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Black Tickle fuel situation being addressed

Children, Seniors and Social Development Minister Lisa Dempster speaks Tuesday about changes in legislation aimed at improving conditions for youth in government care.
Dempster said her office reached out to Woodward’s and Labrador Marine to get another truckload onto the vessel the Astron, which is currently on its final trip of the season- File Photo

MHA Dempster says community is set for the winter

BLACK TICKLE, N.L.

The MHA for Cartwright-L’Anse au Clair is pushing back on public reports that Black Tickle may be in danger of not having enough fuel for the winter.

On Nov. 1, Joe Keefe, chair of the local service district (LSD) put out a public notice indicating that the community had received 100 drums of gas, but that it wasn’t enough. He said the LSD was working with Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs to try to get more fuel and was trying to get hold of MHA Lisa Dempster. He asked residents to “contact Lisa and stress the importance of receiving more gas before the season is ends.”

Dempster said she was in cabinet meetings that morning and out of phone contact, but responded as soon as she was able.

“When I got on the flight to go back to my district, I had a note from a member of the local service district and she said something to the effect that the fuel truck has been in, delivered the fuel, but I have a favour to ask. We have families here that can pay more, they can stock up a little more, just to avoid running out maybe early in the spring, can you help us get another shipment? ” Dempster said.

She noted it was also brought to her attention that the clinic and NL Hydro didn’t have fuel.

The MHA felt the characterization of the situation as a fuel shortage was misleading because 20,000 litres of gasoline and the furnace oil supply for the winter had already been delivered.

She said after receiving the request, her office immediately reached out to Woodward’s and Labrador Marine to get another truckload onto the vessel the Astron, which is currently on its final trip of the season.

“Within the next number of days, they will have the second shipment,” Dempster said on Monday, Nov. 5.

Long-term sustainability

That being said, Dempster acknowledged Black Tickle has continued to struggle with maintaining a sustainable fuel supply since Woodward’s pulled out three years ago.

“I’m not saying they won’t run out come early spring, and they may be going to Cartwright over ice (for additional fuel) — that’s been what has happened over the last couple of years — but for now they have fuel and gasoline and we’re looking at getting more into the community,” Dempster said.

Ongoing long-term sustainability concerns are something the MHA and the provincial government are working on, she said.

Additionally, the NunatuKavut Community Council (NCC) commissioned a study last summer on sustainable and alternative energy for the Inuit communities of Black Tickle, Saint Lewis and Norman’s Bay. The lead researcher, Nicholas Mercer from Memorial University, released a preliminary report last week, but as of press time, neither he nor the NCC were ready to comment on it.

Recommendations in the report included pilot projects for energy efficiency retrofits, converting homes to electric heat, looking at renewable energy options such as wind and solar, and converting to high efficiency wood stoves.

Resettlement question

Of course, any talk of sustainability problems in Labrador communities brings up the inevitable question of resettlement, which Dempster refers to as “the ‘R’ word.”

The Newfoundland and Labrador relocation policy allows for a community-initiated application to the program. Under the program, each household is eligible for $250,000 to $275,000 to build a new home in a neighbouring community, Dempster explained, but she doesn’t see any appetite for it in Black Tickle.

“It’s not our decision to make,” she said. “They’re just a very resilient people because there’s not a lot of people who would stay and work through the struggles and the challenges.”

The Labradorian made attempts to contact Keefe for comment but had been unable to reach him prior to deadline.

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