New Brunswick

Neighbours upset with plans for St. Croix waterfront lobster warehouse

A U.S. company's plan to build a lobster distribution warehouse in Bayside, on the St. Croix River, has upset some neighbours.

U.S.-based owner says most of the lobsters will be bought from Canadian fishermen

Lobster boats leaving West Dover, N.S. Little Bay Lobster of Newington, N.H. says he buys more than two million pounds of Canadian lobsters annually. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

A U.S. company's plan to build a lobster distribution warehouse in Bayside, on the St. Croix River, has upset some neighbours.

Little Bay Lobster of Newington, N.H., is proposing a 2,300-square-metre building that can hold as much as 300,000 pounds of live lobster. 

Owner, Jonathan Shafmaster says the company has been looking for a spot to set up in New Brunswick for over two years.

"We have run out of space and we can't expand," Shafmaster said. "We buy a lot of lobsters in Canada and you have a very well-managed fishery."

He said Little Bay Lobster buys over two million pounds of Canadian lobsters annually, and the majority of the crustaceans sent to the Bayside warehouse will come from this country.

Shafmaster described the proposed building in Bayside, about eight kilometres north of Saint Andrews, as non-polluting, clean and quiet. There would be no street lighting, and the trucks backing into the receiving area would not use their beepers.

But the proposed location for the metal-clad building, on a former gravel pit property on the St. Croix River, has Gary McDougall in a boil. His home would look down on the building.

Neighbour Gary McDougall feels the zone change to allow the lobster distribution center is being 'rammed through.' (Roger Cosman, CBC)

He feels the zoning change to be considered by the Southwest Regional Service Commission to allow the project is being "rammed through."

He's worried the value of his property will drop.

"For us, personally, it would be financially devastating," McDougall said. "I mean, we're putting everything we have into our homes in the hope that when we move to the old age apartment, we have something to pay the rent."

Another neighbour, Stacy Arsenault, believes the project will change the character of the neighbourhood and the nearby St. Croix Island — an international historic site — just offshore.

"I just don't understand why the bureaucrats at the end of the day don't look at this historic site, and the preservation of this historic site and the preservation of our rural community," said Arsenault.

Seafood warehousing is not recognized in the Bayside Rural Plan, so it would require authorization from the minister of environment and local government.

The former gravel pit on the St. Croix River at Bayside where Little Bay Lobster hopes to build a distribution centre. (Roger Cosman, CBC)

But various branches of the department weighed in to determine, for instance, that an environmental impact assessment in this case is not required.

In the meantime, Geoff Irvine of the Canadian Lobster Council, said such warehouses are common.

"There are lots of American companies that have holding facilities all through the Atlantic region and lots of Canadian companies that have shareholdings in American lobster companies," said Irvine. "So it's really just for me an extension of the cross-border lobster business that's happened forever and will continue to happen."

The Southwest Regional Service Commission virtual public hearing on the zoning application is scheduled for Wednesday evening.

About the Author

Connell Smith is a reporter with CBC in Saint John. He can be reached at 632-7726 Connell.smith@cbc.ca

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