Municipal representatives hope a meeting with the province’s Municipal Affairs Department will finally result in action on an outstanding debt owed to Deer Lake by St. Jude’s.
As of Tuesday morning, the community near the Spillway area owed the Town of Deer Lake approximately $22,000 for services rendered, including garbage pickup and fire coverage. For almost a year St. Jude’s residents have not been receiving garbage pickup, but have benefitted from the Deer Lake Fire Department, meaning the debt is still increasing.
As they have been for the last six months, Deer Lake municipal representatives are awaiting word on when they will meet wth Municipal Affairs officials.
“As far as we know they’re supposed to be setting up a meeting this week,” said Deputy Mayor Sandra Pinksen, who is also part of Deer Lake’s finance committee.
“We hope a meeting with (Municipal Affairs) will help solve this issue.”
Tension arose between the two communities about two years ago when Deer Lake council went public with just how much it’s owed by St. Jude’s. Heated exchanges turned to talk of St. Jude’s becoming part of Deer Lake — like Nicholsville a few years ago — but Deer Lake Mayor Dean Ball and his council flatly denied it. At the time, council held an impromptu town hall meeting with St. Jude’s residents to assure them it would not happen.
Talk of annexation died that night and has never really been spoken of publicly again, but the debt remains. St. Jude’s did start collecting some back taxes and were paying some back as of 2013, but Deer Lake’s council said it wasn’t enough.
The issue was raised at the Humber Joint Council meeting two months ago, with municipal representatives all agreeing that everyone should be paying their fair share.
It’s a sentiment Pinksen agrees with, but said she recognizes the challenges for both sides.
“It’s frustrating for us and it’s frustrating for them,” she said. “We all have to pay taxes and some of their residents do pay their share, so we really hope Municipal Affairs can step in and go from there.”
St. Judes representatives recently stated they were doing their best to pay off the debt, but none could be reached for comment Tuesday.