JD Irving installs rocks to block all access to Weymouth North Wharf


Published on June 8, 2017

A photo taken Monday, June 6, the day after rocks were placed to block all access to the Weymouth North Wharf.

©Karla Kelly

WEYMOUTH, NS – The JD Irving company has installed rocks and fencing at the Weymouth North Wharf to block all access to the property.

Several fishermen have the company’s permission to use the wharf to dock their boats at and sail from.

The fishermen have all been aware of liability issues at the wharf and were all instructed to have a $2 million liability for their respective vessels.

Alan Thurber and his son Mitchell Thurber are two such fishermen. Alan says he and several others have been in talks with the company to attempt to reach an agreement so the wharf can remain open.

He says the company said they’d reach out with a response on Monday, June 6.

The only response Weymouth received was rocks and a new fence.

“We were in a negotiation but now have zero clarity as to any direction this can go in,” said Alan.

“This company boasts they are a friendly and supportive community organization, but I feel their actions reflect differently.”

His son Mitchell agreed, saying, “JD Irving has used our town and wharf to their accord and left us with nothing.”

 

The company's perspective

Anthony Hourihan, Director of Land Development for JD Irving, says rocks were installed June 5 at the wharf due to ongoing safety issues.

The company has owned the wharf for 20 years. Hourihan says the closure happened because of ongoing safety issues at the wharf and also because of illegal use.

“It’s unfortunate we’ve had to do this because yes, a few fishermen have used it with our permission for a number of years,” he says.

“All other use is prohibited.”

A full view of the wharf in Weymouth North. The wharf has been deteriorating for quite some time -- a fact community members are aware of -- and JD Irving has decided to block all access because of liability issues.

©Karla Kelly.

Hourihan says other people from away have been illegally using the wharf without permission over the past two years, docking their boats and leaving trash. He says attempts to reach them have been unsuccessful.

Hourihan says JD Irving is looking to sell the property, but only to a government party or a group affiliated with the town “who can cope with the large liability.”

He says a group of fishermen likely wouldn’t fit the bill.

 

Reaching a resolution

Alan Thurber and others have been in touch with the Village of Weymouth and other groups to try to arrange a group that would be able to handle the wharf and its liabilities.

He says the company’s unwillingness to communicate on this matter is frustrating.

“I am a fisherman now, but I was also a 12-year-old boy who mackerel fished off that wharf. If we end up losing it as a community, it’ll be a terrible loss,” he said.

“Everybody is upset but nobody can get anywhere because the company is behind a wall.”

Dale Wagner is another fisherman who had company permission to use the wharf. He says the community is aware of its current state of disrepair, but that a ‘use at your own risk’ sign could be a simple fix to a complicated solution.

“Little River has a wharf that needs repairs but that has a sign that says to use at your own risk. Why can’t JD Irving install something like that here?,” he asks.

“Putting rocks across the gate won’t stop us from using it. This wharf has been part of my life ever since I can remember and is important to the community. It would be a shame if they took it away.”