Nfld. & Labrador

No more holdouts: Michael's Harbour to get firefighting services after all residents agree

A handful of homeowners had previously refused to pay the $50 annual fee, and less than two weeks ago, a house in the tiny community burned down.

Lewisporte Volunteer Fire Department will respond to calls in the tiny community

This home in Michael's Harbour was destroyed by fire in late January. (Karen Jones Lush/Facebook)

Residents of Michael's Harbour will now have firefighting services, after unanimously agreeing to pay the annual fee — just over a week after a home in the community burned to the ground. 

The Lewisporte Volunteer Fire Department will respond to the calls in the tiny community, which, according to a 2016 census, has a population of 63.

Michael's Harbour is not part of an incorporated area, and because a few homeowners held out and refused to pay the $50 annual fee, the entire community was without fire service, according to Lewisporte Mayor Betty Clarke.

That has since changed, Clarke confirmed, on the heels of a fire in late January that destroyed a home. 

The month before that, a home in Mattis Point on Newfoudland's west coast was destroyed by fire.  

Fire services to that community were cancelled by the nearby town of Stephenville Crossing after years of unpaid fees. 

This home in Mattis Point was destroyed just a few days after Christmas. (Tyler Bennett/Facebook)

Last week, Municipal Affairs Minister Derrick Bragg said it's up to towns or local service districts to offer services to unincorporated areas without committees, and determine what the cost will be. 

Lewisporte had no way to collect the fees, "so it was a case of either all in, or no one was in," said Bragg. Otherwise, said the minister, the town would have to say, "'OK, we can respond to house No. 4 but we can't respond to house No.  5.'"

"That would be very complicated from the town's perspective nearby," he told CBC News at the time.

Most recently, Bragg said a regional approach to organize the delivery of services to the province's spread-out population is "the ultimate way to save all our grief and all our issues."

He joins a chorus of other voices over the years, like Municipalities of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Fire Services, which have also said regionalization is long overdue.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Meghan McCabe and Malone Mullin

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