Municipality of the County of Kings will go it alone on diversity strategy
The mayor of the Municipality of the County of Kings says his council will go it alone after three towns in the municipality decided not to support a regional diversity initiative.
The municipality previously said it needed Berwick, Kentville and Wolfville to help implement the county's strategy over a five-year period.
Mayor Peter Muttart said the strategy would be more encompassing as a partnership with the towns.
"We would all be comfortable that no one was being left out in any of our communities and that we all applied the same degree of dedication and emphasis to the issues," he said.
"That would give me a level of comfort, would give my council a level of comfort that it doesn't necessarily have now."
The three towns would have been responsible for 30 per cent of the initiative's $230,000 annual budget.
The strategy would guide municipal policies and priorities in each community to improve representation and economic empowerment, ensure equitable access to services and celebrate diverse cultures.
Muttart said it is now a permanent part of municipal council and he's proud of the work done by staff.
"I know that what our people, to whom we've dedicated this to file, are doing is garnering a great deal of respect certainly through the province and I do believe beyond the province."
'They want us to help them pay the bills'
Kentville and Wolfville didn't participate in the initiative because the cost was too high and their towns are already investing in diversity and inclusion, according to their mayors.
Berwick's mayor didn't respond to a request for an interview.
The mayor of Kentville said her town council feels it wasn't invited into the planning process.
"They want us to help them pay the bills," said Sandra Snow. "But they really didn't want to focus on some of the amazing things that we were doing."
Kentville's accessibility plan includes diversity, inclusivity and equity and is used in every decision town council makes, Snow said. She says her town has also celebrated local African Nova Scotians and Mi'kmaq.
Snow said it's easier for Kentville to focus on the issues within its own community.
Wendy Donovan, the mayor of Wolfville, said her town has begin its own initiative to find out how it can be more inclusive and equitable.
Donovan says Wolfville is unique because half of its population are students at Acadia and many are from outside of Canada.
"A lot of what we are doing right now is kind of fact-finding who is in our community, what barriers do they face and what kinds of things, different than we are doing now, should we be doing in the future."
Addressing systemic barriers
The Municipality of the County of Kings says it has already done that work.
Staff spent 14 months consulting dozens of people, including First Nations governments and African Nova Scotians, said Brittany Traynor, the municipality's manager of community development.
"I think that is something that is unique, and the strength of the strategy is that it's for community," she said.
The county has two full-time permanent staff dedicated to the diversity portfolio and addressing systemic inequity and exclusion in the area, Traynor said.
"As a result, we have a level of focus and responsiveness to community that goes beyond merely celebrating diversity."
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