DIGBY, N.S.: Clare-Digby MLA Gordon Wilson says the region has had a successful 2017 and he’s looking forward to tackling multiple projects in 2018.
For the County’s successes this year, Wilson named his top five areas of growth:
1. The positive state of the local resource sector, including the lobster and scallop fisheries and the aquaculture industry
2. Two major infrastructure projects are underway, with the construction on the new rail trail bridge and the initial $17.6 million build stage of the first new stretch of controlled access highway between Digby and Marshalltown
3. In the health care sector, three new doctors were added to the local roster in Digby, and the Digby Hospital dialysis unit should be opening to tender in early to mid-2018
4. In Clare, funds for a new long term care facility have been promised to replace the existing Villa Acadienne in Meteghan, a $30 million addition to the County. Wilson said the Villa board is currently working on finishing the business plan and once that’s completed and location and site plan approvals are all in place, the funding announcement can be made. “I have absolutely no doubt that this project will keep moving forward. The board is making great progress, and as soon as I heard the Premier announce this project during his first term, I knew it would happen. Unfortunately, the wheels of bureaucracy grind slowly, but we’re getting closer,” Wilson added.
5. And finally, Wilson was excited about the $2.25 million centre in provincial funding earmarked for the building of a community centre for the Jordantown, Acaciaville and Conway communities.
“I’m working with my federal counterpart to complete the federal application for further funding,” Wilson said. “This project is a statement to the long term systemic racism. Although we still have problems to contend with, the building of this community centre is a large step in the right direction.”
Looking ahead to 2018, Wilson named three initiatives that are a boon to the region:
1. Weymouth will be part of a province-wide pilot project, Share the Road initiative. One of eight locations in the province selected, Weymouth will allow local ATV owners and tourists the legal right to drive on the roads into town for gas, food or accommodations
2. A forest technician by trade, Wilson said wants to discover new markets for the forest industry. He recently led a tour to PEI to examine that province’s use of biomass for heating fuel. According to Wilson, PEI now has 28 government facilities – hospitals and schools – heated by wood chips and he hopes Nova Scotia will soon follow their lead
3. And finally, while Wilson will continue his efforts to recruit more doctors for the region, he’s concerned about the ongoing shortage of unskilled and semi-skilled workers in the region and now has a goal to help craft a solution.
“About 90 per cent of the employers we know here… their biggest challenge is finding workers,” Wilson said. “In the new year, I’d like to bring all of the key people into one room so we can hear their concerns firsthand, frame the problems and work toward creative solutions.
“I’m not sure if we require a different form of support or if the government needs to change policies, possibly to incentivize people, but we need to see if we can find a new direction. If we can get these people together to discuss this issue, it would be nice to see some recommendations developed within a year’s time.”
Wilson summed up the year’s achievements and the region’s future with optimism.
“I’m very fortunate here in our area,” Wilson said. “We have a lot of good things going on.”
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