Abandoned fishplants disasters waiting to happen
Thursday, March 1, 2012
NDP Environment and Municipal Affairs Critic George Murphy (MHA, St. John’s East) wants to know if there is a government plan for dealing with abandoned fish plants and other structures in the province.
“The former fishplant in Englee has justifiably gotten a lot of attention lately, thanks in large part to my colleague Christopher Mitchelmore [NDP MHA, The Straits-White Bay North] and his tireless lobbying to get government to pay attention to the imminent danger that the falling-down building poses to the people of Englee,” Murphy said today. “But Englee isn’t the only place dealing with an abandoned plant.
“There are also abandoned fishplants in Bear Cove, Savage Cove, Sandy Cove, Pines Cove, Green Island Brook, Grandois, Rose Blanche-Harbour LeCou, and Isle aux Morts, to name just a few,” Murphy added. “There seems to be no plan on government’s part to force the owners of these buildings to clean up their messes. Will the people of Port Union and Marystown be in a similar situation in a couple of years?”
Murphy points out that the problem is not restricted to fishplants, and that abandoned schools have also been concerns for communities. “The former Grand Falls Academy, for example, placed the town’s commercial district in peril when it went up in a fire a few years ago,” he said.
In addition to posing environmental threats, such as asbestos, abandoned buildings can be fire hazards, a target for vandals, and dangerous gathering places for young people.
“Owners can apparently walk away from the communities with no consequences,” Murphy said. “Or the buildings are auctioned to the highest bidder, who goes in and strips out anything of value, and then abandons the building to the elements.
“We cannot leave our communities in danger like this,” said Murphy. “The government must enforce the regulations that apply. If the regulations are not enough to keep our people safe, then we need better regulations.”