MNL sup­ports Port aux Basques in op­pos­ing Oceanex sub­sidy chal­lenge

Im­mi­gra­tion strate­gies out­lined to deal with ag­ing de­mo­graph­ics

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - Front page - BY ROSALYN ROY Rosalyn.roy@gulfnews.ca Twit­ter: @tyger­lylly

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.”

J. R. ROY / SPE­CIAL TO THE GULF NEWS

Chan­nel-Port aux Basques mayor John Spencer shared some thoughts af­ter at­tend­ing the re­cent MNL con­fer­ence.

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