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SV council talk 9-11, airport, and wind energy


Stephenville Mayor Tom Rose. — File photo

By Jaymie White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

STEPHENVILLE – The most recent council meeting took place on Thursday evening, Aug. 31, and matters discussed included a dinner to commemorate the 22nd anniversary of 9-11, the finalization of the airport deal, and crown land approvals for wind energy development.

9-11 commemorative dinner On behalf of the finance committee, Coun. Myra White moved that council approve the Town of Stephenville to host a 9-11 commemorative dinner in the amount of $3,000. “I just want to say it is a very significant day that Stephenville played a part in. When the twin towers were attacked, Stephenville played a big role. I think we had 13 aircraft in that day and all of our community groups kicked in and there were so many, sometimes it’s hard to remember how many, from town employees to our fire departments to the College of the North Atlantic, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the College of the North Atlantic. We had significant volunteers that came forward,” said Mayor Tom Rose. “We had Red Cross, we had the Royal Canadian Legion, we had so many community groups that stepped in to help. I think we had about 1,500 passengers that we had to take care of that weekend, and I’ll never forget that weekend. We both worked at the college at the time, Susan (Fowlow), and it was a very significant day, but it just goes to show how important our airport was that day, and actually we had enough tarmac that day that we could have landed and parked every plane that landed in Atlantic Canada. So just goes to tell you the scale of the tarmacs that we have in Stephenville at the airport. It’s nice that we’re commemorating it. We get to do it on September the 11th and we’ve been doing it for about six years now, I believe, and we bring community groups together. But this year the theme is going to be the role that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police played.” Council approved the motion.

Airport sale Mayor Rose wanted to bring attention to the airport deal finally coming to a close and shared his view of the significance this poses for the Town of Stephenville. “Carl Dymond and the Dymond Group of Companies officially purchased the airport. The news release happened, I think, 8:00 on Monday morning (Aug. 28), but I do believe the transfer legally happened at 4:58 p.m. the Friday before, and as a commercial entity or private entity closes with lawyers, there’s always a frenzy on closing day. There was a lot of communication between lawyers on both sides of the equation,” said Rose. “I was there when Air Canada pulled out of Stephenville. It was a big blow to Stephenville, but the airport continued. We had several carriers from Inter-Canadien Air Atlantic, Air Nova was in for a while, Provincial Airlines, and remember, that airport is a 70-year-old piece of infrastructure. It’s an old piece of infrastructure that requires a lot of capital, new life, new business plans.” Rose thanked the numerous people who have worked so hard for the airport throughout the years. “I’ve got to commend all of the mayors and councillors before us because they kept the airport open. They basically were underwriting that airport to the point that they were helping operationally, whether it was keeping the lights on or making payroll, and I’ve got to give them a lot of credit because I’ve often said, most communities sit around the table and say, ‘what are we going to do for economic development?’ Well, sometimes it’s right in front of you. An airport is an asset and our airport now and our port have become global assets because of World Energy and plans of Carl Dymond, but those councils are to be recognized and applauded for carrying the torch, and that’s what they did,” said Rose. “And to the councillors that are here, this council that has supported the airport, I commend each and every one of you. We didn’t always have consensus, and that’s okay, but as a council, we came together and we held it together. I’d also like to say to the Stephenville Airport Corporation, and I’m dating back now, 1999 I think it was, I was the first chair of the Stephenville Airport Corporation, I was just a young whippersnapper, retired from the Air Force and got involved, and believed in the airport and we started there.” Since the deal has officially closed, council and everyone involved can breathe a sigh of relief. “It was a big day for us. It took a lot of pressure off of me as the mayor and I’m sure it took a lot of pressure off the council. Every time we had to debate what we were going to do, it was never easy, but we got it done, and now Carl Dymond and his investors will now take that airport and move it to the new era,” said Rose. “I see they changed the sign today. The new signs are on the airport. They’re moving quickly on that front, but I’m looking forward to the bricks and mortar. I think I’m hearing the first thing would probably be a new hangar, one for aircraft and one for equipment. I really like that move because I think a hangar for aircraft is critical for the airport right now.”

Crown land approval Mayor Rose also wanted to touch base on the four crown land approvals that were announced by the Department of Industry, Energy and Technology on Aug. 30. “On Friday, a press conference out of the Confederation Building identified that there would be four major players providing hydrogen and the Crown lands they had received to create the energy required. The great news for us is World Energy was one of them. Initially, this is a $12 billion project scaled at the single largest private investment in the history of Atlantic Canada,” said Rose. “They’ve touted that this project could grow to become green energy hub of North America. That’s how big it is. Initially, World Energy had talked about three Gigawatts, but it got approved up to four gigawatts. So in scale, 1,000 MW is 1 GW. Muskrat Falls is only 865 megawatts, (it) is like five times Muskrat Falls. That’s how big the energy footprint will be. The environmental impact study has been submitted and government makes the final decision on October 31.” Rose is excited for what this will all eventually mean for the future of Stephenville. “Now we’ve got a green industry that’s going to cut down very little forest, only just to put some rollers in and it will be zero emissions,” said Rose. “It’s going to take a 300 acre brown field and actually turn into a green field. That’s very significant for this town. A work camp will be sitting on 40 acres and right in this town we will house up to 2,000 workers. It’s going to be like the days of the American air base. It’s going to be busy times, but we have to manage those busy times and that’s what we will work diligently with council and management and our community.”

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