By Nancy Kelly
The Valley Regional Enterprise Network (REN) is closer to becoming a reality.
Berwick chief administrative officer Don Regan reported at the town’s Nov. 26 committee of the whole meeting that the organization’s liaison committee recently approved a shortlist for a new board of directors. As the chair of the nominating committee, Mayor Don Clarke will follow up and confirm with each candidate before the list is finalized.
Clarke said there was enough response to form an eight- or nine-member board to oversee the operation of the Valley REN, one of six new organizations that will replace Nova Scotia’s network of regional development authorities.
He said the list of candidates offers regional representation from Windsor to Bridgetown and is also representative of several industry sectors.
“We wanted to see a good mix and I think we have achieved that with some very good candidates,” said Clarke.
It’s hoped the new board will be formally installed at an event in mid-December, with further plans for them to start the hiring process for a manager in 2014.
“We need to keep up the momentum,” said Clarke, who fears economic development in the Valley could suffer if the process is delayed.
A draft agreement for the REN partners was put before Berwick councillors and Regan confirmed it should go before other municipal units in the coming weeks.
“It is hoped councils will adopt the agreement in its present form during December,” Regan said.
The agreement calls for stakeholders in Hants West, Kings and Annapolis counties to share in first-year operational costs of $392,000, through amounts equivalent to what they would have budgeted for their local RDA in 2012. The provincial government will match funds up to that amount.
Coun. John Prall objected to the funding formula, concerned that it would set a precedent for going forward.
“We have been asked to go with the status quo of (RDA funding), with the hopes we will be able to work out a (funding) agreement,” explained Regan.
Prall, who had been lobbying for changes in the RDA funding formula before the network was disbanded, responded, “it is a bad idea to go in like that. It needs to be set up properly to begin with.”
Clarke pointed out the draft agreement needs to be ratified in its present form to “get this thing off the ground.”