Collaboration without amalgamation; Mayor Henry Gaudon wants co-operation among communities

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Lourdes -

Mayor Henry Gaudon of Lourdes believes the benefits of the Gas Tax should extend beyond incorporated communities so benefits could go to areas not eligible now.

"But I firmly believe that has to take place through collaboration without amalgamation," he said.

Gaudon believes if that happened, local service districts would benefit, since they currently can't take advantage of the Gas Tax or other forms of taxation because they are not incorporated.

His comments come at the heels of what he said had been a successful Integrated Community Sustainability Plans process for four towns in the Port au Port region, including his community, Port au Port East, Port au Port West-Aguathuna-Felix Cove and Cape St. George.

The meetings stemmed from the eligibility for municipalities to continue to receive the Federal Gas Tax money.

Gaudon said local service districts are in desperate need of money but simply can't get it because they are not incorporated, so there needs to be some type of entity set up as a formal incorporated group to make them eligible without them having to become a part of another community, but still retain their autonomy.

"I foresee perhaps 10 to 12 local service districts and two to three towns all under one entity, like a township, all working together, but still be separate individual communities," he said. "This central body would control not only the collection of finances but as well their allocation on a priority basis and it would be the local service districts that benefit."

Meanwhile, he's very happy with what Lourdes has been able to do because of the Gas Tax as the majority of the accrued Gas Tax during the past four years has gone to the fire department, which will soon be moving into the old Lourdes Elementary School.

The money helped them retrofit the gymnasium on the school for that purpose and now they are looking towards a $230,000 capital works project to turn the lower floor of that school into new municipal town offices and use future Gas Tax money to pay their 10 per cent towards different capital works projects.

They're looking as well as completing their waterline so everyone in the community will have clean and safe drinking water.

"If rural Newfoundland is to survive, collaboration between towns and local service districts will have to occur, especially in the area of essential services," Gaudon said.

Mayor Eileen Hann of Port au Port East also feels co-operation with other communities is very important. Her town and Port au Port West-Aguathuna-Felix Cove don't have enough volunteers to run their respective fire departments, so that's an area they are sharing.

With a population that has a good many seniors they are looking at getting a track put in around McIsaac's Baseball Field and have lights around it so seniors can walk there without having to walk along the main road in the town.

They hope to partner with the seniors' club and the provincial government to have bilingual signs put up in Port au Port East.

Other things on the list include a flood study to work towards alleviating water flooding problems that occur in the Mountainview to Pine Avenue area of the town.

Organizations: Integrated Community Sustainability Plans, Lourdes Elementary School

Geographic location: Port au Port East, Newfoundland, Mountainview Pine Avenue

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