Kelvin Parsons, Opposition Natural Resources Critic and MHA for the District
Burgeo-Lapoile, says he is disappointed that it appears government has given
Abitibi permission to move forward with the dismantling of the Stephenville
In a late Friday afternoon press release, government released Abitibi
from further environmental assessment on the decommissioning of the
Stephenville mill. It now appears the company can dismantle the buildings
and return the site to a green field with the permission of the provincial
"I am very disappointed that government appears willing to allow this
valuable asset to be removed from the Stephenville area," said Mr. Parsons.
"Over the past 12 months we continuously heard the premier and the minister
of natural resources state emphatically that they would expropriate the mill
if no deal could be reached with Abitibi. However, since the mill closed,
government has been extremely quiet and has made no mention of
expropriation. It is obvious this was strictly political rhetoric.
"The premier and his government owe the people of the Bay St. George
region more than a late afternoon press release announcing the demise of
their mill. He continuously talks tough, but refuses to take action to
protect the needs of the people. I fear that any chance that may have
existed to find a new operator for the mill, or a new industry to take over
the assets will now be lost. A defunct paper mill in Cape Breton was just
given new life by investors because the facility was left intact. Similar
possibilities will not be possible if Stephenville’s assets are torn down
and shipped from the community.
"It is unfortunate that our provincial government appears unwilling to
fight to keep this infrastructure in Stephenville. The Bay St. George region
has much potential and opportunity, however, the loss of the mill asset will
certainly do nothing to encourage new investment in an area that certainly
needs a new industrial customer."