There’s more to N.L. than St. John’s

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Electoral district map published in William Pilot’s 1908 “Outlines of The History of Newfoundland.”

By Terry Burry

I read in The Telegram on Sept. 11 that Clyde Wells and Derek Green are calling for a law school at Memorial University so that students in Newfoundland and Labrador can have access to a legal education at a reasonable cost.

What a golden opportunity for MUN to establish a campus in Gander or Grand Falls-Windsor.

Since 1949, rural Newfoundland and Labrador has been robbed of all of its talent to St. John’s and elsewhere. The Grenfell Campus in Corner Brook is only a marketing ploy to try and prevent high school students from the area from attending universities in Nova Scotia, which undoubtedly they would rather do than take an eight-hour bus ride to St. John’s, the most easterly point in North America, except for Cape Spear.

One of the biggest concerns is that all decisions in this province are made by decision-makers from St. John’s, on the Avalon Peninsula, which represents only about 2.3 per cent of the geographic area of the province.

Remember a few years ago, when the new hospital was built in the centre of Fogo Island and not replaced at its original site in the Town of Fogo? It was decision-makers in St. John’s who did that. But it seems they can’t use the same logic when it comes to placing facilities in the centre of Newfoundland and Labrador. Why, I wonder?

Could it be that the crowd in St. John’s has a bias? The big difference, of course, is that Fogo Island is only about 238 square kilometres (25 km long and 14 km wide), while the island of Newfoundland (including associated small islands) is about 111,390 square kms, which makes it about 480 times larger than Fogo Island.

If you include Labrador in the equation (an additional 293,822 square kms), the province now becomes over 1,700 times larger than Fogo Island. But for some strange reason, everything has to go in St. John’s and not in a more centralized location of the province, which would make it more accessible to all.

So, centralization is good for Fogo Island, but not for Newfoundland and Labrador. Maybe it’s all about having control.

Some other numbers to consider:

• 86 per cent of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB) members are from St. John’s or the Avalon.

• 100 per cent of the members of the Public Utilities Board (PUB),  with a former mayor of St. John’s as its chair, are from St. John’s.

• 57 per cent of our MPs fly out of St. John’s International Airport.

• 83 per cent of our senators fly out of St. John’s.

• We just lost our four rural school boards to St. John’s, and our health boards will likely follow.

• Confederation Building is in St. John’s — Joey Smallwood’s biggest mistake next to the Upper Churchill — which should have been  put in central Newfoundland.

• Tertiary health care is in St. John’s. We get Daffodil Place, and help pay for it, too, with $50,000 coming from Glovertown alone.

• Memorial University’s main campus is in St. John’s; MUN has no footprint in central Newfoundland at all.

And the list goes on.

No wonder so many of our young people from rural Newfoundland and Labrador have to head to Alberta, and why Labrador is thinking about creating its own territory and seceding from Newfoundland.

Can you blame them, with all their vast natural resources? On the Avalon, you wouldn’t cut enough 2 x 4 lumber to build an outhouse; and not enough hydro power to light up the taillights on a rubber duck.


Terry Burry writes from Glovertown.

Organizations: Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, Public Utilities Board

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Fogo Island, Gander Corner Brook Nova Scotia North America Glovertown Alberta

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Recent comments

  • Mr. Squeaker
    October 02, 2013 - 19:15

    No real thoughts on a MUN campus for central, just blaming urban people for the decline of rural Newfoundland. In the distant past, this local know-it-all screwed up the sound on his local cable TV broadcast, couldn't own the mistake, wrote the local newspaper to blame it on someone else, then had to write another letter to apologize once he was called out on his feeble morality. Fortunately, this letter is not targeting anyone in particular, just everyone in St. John's. The purpose of this letter is not solution presentation or discussion, but only complaint and attempts to stir up Townie ire by spewing disjointed statistics and tired regional ribbings. Maybe one of the reasons talent leaves places like Glovertown is because of nitwits like Terry Burry?

  • East56
    October 02, 2013 - 16:30

    The majority of Newfoundland lives on the Avalon Peninsula. End of story. It's time to stop rural Newfoundland from bleeding us dry and sucking every last cent out of working St. John's taxpayers.

