Houston questions Liberal government involvement in REN development

Pictou East MLA suggests Antigonish, Guysborough partnership better option

Published on June 21, 2014

WESTVILLE – Pictou East Progressive Conservative MLA Tim Houston is questioning whether a partnership between the Municipality of Pictou County and Truro and Cumberland County as a Regional Enterprise Network is in the best interests for the area. 

In a release from the PC caucus, Houston says he is calling on the Liberals to make sure the province gets value for money from the RENs, particularly those involving communities in the Northern Region.

"Given the jobs crisis we are facing in Pictou County, we must use every available tool to our advantage. This includes establishing an effective REN,” says Houston. "The government should be actively involved in this critical process. Sitting in Halifax and doing nothing to work with these communities in the face of these urgent issues is not an option. It's a sign of this Liberal government's economic incompetence.”

Houston stresses that since the province will be investing $100,000 in each REN, it is incumbent on them to assess the likelihood of success of each REN before it invests taxpayers' money.

In November 2013, Michel Samson, economic and rural development and tourism Minister, said the province is pushing ahead with the NDP’s regional enterprise network model.

Seven months have passed and only two RENs are up and running, a release from the Progressive Conservative caucus says. 

Houston is questioning why the Municipality of Pictou County has pulled away from Antigonish and Guysborough as potential economic development partners, opting instead to align with municipal units in Cumberland County and the Town of Truro.

"Why is the county overruling the 2012 suggestions of the Nova Scotia RDA Review Panel without broader community consultation," asks Houston. "Maybe there are valid reasons but to date nobody can really explain their decision to partner with another region."

Houston will join PC leader Jamie Baillie for the PC Jobs Tour town tall June 24 at 7 p.m. at the Pictou County Wellness Centre, and encourages the community to come out and share ideas about rebuilding the local economy.