Mayor re­flects on 2018, looks ahead to new year

Higham says in­vest­ments in strate­gic in­fra­struc­ture projects tops pri­or­ity list

Sackville Tribune - - 1 2 3 ONLINE - BY SCOTT DO­HERTY

MAN­AG­ING EDI­TOR

Q. In your view, what was Sackville’s great­est mo­ment/ achieve­ment of 2018?

A. I will take the lib­erty of of­fer­ing two sig­nif­i­cant mo­ments.

First, this has been a tremen­dous year for de­vel­op­ment in Sackville. Build­ing per­mits were very strong through­out 2018, with a con­struc­tion value of al­most $24 mil­lion – nearly dou­ble the pre­vi­ous year. Sev­eral new projects, in­clud­ing the se­niors’ build­ing, the Cannabis NB fa­cil­ity, im­prove­ments to Wind­sor Hall, and a num­ber of sin­gle-unit dwellings – all helped cre­ate this di­ver­si­fied growth. Fur­ther­more, the an­nounce­ment and im­ple­men­ta­tion of Cam­tran tak­ing over the for­mer Moloney fa­cil­ity, and Terra Beata’s pur­chase and in­vest­ment in the for­mer Burn­brae build­ing were ma­jor ac­com­plish­ments. These en­ter­prises have re­vi­tal­ized the in­dus­trial sec­tor, proven Sackville’s abil­ity to com­pete, and will con­tinue to of­fer mul­ti­ple ben­e­fits to the com­mu­nity as they both grow.

And two, the in­stal­la­tion of Jean-paul Boudreau as the 15th pres­i­dent of Mount Al­li­son Uni­ver­sity. Dr. Boudreau has al­ready il­lus­trated his pas­sion for in­no­va­tive ac­tion on mul­ti­ple fronts that in­vites us all to be­come part­ners in cre­at­ing a dif­fer­ent fu­ture for our com­mu­nity, the re­gion, and be­yond. While the roots of in­no­va­tive de­vel­op­ment were planted in 2018, the fruits of it can be har­vested for years to come if we take ad­van­tage of it.

Q. What do you think were some of the other top high­lights of the year in Sackville (and ex­plain why it was im­por­tant to see these ini­tia­tives move ahead)?

A. Co­op­er­a­tion, ad­vo­cacy and com­mu­ni­ca­tion have be­gun to yield changes. Cross-bor­der com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Amherst and Cum­ber­land brought fed­er­al­provin­cial funds for a plan to mit­i­gate the shared threat of salt water floods across the marsh. On­go­ing work with pro­vin­cial and rail­way of­fi­cials is bring­ing changes to their in­fra­struc­ture and help­ing ad­dress fresh water flood threats to the town. Ad­vo­cacy at the Union of Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties of New Brunswick (UMNB) has re­vi­tal­ized the or­ga­ni­za­tion and as Sackville raises mu­nic­i­pal is­sues, they are now be­ing ad­dressed through the strength of all its mem­bers. Our col­lec­tive town voice at South­east Re­gional Ser­vice Com­mis­sion (SERSC) is be­ing re­flected in its ac­tions, in­clud­ing the cre­ation of a new re­gional tourism or­ga­ni­za­tion with a busi­ness-based gov­er­nance struc­ture that will lead the prov­ince in this sec­tor.

In 2018, we also of­fi­cially cel­e­brated our Ge­orge Stan­ley sculp­ture, the ex­pan­sion and im­prove­ments to our Skate Board Park, as well hon­our­ing many The Tri­bune-post re­cently asked Sackville Mayor John Higham to re­flect on the highs and lows of 2018 and look ahead to what the town can ex­pect for 2019.

more lo­cal vet­er­ans and fam­i­lies through the street ban­ners part­ner­ship with the le­gion. It is clear that strong staff work in part­ner­ship with com­mu­nity groups, con­tin­ues to en­dow us with fa­cil­i­ties, art and at­trac­tions that is mak­ing Sackville a truly dif­fer­ent kind of small town.

Q. What do you con­sider as Sackville’s worst mo­ment of 2018?

A. The sur­pris­ing cost of Lorne Street fresh water flood­ing Phase 2 work, af­ter it emerged from the pro­vin­cial ap­proval process, was a huge dis­ap­point­ment. How­ever, since then we have cre­ated a re­vised plan that has been ap­proved by both the fed­eral and pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments, and are very pleased to have awarded that ten­der in 2018. We’re look­ing for­ward to work com­menc­ing on this crit­i­cally im­por­tant project in 2019.

