Friday, February 27, 2009

Newfound now at 1/2p (£0.005)

Today someone sold 240,000 shares in Newfound NV for as low as £0.005p. Yes, that's half a pence per share! If that person had bought when the company (not so long ago) first floated (at around £0.70p), those shares would have cost £200,000 ... and were sold today for £1,400


But perhaps it reflects the rumours I'm hearing about Newfound's possible plans to get back into Humber Valley Resort on Western Newfoundland. The resort is about to come out of CCAA administration and is in a tender process ending next week. Word has it that both Newfound NV, and the original founder of the resort Brian Dobbin are likely to be bidders to regain control of the resort. However the business plan and logic for both is rumoured to be based on being given control of further Crown Land (aka the Expansion Land) by the Provincial Government, and then making their money on selling land to investors, along with a future promise ... [sound familiar??]

I hear from well placed sources that the government has made it clear at recent meetings that they are far from ready to be giving away the additional Crown Land at HVR, and that it will not be allowed to be part of any bid.

Perhaps the stock seller realised that any opportunity at HVR is not likely to match the normal Newfound business model of land sales?

And is Brian Dobbin's commercial plan any different? I suspect it's actually similar to the original HVR plan, and does include the expansion land as its main driver.

What do you think?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

For sale: ready-made town, just add money

Article from The Telegram - 21st Feb 08

tourism/development Corner Brook and Pasadena cautious about buying Humber Valley assets

Mayors of two west coast municipalities are interested in expanding their boundaries to include luxury chalets, buildings and land that made up the now-bankrupt Humber Valley Resort. Elected officials from Corner Brook and Pasadena say they want to provide services to the chalets, they're worried.

"We're very cautious," said Pasadena Mayor Bob Mercer. Pasadena has told the provincial government and a group of chalet owners the town would like to incorporate it into their boundaries, but not before upgrades.

"I would not, as a municipality, want to take over the system of roads down there," said Mercer. "What is the infrastructure that's in the ground? I don't know if the water system is adequate. The grades on the roads are excessive. We would never build them in our community. They're too steep. They go up and down, and up and down. In our view, it hasn't been well laid out and well planned to service long-term residents in these chalets."

Corner Brook Mayor Charles Pender also said his city is interested in taking it over, but, like Mercer, his enthusiasm was muted.

"We're cautious on this," Pender said. "We have the capability to do anything they need done there, but it all comes at a cost and that's going to be the crux of the matter. What is the reasonable cost of those services? Right now we left it in their court. We said we're interested and that we're here."

The area has 220 chalets and 80 partially built ones. All are privately owned. However, Ernst and Young - the trustees in the Humber Valley bankruptcy - have recently put up for sale the other major assets in the resort including a golf course, clubhouse, restaurant, administrative buildings, a bridge across the Humber River, roads and underground infrastructure.

It could take months for a buyer to close a deal.

"It's sort of up in the air right now. Until the bankruptcy gets cleared away, it's kind of hard," Pender said. Both he and Mercer said the ownership question needs to be answered before either town can reach a deal about providing municipal services like snow clearing, water and sewer and fire services. But make no mistake, they're interested. Both communities had long meetings in January with a group of chalet owners to make their pitch about what their towns could offer.

"We said that we're able to do it all and that's about all we've said, but they don't know what they're doing yet," said Pender.

Mercer believes the new owners would likely want to join a municipality, rather than incorporate themselves to look after everything. He said Pasadena is the logical choice because it is closer than Corner Brook to Humber Valley.

"We wouldn't go over there to make money," said Mercer. "That would be the wrong reason to go over there. Our concern is to bring the road infrastructure and the water lines up to an acceptable municipal standard and that's going to cost someone money, and the province has said it is not going to be them, so the only way to do it is from the taxes from the area. I think that people have come to accept that."

Mercer said complicating matters, however, is the fact almost all the chalet owners do not have Canadian citizenship and are not permanent residents of Newfoundland and Labrador.

