Letters to the Editor -
By the time you read this letter the May 24th or Victoria Day long weekend will have passed and thousands of people would have been unable to go to their favourite camping ground because of the cruelty of the Minister of Environment, Charlene Johnson, who evicted them from areas they have camped for 35 plus years and told them not to come back.
Some of the larger gravel pit camp sites were located at Whiskey Pit in the St. John's area, Lewisporte Junction area, Howley Bridge area, pit on Bonavista Peninsula, Little Falls on the Humber River, and Ming Pit Baie Verte Road, just to mention a few.
These are all large camping areas - up to 80 per site. Some campers were there as long as 35 years, and I would guess 95 per cent of the occupants were not causing any environmental problems.
The government, without any warning, came out with a 60-day eviction notice with no alternative.
Two reasons were given - environmental concerns and land ownership.
If there was an environmental problem, ask the people to clean it up or vacate. If they didn't own the land, give them a chance to purchase or lease. Neither was done.
Minister Johnson said people are allowed to go to these gravel pits for a weekend, but must take the trailers back home with them.
These trailer owners do not want to take trailers back home - they want their trailers parked, leveled, with sewer hookup, and don't want to be doing this every time they go camping.
Some of these trailers are up to 30 plus years old and are not suitable to be towed over the highways every time they go camping.
A lot of these people have small cars which is all they can afford to own because of the high price of gas and which are not suitable for towing large trailers.
May of them are also in their late years, and some are staying in retirement homes and should not have to go through all this hassle for no good reason. After all, they did help build this province, and it is their land and we have lots of it.
Some gravel pit campers exempt from the eviction order included Birchy Lake Camp Ground, Sandy Lake Camp Ground, No Name Brook Camp Ground, and Father Kelly's Pit Camp Ground
Two hundred plus trailers are left all year round, all within a five-mile radius, all in plain view from highway.
They pay very little money to the government, and used the same septic system as the people in the other gravel pits who were evicted.
The Minister let them stay because they were organized, but did not give the others the opportunity to organize.
There are thousands of remote cabins in Newfoundland and Labrador that did not have title to their land.
But some were told that they could apply to Crown lands to see if they could get title.
If applying on Crown land, which is the people's land, you have to purchase - you can no longer get a lease.
Majority of people in rural NL cannot afford this excessive cost.