NDP convention tackles mill deterioration
© Andrea Gunn photo
The old Abitibi-Bowater mill property in Grand Falls-Windsor was a topic of discussion this past weekend at the provincial NDP party convention. The part passed an emergency resolution to put a push on government for better upkeep of the property.
An Advertiser article that appeared in the Oct. 8 edition spurred a New Democratic Party (NDP) resolution at this past weekend’s provincial party convention in St. John’s.
The article, called Deteriorating, featured a mill security worker who spoke out about the poor state of the former Abitbi-Bowater paper mill in Grand Falls-Windsor.
John Whelan, outgoing NDP representative for the central region, moved the emergency resolution at the convention.
An emergency resolution, he said, is a resolution that is considered urgent enough to pass after the agreed-upon deadline for motions.
After representatives agreed that the issue was pressing enough to consider, Whelan said it became a topic of discussion, and was subsequently passed.
“Among the people who supported the resolution on the floor was our leader Lorraine Michael,” said Whelan. “She said that the pulp and paper mill was part of the expropriation, so it is the government’s responsibility to maintain it.”
Whelan said because the provincial government is attempting to attract another industrial operator for the mill, the NDP will move forward through its elected MHAs in urging the government to assume it’s duties in proper maintenance of the structure.
“If they’re looking for another industrial operator, they’re going to have to fix the building up,” said Whelan. “(The message we got was) that building is in such a serious state of deterioration that it soon may be economically unfeasible for another industrial operator to consider taking over the building.”
In the initial article, Kevin Whiffen told the Advertiser the mill was in a fairly severe state of deterioration, that there was water everywhere, mold plaguing the structure, and ceiling tiles containing asbestos that had fallen down. He said there would likely only be several parts of the structure salvageable in the event that another industry wanted to utilize the building.
Whiffen even suggested parts of the structure needed to be torn down,
“In my opinion, some of it is going to go,” he said at the time. “Some of it is gone to the point now where it’s just going to have to go.”
This weekend’s convention also saw a number of other changes that will affect the Exploits region. Whelan’s former post as the central representative was assumed by Lukas Norman of Gander after the party’s provincial executive election. Norman was the NDP candidate for Gander in the 2011 Newfoundland and Labrador general election. Whelan assumed a new role as the treasurer for the Grand Falls-Windsor-Buchans-Green Bay South district association last month.
Whelan also said several other resolutions relating to the Exploits region specifically were deferred for discussion by the new executive members.
“One (of those resolutions) dealt with the power generated on the Exploits River, one dealt with the environmental clean up of the mill property, and one dealt with domestic wood cutting,” said Whelan, adding the issues couldn’t be discussed in detail until they’ve come before the provincial executive.
“It was a great convention overall,” said Whelan. “We’re getting ready for the provincial election in 2015…We’re gearing up to win it.”