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Province announces major financial investment in Placentia Bay aquaculture project

Thomas Grieg, owner of Grieg NL, welcomed the financial assistance from both the provincial and federal governments.
Thomas Grieg, owner of Grieg NL, welcomed the financial assistance from both the provincial and federal governments. - Colin Farrell
MARYSTOWN, N.L.
NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR
Premier Dwight Ball was on hand at a kick-off event for Grieg NL in Marystown Friday, Sept. 14. The Premier announced a financial commitment to the project in the form of a $30 million repayable load.
Ball told The Southern Gazette the financial assistance is contingent on a number of conditions.
“What we’ve been able to do over the last number of years in this negotiation is to put some stringent conditions in place,” Ball said. “An example, what we’re talking about here today is $30 million in provincial money over a seven-year period, and what is key in all of this is it’s performance based, it’s attached to jobs, it’s attached to investment.
“So, you really don’t get the money until you send the money, or until you create jobs in this area, so that’s the big difference right now, they’ll be no money advanced until you see the economic benefit. There are very tangible benefits to the province and to this area.”
Ball added that the government will continue to monitor the project to ensure the agreed conditions are met.
“How much economic activity is generated from this project, how many jobs have you produced, and are you meeting the environmental conditions that are attached to this release,” he noted regarding areas that will be monitored.
When asked his thoughts on a possible appeal of the province’s decision to release the project from the environmental assessment process, as brought up by the Atlantic Salmon Federation, the Premier said government anticipated the move.
“This is a group that had the opportunity to actually participate in public consultations leading into this decision, and they did that, so it’s not unusual … the analysis has been done, the regulations have been put in place — we firmly believe and the department themselves agreed that this was ready for release,” he said.
Questioning conflict of interest
In a release issued on Sept. 13, by the Atlantic Salmon Federation, the organization’s president, Bill Taylor, accused the provincial government of being in a conflict.
Ball said there was no conflict on behalf of the government.
“This process is completely independent, it’s been through a number of public consultations, a number of reviews of other jurisdictions and the department at the time made the decision to release this project,” he said.
On top of the provincial investment, the federal government will contribute a repayable investment of $10 million through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.
Project investment
Thomas Grieg, owner of Grieg NL, said the federal and provincial investment puts the company’s total investment into the project at $210 million.
“Our financers and investors see this equity investment as a sign of confidence in the project,” said Grieg.
He added the company appreciates government’s aggressive approach to cultivate investment in aquaculture and ensuring the creation of employment and business opportunities in Placentia Bay.
Embracing aquaculture
Marystown Mayor Sam Synard said people should not fear aquaculture.
“We should embrace aquaculture,” he said. “Aquaculture has been around for thousands of years, and large-scale aquaculture has been around for (the past) 25-30 years — in Norway last year they produced one million metric tons of salmon.”
He said the Placentia Bay project is looking to produce 30,000 metric tons, resulting in 800 jobs for the Burin Peninsula. Synard added that if the numbers produced were to increase to that in Norway, “we could have thousands of jobs here.”
Synard said there is no closing the door on aquaculture.
“Let’s make it the best process possible,” he said, “the safest, the best advanced and go with it…the world needs aquaculture.”
Colin.farrell@southerngazette.ca

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