It’s been a long summer for B&R Enterprises, as the company is working extensive hours breaking ocean rock in St. Anthony’s harbour.
For Dan Pelley, operator, supervisor and superintendent for the company, work has consisted of long 16-20 hour shifts well into the late evenings. He says there’s been increased delays as they work into deeper water from the west side of the harbour.
“The rock is harder to break than we envisioned,” Pelley said. “And we’re in deeper waters now, so the pressure makes it even tougher.”
Still, Pelley projects they will begin blasting rock on the east side of the harbour in the next four to five weeks.
One other obstacle for the crew has been the boats routinely coming into St. Anthony harbour.
“Most of the travelling boats slow down,” said Pelley. “Sometimes they do come in fast and cause waves that disrupt our work. But most understand and are cautious.”
The blasting of harbour rock is just the first step in a long-term plan to open St. Anthony’s harbour to bigger boats and bigger business, both with tourism and shipping.
Mayor Ernest Simms says the application for a new 400-foot wharf has now been submitted, and this project will be the second phase once the harbour rock is dealt with.
The projected wharf is for container ships off-loading large and heavy materials into St. Anthony. The wharf will have a large crane to off-load the material, something the town is currently lacking.
“The current boats coming here have cranes on them,” said Simms. “But these new ships in other parts of the world like Iceland, Norway, and Denmark, they don’t have cranes – the cranes are at the port.
“We’re going to have to do the same thing if we want to stay in the loop.”
With other potential investments in the future for mining and forestry, Simms says this up-to-date wharf will have to be in place for shipping with these industries.
“This plan is to have the proper laydown areas, proper cranes and wharf size available,” said Simms. “There’s no good saying we’re going to have more shipping if we’re not ready for it.”
The current projections for this wharf, according to their application, will require a $16-22-million investment from the federal government.
The blasting of the harbour rock is also going to increase the availability of cruise ships to dock in St. Anthony. As well, Simms says there have been talks with the Canadian Navy regarding the town’s harbour being a strategic and beneficial position for their ships.
“We’re the last port of the east coast of Canada that can supply vessels,” said Simms. “Once that traffic has increased, hopefully the federal government, along with the province, will look at this and see the potential here.”