Two running for Hant’s Harbour seat
Two candidates will vie for the attention of Hant’s Harbour voters in a municipal by-election, which will take place Nov. 23 at the town hall.
Holly Smith and Cecil Soper will go head-tohead for the council seat vacated by Terry Tuck, who was elected in last fall’s municipal election.
Both have previously served on council, with Smith having sat in the mayor’s chair. She’s attempting to return to council in order to see what can be done to help the community.
“It’s a hard time now,” says Smith. “ The taxbase is dwindling, and the municipality still needs work done. We need to try and keep up infrastructure.”
The community’s population peaked at close to 800 resident in years gone by, but the 2006 census reported 401 people living in Hant’s Harbour.
Smith says the community still has a solid employer in its crab plant, though the downturn in the fishery has impacted it over time. There have also been new people becoming attached to the area through the purchase of summer homes, says Smith, as Hant’s Harbour is not a far drive from St. John’s or any community on the Avalon Peninsula.
As a councillor, Smith says she would look to offer support to community groups trying to do good things in Hant’s Harbour. She knows most people in the town, but not being born in Hant’s Harbour and having spent time working elsewhere, Smith says she can also offer an outside perspective.
“I feel very at home here. I like living in Hant’s Harbour, and it’s giving me an opportunity to give back to the community, and I appreciate that.”
Soper has returned to the community after having been away for a number of years. Through work, he has travelled to places all across Canada and in Japan. Now, he wants to share his experiences to help benefit Hant’s Harbour.
“New blood, new ideas, and hopefully new dreams,” says Soper.
He ranks a lack of employment opportunities as an important issue needing to be addressed in Hant’s Harbour.
“Hant’s Harbour used to be a prosperous community at one time, and at the present moment, there’s not a lot of work available to keep the younger people home. They’re all leaving to go away ... it makes a community dull and boring to see all the young people leave.”
He believes measures can be taken to keep young people in Hant’s Harbour, particularly with Newfoundland and Labrador’s economy performing well in the midst of a global recession. The crab plant has a positive presence in the community, but Soper says there is a need to diversify and find new industries.
“ The world seems to have shrunk in regards to technology and transportation. There’s no reason why we can’t have some form of an industry here, where we can employ people on a permanent basis.”
Whatever the outcome of the election, Soper says he is certain the new councillor will work to help Hant’s Harbour achieve its goals for the future.