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Letters: Wagons East

About 90 per cent of Canadians live within 100 miles of the U.S. border. The Quebec City-Windsor corridor is the most densely populated and industrialized region of Canada with more than 18 million people. Why? Well it’s basically because of a warmer climate, more arable land, and modes of transportation and proximity to the world’s largest economy, the United States.

In Newfoundland, the best agricultural land is on the Southwest coast at Codroy Valley and the Three Rivers Area (Robinsons), and it also has the warmest climate. Coincidentally, this locale has the Gulf ferry service at Port-aux-Basques. And just offshore, through the Cabot Strait, commercial shipping from the very centre of North America via the St. Lawrence Seaway makes its way to all points of the Atlantic Ocean.

Overhead, contrails follow commercial and military aircraft as they wing their way from the Eastern U.S.A. and Canada to Europe and beyond. Everything necessary: warm climate, arable terrain sloping from the Appalachian Mountains to the ocean, and at the hub of Atlantic Canada’s transportation network are all closest in Newfoundland and Labrador to North American’s biggest economy including market and supply. And so, where is the population?

Well, it’s ‘Wagons East’ folks, and remember, transportation costs directly affect the price of goods. When systems are efficient and positive, the effects are better accessibility to markets, with employment, social and environmental benefits. Here we are, 700 km away from the East coast with over half of the population there, the Avalon Peninsula and the most easterly metro area on the continent at St. John’s.

In the spring and summer, the Labrador Current encircles the Avalon with partly Arctic water and sea ice, keeping the water temperature colder and delaying the growing season until late May. Prevailing westerly winds are higher in winter than in summer, making Newfoundland the windiest province in Canada. St. John’s is the windiest city in the country. It is also the foggiest, wettest, cloudiest with most episodes of freezing rain.

The arrangement puts more of our population increasingly farther from Canada’s market and supply. Most of the health care, higher education, government and commercial infrastructure is concentrated in a city with the most adverse weather in the Dominion, all surrounded by barren, irregular and rough topography.

Memorial University states that it nurtures new ideas and knowledge. There must be someone among the media, boards and chambers of business, government and political representatives who will step up to the plate and address this obvious sad state of affairs.

Bill Pilgrim

Stephenville, NL

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