Minister meets with Digby, rest of province to discuss industry

Published on March 1, 2017

Lloyd Hines, minister of Natural Resources, met with business people Feb. 28 in Digby and other areas across Nova Scotia to hear their ideas on how best to rejuvenate natural resource industries around the province.

©Sara Ericsson

DIGBY, NS - A provincial cabinet minister says input from local business people are key to bringing forestry and mineral industries back to southwest Nova Scotia.

Minister Lloyd Hines held a meeting Feb. 28 at MLA Gordon Wilson’s Conway office, where he met with local business people. The meeting’s purpose was to hear their ideas on how to rejuvenate natural resource industries, mainly mineral and forestry, back to the county and its neighbours.

Hines said reaction was positive from people who attended, who all provided ideas on where to go from here.

“The best discussions happen when people can bring any opinion, positive or negative, to the table in an open discussion,” he said.

“Digby’s business community is full of realists who understand these industries are going through a rough patch.”

Hines, who worked in natural resources for many years, said these ideas are key to moving natural resource industries forward because seasoned industry workers have experience and know what will work, and what won’t.

He said he hopes more meetings with business people in Digby and across the province will lead to new business opportunities for rural Nova Scotia.

The minister cited Bowater Mersey Paper Company’s closure in 2012 as a major hit to Nova Scotia’s southwest region’s forestry industry. This region is a ‘fibre basket,’ meaning it is filled with trees that were once sent to Bowater for pulp and paper production.  The goal now is to find and create new business to keep use of this market.

The burden to improve and create new initiatives within forestry lies with landowners, said Hines, since they own a vast majority of Nova Scotia’s forest cover. Privately owned land makes up for 77 per cent of Nova Scotia’s trees, while Crown land held by the government makes up the remaining 23 per cent.

However, new trade agreements such as The Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) hold promise for the area, said Hines, since Nova Scotia as a province depends on external markets. Digby's local fishing industry, for example, has a huge trading partner in China, where lobster is a highly sought after product.

"We're hoping to find the China for this market," he said.