SOUTHWEST COAST – More than $340,000 in funding designed to enhance user experience and boost tourism was announced by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) on Thursday, Oct. 15. The project is a joint effort by ACOA and five other Regional Development Agencies, along with the federal and provincial governments.
Through ACOA, the Government of Canada is providing a non-repayable contribution of $211,399 through its Innovative Communities Fund. The provincial government is chipping in with $134,375 for the first phase of the project and Trans Canada Trail is contributing $150,000.
“Investing in tourism infrastructure is essential to building healthy communities and growing a strong, sustainable rural economy. We recognize the significant impact COVID-19 has had on tourism and that is why we are investing in important projects to strengthen key assets like the Newfoundland T’Railway. Initiatives like this one will help Newfoundland and Labrador’s tourism sector come back even stronger than before,” stated Gudie Hutchings, Member of Parliament for Long Range Mountains via the news release.
Much needed repairs to the Newfoundland T’Railways Provincial Park bridges have already taken place, according to Jamie Warren, the Executive Director of the Newfoundland T’Railway Council. The Bear Cove Brook bridge and another east of St. Andrews have been completed, and MacDougall’s Gulch has also been fixed.
“St. Andrew’s is next on our list. Just waiting for lumber and then we’re off to the Stephenville area,” said Warren via phone interview on Tuesday, Oct. 6. “It’s just a matter of getting material.”
The good weather of late has helped the contractors make excellent progress. Photos have been posted to social media about the work, but the government has held off releasing updates thus far.
“Within government circles sometimes things get delayed and get rearranged in terms of press releases and communications and all that jazz,” said Warren. “You can’t hold up the project so we are working through it. And of course everything’s different with COVID.”
Lorne Seaward is the superintendent overseeing the repairs to the T’Railway in this region. He says that in addition to fixing the decking, the support and other work, the contractor will also be clearing the brush from the sides of the trail all the way in as far as Stephenville.
He says that the Bear Cove Brook has had its 6×6 beams replaced entirely and that, “The state of some of them were completely horrible.”
Discussion about the condition of the T’Railway, and in particular the overgrowth, was also part of the discussion at the last meeting of Port aux Basques Town Council, held on Tuesday, Oct. 13.
“My concern was look – everybody’s saying ‘tourists’, and out so far as Stephenville everything is clear, but from Doyles to South Branch it’s all grown in,” said Coun. Jim Lane. “From the Chignic up to South Branch, you just can’t see. It’s dangerous.”