Town to go its own way with economic development
PARRSBORO – Thanks, but no thanks.
That is the response from this town to the proposed regional economic network (REN) that would represent Parrsboro’s interests, replacing the regional development authority model that has been operating in the province for several years.
Town council agreed at its Nov. 26 session that REN was not for them.
“After a discussion the (finance) committee shared the opinion that the financial commitment required to participate in the new REN could be directed to other economic initiatives that would directly benefit the town and recommended that REN be advised that we are not interested at this time,” said deputy mayor Lisa Ward.
Council had been asked by the group spearheading the network to express its desire to continue with the setup process, and for CAO Ray Hickey to continue discussions with other representatives in this regard.
Parrsboro would not get the “bang for its buck” from REN, according to Coun. Rob Fancy, who chairs council’s economic development committee.
“It’s just too cumbersome; it’s too large,” said Fancy. “We would be lumped in with parts of HRM and all these other places and it just wouldn’t work for us.”
Parrsboro can take the money it would have invested in REN, which would have been slightly less than it contributed to the previous Cumberland Regional Development Authority, and put it towards projects it will have more control over, he explained.
He described it as a more cost-effective approach.
“We have such a small budget, we have to get everything we can out of every cent we spend,” said Fancy. “I don’t think we could do it this way.”
Various proposals were tossed around and nothing had been finalized as far as the amount Parrsboro would have contributed to REN, according to CAO Ray Hickey, who said more significant would have been the small amount of funding contributed to the program from the provincial government.
“Parrsboro would be expected to contribute much more to REN that what it would get back in provincial funding to support it,” said Hickey. “The feeling was those funds would be better spent on projects the town had direct control over, for example, having a special projects co-ordinator in the community like Taylor Redmond.”
Committed to as a one-year term position, the projects co-ordinator will continue through the winter months, after which its future has yet to be decided. The options are available to continue the position for another year or multiple years, according to Hickey, who said there are funds available.