AMHERST – Dave March is excited for the future of Amherst.
March, who was first elected in the 2000 municipal election, is one of nine candidates seeking election to town council when voters go to the polls on Oct. 20.
“We started a lot of things over the last four years and have a lot of things we want to finish in the next four years,” March said. “Everything we did in the last four years was just the beginning. It was the foundation. Now we have to build on that foundation.”
March said the town partnered with other levels of government to build a skate park for the youth of the community, gave young people a voice through the Amherst Youth Town Council, redeveloped Dickey Park and brought new life to the downtown area.
It also solidified itself as a green community through the completion of the $12-million wastewater treatment plant, through its beautification program and conversion of its streetlights to LED.
March is a member of the downtown business advisory committee’s business attraction and retention sub-committee.
“I want to make sure we have lots of new business in not only the downtown, but the town as a whole. Everyone can say they’re going to create jobs and lower taxes, but how are you going to do it?” March said. “I have a number of ideas on how we can create jobs and provide the atmosphere for business to provide jobs.”
March said he has talked to the Nova Scotia Community College about having its second-year business students create a business in a vacant building downtown as part of their education.
“They would learn about setting up a business in class and then put it to practical use by operating a business,” he said, adding the college is considering the idea.
He said if the town were able to get 10 per cent of the tourism dollars spent in Nova Scotia, it would see $50 million in business. He said being the major entry point for vehicle traffic is an advantage Amherst has over other communities. He wants to see the town use its advantages to become a tourist service centre.
March also sees the town using the arts as an economic driver.
“It has been said $1 invested in the arts has a $13 return,” he said. “We’re hearing from the people in the arts community about their needs. From that we’ll determine where we want to go.”
He is also suggesting moving the Amherst Farmer’s Market to Saturdays.
March said he supports increased co-operation with the Municipality of Cumberland and the increased sharing of municipal services. He thinks this co-operation could help make the area attractive to the province as a home for the Energy Department.
“We have wind power, we have solar power, we have geo-thermal power. We’re at the centre of the energy industry,” March said.
March also supports the potential of building a new police facility, especially if it makes more sense the retrofitting the existing town hall building on Ratchford Street. If the town does decide to build a new facility for the police, he said he would like to study using town hall as an arts centre.