AMHERST – Less turf wars and more cooperation between Amherst and the Municipality of Cumberland County was the topic of discussion during the Amherst & Area Chamber of Commerce annual general meeting Tuesday night at the Wandlyn Inn.
“By sharing services we are adding value to our customers and, potentially, reducing costs in the long run,” said Amherst mayor, Robert Small. “This is something that has been tried in the past between the two municipalities but the issue has always been an issue of threats.”
Small, along with Keith Hunter, the warden for the Municipality of Cumberland County, were this year’s guest speakers.
One of the threats Small talked about was the loss of employment.
“If you know your going to be out of a job it’s tough to work towards cooperation,” said Small.
He added that sharing services doesn’t always lead to job losses.
“By sharing services people can be freed up to work on new projects,” said Small.
Hunter said past differences between the two municipalities need to be overcome for growth to be achieved.
“With the elimination of the funding of the RDA’s by both the federal and provincial governments there’s been a prolonged period of adjustment and uncertainty,” said Hunter. “Both councils (Amherst and Cumberland Couth) approved a memorandum of understanding to prepare a community economic development strategy and to share resources.”
The strategy will feature four main pillars – business support, community capacity, tourism, and demographics.
The strategy is nearing completion and will be formally presented to both council’s sometime soon.
Small touched on the topic of demographics, saying the lack of growth in Amherst and the County is not meeting the cost of sustaining services.
The same assessment was made of communities across Nova Scotia in the recently released Ivany Report.
Despite the fact that growth is currently flat in Cumberland County, Small said they are always working on new initiatives but added that those initiatives don’t always come to fruition.
He then thanked the business community for attending the AGM.
“Government’s don’t create jobs, they only enhance opportunities to create jobs,’ said Small. “It’s the business community that creates jobs.
“I know many of you are investing in our community day in and day out by staying in business or increasing your business and I thank you to all of you. Investment is so important to our community.”
After the speech, Gladys Coish, Amherst & Area chamber president, introduced the 2014-2015 Chamber of Commerce.
The returning Board of Directors for the Amherst & Area Chamber of Commerce are: Gladys Coish, president; Wayne Bishop, vice president; Kim Ripley, Gordon Helm and Ron Furlong.
The new directors are: Michelle Landry, Carys Wood, Simon Turner, Travis Saulnier, Heather Gunning, Kathy White and Bill Monroe.
They then took the oath of office, which was given by mayor Small.