Today's world, whether we are responsible for municipal governance and operations, for a business, a non-profit organization, education, health care, or environmental stewardship is changing rapidly. Bold action is required, as is forward thinking and innovation. We can no longer be complacent or even satisfied with the status quo.
The Town of New Glasgow is learning to do things differently. We know that regional action must always accompany regional vision and nothing less will do. The citizens of New Glasgow and throughout Pictou County deserve no less. We are ready for change and willing to adapt and to lead through action. The Ivany Now or Never Report tells us that a sense of urgency is required, that we are not doomed- that we do have the assets and opportunities as well as the human capital needed for a sustainable, positive future. But it also notes there is a lack of shared vision and commitment to renewal and economic growth across the province and its stakeholder communities.
We have recently announced that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) will be formed among the Town of New Glasgow, the Municipality of the County of Pictou and the Town of Pictou. This initiative comes in part from our ongoing partnerships with these units but also in response to the new announcement by the Province that it would not fund a governance and operations study for the municipalities of Pictou County due to the lack of consensus among our communities. By June we will have the memorandum drafted and by April 2015 municipal governance and organization in these communities will look very different from today. It is my sincere hope that the towns of Trenton, Stellarton and Westville will consider being part of this MOU and moving forward together.
The Town of New Glasgow, Town of Pictou and the Municipality of the County of Pictou account for 75 per cent of the region's population and 82 per cent of its tax assessment. The partnership established and the strengthening of this coalition enables significant impact and outcomes. There is only one taxpayer, no matter which order of government is providing the service and all elected officials as stewards of the public's dollars owe it to all citizens to ensure this money is wisely spent and that meaningful results happen. Every citizen of Pictou County deserves good services at reasonable costs. Decisions made must have not only a regional perspective but a provincial one as well. The Ivany Report clearly gives this direction.
We are committed to a regional approach through tangible goals and results. We have identified economic, fiscal, environmental, recreational, cultural and social strategies that will benefit the region. We also support a population based and user pay model for services. Job losses, population loss in other parts of Pictou County and the lack of unified regional vision are impacting the entire region and are holding us back. Top priorities for the region are economic development and support for our business community, environmental stewardship, ensuring strong infrastructure and community assets, addressing population loss, generating economic development through economic gardening and partnering with the Pictou County Chamber of Commerce, growth potential through new economies and new industries, ensuring skills development and entrepreneurial opportunities, building a vibrant Downtown core and innovation in tourism. We are delighted to welcome the offices of the Chamber, DEANS and Nova Scotia Economic Rural Development to Downtown New Glasgow.
Our citizens and local business community are telling us they want regional action and regional goals. We have done many things well as a region and the municipalities of Pictou County have collectively shared in important services such as Solid Waste Management, the East River Environmental Control Centre, Tourism, and some Recreational initiatives. One of our most valuable assets, our New Glasgow water supply has been shared with many communities or businesses throughout the Municipality of the County, the Town of Westville, and parts of Trenton. New Glasgow provides policing services to the Town of Trenton and shares many other services such as IT, some communications services, and some recreational services. As a region we support Active Pictou County, Go Clean Get Green Community Litter pick-up, municipal planning strategies, Share the Road Bike Project and more. There are many joint projects that have all been successful and very worthwhile. But that is not enough. There are big gaps that are too important to ignore. Today’s world is tough and it is changing- we have to change with it and even be ahead of it. We are not each other’s competitors; it is a global economy with global standards and best practices. We are one economy, not only for Pictou County, but for Nova Scotia.
Change is difficult for all of us but we must find the courage to move forward. We look forward to citizen engagement and providing information as we work towards this new MOU with a strong commitment for action and change.