With 2016 now a recent memory, there is hope that 2017 will be filled with good news stories across the four counties.
The popular opinion is that 2016 was a terrible year globally, but in the Strait area alone, the past 12 months were also witness to many positive developments.
Late last month, Bear Paw Pipeline received provincial government approval to construct a natural gas line from Goldboro to the Bear Head LNG facility near Point Tupper, paving the way for progress on a major project for the region.
On the subject of that facility, after clearing some major hurdles last year in the form of approval from the United States Department of Energy, Bear Head LNG is now in a position to export and import Liquified Natural Gas from Richmond County.
On the other side of the Strait of Canso, Melford International Terminals’ partnership which was announced last summer provides the project with the necessary private investment to become a reality.
Staying in Guysborough County, the Black Point Quarry is another project that is moving along impressively. The large scale quarry could inject badly needed economic activity and jobs into the eastern portion of the county.
In Guysborough, the Chedabucto Recreation Complex is quickly taking shape and could provide residents with the recreation infrastructure and services needed to keep residents healthy and entice others to move to the region.
Antigonish town and county continues to grow at an impressive rate, with residential growth remaining steady.
With more expansion and diversification plans in the works and underway at StFX, to go along with plans for more affordable housing, it is conceivable that this growth could continue for some time.
Inverness County experienced its share of changes last year and in recent years with the completion of the impressive Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs golf courses and resulting economic spin-offs. The success of the community’s Chase the Ace fundraiser in 2015 also helped in the completion of a brand new multi-purpose facility for those with special needs and others who require specific services.
Even the controversy over permit fees charged to flea markets and temporary vendors within the Town of Port Hawkesbury showed that the economy is healthy enough to accommodate food trucks and other such vendors, along with existing businesses.
Although a sign of an aging population, news that the Strait-Richmond Hospital received funding for a renal dialysis unit was very welcome to those who now require dialysis and for the many others who will in the near future. These types of investments will keep people in the region and help them live longer, healthier lives.
The provincial government making it easier for Nova Scotians to access alternative energy and loosening rules governing craft breweries and smaller scale distilleries could spell big things in the region, considering the companies providing green and sustainable energy, as well as the existing distillers and others who could provide jobs and attract investment to the Strait area.
Another development which could mean more jobs and the stabilization of a current employer emerged late in the year with news that the Cabot Gypsum plant in Point Tupper is increasing production, adding more shifts and hiring millwrights.
Roadblocks and problems will emerge in this new year, but considering this much promise, there are many reasons to be hopeful that 2017 will be a good one.