AMHERST – While Cumberland North is losing government jobs, the area’s MLA said 2012 was a good year for the riding and things are looking good for this year as well.
“All in all it was a pretty good year for the area. We had some challenges, there’s no question about that, but we also saw a number of good news announcements,” Brian Skabar said in a year-end interview with the Amherst Daily News.
Skabar said 2012 saw some important paving work in parts of the riding, something he said will continue into 2013 and beyond with the recent release of the Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Department’s five-year highway plan.
He said the past year also saw the province invest significantly in Amherst companies like LED Roadway Lighting, PolyCello and IMP Aerospace. Skabar said the province supported the $61-million Sprott Power wind project near Amherst and remains committed to fulfilling a 2009 election promise to build a new West Highlands Elementary.
“Ideally construction of the school would have started in 2012, but it was probably better in the long run for that part of Amherst that it was delayed. The site that was originally selected by the school board was a good site, but it wasn’t within the West Highlands community,” Skabar said. “We need to build the right school in the right place. Unfortunately it caused a delay but we’ll see construction start this year.”
He was also pleased to see the province invest in the continued restoration of the Thinkers’ Lodge in Pugwash.
Skabar also takes great pride in the creation of a collaborative emergency centre at North Cumberland Memorial Hospital in Pugwash and he’s looking forward to the announcement of a refurbished CEC that will join with the adjacent East Cumberland Lodge.
The MLA also expects more roadwork along the Gulf Shore region and near Wallace as well as in the Port Howe area.
Skabar admitted he was disappointed with his government’s decision to move the maintenance enforcement jobs out of Amherst, adding he was not made aware of the plan until after it was announced..
He remains hopeful there will be an expansion to the Amherst campus of the Nova Scotia Community College and sees the Amherst area becoming a hub for an inter-provincial co-operation office with New Brunswick.
He was also disappointed with the closure of the Thing5 call centre.
Skabar, who became the riding’s first ever NDP MLA in 2009, said he plans to reoffer when voters go to the polls, probably sometime later this year. The riding will be a little smaller after redistribution took a big portion of the riding south of Amherst and included it in Cumberland South.
While Skabar and the province have taken heat from Amherst Mayor Robert Small for some of the government’s decisions, the Cumberland North MLA said the Dexter government is governing with the best interests of the entire province in mind.
“Our government is working with the best interests of Nova Scotia in mind and that includes Cumberland North,” Skabar said. “Amherst is one of only three areas of the province that has experienced growth. The economy has been doing well, even though there have been a few setbacks,” Skabar said. “The plan is to continue managing the finances of the province to bring things back to balance.”