Top News

New jobs key to turning around population decline


Amherst is not unlike many other communities across Atlantic Canada in that their population is shrinking.

Knowing that, it would be very easy to cast a doom and gloom scenario, scream out ‘the sky is falling’ and prepare for the apocalypse.

Knowing that, it would be very easy to cast a doom and gloom scenario, scream out ‘the sky is falling’ and prepare for the apocalypse.

Saying that, it’s also not the time to stick our heads in the sand, mutter ‘move along, nothing to see here.’ What it is time for is leadership by our elected officials as well as those members of the business community and the area at large who feel they have a stake in designing a new and better future for Amherst, Cumberland County and Nova Scotia.

On Wednesday, Statistics Canada released information from the 2016 census. It showed Amherst’s population has dropped by just over three per cent. The same is true in the Municipality of Cumberland, where the population dropped by 0.2 per cent, while Oxford saw a bit of jump in the number of residents.

Several years ago, both Ray Ivany and pollster Don Mills suggested Nova Scotia needs to think outside the box if it’s to stop the ongoing economic stagnation of the province. We have to look for new ways to attract young people and we have to stop pointing the finger of blame at government, or expecting it to fix the problem alone.

While immigration would seem like a logical answer to solving the population problem, fact is in many communities these new Canadians soon moved to larger centres such as Toronto because there are established ethnic communities there. It’s hard to expect newcomers to feel comfortable in a new community when they feel as though they are in isolation – miles from others who speak their language and follow their customs.

Last year, Amherst spent considerable time – and a certain extent money – taking a look at what the next decade may look like. The town looked at infrastructure needs, demographics and finances to give future councils a snapshot of what the future may hold for the community.

Now that we have that snapshot, as well as a new council, the Cumberland Business Connector, Cumberland CBDC and Community Credit Union Business Innovation Centre, it’s time for the group to go to work, in concert with other organizations to come up with a real, workable strategy that will make Amherst, and Cumberland County as a whole, more attractive to business and families.

By creating a favourable economic climate – and this is where the provincial and federal governments can step in with fewer regulations and roadblocks – we can begin creating jobs through small and medium-size businesses. In creating jobs – not the minimum wage service industry jobs, but those that include a fair wage and benefits package – young people may stop looking to the oilfields and considering staying put and raising their families at home.

Then, we may see the population decline checked and the services we have come to expect protected. Then again, it may only be wishful thinking.

 

Recent Stories