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It’s never to early to start planning your Winter vacation on the GNP

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1311172644-1The Great Northern Peninsula has one of the longest winter seasons on the Island portion of the province of Newfoundland & Labrador. We are the ideal location for an array of winter activities and enjoy the scenery as you experience the countryside, view the frozen Strait of Belle Isle with Labrador as the backdrop or snowmobile on our most Northerly section of the remaining Appalachian mountains.

There is a number of trail networks for cross-country ski-ing or snow-shoeing, as well as the opportunity for the adventurous type to visit alternative locations.

You can enjoy ice-fishing activities, pond skating or a good ol’ hockey game that really immerse you in all the fun and enjoyment winter brings to the people of the North. We embrace winter activities and have a love for spending time in the great outdoors, whether it be at the cabin with a crackling fire, game of cards and a cup of tea or at home with the family building a snowman and making those snow angels we all did when we were kids.

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It certainly is never too early to begin your plan to enjoy all the Great Northern Peninsula has to offer.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Marketing Outport Newfoundland & Labrador

Newfoundland & Labrador has marketed ‘outport’ or rural parts of the province in its award-winning tourism ad campaigns.

Innovative rural companies like Auk Island Winery in Twillingate are continuing to add flavour to the tourism experience. Newfoundland & Labrador takes pride in its unique local berries, such as patridgeberry, bakeapples, squashberries, as well as our very own Screech Rum. This company typically makes berry wines and sells quintessentially on Newfoundlandia.

I have tried bottles that are called, “Moose Juice”, “Krooked Cod”, “Jellybean Row” and “Funky Puffin”. I believe part of my purchasing of this product is curiosity, but primarily to support a local business that prides itself in all things Newfoundland & Labrador.

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The imagery on Outport Wine, which includes an iceberg, outport boats and fishing rooms. The splash of Screech just adds to the authenticity and certainly begins the storytelling process.

This season I hope to tour Auk Island Winery and taste many other wines they have produced in various shapes and sizes. Let’s keep being creative and expand the rural economy and our visitor experiences as we celebrate traditional and modern-day outports.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Why We Need Rural Integrity For a Healthy World

–Philip J Reed on behalf of Exede, a rural internet provider.

In the natural world, diversity matters.  An ecosystem needs a variety of both plant and animal species in order to thrive.  On a larger scale, a healthy planet is home to a variety of landscapes, from rain forest to tundra, that contribute to a balanced earth.

In the human world created by civilization, another kind of diversity is important to our overall health in the present and to our future as a species. That diversity is found in the variety of settings in which we live, from the most densely populated cities to the most isolated rural outposts.

We tend to think of cities as the most important of those settings, and that tendency is reinforced by the growing cultural influence and political clout of urban areas, qualities that are themselves functions of vast demographic change. In 1800, some three percent of the world’s people lived in urban areas. According to a 2011 estimate by the United Nations, in 2008 the number of people living in cities reached 3.3 billion, for the first time amounting to more than half of the total world population.

That trend is likely to continue. Between 2011 and 2050, the United Nations expects world population to grow by 2.3 billion and the urban population to grow by 2.6 billion. This projection can mean only one thing: Cities will grow while rural population shrinks.

Perhaps it’s natural, then to focus our attention on cities, but rural areas and the small towns and villages they encompass are absolutely necessary to a healthy world. We neglect them at our peril. The fact is that the very existence of cities depends on the integrity of the rural areas on which we all depend.

Agriculture is obviously essential to our survival, and farming is of course a rural enterprise. Fisheries occupy a similar position. Natural resources are another product of the rural environment. Some are renewable, such as forest products and wind- and water-powered energy. Others are non-renewable, including sources of energy like oil and natural gas, and sources of industrial materials generated by mining. Regardless of category, all are critical to our survival and all originate in rural areas.

A healthy ecosystem also depends on the non-urban environment. Clean air and water are hardly urban contributions to the human condition. For those necessities, we need rural areas.

However, the rural contribution is not limited to practical matters, important as those are. We derive physical and psychological benefit from the countryside in ways that are quite real, though hard to quantify.  We get pleasure from sports and outdoor activities, and from visiting an area where we can enjoy natural beauty and abundant wildlife.  If nothing else, our psyches often need the refreshment of the rural perspective.

Beyond the vision of rolling green hills and amber waves of grain that symbolize “the country,” the small towns that punctuate rural areas also fill critical needs. First, they provide a nexus for distribution of those vital rural products, including food, lumber and minerals. Second, they perform important functions for the rural population, providing small-scale government, along with commercial and personal services, that would not be available in a truly isolated area. Third, they offer community, a necessity for the inherently social beings that we are. Without small towns, the rural population’s decline would likely be even more precipitous than is now predicted.

Our tendency to discount rural value is nothing new. It found a notably clear expression in the debate over the original terms of the U.S. Constitution, when less populous states feared that they would have no say in a legislature apportioned according to population. The convention stalled over the question, and it took the “Great Compromise” to move things forward. That compromise added a legislative body, the Senate, in which each state had equal power regardless of population.

The Great Compromise recognized the importance of rural America. The need to respect the value and integrity of all non-urban areas around the world is certainly no less important today than it was in the 18th century. If anything, the need becomes more urgent as the cities grow in the foreseeable future.

