As I write this, it’s been barely three hours since our first visitors disembarked from the maiden Nova Star voyage, returning the historical sealink and reconnecting our Towns and Countries, families and friends. This day will most definitely go down in history, and that is due equally to the ship’s return and the reception for our visitors. It said loudly, “WELCOME! We’re so very glad you’re here!” and showed a community that has never lost hope, now waving at the larger-than-life proof that believing and hard work DOES see results.
The week itself was a journey. I first want to thank Nova Star for hosting me as Mayor for the entire week. Much was accomplished, and the value of forging partnerships, having conversations, and creating a desire for our area cannot be overstated. The press received for Yarmouth alone was phenomenal and a price tag can’t be put on the networking that took place. The week was filled interviews with local, state/provincial and national newspapers, television stations such as FOX, CBS, NBC, CBC, CTV and others. An industry expert said the coverage we received in the Boston Globe alone was worth close to $500,000. And we can add a couple million more to that as a result of the media coverage and speaking opportunities. A great week.
It was a privilege and honor to smash the bottle of champagne (yes in one swing!) in christening the ship in Boston, and it was a delight to cut the ribbon at the official launching of the vessel, with Mayor Brennan of Portland. The Mayor and I spent the entire day together discussing common issues and ways in which our communities can partner, and he gave me a thorough tour of his city. This afternoon Portland’s City Manager and his wife were our guests at Town Hall here in Yarmouth, where a number of our departments and partners had the opportunity to engage in discussions with regard to further partnering opportunities.
One component that made the tour of the northeastern seaboard of the U.S. successful was the full presence of our Yarmouth and Acadien Shores (YASTA) representatives. What I saw first hand was a team on a mission. The work done in preparation for the trip meant the success level was inevitable – they met with countless tour companies, city departments, local business owners and more, going from one meeting to the next and ensuring any spaces in the calendar were quickly filled. They successfully sponsored the Portland tour and press conference event, and frankly did us all proud.
So now our ship comes in every day. And as I’ve said before, NOW the work begins. Our hope is that you see what Council is doing. Much is in the works. The Communities in Bloom just did a cleanup of the Town, new signage and wayfinding is up, we’re working hard to find a solution to an off-leash dog facility, and bumpouts are on the menu for downtown. Today I signed the intermunicipal agreement for the WREN which means our economic development team will be able to dig their heels in. A Seniors’ advisory committee policy is being established to show Yarmouth off. And yes, we’re looking to draw more young professionals to the area as well. Transit is being looked into by consultants and a local transit committee is working diligently on your behalf in this regard. Fuel and oil tenders are being reviewed to see if we’re being efficient in these areas, we’re looking at committees and boards to see where finances can be streamlined, we’re looking into green energy, and putting up lights in the south end of town. That’s just the beginning.
The Municipal Indicators were released here in Nova Scotia this past week, and as a town we find ourselves in a very good state. But that does not just happen. We have taken an approach that sets us apart in funding our amortization and we partner successfully with other municipalities. The value of partnerships cannot be understated: We would be unable to provide many services at the current level without partnering. It’s a win-win for all involved.
There have been a number of controversial issues lately and while everyone will not be happy with every decision, it’s important that the decisions we make as Council are made with the entire Town in mind. I believe we’re accomplishing that. I encourage each of you to check out facts on any issues you deem important. There’s been a lot of misinformation out there lately and I say very respectfully that the squeaky wheel isn’t always laden with all the facts, and it may not always get the grease.
On May 23 Councillor Langille and I will attend the Ivany Report workshop in Truro. My strong sense is that we’ll be discussing a different way of doing things. One of the items on the agenda is “Attitude” and I suspect we will be encouraged to do things differently: petty politics must stop and those with the guts to make tough decisions to move the Province forward must step up. And Nova Scotia as we know it will begin to change. It’s time to focus on what’s important, or we all lose.
So with a ship in the harbour, let’s give it all we have to keep her here while and while giving the same attention to doing everything in our power to continue moving . We’ve got this – if we do it together. I’m in!