AMHERST – The Cumberland Regional Development Authority has a new chairwoman.
With Dale Fawthrop’s term coming to a conclusion, Springhill’s Irene Albertson has been named the new chairwoman while Springhill Mayor Allen Dill is the vice-chairman and Fawthrop the past-chairman.
Byron MacDonnell of Oxford was named secretary of the organization and Don Trenholm of Amherst was selected as treasurer.
Speaking to the recent annual general meeting, Fawthrop thanked the board and CRDA staff for their support and dedication during what was a year of challenge and development.
He said that having identified the need to update the organization’s human resources and financial systems, the board, with financial assistance from the province, retained Royer Thompson to conduct a human resources strategic plan.
One major staffing recommendation of that study included the position of director of corporate services. The position needed to be filled by someone with an appropriate designation and Leigh Ann Hydnman, executive MBA, recently filled the position.
“The goal was to supply our organization with requirements of a strong and successful RDA in the 21st century,” Fawthrop said. “As a result of this study and new provincial guidelines we now operate with an additional four committees – audit, personnel, policy and board governance. We are pleased that our structural model is being recommended for other RDAs in the province.”
Other challenges CRDA faced included the ombudsman’s investigation and the decision by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency to discontinue core funding for all regional development organizations in the region in May 2013.
Despite these challenges, Fawthrop said CRDA is excited about the possibility of an enhanced RDA model of economic development, which is the focus of the provincial review panel currently underway.
“As a volunteer board we look forward to participating and consulting with the provincial RDA Futures Committee and to working closely with the Nova Scotia Economic and Rural Development and Tourism Department and minister Percy Paris as we move into the next phase of regional development,” Fawthrop said.
Fawthrop said Cumberland County has much to be thankful for in the world of regional development from the world-class destinations such as Joggins Fossil Cliffs UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cape Chignecto Provincial Park and Thinker’s Lodge National Historic Site to other unique and successful sites and programs that also need to be highlighted including Cape d’Or, the Age of Sail Heritage Centre, Fundy Geological Museum and youth retention to name a few.
A number of successful projects and initiatives were highlighted during the annual meeting. These included the Business Retention and Expansion Program which saw CRDA’s BRE office visit and consult with more than 50 businesses throughout the county.
The final phases of the restoration of Thinker’s Lodge in Pugwash were initiated while the lodge hosted several successful conferences and other events and was open to the public.
The formation of the new Cumberland Regional Energy Authority, a partnership of Springhill, Parrsboro, Cumberland County and CRDA, was formalized in April.
The development authority also rebranded itself with a new name, logo and website, while a regional marketing strategy for the county was started. As well, the Rural Newcomer Navigator Initiative was introduced to help newcomers make informed decisions about living and understanding life in rural Nova Scotia.
The past year also saw major enhancements to downtown Amherst as a result of the Centre First strategy and the relocation of the arts, culture and heritage co-ordinator from CRDA to Amherst town hall.
In Springhill, site assessment and business case analysis was completed for the former lamp cabin building, while a beautification strategy and maintenance plan was completed.