The fruition of the En­gage Antigo­nish ses­sions

The Casket - - Local - RICHARD MACKEN­ZIE richard­mac@the­cas­ket.ca

The im­pacts of the En­gage Antigo­nish ses­sions, hosted last win­ter and early spring by the Town of Antigo­nish, are now be­ing played out.

That was the im­pe­tus of a re­cent open let­ter by Antigo­nish Mayor Lau­rie Boucher which ap­peared in the town’s news­let­ter — the Talk of the Town.

In talk­ing to the Cas­ket Sept. 26, Boucher said a lot of what was em­pha­sized dur­ing the En­gage ses­sions, the town was al­ready on the path towards. She noted a good ex­am­ple was the strength­en­ing of the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the town and the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of the County of Antigo­nish, as well as St. F.X.

“‘Get­ting along,’” Boucher said, quot­ing the phrase most of­ten used by res­i­dents.

“We’re do­ing well in that area. We’re just see­ing a lot of things com­ing through now; a skate­board park would be one of them. The as­sets man­age­ment [pro­gram] through the prov­ince, we re­ceived a grant for that and we’re do­ing that to­gether as well, to see what we ac­tu­ally have as far as in­fra­struc­ture and the age of it.”

Boucher talked about the town work­ing on a Mu­nic­i­pal Plan­ning Strat­egy (MPS) and a strate­gic plan and those be­ing in­flu­enced by the En­gage ses­sions.

“En­gage feed­back will be looked at when the MPS is be­ing formed,” she said. “We will have in­for­ma­tion ses­sions and we will have work­shops with dif­fer­ent stake­hold­ers in the com­mu­nity; af­ford­able hous­ing, youth groups, sus­tain­abil­ity groups, folks from the hospi­tal, the uni­ver­sity, so we can get ev­ery­one’s in­put. The MPS is more en­vi­sion­ing what we want to­day and into the fu­ture, as far as plan­ning.

“We gained a lot of in­for­ma­tion and we’re go­ing to add that in­for­ma­tion to our MPS. Also, we’re go­ing to have a strate­gic plan com­ing out; that was why it was so im­por­tant to in­vest in the En­gage ses­sions, to be able to get that in­for­ma­tion,”

As for an ac­tion taken that wasn’t al­ready in the works, Boucher said En­gage feed­back sug­gested res­i­dents wanted more clean-up around parts of the town; and the town lis­tened.

“We had quite a few peo­ple com­plain­ing the streets were not as clean as they would like them to be and al­though we do put a lot of money into it, we have our pub­lic works who at­tend to the garbage cans and things like, and also con­tract the CACL to do some lit­ter clean-up, we went one step fur­ther this year and hired an­other per­son we can call on when we need him,” Boucher said, not­ing clean-ups around the Syd­ney Street park­ing lot and around Antigo­nish Arena, as part of his re­cent work.

“We can call him to do a cer­tain area if we find it get­ting bad.”

Boucher stressed the lis­ten­ing as­pect of En­gage, not­ing it trans­lates into trust.

“If you’re go­ing to ask the com­mu­nity for in­put, and you don’t have enough time to fol­low through on it, then they’re not go­ing to have that trust the next time you do it,” she said, ad­dress­ing the tim­ing is­sue of the ses­sions as well.

“They’re go­ing to say, ‘what’s the use?’ We did ad­dress that be­cause there were other times with com­mu­nity en­gage­ment not a whole lot came out of it. We were very di­rect with En­gage Nova Sco­tia that, at the end of it, we didn’t want a list of 20 things, we wanted some di­rect things that we could work on now — the skate­board park, the clean­ing up of needed places in town — are a di­rect re­sult, an im­me­di­ate re­sult. But we also have to look into the fu­ture and we talked about part­ner­ships, shared ser­vices and plan­ning; all long-term, but that all comes out of En­gage too.

“If we don’t start to show peo­ple we’re lis­ten­ing and do­ing what they ask, which is what is best for the com­mu­nity, then we’re not go­ing to have their trust the next time.”

File

Town of Antigo­nish Mayor Lau­rie Boucher speaks dur­ing an Antigo­nish Art Fair event this past sum­mer. Boucher re­cently penned a let­ter for the town’s newslat­ter which ad­dressed how the feed­back from the En­gage Antigo­nish ses­sions ear­lier this year are im­pact­ing de­ci­sions.

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