Town of Antigonish ex­presses sup­port for ESREN

Now waits to hear where other mu­nic­i­pal part­ners sit

The Casket - - Local - RICHARD MACKEN­ZIE richard­[email protected]­cas­ket.ca

Town of Antigonish coun­cil sup­ports the con­tin­u­a­tion of the East­ern Strait Re­gional En­ter­prise Net­work (ESREN), but what about sup­port from the other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties con­tribut­ing to the or­ga­ni­za­tion?

Wait­ing on those an­swers was where dis­cus­sion on ESREN ended for town coun­cil dur­ing its reg­u­lar monthly meet­ing Nov. 19.

“Prob­a­bly about a year ago, we all put in our no­tice to end our mem­ber­ship by the end of the year,” Antigonish Mayor Lau­rie Boucher told re­porters af­ter the meet­ing, not­ing it was a pre­cau­tion­ary move by the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to avoid be­ing left alone sup­port­ing the re­gional REN.

“Since then, we’ve come to­gether. We re­ally like the spirit of the REN and want it to suc­ceed but, in or­der for it to suc­ceed, we re­ally need the co­op­er­a­tion and com­mit­ment of all par­ties.”

Antigonish part­ners with the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of the County of Antigonish, the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of the District of St. Mary’s, the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of the District of Guys­bor­ough, the Town of Mul­grave and the Town of Port Hawkes­bury in mak­ing up ESREN.

Boucher said the get-to­geth­ers were about try­ing to get to the bot­tom of the chal­lenges the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties were find­ing with the REN.

“We tried to find out where the lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion was,” she said.

“The prob­lem in some mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties is that they weren’t re­ceiv­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion as to what the REN was do­ing. They feel they’re giv­ing a lot of money for the lit­tle in­put they have; they have a prob­lem with that.

“An­other prob­lem, the prov­ince was not ful­fill­ing their full fi­nan­cial con­tri­bu­tion. So that was an­other thing which had to be rec­ti­fied. The third thing was we were hop­ing each mu­nic­i­pal­ity could give a com­mit­ment of, at least, three years.”

Boucher said work has been done to ad­dress prob­lems one and two. For com­mu­ni­ca­tion, it was agreed a coun­cil mem­ber could sit on the ESREN board, just not as a vot­ing mem­ber.

And with prob­lem two, she noted a meet­ing she and Port Hawkes­bury Mayor Brenda Chisholm-beaton had with the provin­cial min­is­ter, re­sult­ing in suc­cess.

“Since then, they said they would fund their full com­mit­ment go­ing for­ward, and they did look at the gov­er­nance model and made a lit­tle change to it,” she said, her sec­ond point ref­er­enc­ing the board par­tic­i­pa­tion sit­u­a­tion.

“We’re hop­ing that will open up the lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the board and in­di­vid­ual coun­cils and that will be enough to help com­mu­ni­ca­tion, so ev­ery­one knows what the real ben­e­fit of the REN is.

“Now we’re go­ing back to each coun­cil and see­ing what the com­mit­ment is again. We’ve solved two of those prob­lems so, I guess, the big ques­tion is; as a mu­nic­i­pal­ity, do you want to be in the REN or not?”

Boucher said the town is “proud” to fully sup­port ESREN.

“We do be­lieve it’s do­ing good things; we have seen a di­rect re­sult of that in a cou­ple of pro­jects, and we would like to see it con­tinue, so our sup­port is there,” she said.

“We’ll have to wait and see what other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties come in to see if the for­ma­tion will be favourable to us or not. We’re hop­ing that, within the month of De­cem­ber, each mu­nic­i­pal­ity will bring it back to their coun­cils and see where they are … just to have an idea of where we stand with all five mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.”

The fol­low­ing evening (Nov. 20), Antigonish County coun­cil held their monthly pub­lic meet­ing and War­den Owen Mccar­ron was asked about coun­cil’s per­spec­tive on the ESREN sit­u­a­tion.

“Over the next few weeks, coun­cil will take the op­por­tu­nity to sit down [and] eval­u­ate the re­sponses from the prov­ince on their side of com­mit­ment to ESREN,” Mccar­ron told re­porters af­ter the meet­ing.

“As a coun­cil, we’ll be in a po­si­tion, prob­a­bly by our next coun­cil meet­ing [in De­cem­ber], to let ESREN know where we are as a county.”

Richard Macken­zie

The fu­ture of the East­ern Strait Re­gional En­ter­prise Net­work was a topic of dis­cus­sion for Antigonish Town Coun­cil dur­ing its Nov. 19 meet­ing.

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