LighthouseNOW newspaper recently sent some questions to mayors in the area. The following are the responses from Region of Queens Mayor Darlene Norman, who was elected to the position in November.
What was the most positive achievement your municipality made in 2020?
“The previous council’s decision to invest $1,000,000 and to partner with Develop Nova Scotia, the Province of Nova Scotia, and Bell Canada in Phase One and Phase Two of the rural high-speed Fibre internet project, targeting 1,347 under serviced premises in North Queens and Greenfield/Labelle areas in Phase One, and the remainder of North Queens, Central Queens, down to Charleston, as well as East Port L’Hebert and Port Joli in Phase Two, which is set to begin in spring 2021. There are currently other phases pending approval which will see high speed fibre internet installed in under served areas throughout."
Presumably, the COVID-19 pandemic will have been the biggest challenge to your municipality. What steps did your council/staff (past and/or current) take to minimize its effect?
“COVID-19 continues to be a challenge for our Municipality, as it is across Canada and around the world….RQM follows provincial Public Health protocols and guidelines. Early in the pandemic, when many businesses and schools were closed, billing deadlines and payments were extended by council, and payment arrangements made for those needing it. Our on-line capabilities were enhanced, permitting meetings, permits and payments to be done electronically.”
Personally speaking, what do you see as the biggest priority for 2021?
“Our council is currently in the process of learning our communities’ needs prior to setting the strategic priorities for our mandate. From a personal perspective, top priorities include operating within a 2021 – 2022 budget that the majority of our citizens will be comfortable with, and to maintain our existing infrastructure, while still being adaptable as challenges and opportunities present themselves.”
What are the positives going into 2021?
In Queens County, we are fortunate to live in a large geographic area with a population of approximately 10,300, living in many small communities. People have held onto old fashioned values of helping neighbours and supporting one another, but our people are also progressive, and see the value in changing with the times in areas like development and technology. RQM has healthy reserves, and is in strong financial standing. We have good staff who are well trained, professional and care about our community. Our council reflects different viewpoints, and are passionate about ensuring Queens continues to be a vibrant community, and are keen to move forward with initiatives that make Queens even better. We are entering 2021 with many strengths.”
Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin