Guysborough council reconsiders ESREN status

GUYSBOROUGH: They were in, then they were out, and now, they may be back in again.

Municipal councillors in Guysborough want to know they’ll be getting a bang for their buck if they decide to rejoin the Eastern Strait Regional Enterprise Network (ESREN).

Last March, officials in all five of the municipal units of the ESREN – the Municipality of the District of Guysborough, the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s, the Municipality of the County of Antigonish, the Town of Antigonish and the Town of Port Hawkesbury, all submitted notices of intent to withdraw.

During the regular monthly meeting of council on January 16, Guysborough councillors heard a presentation by Maria Ludlow, one of the ESREN’s economic development officers.

Since the withdraw notices have been submitted, ESREN officials have been working with their municipal and provincial counterparts to address the concerns brought forward by the municipal officials, specifically provincial funding, the governance model of the ESREN, and the required three-year commitment.

Following the meeting, Vernon Pitts, the municipality’s warden, said if they were to rejoin the ESREN, they expect a high level of service.

“If we’re making an investment, we expect to see a return on it, we don’t go into something just for the point of repeating it,” he said. “It should be one-stop shopping, whether you’re going through the REN, or economic development, it should be one-stop shopping. If we’re paying for a service, we expect to receive that service.”

Pitts advised it has to make financial sense for the municipality and noted they’ll discuss their status in the ESREN during budget deliberations and strategic planning sessions.

“Council will weigh out if we’re getting [a] bang for our buck, number one – number two is, can we afford it?” he said. “We’re in a time of restraint, we have a falling tax revenue [and] resources, and we have to govern ourselves accordingly.”