A better welcoming

Gary Kean
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Tour guide wants bus mustering lot better maintained

Security team member Blaine Gillam, left, answers questions from a cruise ship passenger before they board the shuttle bus in this file photo, which shows the unpaved parking lot used to muster buses for onshore excursions.

CORNER BROOK  The next time George Spracklin works as a tour guide for a cruise ship visit in Corner Brook, he would like nothing more than the area where visitors board buses to be paved.

He won’t hold his breath waiting, but feels it’s something that should be done if the city wants to put its best foot forward when welcoming these tourists.

“I’ve been doing this for years and, each and every time, we say it’s crazy and ridiculous,” said Spracklin, one of a host of local people who help give tours when ships are in town.

Spracklin worked the first vessel to visit Corner Brook this year, the Oceania Marina, which came into port June 3. He said, fortunately, there were only a handful of buses used that day and each one was able to pull up to the little bit of asphalt in the parking lot where passengers are loaded for the local tours.

That may not be the case when 12 more ships, several with many more passengers, come calling between August and October.

“There’s no way you can get them all up onto the pavement,” said Spracklin. “I can see them coming now with their white shoes on and trying to keep their slacks out of the mud.”

Many passengers coming off the ship haven’t signed up for the guided excursions. Many of them walk towards downtown or head for the Corner Brook Stream Trail, the entrance to which is across the gravel, pothole-riddled and sometimes muddy parking lot.

“Once they get to the trail, it’s great but they have to get across that parking lot and that’s what they see first,” said Spracklin.

The parking lot is actually divided among three owners. The Corner Brook Port Corporation owns a portion closest to the dock where the ships tie up. Corner Brook Pulp and Paper owns a portion near the gate to the eastern end of the mill’s property, while the provincial government is responsible for the remainder beneath the Lewin Parkway overpass.

Jackie Chow, the port corporation’s chief executive officer, said the port does some maintenance on the area used by buses. That includes grading the lot and placing new class A nearest where passengers get on the buses.

It doesn’t take long for weather and traffic to undo that work.

“We don’t want to be on that gravel area and our object is to not use it at all,” said Chow. “If we can pull the buses up as far as we can, so we don’t have to avail of that area, that is our best option at the moment.”

She said there has never been any joint discussion between the three owners to pave the lot. The part owned by the paper company is not really used during cruise ship visits and she’s sure Corner Brook Pulp and Paper has other plans for its money these days.

“We would not expect them to pave their portion of it just to improve the aesthetic for cruise passengers,” she said.

No one from the paper company returned messages for comment on this story. Nor did the Department of Transportation and Works, which is responsible for the Lewin Parkway and any plans to pave beneath the overpass.

Chow said the port corporation has not had any direct complaints from the cruise lines it deals with, although it has heard from bus drivers and local tour guides about the condition of the parking lot.

“We all agree it would be wonderful to have it paved,” she said. “However, it is a substantial cost and we have limited resources for capital improvements of that nature.”

A bigger priority for the port, added Chow, was placing a mobile washroom facility dockside for passengers and crew coming from and going back to the ship.

“We felt that was a much higher priority and provided a much greater benefit for the passengers,” she said of the facility installed last year. “We chose to invest in that and to deal with the parking lot situation by trying not to use it.”

Chow expects the area where passengers load onto buses will get some maintenance in time for the busier part of the cruise ship season.

Organizations: Corner Brook Port, Department of Transportation and Works

Geographic location: CORNER BROOK, Lewin Parkway

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Recent comments

  • Eric Colwell
    June 17, 2013 - 02:13

    I think its like anything in Cornerbrook,its embarrassing to have any tourist come here,We really have nothing to offer them,let alone a paved parking lot for them to be picked up on.After that experience they have to take a bone crushing ride over our wonderful well maintained roads and maybe they will get to sneek a peek at our half vacant lovely city hall.Maybe after that they can go and view the many vacant decrepit buildings in our downtown core and from there have a look at our new water treatment plant.Ultimately they really have nowhere decent to go and likely wont return,but hey they get to go shopping at Walmart!

    • BonnieGirl
      June 17, 2013 - 10:39

      Eric, have you even been inside the new City Hall? It is far from half empty! I was there for a tour recently, and there is not even a single empty office in that building. If you're talking about the space downstairs on the Park Street side, that's leased to the Arts Council and they are fundraising to put a theatre in there. As a downtown employee, I can also tell you that the people who were here on that last cruise ship were thrilled and fascinated by our city and found lots of things to interest and entertain them. They were raving about the hospitality of our people and the quality of local art and they enjoyed walking on the Corner Brook Stream Trail and hiking up to Three Bear Mountain. They told me they were very interested to visit the green roof at City Hall and learn about why the building is so energy efficient. Maybe you should spend some time getting to know your city as a tourist, and consider all the positive things that we have to offer instead of being so negative about everything.

  • Mark
    June 15, 2013 - 08:51

    That's right Henry Never mind pavement we can't even get our street on Carter Avenue cleaned, haven't seen a street cleaner since winter left us. Lots of sand on the road from the city winter works and plenty of dust in the air. In my house my wife has asthma and dust is one of her triggers. We are not having a good time. That's it.

  • david
    June 15, 2013 - 08:46

    Yes, lets' spend MORE money making the parking lot "prettier" for summer transients to admire while they spend not a dime here in their allotted 6 hours. Great idea. This cruise ship strategy is just piling up the results, isn't it? Major streets in the city aren't fit to drive on, but the dockyard --- that no taxpayer uses or even sees, and shipping companies don't even use ----- keeps morphing into a ludicrous money pit........Huzzah!

  • Henry
    June 15, 2013 - 08:37

    George I have trying to get new curbs, gutters and new pavement work on our streets for years and you feel tourists who are basically strangers should get the royal treatment. I disagree if we have money to spend then. The neighbourhoods should be repaired first. But you know you stand more then a even chance of having the pavement work completed by this time next year because the mayor and council are pro business and anti neighbourhoods when it comes to infra structure.

    • BonnieGirl
      June 17, 2013 - 10:43

      Hello? Didn't any of you read the story? The land is privately owned by the Port Corporation the mill and the provincial government. Any money that gets spent on it has nothing to do with the mayor and council or with your tax dollars not being used to clean the streets. Maybe you should be complaining that our schools aren't teaching 'reading comprehension' well enough.