The Year in retrospect by Mayor Christopher Clarke

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The year, 2013, has been one of renewal for the Region of Queens Municipality. The new Council came into office as the Bowater Transition Team was about to submit its report for the revitalization of Queens to Premier Dexter. The swearing in of the new council almost coincided with the celebration of Nova Scotia Music Week in our community. What a boost it gave us! So many persons pitching in together to show Queens at its best. As importantly, it showed the rest of Nova Scotia that we were not down and out; rather, by pulling together, we were going to succeed.

Mayor Christopher Clarke

I’ve been so impressed this Christmas season with all the retail activity in Liverpool. A year ago, there were more empty shop windows than active ones. Now it’s easier to count the empty stores than those that are occupied and bustling with business. I’d like to thank all the new store-owners for showing their confidence in our community. The best way we can show our appreciation is by shopping locally. I’m pleased to say that I’ve bought all but one of my presents in Queens, several of them made locally. [The exception is for my grand daughter and she likes cash!]  We tend to focus on our new businesses but where would we have been without those shops and services who have been here for years and who have stood by us through good times and bad.  To them, I’d like to say ‘thank you’.

There have also been a number of non-retail new businesses opened during the year throughout Queens. Again, I’d like to thank all these entrepreneurs for believing in us and showing that Queens is a good place to do business. We will do all we can to help them succeed in their new ventures.

It was immensely gratifying that the efforts of a determined community organization bore fruit as the Medway Community Forest Co-operative were awarded the first community forest in Nova Scotia.  This endeavour will bring a new dimension to forestry practices in North Queens and could serve as a model for the province.

The report card that the Region of Queens released recently shows that Queens is a good place in which to invest. We have the third lowest commercial tax rate in the Province. Our housing costs are lower than the average and we have a skilled labour pool.  We know, without checking, that the quality of life in Queens is second to none.

The South Queens Chamber of Commerce through Events Liverpool set a goal to become the events capital of Nova Scotia. I don’t know if it attained that goal this year, but it made a great stab at doing so. Queens Place Emera Centre rocked with Travis Tritt in June. Liverpool’s waterfront was bursting during Privateers Days, and what a great parade! Hats off to the organizers! July 1st events throughout the county were a blast and plans are underway for a repeat in 2014.

We welcomed home the Hank Snow Tribute at the end of the summer which brought in visitors from all over who put their heads on our pillows and spent dollars in our stores. It was a great weekend which has given its organizers the confidence to plan an extravaganza to celebrate Hank Snow’s 100th birthday on May 6.

White Point Beach Resort, newly raised from its ashes, was host to the Nova Scotia Heritage Conference which themed shaping cultural landscapes. The programme included a visit to Kejimkujik National Park and its native sites as well as to the Queens County Fair Ground in Caledonia, the oldest in Canada. Also at White Point was the Ancient Mi’kmaw Culture Re-emerges event which included a really inspiring summer solstice ceremony as the sun rose over the ocean.

Queens Place Emera Centre has just passed the second anniversary of its opening. It has become the focal point of many of the activities in South Queens. What an ambitious brave move by the previous Council to build it! It gives us the ability to host many diverse events, and on a day by day basis, is the cornerstone of our hockey, figure-skating and exercise programmes. We have a fine staff there who works hard to ensure that it gives taxpayers value for the tax dollars invested.

In November, a year of work by The Winds of Change Dramatic Society culminated in eight nights of breathtaking performances of Les Miserables at the Astor Theatre.  Shortly after, a community fundraising campaign was launched by the Astor Theatre Society for a new digital projector, plus updated lighting and sound equipment.  This gem in our community has the distinction of being the oldest movie in Canada and the oldest performing arts venue in Nova Scotia.

As one looks back, one tends to think of the high points and overlook the day to day operations of the Region. That is because our departments are well run and our employees are first rate. I’d stack them up against any other municipality’s workforce in Nova Scotia, whether it is at Hillsview Acres, the Landfill at 10 Mile, the Administrative Office or the Works Department. And thinking of the Engineering and Public Works Department, what a job they did on Market Street under most unpleasant conditions. Thank you all!

As a final note, I’m so impressed with Council. We’re lean, only seven Councillors, but we’re focused in the same direction. It’s a strong, cohesive group, supported by a dedicated, hard-working staff. Our primary goal is business development and economic growth. Council can’t create jobs but we can and must create the environment to attract business and for it to succeed.

Our successes and our attitude are the talk of Nova Scotia. We’ll continue to build on this in 2014 and, with your help, Queens will become an even better place to work and to live.

Christopher Clarke, Mayor of the Region of Queens Municipality

Organizations: Medway Community Forest Co, South Queens Chamber of Commerce, Astor Theatre White Point Beach Resort Queens County Fair Ground Change Dramatic Society Landfill Administrative Office Public Works Department

Geographic location: Queens, Nova Scotia, Liverpool North Queens Canada Kejimkujik National Park Caledonia White Point Market Street

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