By Greg Bennett
The Coast Guard
Shelburne MLA Sterling Belliveau covered a host of topics, from jobs to health care during an hour-long session with Barrington Municipal Councillors on Monday, July 18.
The meeting marked the third time in recent years the local MLA and former Barrington Municipal Warden has appeared before council, but Belliveau noted he didn’t mind answering their questions and left open the possibility of future visits.
Noting that it was an issue of some controversy, Belliveau suggested they tackle problems surrounding the now defunct Southwest Shore Development Authority first.
Most of the concerns expressed by councilors surrounded the issue of SWSDA’s bankruptcy. Several councilors also asked for protection from potential lawsuits that could result from the implosion of the former development agency.
“We expect to be protected,” said Louise Halliday. “And if that isn’t the case you can be sure that in the next election there will be concerns about the protections offered to councilors.”
Belliveau said negotiations surrounding issues related to SWSDA were being conducted by provincial representatives and that he would continue to speak on behalf of municipal units involved.
The MLA spoke at length on the issue of jobs, and economic development noting recent developments with aquaculture in Shelburne County.
“I see great opportunities for the future,” said Belliveau.
As part of his discussion on employment, Belliveau talked about changes to loan policies that will allow easier access to funds for younger fishermen looking to buy boats and licenses. He also spoke about efforts to better market Nova Scotia lobsters at home and in the U.S. and Europe.
“Now we immediately throw our lobsters into the back of a truck and take them to the U.S. and try to get the best price,” he said. “That has to change.”
He was pressed by councilors on the difficulties finding family doctors and other health professionals for the area. Councillors bemoaned the fact that most doctors want to work in cities.
“This is a Canada-wide problem. It has always been a struggle,” said Belliveau, who noted the provincial minister of health was well aware of the problem.