Un­cer­tain fu­ture for North Shore group

Re­gional de­vel­op­ment as­so­ci­a­tion likely to fold with­out new mem­bers


Ray John­son from Lower Is­land Cove be­lieves the lo­cal de­vel­op­ment as­so­ci­a­tion on the north shore of Con­cep­tion Bay is in trou­ble

The or­ga­ni­za­tion, which was founded about two decades ago, has lost mem­bers and had dif­fi­culty re­cruit­ing new ones in re­cent months.

The North Shore Re­gional De­vel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion has been re­spon­si­ble for ad­vo­cat­ing for other com­mu­nity groups who needed as­sis­tance ap­ply­ing for provin­cial grants, get­ting stu­dent work­ers and other com­mu­nity ac­tiv­i­ties.

Over the past few months, for­mer mem­bers de­cided to re­sign their ex­ec­u­tive po­si­tions. John­son ex­plained it’s be­cause they have put in many years and fi­nan­cial obli­ga­tions were get­ting dif­fi­cult. He also said find­ing new mem­bers may be ben­e­fi­cial.

John­son is act­ing chair of the as­so­ci­a­tion, which cov­ers un­in­cor­po­rated com­mu­ni­ties along the roughly 35-kilo­me­tre span be­tween Kingston and Low Point, but said he can­not hold the po­si­tion on a per­ma­nent ba­sis.

“I was asked to act as a chair and bring forth a new com­mit­tee,” he said. “If that doesn’t hap­pen, the as­so­ci­a­tion will dis­solve.”

John­son is a mem­ber of Buddy Wa­sis­name and the Other Fellers, and spends quite a bit of time on tour. He also chairs the Flam­bro Head Her­itage So­ci­ety, among other com­mu­nity ac­tiv­i­ties.

Fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties

In­volve­ment has been on the de­cline in re­cent years, and John­son said it has been dif­fi­cult re­cruit­ing mem­bers. Fi­nances are a big part of that prob­lem.

“Right now there are ex­penses be­ing in­curred,” John­son ex­plained. “It can’t come from me or you, or any­one else.”

The or­ga­ni­za­tion has been self-suf­fi­cient, and the com­mit­tee has been re­spon­si­ble for fundrais­ing ef­forts. It has re­ceived govern­ment sup­port in the past, but John­son said the sup­port is no longer avail­able.

“There have been mem­bers pay­ing out of pocket,” he con­tin­ued. “I have even put a few dol­lars in my­self.”

He de­scribed pre­vi­ously get­ting sup­port from the govern­ment, es­pe­cially lo­cal MHA and Fi­nance Min­is­ter Char­lene John­son. Lately, he added, there has been no govern­ment sup­port to help save the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“We asked (the govern­ment), ‘Would you con­sider some emer­gency fund­ing?’” John­son said. “There has been no fund­ing.”

He ex­plained the fund­ing would have only been re­quired for a short pe­riod of time, when ei­ther a new ex­ec­u­tive gets put in place or the or­ga­ni­za­tion folds. The fund­ing would be used to pay the elec­tric­ity and phone bill.

The group is host­ing a pub­lic meet­ing on April 24, and it may be the last chance to save the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The re­main­ing mem­bers will host the meet­ing at the Ron­nie John­son Com­mu­nity Cen­tre in Western Bay. If there is not enough par­tic­i­pa­tion, it will no longer con­tinue. Re­cruit­ing new mem­bers John­son re­turned from tour­ing April 14. Af­ter set­tling in back home he read an ar­ti­cle in The Tele­gram about a meet­ing in Heart’s Con­tent for the provin­cial Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive party. There was a turnout of 126 people.

“Why can’t people turn out for some­thing like this,” he stated. “We are all tied up with pol­i­tics, but not in the right fash­ion.

“It’s time for at­ti­tudes to start chang­ing in the com­mu­nity.”

When asked what he meant, he said the in­volve­ment needs to start in schools.

“Don’t you think we have to con­sider the youth com­ing up through,” he said. “We have to see our young people get­ting more in­volved. What bet­ter way to tell the stu­dents what’s go­ing on?”

John­son also be­lieves the com­mu­nity should be work­ing col­lec­tively.

“We’re not go­ing to lose our iden­tity if we work to­gether,” he said. “If we can find a way with the de­vel­op­ment as­so­ci­a­tion to work on our be­half, we’re all go­ing to ben­e­fit from it.”

John­son en­cour­ages any­one and ev­ery­one from the area to at­tend the meet­ing, which will be­gin at 8 p.m. April 24.

“I hope people will come to grips with this, and on the 24th we’ll have a fan­tas­tic turnout,” he said. “I don’t want to see it dis­solve.”

Com­pass file photo

Ray John­son is act­ing chair of the North Shore Re­gional De­vel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion, an or­ga­ni­za­tion that is on the verge of break­ing down.

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