ANTIGONISH: The area’s regional enterprise network will likely be a topic of discussion for some local councils next month.
During Monday’s regular meeting of Antigonish Town Council, members voted to show their support for the Eastern Strait Regional Enterprise Network (ESREN).
Antigonish Town Mayor Laurie Boucher said about 18 months ago, municipal members of the REN submitted a notice to end their membership by the end of the year.
“We really like the spirit of the REN, we want it to succeed, but in order for it to succeed, we have to have cooperation, we have to have commitment of all parties,” said Boucher. “Part of the problem with some of the municipalities was they weren’t [receiving] communication on what the REN was doing.”
Boucher said other issues included concerns of the province not fulfilling its full financial contribution and the REN requiring a three year commitment.
Boucher said the province has stated they will fund their full commitment going forward. A change to the governance model now allows council members to sit on the board but not be able to vote, which Boucher said will help with the communication issue.
“Now, we’re going back to each council and seeing what the commitment is again,” said Boucher. “So we’ve solved two of those problems. And I guess the big question is, as a municipality do you want to want to be in the REN or not?… I’m very proud to say that the Town of Antigonish is in full support of the REN.”
She said they will have to wait and see what other municipalities will also support ESREN and if the formation will be favourable to the town, adding she is hoping municipalities will bring the matter to their councils next month. She said they are hoping to have an idea of where the REN stands with the municipalities involved by the end of December.
Boucher said, from the town’s perspective, if everyone is still on board with the REN, there won’t be an issue with the three year commitment.
Following Tuesday’s regular meeting of council for the Municipality of the County of Antigonish, Warden Owen McCarron said council will review the matter.
“With ESREN, we asked the province a few questions and they’ve gotten back to us, so over the next few weeks, council will take the opportunity to sit down, evaluate the responses from the province… and then as a council, we’ll be in a position by our next council meeting to let ESREN know where we are as a county on going forward.”
When asked about the three year commitment, McCarron said the province indicated they don’t like making three-year funding commitments.
“We’re going to take the opportunity over the next month to look at all of the aspects and get a review from ESREN as to all the different things that they’ve done in and around the area over the past couple of years,” he added.