Housing, employability, immigration top agenda for development group

PORT HOOD: Representatives of Community Committee Cheticamp – LeMoine (CCCL) appeared before Inverness Municipal Council early last week to give council members the lowdown on things taking place in the northern part of the county.

“One thing we set when we constituted CCCL was to appear before council every year,” said Paul Gallant, president of the group. He’s also the education sector representative for the CCCL.

“We’re here to give a report on what’s been happening.”

The committee has a total of 12 sector representatives in charge of things like health, communications, and environment. With Gallant were Yvette McPhee (tourism representative) and Stephane Sogne (business representative). Also on the CCCL are councillor Laurie Cranton and deputy warden Alfred Poirier.

“The first year, we had a hard go,” Gallant said, noting the group has been operating for three years. “Last year, we were sort of optimistic that this might work, but this year we’re doing pretty well. It’s not fantastic yet, but we’re doing pretty well.”

The CCCL takes what Gallant defines as a “holistic” approach to community development, which is to say the group looks at what effects things like employability will have on, for example, housing or municipal services. Those three matters are issues the group will be looking at over the next 12 months, along with immigration and infrastructure developments.

The group has the distinction of being the first and only municipal advisory committee in the province, in accordance with the Municipal Government Act. Its mission is to ensure a two-way, open and transparent dialogue between the folks in the Acadian region and municipal council.

Some of the more recent activities of the group included a meeting on housing last September. Another group was recently created to look into child care.

Jim Mustard, councillor for Inverness, asked Gallant to explain what he meant by the term employability. Gallant replied that it’s important to think of employability as one part of an overall system.

“We can’t say that if we bring in this company, all our problems will be resolved,” he said. “Even if we had well paying jobs available, there’s no housing for people. What about daycare? We have to engage the community at different levels to push the same way.”

Salaries are one thing that will encourage people to work in the area, but immigration also has to be looked at – and not necessarily from a long way away. Bringing people into Cheticamp from elsewhere in the province is an option, Gallant added.