Big plans for Labrador West

Ty Dunham
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Open house planned for Wabush Legion on March 19

Now is the time to plan for the future. And Labrador West is planning big.

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.’”

Organizations: Labrador Affairs

Geographic location: Labrador West, Labrador, Wabush

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Recent comments

  • Michael
    March 11, 2014 - 01:23

    I think giving more of a push for natural gas to for home heating/cooking as well as to heat for business use would be a good idea and would add more jobs. Natural gas burns cleaner and it's cheaper to heat your home and cook with and again as I just stated it would also create more jobs to invest more into this. It's a win win situation for everyone.

  • Mike
    March 08, 2014 - 23:15

    I forgot to mention one other thing that would help the economy for years to come, taxes are too high for middle income people and in some cases even the poor.

  • Mike
    March 08, 2014 - 23:12

    There seems to be a lot of talk of changes however these changes need to be followed up on and not just talked about. For example the cost of rents are horrible and there needs to be harsh rent control. I'm not against anyone making a profit however some have taken it to a level of greed which to me doesn't reflect the values this great country Canada stands for which is love and respect for each other. Next I would say there needs to be more pressure on the federal to lower energy prices from the price at the pumps to the prices of what people pay in their homes as this would put more money in the pockets for those already having a hard time, middle income and the poor. If people have more money in their pockets this helps to build a stronger economy. Lower energy prices would also help lower the high cost of food in the grocery stores and that's something everyone would benefit from and again would help in the economy. There needs to be more low income housing available, more help from the federal government to help the poor who are vulnerable, in danger to become homeless, to not invest more into this problem only ends up costing everyone more in the end but more important it's the right thing to do to help the poor who are too often looked down on, not enough help is happening for both men and women there's been more talk and not enough action. More affordable housing and without a doubt shelters are needed. The federal government should be helping more to fill the gap. Last there should be stronger laws to stop outsourcing Canadian jobs and do more to fill those jobs by Canadians.