Bay Roberts moves to protect shoreline from harbour infill

By Craig Westcott/January 13, 2023

Bay Roberts council will not give its blessing to a Crown Land application by Avalon Coal Salt & Oil to fill in 1.8 hectares of the harbour, but is proposing a compromise.

The company, located on George Mercer Drive, applied to the Crown for permission to fill in the waters of the harbour around its premises to create a longer wharf and more laydown space. As part of its assessment, the Province asked the Town of Bay Roberts for its opinion.

The Town’s chief administrative officer, Nigel Black, briefed council Tuesday on how the planning and development committee members view the application.

“Basically, the committee looked at this area and noted several things,” Black said. “Number one, it’s a considerable size. “It runs from the area of that business to just east of Dawe’s Road and out into the harbour a significant distance. So, it is a big piece of area. One of the most important things from our point of view was the zoning of that area and the zoning of the shoreline in that area in particular, which is under environmental protection, which is essentially a conservation zone. It’s put in place to protect that area and other areas around the town that are zoned that way as well.”

Black said the committee feels any disruption to the environmental protection zone should be discouraged or avoided.

The committee also considered input from residents, including a petition, opposed to the development.

But the committee did come with a compromise, which would see less of the area filled in.

“We are proposing to redraw the area, or an alternate drawing of the boundary area that would not impact the shoreline,” Black said. 

The committee suggested the boundary of the expansion could run from Avalon Coal’s property straight into the harbour to the point where the company initially proposed to spread, but would be drawn on an angle so that it doesn’t encroach on the neighboring shoreline.

So rather than returning the Crown Land application with a recommendation for approval or disapproval, Black suggested council mark it as “Other” and include its proposed compromise, along with the Town’s zoning information, and the residents’ petition.

“At the end of the day, it’s Crown Lands that makes the decision on whether this goes ahead or not,” Black said.” But generally speaking, zoning is a strong determinant on which direction to go. So that’s our recommendation.”

Mayor Walter Yetman said it was a good explanation and supported the recommendation to protect the Town’s zoning.

“The committee’s thought was this allows a compromise where you still allow some growth for the company, but you also protect the shoreline that is zoned for environmental protection,” Black said.

Councillor Perry Bowering suggested the Town’s suggested compromise be publicized so that the public can be aware of it.

Black said the Town doesn’t usually publicize Crown Land applications until such time as someone actually applies to construct a building or other structure, and he was reluctant to treat this one any differently.

“At this point in time the application just says it’s for a laydown and storage area, but there are no structures or anything like that,” Black added. “And this meeting is public and so certainly people will see it and the media (The Shoreline News) did come and ask some questions about it when it was referred to the planning committee, so I would say they will probably follow up on it as well.”

Councillor Dean Franey agreed the application should be treated consistently with all others, and also with the suggested compromise. “I don’t think there’s any need of taking in the shoreline (for Avalon’s proposed expansion),” he said.

Councillor Silas Badcock also felt the committee had made some good suggestions.

Put to a vote, the motion to reply to Crown Lands in the manner suggested by the planning committee passed unanimously.

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