Sackville town council candidates discuss their dreams and pet projects

Dylan Wooley-Berry

“Free public Wi Fi downtown,” was the answer town council candidate Dylan Wooley-Berry gave last week during an all-candidates forum at the Tantramar Civic Centre.

He was responding to Sackville resident Chris Eaton who asked all five candidates running in the by-election for the vacant council seat about their dreams for the town and “the one thing that when you come to council, you’re going to champion and it will be your pet project.”

Wooley-Berry answered that establishing free wireless Internet access is something that could be done in the months before the next municipal election in 2020.

He added that it’s already in place in more than 100 communities across Ontario.

“They use that public Wi Fi zone to collect data on the people downtown using it, so they can tell how many people are in the zone,” he said, “and how many people are choosing to shop and search in the zone for a certain thing. They collect that data, they aggregate it and then they give it free of charge to local businesses.”

Wooley-Berry said since there’s no longer a Sackville Chamber of Commerce, free Wi Fi would be an innovative way to support local businesses.

Local jobs

Shawn Mesheau

“I want people to not have to drive somewhere to go to work,” said candidate Shawn Mesheau.

“I want people to be able to work here.”

He added that he remembered his father standing in the window of their home looking out at Atlantic Wholesalers on the day it shut down. He said his father had worked there for 35 years.

“He looked at me and and he said, ‘All I wanted was my kids to be able to work in town and raise a family here.’ That’s what my vision is,” Mesheau said.

“It’s for us not to have to rely on development happening elsewhere for us to be able to have employment here in our home,” he added.

‘Solution economy’

Julia Feltham

“I would love to see Sackville be the centre of a solution economy,” said candidate Julia Feltham.

She suggested that with Alberta’s oil economy in recession, it’s getting cheaper to develop renewable energy and train more workers, including young people, for jobs in that field.

“Every problem is actually a job opportunity; every problem is actually a way that we can put ourselves on the map and tell our story,” Feltham said, adding that the latest economic projections show that every year New Brunswick needs to increase its labour force by 7,500.

“Why can’t we be the landing pad for creating those new jobs, the new economy, re-skilling blue collar workers so that they work in the green economy?” she asked.

Realistic growth

Sabine Dietz

“I don’t have a pet project,” said Sabine Dietz, suggesting that when people in other parts of the province ask why she lives in Sackville, she tells them the town already has everything.

“Sackville has all the nurturing, all the creativity, all the innovation that you need for a community to be a real leader and to be seen as a leader,” she said, adding that the Sackville Commons, which provides shared work spaces, is a good example of using local resources to solve problems and create community.

She said economic development should be carefully considered based on the reality of town assets such as the university and its many small businesses.

“Sackville is a wonderful community,” Dietz said.

“My dream is that we can — like Julia said — show it off more and grow it, that’s all we need, we just need to grow the things that are already there.”

 ‘Visionary project’

Brian Neilson

“My pet project, dream scenario,” said candidate Brian Neilson, “is what I have been working on for the last three or four years with several other community members, something called Sackville Schools 2020.”

Neilson said this “visionary project” would, among other things, create a performing space that could be used by students as well as local theatre groups and music festivals as well as a community kitchen where people could come together.

“It is an opportunity for students,” Neilson said, “to fall in love with this community, so that people stay in this community and then are drawn to this community because of its innovative education.”

He added that as more people are attracted to Sackville, they create a tax base to support the hospital and care for the elderly.

“It’s a question of whether we want to grow and take a stand,” Neilson said, “or just keep our head in the sand and hope no one bugs us too much.”

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6 Responses to Sackville town council candidates discuss their dreams and pet projects

  1. Jim Throop says:

    Win or lose it’s great to see so many step up for community service. In my books you are all winners for caring about our community and trying to make a better place for all citizens in our town.

  2. Louis says:

    This is a very useful article and insight into the candidates! Thanks!

  3. David Bailie says:

    Hi Bruce; I caught the forum on CFTA yesterday & was impressed ,to say the least, with each of the candidates. I do have one thing that was touched upon I don’t understand. I believe it was brought up by Keith Carter & was wondering if you or anyone out there could explain it to me? It was stated that consultants are hired to ‘help & advise’ in areas where neither Council nor the Town employees have the expertise needed to make an informed decision . It was pointed out that this seems to have been done numerous times in the past few years & I can understand this . What I don’t understand is that when the consultant’s report is submitted to council why then is it voted on & sometimes turned down IF there indeed was no background, knowledge, or indeed expertise in the area that was researched by the consultant?

    Comment from Bruce Wark: I mentioned three examples during the all-candidates forum. The previous council committed the town to pay for a $26,000 Strategic Plan. This council commissioned consultants to develop a business development strategy for $17,000 and awarded a $27,000 contract to a Nova Scotia planning and design company to come up with plans for developing the area around highway exit 506. I covered each of these fairly extensively. (The business development plan is not ready yet. The plan for highway exit 506 would be an expensive one to implement and it depends on using land that is owned by private developers

    In the case of the Strategic Plan, council was split down the middle with the mayor casting the tie-breaking vote to accept the plan and implement its recommendations. My story on that vote gives the various positions for and against

  4. Rima Azar says:

    I agree with Jim Throop and Louis. What a great article, Mr. Wark. BRAVO to all our candidates for their engagement and inspiring ideas…Please keep up!

  5. David Bailie says:

    Hi Bruce; I understood what you were saying at the forum . I guess what I am trying to understand is :
    If the town employees & council didn’t have the experience or knowledge about a project/plan/strategy & felt the need to hire experts to ‘study & consult’ then how can those same people then vote for or against the report/plan/study submitted by the consultant? I can see turning down a report due to the financial cost of a project ,etc. but not on recommendations made but the ‘experts’ hired by the town staff & council.

    Comment from Bruce Wark: Not sure how to respond. Maybe other readers will weigh in.

    • Percy Best says:

      Hi David! — From what I have observed, consultants are certainly not always experts even though one tries to believe our Town has hired ‘the best bang for the buck’. A bit the same as a business owner hiring who they believe to be the best employee for a job and then discovering they have to send them on their merry way when they do not meet expectations.

      Being a consultant these days is very unregulated and it seems that almost anyone can get 500 business cards printed up for $20 and hey, “I’m a consultant”. Ran into that recently and this one man consulting firm didn’t even have cards, just an unregistered title that he picked out of mid air and I couldn’t even track the company name down by searching the Internet because they didn’t exist until they finally got their first contract.

      So when that individual’s (in collaboration with others) ‘consulting’ report is presented to Council in the near future then they get to check it over as a purchased product and then decide whether it meets their/our needs or Council can just dump it and start from scratch. It very well may be an expensive mistake for our Town but better than continuing on with a misguided agenda.

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