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Vardy’s island removal begins assessment

A rainbow appears to touch Vardy’s island. The tiny island in Port aux Basques harbour is being tested to determine if it can be removed, so that Marine Atlantic and other vessels will have an easier time navigating into port. – © Rosalyn Roy

The Port aux Basques harbour might be undergoing a facelift some time in the future. Vardys island has been used to launch celebratory firework displays for years, but that might soon have to change if Marine Atlantic and the town get their way.

“Vardy’s island removal is in the works. In the beginning the town sought ownership for the eventual removal. This is now in the hands of Marine Atlantic. Marine Atlantic in partnership with the town will be seeking the eventual removal of the island,” wrote Mayor John Spencer via e-mail. “Basically it is in the data collection stage before proceeding to the environmental stage before the actual removal occurs. It is all part of an overall harbour improvement strategy to allow for Marine Atlantic vessels to enter and leave the harbour in weather conditions considered less than ideal with the size of vessels and wind conditions. Many of the trip cancellations are prompted by safety in navigating the tight space within the harbour. The whole project will be done utilizing federal funding.”

Heavy equipment was spotted on Vardy’s island only a few weeks ago.

Marine Atlantic’s corporate communications officer, Darrell Mercer, confirmed that the Crown corporation is proposing the removal of Vardy’s island to improve the navigational elements of the harbour, enhance safety and lessen the impact of challenging weather conditions.

“As part of this process, we are undertaking preliminary due diligence to investigate the geological and environmental aspects of the island,” wrote Mercer via e-mail. “We are currently drilling three holes on the island to understand its rock composition. This preliminary work will help us better understand and prepare for additional work and study should we progress to a future stage of removal.”

The drilling work lasted two days and was conducted by CBCL Ltd. using subcontractors. The next step in the process is to send the samples for detailed analysis, but Mercer cautions that it is premature to put any time frame on the island’s removal or even to know that it is truly possible.

“There is much due diligence that would have to take place involving various stakeholders. We are currently in an initial research stage to understand the geotechnical composition of the island.”

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