Nfld. & Labrador

Resettlement policy needs reform: McCallum resident

Residents of McCallum voted on resettlement last week, but not enough people were in favour for the town to be eligible for government financial assistance.

Town needs 90% in favour to be eligible; 77% want to move

The southern Newfoundland town of McCallum has a population of 79 adults and six children.

Residents of McCallum voted on resettlement last week, but not enough people were in favour for the town to be eligible for government financial assistance. 

Seventy-seven per cent of the isolated southern Newfoundland community voted yes, however, McCallum needs 90 per cent in to receive the $270,000 per household in financial help.

Linda Hennessey, chair of the town's relocation committee, said the the government needs to rethink its resettlement policy. She suggests either lowering the minimum number of yes votes or offering individual assistance packages.

"While the government are saying that they have to think about everybody in the community, it's really difficult to believe that when we have more than 50 per cent of people that want to go," said Hennessey.

"These people not only want to go, but they need to go."

The majority of people in McCallum are seniors, many of whom want to relocate so they can be closer to healthcare. The town does not have a hospital or doctors, and is only accessible by boat or air.

These people not only want to go, but they need to go.Linda Hennessey, chair of McCallum's relocation committee

While some residents are choosing to relocate independently, Hennessey said it's difficult for people in their 60s to move without government assistance.

"I realize the government have to save money, but these people can't sell their homes here in McCallum. Who's going to buy a home here?" she said.

"When you're in your 50s or 60s, it's hard to start over with nothing."

Linda Hennessey says many residents of the isolated community need to relocate for medical reasons. (Linda Hennessey)

There are presently 79 adults and six children living in the community. Most residents have lived in McCallum all their lives, and Hennessey said the prospect of relocation has caused significant tension in the town.

"There's a lot of animosity within the community and it's really hard to communicate with people," said Hennessey.

"All the government has done is put a generous offer on the table, and they've created a lot of broken families, friends, and divided the community."

McCallum will vote again Dec. 1.

Hennessey is not hopeful the town will ever get the required 90 per cent, but says she will continue to fight for relocation for as long as she can.

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