Labrador data centre owner says lack of paperwork 'honest mistake'
The owner of a data centre in Happy Valley-Goose Bay thinks he has a way to talk the town into letting him continue operations, despite issues with paperwork and complaints from nearby neighbours.
"I have some deficiency in terms of paperwork," Akm Moynul Haque told CBC Radio's Labrador Morning, after the town issued a stop-work order on his business.
"The city is saying I need to shut it down … I'm trying to convince the city to give me a little bit of time."
Data centres are warehouses for computers and hard drives that process information. Haque had been operating the Labrador facility out of a garage in a mixed zone across from a residential zone.
Neighbours expressed concern when several new utility poles went up on the site.
Haque said he got his lease in July 2015 and thought everything was in order until the town started sending him emails earlier this year.
He told Labrador Morning he is used to working in an urban area in Ontario and didn't know there were zoning restrictions in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
A lot on the line
Deputy Mayor Bert Pomeroy said the town wasn't properly informed before the data centre opened and found out because of the amount of power it consumed.
"I would really appreciate if some university had a Municipal 101 course for every entrepreneur," Haque said, calling it a "honest mistake."
It's a mistake that could be costly. Haque said he borrowed $150,000 to open the data centre and can't afford to relocate.
"I didn't have good sleep for last couple of weeks," he said.
The economic value of data centres has been questioned, since they are highly automated and produce little employment. But Haque has an idea to put to council.
"We produce a huge quantity of hot air, unbelievable amount," he said.
"Maybe we could integrate with a greenhouse … that benefit would make an agricultural project viable."
There would have to be a pilot project to determine if that kind of joint venture would work, but Haque is hopeful.
"I am fairly confident if the local community allows me to do something, I will give back."
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