When you are elected to council you really don’t realize the big learning curve you will be in for (at least I didn’t). As a councillor you have to be briefed on the different departments, the assets that go with them, the number of employees in each and what their budget is. That is just local, then there are the provincial departments. These we just need to know, who they are and what their role is. Our very capable professional staff deals with this group on an ongoing base.
Also, as a councillor it is my responsibility to be familiar with the Municipal Government Act which informs us of what we can and cannot do as councillors.
Some people believe that as a councillor you can make changes over-night. You have to go through the proper procedures just to get what you want on the agenda. council then directs staff to investigate the matter. Once they bring their report back to council we have to vote on it and each councillor, no matter how strongly they feel about an issue only has one vote.
The most important thing we must remember as councillors is that we were elected by the citizens of this town and our primary focus should be on the betterment of our community and to serve the needs of its citizens.
We have developed a strategic plan to assist in the growth of the town. To help attract new businesses to Amherst, and maintain what we have, council has authorized the hiring of a Business Development Officer to focus on this area. council has also approved the creation of a one-year term position for a Culture, Tourism & Marketing Coordinator. Our town has a lot to offer, i.e. our museums, historic homes, and buildings, and the Fiber Art Festival. Amherst is the only town that can boast of being the home of Four Fathers of Confederation, and we have the downtown murals. We also need to do more to develop and promote our Acadian history and the Great Amherst Mystery.
During our first year the town has made significant progress on several major infrastructure projects: water reservoir replacement, East Victoria Street reconstruction, Station St. storm water separation project, infrastructure replacement on Highfield and Alma Street, new sidewalk on Chamberlain Street, and dedication of the Dwight’s Jones Field. These are just some of the projects that were done.
So as the journey continues I will still push for this council to improve our code of conduct for elected officials, sidewalks for our residents, and to promote our town better to make it more appealing to visitors. Let’ work on having an area for bus tours to stop in our downtown area along with a tourist centre with public washrooms. We must work hand in hand with those who want to assist in making Amherst a tourist destination. I would also like to see our parks and green areas maintained in better condition.
I have been approached on the issue of the name of the town and the less than honourable historical facts about Lord Jeffery Amherst’s deeds. I personally do not feel that the answer is to change the name of the town, this will not change the past, just mask it. These events happened many years ago when people had different ideas of what was acceptable treatment of others. We can only move forward and make sure that we treat others as we want to be treated and make Amherst a friendly town for all.
In closing if there is anything that I can assist you with please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.
Darrell Jones is a newly elected councillor. He is retired from Cumberland Joint Services, where he worked as the weigh master at the scale house and safety officer for the facility for over 27 years. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Community Credit Union. He also worked for several years as an employment counselor, and has over 29 years’ experience in the Canadian Forces, retiring with the rank of Master Warrant Officer. He is also a member of the Alexandra Lodge #87, the Cumberland Shrine Club, and the Royal Canadian Legion #10. Born in Brookdale, raised and educated in Amherst, he is married to Lynn and they have two children Greg and Christa, and three grandchildren.