The wharf in Carbonear will be getting a breakwater, but the question is when. And it's a question Carbonear Harbour Authority president Herb Butt would like to see provincial politicians publicly asking their counterparts.
Since 2002 the harbour authority has been working to convince the feds of the need for a breakwater in Carbonear, where storms and winds can make docking on the east side of the wharf a sometimes hazardous venture. In 2011, said Butt, the department of Small Craft Harbours agreed that, yes, a breakwater was needed in Carbonear.
"Ever since 2010, 2011, they acknowledge that we need the breakwater," he said.
Unlike many other harbours that have been incorporated for years, the Carbonear Harbour Authority didn't incorporate until 2002, said Butt, and that means they are further down the list when it comes to getting projects funded.
To get themselves noticed, and their project funded, Butt sent emails to the area MHA, the fisheries minister, and the tourism minister asking them to urge the federal government to free up funds for Carbonear's breakwater project. He's still waiting for a response.
"I didn't hear anything back," he said.
The feds may not have formally announced funding for the breakwater yet, but their actions speak loudly about the possibility of the project eventually being funded.
In a time when Small Craft Harbours is actively working to divest themselves of property, in Carbonear they are in the final stages of purchasing a piece of property to the east of the wharf. Butt expects those papers to be signed in the next few weeks.
The pending land sale has been an ongoing effort for the past two years, said Butt.
"That's a big step in getting the breakwater done," he said, explaining the breakwater needs a piece of land for access.
The federal agency has also made a gesture of goodwill by paying to have a building described by Butt as "an eyesore" removed from the property they are preparing to purchase.
Having the old vacant building removed was appreciated by the Harbour Authority, said Butt, and will free up the area for parking in the summer and boat storage in the winter while also providing some green space.
In the meantime, the Carbonear Harbour Authority has other work to tend to.
The wharf will be getting a concrete launchway in the spring, said Butt. The modern boat launch, which will allow vehicles to back a trailer into the water, will replace the wooden slipway currently used to haul boats out of the water. The new launchway will be a safer option, said Butt.
Whether it's the launchway or the breakwater, boater safety remains a priority, said Butt. A breakwater would create the pond-like calm that would eliminate the need for fishermen to risk their safety to secure their vessels in stormy weather.
"You shouldn't have to do that in this day and age."