This week marks the 40th anniversary of the official signing of the deal to set up Gros Morne National Park. It might puzzle younger people to learn about the protracted and heated debate about whether there was any value in having a national park in the area, and if the negatives would outweigh the positives.
Anyone who spends any time in that spectacular part of the province would shake their heads at the idea that anyone would be against the park, but it did happen and those opposed to the arrangement were honestly worried it would ruin their lives as they knew it.
And in some cases they were right — the park did change a way of life. But most today would say it was for the better.
The protests against the park succeeded in bringing about changes that did satisfy some of those who were dead set against having to pack up and leave the national park or endure all the regulations and restrictions that would come with it.
After much debate, the federal government fianlly allowed what they called “enclaves” that were surrounded by the park and did not demand complete changes in lifestyles.
Residents in communities like Sally’s Cove could still set their nets and make a living from the sea. Restrictions on building and selling homes were later dropped and the communities remain viable today and without doubt add to the experience in the park.
It was said to be a ground-breaking arrangement at the time.
Today the park is widely accepted by most locals and brings in thousands of visitors from all over the world and millions of dollars every year.
Not everyone has gained from the arrival of Gros Morne National Park, but there is no doubt about the value of preserving this unique part of the world for all of time.