Q. Is there any­thing you would have liked to see achieved in 2018 that didn’t make it to coun­cil’s agenda?

A. Un­doubt­edly, it was the fact that we chal­lenged the prov­ince’s mu­nic­i­pal fund­ing ap­proaches in­clud­ing the equal­iza­tion for­mula that does not count Mount Al­li­son stu­dents as res­i­dents in the town. In the end we re­ceived no ac­tion by the prov­ince. As a re­sult, we’re now pur­su­ing op­tions through the UMNB to see if there are other ways in which we can make up for this loss in rev­enue not only here, but in other towns as well.

Q. What is your top pri­or­ity for the New Year and are there any other items that top town coun­cil’s to-do list as we move into 2019?

A. I think our No. 1 pri­or­ity for

2019 is to con­tinue with our in­vest­ments in strate­gic in­fra­struc­ture projects. For ex­am­ple, our work on the Lorne Street Phase 2 project is a sig­nif­i­cant one de­signed to mit­i­gate on­go­ing flood­ing threats. Also on the radar are con­nect­ing the re­cently do­nated Daniel Lund Prop­erty to the Water­fowl Park, and cel­e­brat­ing both its 30th an­niver­sary and the gen­eros­ity of the Lund es­tate.

Our Strate­gic Plan will help us stay on course, but cer­tainly other items that that are on our 2019 to-do list in­clude:

– Busi­ness strat­egy: Don­ald Savoie’s re­cent book “Look­ing for Boot­straps” de­tails a cen­tury of de­vel­op­ment fail­ures based on gov­ern­ment as­sis­tance to en­ter­prises. Re­cent sug­ges­tions are that towns should con­tinue that same ap­proach but at its own costs. Sackville can­not and should not com­pete with “give-aways” and our re­cent suc­cess has proven other fac­tors are more ef­fec­tive. An ap­pro­pri­ate busi­ness de­vel­op­ment, at­trac­tion and re­ten­tion strat­egy is needed to help our com­mu­nity re­main healthy in the years to come.

– As­set Man­age­ment Sys­tem: Lo­cal gov­ern­ments own over 60 per cent of in­fra­struc­ture in this coun­try. How­ever, cur­rent fi­nan­cial sys­tems re­flect the his­toric ap­proach of one-time (of­ten cost­shared) in­vest­ments in a new as­set, lim­ited op­er­a­tion and main­te­nance bud­gets, and few fi­nan­cial plans for re­newal af­ter its use­ful life ends. Lo­cal gov­ern­ments are now be­ing pushed to­ward full life cy­cle man­age­ment and fi­nanc­ing. While ap­pro­pri­ate, this will re­quire fun­da­men­tal changes in how Sackville plans, bud­gets and com­mu­ni­cates its fi­nan­cial man­age­ment of cap­i­tal as­sets. The first

steps along that path will be taken this com­ing year.

– Con­tin­ued Ac­tion on Flood threats: While progress con­tin­ues, the pace needs to be quick­ened, and both the short and long-term im­pli­ca­tions for the town fully ex­plored. This can­did dis­cus­sion may re­veal some com­plex chal­lenges.

– De­vel­op­ment of knowl­edge & ed­u­ca­tion as­sets: Sackville shares a larger prob­lem that the labour force is not well matched with the labour qual­i­ties that busi­nesses are seek­ing. Change re­quires a dif­fer­ent ap­proach to ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing – if that ap­proach can also cre­ate new ideas on ser­vices, prod­ucts, or mar­kets that can be turned into new busi­ness ven­tures – then the lo­ca­tion where these fea­tures are in place stand to do very well.

The re­cent de­ci­sion to close Marshview opens a chance for this area to as­sist ed­u­ca­tion re­form and sup­port it in ways that can help pro­duce the de­sired labour force as well as cre­ate the lo­cal con­di­tions to com­mer­cial­ize the ideas the process gen­er­ates. A com­mu­nity known for such ed­u­ca­tion and busi­ness fea­tures would make Sackville a truly at­trac­tive place for mul­ti­ple en­trepreneurs, fam­i­lies, stu­dents and ven­tures.

– No New Brunswick in­fra­struc­ture funds: The an­nounce­ment that cost-shared in­fra­struc­ture will be very lim­ited in this prov­ince for at least the com­ing year will in­flu­ence how all of the chal­lenges above are ad­dressed. It does not mean we should stop, but it does make each of them more dif­fi­cult to ad­dress. Co­op­er­a­tion, ad­vo­cacy, com­mu­ni­ca­tion and cre­ativ­ity will be more im­por­tant than ever.

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