Nfld. & Labrador

With the deals signed, Little Bay Islands residents make plans to move on

Dennis Budgell of Little Bay Islands has a new house picked out, and says the move will benefit him and his wife, but there's sadness all the same.

Many residents of the outport community plan to resettle in Springdale or Grand Falls-Windsor

The 54 residents of Little Bay Islands will receive funds from the provincial government to resettle. (Submitted by Michael Parsons)

Now that their resettlement deals have been signed, the residents of Little Bay Islands are waiting for their funds to be distributed and looking for new places to live once their small community is cut off from services on Dec. 31.

After years of debate, the Notre Dame Bay outport's 54 permanent residents signed agreements for financial relocation assistance of $250,000 to $270,000 per household. Now, there's some excitement about future plans, but also some sadness, says resident Dennis Budgell.

"I knows I was an idiot for getting this started, but life goes on," Budgell told CBC Newfoundland Morning

"I was the first one that started [resettlement discussion] and ever since I think I've regretted it."

Nobody wanted to leave it, I don't think.- Dennis Budgell

Budgell said he's pleased the decision has been made and the agreements have been signed, and he thinks most in the town feel the same.

At the same time, he said, he knows he'll miss the quiet community he's lived in for 48 years when it's time to move on.

"Nobody wanted to leave it, I don't think."

Residents hope to resettle near each other

Even if it's bittersweet to know the date of the town's official end has been set, Budgell said there are things to look forward to as well. 

He and his wife have found a house in Springdale, and are just waiting on the money from the government to finalize the purchase. He expects to end up with others from Little Bay Islands living nearby.

"Most people are trying to find a house in Springdale, or around the bay, or in Grand Falls somewhere," Budgell said.

Luck on finding those houses is mixed so far, he said, but he's happy with the one he and his wife will purchase. At their ages Budgell is almost 67, and his wife almost 65 it will be both convenient and financially beneficial to be just a short cab ride away from the hospital.

For other Little Bay Islands residents, the move means going from a house to a small seniors' cottage or a seniors' home. 

"There's a lot of people here that's a lot older than I am and it's nice to see them be able to settle into a home somewhere else," Budgell said.

The debate about resettlement for Little Bay Islands went on for several years. (Submitted by Michael Parsons)

Even when the power is shut off and services end Dec. 31, he still plans to return to Little Bay Islands. As part of the deal, residents can keep their homes in the community if they want to use them off-grid, and Budgell and his wife will be visiting theirs in the summers thanks to a septic tank, a generator and a hose hooked up to the local brook.

As for how he'll pass the time in Springdale, Budgell said he plans to fish, take care of his new home, and get together with friends who have made the same move he is planning and that's about it.

"I ain't got to do nothing."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from CBC Newfoundland Morning

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