I write in response to Andrea Gunn’s editorial “SINK or SWIM” in the Feb. 13 edition of The Advertiser.
I was absolutely amazed at the lack of research that Ms. Gunn did in preparation of writing this editorial. It appears that Ms. Gunn was racing against the clock to meet a print deadline rather than doing actual research.
From the research that is available to all of us on the Internet, here are some interesting facts; Corner Brook has had a population decrease in the past three censuses…a steady decline, and their mill, until recent weeks, was in full production, but for us here in Grand Falls-Windsor, our population is on the rise. As for housing starts from the last census, Corner Brook had a mere 160, Grand Falls-Windsor 570, and kudos to Gander for 598 housing starts. In sticking with housing starts, I’d like to inform Ms. Gunn that with all the economic boom on the Avalon, the City of Mount Pearl only had 559 new housing starts, but with a population of twice the size.
As for the population of the towns surrounding Grand Falls Windsor, Ms. Gunn writes, “Bishop’s Falls, Badger, Buchans, Botwood- have all experienced fairly significant population losses since 2006”…wrong, wrong, wrong. In actual fact, in the areas surrounding Grand Falls-Windsor there was a slight overall increase in population from 21,201 to 21,280.
Ms. Gunn writes that Gander has become the service centre of Central Newfoundland…but anyone with serious shopping to do is going to go to Gander or maybe even Corner Brook. I’d like for Ms. Gunn to define “serious shopping”. The last time I visited Corner Brook and Gander, I didn’t shop at a Home Depot, I didn’t shop at Costco, nor did I shop at Staples, Future Shop, Best Buy, Princess Auto, and the list is endless. Don’t get me wrong, Grand Falls-Windsor doesn’t have any of these “serious shopping” stores either, but don’t write as if you are suggesting that Corner Brook and Gander have all these amenities. Here is another little fact, I know people from Corner Brook and Gander that come to Grand Falls-Windsor for fine dining at “48 High” and designer shopping at “Gentleman B.”
I do agree with Ms. Gunn in saying that Grand Falls-Windsor had “its heart ripped out in 2008,” but we’ve survived, we’ve stood our own, and despite a lot of people saying that we are a dying town, we are not. We are a growing town that has been experiencing a construction boom over the last couple of years that has been the highest in history. My wish is that no other town in Newfoundland and Labrador have to experience “its heart ripped out” like Grand Falls-Windsor did in 2008. For Gander to experience having “its heart ripped” out like we did in 2008, the Gander International Airport would have to close, so would the Environment Canada Office, and the Canadian Forces base which houses the Search and Rescue unit.
It appears to me from reading this editorial, that Ms. Gunn is obviously taking a page from the Margaret Wente school of writing. Just in case some readers are not fully aware of who Margaret Wente is, or if they happen to forget, here is a little refresher; On Jan. 6, 2005 Ms. Wente, writing for the Globe and Mail, engaged former Premier Danny Williams in a public war of words over her article that accused Premier Williams of “…being a deadbeat brother-in-law going after Ottawa and oil companies for equalization payments and offshore revenues.” Wente went on to write “rural Newfoundland is probably the most vast and scenic welfare ghetto in the world.”
In closing, I’d like to ask Ms. Gunn to go back to this same Advertiser edition and look at Page B8. Memorial University’s Faculty of Medicine issued a tender looking for office space and living accommodations in Grand Falls-Windsor for the Family Medicine Residency Program. Memorial University has obviously chosen Grand Falls-Windsor as a place to teach resident doctors, not because “we have our head in the sand’” but because we are the place to be. That’s why my wife and myself have been proud to call Grand Falls-Windsor home for the past 18 months.