A Platform for Growth of Yarmouth County
2020 Municipal Election
The upcoming municipal election provides a key opportunity for the voters of Yarmouth County to set the direction of our community. As a local business organization, the Yarmouth & Area Chamber of Commerce is non-political and non-partisan in nature and does not support any specific candidate(s) in the upcoming election. Our role is to educate our membership and citizens of the region on key issues so that they can make informed decisions.
In order to assist voters, the Chamber seeks to highlight key issues by providing a platform called “Steaming Forward: A Platform for the Growth of Yarmouth County”. This platform is part of the Chamber’s ongoing effort to better our community. It is our hope that candidates will adopt this platform and add their own ideas.
The following issues have been identified by our membership as key in this election:
1. Consider Consolidation of Municipal Units
The most significant issue is the prospect of consolidation of the three municipal units. Maintaining three units has resulted in financial and procedural inefficiencies, poor working relationships between the units and the general inability to reach consensus to move decisions forward. This has also resulted in provincial and federal government frustrations and community confusion.
The Yarmouth & Area Chamber of Commerce implores each member of council to prioritize this task in an open and transparent way and to communicate the implications of consolidation with all citizens. As an organization that represents businesses, we also offer our support in relaying communications. It is also our responsibility to challenge council when businesses and citizens are not receiving information or clarification on the impacts of large organizational change.
2. Asset Development
Of obvious note are the numerous community discussions on the importance in the development of new facilities within the region. Both businesses and citizens understand and desire the significant lifestyle enhancements that come with increases in services and facilities within the area. Businesses recognize the potential to attract more talent.
The membership base of the Yarmouth & Area Chamber of Commerce believes that the three municipal units of Yarmouth County need to work together to come up with a complete asset development plan that will prioritize this work and ensure it is executed in a strategic and timely manner. Councils need to communicate, consult and listen to their citizens.
3. Asset Re-investment
Throughout the region we have a number of infrastructure assets that are approaching their “end of life” and will require significant investment in order to breathe new life into this older infrastructure, most important being the wharves, but also the airport, power grid, water/sewer systems and more. Higher levels of government have a role to play but leadership and planning can and should come from the municipal level. In addition to an asset development plan as noted in point two, a complete plan for the entire county to reinvest in our infrastructure is needed.
4. Attracting Residents
One of the key issues that we continue to face in our business communities is a worker shortage. We constantly hear of businesses that are unable to fill job vacancies. Vacancies range from manual, front-line labourers to executive positions in all industries. Yarmouth is a great place to live and do business in. We need to get that message out there.
The Yarmouth & Area Chamber of Commerce believes that this is not just a role for the municipalities but a team of community organizations, including the Chamber. The Chamber also recognizes that housing availability is a major issue that plays a role in this and many parties need to be engaged on. We also believe that addressing some of our social issues will be possible by focusing on this issue.
5. Economic Diversity
Our region is heavily reliant on fishing and one other key sector. When either one of these experiences any sort of disruption, the ripple effect throughout the region is significant. Continuing with the status quo does not position our region well for the future. We do recognize that this will be a team effort that should include several organizations and higher levels of government.
The Chamber has identified these five key issues from the voice of our membership and the community. “Steaming Forward” as named to capture the essence of the present momentum and push it forcefully ahead to encourage plan, action, and change. We must keep Steaming Forward.