Danny Williams has already left his mark on Newfoundland and Labrador. As premier, he oversaw the economic transformation of the province, and picked enough fights with Ottawa to cement his reputation as a tireless scrapper. After leaving politics, the former telecommunications tycoon known as “Danny Millions” brought an AHL team to St. John’s. And he’s not done yet.
Williams is the sole developer of a project that will add an entire suburb to his hometown of St. John’s. According to the Telegram, the project could be worth as much as $5 billion, and could take up to 20 years to complete. “It literally is a development that is the size of the town of Gander,” St. John’s Mayor Dennis O’Keefe recently told the CBC. Situated near the Glendenning Golf Course that Williams owns in the city’s west end, the development will stretch nearly 1,000 hectares and reportedly include residential, industrial and commercial lots.
Williams bought the land in the late 1990s, but held off on his development plans until he left politics. Speaking about the project with the Telegram, Williams had the ring of a politician pitching a platform. “It’s a very good project for the province because, quite frankly, it’s labour intensive,” he said.
Construction won’t get under way until Williams gets the go-ahead from the municipality and the province to build at an elevation that requires water to be pumped in. The mayor of nearby Conception Bay has expressed concern over the infrastructure costs associated with such a development, and at this point it is unclear who would bear the brunt of the bill. Still, Williams is confident shovels will break ground this year. And why not? City council is reportedly “very keen,” and Williams’s old party, the Progressive Conservatives, won a solid majority in October’s election.