In March 2010 we started a very public fight to bring awareness about the industrialization of the Exploits River, and its devastating impact on the tourism industry and on the quality of life for the people of Central Newfoundland. At the forefront of this fight was an application for a gravel pit submitted by Penney’s Paving Ltd; an application we were vehemently opposed to.
We launched the website www.SaveTheExploits.ca to help spread awareness on the issue, and to give people the tools they need to fight back. Through SaveTheExploits.ca, we collected over a thousand signatures on our petition, over 4,000 members on our Facebook Group dedicated to saving the Exploits, and several hundred people used our government contact list to email members of parliament and ask them to take a stand and protect our river.
Thanks to the overwhelming tide of public support to save the river the government was not able to approve the pit to begin operation in the summer of 2010 as Penney’s Paving Ltd had requested. Instead the approval of the application was delayed over a year, until they finally came to a conclusion. Although their conclusion neither suits Penney’s Paving Ltd, nor saves the Exploits River from industrial development, it is still a small win as the restrictions it places on the operation still allow for summer enjoyment of the river.
Here is the official release:
Aspen Brook – Exploits River Quarry (Reg. 1477)
Proponent: Penney Paving Ltd.
Released from further environmental assessment subject to the following conditions:
• Operation of the quarry is to be limited to areas above the design flood high water mark and a minimum 100 meter undisturbed vegetated buffer between the proposed quarry operations and any watercourses must be maintained;
• A minimum 50 meter undisturbed vegetated buffer shall be maintained between the proposed quarry operations and the existing quarry to the east;
• A requirement to restrict quarry operating hours to be conducted between 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekdays only and not to operate the quarry between June 15 and September 15.
The proponent is also required to complete a Development Plan as well as a Rehabilitation/Closure Plan to the satisfaction of the Department of Natural Resources.
The Rehabilitation/Closure Plan must provide details on the progressive rehabilitation of the site, which will be completed annually to limit the area of disturbance, and also on potential visual impacts and how this will be addressed through the life of the quarry.
Based on these operating restrictions, the impact of the pit’s operations on Riverfront Chalets & Rafting Newfoundland will not be catastrophic. We will no longer be able to offer weekday rafting trips in May & October, but overall the impact will be minimal. With the pit dormant through the summer, the proposed 100m buffer will likely preserve the feeling of untouched wilderness as we float down the Exploits River.
That said, this fight was never really about our business, it was, and remains, about protecting the Exploits River. We want the government to establish a sustainable use plan that will protect the river from all future harmful use applications like this gravel pit. We want there to be binding legislation to ensure the river will be able to be enjoyed by generations of Newfoundlanders and tourists to our beautiful region. We will not stop fighting until these objectives are met, and we would appreciate all the support you can muster to help make this a reality. Remember, THIS IS AN ELECTION YEAR IN THIS PROVINCE!
Without the support we received from all of you, without the 4,000+ members of our Facebook Group, without the several hundred emails and letters you all sent to the government, without the support from the Ministry of Tourism, Adventure Central DMO, and many, many others, these concessions would not have been possible. We owe you all an incredible debt, and are forever grateful, but we beg you all to not give up the fight.
The single best way to build up support to protect the river is to USE the river! The entire Exploits River, starting at the Red Indian Lake dam, is a paddler’s dream! Whether you prefer canoes, kayaks, or rafts, you will have the time of your life! Once you have experienced it, you will want to fight all the harder! As a business, we’re going to come up with a way to get as many people as possible on the river the first week of July; expect an announcement in the days to come.
If you have your own watercraft, please feel free to use our river access right here on the chalet property at NO CHARGE. We can provide you with any safety gear you might be missing, with a detailed river map, and we can even arrange shuttle service for after your trip. Just call us any time and we’d be more than happy to help you plan your own day on the river.
Once again, thank you all for your continued support.
All the best,