Røst fights to stop external migration
Elisabeth Mikalsen is new in her role as politician and mayor of the island municipality. She recognizes that there is a limit to how low population numbers can drop before the situation becomes critical.
“I’m not sure exactly where that line is, but I wish it would transform soon,” Mikalsen says.
She also sees young people wanting to return to Røst, but there is a housing shortage which makes it difficult. Abandoned houses are acquired and used as vacation homes by people who do not reside in the municipality.
“Those who want to build new homes are unable to meet the franchise requirements imposed by the banks. And once the house is built, its value already drops, ”explains Elisabeth Mikalsen.
Røst is nevertheless putting its efforts into a future with an increased influx of young inhabitants. The municipality was ordered to renovate the school but recently decided to create a larger center for children and young people.
“When we establish such a center, it will cost us more than municipal operating revenues. It’s about getting less funding, the fewer people we have. This is how the system works. “
Municipality without infection
Røst is one of the few municipalities to have had no cases of infection during the pandemic, despite a large influx of foreign seasonal workers during the winter fisheries.
“We have a small administration in the municipality, and it has to manage the same thing as the large municipalities. But we worked closely together and had a pretty unique collaboration between officials, businesses and locals. Today, we are one of the 10 or 12 municipalities without any proven case of infection. It was very important to us. We went through two winter fisheries, and if the pandemic were to strike then it would be disastrous, ”Elisabeth Mikalsen told High North News.
Watch the full interview with the Mayor of Røst, Elisabeth Mikalsen, at the top of this page.