The Digby district office of the Department of Natural Resources could be moving to Annapolis County.
Gordon Wilson, deputy CAO of the Municipality of the District of Digby, says several key bureaucrats within the provincial government confirmed they are considering moving the Digby County DNR offices from Hillgrove to Cornwallis in Annapolis County.
The provincial government announced in April this year its plans to move the Department of Fisheries headquarters and 22 jobs to the “Digby-Clementsport area”.
Wilson says the provincial government is looking at one lease for the Department of Fisheries headquarters, the DNR regional office as well as the Department of Agriculture that already has an office in Cornwallis.
Wilson says it would have been too expensive for just Fisheries to move into Cornwallis Park building alone.
“This is an 11th hour move to firm up a business case for moving the provincial Fisheries Department,” says Wilson. “I’ve talked to a lot of stakeholders about this and no one sees it as anyway beneficial for the area to move DNR out of Digby County.”
DNR currently employs six full-time staff and seven seasonal employees out of the Hillgrove office in North Range about 12 km southwest of Digby.
DNR already has a field office in Annapolis County in Lawrencetown.
Wilson wonders what a move like this would mean to services in Digby County.
“How would this affect fire fighting services in Clare?” says Wilson. “How long is it going to take them to get to a forest fire at that end of the county?
“We are the only county in Nova Scotia without an overnight camping park as it is. How is this going to affect the maintenance of parks in the county? Mavillette Beach?”
Wilson says it will be a long drive for a burning permit, a fur harvester’s license or any of the other services provided by Hillgrove.
“And down the road as the current staff retires or moves on, where do you think the people who move into those jobs in Cornwallis are going to live?” says Wilson. “It’s doubtful they will live in Digby County.”
The Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal (who handle office lease arrangements for the provincial government) would not confirm the move or comment on the issue to the Courier.
Wilson started asking questions after rumours reached municipal council.
Deputy warden Jimmy MacAlpine added the issue to the agenda of the district’s committee of the whole meeting on Monday, Aug. 13.
“We need to find out if this is happening,” said MacAlpine. “We want more government jobs moving in, not leaving the area.”
Wilson says the Hillgrove offices are old and that Transportation and DNR were considering replacing them.
He believes the county would be better served if DNR established their offices in Weymouth.
“That would right some wrongs and they’d be in a better position to service the county from the there.”