Liberal fisheries critic Jim Bennett
DANIEL’S HARBOUR — This past year was not a good one for the Northern Peninsula so looking forward to 2014 is a must for the area, said Jim Bennett.
The Member of the House of Assembly for St. Barbe didn’t mince words when asked about any progress made for his constituents in the last year.
“I can’t see anything that actually stands out (in terms of accomplishments), I wish I could, I really do,” said Bennett from his Daniel’s Harbour home Friday.“ Our area is still trying to make progress.”
He said losing the Red Ochre Regional Board and the Nordic Economic Development Corporation earlier in the year was a big blow because it provided a level of assistance to towns that needed assistance in obtaining grants for various projects.
He also said he is unsure how the pending free trade agreement between Canada and the European Union will impact the region.
Bennett also noted that the construction work local residents are looking forward to regarding the Muskrat Falls hydro development might not impact the area until 2015.
“Towns individually seem to be coping well, they have done a good job with the resources they have,” he said.
“But we are seeing things shrinking from regions, such as the consolidation of school boards.”
He said there is some recovery in terms of the tourism sector, which hopefully will continue into the new year if the American economy continues to improve.
Bennett would also like to see a minerals initiative go forward in 2014 to seek out areas of opportunity for potential mining projects, which could jumpstart some local economies.
He said local prospector groups have been consulted and the provincial Department of Natural Resources has been helpful.
“We’ve been reviewing other areas that seem to be doing well in minerals, and if we could identify minerals, there could be an opportunity for at least one mine,” he said.
“We’ve had a mine in Daniel’s Harbour, but we’ll still need more of our people on the ground doing the work.”