Lake Melville MHA and Speaker of the House of Assembly Perry Trimper said the past year has had its share of challenges and triumphs. Trimper spoke with the Labradorian about the year past and the year ahead and said the biggest challenge is certainly Muskrat Falls.
“The massive project dominates society here,” he said. “A lot of people, a lot of businesses, are gainfully employed and/or finding ways to provide services to this project, that’s all good. But the challenges around it, from an environmental perspective, from a labour relations perspective, an indigenous government perspective, it’s the dominant theme that runs throughout the year.”
He referenced the protests at the Office of Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs that kept the staff out of offices for weeks and the formation of the IEAC, the Independent Experts Advisory Committee.
They have a body there now that indigenous groups and governments, along with the federal and provincial government, are working with, Trimper said, to look at the environmental questions surrounding the controversial project.
“It should have been done years ago,” he said. “Nevertheless it’s in place now. There are very clever minds and perspectives looking at this project and identifying what further measures need to be done to give assurances to people that their environment and health is being protected. That’s up and running and I’m very glad for that.”
Flooding was another big issue for Lake Melville in 2017, with the Goose River flood and, of course, the devastating flood that hit Mud Lake in May. Trimper said he was glad the province managed to come up with the $3 million to assist the homeowners there who had property damaged or lost.
“That’s a difficult amount of money to find these days,” he said. “Government did not have to do this but we wanted to.”
He said there are still ongoing issues that need to be dealt with but he is glad they managed to help mitigate the loss people had to deal with.
Getting the independent review done of what happened with that flood was another accomplishment, Trimper said.
“While people are not across the board satisfied with the answers nevertheless we brought in experts, they did a thorough job, and evaluated the situation and made conclusions. More importantly they brought in recommendations as to what needs to be done to address this from happening again.”
Healthcare services are an ongoing challenge for the district and across Labrador, he said. The ambulance response time issue was dealt with and recently the clinic in Sheshatshiu had to be temporarily closed to deal with mold.
It’s been a busy year, Trimper said, remarking on how many times the area hit the national news in the past 12 months.
“We had the runway closure over the sealant issue, the chaos related to that. The Air France plane that almost crashed with the engine blown out. And then having the Prime Minister here with the apology. Some good and bad things but always busy.”
There have been many challenges but also many triumphs, big and small, he said.
Trimper said he is very proud of the relationships they have forged between the different levels of government and the progress they have made on many files. Those include the Wellness Centre, which is supposed to have shovels in the ground this spring and working on the town’s water supply.
“Myself, the mayor and the MP were working on bringing the entire community into water from the Spring Gulch reservoir. It’s where we used to be and we’ve come full circle after many years through cooperation with National Defense and the MP’s office and good cooperation on all levels. I’m looking forward to seeing that happen.”
What gets Trimper going everyday, he said, is helping individuals. The office in Happy Valley-Goose Bay is quite busy, helping with everything from healthcare to finding a job to understanding how a program works.
“It’s a busy office, people use it, they come here for help and I’m glad that we can do that. It’s certainly a good way to do what you can.”
He wanted to point out that he is also really glad to have such a good constituency assistant in Bonnie Learning, who is a great help in these matters.
Generally, as a politician, Trimper said he’s also happy with the work he did on changes to the Highway Traffic Act and his work leading the discussions with the government of Turkey to establish a Caribou monument at Gallipoli.
“I’m very proud to be involved with that and am planning to go over there in the new year and finalize that. It’s only been 100 years in the making, it’s time to get some kind of recognition in that area over what people form this province went through all those years ago.”
Other items he’s got on his plate for the upcoming year are the infrastructure needs that need to be addressed for North West River regarding their water systems and sewage system and finding a long-term solution for the residents of Mud Lake.
“We can’t have this happening again,” he said of the flooding. “We can’t have people have to go through this.”
Finally, the most recent challenge to hit the area was the loss of Happy Valley-Goose Bay Mayor John Hickey. Trimper said it was great working with Hickey, who understood how government worked from his own time as an MHA and cabinet minister.
“The loss of John is a great blow to the area,” he said. “He understood the area, the people, government, and really cared. We got a lot of files moving and now we have to keep up that momentum.”