PLUM POINT, NL – The Great Northern Peninsula annual stakeholders meeting was held in Plum Point on Oct. 18.
This event provides a chance for members of the public and local businesses to discuss economic issues on the Northern Peninsula, from Norris Point to the very tip.
Economic opportunities are highlighted in a reported commissioned by the CBDC NORTIP Development Corporation, which was discussed during the session.
The group hired Barry Sheppard Management Consulting to conduct the report. CBDC NORTIP executive director Richard May says the Sheppard group started its research in the summer of 2016, making several trips to the region and doing one-on-one interviews with community development groups and businesses.
May says the report does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the CBDC NORTIP board, staff or the consultant, but those of the individuals who supplied information and opinions collected in developing the report.
The report identified four main opportunities as key for the region, including agriculture, northern and Arctic opportunities, experiential tourism, and home services for seniors.
The report encourages more agriculture development on the Northern Peninsula, specifically for residents to produce their own food so they’re not as dependent on processed food from stores.
Growing your own food on the Northern Peninsula would not only mean better quality food for people in the area, but improved nutrition and reduced produce costs, says May.
More specifically, the region would rely less on transportation to bring food in from outside the province, which drives up costs of the produce.
May explains that ideally, about half a dozen people in the region would set up farms, working co-operatively to provide produce to the local grocery store and selling it to others.
He says farms could be located near some of the bigger towns on the Northern Peninsula, where more people shop, including St. Anthony, Roddickton, Port au Choix/Port Saunders and Rocky Harbour.
Hydroponics is also a way to produce a variety of vegetables and herbs. During the session, Enactus Memorial, a group of young entrepreneurs based out of Memorial University in St. John’s, gave a presentation on hydroponics. They recently won second place in a global competition for their SucSeed Hydroponic Project.
Using a hydroponic container, they demonstrated how to grow vegetables and herbs that don’t have a big root base, including cabbage, lettuce, bell pepper and green onion.
As it can include foods that don’t necessarily grow in the earth, hydroponics could diversify the region’s produce. And since it’s used inside, the system can be used year-round.
Northern and Arctic opportunities
Building the infrastructure of St. Anthony’s international port could lead to the area providing more significant shipping to the north.
“The stronger it is and the greater capability it has, the more opportunities there are for businesses on the peninsula to produce items to be shipped out,” said May. “Right now, they can easily be shipped to Europe but, soon, there’s going to be regular shipment routes north.”
Wood from the province could hypothetically be used to heat homes in the barren Arctic, providing a cheaper source of heat than electrical heat and fuel.
Furthermore, vegetables and herbs could be shipped north if they build up farming on the Northern Peninsula, “to put some fresh food on their table that won’t cost a fortune,” said May.
The report identified opportunities to improve experiences for tourism on the Northern Peninsula.
For instance, May said when tourists visit the region, they’re not necessarily aware of the many things they can do during their time there.
“There’s tourists that complain, I guess, about there not being enough things to do,” he said. “And, for the most part, there are lots of things they can do, it’s just that they’re not necessarily aware of them.”
Awareness of activities on the Northern Peninsula can be improved with better promotion and marketing.
May adds it’s necessary to create experiences that play on the passions and emotions of the visitors; otherwise they won’t be memorable or enjoyable.
Home services for seniors
Lastly, the report identifies a need to increase and improve services to provide seniors the option to live in their own homes.
“Some of it might be personal care, housecleaning, prescription pick-ups, grocery pick-ups, foot care,” said May.
These services can be provided in seniors’ homes so they may live a more comfortable lifestyle without exerting great energy or interfering with any medical issues.
Moreover, the longer seniors can live at home, less pressure is put on other long-term care services.