Re­think­ing re­lo­ca­tion

N.L. gov­ern­ment in­ter­ested in col­lab­o­ra­tion, not re­set­tle­ment, Ball says

The Western Star - - FRONT PAGE - BY ASH­LEY FITZ­PATRICK

In or­der to meet the de­mand for pub­lic ser­vices in ru­ral ar­eas, New­found­land and Labrador’s busi­nesses, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and provin­cial gov­ern­ment have all been talk­ing more about col­lab­o­ra­tion, Premier Dwight Ball said Thurs­day.

In a state-of-the-prov­ince ad­dress to the Ro­tary Club of St. John’s, the premier touched briefly on ev­ery­thing from mar­ket po­ten­tial for in­creased out­put of farmed mus­sels to the Broad­way mu­si­cal “Come From Away,” to im­mi­gra­tion plans, to the re­view of the K-12 school sys­tem.

He also spoke about pro­vid­ing ser­vices be­yond ma­jor cen­tres. “I can tell you there are con­ver­sa­tions that are hap­pen­ing in town of­fices, there’s con­ver­sa­tions that are even hap­pen­ing in peo­ple’s homes, about a com­mon theme, about how can we work to­gether as a com­mu­nity, as a group of com­mu­ni­ties, to pro­vide the ser­vices more ef­fi­ciently,” he told the au­di­ence at the Sher­a­ton Ho­tel New­found­land.

Ball made men­tion of ferry ser­vices, as an ex­am­ple, ask­ing peo­ple not to read into it.

New­found­land and Labrador spends about $70 mil­lion to ser­vice just over 11,000 peo­ple a year with a ferry ser­vice, he said.

“But I want to put that in con­text for you. We spend just un­der $70 mil­lion on snow­clear­ing in our prov­ince. We spend just over $70 mil­lion in our provin­cial roads pro­gram,” he said.

He said the provin­cial gov­ern­ment is not in­ter­ested in forced re-lo­ca­tion to re­duce costs.

“It is not about re­set­tle­ment, but it is about what the ser­vices that we think and we feel that we need based on where we live,” he said.

Speak­ing with re­porters af­ter his speech, the premier said there are plenty of ar­eas where shared ser­vices are in place or un­der con­sid­er­a­tion by mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties — in fire and emer­gency ser­vices, snow­clear­ing, waste man­age­ment and tax col­lec­tion.

“There’s a lot of con­ver­sa­tions oc­cur­ring around re­gional col­lab­o­ra­tion, co-op­er­a­tion, and we’ve said by the way as a gov­ern­ment that when we get re­gions to come to­gether that are pre­pared to share ser­vices we would ac­tu­ally put in­cen­tives in place to re­ward those com­mu­ni­ties that feel shared ser­vices would be of ben­e­fit to them.”

Ball said re­set­tle­ment is a dif­fer­ent con­ver­sa­tion for him. It is some­thing de­ter­mined by the com­mu­ni­ties, peo­ple liv­ing in com­mu­ni­ties, based on the cri­te­ria in place in the leg­is­la­tion. He said he’s not a be­liever in forced re­lo­ca­tion.

“Let’s not for­get that we have a lot of very vi­brant, very suc­cess­ful ru­ral New­found­land and Labrador com­mu­ni­ties as well. … This is not about giv­ing up on ru­ral New­found­land and Labrador. We have lots of op­por­tu­nity,” he said.

ASH­LEY FITZ­PATRICK/ THE TELEGRAM

Premier Dwight Ball de­liv­ers a state-of-the-prov­ince ad­dress to the Ro­tary Club of St. John’s Thurs­day at the Sher­a­ton Ho­tel New­found­land.

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