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Local municipalities look at joining Eastern Strait enterprise network


The possibility of Pictou County municipalities joining a regional enterprise network is up for discussion again.

At the Municipality of the County of Pictou’s council meeting this week, Coun. Larry Turner provided an update on the Economic Development Working Group, which incorporates all Pictou County municipal units, and noted there had been talk of trying to set up a meeting with the Eastern Strait REN.

At the Municipality of the County of Pictou’s council meeting this week, Coun. Larry Turner provided an update on the Economic Development Working Group, which incorporates all Pictou County municipal units, and noted there had been talk of trying to set up a meeting with the Eastern Strait REN.

The networks were first introduced in 2013 after the federal government cut funding to the 12 regional development agencies in municipalities in the province. Cut down to six groupings, they’re intended to “provide regional economic leadership and help develop regional economic strategies while supporting small, local businesses,” according to information from the province.

Warden Robert Parker noted they’ll be looking into whether it’s possible to join the group that encompasses the towns of Antigonish and Port Hawkesbury and municipalities of Antigonish, Guysborough and St. Mary’s, and the strategy they already have in place. The Eastern Strait REN had first been suggested as the best match for Pictou County by the province, however, local municipalities began looking toward the proposed REN 4, which was slated to include Colchester, Cumberland and East Hants.

Talks broke down with potential partners in 2015, when Cumberland County and Amherst, as well as local Pictou County councils, decided not to participate at that time.

That, and the price tag, were among reasons local municipalities opted not to join then.

New Glasgow Mayor Nancy Dicks is tasked with setting up the meeting with the Eastern Strait REN.

“I think the time is right,” said Dicks during an interview. “Sitting as we are right now, not attached to any REN, is probably not beneficial to us. I think that we need to find out if this is in fact a good fit for us.”

She said the province is encouraging the local municipalities and the Eastern Strait REN to start a conversation, with New Glasgow CAO Lisa MacDonald noting the local tourism organization – Destination Eastern and Northumberland Shores – already links the areas and it’s working well.

They suggested with new councils coming to power after the fall municipal elections, it’s a good opportunity to start the conversation again.

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