Open house planned for Wabush Legion on March 19
Now is the time to plan for the future. And Labrador West is planning big.
© Photo by Ty Dunham/The Aurora
Tim Winsor marks the snowmobile trails he often uses at the Plan Big table at Cain’s Quest’s Fan Night on Feb. 28.
Residents from both towns are invited to a community open house for Plan Big, a regional growth strategy setting the direction for Labrador City and Wabush through to the next century.
Scheduled to take place at the Wabush Legion on March 19 from 4-8 p.m., families with members of all ages are encouraged to attend a series of information sessions and visioning exercises, and a presentation at 7 p.m. to answer questions.
Renee Kuehnle of Stantec Consulting wants to see big numbers at the session, especially from the younger crowd.
“They’re the upcoming leaders; these changes aren’t going to happen until they’re adults. It’s important to get the imaginations of our youth involved in the project.”
Attendees of Cain’s Quest’s Fan Night on Friday, Feb. 28, were given the opportunity to mark their usual snowmobiling routes starting from their homes and all the way to their cabins on a large map, also noting any safety hazards they frequent.
Plan Big has strived to take a fresh approach to getting the community’s attention, and Kuehnle said it’s working.
“People have said that even thought they’ve been to public meetings before, they’ve never been consulted this way. We try to make everything a creative process.”
It’s one of many initiatives set up by Plan Big, a task force consisting of both town’s mayors and town managers, representatives from Labrador Affairs, ACOA, IBRD, Cliff’s Natural Resources, Alderon, IOC, New Millennium, and Labrador Iron Mines Holdings Ltd.
The growth strategy aims to address the rapid growth pressures, challenges of land availability, and housing problems.
Labrador City’s director of planning and development, Craig Purves, said until the task force was realized, the towns couldn’t accommodate for growth because of conflicts with mineral claims.
Potential ore bodies, as well as a two-kilometre buffer around each body, are scattered in and around Labrador West. Purves said it’s not unreasonable to see homes and businesses within these mineral claims bought out in 50 years so the land can be developed for mining.
An application was made to the Crown to rezone 800 hectares, but it was rejected.
“So we said, ‘we need to all get together and get on the same page here. If you want to eventually develop this we need to accommodate the current growth and we need to know where we can build.’”
But it’s not as simple as asking for mineral claims to be removed.
“The towns are going to be gone if the ore is gone, so we need to find a way to make the ore bodies extractable.”
And that means planning to strategically develop for the long term.
Labrador West isn’t vibrant, Purves said, but it could be.
“We’re trying to encourage people to take part in shaping the community. We’re talking about a major plan. We could be looking at some pretty radical changes to the town in the next 100 years, so we want people to buy in and participate.”
Purves said ideally anyone who has any interest in making Labrador West a home would participate in the discussions.
“Planning is the epitome of a democratic process. We need people to come out and say ‘this is how we see our town.’”