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Holyrood’s interest in east side of Salmonier Line spooking residents

By Craig Westcott/August 19, 2022

Property owners along one side of the Salmonier Line are growing increasingly worried by Holyrood’s plans to incorporate the area within its municipal boundary.

But Mayor Gary Goobie says the town is a couple of years off from any decision about what it will do in the area, and any move by Holyrood to include a further section of the Salmonier Line inside its municipal boundary would have to be approved by the minister of Municipal Affairs.

Some residents, meanwhile, are drawing their own conclusions.

“The Town of Holyrood is planning on coming in on the east side of Salmonier Line for roughly around eight kilometres from Peak Pond off the highway to the Whiskey Pit and taking about 50 of us seniors and (other property owners) and going to charge us taxes, but the other 700 or 800 (residents) across the road they’re not charging them anything,” said Mary Yetman, who has been living there for about 35 years. “And from the Whiskey Pit on in (towards St. Mary’s) they won’t have to pay any taxes.”

Yetman said the reason for Holyrood’s interest in their side of the line is that there is a gold mine located in the country behind them.

Yetman is referring to exploration being conducted in the country behind them by a junior mining company. Some of that land is already within Holyrood’s boundary. And while exploration is underway, such exploration usually takes years of work and very few plays actually find enough gold to warrant a mine.

But for some residents, nothing else seems to make sense for Holyrood’s interest in them.

“Why should the left side of the Salmonier Line with 50 cabins be charged taxes and the other 700 or 800 on (on the other side of the street) pay nothing?” asked Yetman. “They’re with us in saying it shouldn’t happen… There’s no need of it. I mean why are they doing that to us? Because of the bloody gold mine? That’s what everybody thinks… This is what they’re after. And they’re going to come in here and not give us any services, because Holyrood itself hasn’t got all the services yet. They’re not going to give it to us, but we’re still going to have to pay taxes.”

Currently, the area is unincorporated. Residents pay a $200 annual fee to the Eastern Regional Service Board for garbage collection and $50 a year to Holyrood for fire protection. “I don’t know why, because before the volunteers could even get to the station, everything would be gone up here,” Yetman allowed. “But we don’t mind that.”

Part of the reason for the confusion about Holyrood’s intentions may relate to a lack of information. Notices were delivered to the doors of homes in the area inviting property owners to a meeting at the Holyrood Town Hall on June 22, but many people seemed to have missed them.

“I didn’t know anything about it,” said Yetman. “Buddy said they stuck something in my door, but like I said, the first draft of wind here and that’s gone out the Salmonier Line somewhere. That’s probably down in St. Mary’s now or out in Avondale.”

Yetman said residents have written letters to the government and put together a petition.

“It’s not fair,” said Yetman. “All they mind is a money grab… If they’re going to do that, I need services, I need water, and I need sewer, which they are not going to do.”

Mayor Goobie said Holyrood is a long way away from deciding anything.

Several years ago, he said, Holyrood made a request to the Department of Municipal Affairs to look at taking in a further piece of the Salmonier Line into its boundary. It hired consulting company LW Consulting to conduct a study and hold public consultations and to come back to council with a report.

“The process is unfolding,” said Goobie. “There was a meeting held with our consultants (and the Salmonier Line residents) up at our town office a while ago and so they’ve got their group and they’re putting their presentations together and the Town is doing the same thing. But we are just letting the process unfold to see at the end of it what becomes of it. Once all the information comes forward, we will process that information and determine whether we will make a request to the minister to actually have the boundary realigned, or it will be dead in the water. It’s very premature right now for me to make any comments, because it would be hypothetical. There’s a lot of information yet to come on this. There’s no indication at this point that anybody will be taxed at all, because you’re dealing with either a service boundary, or a planning boundary. With a service boundary, that means that it’s a taxable boundary. If it’s determined at the end of the day that it’s a planning boundary, for example to protect the watershed or whatnot, well then under a planning boundary any area residents are not subjected to taxes.”

Goobie said he has received the residents’ petition will table it at a coming council meeting. “But I will not be expounding or elaborating on any details other than the fact that we appreciate hearing from them, and we are letting the process unfold as it should,” he said.

Goobie said Holyrood decided to look at taking in only the eastern side of the Salmonier Line because every time someone applied to Service NL for a permit to install a well or septic system in that area, Service NL would come back to the Town of Holyrood for comment.

“And there are other reasons as well that I can’t get into now, but at the appropriate time we will make our presentation,” he added. “We just felt it made more sense to realign the boundary parallel with the Salmonier Line rather than deviating off of that, which is the way it is done now. It seemed to make a lot more sense. But I can tell you right now, there is no decision made or any suggestion as to applying taxes or anything. That’s not even in the discussion at this point… So, we’re a long way off. This could go on for the next couple of years. At the end of the day when all the information comes in, we may say, ‘No, we’re not going to move on this, we’re not even going to make the application to the minister to request approval.'”

Goobie noted the study also makes sense as the Town starts work on a new 10-year Town Plan.

“If you look at it on the map, the boundary goes so far in Salmonier Line and then it deviates in toward inland. So, we’re just trying to keep this in line with the Salmonier Line,” said the mayor. “And there are cabins and there are homes and whatnot that will be included in that. So, there are a lot of things on our end that we really need to flush out because we want to make a decision that is fair and reasonable to everybody. We’re not going to push to have this as a service boundary if we know that we’re not going to be able to provide most of the services that we’re providing the residents of Holyrood. That just would not be fair. So, at the end of the day, it could end up being a planning boundary. Again, this is yet to unfold and we haven’t even discussed taxes or anything at this point. We’re just letting the feasibility study unfold. We’re hearing from the different groups and individuals and everybody and at the end of the day we’ll process all that and we’ll make a sound, reasonable and fair decision that’s in the best interests of everybody involved.”

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