The fact Newfoundland and Labrador has a rapidly aging population has been a known entity for years. At the pre-budget consultation session in Bay Roberts last week, Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador president Churence Rogers acknowledged the stress that places on towns. Combined with the pressing issues they face and the limited resources to work with from what’s often a dwindling tax base, Rogers worries many towns will be short on candidates in the 2017 general elections.
Age and work habits also factor into the problems faced by small-town fire departments. Members in many communities are getting older. A younger firefighter’s employment situation may involve working 14 days straight and then having seven days off. When an emergency happens, who knows who will be around to respond?
It was with that in mind that Harbour Grace Coun. Gord Stone made his pitch last week at the Conception Bay North Joint Councils meeting to enter into a mutual aid agreement with the Town of Carbonear and neighbouring communities who might be interested, like Spaniard’s Bay or Upper Island Cove.
It seems like this sort of arrangement is an inevitable one when you considering the situation at hand. Pooling resources increases the chances of getting attention from other levels of government. If you’re talking about the needs of a fire protection service that covers several communities with over 10,000 residents, that funding application will be hard to ignore. In a fiscal environment where government revenues are not where they were expected to be due to a commodity’s faltering value, these sorts of factors become all the more relevant.
Does this sort of talk tip the hat towards a further regionalization of services and the eventual utterance of an ‘ A’ word?
Well, Clarke’s Beach Mayor Betty Moore was comfortable enough last week at the same meeting Stone attended to say that yes, she expect somewhere down the road her town will amalgamate with others.
We could still be years off from that happening in these parts, but it does seem like an inevitable event. As the demographics of towns continue to change, municipal leaders and residents may need to consider an action to better serve the needs of all.
These conversations are necessary. Let’s keep them coming.