AMHERST – Joe O’Byrne wants Cumberland County to re-evaluate the money it’s throwing into economic development and tourism.
O’Byrne is running for election Cumberland District 3 against Warden Keith Hunter and Rod Gilroy.
“We’re looking for ways to keep our young people here by providing opportunities and jobs, but we’re not getting results,” O’Byrne said. “Our children are leaving because there are no jobs and no opportunity. The only way we can do that is by creating jobs, but we’re not doing that. We’re not self-sustaining.”
O’Byrne, who lives in Amherst Shore, is taking direct aim at the Cumberland Regional Development Authority, which the county is a funding partner. While the county has questioned CRDA’s activities in light of the provincial ombudsman’s report, O’Byrne suggests the county knew as far back as 2010 that something was amiss.
He said CRDA and the province are throwing all kinds of money into the Joggins Fossil Centre and Thinker’s Lodge in Pugwash without getting the results in jobs and economic activity.
“I’m not opposed to either Joggins or the Thinker’s Lodge, I just think we need to review them and how they’re being operated,” he said. “I just think we need to fix them so they are doing what they were supposed to.”
O’Bryne also wants to see area around the entrance to the province at Fort Lawrence redeveloped into a farmer’s market similar to what’s in Masstown and Stewiacke.
“There are 25 acres out there owned by the province and the county. Right now it’s just a hayfield. I would like to see that land sold to private interests to be developed with one of the stipulations being that a market similar to what’s in Masstown be developed,” O’Byrne said.
O’Byrne wants to see the infighting between the county and the area’s four towns come to an end and wants to see more accountability and transparency with county council. He would like to see councillors’ expenses published online so the public can see them and he wants every vote take at council meetings recorded so people will know how their elected representative voted.
He also wants to see the county work with Amherst to enlarge the Tyndal Wellfield and extend town water to people to people as far as Highway 6.
Other things he’d like to see addressed include having trees cut back on country roads, have secondary roads graded on a more regular basis, have more streetlighting on county roads, have the Chapman Settlement Road rebuilt and Route 366 repaved from East Linden to Tidnish, work with other municipalities to increase services to seniors and bring about upgraded Internet and cellular service for residents of District 3.
“Without upgraded infrastructure, our economy will never improve,” he said.