Relocation back on the agenda in Galtois

Clayton Hunt
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Ballot circulated to gauge residents’ opinions

Ambrose King has lived in Gaultois all his life, but he thinks it might be time to move on.    
“I enjoyed living in Gaultois,” King, who is in his 60s, told The Advertiser last week. “This community has been good to me, but I’m older now and things are different. My wife has a number of serious health issues and she’s always worried when the wind starts to blow hard in the fall and winter that she might not be able to get out in an emergency. Most of our children are gone and they’re not coming back here to live.

The section of Gaultois commonly known as the Point. In its heyday, the community had a population of about 700. Today its population is less than 200. — File photo by The Advertiser

“This community is not like it used to be, as you feel more isolated as you get older.”

The idea of relocation is not a new topic in Gaultois.

In 2013, in a vote, 81 per cent of the town’s citizens expressed interest in relocation.

Officials from the province visited the south coast community that year to provide more information to citizens about the process of relocation.

At one time the community had 700 residents. Today, the population is around 200.

Many young people are leaving the community to live and work elsewhere, and as the population ages the prediction is the it will shrink even more in the years to come.

The Gaultois Relocation Committee met recently to revisit the issue.

Craig King, who chairs the nine-member committee, said following that meeting ballots were distributed to homeowners to vote for or against relocation. Ballots were also mailed to residents who are visiting relatives for the winter or are away for medical or work reasons.

He said the ballots will be placed in sealed envelopes, collected by the committee and sent to government officials who will count them to determine the percentage of people interested in a possible relocation from the community.

Following the 2013 provincial budget, which allowed more money for relocation — including up to $270,000 per family to assist with moving — interest in the topic was revived in Gaultois.

It appears, however, the debate may be divisive.

A resident who opposes relocation, who wishes to remain anonymous, said she has been attacked on Facebook for her opinion on the issue.

However, she said, everyone has a right to express his or her opinion and her vote is only one ballot. It would be more than one vote, she said, that would prevent a possible move from the community.

Mayor Gordon Hunt told The Advertiser he hopes the issue is settled “one way or another” in the near future.

“Council recently cancelled a scheduled meeting with the minister of transportation because of this ongoing issue,” the mayor said.

“We’re waiting now to see what happens with this new expression of interest. If we don’t obtain the 90 per cent required, council wants to go on running the community as best we can.”

 

The Advertiser

Organizations: Gaultois Relocation Committee

Geographic location: Galtois

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  • Relocation
    April 02, 2014 - 08:31

    Gaultois is an island but there are more places with shrinking populations that should be closed. Years ago it worked because of the fishery but now people are older and the young ones don't want to fish and they don't want to live there. They get an education past high school and don't want to go back home, except to visit. It's too expensive and too risky in case of emergency. $270,000 seems a bit high for moving, considering a few years ago it was only 100,000.