Public Policy Research Centre will conduct an independent
examination of the economic and technical implications and
viability of constructing a fixed link across the Strait of
Belle Isle between Labrador and the Island of Newfoundland.
Premier Danny Williams announced earlier this week that the
federal government, through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities
Agency (ACOA), will partner with the province to fund the
“The pre-feasibility study will look at a number of
existing data and in particular the engineering information
that's been compiled up to this point in time,” said
David Vardy, interim director of the centre. “It will
review previous studies and it will assemble all of the geo-technical
data that are available, both within Hydro, within government
and within university circles.
“The difference between a full feasibility study and
a pre-feasibility study is that it relates to the level of
precision and uncertainty of the estimates.”
Mr. Vardy said the pre-feasibility study will provide the
basis for government to take informed decisions as to what
the next step should be. That would include a recommendation.
“The role of the policy centre will be to oversee and
manage the project with the help of a steering committee,
which includes federal and provincial officials,” he
said. “The policy centre will be calling for proposals
from companies and individuals who wish to undertake the work."
“Newfoundland and Labrador is the only province in Canada
that does not have a continuous highway or railway linking
it to North American markets,” said Premier Williams.
“The two major geographic and resource regions within
the province – Labrador and the Island of Newfoundland
– are virtually inaccessible to each other, leaving
exporters and importers constantly challenged by sea and air
links. This seriously impedes economic growth potential and
opportunities for the province.
The centre will consider various fixed link configurations
(e.g., causeway, tunnel, bridge) and possible locations within
the Strait of Belle Isle; estimate their technical feasibility;
conduct a business case analysis considering capital and operating
costs, revenues, projected annual cash flows and utilization
levels; produce a sectoral analysis of the economic, social
and environmental implications of the project; and review
the literature on related fixed link projects around the world.
As well Mr. Vardy said there will be a preliminary analysis
of the environmental impacts. “It won't be as rigorous
as it would be in a full feasibility study. There won't be
the same kind of consultation process as it would be in an
environmental, a full environmental impact study,” he
said. “But it will be a preliminary review of all of
the data and the likely impacts on the environment.”
The principal emphasis of this project is on the transportation
of people and goods but it will also take into consideration
the various roles a fixed link could perform. This might possibly
include a high voltage direct currant (HVDC) cable within
the fixed link. Such a cable would allow for an in-feed of
power transfer from the lower Churchill Hydro-Electric Project,”
said Mr. Vardy. It is estimated that the project will be completed
by June/July 2004. The study will cost a total of $351,674,
with a contribution of $281,339 from ACOA and $70,335 from