In that time frame May also found time to help in other local and regional projects, as he is an active member of 18 important committees in Belleoram and the Coast of Bays.
In Belleoram he is a member of the harbour authority, the fire department, the recreation committee, the sick committee, the Orange Lodge and a number of other committees.
On a regional base he is a member of the Joint Mayor’s Committee, the Rural Secetariat, the Fortune Bay North Shore Development Association, is a leader with the cadet program in the area and serves on several other committees as well.
He has also been a licensed Anglican lay minister since 1985.
After graduating from the College of Fisheries in St. John’s in the late 1970s, May returned to Belleoram to work with Fishery Products International, the company then operating the Belleoram plant.
He made his first attempt at entry into municipal politics in 1981, and except for a three-year recess, he has been involved in the community’s political scene since that time.
“I had a genuine interest in the community,” May said. “I like helping people, and I wanted to see the community grow and prosper.”
In the 1980s, the residents of Belleoram were doing fairly well economically but things started to change in 1989 when operations at the plant ended mainly due to a downturn in the fishery.
The community had a strong inshore fishery, which also saw a decline in the 1980s that eventually led to the infamous Cod Moratorium of 1992.
The former plant employees did not qualify for help under the Moratorium as their plant had closed in 1989. Needless to say, the community went through some rough economic times.
May said that the community started to turn the economic corner when Cooke Aqua Ltd. started raising salmon in the area in 2006.
Since that time, many residents in Belleoram work with Cooke or Northern Harvest Sea Farms, another big player in the region’s aquaculture picture today.
“With more people working and with the growth of aquaculture we have seen some progress,” May said. “Our marine infrastructure is better now with a new slipway, a new wharf and more floating docks.
“With more money in the community, and with government’s new 90-10 payment policy toward municipal projects, we were able to end the 18 year water-boil order as we managed to improve the town’s water supply several years ago.
“ One of council’s short-term goals today is to do some paving on the road toward the end of the community and to repair some severely deteriorated sections of the road.
“We will also see some work completed this year to help us in case of severe rains as the landscaping should help prevent floods as happened here in Hurricane Ophelia three years ago.
“In the long-term we will need to upgrade our water and sewer lines which were installed in 1948.”
May was also involved in a very important project that started in 1993 that has raised approximately a quarter of a million dollars for the community.
“In 1993 I joined with musicians Sim Savory, Gord Drake, Cyril Piercey, Tom Keeping, Gerald Stoodley and several others, in forming the Iron Skull Folk Music Festival.
“The festival is one of the highlights now of the summer season in the Coast of Bays. The money we raised over the years paid for a community center completed in 1998 and major renovations to St. Lawrence Anglican Church. The funds have also helped the fire department and the recreation committee.”
While some of the original committee members have passed on or moved away, May remains a key part of the committee.
Becoming an ordained minister
And now, in addition to his municipal duties, his involvement with the many committees he serves on and his regular work with Cooke Aqua, May has decided to pursue a long-time dream of becoming an Anglican Minister.
He said, “This dream started back when I became a lay minister in 1985 and after attending an Anglican Church training program in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1987.
“It goes back to my desire to help people. After a tragic incident here in the 2000s when three fish harvesters lost their lives in boating mishap, my desire to seriously pursue the dream became even stronger.
“The community really pulled together to help the families of those residents and I felt a key part of that.”
To achieve his goal of becoming an ordained minister, May enrolled in a Diploma Course Theology Minister program, which he will complete in three more sessions.
He will then require about two years of further training before he can be ordained.
“I will probably have to move from the community when I am ordained, so I may not get to finish this term as mayor”, he said.
Being a municipal politician is not an easy role to play and May said he has had his share of ups and downs over the years.
He said, “Things didn’t always go smoothly, but I have no major regrets. I feel that our community is moving forward and, hopefully, the aquaculture industry will be around for a long time.
The only major thing that I would like to have happened in my time serving the community was the development of the long-awaited rock quarry. This activity would be a major economic boost for Belleoram and the entire Coast of Bays.
“Let’s hope that his much-talked about project will become a reality in the future.”