Mr. Speaker, I hear tell that at the down at the Department of Infrastructure there is something like a swear jar. Every time anyone says NTCL, they have to throw a buck in it. Although various names have been suggested for the new government entity, like “the Schumann Shipping Company,” or “Bob’s Navy,” the official name is Marine Transportation Services, or MTS for short.
For those who don’t know, the core staff at MTS is made up primarily of employees who were laid off last year when NTCL shut down, so they were able to hit the ground running. However, operating a marine shipping company is a monumental task and there are many challenges. It’s a smaller staff than NTCL employed, they had a late start because of the circumstances, and there are complications because the how NTCL left the operation. However, it appears that things are on schedule, and that is because of the efforts and dedication of this group of employees and I want to commend and thank them for their hard work. And, Mr. Speaker, take note, because I don’t often do this, but I also have to commend the senior management responsible this endeavor, because I know they are working just as hard to make sure this shipping season is a success.
That being said, it’s not all sunshine and roses.
Residents were perturbed when they saw an ad in the paper directing them to send their resumes to Newfoundland, if they wanted to apply to MTS. I’ve been asked repeatedly why we had to go outside the territory for this service.
There’s also the issue of the 1.3 million dollars of NTCLs outstanding property taxes. The GNWT says it bought the assets, not the debt, and we’re going to have to just suck it up, even though MACA admits that they underfund the Town by millions.
Without that money, those of us in Old Town will continue to have to drive on dirt roads for the foreseeable future. In the meantime though, the GNWT can begin cleaning up the dozens of lots scattered through Old Town that were part of the purchase. So far, over a dozen companies have expressed interest in taking away the abandoned barges and tugs, and the other piles of scrap that litter Old Town. That would beatify our community, free up land, improve prospects for tourism, and create employment and training opportunities. Despite these immediate benefits, I’ve been told we have to wait until inventory is done, which could be years away.
These are just some of the issues, and I’ll have questions for the Minister of Infrastructure at the appropriate time.
Will be added soon.