Where do we go from here?

Darrell
Darrell Cole
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Council starts to chart next four years

Amherst Mayor Robert Small says the town is well on its way to setting its priorities for the next four years.

AMHERST – Amherst is well on its way to setting its priorities for the next four years.

“There are three pieces to strategic planning. Where we are now, where we are going and how are we going to get there? We have completed the where are we portion in terms of what we heard from the Chamber of Commerce, from staff and from the election campaign,” Mayor Robert Small said. “We have established a framework for staff to go back and come up with a plan as to what’s required to complete these and to put them in priority sequence.”

Small expects staff to bring a report to council in January that will identify the town’s strategic priorities and an action plan for each priority.

Council and staff met last week during a daylong planning session that was similar to what was done following the 2008 municipal election. It was from that session that the Centre First Downtown Action Strategy, the Amherst Youth Town Council, the redevelopment of Dickey Park, construction of a skate park and the beautification of the town were identified as priorities.

Small said the town hasn’t decided how many priorities it will work on over the next four years. He said council wants to hear from staff before making any decisions on how many projects to take on.

The mayor said councillors heard many suggestions during the election campaign ranging from a new police facility, to concerns over taxation and a possible tax review. It also heard about the ongoing regional marketing strategy as well as a communication strategy for the town.

Small said community development and economic development were other priorities identified by the business community and by residents.

Deputy Mayor George Baker said the session was a success in that it looked at the opportunities the town has as well as the threats and challenges it could face in the next 12 to 48 months.

“This session was very successful in covering many of the current issues, opportunities and threats facing the town over the next year and beyond, while keeping our current operational responsibilities and capabilities in mind,” Baker said.

Both Baker and Small said the town has to be careful to set priorities that are within its means and ones that are attainable.

dcole@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: Chamber of Commerce, Amherst Youth Town Council

Geographic location: Dickey Park

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Recent comments

  • Joe Murphy
    December 13, 2012 - 14:11

    Where do we go from here? What a crass and gratuitous question. Now that you''ve driven our taxes outa sight; then let all kinds of businesses leave town and close down; then spend millions on a new town hall and dowtown facelift: I think I speak for most when I say: PLEASE NO MORE. Where can we go from here? Leave us alone. Really, please just leave us alone.

  • TheRealVoiceOfThePeople
    December 12, 2012 - 14:17

    I do 99 percent of my shopping in this town, as do many of the taxpayers. But, on occasion I do leave this town, to go to places which offer much more product and many times better prices. I support Dayles, The Highland Market, Sobeys, Kents, Coles, and many other places, but sometimes I like to go to new places, and in our current situation, there will not be anything new in this town for quite a while. That's always the excuse COUNCILLORS give to the people "Oh you want this and that, well it's your job to make it happen." Is it really? I think we pay you Councillors quite a bit of money to make this YOUR job. In fact, are we not about to give you a raise ? Fix the situation folks, you are paid more then enough to do it. Lower taxes for new business, New business creates new jobs. New jobs Create new people. New people create new tax revenue. New tax revenue covers the loss for lower taxes to the new business. Town loses nothing, gains new business. I have a 2 year college degree and can figure this out. Why can't the great minds we pay so much money see it?

  • Joe Roberts
    December 12, 2012 - 11:59

    Reading the same old whining by the same old serial cranks here, has left me wondering... what magical formula SHOULD Council and the Mayor employ to bring "new business and more jobs.... to this town"? I hear plenty of criticism by anonymous types but I have seen nothing of substance or any kind of effective counterpoint. As someone with a startup and is from another Province, infrastructure - including a functioning political branch, and properly deployed police force is pretty high on any checklist of business owners or prospective residents in my opinion. The idea that council is going to BRING jobs is as absurd as anything I have heard in my life. You create infrastructure and basic services to ensure new startups and businesses don't discount Amherst altogether. The idea Government can do much more in a free market is naive to say the least. Fuzzy brings up some good points, but these days people have to THINK about what services are underserved and need to fill that need. It requires re-education, and attention to your surroundings. The proximity to sea ports and a lower cost of operating in a smaller community is a benefit in small online retail startups. The internet makes the small Victoria or South Albion store as competitive as the box store, with more efficiencies. People need to act and stop crying over politics.

