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  The eKubator


Kittiwake Economic Development Corporation

The eKubator Project

Changing Change Islands
July 27, 2001
{Author: eBerg Staff}

  The last decade has undoubtedly been a time of change for Newfoundland and Labrador. No more has this been felt than in rural Newfoundland. No more has this been felt than on Change Islands.

  Change Islands has been settled since the latter half of the 18th century when the Labrador fishery rose to prominence. By the beginning of the 20th century, it was a prosperous settlement with a population of over 1,000 people who fished in the northern waters or worked in the huge merchant premises that lined the shores. By 1998, the population hovered around 350. The community was hardhit by outmigration, fueled by the collapse of the groundfishery.

  Change Islands is a resilient community. Its town council, under the mayorship of Doreen Hart, is renowned as one of the most financially sound and progressive in the province. The Town of Change Islands undertook a community development plan over the last number of years, hired a development officer and worked to build upon its strengths. The town’s economic development committee draws from various stakeholder groups in the community, and the representation is critical to building community and moving ahead, Mrs. Hart emphasized.

  “If you’re looking to begin a community initiative, it is very important to involve the greater community,“ she said.

  Most recently, the town’s Economic Development Committee weaved together an exciting idea for the town - a manufacturing initiative that would work to diversify the local economy and create jobs. The project is scheduled to be released in the coming months.

  Mayor Hart is a long-time believer in shaping and seizing opportunity. A couple of years ago, she told a conference that “rural communities cannot wait on government for answers.” Mayor Hart practices what she preaches. Change Islands is forging ahead - not just with the town’s manufacturing project, but with new initiatives to tap the boundless tourism potential of the island, including a new geological interpretation centre. It’s also considering revisions to its community plan to explore future opportunities and create a plan of attack.

  On the surface, Change Islands does not appear to have changed much at all - with its tidy gardens, fishing stages, unique geology and historic nuances, it’s a very traditional community. Tourism experts point to it as a cultural and historic icon; a breathing, living piece of our past. Beneath the exterior however, change abounds, and change, as this community is proving, can be a very positive thing indeed.