The awaited sol­stice

Advertiser (Grand Falls) - - Editorial - Andy Barker Andy Barker at abdp9@hot­

This time of the year you wish na­ture’s weather was like a dis­pos­able mat­tress; the spring is hope­less, heave it out for a new one and en­joy a whole new world of com­fort.

How­ever, na­ture be­ing what it is means our spring has been one for the books - mis­er­ably cold.

Well, there’s al­ways next year, right?

Nev­er­the­less, it’s June 21, and be­ing the sum­mer sol­stice it’s the long­est day of the year and gives us hope that some heat will come to us, some day, soon.

Mean­while, the heat of spring has been felt in places such as Ot­tawa. Its spring was not en­tirely a bed of roses, but they have had nights that you could lie in bed with the win­dows wide open and en­joy the best of what mother na­ture has to of­fer.

This week our tem­per­a­tures will strug­gle to meet 20 de­grees while in Ot­tawa they will hover the mid 20s range. That good weather should make its Ribfest on Sparks Street June 20-24 more than tol­er­a­ble.

Sparks Street is a won­drous four city block des­ig­nated as a year-round pedes­trian mall. Its trees, plants, flow­ers, and out­door restau­rants make the walk a plea­sure es­pe­cially with no ve­hi­cles to bother you at all, men­tally or phys­i­cally.

A Septem­ber Ribfest I at­tended a few years ago had me im­pressed with the rigs sell­ing BBQ ribs, chicken, pulled pork, and roasted pota­toes in a car­ni­val like at­mos­phere. How­ever, I was even more im­pressed with the cheer­ful, re­laxed look­ing peo­ple of all ages and na­tion­al­i­ties en­joy­ing life as it should be. A model of ci­vil­ity and peace­ful­ness for the world to im­i­tate.

June 21 means it’s Na­tional In­dige­nous Peo­ples Day (for­merly Na­tional Abo­rig­i­nal Day) which was first pro­claimed by Gov­er­nor Gen­eral Romeo LeBlanc on June 21, 1996. The use of In­dige­nous has its ori­gins with a UN res­o­lu­tion of Sept 13, 2007 and it has rapidly taken over as the name as­so­ci­ated with First Na­tions peo­ple in Canada.

A West­ern Canada First Na­tion Band mem­ber whom I met in Ot­tawa at a con­ven­tion calls him­self a Red In­dian. My card says “Sta­tus In­dian”. In­dian as a name was fine by grand­fa­ther Louie John; thus, fine by me.

As for New­found­land’s Red In­dian her­itage, Qalipu First Na­tion re­quested three years ago that the Town of Grand Fall­sWind­sor use the orig­i­nal and of­fi­cial name of the sports field on Cromer Av­enue. Fi­nally, 51 years later, the field’s sign now is — Shanawdithit Cen­ten­nial Park. Bet­ter late than never.

Sum­mer means it’s the high sea­son for tourism; an im­por­tant in­dus­try world­wide in­clud­ing New­found­land and Labrador which in 2017 had 553,000 vis­i­tors who spent an es­ti­mated $575 mil­lion.

Mean­while, Nova Sco­tia last year had 2.43 mil­lion tourists with es­ti­mates of $2.7 bil­lion in spend­ing. And tiny Prince Ed­ward Is­land hit its usual av­er­age of 1.5 mil­lion tourists with 1 mil­lion of them stay­ing at least one night. The tourism dol­lar value for the P.E.I. econ­omy is near the $450 mil­lion range.

Our nearby prov­inces break the mil­lion tourist bar­rier quite eas­ily. Why can’t we break that mil­lion vis­i­tors glass ceil­ing? The ex­tra costs to come here by ei­ther by air and or sea are no doubt a bar­rier.

The ferry to here is not a cheap run. The tab (round trip) for two seniors and a reg­u­lar ve­hi­cle is $405 for a day cross­ing and $695 for a night cross­ing with a cabin (no meals in­cluded for ei­ther run). Reg­u­lar adult and chil­dren fares make a day or night cross­ing even more ex­pen­sive.

Un­less you live near ei­ther ferry port, a day cross­ing will more than likely mean you will have to pay to stay in a nearby

ho­tel in or­der to be in the lineup for board­ing. Thus, it’s go­ing to be over $700 for a re­turn trip, one way or an­other.

Mean­while, you will need deeper pock­ets for the Ar­gen­tia run as the tab (round trip) for two seniors and a reg­u­lar ve­hi­cle is $1,115 — cabin in­cluded, no meals. Again, reg­u­lar adult and chil­dren fares mean an even more costly trip.

Thus, two ad­ven­tur­ous tourists from On­tario or Ver­mont, rather than come here, might very well stay in Nova Sco­tia or mo­sey over to P.E.I. where a re­turn trip is $78 by ferry and $47 by the Con­fed­er­a­tion Bridge.

As well, choices of ac­com­mo­da­tions and meals in New­found­land and Labrador are not as com­pet­i­tive as our main­land neigh­bours. Plus, gas prices here are 12-14 cents a litre more ex­pen­sive.

As for day time travel on the Gulf, ferry runs that be­gin al­most at noon are a step back­wards com­pared to days of the Small­wood and Cari­bou. Both of those fer­ries had ear­lier day sail­ings which meant trav­ellers ar­riv­ing in ei­ther port had ex­tra hours of day­light driv­ing be­fore the need to bed down for the night.

Just as the sum­mer sol­stice gives us hope for bet­ter days ahead, maybe some day Ma­rine At­lantic’s fares and sail­ing times will make liv­ing or vis­it­ing here a tad more tol­er­a­ble.

Even if we only have a spring ev­ery now and then.

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