PICTOU – Robert Parker knows he is starting to sound like a broken record, but until he gets some answers on how to improve Pictou County’s economy, he says won’t stop asking how to fix it.
The county councillor asked again what was happening with the development of the regional economic network, otherwise known as RENS, and another committee appointed by government to look into improving Pictou County’s future in wake of recent company closures.
“Months are going by and for a lot of residents in the county, decision time is here,” Parker said. “We are losing a lot of good people and some people may come back and some won’t.”
He said county council needs to play a more active role in determining where Pictou County is going and this needs to happen soon.
Following an announcement by Michelin Tire that it would be reducing its workforce at its Granton plant by several hundred workers, Parker suggested a working committee come together in the county to look at the economic situation and work out ways to attract new business to the area.
Provincial Finance Minister Diana Whalen visited the county shortly afterwards and appointed Advocate Media owner Sean Murray to head such a committee.
Parker said it has been months since Murray was appointed and there have been no updates on whether the committee has formed or made any progress.
Warden Ron Baillie said he knows Murray has been out of the country and he has been unable to reach him to set up a meeting.
“Unfortunately this is dragging on,” said Baillie. “We need serious discussion as to where this is going.”
Baillie pointed out that the reaction to Michelin’s downsizing was huge, but another company’s closure is just as devastating.
“Convergys is not getting the same type of hype as Michelin,” he said. “In all fairness, Michelin employees were well looked after by the company, but that doesn't seem to be happening with Convergys.”
Pictou East MLA Tim Houston, who was in council chambers at the time of the discussion, said he recently met with Murray and he is getting his team together.
Parker and other councillors agreed they would like to see municipal representatives on Murray’s committee as well so that it can be kept in the loop of what is happening.
“It is incumbent on us to meet with Sean and his team as soon as possible,” he said. “The county has to come up with plans on how to sell itself.”