The MHA for Burgeo–La Poile maintains that the problem of dilapidated, privately owned fish plants is a provincial problem that needs to be addressed.
“What we’re dealing with here, this is not just isolated to these two spots,” Andrew Parsons said.
The two locations Parsons is referring to are in Isle aux Morts and Rose Blanche—Harbour Le Cou, within his electoral district.
The MHA has been working with the mayors and councillors of both towns to address their concerns surrounding the crumbling fish plants.
To that end, Parsons has reached out to Service NL, which recently sent out investigators to examine both sites.
“They have visited both sites. They did a complete inventory of the different types of wastes and hazards,” confirmed Parsons.
Parsons says Service NL, along with his Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment, will next determine what specific actions they can take from an enforcement perspective.
“This is a province-wide issue,” he said. “There’s a long list that exists of basically abandoned or derelict fish plants.”
Dealing with these two fish plants in particular will serve as sort of a test, says Parsons.
“What do we need to do in terms of a legislative framework or a legal framework and costing framework, because my issue all along has been it’s very expensive and unfortunate that a town has to take it on, but nor do I think that the taxpayers of the province should be taking it on,” he said.
“So what can do we do to help remedy that issue, but at the same time respecting that they’re eyesores in the community, they may have environmental or safety hazards, so action has to be taken.”
Parsons won’t commit to a timeframe just yet, as the inspections have only just been completed.
“It will take some time,” admitted Parsons, citing the recent Embree decision. “You don’t want to do something in haste and put yourself in a situation where you’re actually causing yourself trouble.”
On June 8, the Town of Embree was found negligent by the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador after directing a contractor to demolish and remove a dilapidated building after the owner repeatedly refused to comply with repeated orders to clean up, repair or remove the structure.
“Right now, the system we have doesn’t necessarily work, especially when you have —some of the buildings are owned by dissolved corporations. The legal process just to deal with that tangle just is amazing,” said Parsons.
Others are owned by active corporations, and it gets difficult just to even determine ownership. Parsons says no two situations are exactly alike, which complicates matters even further.
“I also think my other department, JPS (Justice and Public Safety) will be involved, because we’re going to need to get some legal background on what our options are, what we can we can and cannot do, and in some cases what do we need to do to change legislation to assist us?”
Waiting on report
Parsons does intend to reach out to Mayors Clayton Durnford (Rose Blanche – Harbour Le Cou) and Nelson Lillington (Isle aux Morts) about the inspections. The details of the Service NL findings are currently unknown, and Parsons does not know if a report has even been drafted yet, but he hopes to hear more soon.
He’s also promised to share it if he can.
“I’d love to see it (made) public because I think that helps spur action.”