Grapevine: The Valley’s unique and vibrant arts community has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. What concrete steps will you take to support the recovery and growth of the arts economy in your municipality?
Jim Winsor: Our arts community is a huge part of the culture and flavor of the Annapolis Valley and a very complementary product in marketing our beautiful landscapes and scenery. It reminds us of our rich history and it speaks to the culture and persona of who we are today. It is often the center of our celebrations and it draws people from far and near to savour and experience the Annapolis Valley. I have strongly supported particular initiatives, such as the Ross Creek Center for the Performing Arts, and Devour! The Food Film Fest, and grants allocated to smaller but much-valued initiatives. I will continue to push for that support if elected, being mindful that in the COVID 19 world, the arts need our support more than ever.
Grapevine: What is your opinion of the current public consultation process in your municipality? Would you change it if elected? Why?
Jim Winsor: Our consultation process has come from a three out of ten to a six out of ten over the past few years…and six is not good enough. In my view “consultation” is about us as an elected government and a hired administration talking with and listening to our constituents and taxpayers who have put us in office, so that we may understand the levels of service they want, the policies and regulations they wish to be governed by and the investments in infrastructure and services they wish us to make on their behalf. We “hear” sometimes but the “listening” is not reflected in what we do. We need to commit to and create a culture of better listening skills so that engagement becomes natural and more meaningful and accordingly, more people become eager and willing to become engaged.
Grapevine: Although sometimes perceived as the responsibility of other levels of government, childcare is a sector that municipalities already participate in (for example through afterschool programs and day camps). What steps will you take, if elected, to improve childcare availability and affordability in your municipality?
Jim Winsor: The question correctly presumes that the Municipality has the lesser responsibility for childcare, but that does not leave us helpless in all aspects. Our Council made a huge step forward in creating a food support program for schools. Perhaps there are partnership opportunities available to us in the area of the more traditional daycare services. I would also continue to advocate that any daycare facility that operates on a non-profit basis receive a tax exemption status under bylaw 99 (Tax Emption for Non-Profit Organizations By-Law)
Grapevine: What initiatives has your municipality undertaken to mitigate the effects of climate change? What strategies to combat climate change will you support if elected?
Jim Winsor: Right now, our hard-working farmers and the rest of us in the County are experiencing the consequences of global warming. We know we have to stop pumping greenhouse gases into the environment. I firmly believes the County can and must play a role in making a difference for our quality of life and that of future generations. We have started a wind energy project in the southwest quadrant of our County, a solar energy project in the Meadowview area (both with the thought of an additional revenue stream to the County), the collecting of solar energy through solar panels on facilities, and more. I will continue to advocate for and support every green energy project that makes sense. It’s more than just good environmental sense; it’s good economic sense too.