‘Our little community’s dying’: Isolation prompts Newfoundland town to ask province for ‘resettlement’
Little Bay Islands used to be just another prosperous settlement on the Newfoundland coast: Ample jobs at the local crab processing plant, streets jammed with children, dances at the Orange Hall — and all of it within surroundings befitting a tourism ad: Cosy wood houses facing onto an iceberg-dotted Atlantic.
Now, the crab plant is long gone, every shop in town is shuttered and the population has plummeted to 72 from a one-time high of almost 800. Aside from a toddler and a pair of young teenagers, virtually the only islanders left are a few dozen widows and seniors, many of whom don’t have the money to leave.
“We all know our little community’s dying,” said one Little Bay Islands resident who preferred to remain anonymous. “One time, I’d say there was probably seven or eight stores here; you could go and buy whatever you wanted. Now, you can’t even get a soft drink.”
It is why, earlier this month, the nearly 200-year-old community applied for “resettlement,” a 60-year-old program in which the province issues everyone a cheque to leave town before cutting the power, suspending the ferry service and leaving nature to take its course. (Adam Norman/Wikipedia; Emerald Zone Corporation/Regional Economic Development Board)