NORTHEAST TOWN – As many as 14 permanent Ward 2 residents of the Northeast Town—McGregor Bay and Bay of Islands—were left with no way of seeking provisions following Whitefish River First Nation declaring a non-essential travel order. At a council meeting last month, Northeast Town council decided to make arrangements for those stranded taxpayers by way of use at Spider Bay Marina. These McGregor Bay residents are used to using the docking and boat launch facilities at Birch Island on the McGregor Bay side. (Bay of Islands cottagers, of whom none are permanent residents, access their camps at Birch Island on the Bay of Islands using the First Nation’s docks and boat launch, which are also closed to them during the COVID-19 pandemic.)
Mayor Al MacNevin explained that several of those permanent residents who reside on islands year-round had spoke with the Northeast Town, asking for help. Typically, these residents would make use of the boat launches or landings on WRFN territory but could not once that community’s travel order came into effect.
Mayor MacNevin said he spoke with WRFN Chief Shining Turtle about these particular taxpayers, hoping chief and council would make an exception, but following a band council meeting on April 20, WRFN decided against it.
“They are now seeking help from NEMI, which means a much more dangerous route,” the mayor said, noting that this time of year, conditions can be treacherous on the trek from McGregor Bay to Little Current.
CAO Dave Williamson said the Northeast Town can make arrangements with these taxpayers by having them make a sworn affidavit stating that their island residence is indeed their primary home. Once this is done they can have access to the ramp at Spider Bay Marina (on a call-ahead basis), which is currently closed due to the province’s state of emergency order.
Councillor Barb Baker asked if the marina would then need to house both boats and cars and queried if this would be for Spider Bay Marina only and not the downtown docks.
“The primary concern is the people that are there and need supplies,” Mr. Williamson responded.
Councillor Michael Erskine asked if those residents needing fuel would have access to the fuel dock at the marina. Mr. Williamson replied that they would.
Ward 2 Councillor Laurie Cook thanked council for accommodating her constituents.
Mr. Williamson reminded council that there are no provincial orders that stop one from being in their boat in the water.
To date, six taxpayers have signed up for marina use.