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Shipbuilder eases way for Harbour Grace’s outfall solution

By Craig Westcott/December 9, 2021

The Town of Harbour Grace has made a slight change in its list of priorities for provincial government capital works funding for next year.

At last week’s public council meeting, Deputy Mayor Keith Skinner, who chairs the capital works committee, moved to rescind the previous motions which had set the priority list earlier this fall.

The same projects are on the list, but in a different order. Skinner said the relocation of the LeMarchant Street outfall will be the top priority, while water and sewer upgrades on LeMarchant will stand at number two. The order was the other way around previously.

“We have a third one and it’s still to upgrade the Riverhead lift station to accommodate Southside and the Mercer’s Road area,” said Skinner.

“That is for future development, to have the right things put in place so that we can do future development (in that area), am I correct, Deputy Mayor?” asked Mayor Don Coombs.

“Yes sir, that’s it,” said Skinner.

The Town needs to move its outfall from where it comes out on property belonging to the Harbour Grace Harbour Authority to allow that group to take advantage of $6.2 million in federal funds for an upgrade to its facility.

That job has now become somewhat easier thanks to an agreement with Kevin English of Harbour Grace Ocean Enterprises, the company which owns the land next door to the Harbour Authority.

After a recent meeting between the Town’s business and economic development committee, the mayor, and English, the company agreed to let council run a new outfall line through its property and out into the harbour.

“The Town now has a full solution to a route for the piping when the project moves forward,” said councilor Gordon Stone, who chairs the business and economic development committee. “That is something that the Town of Harbour Grace is very appreciative of.”

In an interview after the council meeting, Mayor Coombs said the work on the outfall and upgrades to LeMarchant will be done over a couple of years to allow the Town to cover the costs with different rounds of capital works funding. But the relocation of the outfall will begin first.

“It’s very important to the Town,” Coombs said. “Unfortunately for us, 60 percent of our water and waste goes through that line.”

Coombs pointed out that some $38 million worth of crab alone was landed at the Harbour Authority’s wharf this past year.

“It’s a big employer for the region and they own the property and they said, ‘You can’t do it anymore,’” Coombs said of running the town’s sewerage through the outfall there. “So, we’re working on it now and we’ve changed it to our top priority to get it done and we’re going to work with everybody to see it through.”

Coombs said the sewer line is one of the oldest in the province, made of stone that in some places is stacked three and four feet high. One of the stone sewer lines in Harbour Grace famously served as an escape route for a jail break from the town’s historic stone courthouse.

Stone added in an unrelated note that Harbour Grace Ocean Enterprises, which is a shipbuilding facility, is looking forward to a number of exciting developments. “They’re going to expand their lift capacity down there from 500 tonnes to 1,000 tonnes. And that’s to meet the new federal government regulations allowing larger ships and larger fishing boats,” he said. “So, they’re making a major move down there. And, of course, we already know that HGOE is in the midst of building some new class ships and steel ships that are not only going to be used in Newfoundland and Labrador, but are actually for export. So that’s exciting. Mr. English hopes to see the workforce, which is presently at 127 to grow to about 200 in the spring or early in the New Year.”

Part of that new workforce will operate in the former S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium, which is just up the street from HGOE’s waterfront premises.

In other capital works news, council also last week identified its two priorities for federal Gas Tax funding.

Number one is Hard Path Road. 

“That’s probably costing us the most money on an annual basis with repairs,” said Mayor Coombs, “because it’s on a hill and it’s a washout every year. We go up several times a year and we have to fix it up. So, we see the Gas Tax money eliminating a problem that we have.”

Council set Tarrant’s Hill as the second priority, because it also costs the town a lot of money in maintenance and repairs.

Both applications have since been approved by the provincial department of Municipal Affairs, which administers the money for Ottawa.

Coombs reckoned Harbour Grace spends more than $100,000 annually on the two roads, money that in future years can go to other roads and projects.

“That’s the benefit of Gas Tax money,” he said.

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