Berwick commits to new regional economic development model

Nancy Kelly
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Town will sign Valley REN agreement

Berwick Mayor Don Clarke

The Town of Berwick has agreed to join the new Valley Regional Enterprise Network (REN) for a one-year period.

At their Jan. 14 meeting councilors debated making an official commitment to the REN, which is in the development stages. In order to move the process forward an inter-municipal agreement between the partners needs to be signed.  The agreement will be based on the funding formula that was in place during the last year of operation of the Kings Regional Development Agency, which folded in 2013.

A continuation of the funding formula has been a sticking point for some members of Berwick councilor, particularly former mayor John Prall.

“We tried for years to get a fairer formula in place,” pointed out Prall, “and we didn’t have any luck.” He said a funding formula should be reviewed before any agreement is signed. Berwick’s annual share of RDA funding was $17,000. Prall contends it should be closer to $9,000.

Mayor Don Clarke believes the funding formula needs to be revisited, but disagreed with Prall’s position on holding up the process.

“I don’t see it the way you see it. If we don’t commit, we risk losing the board and the whole thing could fall off the rails,” Clarke said. He explained the seven-member board of directors cannot be installed and agency staff cannot be hired without an agreement between the partners and the province.

The motion calling on Berwick to sign the inter-municipal agreement based on the current funding model for the fiscal year ending March 2015 was passed. Prall’s was the only dissenting vote.  

All towns in the region, with the exception of Wolfville, have now committed to the REN model. The County of Kings is expected to make its decision Jan. 21. The Municipality of West Hants has also yet to commit.

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Organizations: REN, Valley Regional Enterprise Network, Kings Regional Development Agency Municipality of West Hants

Geographic location: Wolfville, Kings

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