"If they become part of our municipality, they would have no right to vote in our municipal election because only Newfoundland and Labrador citizens can vote in Newfoundland. So what does that mean? Taxation without representation. We know what happened in Boston with that."

The Telegram article

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Connolly: Journey To The Edge of the World

Interesting series on TV, DVD & book ... one to watch!

The first part of Billy’s epic ten-week journey sees him arriving in Nova Scotia then heading north to Newfoundland. His journey takes him to the towns where European immigrants first settled, the graveyard where victims of the Titanic disaster are buried and to meet the man who earns a living making scarecrows.

Billy Connolly's Journey to the Edge of the World: episode 1 preview:

The first part of Billy’s epic ten-week journey sees him arriving in Nova Scotia then heading north to Newfoundland.

His journey by boat, motorbike, aeroplane and car takes him to the towns where European immigrants first settled, the graveyard where victims of the Titanic disaster are buried and to meet the man who earns a living making scarecrows.

He also meets the hospitable townspeople who took in airline passengers stranded by the 9/11 tragedy and goes in search of whales and icebergs.

Billy begins his journey at sea aboard the historic Bluenose II schooner, the symbol of which appears on all Nova Scotian number plates, before arriving at Halifax – the town to which almost two million Europeans migrated to start a new life on the edge of the world. Cruise ships now regularly dock at the town and are greeted by pipers and the town crier. Billy looks around Pier 21, now a memorial to immigration, and discovers that 30 William Connollys were among those who emigrated there.

He also visits the Titanic graveyard where he is amused to discover cruise ship passengers are taken as part of their tour. Among the graves is that of ‘J Dawson’, which many tourists believe to be Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, Jack, in the Hollywood movie, ‘Titanic’. But Billy explains that the grave is actually that of a man named Joseph Dawson.

Billy says: “The grave just said J Dawson, but it’s a guy called Joseph Dawson. But nobody seems to be bothered too much about that. So in death he became sexy and Hollywood. Good on him, I say.”

Billy’s next stop is Lunenburg which was once North America’s fishing capital, but years of over-fishing means the cod supply has almost gone and the town now relies on tourism to survive. Commercial cod fishing is now banned, but fishing with a hook and line is permitted so Billy takes to the seas with two fishermen, Ralph Church and Bobby Beringer, to see what they can catch. Bobby tells Billy how he almost died when his boat froze over and started to capsize.

People have been moving to New Brunswick from Scotland since 1753 and the locals have retained their Scottish culture. Billy admits to mixed feelings as he watches the pipers and dancers at their Highland Games and says: “I think it’s a New World thing, a need for something old, and they seem to assume that old means good. There are bits of Scottish culture I just love, and it’s hard for me not to get carried away by it all.”

“The band of Scots that landed here has clung on to its highland traditions and kept them remarkably intact. I think culture should be constantly on the move, forever changing; but people here seem to relish being more Scottish than the Scots themselves.”

The next place Billy visits is Ch├ęticamp where the residents speak French because of the 17th century French colonists who settled there. Billy meets Chester Delaney, a scarecrow maker, in his field of scarecrows which are all made to look like famous people or people he knows.

Next on the agenda Billy dodges wandering moose as he rides a motorbike around Cape Britain’s western shore on the Cabot Trail – one of the top five motorcycle rides in the world.

When he gets to St John’s in Newfoundland, Billy is met with a traditional seafaring way of welcoming outsiders to become honorary Newfies – a ‘Screeching In’ ceremony. The comedian wears a fisherman’s hat, chants, and kisses a fish - by tradition it should be a cod, but since they are in such short supply, a trout has to suffice. Before he gets a certificate proclaiming him a Newfie, Billy takes a swig of a substitute for the Jamaican rum ‘screech’, which is usually drunk at the ceremony. Now a teetotaller, Billy says: “I made do with pop.”

Next Billy visits Gander, a town with a population of just 10,000 which took in 6,500 people stranded when their planes were forced to land there after the 9/11 tragedy. The passengers were there for six days and locals let them stay in their homes and looked after them. Billy meets the mayor when he attends the town’s 50th birthday party, and goes fishing for salmon on the River Gander with hunter/fisherman Dave Brake.

