don't run any of them. I am a lawyer by trade, and I buy companies to make money on the side, to sell them at a profit, or those strip the assets and close them up. The only companies I invest in are those that are run by unskilled workers. I do this so that I don't have to do anything significant regarding day to day operations. I also do this so that I can deploy my "unskilled workers are just disposable tools to be replaced when a cheaper tool becomes available" mentality. With call centers, retail and fast food establishments, this mentality works wonders. Yes, it will not work in resource extraction, so I don't get into resource extraction. My business model across my businesses is to make as much off unskilled uneducated minimum wage workers as possibly by plugging and playing workers as tools. It has served me well.

    • JJ
      March 28, 2013 - 09:33

      I wonder if 'A BUSINESS MAN' is Kevin O'Leary's long lost twin.

    • david
      March 28, 2013 - 17:36

      Kevin O'Leary is extremely insulted, and BSman doesn't know who that is.

    • MS
      April 02, 2013 - 13:32

      All democracies have human rights, or should. According to your philosophy, business man, if I am not a customer of yours, I should not be allowed to live? Sounds like Nazi Germany or North Korea. Control freaks. Eeek. Deliver us, Lord! Leave your initials or name, braveheart. We survived before big business began to control us and poison us.

  • EDfromRED
    March 27, 2013 - 11:33

    Great societies promote knowledge and culture. It's telling that in NL now, Massage Parlors and Drug Dens are booming, while libraries,Education, museums and tourism budgets are shrinking.

  • Foghorn Leghorn
    March 27, 2013 - 08:41

    Yes tourism maybe a revenue generator for the Gros Morne area, the only problem with that scenario is that it creates about 16 weeks of full time employment for the vast majority of people employed in the industry. We definitely need a boost to our local economy whether it is oil and gas or some other major industry. We simply cannot turn our backs on a major development for the west coast of the province,