Sparse turnout for con­sul­ta­tions on re­gional gov­er­nance

Those who did attend showed sup­port

Nor'wester (Springdale) - - FRONT PAGE - BY CORY HUR­LEY

Only 10 peo­ple care?

On a pro­posed bound­ary map for re­gional gov­ern­ment con­sul­ta­tions, the Baie Verte and Green Bay area cov­ers 196 kilo­me­tres of road.

There are 38 marked mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, lo­cal ser­vice dis­tricts, and un­in­cor­po­rated ar­eas – although it was said there are many more. The pop­u­la­tion is 13,245.

A public con­sul­ta­tion on re­gional gov­ern­ment held in Baie Verte last week drew 10 peo­ple.

Janet Sacrey, town clerk/ man­ager for Pac­quet, said she was “blown away” by the small turnout. At one point in the meet­ing, she told the panel the low turnout ap­pears to tell gov­ern­ment they can do what they want – that peo­ple in this area don’t care.

“I think peo­ple ar­rive at the de­ci­sion that gov­ern­ment is go­ing to do what they want to do, and they are not go­ing to make a dif­fer­ence,” she said.

For her, she said gov­ern­ment has to do what it can for ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties to sur­vive.

“I re­al­ize it is a very small pop­u­la­tion in all of New­found­land and Labrador,” she said. “I know we can’t have all these large ser­vices in ev­ery small lit­tle town. We def­i­nitely have to re­gion­al­ize.”

Sacrey named ex­am­ples of ser­vices that need to be re­gion­al­ized, such as eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, fire pro­tec­tion, en­vi­ron­ment and safety ex­per­tise, and waste man­age­ment.

She said Pac­quet is not fi­nan­cially able to pro­vide qual­i­fied peo­ple to ad­min­is­ter the ser­vices re­quired by leg­is­la­tion to its res­i­dents. With a re­gional gov­ern­ment, she ex­pects paying into a larger body with other com­mu­ni­ties could be a so­lu­tion.

Baie Verte

Baie Verte coun­cil­lor Scott Furey was also shocked to see min­i­mal in­ter­est in such an im­por­tant ses­sion.

Re­gion­al­iza­tion is a con­tro­ver­sial topic, so he came pre­pared to in­dulge in some heated de­bates.

“I re­ally ex­pected the place to be packed,” he said of the meet­ing held at the Col­lege of the North At­lantic in Baie Verte. “I ex­pected ar­gu­ments and yelling.”

De­spite the per­ceived lack of in­ter­est, Furey still ex­pects what­ever even­tu­ally hap­pens to be con­tro­ver­sial.

“Peo­ple will feel like they have to give up their iden­tity, if it goes that way,” he said. “No­body wants to do that. I don’t want to do that for Baie Verte, but I would have to look at the ben­e­fits and weigh that against the neg­a­tives.”

As the re­gional hub on the Baie Verte Penin­sula, the town al­ready pro­vides re­gional ser­vices that res­i­dents from other com­mu­ni­ties avail of, although they do not con­trib­ute to the cost, Furey pointed out.

“It makes things hard,” he said. “When you are think­ing about do­ing things, you know you are ser­vic­ing ev­ery­body, and that you need to main­tain

it for that pur­pose.”

Spring­dale

Spring­dale coun­cil­lor Joe Tomp­kins said re­gional gov­er­nance has a lot of merit.

“I think we want to see gov­ern­ment re­sources put in ap­pro­pri­ate ar­eas, and the proper use of gov­ern­ment monies,” he said.

He said the is­sue of lim­ited re­sources for de­clin­ing pop­u­la­tions has to be ad­dressed. With Spring­dale be­ing a re­gional hub for the Green Bay area, he said a bound­ary cov­er­ing Baie Verte and Green Bay ap­pears ideal from a re­gional per­spec­tive.

In Spring­dale, he said a ser­vice such as fire pro­tec­tion is al­ready a re­gional as­set. He be­lieves the spe­cial­ized ex­per­tise his town has on staff — such as a civil en­gi­neer — could be of great ben­e­fit to the re­gion. Burling­ton

Burling­ton mayor Ge­orge Kelly was joined at the meet­ing by two other town rep­re­sen­ta­tives. He said Burling­ton, Mid­dle Arm and Smith’s Har­bour have been shar­ing ser­vices, such as fire pro­tec­tion and waste man­age­ment, and work­ing to­gether for years.

How­ever, he said many small towns are strug­gling and un­able to pro­vide some es­sen­tial ser­vices.

“Towns will even­tu­ally come on board, they have no choice,” he said. “Our pop­u­la­tion is go­ing down. Ev­ery Grade 12 stu­dent is leav­ing the town. Our pop­u­la­tion is old — eight or 10 years in Burling­ton, our se­niors will be gone or ranked right up there in the 100s. There are homes va­cant out there … Even­tu­ally, it is just not go­ing to work.”

Re­gard­ing western re­gional waste man­age­ment, he said towns such as Burling­ton do not like the fu­ture of that ser­vice be­cause it is lead­ing to a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in costs to res­i­dents.

How­ever, he said the ser­vice to be pro­vided should even­tu­ally be ac­cepted as the new way of life.

CORY HUR­LEY/THE NOR’WESTER

Janet Sacrey, town clerk/man­ager of Pac­quet, at­tended a public con­sul­ta­tion on re­gional gov­ern­ment held in Baie Verte last week.

CORY HUR­LEY/THE NOR’WESTER

Baie Verte coun­cil­lor Scott Furey was one of very few peo­ple to attend last week’s public con­sul­ta­tion on re­gional gov­ern­ment in Baie Verte.

CORY HUR­LEY/THE NOR’WESTER

Spring­dale coun­cil­lor Joe Tomp­kins at­tended a public con­sul­ta­tion on re­gional gov­ern­ment held in Baie Verte last week.

CORY HUR­LEY/THE NOR’WESTER

Burling­ton mayor Ge­orge Kelly, along with two other town rep­re­sen­ta­tives, at­tended last week’s public con­sul­ta­tion on re­gional gov­ern­ment.

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