ILA’s Gillis: ‘We Got One Wicked Kick at the Can’

“This is really big news for the CBRM, buddy.”

Peter Gillis, president, International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) Local 1259 (Photo via CB District Labor Council Facebook Page)

Peter Gillis, president, International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) Local 1259 (Photo via CB District Labor Council Facebook Page)

Peter Gillis, president of Local 1259 of the International Longshoremen’s Association, is unequivocal in his response to Monday’s announcement that terminal operator Ports America would be involved in the promotion, development and ultimately management of the Novaporte container terminal in the CBRM.

But he was equally unequivocal about something else:

[W]e have to make sure that this thing benefits the community. This is the key to it right now. We have to make sure that the regional councilors step up to the plate, follow this thing through and make sure it’s done properly for the community.

Gillis told the Spectator he’d been working on the port project for 10 years and was “ecstatic” to see Ports America join the team, but he had just as much to say about the need to ensure the project benefits the CBRM:

If there was ever a time that we need councilors to stand up and be strong for the people that they represent, this is it. They have to make sure that this is a fair, fair, fair contract for the municipality. And they gotta make sure that everything is written in stone as far as the contract that gives Albert Barbusci and them guys exclusive rights. Check that out before we sell our souls because there’s hundreds of millions of dollars to be made here we gotta make sure it’s made for the community…

Gillis also questions Mayor Cecil Clarke’s assertion that it will be necessary to extend a 99-year lease or sell the port lands outright. Gillis is adamant that Ports America would be willing to come without such an incentive — the press release announcing the deal stated the firm would take a 40-year lease on any completed terminal.

Clarke told the Spectator the CBRM can only grant 20-year leases, so would have to do 20 years and then an extension as it now stands, but if the municipality had the Charter he’s been pushing for from the provincial government, we could sign a longer lease. He also said something about freeholds and “technical language” and the right to buy which I will have to look up and get back to you on.

And even as councilors like District 2’s Earlene MacMullin and District 11’s Kendra Coombes complain of being stymied in their efforts to get more information about the port, Gillis called for greater transparency in the development process:

Let’s make sure that the councilors are fully involved with this, there’s no more in camera sessions, that everybody’s fully involved and fully tuned [in] and fully aware of how this thing is playing out because you know what? We own this community, the people in this community own this community and there is nobody got the…right to control it on us. Our councilors have to be the voice put their by the people of this community…

Let’s make sure it’s done properly…We got one wicked kick at the can there now…