Hope to represent the needs of the area with a united voice
A steering committee with representation from Englee, Roddickton-Bide Arm, Conche and Main Brooke has been meeting recently to work out the specifics surrounding the formation of a new joint council.
The council, according to Englee Mayor Rudy Porter, is the re-establishment of one that operated in the area nearly 25 years ago.
“We worked a great deal together and accomplished a lot – it was very successful,” said Porter. “But over the years some of us got away from municipal politics and it sort of faltered.”
Porter will be heading the new effort, having acted as the former council’s chair for eight years.
“In the last number of years, given the decline of the fishery, the declining birthrate, and so on, the numbers are getting so diminished we can’t afford to not work together,” he iterated. “To lobby government on any sort of issue we need a united front.”
The endeavor is still fresh and, while they’ve only had a couple of meetings to date, their current focus is on modernizing old objectives.
“We’re going through the process of revamping [the old constitution] to make it more suitable for today’s version,” he said.
According to the retired memorandum, the joint council was primarily implemented to increase the standard and quality of public services and basic amenities throughout the immediate area of control. It was just one of many established objectives.
“We’re still focused on working towards the common good for all the communities and gaining what we can, economically, to foster industries and any kinds of sharing that can be done among communities,” said Porter.
Economic growth, he said, is at the top of their priority list.
“We have a fair number of people here but, given the fact that we have no industry, people have to travel – we have people working in Conche, people who go to Bay de Verde, people commuting between here and Fort McMurray, and others who go to fish plants in Nova Scotia,” he said. “If we can get people to work in our area, it’s a benefit because they’re staying home.”
One of Porter’s greatest “pet peeves”, he declared, is the amount of raw material that has been leaving the peninsula and being carried to the other end of the island where “all the work ironically is”.
“[The work] is being taken away from people, and one thing I’d like to see is processing more of that raw material here,” he said.
Porter also noted his desires to see economic expansion in Englee, which has just three or four businesses outside of a few fisher enterprises.
“Our dock used to be a fairly strong industry and with the decline in the fishery, in crab, and with the cutbacks in shrimp, it’s diminished and there isn’t much employment,” he said.
Porter is also hopeful that Roddickton’s attempt to revitalize the forestry industry, in terms of getting a pellet plant back, will materialize.
The council, he said, has always been “pro area”.
“Working together is so important, and when you’ve got a united voice and you go knocking on politicians’ doors, it’s more difficult for them to turn down four communities than it is for them to turn down one – we’ve done a lot of delegations over time and, whatever our most pressing issues were at the time, one-by-one they dealt with them,” he said.
Porter said that, at the present moment, the council plans to meet every so often in Roddickton where pressing matters will be discussed.
“I’m just hoping that we can get it working again because we’re having a really difficult time, economically, and anything that we can do to work together and to generate more business is vital.”