As the year draws to a close, there's no better time to reflect on the year that was, take stock of what was accomplished and set realistic future goals.
Looking back on 2013, Hants County had its fair share of share of ups and downs.
The region was hit hard by job loss and economic uncertainty over the past couple of years. Longtime businesses closed up shop, relocated, or went bankrupt. People were left scrambling to make ends meet. The local food banks have been going flat out to meet the increased demand, as people who never thought they would require such services have had to rely on the generosity of strangers.
But, it hasn't been all bad news on the employment front. We have been fortunate enough to see some investment in the region, and heading into 2014, we're liable to see more.
The Nova Scotia Tourism Agency decentralized its headquarters and set up shop in downtown Windsor. They've completely renovated the former Black Bear Tavern, breathing new life into an area that has long been vacant. Come 2014, we will no doubt see lots of activity on Water Street.
We've seen economic drivers and innovators from one end of the county to the other. Heather Donohue went mobile, taking her HENS Uniforms business on the road. A few new restaurants took a chance and opened up in town, each offering something different for the palate. Terra Firma is forging ahead with plans to develop a state-of-the-art resort near Ardoise. Mason Apples reopened, under new ownership, to once again provide gainful employment for several Hants County folks. Several alternative energy business ideas were pitched, with at least three local wind energy projects taking shape for Walton, Ellershouse and Three Mile Plains.
Hantsport's outlook in 2013 looked the bleakest of them all. But, the small community is slowly turning things around, embracing innovative ways of doing things and finding ways to attract people to town. They're focused on finding the silver lining in every situation, and, by all accounts, it appears to be working.
They now have an off-leash dog park at the Hantsport Memorial Community Centre — something neighbouring communities don't offer visitors. After years of struggle, they not only landed a physician willing to service the Haven of Hospitality, but a second one who is being mentored there.
In fact, there's been a whirlwind of activity as of late, all pointing to a brighter future for the Avon region as a whole.
The newly elected provincial government has announced it is willing to review — and actually consider — Hants County's offer to house a satellite renal dialysis unit in Windsor. The community has fundraised a significant amount towards this project already, which speaks volumes for the forward-thinking, committed people living here.
Perhaps if we lobby hard for changes to the dangerous, untwinned section of Highway 101, we might begin to see some movement there as well. It's been far too long since we've heard any positive discussion with regards to the stretch of highway that is prone to accidents.
There is no doubt that there is a positive energy in the air this year. All we need to do is find a way to capitalize on it and get to work on promoting the region as a whole. We have a lot to offer – we just need to be united in our efforts to share it with the world. Let's work together to make 2014 a prosperous year for Hants County, and the province.