DEER LAKE — The completion of the Trans-Labrador Highway, a busy ferry crossing the Strait of Belle Isle from Blanc Sablon to St. Barbe and the recent announcement of the $6.2-billion Lower Churchill River hydroelectric development project is going to mean an increase in traffic on the west coast.
According to regional chambers of commerce this will help position the area in the direction of a more upbeat economy.
Desmond Ball, secretary of the Deer Lake Chamber of Commerce, said Deer Lake is strategically located to benefit wholeheartedly.
“Our airport will see a lot of benefits from the traffic to and from the airport,” said Ball.
“The Trans-Labrador Highway, it opens up a different part of the province that we’ve never had access to before which is southern Labrador.”
He said any time there are major construction projects there is economic spinoff in areas such as building supplies and the housing market.
“We are located so close to the airport, people are just going to choose to live here. Deer Lake is in the best location because we can gobble up the eastbound traffic and the northbound traffic and at the end of the day it will be busy. The traffic is going to be the generator to and from Labrador and traffic to and from the Muskrat development,” said Ball.
Maurice Simmonds, president of the St. Anthony Chamber of Commerce, agreed there will be economic benefits.
“The Trans-Labrador Highway has opened up the area for a lot of vehicular traffic and increased tourism and of course the Lower Churchill deal no doubt is going to generate a lot of new revenue in the province and proportionally, we’ll see some benefits from it,” he said.
He said the proposed route for the transmission lines connecting power from Labrador through to the rest of the province is located about 100 kilometres away from St. Anthony and therefore away from a lot of the activity.
“St. Anthony has a lot of services here could possibly benefit from it and I’m sure it’s not too far away for people to commute to do some work there when the jobs become available,” said Simmonds.
MHA for the Humber Valley Darryl Kelly said the project will provide economic stimulus and jobs for Newfoundlanders, with about 2,700 people from a number of different trades to be hired.
“Any time you have a project that can hire 2,700 at its peak is significant. Then there’s the ongoing upkeep and maintenance … That’ll be a benefit to people looking for employment,” he said.
“The magnitude of the spinoff to the service sector, it could be cleaning, engineering work. All the engineering work is going to be done in this province.”
Kelly said education opportunities may be available to train and enhance the skills of workers.
“There is great likelihood that we will certainly benefit in a very significant way from this project. This is big. This is a project that we need here in Newfoundland,” he said.