Rural living needs vocal supporters

Recently my wife Betty and I were relaxing with our glasses of wine while patiently waiting for the full moon’s lunar glow to peek from behind the clouds.

During our hour of observation, two cars drove past our home. I jokingly stated that “traffic was heavy tonight.”

That comment caused me to compare traffic on our through-street in Guysborough to what it would be like to reside in a city; be it Halifax, Toronto or Tokyo – for the sake of comparison.

When we choose Guysborough as our adopted community 12 years past, we were asked “Why Guysborough?” My response was a rhetorical question, “Why not?” The truth being that we and many others truly enjoy Nova Scotia’s rural lifestyle.

It is a documented fact that cities contain many more life stressors than rural locales. It is also a medical reality that too much stress, as well as specific types of anxieties, impact upon our physical and mental health in destructive ways.

In Nova Scotia’s current economic reality of out-migration, aging demographics and employment scarcities, it is imperative that communities and governments investigate and together strive to correct and/or eliminate factors that present regional negativities.

Recently Betty and I travelled to Nova Scotia’s South Shore. We visited family, engaged in local activities, saw attractions and happily returned home. In addition to seeing other parts of our beautiful province, that trip also presented us with a reminder that urban areas are the focal points of business and employment, but rural regions are the centres of food production and nature – all vital to a healthy society.

I believe that provincial and federal governments tend to sway the way of the “how-many-votes-will-we get” philosophy and give unbalanced attention to large urban areas at the expense of rural folks. As we all cannot, and do not, want to live in large centres, we should not be compelled to do such because of a lack of needs within our rural communities.

The requirements of rural Nova Scotians vary from those of Halifax or Sydney as does the needs of urban Ontario versus the necessities of urban Maritimers. Provincial and federal governments tend to listen to the loudest voices (most votes). One region should not be ignored for the betterment of another area.

I also believe that governments bow too quickly to the lure of anticipated economic improvements at the determinant of rural dwellers. Presently, we are hearing of a gold mining application in a game sanctuary and the possibility of gold mining in the Cobequid Mountain range to the determinant of one of Tatamagouche’s water sources. There is the reality that pulp mill effluents will likely be dumped into the Northumberland Strait. The clear cutting of Nova Scotia’s forests and the potential for fracking are two other contentious issues still percolating.

I am supportive of economic development but I am very hesitant about their costs when such ventures will cause irreparable damages to environments that will last for decades or forever.

A couple of months ago, the owner of the successful Tatamagouche Station Inn, Jimmy LaFresne, spoke at the Guysborough and Area Board of Trade AGM. One of the economic strategies that he shared dealt with his rural region working together for its overall betterment. If my memory serves me correctly, LaFresne stated that 28 different organizations exist within the Tatamagouche area; all with their specific mandates but all also quick to responds collectively over issues that impact maintaining and improving the economy of their community while protecting the integrities of the qualities of their rural lives. Mr. LaFresne’s presentation contained other examples of how his area has developed and prospered while upholding its rural flavour.

Therein lie our mutual challenges: how do we maintain the qualities of life that brought us to live rurally while striving to develop non-destructive, environmentally supportive ventures to sustain an area’s economic well-being?

  Ray Bates