Nfld. & Labrador

With slipway up for sale, Quidi Vidi residents fear more development, congestion

The head of a citizens' group says any building on the land would make it difficult for boats to launch, and exacerbate traffic problems.

Head of citizens' committee worries boats will not be able to launch

This boat launch in Quidi Vidi village is used by fishermen, tour operators and other people with small boats. (Bailey White/CBC)

The Newfoundland and Labrador government is looking to sell a slipway in Quidi Vidi village, which is used by fishermen, tour operators and other small vessels.

Though the tender stipulates the successful bidder must maintain public access to the slipway, Randy Walsh fears any development would encroach on safe access to the water, and make an already congested area even harder to navigate.

"They're looking at turning this into George Street," said Walsh, who leads the Quidi Vidi village slipway committee.

The Transportation and Works Department request for expressions of interest describes the slipway as a "surplus property."

It says any interested party must outline their plan and "allow for the free, unrestricted public access and use of the slipway."

A survey included in the department's request for expressions of interest shows the dimensions of the property, which is wider at the road than at the water. (Government of Newfoundland and Labrador)

The mouth of the slipway is seven metres wide, but the property is much wider at the street. Walsh is concerned that a new owner could reduce road access to seven metres, which he believes isn't enough room to safely back in a vehicle towing a boat.

"How do you get your boat or your trailer and everything turned to go down in that area? It's not going to be safe. It's going to be treacherous."

Quidi Vidi village has been transformed over the last decade, with several new and growing businesses cropping up.

Tourists — often by the busload — come to visit places like Mallard Cottage, Quidi Vidi Brewery, and the Quidi Vidi Village Plantation.

Randy Walsh worries it won't be safe for boats to launch on Maple View Place if this property is developed. (Bailey White/CBC)

Walsh said the road the slipway is on — a dead end — is already too congested and offers no place to safely turn around.

That's why he formed the Quidi Vidi village slipway committee, an incorporated non-profit organization, which he said intends to submit its own proposal for the site by the Nov. 6 end-of-day deadline.

"We've been three years trying to get somebody to listen," he said. 

"We're just a non-profit organization trying to save what we've got."

The committee's proposal is a straightforward one: to leave the property undeveloped so boat owners can safely launch and drivers can turn around. 

The only thing that would need to change would be a couple of light poles that would have to move, Walsh said. 

The slipway is in a busy part of St. John's, right next to the Quidi Vidi Village Plantation, one of the businesses in the area that attracts tourists, sometimes by the busload. (Bailey White/CBC)

Over the years, Walsh has tried to convince the City of St. John's to take over the slipway, but he hasn't been successful.

Mayor Danny Breen said the city has decided not to bid on the property.

"If the tender requires that public access be maintained then there'd be no reason for the city to be involved in it," he said. 

"That would be our only interest in it."

Walsh said his committee has no funding source right now, but if successful it would apply for money through various provincial and federal agencies.

"One of the jewels in the city of St. John's is the Quidi Vidi village. I can't see why they wouldn't support any enhancement of the launch way and everything," he said.

"If we lose the boats, we're losing the flavour and losing tourism." 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Mark Quinn

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