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LETTER: We must act like the future of the region is at stake

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Letter to the Editor
ST. ANTHONY, N.L. —

The Crémaillère Harbour Marine Port Development is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to revitalize and diversify the economy of the entire Great Northern Peninsula and southern Labrador.

Recognizing the need for due diligence on such significant projects, it remains imperative that the remaining review process is expedited as quickly as possible. This port is the catalyst for a bright new future of our communities, friends and family. It will serve as a beacon of a new era of sustainable, community-oriented economic development and northern rural investment. Approval of the port will send a clear signal that northern Newfoundland is open for business.

The proponents of the project, Great Northern Port (GNP), have made significant investments in time, resources and money to get to this stage, likely approaching a million dollars, without any guarantee that the project would go ahead.

The owners of the company have run ports for decades in this province and across Canada and held executive roles at the largest shipping container company on the planet. They have met with dozens of mayors, elected representatives, associations and organizations in the area to listen to concerns and share information. The environmental preview report was thorough and concise and demonstrated a genuine concern for sustainable development and community investment. All of these factors clearly demonstrate GNP’s commitment to this project and the region as a whole.

There are powerful driving forces behind the need for a northern port on Canada’s east coast.

The northwest passage will soon be a major commercial shipping route and present sovereignty and security challenges. New investments in oil, gas and mining will need a way to get their products to the world market. The increase in ships will correspondingly increase the demand for drydocks, supplies and fuel.

The goods and services provided and used by GNP, its customers and its suppliers will transform the regional and provincial economy. Crémaillère Harbour has been demonstrated to be the ideal location for a port of this magnitude, particularly because the harbour remains ice-free and accessible for more days per year than any other location in the region.

The direct and indirect job creation of the port will touch almost every corner of the region’s economy; good paying, full-time, year-round skilled jobs. Electricians, plumbers, engineers, machinists, fabricators, welders, and carpenters will have years of work just constructing the port, let alone keeping it operational and repairing massive vessels.

They’ll need security guards, lawyers, accountants, customs and immigration specialists, office workers, janitors and maintenance personnel. Their customers will buy fuel, food, equipment, accommodations and services in the region.

Their suppliers will hire more people to deliver gas, food, equipment, materials and supplies to the port.

More people will return home, the tax base will increase, people will have more money in their pocket to spend, invest or save.

But, every day that we delay another family moves to Ontario or Alberta and dozens are seriously considering it. Every day young, skilled professionals leave and never look back as they start building new lives, families and career paths somewhere else. Every day the population of our communities shrinks along with municipal and provincial tax bases needed to pay for vital services. Every day the provincial debt increases by over $1,000,000. Every day an investor grows tired of waiting and moves on to the next project. Every day another community is lobbying actively to take this project away from northern Newfoundland. Every day an entrepreneur or small business delays making investments in equipment and hiring to support the port as a customer. Every day we hold our breath while our elected representatives hold the future of the northern peninsula at the tip of their pens.

I encourage everyone to call, write or email your municipal, provincial and federal representatives to express your support for this project’s approval. We must act like the very future of the region is at stake, because it is.

Sincerely,

Ben Wiper

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