Sackville Town Council has voted to hire outside consultants to draft a business development strategy for the town.
During their meeting on Monday, councillors voted 6 to 2 in favour of hiring Lions Gate Consulting of Vancouver in association with 4L Strategies Consulting of Milford, Nova Scotia at a total cost of $17,020 HST included.
Deputy Mayor Ron Aiken who, along with Councillor Bruce Phinney, voted against the proposal to hire the consultants, said that the town has commissioned many economic and business development studies over more than 20 years, but has never done anything with them.
“They all make the same three points,” Aiken said. “We should encourage small versus large business, that we offer a quality of life and that we have a great location near the TransCanada.”
Aiken said that council is limited in what it can do to promote economic development, yet Sackville is performing well compared to other small, New Brunswick towns.
He mentioned the new Bagtown Brewery, the Terra Beata cranberry storage facility in the industrial park and the re-opening of the former Moloney electrical transformer plant on Bridge Street.
The deputy mayor argued it would make more sense for the town to enlist local expertise when seeking advice on attracting new businesses rather than farming the work out to consultants, especially during a year when council raised taxes by $60,000.
“Spending over 25 per cent of that, including HST, on this particular proposal, doesn’t sit well with me,” Aiken concluded.
Councillor Andrew Black spoke strongly in favour of hiring outside consultants even though he stressed the need to get advice and ideas from local residents too.
He also said local groups need to get more involved.
“Something needs to be done about the splintering groups in our community that are involved in economic development,” Black said as he mentioned organizations such as the former Sackville Chamber of Commerce, the Commons and the Rotary Club.
“All of these groups really need to come together and something has to happen in order for our town to develop economically.”
Black said he’s hoping the report from the consultants will point out what the town is doing right and what it’s doing wrong.
“I’m really interested to see what this report is going to bring back as to what Sackville is maybe not looking at properly and thereby changing what we do and how we do it,” he added.
To read earlier coverage of this story, click here.