Sod turning ceremony held at the site of the Pictou County Wellness Centre. Left to Right: Ron Baillie, Warden of the Municipality of the County of Pictou and Chair of the PCWCB Authority; Minister Ross Landry, MLA Pictou Centre; the Honourable Peter MacKay, MP for Central Nova; New Glasgow Mayor Barrie MacMillan; Westville Mayor Roger MacKay; Stellarton Mayor Joe Gennoe; Pictou Mayor Joe Hawes; and Trenton Mayor Glen MacKinnon
Each of the mayors, as well as the warden, gave those attending the session on an update on some of the projects currently underway in the county. They include:
Pictou County Wellness Centre - New Glasgow Mayor Barrie MacMillan explained the assets of the Wellness centre will include a twin pad arena with two NHL size ice surfaces, a six lane 25 metre pool, a warm water therapeutic pool, a regulation size gym with a rock climbing wall, a dedicated fitness centre, multi-purpose community and conference space, a walking track, dedicated youth and child care rooms and licenses child care facility, multi use spaces , food service and administration offices. The total cost of the project is $35 million with $9 million coming collectively form the six municipalities throughout Pictou County, and a total of $22 million coming from the Government of Canada and the Province of Nova Scotia while County residents can expect the launch of a corporate campaign to raise the additional $4 million needed to construct the facility to begin this month. A contest is also planned in the near future to name the facility. “We’ve made remarkable progress. We will be building a facility that is accessible and will have an energy efficient design,” stated Mayor MacMillan."The Wellness Centre will play a critical role in propelling Pictou County’s status as a great place to live, work and do business.”
Shared Services - Stellarton Mayor Joe Gennoe says the six municipalities are now looking at new ways to streamline services to provide residents with what they need and want in the most environmentally-friendly and economically feasible way possible. Stellarton Mayor Joe Gennoe reviewed the creation of the Pictou County Shared Services Authority which replaced the Pictou County District Planning Commission which had three separate boards responsible for land use planning, waste collection, and sewage treatment which was based on uniform tax assessment among the local municipalities.
Municipal Infrastructure - Pictou Mayor Joe Hawes urged businesses to push for the provincial and federal governments to increase funding for infrastructure projects from the traditional one-third model. Municipalities aren’t able to do as much as is necessary with their funding solely coming from residential tax rates, he said. Municipalities were required to complete the ICSP exercise to qualify for funds from the Canada / Nova Scotia gas tax agreement. “We are willing to put up one-third of the funding,” he said. “An infrastructure master plan needs to be part of our county- wide governance.”
Recruitment and Retention Strategy - Guests at the municipal business breakfast were introduced to a long term recruitment and retention strategy to secure talented professionals to work and live in our region of Pictou County by Westville Mayor roger MacKay and CEO of the Pictou County Health Authority Pat Lee. Within the next 20 years, nearly 30 per cent of Pictou County’s population will be over the age of 65 explained Mayor MacKay. The impact will be substantial and business and community leaders must prepare for the future now. One of the key steps that are being taken to address the situation is an attraction and retention program titled, “Pictou County- Where Work Meets Life.”
Pat Lee, CEO of the Pictou County Health Authority, said that surveys done with business leaders, expatriates and new residents helped create the concept. “We were told consistently that Pictou County is a place where work meets life – and that you can have both,” he explained to the more than150 people in attendance at the Museum of Industry in Stellarton.
Pictou County businesses were encouraged to use the Where Work Meets Life logo and images, as well as to highlight regional success stories, in their communications and marketing efforts. The program will provide businesses with resources that include a Pictou County careers portal, a community asset map, and recruitment-focused marketing materials.
“Cooperation among Pictou County’s municipal leaders is necessary and is helping the county forge ahead,” said National Minister of Defense Peter MacKay who was guest speaker at the morning event. I think there is a very positive feeling- there’s a sense of the momentum,” Minister MacKay said.
DSME Trenton - Trenton Mayor Glen MacKinnon highlighted some of the most recent developments at the plant, indicating that more than 30 people have been hired, 10 of whom are former Trenton Works employees. The major employment drive will begin in early 2011. Central Nova MP Peter MacKay spoke briefly about DSME while addressing the group and indicated there was another Korean company who is currently looking at a partnership that will install windmills in the area. Mayor MacKinnon praised the local business community’s cooperation from preliminary discussions with representatives from the parent South Korean company Daewoo until the joint agreement it signed with the province last spring.
Municipal governments have thrown their support behind the program, added Warden Ronnie Baillie. “We’ll support businesses any way we possibly can to attract and retain professionals,” Baillie said. “Whether it’s infrastructure, housing, anything is possible.”