The Erosion of Rural NL

Rural Newfoundland & Labrador has suffered immensely with the moratorium of the cod fishery in 1992. In nearly two decades that would follow we would see the plight of our youth, transient families and the de-population of our rural communities – all leading to erosion of infrastructure and services that are inadequate to meet the needs of current residents and unable to create a climate to attract enough young people and families to live rural. There are better ways to serve our rural economies.

Let’s take a look at the region and we will see the drastic decline in population since 1991. The 2011 census will only reinforce the fact that our region is facing continued  population decline and further aged population.

St. Anthony – Port au Choix Region  Community Census Counts

 Community  1991  2001  2006  % Change 1991-2006
 St. Anthony  3,164  2,730  2,476  -21.7%
 Port au Choix  1,260  1,010  893  -29.1%
 Roddickton  1,153  1,003  911  -21.0%
 St. Lunaire-Griquet  1,020  822  666  -34.7%
 Flowers Cove  372  325  270  -27.4%

Copyright: Stats Canada Census Counts (http://www.economics.gov.nl.ca/pdf2007/regionaldemographicprofiles.pdf)

The sad realities of our communal landscapes in Rural Newfoundland – images you will not see promoted by the Department of Tourism in our Award Winning ads.

Once vibrant fishing rooms, sheds, stages and wharves are now losing their bright red glamour. A fishing boat on the shore, not seeing the water for a while…

Once a vibrant family homestead that was painted brightly orange and trimmed with green. It has not seen life running around the kitchen in several years…

More vacated homes…

A not so happy jellybean row…

NDP Leader, Lorraine Michael argues Newfoundland and Labrador’s wealth from the offshore oil industry is not finding its way into enough pocketbooks, including rural areas in a recent CBC interview. (Read here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/story/2011/09/05/nl-oil-wealth-ndp-905.html)

In this region there are still roads that are unpaved, communities and regions that do not have broadband Internet coverage, cable options or cellular telephone coverage. And yet, we live in Canada? In the 21st century? What about community-based day care, providing meaningful employment, working with the Federal Government to address fishery issues and cutting red tape and regulations (rural areas do not require the same policy for development as required by larger urban centres).

We must take greater care for people. Some have forgotten it was the rural regions that provided the resources to enable larger centres to thrive whether the resource fish, timber or minerals – even the oil is offshore. The Government needs to be more responsible when sharing our wealth, resources and being enablers that can provide rural regions the ability to re-vitalize. Better decisions need to be made now or I only fear the bust our economy will face once we begin to experience life after oil.

We must work together to find co-operative solutions that will revitalize our rural economies. No longer can we stand for the mis-management of our resources, including the way we are treated.

Live Rural NL

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

 

Offer More Grants to Towns – Less Grants to Big Business

The Northern Pen newspaper reports, “$4 Million Earmarked for Northern Peninsula” in today’s edition.

 In recent weeks the Government has made several spending announcements across the province in the weeks leading up to the upcoming Fall election.  

Timing is certainly everything….and Rural Newfoundland & Labrador is overdue payment. The $4 Million is certainly appreciated as it helps Town address some local concerns. However, the dollar value announced for the Great Northern Peninsula does not go far enough – further investments are needed.

Many Towns and communities on the Great Northern Peninsula are challenged with smaller populations and fewer businesses, resulting in a smaller tax base to draw upon revenues. This makes it even more challenging for small rural municipalities to provide basic services, such as chlorinated water and snow clearing, as well as being able to maintain eroding infrastructure.  Even coming up with a 10% share can be a constant battle.  A one-time increase to municipal operating grants needs a review, especially for small rural Towns.  

I’ve driven through many Towns on the Great Northern Peninsula and it is evident their roads are not of comparable standards to those of Local Service Districts and other unincorporated communities. Organized Towns  have property taxpayers; they should not see a reduction of services and have to drive over less superior roads.

It is fortunate through an Amalgamation MOU between the Town of Roddickton and the Town of Bide-Arm that they would see road improvements. On June 19, 2011 I was one of first to drive through Bide-Arm  passing by James Randell & Sons and not feel the washboard effect from the potholes. I slowly crawled over freshly laid pavement. This pavement is long overdue, a sign of progress. It may lead to new business developments, enhanced visitation to current businesses/attractions and increased housing starts.

Small  to medium-sized businesses are the drivers in the rural economies. We should give further consideration to providing them with more incentives to set-up in Towns of rural regions, adding to the local economy and creating jobs. Our tax dollars should be strategically invested and not just handed to large consortiums, oil giants and other large-scale companies. Small Towns need additional operating grants.

The Great Northern Peninsula will see further progress by working together. We may have a small population, but we are big on ideas with a tonne of heart. If we work together we will be heard, make good decisions and prosper as a region.

Christopher Mitchelmore, NDP Candidate for the Straits- White Bay North would like to meet with Municipalities, Local Service Disctricts, Local Commitees, Non-Profits, Local Business and Residents. We as the NDP are here to listen and work with the people of the district to find answers to your issues and concerns.

Live Rural NL

Christopher Mitchelmore
E: christophermitchelmore@nl.ndp.ca
Twitter/LiveRuralNL

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