The Grand Bank town council met on Feb. 13.
Project clarification needed
Burin-Grand Bank MHA Carol Anne Haley has informed the town the provincial government is planning to address the highway concerns between Grand Bank and Fortune.
The highway is located on the edge of cliff leading to the ocean and erosion has been a concern for some time.
Mayor Rex Matthews, however, said council needs clarification on the plans, which Haley described as a realignment of the road.
The mayor pointed out council’s position is the highway should be relocated further away from the cliff.
Matthews plans to write Haley seeking more information about the scope of the work.
Population decline troublesome
Matthews said the latest census data is worrisome for Grand Bank and other rural communities in the province.
The first information from Census 2016, including population, was released by Statistics Canada this month.
The Town of Grand Bank lost another 105 residents between 2011 and 2016, falling to 2,310, a drop of 4.3 per cent.
The populations of most other rural towns on the Burin Peninsula and around Newfoundland and Labrador also fell over the five-year period.
“When you have a declining population and an aging population, there’s a lot of implications,” Matthews said.
The mayor said council has to be more vigilant in trying to get people to move to the town.
Looking to Bonavista
Heritage and tourism committee chairman Councillor Travis Parsons was asked to initiate plans to send a delegation from the town to Bonavista.
The purpose of the future visit will be to learn more about how that community has managed to benefit from its built heritage over the past 20 years.
Council met with Bonavista Living chief operating officer John Norman in Grand Bank on Feb. 3.
Norman, who has been heavily involved in that effort, suggested Grand Bank follow Bonavista’s approach.
“I was inspired by his meeting and I think it’s the direction we need to go,” Parsons said.
Other councillors agreed sending a delegation should be the first step.
Clam plans scrapped for now
Matthews said it looks as if the federal government is backing off from expanding the Arctic surf clam fishery for now.
A call for new entrants into the fishery was issued back in 2015 when the previous Conservative government was in power.
Matthews said the 14 applications – including one from the Town of Grand Bank – were returned recently.
“The science is pretty incomplete at this particular time and I’m thinking until they are satisfied that they can make their big decisions based on better information than they have that there will be no new licenses issued for the Arctic surf clam fishery,” the mayor said.
Clearwater Seafoods is currently the only license holder for Arctic surf clams and processes them at its plant in Grand Bank.
Pleased with winter carnival
Recreation director Tommy Burton said he was pleased with the outcome of this year’s winter carnival.
Many of the events were a success, Burton said, particularly those for seniors, which were well attended.
“I think pretty much everyone was pleased with the way it went,” he said.
“We would have liked to see some more participation by some organizations. We can’t force them. All you can do is encourage and if they don’t come forward you got to make do with what you got.”
Burton said he received responses from 12 of the 28 organizations in the community that were contacted to help with the carnival.
Council has awarded a tender to Royal Freightliner Ltd. for the purchase of a new salt truck.
The bid, in the amount of $183,242.15, was the lowest received.
Final approval is conditional upon the verification of details by town manager Wayne Bolt.
Company investing in plant
Councillors welcomed news Clearwater Seafoods is planning to invest more money in its Grand Bank plant.
The company has announced plans to spend $3.6 million on the facility to increase grading and processing, improve infrastructure and expand production of additional value-added product formats.
Clearwater is also investing $2 million to turn its Highland Fisheries facility in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia into a year-round operation. In addition to crab, that plant will also process clams.
Matthews said the company made it clear Grand Bank will remain its primary clam-processing operation.