Top News

This river


Chad Oldford, a hometown boy and now a school teacher, is within weeks of launching his first CD, comprised of 12 original songs. In the CD's title song, This River, Chad's retraces the mighty Exploits River in our lives and history. His ballad tells of the Beothucks, the newspaper barons, the salmon, and the floods. And of course in the end, no mill.

Chad Oldford, a hometown boy and now a school teacher, is within weeks of launching his first CD, comprised of 12 original songs.

In the CD's title song, This River, Chad's retraces the mighty Exploits River in our lives and history. His ballad tells of the Beothucks, the newspaper barons, the salmon, and the floods. And of course in the end, no mill.

The river not only enriched our past, but is one of our greatest assets for our future economic survival. Chad poignantly points out that fact with "Any hope that our young will see prosperity. Rests with this river, this river's the key".

To face the challenges ahead a plan is always a good starting point. But a plan doesn't necessarily mean that's exactly how things are to happen. Some things work out better than expected, some things fail, and the unexpected can become a big asset.

Church Road Park was a plan. The town saw the former baseball field as a water drainage problem. But a landscape architect turned the problem into a pond, now a key asset of the park. Meanwhile, the architect's plan for a bandstand (in the hill near Church Road) was never built. Instead, the hill evolved into a prime winter sliding spot, especially for families with small children. The architect didn't foresee the sliding hill that makes the park usable year round. Would he be disappointed that we didn't stick to his original plan? Unlikely.

Another plan came on the scene in 2005. Abitibi-Consolidated granted the Grand Falls-Windsor Heritage Society land on the banks of the Exploits River (Valley Road area) for use as a new heritage centre. The Society's building was to be a replica of the original log house built by Lord Northcliffe.

But things have changed. The mill is closed, and Grand Falls House is now owned by the province in its unintended expropriation of company property. Maybe now, instead of the log cabin, Lord Northcliffe's other house, Grand Falls House, could become the heritage center with tea room and all.

The newest plan on the table is the Downtown Redevelopment Plan. It's presence has been felt with astonishing speed with the purchase and demolition of the once Cabot Bakery and the Co-op Store. The old bakery had gone past redemption, but the Co-op could have been refurbished for further use. Why was the council in such a mad rush to tear down a good building while rundown schools and other buildings - derelict for years - are still standing? Makes you wonder.

Getting rid of the Co-op building was bad enough, but moving Sanger Memorial RV Park to the southside of the river to an unserviced area is an utterly stupid idea. Why waste good money to put services in an out of the way place? Who is going to pay for it? The money strapped feds or the province? Good luck.

The Sanger Park land is to be redeveloped for housing lots. If building lots are so badly needed, there is plenty of land on Grenfell Hghts. We just need three radio towers relocated.

Meanwhile, in the land around and below Sanger Park, Mother Nature hides a blighted past unknown to many. The soil, trees, and wild flowers and grasses cover up what was once the Grand Falls town dump. And even before it was the everything dump, it was the honey dump (human waste) in years gone. Best leave the land undisturbed and let Mother Nature continue to heal itself.

Just west of the Valley Road cemetery Mother Nature hides the remnants of the AND Company's old coal pile and God knows what else. This site has been given the okay for country style hotel (what ever that means). Even if it were to be a five-star hotel, the site would be still highly questionable with environmental issues and all the uncertainty about the mill property.

If there is need of a hotel near the river, why not get rid of the town's public work depot and reclaim and redevelop that sight. The depot spoils the natural beauty of the area. It has to go. And drag that helipad along with it.

Rather than pursuing development along the river bank for the use of a few, Council ought to be pursing the completion of our sewage treatment plant. A cleaner Exploits will boost our economy in the long run with eco-tourism, boating, fishing and visits to areas once inhabited by the Beothucks.

Our future along the Exploits River has some of its greatest potential with a wide open, wild and free, river area. Housing lots and hotels are quick fixes that in the long run will ruin the river bank for the use of future generations. They will curse the inept and inappropriate development.

A cleaned up river bank, the salmon enhancement program, the salmon interpretation center, the Salmon Festival, Sanger Park and Corduroy Brook were all spearheaded by individuals and groups outside of our town councils.

Instead of adding to these pluses, or even taking on the task of revamping the tired Salmon Festival, the council opted to create more vacant lots on High Street. The once majestic street, gone ugly, has gotten even uglier!

Too bad for us Zita Cobb was born in Fogo and not here. Now there's a woman with a vision, a plan for a community's survival (see, Shorefast Foundation website). Imagine having her dynamism let loose on the Exploits! With Zita at the helm, Chad's hopeful lyrics for prosperity for the young would be answered in spades.

Is there a Zita out there for us?

Andy Barker can be contacted at abdp9@hotmail.com.

Recent Stories