04 January 2012

Whose camp is it anyway? #nlpoli

Leo Abbass, mayor of Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

Regular readers will know him already.

Quoted this time by Voice of the Cabinet Minister about a controversial work camp a company wants to build in his community.  VOCM linked the camp to Muskrat Falls, and so did Leo, according to the version on the story they had on Tuesday:

The Mayor of Happy Valley-Goose Bay says in order for work to continue on the Muskrat Falls project, a work camp has to be built in his town.  The proposed camp by the Shaw Group on Kelland Drive has come under scrutiny by area residents who think the 300 person sleeping and eating facility should be built elsewhere. Others, meanwhile, think local residents are not being given fair job opportunities. Mayor Leo Abbass says the attention that this work-project is receiving online seems to be based on what he calls 'the mixing of issues'.

He refers to one note on Facebook which says that the person was shocked that these jobs were being offered to outside people before they were offered to local residents. He says the expertise is not available in his town, and engineers and technicians have specialized skills and they will be brought in for this project. 360 members have joined a Facebook page opposing the development, which would require town council to amend its development regulations.  Abbass says public submissions will still be accepted until January 12th, and he hopes a public meeting scheduled for Thursday on the matter will help clarify the confusion. He says he thinks people are jumping the gun on what this project is all about. He says the grief that he is hearing right now about this work camp seems to based on what he calls 'a lot of misconception out there'.


The work camp has nothing to do with Muskrat Falls, according to no less an authority than the people proposing the multi-billion dollar debt scheme.

“Nalcor not involved with proposed Kelland Drive camp” is the title of a post by vice president Gil Bennett on the Nalcor blog.

I assure residents that Nalcor Energy is not involved in this proposal by Shaw Group. Their proposal is not a requirement for the Muskrat Falls Project.

Bennett also outlined the local benefits scheme for Muskrat Falls.

On Wednesday, VOCM was still running the story connecting the camp to the Muskrat Falls project.

And they were still mentioning Leo Abbass who was also making the same connection.  The Wednesday version:

A public meeting will take place tomorrow night to discuss the construction of a controversial work camp in Happy Valley- Goose Bay. The local town council is proposing to amend its development regulations, which has residents worried that the 300-person camp would be built too close to homes. The camp will provide food, services, and shelter to engineers and technicians working on the Muskrat Falls project. Happy Valley-Goose Bay Mayor Leo Abbass says having a work camp in town is better than the situation in Labrador City and Wabush. He says contractors in Lab West have been buying up living spaces, a move which further tightens the housing market.

He says the work camp project in Happy Valley-Goose Bay will help alleviate the possibility of contractors buying existing properties, and then using them to house their workers. The proposed work camp has generated a fair bit of opposition from area residents, who have set up a Facebook page opposed to the project.

Leo has a bunch of problems, evidently, not the least of which is squaring his version of what the camp is about with what the Muskrat Falls people are saying.

One of the ways of doing that might be for Leo to have town officials look at any municipal regulations that would hinder growth in the town.  Leo could also talk to his provincial government buddies about shifting their regulations that hinder development of affordable housing.

If Leo and his council want to avoid the housing nightmare they have in Labrador West, then some regulatory changes would be far easier than backing a work camp for a project that the work camp apparently isn’t connected to in the first place.

- srbp -