N.L. couple won't move, to live off grid as island town resettles
TORONTO -- Michael and Georgina Parsons are staying put.
Even though all 54 of their Little Bay Islands neighbours are packing up for the mainland. Even though Newfoundland will cut all services -- from electricity and snowplow to ferry and postal -- the Parsons and their dog Trinity aren’t going anywhere.
“We’re not nervous. I don’t know if that’s because we’re just plain crazy or whatnot,” Michael said on CTV’s Your Morning. Georgina shared his confidence. “We’re just going to look forward to the solitude and the quiet,” she said on Tuesday.
Earlier this year, the residents of the town voted in favour of resettlement, a decades-long provincial initiative to centralize the Newfoundland and Labrador population in growth areas. Hundreds of communities have been resettled since the 1950s. It takes at least 90 per cent of a town to vote in favour of the move, a mark Little Bay Islands had missed before. If the province determines it is cheaper to move the town than to provide services for 10 to 20 years, they offer homeowners a resettlement fund of at least $250,000, depending on household size. The resettlement of seven communities since 2002 has saved the government about $30 million, Municipal Affairs told The Canadian Press last year.
The Parsons’ neighbours have until Dec. 31 to move before the island’s power is cut off. But the couple is prepared. “I grew up on this island, so I know that the conditions can be like,” said Michael, 52, who always wanted to retire in his hometown. “It’s always been a dream of mine to be here for the long haul, so that’s exactly what we’re doing.”
They bought a snowmobile to carve out paths during winter. They invested in a wood stove to help heat their home. They’ll use a propane oven for cooking. And they recently installed a solar panel system. They can use their own boats if they need to go to the mainland for supplies, but they expect to be well stocked.
“Before resettlement even came up we were always fully stocked,” said Georgina, who will continue to do some contract accountant work. “We’re also learning to do without some fresh fruits and vegetables and go to more dry goods, bottled goods, powdered milk – that sort of stuff.”
The couple have started an “online journal” on Facebook to document their life on the empty island. They named the journal Kintsugi after the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery.
“For Georgina and I, Kintsugi is a perfect metaphor for how we feel about Little Bay Islands,” wrote Michael online. “We love all of its cracks and imperfections and we will focus our attention from what ‘could have been’ to creating something beautiful and strong with what we do have.”