‘Younger blood is the best thing that can hap­pen to us’

Coun­cils, may­ors say young peo­ple needed in mu­nic­i­pal pol­i­tics

Northern Pen - - EDITORIAL - BY KYLE GREENHAM FLOWER’S COVE & PINWARE, NL

Af­ter eight years on coun­cil, Mag­gie Cham­bers was hop­ing some fresh blood would step up to the plate.

With a need for two ad­di­tional coun­cil­lors, the Town of Flower’s Cove held its by­elec­tion on Oct. 18.

Cham­bers en­cour­aged oth­ers to get in­volved, but said if no one did she would re­turn to her seat on coun­cil.

“The town did a lot of out­reach and ad­ver­tised,” said Cham­bers. “I phoned peo­ple and talked about it. We heard inklings that peo­ple were go­ing to come for­ward – but no­body did.”

Cham­bers held off on her de­ci­sion un­til the morn­ing of the by­elec­tion. Af­ter no one else turned up, she was sworn in as the fourth mem­ber of town coun­cil at 8 p.m. that evening.

Cham­bers says she was in­ter­ested in re­turn­ing to coun­cil, but waited for the by­elec­tion in hopes a younger per­son would take her spot.

“We’re ag­ing now, and we need new peo­ple to come in,” she said. “There’s a lot of young peo­ple that could step up, but they just lay back and wait for things to hap­pen, rather than make them hap­pen.

“It’s sad.”

Drive is lack­ing

Di­dier Naul­leau is mayor of Pinware, a small Labrador com­mu­nity with fewer than 100 res­i­dents. Be­cause Pinware is lo­cated close to a pro­vin­cial park, Naul­leau says there is op­por­tu­nity for growth but with an ag­ing de­mo­graphic, the drive is lack­ing.

“I think the po­ten­tial is there, but the in­ter­est is not,” said Naul­leau. “There are busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties if peo­ple are will­ing to stay and es­tab­lish some­thing.”

Naul­leau says busi­nesses like cab­ins or a bed and break­fast would be ideal for the town, as well as a busi­ness that caters to park visi­tors in the sum­mer. The park has even reached out to Naul­leau in hopes of col­lab­o­rat­ing with the town, but Naul­leau says Pinware has lit­tle chance of sway­ing gov­ern­ment to help fund busi­nesses and projects with such a small pop­u­la­tion.

“Pinware has to fight gov­ern­ment on ev­ery­thing,” he said. “And I un­der­stand with less than 100 peo­ple, it’s tough to win them over.”

Pinware still has a few young peo­ple and even two ba­bies on the way. While it would be ideal to have younger peo­ple start these projects, Naul­leau says they are of­ten the last to get the sup­port needed to do so.

“Young peo­ple don’t have the fi­nan­cial sup­port. If they go to a bank ask­ing for a loan with lit­tle ex­pe­ri­ence and lit­tle money, they’ll be de­nied on the spot,” Naul­leau said.

“But they want to de­velop these kinds of things. Most of the young peo­ple would want to start some­thing along the lines of a bed and break­fast, which would be best for here.”

Mo­ti­vat­ing young peo­ple in these ar­eas has been tough. Like many parts of ru­ral New­found­land and Labrador, Naul­leau says with­out any eco­nomic in­cen­tives, most hit­ting adult­hood will move on for work or school­ing.

“Last year, we lost our deputy mayor to a nurs­ing school, and he said, ‘you will prob­a­bly not see me for an­other 20 years,’” said Naul­leau. “I don’t think we have quite grasped the need to hold onto our young peo­ple.”

Pinware has en­cour­aged younger peo­ple in the com­mu­nity to get more in­volved, like a re­cent ini­tia­tive to get high school stu­dents to choose a foos­ball ta­ble for the town.

“It’s way to drive the young lads into mu­nic­i­pal pol­i­tics, and give them the im­pres­sion that their de­ci­sions have an im­pact on the fu­ture,” said Naul­leau.

Flower’s Cove’s coun­cil will now forge ahead with its four mem­bers. Cham­bers feels the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion re­in­forces the need for younger peo­ple to get in­volved.

“Our mayor now has been there a long while, but some­times you need a shadow,” Cham­bers said. “You need new peo­ple to take that role.”

With younger peo­ple in their early 20s tak­ing seats on coun­cil in towns like Port Saun­ders and L’anse au Loup, there are signs the tide is turn­ing. Naul­leau says no one wants to see these com­mu­ni­ties die, but there is a des­per­ate need for a new gen­er­a­tion of ideas.

“Younger blood is the best thing that can hap­pen to us, it’s what we need right now,” Naul­leau said. “We need them to get in­ter­ested in mu­nic­i­pal pol­i­tics in the fu­ture. They can push fur­ther than the lim­ited vi­sion that our el­ders have had.”

FILE PHOTO

Mag­gie Cham­bers waited un­til the morn­ing of Flower’s Cove’s by­elec­tion to re­turn to coun­cil. She waited it out, hop­ing some newer faces would take her spot, but she says the in­ter­est is not there.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Pinware mayor Di­dier Naul­leau says some ini­tia­tives have been com­pleted to en­cour­age young peo­ple to get in­volved with com­mu­nity is­sues. But with a town of less than 100 peo­ple, get­ting fund­ing for fu­ture de­vel­op­ment is tough.

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