Developing the Strait of Canso

PORT HOOD: A huge economic opportunity exists locally, and those leading the working group in charge of the Strait of Canso Development project have a plan to take advantage of it.

“We recognize that [the Strait of Canso] is still undeveloped but there’s lots of potential,” said Jeff Stanley, who visited Inverness Municipal Council on May 7 to speak on the group’s behalf.

Stanley serves as the Director of Economic Development and Tourism for the Municipality of the County of Richmond. He was joined by Amanda Mombourquette, executive director of the Strait Area Chamber of Commerce, and Karen Malcolm, account manager for Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. All are a part of the working group.

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Stanley gave councillors an update on the history of the Strait of Canso Development project and fleshed out what’s coming up in the future.

In December of 2016, the Strait Area Mayors and Wardens Committee passed a motion to pursue port development opportunities in an industry-led process. This changed the conversation from governance to business development, and was a catalyst to begin collaborative discussions.

The following year, a gathering of industry stakeholders established an ongoing forum to advance development in the Strait of Canso and to identify opportunities for growth. A framework to advance economic development priorities was developed.

Last November, just under 30 industry and development leaders gathered to review the framework and create a new collaborative approach to economic development along the Strait of Canso.

From the November meeting, six goals were identified.

The first goal was to have stakeholders work collectively to maximize sustainable economic opportunities and to stimulate growth of the economic zone. The second goal was to ensure information is easily accessible by all users and stakeholders.

Goal number three is to make sure the Strait of Canso economic zone has a focused strategy for business recruitment. With that is goal number four, to make sure business retention and expansion is collaboratively supported, and goal number five, to make sure barriers to economic growth are reduced.

The crowning jewel of the plan is goal number six, which is having new business investment attracted to the Strait of Canso economic zone.

“You might be wondering how municipalities can help,” he said. “You can help, and part of that is to continue to support the focus on an industry-led Strait of Canso opportunity.

“The other way you can support is by supporting the REN [Eastern Strait Regional Enterprise Network] work on this. The REN has been good to provide some staff to this.”