We on the Shore cannot afford to stay silent anymore. To build a future, we as communities must become the authors of our own destinies.
The Musquodoboit Harbour and Area Chamber of Commerce and Civic Affairs is listening. We want to hear our community’s voice.
For years our “rural district growth centre” (which we prefer to call a “village”) has been sidelined, our immediate concerns appeased as the various, ever-changing government bodies include us in the “next study”, the next “strategic plan”. As a result, we have quietly shivered on the benches while the coach focused on the major players. The trouble is, the “coach” has basically forgotten about us. The top players (urban) are shining stars demanding a great deal of their time, and that means the sideliners (rural) will have to wait. Except the clock is ticking, and we're running out of time.
It's time to grab a mitt and get in the game, folks. We need you on our team. Check out our website (http://www.musquodoboitharbourchamber.com), come to our January meeting, buy a membership, and help us hit a home run for the Shore.
Musquodoboit Harbour has joined the growing list of “declining rural communities”, overwhelmed by urban planning strategies, tax increases, and urban-centric By-Laws. Who should be the most concerned? Communities east of the Harbour: West Jeddore, Head Jeddore, East Jeddore, Oyster Pond, Ostrea Lake, Clam Harbour, Lake Charlotte, Ship Harbour, Debaie's Cove, and everyone in between. Those living to the west need not be overly anxious, since their proximity to the city guarantees their growth. But if you live farther east of the economic centres of commerce like Musquodoboit Harbour and Sheet Harbour, the decline means life could get a whole lot more difficult for you and your family. If the gas station, grocery store, hardware store, or lunch spot you use on a regular basis ever closes down, life just got complicated. You might even decide it's just too expensive and time-consuming to live in this area anymore. Every time that happens, our team loses a player.
We are not alone in this dilemma. Rural communities exist all across Canada, and many are in decline due to the urban-centric political focus. What happens if these towns and villages cease to exist?
If we don't come together and try to fix our own problems, other people's ideas of a solution will be imposed upon us. They will take advantage of the lack of direction on our part, and what results might not end up being the best solution for the majority of people.
If we do nothing, we have no right to be shocked or upset when it happens.
So, based on the success achieved by a similar rural community (Sheet Harbour), we have taken solid steps forward. On January 20 2016, we invite you to learn about the future of Musquodoboit Harbour and to be a concrete contributor to that future.
We have requested funding from all three levels of government to help us fund an “Ekistics Master Conceptual Plan” (http://www.ekistics.net/). Based on our members' ideas, Ekistics will put together a full, well planned, well conceived plan for our community, turning our “visions” to projects which are “shovel-ready”. Since these plans will be complete with costing, we will be in a position to move to the front of the governmental funding line. Rob LeBlanc from Ekistics will be at our meeting on January 20 to answer all your questions.
So far, our Municipal Councillor, David Hendsbee, has committed to contributing $10,000 to this plan. We await commitment from our Provincial and Federal representatives and are optimistic they will see the benefit in supporting our rural way of life. In our first year of existence, our Chamber has raised $4,800 solely from membership dues, donations, and good stewardship.
A memberships renew (January 2016) and increase, and we add in community fundraisers, the Chamber could feasibly be able to write a cheque for $10,000.
By speaking up for ourselves and taking responsibility through this plan, we no longer consent to being put on hold. Armed with the Ekistics plan, its details clearly stated in black and white, our government representatives will have what they need to make the prosperous future of our area a reality. We will create an atmosphere worthy of increased economic investment, cultural diversity, and social well being. We will not be “passed over” anymore, because every question will have been answered.
The MHACCCA represents the voices of the people living between Ship Harbour to the Gaetz Brook line. That incorporates a whole lot of voices. Everyone within those boundaries has suggestions for the betterment of our area, and it is up to the MHACCCA to capture those ideas. We are responsible for providing fact based information and garnering more support for our community. While “shop local”, “buy local”, “hire local” are still obvious themes, they are not enough. 82,775 currently live in rural HRM—21% of the total HRM population. Another alarming statistic: 45% of all Nova Scotia's population lives in close proximity to towns and villages of 5,000 people or less. That's almost half.
Rural planning must encourage and assist our way of life. It must offer a true rural living experience to all potential newcomers to the area. Instead of losing our infrastructure to potential plans to build west of us, we must enhance and expand on our own core services.
We are rural Nova Scotians. We chose to live this way. That does not make us better or lesser than urban Nova Scotians, but it does make our needs different. Our greatest strength is our people, and we cannot do it without you.
“Musquodoboit’s strong natural and physical assets, as well as its amazing community spirit assure
the success of this project” - Ekistics
Article by the Board of the MHACCCA / December 2015
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