N.L. kicking in $30M to huge Placentia Bay aquaculture project

The federal Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency is also contributing $10 million.

$250M Grieg project expected to be fully operational by 2025, creating 800 jobs

The government of Newfoundland and Labrador has announced $30 million repayable financial assistance for Grieg NL. (Ariana Kelland/CBC)

Four days after Premier Dwight Ball confirmed the province would partner with Grieg NL in a huge new aquaculture project, the Newfoundland and Labrador government has announced just how much of a stake it's getting: $30 million.

In Marystown on Friday, the province revealed it would provide that much in repayable financial assistance to support the project, which is expected to cost $250 million and create more than 800 jobs — 440 direct jobs at Grieg NL and its processing facilities, and about 380 jobs in affiliated sectors.

The $30 million repayable loan will be through the Aquaculture Capital Equity Program, according to Ball.

The program's objective is to help increase production of commercial aquaculture products in the province, from both hatcheries and marine sites, thereby increasing employment and spin-off opportunities in the processing, manufacturing, supply and service sectors, primarily in rural Newfoundland and Labrador, according to the program's website. 

Premier Dwight Ball says the province will invest $30 million into the Placentia Bay aquaculture project. (Sherry Vivian/CBC)

"Support for the project will flow over future years, based on the project delivering on job targets and satisfying environmental conditions," Ball said.

"I'm pleased to say that our investment will be leveraged by the federal funding."    

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency is also providing $10 million in repayable federal investment, with the remaining $210 million coming from Grieg.

Criticism from conservation group

A financial and economic impact analysis by the provincial finance department estimates that once the project — to encompass a salmon hatchery, land-based smolt production and sea-based operations — is fully operational, in 2025, it will generate $33 million in labour income and contribute $82.5 million to the provincial GDP.

The project has been criticized by the Atlantic Salmon Federation conservation group, which has challenged the provincial government's releasing it from environmental review. The federation says the provincial government cannot both regulate the aquaculture industry and also be a partner in it.

"We came here four years ago, and we were always talking about starting the next year. But we appreciate the diligent process that we've been through because we think it is important that the community around understands the environmental impact that our project has," said Thomas Grieg, owner of Grieg Aquaculture.

Thomas Grieg, owner of Grieg Aquaculture, is happy with the due diligence put into getting the new Placentia Bay project in the water. (Sherry Vivian/CBC)

"We are doing everything we can to minimize it and ensure that there will never be a lasting environmental impact from our project."

Grieg said construction on the project should begin within a week.

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