NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR
With the removal of a wharf owned by Transport Canada underway in Terrenceville, residents of the community are concerned about what it could mean for the shoreline there.
“That wharf serves as a breakwater,” Deputy Mayor Verna McGrath told The Southern Gazette on Aug. 29. “We have our cemetery down on the meadow and five residences down there.”
McGrath said during a visit to the town by officials from Transport Canada, concerns were raised over the removal of the wharf, and how it would leave part of the community open to the elements.
She said in response she was told, “Their (Transport Canada) engineers did studies and it’s not going to affect the shoreline…if it did they would revisit it at a later date.”
McGrath said it’s too late to act if the houses are destroyed and the cemetery is washed out, something she said has happened in the past.
“Before that wharf went there in the ‘70s they did have a washout from a storm, and there were bodies that were washed out (to sea),” she said.
Julie Leroux, media relations with Transport Canada, told The Southern Gazette via e-mail that in 2014 the department commissioned a study to determine if the removal of the wharf would have any effect on the shoreline.
“The study concluded that the removal of the wharf will have minimal impact on the erosion of the local shoreline. The study was shared with the community,” she noted. “Transport Canada is working closely with the Town of Terrenceville on the demolition project. Transport Canada will install additional shoreline protection (boulders) on the site once the wharf is removed.”
McGrath said she trusts the wisdom of the older residents of the community rather than a study by government.
“Everyone here is saying not ‘if” but ‘when’, especially now with global warming, the storms are getting worse,” she said.
Efforts to save wharf
McGrath said leading up to the decision by Transport Canada to remove the wharf, the town had been exploring options to save it.
“They came to meet with council from Transport Canada (in) New Brunswick,” explained McGrath. “They said we (Transport Canada) or the town can take it over — we give you some money and you fix it up yourselves.”
She said the town considered their options on whether they would take over the wharf and pay a private contractor to demolish it, or if they would take over the wharf and use the money from the department to repair the wharf, “but Transport Canada would no longer be liable (for the wharf) — it was a one-shot deal,” said McGrath. “They wouldn’t fix it up anymore in 10 years…we would be responsible.”
The town held a public meeting regarding the future of the wharf, during which it was decided that the residents of the town were in favor of the town taking ownership of the wharf.
McGrath explained that when council next spoke with Transport Canada, she was surprised to learn that the offer was off the table.
“We were told that they were mistaken, we could not retain ownership—it was going to be demolished,” she said.
McGrath calls it a pretty big mistake on the part of Transport Canada.
When asked about what transpired in this instance, Transport Canada stated, “Under the Ports Asset Transfer Program, the Town of Terrenceville had expressed interest in taking ownership of the wharf. On November 15, 2016, the Town withdrew its interest.
“The wharf in Terrenceville was built in 1974 and has been closed since 1999. Due to its poor condition, the decision to demolish the wharf was made for safety reasons.”
McGrath said although the wharf has not been used by boats in a number of years, it is still a centurial part of the community.
“I could get up every morning and see people fishing off that wharf,” she said.
McGrath added the town had also been looking into ways to revitalize the wharf, “…tourism-wise, like have a little restaurant or café.”
McGrath explained that events such as The Bottom of the Bay festival were held alongside the wharf.
“Everyone from the town knows that this is where everyone meets.”