Someday we will build our dream slash retirement home. Nothing palatial in mind just a comfortable space that will meet Vince and my aging needs. I keep filing away ideas from magazines and other houses that I could put my own spin on and incorporate them into our living space. But it won’t be anytime soon because I want a house where Vince can live with me.
For the last 25 years his mistress Miss Sugar Hill has had my husband mostly in her bed. Being an innkeeper means you live in, you can’t manage the place from afar. I move back and forth between our house and the Inn. That’s the way our life has to be for now but there is hope that there will come a time that we will build our nest and live together fulltime.
We have the piece of land and it is beautiful. It looks out to the ocean and to the colourful sunsets that on time can be otherworldly. Scanning that horizon from our special piece of The Rock gives me such a peaceful feeling. I know I could die happy there looking out my bedroom window as the sun and I slip away.
Lately I have been plagued with thoughts of how can we afford, after retirement, to pay our share of the looming debt that Muskrat Falls will saddle us with in taxes and fees. We know electric costs are due to skyrocket over the next number of years. To help keep our living expenses down the house we build will be energy efficient with solar panels and state of the art storage batteries. We won’t be off the grid but technology has come so far that the cost of alternative energy is becoming so much more affordable upfront and the rewards are lower electric demands. This also seems to be the mindset of everyone I know, whether building or just refitting, the aim is lower energy demands. Makes you wonder if Muskrat Falls power will even be necessary for out province’s future needs but no one at Nalcor or government wants to hear that kind of talk.
Now there is another problem looming on the horizon that could really empty our beloved province of residents. We all need to pay close attention to a court case that will affect most everything we buy. Oceanex is taking the government to court over the subsidies Marine Atlantic receives for freight being transported to our businesses. They feel it is an unfair trade practice. Capt. Sid Hynes should be ashamed of himself for trying to get rid of this subsidy so as to benefit his own private company. He was the head honcho at Marine Atlantic for many years and he knows the importance of this subsidized service and that this ferry is supposed to be part of our Trans Canada Highway. This was guaranteed to Newfoundlanders as part of the Terms of Union for joining the Confederation of Canada. It is not always a reliable service because it is so subject to weather whims but it is our service and I pray the Courts understand how negatively taking away this subsidy will affect our province’s people.
In earlier years there were always the threat of strikes that affected people’s travel plans. It was finally recognized as an essential service and the strike threats no longer raise their ugly voices at the beginning of each tourism season. But the service does not come cheap, even with subsidies the costs keep escalating. Getting people and goods on and off Newfoundland has always been expensive.
Most of our goods including food are trucked to our province and the cost of this ferry adds to the bottom line and how much we have to pay. If this freight subsidy is removed we can expect to pay a lot more to eat and reside here. Our already incredibly high cost of living is poised to increase even more as the specter of Muskrat Falls becomes a reality. Increasing the cost of transporting goods to this province could very well be the proverbial last straw. We are already losing our young people at an alarming rate. If these costs keep rising, and services keep diminishing, many more of our retirees will decide to pack up and join their children and grandchildren on the mainland.
This is my home. I want to stay here and I definitely don’t want to feel forced out because poor choices made by governing officials and the courts mean I just can’t afford to stay. We already pay one of the highest costs of living in Canada and I fear they are going to price living in our province out of the reach of many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. I like to drive but I don’t want to be driven from my home.
Dr. Marina Sexton lives in Norris Point and is a member of The Western Star's Community Editorial Board