I would like to offer this letter in support of Targa Newfoundland.
My name is Tom Hollett and I am a mayor advocate of the Burin Peninsula and all of the communities, people and businesses that are blessed to call it home.
I understand the Marystown town council has voted not to support Targa in 2014. When I heard it was partly for safety concerns, I was surprised and suspicious. No one can argue with safety, but surely after 12 years, any safety concerns must be clear. You all know, as well as I do, any safety issues can be dealt with. This needs to be the focus.
When Danny Williams said that Newfoundland and Labrador was the newest and coolest province, Targa was one of the things he was talking about. The only other place in the world Targa takes place is New Zealand. How cool is that? Marystown should hold its head high as a supporter of Targa. We should all get together and enter a car from the Burin Peninsula. Now that would be cool!
When my Dad was sick (late ’50s, early ’60s) I would spend part of my summers in Grand Bank with the Buffetts and Stoodleys and, in the fall, I went to school in Swift Current and staying with the Jamiesons and Brinstions. All of the Burin Peninsula is my home. At the age of 10, after Dad died, I was dragged to St. John’s kicking and screaming. I knew one day I would return. Rex Murphy summed it up; he said what makes us Newfoundlanders is our sense of place and the Burin Peninsula is my place.
I am spending major money building a tourist destination in Burin. This project is a labour of love and will benefit the whole peninsula. I have already spent money in just about every community on the peninsula, most of it in Marystown. That is why I feel I have a say. If the Marystown town council was cancelling a fireworks display or the demolition derby I would not be as concerned, but this is different. This affects more than just Marystown.
Marystown has a responsibility as the economic hub and big brother/sister of this region to take this into account when making decisions which affect their friends. This decision affects multiple communities on the peninsula, if not the total viability of Targa Newfoundland itself. It’s a long road to get people down here and we are all in this together. Tourism needs all the help it can get.
Minister of Tourism Terry French was at my home in Burin a couple of years ago and we were talking about tourism on the peninsula and what I’m up to in Burin and here is what I told him: I believe that approximately 80 per cent of the true out-of-town tourism dollars that come down over the road are spent in another country.
That drives me nuts. I have a plan to deal with St. Pierre (if you can’t beat them join them) but we also need Targa.
I explained to him Targa is one of the ways I hoped to extend our very short tourism season. If anything, I would like the town council of Marystown to negotiate with Targa for them to spend two nights on the peninsula. Now that would be proactive and give us something to build on.
The issues of safety can be dealt with. Don’t make it personal. Even if you personally don’t like auto racing, it is the largest spectator sport in the world. The residents of Marystown and surrounding area look forward to Targa every September. We should be proud to have Targa in our area.
With an open mind and an open heart please work with Targa Newfoundland and the other communities involved to put on the best show ever. Would you, the mayor, deputy mayor and councillors of the great town of Marystown, please reconsider your decision. Your leadership would be appreciated.
Tom Hollett writes from Burin.