By Darrell Cole
AMHERST, N.S. – Cumberland North MLA Brian Skabar is suggesting an alternative to the regional enterprise networks being proposed by the province.
Skabar said he would like to see Cumberland County work more closely with neighbouring Westmorland County in New Brunswick when the Cumberland Regional Development Authority closes its doors in a few months.
“Amherst and Cumberland County has far more in common with Sackville. In many ways we’re the same community,” Skabar said. “It would be nice if our two communities could work more closely for the economic benefit of both. It shouldn’t be us versus them because there are so many examples of people living in Sackville and working in Amherst and vice versa.”
Skabar said there are several examples of companies in the industrial park that have employees from New Brunswick, while there are a lot of people in Cumberland County who work in Sackville.
When the new regional enterprise network model is put in place, Cumberland County will be grouped with development agencies in Colchester and East Hants. The move is part of a plan to reduce the number of development agencies in the province from 12 to six. The change became necessary after the federal government announced last year that its funding would be cut this spring.
Skabar said he has yet to talk to Cumberland County’s municipal leaders about his idea, but has raised it with New Brunswick Premier David Alward, who he met at an aboriginal affairs ministers meeting in Winnipeg.
He said he also plans to talk further with Tantramar MLA Mike Olscamp about the idea and said P.E.I Premier Robert Ghiz has also expressed an interest in extending the development network to include the area around Borden.
“Nova Scotia definitely has an appetite for that and Premier Alward has said New Brunswick is interested. I’ve also been told the premier of Prince Edward Island is also interested,” Skabar said. “That being said, it’s up to the municipalities and my colleague across the border, (Tantramar MLA) Mike Olscamp, is also interested.”