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Annapolis Valley region looks for international certification

The view from the Look Off, where you can see a sizeable portion of the eastern Annapolis Valley. The region is hoping to receive an international designation that could bring economic growth.
The view from the Look Off, where you can see a sizeable portion of the eastern Annapolis Valley. The region is hoping to receive an international designation that could bring economic growth. - Submitted

ANNAPOLIS VALLEY - Kings and Annapolis counties are on their way to receiving a designation that could help bring economic growth and investment to the region.

The municipalities in the two counties have been working toward certification under an international standard for sustainable and smart communities.

Once received, the area would be the first rural region to have the designation among 250 cities around the world.

Municipal leaders will meet Monday to discuss the certification and how to showcase the region’s attractiveness for investment by using 100 sets of data in 13 standardized categories.

The certification effort is being organized by i-Valley, a not-for-profit movement. Co-founder Barry Gander said the certification will be good for the region.

“You’re popping up on the global radar of investors with 250 other cities in the world that are exquisite for their economic growth,” Gander said. “That’s what a smart community is, it grows faster than anything else.”

He said cities that have been certified include “the usual suspects” such as London, Paris and San Francisco, but also the small city of Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaure in Quebec.

“That’s one of the reasons I originally started to think we should do this in the Annapolis Valley,” he said. “The day after they got their platinum certification, an American investor landed at their airport and made an investment in the city. This is what it can do. You’re popping up on the global radar as a third-party validated, certified, smart community.”

Kings and Annapolis counties have a combined population of more than 80,000 people.

Gander said having the region certified will increase the possibility of investment for the region as a whole. He said where a company might set up is secondary to getting them to the region, as economic benefits will flow to other communities where employees live.

“This place has so much going for it and people don’t realize it because they’ve lived here all their lives,” he said. Having the Annapolis Valley as basically one large community is a real asset.”

The categories that go into the certification includes such things as air quality, health, and education levels.

Gander said while the certification uses the term smart communities, “this is not about technology, this is about people. That’s what a smart community is. You can assume you have a certain amount of technology so that people can be brought together, but it’s about how people use the technology that is the important part.”

He said Nova Scotia isn’t competing against itself for investment, “it’s competing against the world. Until we step up and make measurements that the rest of the world understands, we’re going to be behind the eight ball and not living up to our potential.”

The Valley is the first region in the Maritimes to work toward the certification. Gander said he expects the application for certification will be ready in four or five months, and be approved a couple months after that.

Berwick mayor Don Clarke said anything that could boost economic growth for the region is a good thing.

“We’re looking to advance the region,” he said. “What’s good for the region is good for us all.”

The World Council on City Data in Toronto is leading the international and local implementation of the certification, known as ISO 37120 Sustainable Development of Communities: Indicators for City Services and Quality of Life.

“Globally comparable data is the starting points for smart and sustainable communities,” council president Patricia McCarney said in a release. “The WCCD believes that building a culture of data and having globally comparable, standardized city data enables communities to learn from each other and drive forward more prosperous communities.”

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