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EDITORIAL: Cheers & Jeers Sept. 16

Painted grass outside the Government House fence. — Telegram photo
Painted grass outside the Government House fence. — Telegram photo

Jeers: to paint, paint everywhere. Well, the fence around the Government House in St. John’s might have needed a timely painting touch-up, and given the length of the thing, you can understand the need for a paint-sprayer to get the job done. But was it really necessary to also paint a foot-wide swathe of the grass at the same time?

Cheers: to clear evidence of the munchies, and the munchies as clear evidence. Sometimes, the strangest things turn up during an arrest, and also in a judge’s verdict. Take this snippet from an impaired driving case in the Ontario Court of Justice: “Police eventually arrived to find the defendant/applicant … in the driver’s seat of the car. Much of the car, including the applicant and his passenger, were covered in Cheetos or some other kinds of chips.” Well, that’s suspicious right there, right? A subsequent urine test proved the driver was, in fact, impaired by drugs, including cannabis.

Cheers: to new options and apps. The provincial government just launched a new smart phone app — NL 511 — that lets people get a host of information like winter driving conditions, construction updates, highway camera information, major incidents, current ferry status updates, and weather details. Users will also be able to dial 511 to get information over the phone. Putting more information, and especially easily accessible information, into the hands of residents and tourists is a very good idea. With one extremely important caveat. Repeat after us, people: “I will not use the new 511 app while I am driving. I will not use the new 511 app while I am driving …”

Cheers: to tough but necessary decisions. With just 71 residents counted in the 2016 census, Little Bay Islands citizens have essentially voted 100 per cent to take their town out of existence, and the provincial government is now going through the paperwork to pay to relocate permanent residents. And in case you have never thought about the financials involved with providing services to isolated rural towns, read this snippet from news updates on the relocation: “The provincial government will provide $8.7 million for the relocation that will result in savings of approximately $20 million over 20 years. The town has chosen a relocation date of Dec. 31, 2019. All provincial services will cease shortly after that date. The financial relocation assistance is designed to assist permanent residents with the relocation and access to services in a new community.” If you parse that $1 million-per-year number, that means the province pays out $14,000 per person, per year, to provide direct services to residents in the town. In order to pay $14,000 a year in provincial income taxes, you’d have to have an annual salary of $110,000. The 2016 median household income in Little Bay Islands was $32,448, well less than half the median household income in the province of $75,412. Hard math, indeed.

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