St. John’s refuelled 20 years after the cod died – by John Spears (Toronto Star – May 19, 2012)

The Toronto Star, has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

ST. JOHN’S, NL—Moya Cahill lives in St. John’s but her business takes her half-way round the globe – and she has her eye on the other half. An engineer and naval architect by trade, Cahill owns one firm providing engineering and project management services based in Qatar.

With business partner Jacques Guigné, she’s also working full time on a second firm that’s developed unique acoustic-imaging technology for offshore industries probing beneath the seafloor.

Cahill’s ventures are one example of the new breed of outward-looking business growing up in a brash new capital that’s reaping the fruits of an unprecedented resource boom.

As Memorial University economist Wade Locke argues, Newfoundland is now Canada’s biggest petro-province, with a high proportion of its provincial revenue coming from oil (about 40 per cent) than Alberta, at about 30 per cent. Newfoundlanders’ personal incomes have shot above the national average.

The province gave up receiving equalization payments three years ago.

The April unemployment rate in St. John’s was 7.7 per cent. In Toronto? 8.4 per cent. (And in Newfoundland as a whole, 12.3 per cent.)

But you don’t need numbers to see what’s going on in the capital.

Back in 1992, when the cod fishery was on its backside – and come to think of it, it still is – the corridors of Atlantic Place, the hulking red brick edifice that looms over Water St., echoed with emptiness. No more.

You can pick up your BMW from the dealership out on Kenmount Rd., drive it downtown to the hot yoga studio on Duckworth St. and then relax a few doors away with some bubble tea.

You can listen to business leaders fret about labour shortages – labour shortages! – in Newfoundland.

And if you’re of a certain age, you can worry about whether your 20-something kids can afford to buy a house in St. John’s.

The mega-projects stacking up in Newfoundland are stunning.

 •  Vale Inco is going full tilt at its $2.8 billion facility in Long Harbour, 117 kilometres west of St. John’s, to process nickel being mined in Voisey’s Bay, in Labrador. It’s due to open next year.

 • A consortium of major oil companies is gearing up for the $5 billion Hebron heavy oil project on the Grand Banks. Staring next year, they’ll build a gravity base structure – a massive concrete tub to sit on the ocean floor – and some of the topside control modules in Newfoundland. The concrete base alone, built at Bull Arm as was the Hibernia, means 3,400 jobs.

 • Mining companies keep piling into Labrador in the hunt for iron ore and uranium.

 • The hydro-electric potential of the Lower Churchill River is taking shape with the development of the 824-megawatt Muskrat Falls project, with undersea cables to bring the power to the island of Newfoundland, then on to Nova Scotia. Total cost: $6 billion.

 • A 2,250-megawatt Gull Island project is on the drawing boards. The generating station alone will cost $3.9 billion.

For the rest of this article, please go to the Toronto Star website:–st-john-s-refuelled-20-years-after-the-cod-died