Reinvent – don't resettle – in rural communities, CBC N.L. forum told
Town hall forum Rethinking Resettlement held Wednesday in Gambo
Businesses, and their workers, can survive and thrive in rural Newfoundland — if they play to their strengths and "continuously innovate," according to an entrepreneur living in Centreville-Wareham-Trinity.
Shane Noble inherited Noble Mouldings from his family, who he says were resettled to the community from Fair Island and Silver Fox Island.
He says his manufacturing business, which makes wooden products like cabinets and stairs, employs 16 people, and supplies stores across the province from its home base in Bonavista North.
"We know that we can't compete on the low-end stuff, so we compete on the quality product and we do well for ourselves, I must say," he said.
We now rely on things like Pinterest and stuff like that, where customers are sending us images. We can then use our equipment — which is virtually state of the art — and make what needs to be made."
His comments came during the town-hall forum Rethinking Resettlement, hosted by CBC N.L. in Gambo on Wednesdsay night.
- $6M ferry service for 114 people: But don't mention resettlement on St. Brendan's
- 'William's Harbour is my home': Resettling an island off Labrador's south coast
Town councillors and rural residents came to the forum to discuss resettlement and potential alternatives.
Noble said his workforce has gotten younger in the past decade, bucking the trends in rural Newfoundland, because he's been able to market his success to friends he knows want to return to work in Newfoundland and Labrador.
"Make sure they have a cabin, because a cottage in Newfoundland is $10,000 to $20,000," he said. "You go to Algonquin, Ont. you're looking at, well, a million."
Discussion at the forum ranged over the cost of ferries —with St. Brendan's deputy mayor Kevin O'Reilly saying his community never asked for a multi-million dollar ferry for their community — to the prospects of distance-education programs to ensure rural schools stay viable.
Alan Pickersgill, a resident of Salvage — a town with a population of 124 on the Eastport Peninsula, says infrastructure in his community needs a big upgrade.
He told CBC's Ramona Dearing that he only recently had a landline phone installed in his home, and cell and internet service aren't near the standards in other communities.
"How in the hell are you going to get any young people to go and work in an industry, if you can't get the internet for your kids?" he asked.
"It's not fluff anymore. Your kids have to have the internet to do their homework."
- Hands up for resettlement in Gaultois as island community braces for winter
- Waiting for the resettlement package: Does the prospect keep people in rural towns longer?
Gambo resident Linda Lush said the issue of resettlement is much greater than a budgetary calculation.
"If we have resettlement, if we have a realignment, if we pave over rural Newfoundland, we will need to develop a new identity for our province and a new tourism strategy," she said.
"Rural Newfoundland — It is not a town, it is not an outport, it is not a location, it is our culture."
You can watch the CBC N.L. town hall in full below.