The Analysis of Municipal Readiness for Development Opportunities in the Communities Located on the Isthmus of Avalon Region

The Discovery Economic Zone is home to a large fabrication site at Bull Arm and the province’s only oil refinery leading to the reliance of many towns on the oil and gas industry. In meeting with municipal leaders (Arnold’s Cove, Come By Chance, Southern Harbour and Sunnyside), industry stakeholders (Exxon-Mobil, North Atlantic Refining, Whiffen Head Transshipment Terminal) and other industry stakeholders (Arnold’s Cove Area Chamber of Commerce, NOIA), the strengths and weaknesses of current services, infrastructure, and capacity need identification. The same pattern of dependence could be seen in the 1990s with the building of the Hibernia Gravity Base Structure when many communities in the Clarenville-Bonavista Rural Secretariat region experienced a boom – bust situation; where there was a dramatic increase in population and spending, and then a sharp decline when the project was over.

To avoid the pitfalls of one industry towns, the Economic Crisis Response Program (ECRP Toolkit), in partnership with Municipalities Newfoundland Labrador, will provide local Town Councils with the information, tools and techniques they need to respond to an immediate and short term economic crisis, and to better prepare and effectively plan for long term economic transition. This approach to community engagement and capacity building, in turn, will aid Town Councils in identifying opportunities to help in retaining businesses after a large-scale industrial project is complete; therefore, diversifying the economy and lessening the extent to which a downturn in the main industry will have negative socio-economic impacts. In addition, planned follow-up meetings with industry stakeholders will highlight their requirements in expanding operations and providing services and new employment opportunities in the area.

During the Discovery Board’s Opportunity Identification session in September 2010 (facilitated by the Regional Partnership Planner for the Rural Secretariat), there was a discussion on the oil and gas industry that prompted the question, “Is the region ready for a large project like Hebron?” It was discussed that the Town of Marystown conducted a study after the building of the Sea Rose for the White Rose project that identified gaps in the region’s infrastructure, services, and capacity. From this, the Discovery Regional Development Board proposed that a “regional readiness analysis” could identify the strengths and weaknesses of the Clarenville-Bonavista Rural Secretariat region and help provide stakeholders with direction on how they could prepare for and capitalize on the opportunities of a large project in the region.

The project involved the development a discussion paper on Industrial Benefits Planning processes that will include details on potential costs and the benefits of industrial development and important considerations for municipalities and regions seeking to minimize costs and maximize benefits from industrial development. An extensive literature review on existing Industrial Benefits Planning instances was conducted in order to gain a broad sense of what the IBP process entails and how municipalities can best gain from them. In addition recommendation of steps for proceeding with the development of an industrial benefits plan for the Isthmus sub-region as part of an overall economic development strategy/ framework are included.

Research Team and Partners

Project Resources