Despite an 11th hour appeal from a Yarmouth County businessman, the Municipality of Barrington has withdrawn its’ support for a newly created regional economic development council.
Municipal councillors voted unanimously in favour of withdrawing from the regional economic development council at its May 14 meeting.
The economic development council, which was created in the wake of the South West Shore Development Authority fiasco, is still very much in the infancy stages, meeting for the first time on May 1.
However, having already “been burned before” by SWSDA, Barrington municipal councillors feel the new economic council is heading down the same path and will end up favouring economic development in Yarmouth County ahead of Shelburne County.
“I’m not going along with an economic council that favours one county over another county,” said councillor Shaun Hatfield, adding he felt Shelburne County “was immediately disadvantaged” after attending the inaugural meeting of the economic council.
“There’s a lot of history here,” added councillor Louise Halliday. “I do not feel comfortable with the way this is beginning.”
Besides withdrawing from the economic council, the Municipality also voted in favour of writing ACOA, the provincial Department of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism (ERDT) as well as the economic council explaining the reasons why they are bailing.
The Municipality is also going to write Shelburne County MLA Sterling Belliveau and ERDT Minister Percy Paris requesting they meet with municipal council to discuss economic development in the area.
Yarmouth businessman Mike Mercier, who owns Canadian Tire, had made an appeal to council via an email to the Warden, asking the municipality to give the economic council a chance before closing the door.
Mercier is a member of the economic development council nad he wants to see all municipal units give it a fair chance. And by a fair chance, he said, certainly more than just a three-hour meeting. He said there was a lot of planning involved to get to the stage of the first meeting of the economic development council and he hoped municipal units would not be so eager to throw in the towel.
“The group objective for that first meeting was simply to meet everyone and understand how we would function as a group for the entire region. At the meeting we were going to select a chair and we agreed that we would have to meet a number of times a month in the beginning to start making decisions,” he said. “It was very clear around the table that all recommendations made that day were just to get us to the next meeting when we would elect a chairperson and start getting the facts so we could make educated decisions as a group.”
Mercier notes the council members were all chosen for their successful business and educational background skills, leadership and willingness to work together as a group to develop the region.
“I think we owe it to our citizens and businesses in our regions to give this an honest effort,” he says, adding the focus should be on looking forward, not backwards.