AMHERST – Mark your calendar: your government wants your opinion this Thursday night.
The Nova Scotia Commission on Building Our New Economy is touring the province – 13 stops – and stop six will be here March 21, at the NSCC’s Community Learning Centre on South Albion Street from 7 to 9 p.m.
The commission was struck by Premier Darrell Dexter in late November of last year, according to Mark Austin, the director of research and communications for the project.
Austin acknowledged it’s easier to draw out problems at the public sessions than positive suggestions, but the commission has heard some inspiring, entrepreneurial stories.
“That’s encouraging,” said Austin.
He said the hope is that Nova Scotians can generate new resolve to prosper. The commission’s five citizen members – John Bragg of Oxford Frozen Foods might be the most familiar name to readers – meet with industry and political leaders in each community during the day, then have public sessions in the evening. After an initial briefing, the public audience will be broken into smaller groups, which he said can be a way to reveal what is working locally. The commission’s mandate is to engage in a conversation with Nova Scotians about new ideas and directions for the economy.
The director acknowledged the province faces some challenges, and it isn’t just an aging population with attendant expenses, such as health care.
“There is some resistance to change,” he said.
The province’s economy isn’t oriented to growth, he said. One example: the traditional mode of selling our natural resources. Austin said we should look for value-added opportunities – not just selling raw resources, but taking a further processing or manufacturing step with the materials.
An interim report will be issued at the end of April, focused primarily on tabulating what they’ve heard on their fact-finding mission, while also outlining areas they may wish to pursue on the road to final recommendations. Austin said that final report won’t be out until the end of 2013 or even in 2014. The commission was created with an 18-month timeframe specifically to bridge elected administrations – depoliticizing the process, said the director.
Austin said the public meetings have been drawing 70-plus people.