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Impact versus economy: C.B.S. town council mulls OCI proposal – CBC.ca

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This is a view of Long Pond harbour, where Ocean Choice International wants to build a new wharf and cold storage building. (Adam Walsh/CBC)

Conception Bay South’s deputy mayor says the town has to consider two important factors before it votes on whether to approve an ambitious infill proposal for the harbour in Long Pond: the impact on residents, weighed against possible economic spinoffs.

While Richard Murphy says it’s too early to speculate on which way he will vote, he says he does see the economic upside to the project. 

“In this day and age, when economic development is at an all-time low, we have a company now that wants to come into the town and set up, which means 30 to 40 full-time jobs, $15 million in startup,” he told CBC News on Tuesday. 

Murphy said Ocean Choice International’s proposal for a wharf and cold storage facility could also spark other economic benefits when it is finished. 

If approved, OCI’s proposal would see part of the Long Pond harbour filled in to make way for the new development. Some residents oppose it, saying the plans would have an adverse environmental impact on the area. They have been calling for an environmental assessment and for the project to be moved along the Conception Bay shoreline. 

This map shows how OCI altered its proposal to move it southwest in the harbour. (Ocean Choice International)

OCI recently altered its plans and shifted the project to the harbour’s southwest, which has traditionally been the industrial side, while the eastern side has homes and is also used for recreational boating. The shift opens up more room for small craft entering and exiting the harbour. 

In a media release Friday, company president Blaine Sullivan said the adjustments were made after getting feedback from Transport Canada’s navigable waters division, which is part of the regulatory process, as well as from people who have “shown an interest” in the company’s proposal.

This is a possible design of the cold storage facility from a local architecture firm hired by OCI. (Ocean Choice International )

“For a project this size, there’s been more openness, more consultation. We’ve set up a website, we’ve put everything out there,” said Sullivan in an interview the same day.

Sullivan said if the company gets the green light, he wants infill work to start as soon as possible so construction could begin on the cold storage facility next summer.  

Once completed, it would store the company’s frozen-at-sea product from five of its offshore fishing vessels.

This is another view of the possible design for OCI’s cold storage facility. (Ocean Choice International)

Ted Perrin, who grew up in Long Pond and uses the harbour for both commercial and recreational boating, said Monday the recent alterations make it a little better for boats to pass. But, he said, the plan still leaves a lot of unknowns, such as potential line-of-sight issues and whether the spring thaw could lead to an ice blockage and flooding. 

“You’re still building an island in the middle of the harbour that’s used by pleasure boats and commercial boats continuously 365 days of the year,” said Perrin, who is part of the community group Advocates for the Responsible Development of Long Pond. 

Ted Perrin, an avid commercial and recreational boater from Long Pond, has navigational concerns about the project. (Adam Walsh/CBC)

Fellow group member Andrea Canning wants much bigger project alterations. 

“It’s essentially in the middle of the harbour. So when we look out here we’re going to see cars parked in the middle of our harbour,” said Canning. “Why can’t that be on the shoreline?”

We’re going to see cars parked in the middle of our harbour. Why can’t that be on the shoreline?– Andrea Canning

Both Canning and Perrin say they want to see the company, the town council and residents agree on a plan that everyone is happy about. 

For its current proposal, OCI still has to complete a land-use impact assessment report, which would identify and propose mitigation of potential environmental and community impacts.

Conception Bay South Deputy Mayor Richard Murphy says while he sees an economic benefit to the project in tough times, he has not yet made a final decision on whether to vote for it. (Adam Walsh/CBC)

“We’re going to want to make sure that all the facts are laid out and the decision is based on good stuff for the town, good stuff for the residents. We want to try and get that balance,” said Murphy. 

He said a final vote could be within three weeks.

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Economy

Canadian retail sales slide in April, May as COVID-19 shutdown bites

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december retail sales

Canadian retail sales plunged in April and May, as shops and other businesses were shuttered amid a third wave of COVID-19 infections, Statistics Canada data showed on Wednesday.

Retail trade fell 5.7% in April, the sharpest decline in a year, missing analyst forecasts of a 5.0% drop. In a preliminary estimate, Statscan said May retail sales likely fell by 3.2% as store closures dragged on.

“April showers brought no May flowers for Canadian retailers this year,” Royce Mendes, senior economist at CIBC Capital Markets, said in a note.

Statscan said that 5.0% of retailers were closed at some point in April. The average length of the closure was one day, it said, citing respondent feedback.

Sales decreased in nine of the 11 subsectors, while core sales, which exclude gasoline stations and motor vehicles, were down 7.6% in April.

Clothing and accessory store sales fell 28.6%, with sales at building material and garden equipment stores falling for the first time in nine months, by 10.4%.

“These results continue to suggest that the Bank of Canada is too optimistic on the growth outlook for the second quarter, even if there is a solid rebound occurring now in June,” Mendes said.

The central bank said in April that it expects Canada’s economy to grow 6.5% in 2021 and signaled interest rates could begin to rise in the second half of 2022.

The Canadian dollar held on to earlier gains after the data, trading up 0.3% at 1.2271 to the greenback, or 81.49 U.S. cents.

(Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa, additional reporting by Fergal Smith in Toronto, editing by Alexander Smith)

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Economy

Canadian dollar notches a 6-day high

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Canadian dollar

The Canadian dollar strengthened for a third day against its U.S. counterpart on Wednesday, as oil prices rose and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell reassured markets that the central bank is not rushing to hike rates.

Markets were rattled last week when the Fed shifted to more hawkish guidance. But Powell on Tuesday said the economic recovery required more time before any tapering of stimulus and higher borrowing costs are appropriate, helping Wall Street recoup last week’s decline.

Canada is a major producer of commodities, including oil, so its economy is highly geared to the economic cycle.

Brent crude rose above $75 a barrel, reaching its highest since late 2018, after an industry report on U.S. crude inventories reinforced views of a tightening market as travel picks up in Europe and North America.

The Canadian dollar was trading 0.3% higher at 1.2271 to the greenback, or 81.49 U.S. cents, after touching its strongest level since last Thursday at 1.2265.

The currency also gained ground on Monday and Tuesday, clawing back some of its decline from last week.

Canadian retail sales fell by 5.7% in April from March as provincial governments put in place restrictions to tackle a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Statistics Canada said. A flash estimate showed sales down 3.2% in May.

Still, the Bank of Canada expects consumer spending to lead a strong rebound in the domestic economy as vaccinations climb and containment measures ease.

Canadian government bond yields were mixed across a steeper curve, with the 10-year up nearly 1 basis point at 1.416%. Last Friday, it touched a 3-1/2-month low at 1.364%.

(Reporting by Fergal Smith; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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Economy

Toronto Stock Exchange higher at open as energy stocks gain

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Toronto Stock Exchange edged higher at open on Wednesday as heavyweight energy stocks advanced, while data showing a plunge in domestic retail sales in April and May capped the gains.

* At 9:30 a.m. ET (13:30 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 16.77 points, or 0.08%, at 20,217.42.

(Reporting by Amal S in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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