Yesterday the CBC released the following story, Population decline a worry for Cape Breton. It’s a reflection on what we already know. People are leaving this area for greener pastures. There’s no work here to keep our young people and families.
But I have a thought.
What if there was another reason for them to stay? What if we had a strong, unified recreation department? What if we had local programs for families which would make CBRM a place they would want to raise their families in? What if there were plenty of activities for our children and parents which are easily accessed?
I look at the town of Windsor in the Annapolis Valley. A traditional farming and gypsum mining community which has also seen a very significant decline in population as the local industry has changed. There has not been lot of other work in the area. But it has worked exceptionally hard at drawing new families into the town, and it has worked. What was the core that I noticed?
Recreational opportunities for families.
All summer long there are camps and programs targeting child involvement. There is an easily obtained booklet that indicates the entire recreational opportunities in the area with detailed contact information for all ages. I know people who were looking to move back to Nova Scotia, and based on their research chose Windsor simply because it showed that it cared for families.
Yet here in Cape Breton we have our mayor tweeting helpful wisdom such as:
“CBRM Manager of Economic Development John Whalley identifies NS government as cause of CBRM and NS population decline”
How is this at all helpful? What government? The one in power now, the one two years ago, the one before that?
Where is the accountability that maybe we have a hand in the mass exodus from the island and the initiative to find ways to reverse the trend? Why not try something else instead of pointing fingers and assigning blame to others?
Windsor has seen a resurgence in local growth and new ideas and even jobs since they’ve been addressing the needs of families. Sure they have the advantage of being less than an hour from Halifax, but we also have attractive features here too that incline people to tell me, “I would love to move home if I just had a reason to.”
One reason is the ability to provide for their families. Start to address this issue and maybe the work will come as our young families full of ideas and passion consider coming back to a place they love.
I know it would have a big hand in keeping me from moving away should the opportunity arise.