Two run­ning for Hant’s Har­bour seat

The Compass - - NEWS - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON arobin­son@cb­n­com­pass.ca

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.

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