MNL supports Port aux Basques in opposing Oceanex subsidy challenge
Immigration strategies outlined to deal with aging demographics
Mayor John Spencer says the Town of Port aux Basques has “overwhelming support” from other municipalities in its opposition to the ongoing Oceanex federal subsidy challenge against Marine Atlantic.
Spencer raised the issue in Corner Brook during the recent Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador (MNL) conference.
“The highlight of the conference was a resolution put forward by the town objecting to Oceanex’s court challenge to the subsidy granted to Marine Atlantic,” Spencer wrote in an email to the Gulf News. “Delegates representing municipalities across Newfoundland and Labrador voted 98 per cent (in favour of ) enticing MNL to become involved in lobbying MHAs, MPs, senators, and tourism-related groups opposing any move towards elimination of Marine Atlantic’s federal subsidy.
“No other resolution received such a high level of support.”
Immigration was another conference topic of interest to the Port aux Basques area, said Spencer.
“The devil is in the details,” he said via email. “The province has no new money. Municipalities are struggling, dealing with a shrinking tax base. The changing demographic has had an impact across the island.”
One of the ways the province is attempting to cope with that change is by retaining foreign students who come to study, and to attract and retain skilled immigrants. Currently Newfoundland only has a 66 per cent retention rate.
“Part of the retention thrust would be to allow for annual cultural holidays to be posted,” wrote Spencer. “Welcoming and inclusive communities.”
The province is also hoping to entice expatriate Newfoundlanders back to the island through a directive called “The Way Forward.” Spencer said a key part of that strategy revolves around making the application project smoother.
“Temporary foreign worker programs have become a new reality.”
Talks also explored other strategies such as food sustainability and bee keeping, shrinking resources and the hotly debated regionalization discussions.
“Dr. Rob Greenwood, from Memorial University’s Harris Center, spoke of a scary reality of Newfoundlanders living the dream outside of urban areas,” recounted Spencer. “Those LSDs (local service districts) with no taxes yet using urban services. There is a need for greater efficiency.”
Waste management was another hot topic at the conference.
Spencer reported the biggest concern was transparency. He said there were a lot of questions posed during the open forum about the perceived secrecy of the board and members’ inability to report back to their respective towns.
“This was a major issue of contention.”
Channel-Port aux Basques mayor John Spencer shared some thoughts after attending the recent MNL conference.