Harbour Main marina projec catches eye of Archaeological Office

By Mark Squibb | April 22, 2021

In the process of proposing and planning for a marina in Harbour Main-Chapels Cove-Lakeview, council has recently come upon an additional roadblock, but Mayor Mike Doyle said it’s not actually a bad thing.

The Provincial Archaeological Office has requested the town contract an archaeologist to perform an archeological impact assessment of the area prior to any development.

“I respect these kinds of requests, because we are very much an older community and we have a lot of heritage and cultural background,” said Doyle, who recalled that commercial fishing boats used to unload coal, amongst other things, in the area years ago.

Doyle surmised the Archaeological Office’s request may have been spurred by a recent discovery in the community.

“A cannon was found in our community not too long ago, and the Archaeological society got involved and did just an outstanding job of finding the history of it and determining what kind of cannon it was, and where it possibly came from and how it got there,” said Doyle.

Archaeologists figure the cannon, found atop a small hill near Saints Peter and Paul Parish Church, is likely a British 9- pounder Armstrong-Frederick pattern gun, cast sometime between 1760 and 1792. The reason for its positioning and placement in the community is still a mystery.

Oddly enough, it is pointed inland, but local lore says the cannon was ‘rotated’ in recent years.

For its part, the Provincial Archaeology Office sent an email response stating it regularly reviews applications for different kinds of land use throughout Newfoundland & Labrador and calls for archaeological assessments when necessary.

“While specific details about individual applications cannot be shared due to privacy, it is important to note that the referral and assessment processes are critical components of protecting and managing our province’s archaeological heritage,” read the release.

Doyle, meanwhile, said despite the unexpected request and the additional cost of completing the assessment, he is excited about the possibility of finding something unexpected.

He said the marina has been a project the town has been trying to get off the ground for years, and when he was elected in 2017 he made it a priority of council to create a solid vision for the project.

In describing the marina project, Doyle refers to it as a trifecta – a run of three wins – economic, environmental, and social.

“This marina, in the future when it’s completed, will have 60 plus small craft berths, which will move roughly $18,000 of new revenue to our municipality,” said the mayor, who noted that even with having to cover the costs of maintenance will still represent a sizeable income for the community.

“In talking to realtors in the area, one thing that they identify is that we’re a harbour community, but we have no place to moor a boat in our harbour community,” said Doyle. “And that’s really tough for our community from a marketing perspective. Many people want to move to a harbour community because they have a small craft vessel and they want to get on the water, and unfortunately, they can’t avail of that in our community. So, we can’t avail of that growth potential, and that economic potential for our community.”

He added residents in Harbour Main drive to other communities to avail of their marinas, and, aside from pumping extra emissions into the air to get there, Doyle said those marinas are filling up quickly and folks are often placed on lengthy waiting lists.

Doyle said some people are so eager to dock their boats in Harbour Main that they have been doing just that, even without the marina.

“People are building their own make-shift wharves out there right now, just so they can get a boat and tie it out there,” said Doyle.

From an environmental position, Doyle argued, installing raised, reconstructed cribbing would protect the shoreline, which has been ravished by storms, destroying former wharves and stations.

He also hopes the marina will fit nicely into the overall social fabric of the town.

“We’re really trying to tie that whole area together as one regional network,” said Doyle. “So that the marina would tie to a walking trail, that would tie into our tide area, where we have our outdoor swimming area and then our walking trails throughout the community.”

Currently, the project is in Phase Two of its five phases.

“Phase One was to acquire waterfront property, and so we did that back in 2018,” said Doyle. “The second phase was to get a breakwater constructed to protect the marina. From past history, we know the waves and the destructive nature of the ocean in that bay, and we’ve seen it destroy the old-time wharves that were there, so we knew we had to get the breakwater constructed to protect the marina first. That’s Phase Two, that’s where we’re at right now.”

Phase Three will involve installation of a new slipway. Phase Four will be to secure the shoreline, and then the final phase will be to build the wharf.

There’s no proposed timeline yet as to when boats will be in the water. The town is in the process of securing a Crown Lands application for the waterfront area. Doyle said they are looking into the possibility of blending the environmental and archaeological assessments to save on costs.

Doyle said that due to the fluctuating cost of materials and the nature of the project, the town hasn’t affixed a total cost yet, but will be seeking grants for each stage of the process.

“We’ve really taken a ‘grant-approval’ mindset with this,” said Doyle. “We’re trying to get grants with each aspect of this. We look at this, and saw, one, can we afford to move forward with the project, and two, is it the right priority at this time? And each year, your priorities may alter or change based on the needs of the community.”

To that end, said Doyle, the town has already submitted a grant for the cribbing work.

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