NS: Scotsburn group looks for ways to boost rural community

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By The New Glasgow Daily News

During a recent meeting, there were concerns expressed about the closure of certain longtime businesses in Scotsburn and the effect it would have on drawing new people to the area.

Carol Baillie, left, and Jennifer MacLennan work on a list that focused on Scotsburn’s assets during a community meeting on Sunday.

[SCOTSBURN, NS] — About 40 residents of a small rural community gathered Sunday to focus on the positive things about their favourite place to live.

The Pictou Regional Development Agency hosted a community information session that focused on getting people thinking about the good in their community and how such positives can be used to make it grow.

“When we live in a community you become complacent and take things for granted,” said Kelly MacVicar, PRDA community development officer. “Yes, we have a lot that is sustainable. There is a sense of pride that has always been in Scotsburn.”

MacVicar had residents from Scotsburn and surrounding areas who attended the meeting list the community’s strengths, focusing on natural, financial, physical, human and social aspects.

It was evident from the responses that Scotsburn has a strong social network with many recreational programs in place that bring the community together in all seasons. The 44th annual pork chop barbecue hosted by the firemen was mentioned as well as the Scotsburn 4-H clubs overwhelming growth to 73 members.

MacVicar said having a strong community presence is important because it draws people into the rural areas where they can spend their money and maybe decide to live one day.

“Maybe they are coming for 4-H, but they come back some day and stay,” she said.

However, there were concerns expressed during the meeting about the recent closure of certain longtime businesses in Scotsburn and the effect it would have on drawing new people to the area.

MacVicar acknowledged that the closure of Scotburn Dairy’s creamery and feed mill and the potential closure of Murray’s Service Station means that money that had been coming into the community before would now be spent somewhere else.

Some people said that government red tape made it difficult for new businesses to open while everyone agreed that people in rural areas have to support the businesses in their community, even if it is a little more expensive.

The meeting’s guests also agreed that rural areas such as Scotsburn can no longer rely on primary industries such as farming and forestry sustainable. Instead, they must diversify which could mean looking at new energy projects or housing developments.

A request was forwarded from management at the Scotsburn Co-op retail store about what people would like the store to offer, as demands on what was originally a farm supplies outlet has changed over the years. One possibility could be providing a place for the sale of local produce, or a farmers market. A further suggestion was that such a market be held on a week day, rather than Saturday, so that it wouldn’t conflict with the farmers market in New Glasgow — both for sellers and customers.

In the end, MacVicar suggested a second meeting take place where their ideas could be drafted into a plan that could work towards revitalizing the community.

Organizations: Pictou Regional Development Agency, Daily News, Scotsburn Co-op

Geographic location: Scotsburn, New Glasgow, Murray

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