St. Mary’s discusses environmentally sustainable economic development

Workshop with Engage Nova Scotia fosters review of strategic plan

By Rob Wolf    

SHERBROOKE – Halfway through its mandate, the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s council did a check-in with the community this past weekend, with an eye to strategic planning for the future.

Community members, municipal staff and representatives of the Eastern Strait Regional Enterprise Network met in the new SHOPS facility in Sherbrooke on Saturday, Sept. 22, to review the strategic plan initiated by the municipality two years ago.

Engage Nova Scotia Chief Engagement Officer Danny Graham led the workshop, which featured breakout sessions designed to encourage participants to review the municipality’s current strategic plan and create a vision for the future. Participants identified three key questions that need to be addressed in order to grow St. Mary’s: How do we engage people to stay or move to St. Mary’s? How do we increase economic development? And how do we increase citizen engagement?

St. Mary’s Warden Mike Moser and his staff were encouraged by the turnout of more than 40 participants, and the energy they exhibited.

“It was a good opportunity to check in with our original strategic planning document, to see where we are halfway through our mandate as a council,” Moser offered, “It was an extremely positive day, and we have taken lots of ideas that the people have brought forward in this meeting to look at where we want to go as a community.”

Among the key ideas identified was the need to develop new economic activity in an environmentally sustainable way. Ideas included increasing tourism through hiking trails, ocean-based activities and other environmentally friendly pursuits.

District 3/5 Council Member Kaytland Smith told The Journal, “Everyone in the room was there to make the people of St. Mary’s it’s absolute greatest asset; the only way to do that is through communication, trust and collaboration…The Engage St. Mary’s Event was a great step in the right direction to seeing the future we all want.”

Local business owner Sean Ashe said he found the discussions quite encouraging and that the turnout exceeded expectations. “It’s nice to see people come out to support this.”

He noted that “previous meetings only had a handful of people so this was good.” Ashe commented on the need to look at the local tourism infrastructure so the area can be ready to handle anticipated growth. He also noted “that it is important to pick one item to take action with, so that we work on it and see results.”

Council and participants are planning on keeping the momentum from the workshop going with additional meetings slated for the future.