  • Fuzzy Bear
    December 12, 2012 - 11:12

    Good comments folks, however I have not read any comments or suggestions on how the town council can remedy this situation! Yes the answer to all our problems as with all other small towns in Nova Scotia is to get more people working, however this is easier said than done and in our case I believe it will be nearly impossible unless our provincial government decides to move government services out of Halifax and into the small town category. Ask yourselves a question; what do we, as a town, have to offer any business that is in trouble or not in trouble elsewhere to come to Amherst. We are about as remote from markets as any town in Canada except for the far north. We have no basic long term consumer driven market in this area so everything we would or could make has to be shipped out. Secondly, excluding wood and coal we have no significant raw materials locally that can be turned into finished products so everything being made here has to have the raw materials/supplies shipped in to us and after assembly shipped out. This all adds to the selling price of the product! Now let’s look at transportation. Shipping east is only viable if we are shipping overseas to Europe or elsewhere and that just doesn’t happen on a large scale. Why….we simply cannot compete! So west and south are our only options. Now with the dollar at par and above Americans have to pay more for our products and for some funny reason they don’t want to do that. Finally we have Upper Canada and the west. Without cheaper prices on our products why would they buy items made here? Fuel prices, slow or no rail service, other transportation costs, and time to market are all negative factors in us selling competitively with companies already established there. The only thing that would entice a company to come here would be cheap labor (or short term tax breaks which we as taxpayers have to pay) and that is not the case with our labor friendly provincial governments. While it is cheaper than our big cities, labor costs here are still many times higher than any third world country not to mention India or China so there is the underlying reason we will never see a large company ever come here again. Rural Nova Scotia, as is all small Canadian towns, is in serious trouble folks with no relief in sight without some federal government intervention against cheap overseas labor. Canadian Companies located in countries lacking humane working conditions, using child labor and other substandard practices will make the viability of local industry impractical and not cost competitive. Unfortunately without action against these companies, which I doubt any government would do, we are in the crapper! Doesn’t look good from the door of my cave anyways!

  • mr johnson
    December 12, 2012 - 08:42

    priorities should be jobs not another park or painting i think its time to move alberta here we come

  • Really
    December 12, 2012 - 07:35

    Interesting comments therealvoiceofthepeople. You want business to stop leaving, then start shopping here. This has always been a problem with Amherst. Everyone wants stuff here and doesn't support it. If YOU want jobs here start supporting your town and the businesses in it. Without that there will be no new business. Also if you are referring to a business like Scottsburn, well there isn't much council can do about that even if they lowered their taxes to zero. You want business to come here, then the town needs to be presentable and there has to be things for the families of people from the companies who will come in to do. As for the new police station, well that has been needed for a long time, and incase you haven't noticed, the old one is gone

  • VeryConcerned
    December 12, 2012 - 06:53

    We the tax payers see the priorities of the town and its what they want, not what the town needs. Did we need to move town hall, more then we need jobs. Did council need a raise in pay before we get jobs. When I have heard one of the great people that runs this town, say that he doesn't give a crap what taxs payers think. I'm wondering if other town employees got raises . MR Mayor WE NEED JOBS AND NOT RETAIL .

  • wtf
    December 11, 2012 - 23:33

    i agree with voice of the people. If they don,t stop business's from leaving there won,t be a town. Sad really that they let these business's close down, leave to other towns. example Scotsburn will move it processing to Sydney and Truro. so they can hire more people. what about the people here that lost there jobs? I can't see people staying here if there is no work, wake up small see what happening.

  • Bob Kellegrew
    December 11, 2012 - 13:05

    The money spent for these positions will be worth every penny spent for the year 2013 and beyond.

    • Mr. Chow
      December 12, 2012 - 04:31

      I really have to ask how "The money spent for these positions will be worth every penny spent for the year 2013 and beyond.". They are not doing anything to warrant this money.

  • TheRealVoiceOfThePeople
    December 11, 2012 - 12:09

    It seems the council has selective hearing. THEY want a new police station, so it will be on the list. THEY want what THEY want. The people are unanimous in saying WE want new business and more jobs brought to this town. Council needs to work on this first and foremost, as WE the people see business leaving, but have yet to see any big business brought in.