Billy flies to St Anthony where he goes on the hunt for his first sighting of an iceberg. When he finds one he is mesmerised by its colour and says he thinks it looks almost edible, like a meringue.

He says: “The native Inuit, who live in Arctic Canada, believe that icebergs contain the spirits of their ancestors who come back to see them every spring. I love that. I just saw a face. That’s the nose on the left there the upper lips see it coming up and there’s hair at the back, just above the nose you see the eye. See, that’s the way they get you.

“Do you know what I would love to do? I’d love to tow it up the Clyde or up the Thames or the Tyne or the Mersey and let all those kids see it.”

Finally, before he heads further towards the Northwest Passage, Billy stays over at the Quipon Lighthouse which is the most northerly point in Newfoundland and is famous for whale spotting. En route to the lighthouse, in a choppy Atlantic, he is treated to a glimpse of a whale.

Find it on Amazon / Pre-order the DVD on HMV - (book and/or DVD)
Or if in UK watch it on ITV 9pm Thurs 19th Feb and then on its ITVPlayer for 7 days thereafter.

Pre-order the DVD on HMV

We're ... Are you?

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Jackman to double tourism revenue by 2020

Tourism article from 'The Western Star'

Provincial 'vision'; Jackman hopes to double tourism revenue by 2020

Clyde Jackman unleashed “Uncommon Potential” Friday at the Pepsi Centre. The Tourism minister said the initiative, which is a partnership between his department and Hospitality Newfoundland Labrador, is aimed at the ambitious goal of doubling the $800-million in annual revenue from tourism in this province by 2020.

To that end, he unveiled three television ads that are hitting the airwaves on specialty networks, like the Discovery Channel, CBC Newsworld and TSN. He said the advertisements, hatched by Target Marketing and Communications, are the third installment of a series that have drawn an emotional response.

“In the first series of ads, there’s one thing that struck me and I use it all the time,” Jackman said. “It says ‘we’re as far away from Disneyland as you can get or want to be.That speaks exactly about it. When you see them and the first time I saw them they sent chills up my spine.
“Anywhere I go in my travels across this country I preach it, this is the best bloody place to live in the world. I tell it to people and other people may feel the same about the jurisdictions, but I think there’s something very special about the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and these folks (Target) captured it.”

Jackman said a tourism board will be created to cement the public, private partnership in a formal manner to lead the implementation of the strategy. The province is about to sign a three-year Atlantic Canada tourism partnership agreement. He also said the province’s tourism website is being enhanced with new interpretive mapping and an interactive blog.
Jackman said the upgrades will be a great asset to the travellers.

There will be fluctuations in the market, he said, but the province is holding its own right now. He believes despite the downturn, tourism will be one of the province’s greatest economic drivers.

“Ladies and gentlemen, let’s not fool ourselves, these are tough times,” Jackman said. “There are challenges. We’re in the midst of a global recession and now more than ever, we have to be aggressive in our efforts to remain competitive in a national and international marketplace.
“As a department, we’re being proactive in our approach to marketing Newfoundland and Labrador as a destination of choice.”

Original Western Star article

New job for Mike Clewer

Mike Clewer, the ex MD of Humber Valley Resort has a new job, and is now Executive Director of the Western DMO (DMO Destination Marketing Organistion).

The Western DMO (WDMO) is a non-profit Destination Marketing Organization focused on marketing Western Newfoundland & Southern Labrador as a first-class multi-season tourism destination. Their mission is to increase economic development through tourism in Western Newfoundland Labrador.

Their website says "in 2008-09, the WDMO will focus primarily on three sectors: Touring & Exploring (Leisure), Winter Tourism, and Meetings, Conventions & Incentive Travel. There will be secondary focus on Adventure Tourism and Hunting & Fishing".

Well we wish them every success, as Newfoundland needs to serious wake up to the economic opportunities that tourism could bring.

The WDMO website is at and other NFLD tourism sites can be fouond at