Resettlement funding hiked, but no one’s biting

James McLeod jmcleod@thetelegram.com
Published on May 24, 2014
Gaultois is one of the small communities the provincial government has provided information to about resettlement.
— Telegram file photo

It was one of the few things that got more funding in last year’s budget, amid a sea of cuts, but since the government bumped up the incentive for resettlement, there haven’t been any new takers.

The government nearly tripled the incentive for resettlement — from $100,000 to $270,000 per household — and it is working its way through the resettlement process with a handful of communities, but since the announcement was made, no new towns have come forward with plans to move.

“I would hope that more communities would explore this in the future, but there’s certainly no pressure from government for them to do so,” said Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Kent, who’s responsible for resettlement issues.

“I believe there are other communities that we will hear from in the months and years ahead. Communities have to be sustainable and we have communities in this province where sustainability is a real challenge.”

The government currently has working files on Little Bay Islands, Round Harbour, William’s Harbour in Labrador, Snook’s Arm and Nipper’s Harbour.

Last summer, government officials also visited McCallum and Gaultois to provide information about potential resettlement.

Kent said the government’s attitude is to offer information and assistance if communities get in touch, but they don’t push resettlement in any way.

“We want communities to be in control of their own future and their own destiny, and this is a really sensitive issue. Relocation is usually the last option for residents,” he said.

Even though there hasn’t been a huge uptake, the increased funding has definitely started conversations.

Liberal MHA Andrew Parsons, who represents the southwest coast, has a couple of communities in his district that talked about it seriously.

“It was a huge topic when it came out, for five or six months,” he said.

To resettle, a community has to vote 90 per cent in favour of it. Parsons said Grey River and La Poile in his district had plenty of discussions, but after gauging support they decided not to pursue the idea.

jmcleod@thetelegram.com

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