Region of Queens mayor says the way for local businesses to enjoy greater prosperity is through cooperation.
Darlene Norman made the comments at a "Meet the Mayor" breakfast held by the South Queens Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.
“Working together as a chamber, as a way to promote all of you is that, co-opitition word that my co-worker Donna Hatt always used,” said Norman. “Co-opitition, you might be competitors but you also need to cooperate and work together.”
As an example, Norman pointed to efforts being made by the North Queens Chamber of Commerce to partner with Parks Canada to create a Gateway to Kejimkujik campaign. The effort will attract visitors to the national park to spend time in North Queens as well.
She says council has spent the first three months in office learning about the needs of Queens County residents and the 53 communities in the 1,000 or so square kilometers that make up the Region of Queens are a diverse group.
While some are affluent, she says others struggle and are part of the 30 per cent poverty rate so there is no quick fix to address everyone’s needs.
Norman said she has heard the arguments from some that tax increases should be linked to economic development, and, that by improving economic development, the commercial base can grow.
“We also have to keep in mind we have a lot of not for profits which are the backbones of our communities, that provide recreational opportunities and training and outreach,” said Norman.
Some in the crowd insisted the municipality should be providing incentives to attract business to Queens and help them thrive.
For legal reasons, Norman was quick to shut down that suggestion.
“We cannot do [that] as a municipality. We cannot give tax breaks, we cannot sell land cheap, we are bound by the municipal government act of the province. We are an unchartered level of government,” said Norman.
But they can provide marketing according to the mayor, and she encouraged attendees to use the Queens Coast branding established by the last council to attract visitors to Queens.
Norman says the municipality bought and paid for the branding so all of Queens could make use if it.
The breakfast attendees were keen to see action and some suggested creating a business directory to make it easier for visitors and residents alike to discover what services Queens has to offer.
The breakfast ended on a cooperative note as Norman agreed to take a plan back to council to look into establishing a group whose goal would be to assist in the development of an economic plan and directory for the region.
Reported by Ed Halverson
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