Bad year?

We can put our hu­man waste out into the Ex­ploits River, ma­jor lakes bor­der­ing our com­mu­ni­ties, and in our har­bours, but you can­not have an out­door toi­let up in the woods.

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE -

Was 2009 one of the worst years in this prov­ince’s his­tory for ru­ral New­found­land and Labrador? This ob­server thinks so.

Dear Ed­tior, I have been find­ing it hard lately to put pen to pa­per. But af­ter read­ing a col­umn, The view from here, sub­ti­tled The cross and the boat, by my good friend Ed Smith, I was en­cour­aged to write this let­ter.

Smith’s col­umn was about ru­ral New­found­land and Labrador, and as your read­ers know I am a very strong ad­vo­cate for the ru­ral part of the prov­ince.

I was born in a place called Lushes Bight in a time when things were a lot tougher than they are to­day. It took a strong breed of peo­ple to sur­vive, mostly by hard work and help­ing each other.

One of my early mem­o­ries and one that I will never for­get was the day the Sec­ond World War ended and peo­ple in the com­mu­ni­ties were cel­e­brat­ing by fir­ing guns into the air. I re­mem­ber my grand­fa­ther hold­ing the gun while I pulled the trig­ger. I had two un­cles who fought in the war. One re­turned but one died just a cou­ple of months be­fore the war ended. They went to war to pre­serve our free­dom. Some­times I have my doubts if it was all for noth­ing.

When I was grow­ing up you could catch any kind of fish in the ocean. You didn’t need a li­cense. You could cut wood without a per­mit, build a house and clear off land for a gar­den, any­where you wanted as long as you were not in­ter­fer­ing with some­one else and you didn’t need per­mis­sion from the gov­ern­ment. We al­ways sur­vived and looked af­ter the land and the ocean.

The year that is about to end, 2009 will go down in his­tory as one of the worst years in ru­ral New­found­land and Labrador. We had a fish­ery that was in cri­sis be­cause of low catches and ridicu­lously low prices. On top of that we have a gov­ern­ment in this prov­ince with a huge ma­jor­ity and more money than we have ever seen. They de­cide they are go­ing to in­flict more pain and suf­fer­ing on our ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties. There was the oil tank fi­asco where peo­ple have to throw away per­fectly good tanks at great cost; small busi­ness in ru­ral NL not al­lowed to ad­ver­tise on the high­way; at­tack on the health care in ru­ral NL - re­mem­ber Flower’s Cove and Lewis­porte - and al­low­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to tax our wharfs and stages, for the first time in 500 years. But the one thing that re­ally makes a lot of peo­ple mad is the at­tack on the peo­ple that love and en­joy na­ture and the out­doors by post­ing no­tices on their trail­ers and cabins that they had 60 days to va­cate or else. Up to this time Min­is­ter Char­lene John­son has not given a rea­son as to why, ex­cept they don’t own the land. The piece of land that I was born on and my grand­par­ents lived on was never reg­is­tered. All th­ese peo­ple who got no­tices had no prob­lem with pay­ing a fee to ob­tain their land, but were not given a choice while some cabins were given a chance to ap­ply for ti­tle to their land. Thou­sands of trail­ers were never given a choice, they had to get out with no op­tions only go home and stay home. There are thou­sands of fam­i­lies in com­mu­ni­ties in NL liv­ing in trail­ers and have been for a long time, but you are not al­lowed to have a trailer up in the coun­try.

For 500 hun­dred years we in ru­ral NL have had camps or tilts up in the woods or coves around our shores. There was once a camp on League Rock and there is still one on Sculpin Is­land for seal­ing or bird­ing.

In 2009 the or­der (de­cree) went out: get rid of the trail­ers and make it hard for the campers to stay and hard they did make it by charg­ing an ex­or­bi­tant price for a piece of land up in the woods. The only value of that land is the amount of wood it can pro­duce. That is one har­vest ev­ery 80-100 years and in most cases th­ese cabins or trail­ers were sit­u­ated in aban­doned gravel pits where noth­ing will ever grow back be­cause the top­soil has been re­moved.

A friend of mine who ap­plied for a re­mote cabin per­mit over a year ago fi­nally got ap­proved to oc­cupy with a five-year lease of $100 per year with cer­tain con­di­tions, an ap­pli­ca­tion fee of $133, and $200 for regis­tra­tion fees. Al­though this per­son stated in the ap­pli­ca­tion that this was a rab­bit camp and would only be used in the fall and he would be us­ing an out­door toi­let, he was told that he could not use an out­door toi­let but had to in­stall a sep­tic sys­tem. First he had to hire a pro­ces­sor to go up in the woods and in­spect the land - cost of a pro­ces­sor could be $300-$700, sep­tic sys­tem $ 3000-$ 5000, de­pend­ing on the type of ground and the dis­tance from the near­est con­trac­tor. The cost of this lease is any­where from $4000 to $6000, just for the land, just to build a cabin that will cost less than $ 3000. Be­cause my friend was build­ing on lease­hold land, he was al­lowed to lease, but if you ap­ply for land from Crown lands, which is the peo­ple’s land, you have to buy the land. And the fig­ures I am hear­ing are any­where from $4,500 to over $15,000 plus you have to have a sur­vey done at ap­prox $1,200. So you add that to the $4000 to $6000 for sep­tic sys­tem and fees, and you are talk­ing an ex­or­bi­tant price, a price that the ma­jor­ity of poor and re­tired peo­ple in our ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties can­not af­ford.

We can put our hu­man waste out into the Ex­ploits River, ma­jor lakes bor­der­ing our com­mu­ni­ties, in our har­bours, but you can­not have an out­door toi­let up in the woods.

Premier Wil­liams, please give me and the rest of ru­ral NL a rea­son why all this is hap­pen­ing. We gave you a huge ma­jor­ity be­cause we be­lieved in the prom­ises you made to make this prov­ince a bet­ter place. While in­side the over­pass things have cer­tainly im­proved be­cause of the oil rev­enues and we have seen pave­ment and in­fra­struc­ture in cer­tain ar­eas of ru­ral NL. But what good is that if our health care is stripped; our small busi­ness are not al­lowed to ad­ver­tise; we are not al­lowed to have a wharf without be­ing taxed, and thou­sands of trailer own­ers are not al­lowed to go to their favourite recre­ation spots any­more and not al­lowed to have a poop in the woods.

Ru­ral NL took a huge beat­ing in 2009 and it will never be the same, all be­cause we elected a gov­ern­ment with very lit­tle op­po­si­tion and they be­lieve they can do what they like and not what the peo­ple want.

The sad part about it all is that the ma­jor­ity of our MHAs are from ru­ral NL, but it seems that once they get in­side the over­pass they for­get about the peo­ple who elected them and the peo­ple that are pay­ing their lu­cra­tive salary and pen­sion plan.

MHAs, prove me wrong; start work­ing for the peo­ple that gave you your job.

The free­dom that my un­cles fought for, we no longer have.

Ed Smith ended with the state­ment the thing that kept the ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties to­gether was, “ the faith, the fish and the fam­ily”.

A lot of us no longer have faith in our politi­cians. I have to have faith that Mr. Wil­liams’ New Year’s res­o­lu­tion will be to do the right thing for ru­ral NL, be­cause without faith we die in de­spair.

I was born in ru­ral NL and will die in ru­ral NL. Re­tired Capt. Wil­fred Bartlett

Brighton wil­f­bartlett@hot­

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