AMHERST – Amherst Mayor Robert Small is surprised the province has decided to create its new tourism agency in Windsor, just months after it asked for it to be located in Amherst.
“I think I need to have a conversation with our MLA as to what the government’s master plan is for further decentralization of government and see if there is going to be an opportunity for Cumberland County to get some part of the government,” Small said.
The mayor said he already has a meeting scheduled today with Cumberland North MLA Brian Skabar and he expects to raise the issue with him.
On Thursday, Economic and Rural Development and Tourism Minsiter Percy Paris announced the new Nova Scotia Tourism Agency office would be located in Windsor. Establishing the agency there would create 34 civil service jobs by the end of September 2013.
“For years governments centralized jobs in the city while rural communities struggled. We are doing things differently,” Paris said. “Tourism plays a significant role in rural economies across the province. Residents depend on the industry for good jobs and the revenue generated to keep their communities strong. It just makes sense to set up this new agency where it will have a greater impact.”
The province has committed to look for locations outside of Halifax for new and consolidated agencies and offices. This ensures provincial departments and agencies can serve all Nova Scotians in urban and rural areas.
The minister said Windsor is a good location in that it’s central to many tourism destinations and is “within commutable distance to many of our industry and government partners who are located in Halifax.”
The province announced plans for the agency last year. The agency is a collaboration between industry and government to build a more innovative and globally competitive approach to tourism.
The mayor said tourism was one of the areas the town identified a couple of months ago when he sent a letter to the premier asking for Amherst to be considered for government jobs to replace the jobs lost by the consolidation of the maintenance enforcement program in New Waterford and the planned relocation of correctional officers jobs to Pictou County when the Cumberland County Correctional Centre closes.
Skabar said he was not aware of the announcement, but supports the initiative to decentralize government jobs outside Halifax.
“I was with the premier yesterday when he made the CEC announcement in Tatamagouche, but I didn’t get much of an opportunity to speak with him,” Skabar said. “In plan to follow up on this.”