GREAT NORTHERN PENINSULA, N.L. – The Great Northern Peninsula has strong representation on the Municipalities of NL (MNL) board of directors.
Among the 11 individuals on the board, three of them come from the Great Northern Peninsula (GNP).
Sitting as vice president is Roddickton-Bide Arm mayor Sheila Fitzgerald, as northern director is St. Lunaire-Griquet Dale Colbourne and, elected most recently this past November, as small towns director is Bird Cove mayor Andre Myers.
It’s the highest number of people the region has ever had on the board.
Fitzgerald, who has served as vice president since last year, feels it demonstrates that municipal leadership on the GNP is working hard to involve themselves in the provincial conversation.
“We are very much interested in the conversation at the provincial table,” she said. “We’re coming back with the latest information and trying to apply whatever opportunities back to our small towns.”
Having three individuals on the board, she says, allows them greater opportunity to meet and consult with ministers, get information and circulate that information back on the GNP.
Colbourne is one of seven regional directors on the board. As northern director, she represents 21 municipalities, all of which are located on the GNP.
“My role is to be the voice of the Northern Peninsula,” she said.
Each year, the northern director and western director hold a joint meeting, to discuss issues pertaining to the entire west coast of Newfoundland.
Colbourne says all of the issues relevant to the GNP are brought up during that meeting.
She also acts as a liaison between the GNP Joint Council and MNL.
In doing so, she takes all the concerns, questions and comments that comes from the GNP and brings it back to MNL.
Colbourne has had the role for the past five years.
As small towns director, Myers represents 253 municipalities across the province.
A municipality qualifies as a small town if it possesses fewer than 4,000 people.
That means the GNP consists entirely of small towns.
Myers feels that’s something that prepares him well for this role, as the struggles are common through all small towns in the province.
“In order to survive as small towns, we all have to work together,” he said. “I’m not only there for the Northern Peninsula, I’m there to represent all the small towns across the province.”
Myers says they have a small towns advisory committee set for across the province.
“With that committee, we make recommendations to the board for decisions that affect small towns, and in Newfoundland and Labrador, almost every decision affects small towns,” he said.
Fitzgerald feels the Northern Peninsula mayors' involvement on the board shows how municipal leaders aren’t giving up and fighting for the survival of the GNP.
“We have that much strong leadership of people who are interested in making a difference in their communities, in reviving rural Newfoundland and ensuring we’re going to be on the Great Northern Peninsula for years to come,” she said. “We’re going to work as hard as we can to make sure the people are taken care of.”
MNL is an advocacy group whose efforts focuses on “ensuring provincial policies and programs respect municipal authority, advancing the ambitions and goals of (its) member municipalities, and furthering the establishment of responsible government at the local level.”