What We’ve Accomplished During My Second Term
Planning For the Future of New Minas
I pushed strongly for the expansion of the Village of New Minas Growth Center to include the area south of Highway 101 and for a Plan for the orderly growth of the Village. Accordingly, our County has established a two year project in partnership with the Village and with support funding by the Province to complete a New Minas Secondary Plan. I chair the Working Group, comprised of three Village Commissioners, two Municipal Councillors and seven citizens, that oversees and guides the development of this Plan.
Developing and Rehabilitating Roads
In my two previous terms on Council, roads have been at the top of my priority list. Significant gains have been made, particularly in District 8 with many local streets paved, Commercial Street/Highway 1 paved and the the Granite Drive Connector Road constructed (something I have worked long and hard on). Approximately 30 more roads in District 8 are to be paved this fall with costs shared by the County and the Province. The quality of our roads is an economic development factor and we must continue to improve that.
Protecting Agriculture Lands
I have been deeply involved in the New Municipal Planning Strategy as a member of the Planning Advisory Committee over the past four years. I am pleased that we finally released the Plan this past winter. Some of us pushed hard for the protection of Agriculture Land and I believe that we have made huge improvements in this regard. We now have to ensure that its implementation bears out the protective measure for agriculture land or amend it accordingly.
Improving our Economy and quality of Life
I am pleased to have been part of a Council that has been strategic on major investments that will improve our quality of life and the economics of the region. We are well on the way with phase one (phase two is in the formative stages of planning) of our Broadband initiative aiming to provide services to all of our residents.
Protecting Our Environment and Developed Green Energy
Similarly, we have been laying the foundation for green energy projects and making our contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emission and hopefully adding additional sources of revenues. We continue to work through the formative issues for the development of a wind energy farm in the southwest quadrant of our County and the development of a solar energy farm in the Meadowview area. We have also undertaken initiatives to green our fleet and collect solar energy on our buildings.
Moving Forward on Diversity and Inclusion
I have been privileged to Chair the Kings Diversity Committee, composed of private citizens and Councillors from the County and the three towns. I am excited about the work we have undertaken to combat racism and discrimination in our Community. We have awarded a contract to create an updated vision and plans to more actively and directly engage our businesses, organizations and our people to better understand racism and discrimination and to become part of the solution to create a diverse and inclusive society. Every member of society should have equal opportunity to share in the economic, political, social, cultural and recreational life of this wonderful County, Province and Country.
Resolving the New Minas Sewer Treatment Plant Odour
The outcry throughout last summer was deafening about the odour emanating from the Regional Sewer treatment Plant, not only in New Minas but as far away as Kentville and Port Williams, depending on the wind. I Chair, the Regional Sewer Committee and we insisted that a solution be found, through maintenance practices and/or capital investment…whatever was necessary. We did a major investment to replace the treatment pond aeration system and have further capital project on the books to de-sludge all five ponds. A subject matter consultant is being engage to do further review and ensure the development of best maintenance practices and adequate systems.
Improving Client Services
I believe that Kings County became more effective and efficient as we were guided by a carefully developed strategic plan at the Council level. I have heard from numerous clients that service delivery has improved significantly and it is great news to hear that from the taxpayers. But I also hear that Kings County is still not the greatest place to conduct business in terms of municipal services…more challenging than Halifax and other municipalities. It is my view that we need to have a review of client services delivery with full engagement of the client.
What We’ve Achieved During My First Term
Advocated for Better Governance
When I successfully competed for a spot on Council, I said I’d focus on better governance, financial management, New Minas roads improvements, being open for business and overall quality of life. Here’s what we’ve achieved in those areas.
Built Solid Relationships
We can’t be effective in isolation, so building bridges and establishing solid relationships with the New Minas Village Commission, the provincial government (particularly the local MLAs), businesses and the people were a hallmark of my first term as Councillor.
For road improvements in our district, the key to my success has been solid relationships with our MLAs (first Ramona Jennex and then Keith Irving). During my 1st term, we’ve repaved Prospect Road, Highbury Road, Milne Avenue, Dow Road, Roy Avenue, Kentucky Court, Jones Road, Turner Drive, Greg Avenue, Barron Drive and Aalders Avenue Extension. The Granite Drive Connector Road project, high on my priority list, will begin in the coming weeks. Once completed, this will enhance the traffic flow into the New Minas shopping district and relieve congestion on Commercial Street.
I served on the County Trails Committee prior to becoming a Councillor. My interest remains strong because of the health, environmental and economic benefits. During my 1st term, we’ve seen the trail completed all the way from the Kentville Research Station to Wolfville. It is great to meet so many of you involved in the healthy activities of walking, biking and jogging on this trail. I continue to push for a solution where there is a washout near the Research Station.
Opened Door to Better, Less Expensive Governance
I was a strong driver for the change from a “warden” system of governance, where elected Councillors elected a leader from amongst themselves, to a “mayor” system where you the voter get to chose a mayor to lead our Council. On October 15th, you will get to choose our 1st mayor. This change should bring quality leadership credentials to the office and improve our Council’s functionality. I also pushed hard for fewer councilors and going forward we’ll have nine rather than 11.
Established Strategic Priorities To Guide Our Spending
We’ve kept the tax rate stable but that’s not good enough. Each year, I’ve pushed for business plans based on strategic priorities established through public engagement to guide our spending of some $55 million. Despite others’ reluctance to do so, in 2014 I was successful in convincing Council to develop strategic priorities, for one year at least, to guide our business plans and spending..
Listened, then Informed and Engaged Ratepayers
Awareness and change go hand in hand. We’ve made considerable change towards better governance for our County and, let’s be clear, these changes resulted from the awareness created by a few of us Councillors. I’ve listened carefully, asked the tough questions and openly spoke out about issues. This stirred and empowered people like you to speak out and take action. The engagement of our informed ratepayers has made the difference.
Photos of Jim in our Community