Bouctouche will soon have a new mayor, but electors will get to decide who that is.
Roland Fougère, who was acclaimed in the last election, is not running this time.
Pauline Anne Hébert and Aldéo Saulnier are each seeking the mayor's seat for the small Kent County municipality.
There are also four council seats available, with eight candidates vying for them: Ronald Joseph Allain, Achille Bastarache, Mariette Cormier, Hert LeBlanc, Jean-Noël LeBlanc, Michael Joseph LeBlanc, Oscar LeBlanc and Tamie Lee Maillet.
Located on the coast of the Northumberland Strait, tourism is important to the local economy. Many tourists stop to grab a bite to eat at local restaurants before making their way to the Irving Eco-Centre: La Dune de Bouctouche, Le Pays de la Sagouine or the Irving Arboretum.
The community was praised by Heritage Canada in September for pivoting to hold events online and in COVID-safe ways, but many events in the region were cancelled that normally flood Kent County with tourists.
The Times & Transcript asked each of the candidates what they would do help the tourism industry, what they identify as the biggest issues facing the community and how they would tackle them. All candidates were contacted both by phone and by email. Some candidates could not be reached for comment by press time.
• Pauline Anne Hébert: Hebert said looking ahead she would focus on encouraging more local participation at virtual events and continuing to promote the farmer’s market while following guidelines.
She said population growth is also a priority and she would work toward finding incentives to get young people to stay or return. She believes twinning of the highway, working from home, and enlarging the town boundaries should help. She would also work on “creating partnerships with investors, developers and different levels of government.”
• Aldéo Saulnier: Saulnier said he sits on the board of Le Pays de la Sangouine and knows how hard-hit the tourism sector is, but it is difficult to know what to do based on not knowing what COVID restrictions will in play.
One of the biggest issues is improving the local economy and recruiting investors to invest in the community, such as building apartment buildings, will help in the long and short term, he said.
• Mariette Cormier: Combatting the impact of the pandemic means thinking outside the box and coming up with “new ways to grow tourism in our beautiful town,” said Cormier.
Building resilience by anticipating disruptions and making plans to adapt to situations beyond its control can helpt the town best weather a variety of issues in the term ahead, she said.
• Hert LeBlanc: LeBlanc said if elected he would meet with tourism players and find different ways to organize and promote events, including seeking support from different levels of government. He would look for ways to support businesses and organizations hard-hit by the pandemic.
And giving the town’s administration the tools to make decisions more easily, while fairly, is a second priority issue for him.
• Achille Bastarache: Bastarache said “we have to be innovative” to attract people to their beautiful, small town full of natural wonder, restaurants and farmers’ market.
Keeping young families living in Bouctouche so the community continues to grow is an issue he wants to tackle. He will do this by inspiring people with what the community has to offer and working hard to get the four-lane highway done. Upgrading the industrial park is also a key issue, he said.
• Tamie Lee Maillet: Maillet said targeting a diverse clientele in marketing the town could help tourism. She would help local businesses and tourist attractions work together to offer joint promotions.
Attracting more families to live in Bouctouche, improving road and pedestrian infrastructure and ensuring it is a clean and green town are priorities. Communication and transparency along will collaboration are critical, she said.
• Michael Joseph LeBlanc: Bouctouche provides an amazing example of Acadian culture, said LeBlanc. Actively supporting the Acadian Coast Tourism Association and talking to businesses about what they need would be his approach to helping the sector.
LeBlanc said continuing to grow is a key issue for the community, but thinks the proximity to Moncton and improvements to the highway can help. While the community has already started to attract businesses, he'd like to see more expansion in the industrial park. Encouraging people to keep supporting local is something he would focus on.
• Jean-Noël LeBlanc: LeBlanc said the reputation of the town is something to be proud of. He would focus on increasing meaningful, well-paying jobs in the community to enhance growth.
Clara Pasieka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal