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People living in woods in town becoming bigger issue says councillor

Garbage being strewn about by people sleeping in the woods in or near town is becoming a bigger issue.
Garbage being strewn about by people sleeping in the woods in or near town is becoming a bigger issue.

The issue of people squatting in the woods and causing problems is nothing new in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

. However, it does seem the issue has been getting bigger and bigger, with residents reporting seeing people drinking, garbage being thrown around and even some reports of sexual acts being witnessed in public places.

Councillor Bert Pomeroy said he has been getting more calls and messages from people about the issue, which he said is a serious issue and concern for residents.

“It's an issue for the town as a whole,” he told the Labradorian. “I agree something needs to be done about it, but it’s a complicated issue. The people who are doing this, some of them have serious addiction issues and I think there's a moral obligation to try to deal with the issue.”

Pomeroy said as a community Happy Valley-Goose Bay needs to come together and work with whatever resources they have available, such as provincial authorities and community groups. Having the police deal with it won’t solve the problem, as the people will just move somewhere else.

“We all need to work together and try to find a solution. Not just a matter of dealing with the situation but it's also about trying to find ways to help these people.”

He said they are not all local people; they are also people who come in to the area for the summer months, stay here for the summer and then go back to their home community during the winter months.

“They're not necessarily residents of Happy Valley-Goose Bay as such, seasonal residents I guess, but it's a community concern that I think needs to be raised wherever it can be raised. As a community we can find a solution to this,” Pomeroy said.

He speculated the Muskrat Falls project and the subsequent housing issue might be part of the reason the issue has gotten bigger. Either way, he said, it certainly has not helped.

Pomeroy said this will be one of the issues he will be pursuing into the future if he is re-elected in the municipal elections this fall. Pomeroy has announced he will be running again for the position of councillor, for a number of reasons.

“I got a lot of encouragement,” he said. “I had to step back and see myself if I could commit to another four years and got nothing but support. There are a few projects we’ve been working on with council I would like to see through too.”

Some of the issues Pomeroy said he sees as being at the forefront are Kelland Drive, sand and Muskrat Falls.

In terms of sand blowing about, a yearly concern in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Pomeroy said council is working on landscaping bylaws to try to combat it, as well as looking at some new equipment.

“It’s terrible,” he said. “What’s the point of spending money on landscaping to just have it all buried in sand? We’re working on making property owners be responsible, as well as maybe some equipment at the Town to help get rid of some of the sand.”

The issues surrounding Muskrat Falls are myriad for the Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, ranging from road damage to increased crime to fears of flooding. Pomeroy said these are all issues he will continue to bring up throughout the rest of his term and another four years if re-elected.

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