A dispute between the Association of Newfoundland Land Surveyors and a surveying company in Happy Valley-Goose Bay has gone public.

The association has taken the unprecedented step of placing a classified ad to warn landowners not to use Big Land Geomatics for surveying services.

"In this instance, the public is at risk," said Keith Renouf, an executive member of the association.

'It's pretty sad that they take this step to discredit us, to take us out of the direct competition for work that's coming up here in Labrador'- Co-owner Dermot Morris

Companies must be approved by the association before they can offer services. The association, which regulates its members, said Big Land Geomatics did not do that.

The ad says the company is not approved to do land surveys.

"They're not carrying a certificate of authorization to perform this work," Renouf said. "Consequently, this is a notice to the public that they are not qualified, nor in our opinion competent, to undertake this work." 

The ad is the latest move in a months-long investigation by the regulator. Renouf said the investigation started with questions and complaints about Big Land Geomatics, some from other surveyors, and at least one from a municipality claiming the company was marketing its land survey work.

But Dermot Morris, one of the owners of Big Land Geomatics, said that is not true, and that the company has a partner in St. John's who does land survey work for them.

Morris said the company is being unfairly targeted.

"It's pretty sad that they take this step to discredit us, to take us out of the direct competition for work that's coming up here in Labrador," said Morris, referring to a boom in economic activity in the Happy Valley-Goose Bay area.

Both Morris and Renouf said the next step could involve legal action.

With files from Matt McCann