Opinions on economic development vary
— Councillors sparred in a wideranging hour-long debate on economic development this week.
Deputy Mayor Darren Bruckschwaiger had requested the item on the agenda of the corporate services committee meeting Monday to discuss the Cape Breton Regional Municipality’s options following the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in December to refuse a hearing of the equalization lawsuit against the province.
CBRM chief administrative officer Jerry Ryan said the municipality must focus in on the needs of an aging population.
“I think (the CBRM) is somewhat unique. Many people think we’re no different than anyone else. But there’s probably five regions in Canada in the situation we’re in (with a declining population),” Ryan said.
As the tax base shrinks, he said the CBRM will be lucky to financially support its infrastructure systems it has currently.
Bruckschwaiger accused the CAO of having a defeatist attitude.
“Should we pass the keys in today and for- get this or should we try to do something?” Bruckschwaiger asked.
“ You’re our CAO and I want to know if you’re willing to try to help this community. Let’s talk about the positives. We’ve heard the negatives here for so long and we realize them. We went to court, we lost, nobody listened to us.”
Ryan said the CBRM doesn’t have the ability to solve economic development problems on its own. He said much of the responsibility for a strategy will fall on discussions with the Nova Scotia government.
Mayor John Morgan defended Ryan’s position against selling a “falsehood” to residents.
“If you represent they are good when every demographic and economic statistic indicates otherwise, you can’t affect the change that is needed in the community,” Morgan said.
The committee voted in favour of economic development manager John Whalley. developing an issue paper on a go-forward economic development strategy for the municipality to be presented at next month’s committee meeting.
It’s African Heritage Month and the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design in Sydney is celebrating with an exhibit titled Up Home, a show depicting life in the African Canadian community of North Preston. The exhibit features artwork from the book Up Home written by Shauntay Grant and illustrated by Susan Tooke. The official opening was launched by Lt.-Gov. Mayann Francis, Thursday. Tooke, right, also conducted art workshops with students at Harbourside Elementary School in Whitney Pier and viewed the students’ creations that are also part of the exhibit. Students, from left, are Kelsey Ryan, Keigan Ryan, Brooke Sheppard, Kori Ash and Brandon Abbott. Steve Wadden - Cape Breton Post