  • Ken Collis
    October 02, 2013 - 13:20

    Well Turry from town, that's a great idea.Lets split her up. Everyone on the northeast avalon will reap the benefits of all the natural resourses in that area and the rest of us will get what's left over. Whats that you say? The northeast avalon doesn't have any resourses? Why of course not. They live off the resourses from all those hick towns you want to close. Still, I like the idea of St. John's being on it's own. Imagine all those government jobs there supporting the economy.

  • Ken Collis
    October 02, 2013 - 09:01

    Ok, I get it. Population. That's the answer. No more fishery, farming, forestery, mining, oil, tourism, and the list goes on. Lets all move to town and get government jobs. What a great idea from the fine minds in town.

  • Too Funny
    October 02, 2013 - 08:18

    Nice trivia but that's all it is. You choose to ignore the most important statistic, population. Go look it up and you'll find all your answers. It's just common sense.

  • Turry from town
    October 02, 2013 - 06:45

    Well Mr.Burry that is the whole problem with NL.Too many little hicktowns with their hand out to get money to pave highways and build infastructure to the little piece of rock people have squatted on for years.There are not enough tax paying workers in these places to finance such projects because of lack of employment and a tax base.So those little towns send a politition to SJ to get money for his own pockets and the townspeople.But that money comes from the bulk of taxpayers who are in SJ.We are paying their way. Maybe the gov should reduce the number of representatives from these outposts and draw a boundary around St.John's that includes some of the towns that are just parasites feeding off the city and tell people if you choose to live outside this area you are on your own.Rather than bleeding out the public purse to those places that contribute very little if anything.

    • brad
      October 02, 2013 - 11:31

      Perfect! Let's take away that municipal grant you get annually from the province then. Impeccable logic..

    • Jay
      October 02, 2013 - 11:40

      What a crock. Do you realize that the "decision-makers" are cabinet ministers from outside St. John's. Look at the sparse representation in cabinet from St. John's. One of the reasons the province is in the mess it's in, is because of all of the money wasted because of our large geography and sparse population. We have to centralize services, and in my opinion, we're not doing enough of that. Look at how much money the province is spending on ferry services for people who want to live in isolated settlements and dream about an inshore fishery which will never return. Look at all of the incorporated towns which won't cooperate because the people don't want to pay taxes or cooperate with each other. The hospital in Fogo Island was placed where it was because the people living in that area were too contrary to see one community get ahead of another. It's the same reason why so many schools were put in the middle of nowhere in rural areas of the province. Maybe the reason why there isn't more infrastructure in Grand Falls-Windsor is because nobody wants to live there. Your community couldn't even put off a rock show without endangering the general public.

    • Travis
      October 02, 2013 - 17:21

      If I used your logic, then I could also say that the whole problem with Canada is too many 'little hick places' like Newfoundland. Should we relocate the entire island to Ontario? I mean..that is where the bulk of the tax payers are.

    • Huck
      October 02, 2013 - 18:25

      Well said, sir. I think that is a grand idea you have there. Everyone should move out of these "hicktowns" and relocate to the Avalon. Draw a circle around the peninsula and decree that the entire population of Newfoundland must live there. That would only double the population on the Avalon, and think of the money that could be saved. Of course your daily commute to work may take 3-4 hrs longer, but that's no big deal is it? And just think, a large fence could be erected around the Avalon after everyone moves there, and then the moose wouldn't be able to get in. No more accidents between vehicles and moose. It's a win/win situation, sir. Now I hates to spoil all this rosy plan but just think, if for some reason the oil tap gets turned off, there's going to be a hell of a lot of high priced real estate to give away and St John's and the entire Avalon would be just one big "hicktown" with it's hand out.

    • Conrad
      October 02, 2013 - 18:57

      Turry, you are just plain ignorant. Probably an idiot too. The people from around the bay have been working for 500 years. While St. John's has been a welfare town. 10 years of good work and townies live like kings. 500 years of work and we get looked down at. Bull.