McCallum says no to relocation
The McCallum Relocation Committee held a vote on June 1 to give the people of the community a chance to decide for or against relocation.
© Clayton Hunt photo
The residents of McCallum voted 73 percent in favour of relocation in early June. However, the number falls short of government’s stipulation that at least 90 percent of the voters in a community considering possible relocation vote for a possible move. The members of the McCallum Relocation Committee will consider their next steps in the process over the coming months.
Of the 81 votes cast, 59 were for relocation while 21 were on the no side while one ballot was spoiled. The 73 percent in favour of relocation is a far cry from the government’s condition that at least 90 percent of the residents of a community’s residents, looking at possible relocation, must vote for the move.
Linda Hennessey is the chair of the McCallum Relocation Committee.
Hennessey said that the committee has not met since the June vote to determine its next course of action.
“A vote in another six months would take us into January,” she said when a number of people leave the community to spend the winter outside with relatives.
“I’d like to see a number of people from each community considering relocation to form a large group and gather at the steps of Confederation Building. We need to try and change the 90 percent vote that government is now demanding for relocation as that number is really high and is going to be very difficult to achieve.”
Hennessey said the people who are saying no are the ones doing well in the community. However, she said the fishery is not the same as it was with most harvesters getting only about three months of good work.
“The harvesters don’t know if the buyers will keep purchasing their catches,” she said, “so it’s a worrisome situation.”
“Two of our older residents are facing serious health issues and will probably leave the community in the near future for medical attention.
“We’re so far away from a hospital here, we can’t always get back and forth to Hermitage in the winter and some residents have to pay for accommodation in Hermitage while waiting for a ferry to McCallum. Some of the people saying no to relocation spend the winters outside with relatives and come back to live in the spring and summer.
“There are only six children here now as 51 of our 87 residents are over the age of 50.”
Hennessey said that while she can understand why some people don’t want to leave, the community may be missing out on a golden opportunity to move on.
She said that a new government will be in place in 2015 and the money in place now for relocation may be taken off the table.
“There’s nothing worse than waiting for something that is just an opportunity because that is what this is, an opportunity to receive some good funding for moving. This opportunity, with a new government and new budgets, may not be there in the future.”
Department of Municipal Affairs
The Honourable Steve Kent, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, said the provincial government is very committed to the 90 percent threshold for relocation now and for the foreseeable future.
Kent said, “For us to go down that road to possible relocation there has to be tremendous community support because we’re talking about peoples’ lives here.
“We’re also talking about people’s way of life and that’s not something we can take lightly.
“We have to think about everyone in a community. Some of these people may have lived in the community all their lives.
“We want to make sure the decision to relocate is the right one for those affected. It also has to be the correct choice for the vast majority of people in the community.”
Kent said that government is being asked regularly to change the 90 percent threshold, but it’s a stipulation that will unlikely change any time soon.