Committee looking at Repopulation Strategy for Cumberland Count

March 27, 2006

Amherst, NS - Cumberland County, like much of rural Canada, is facing a rapidly aging population, increased out-migration of young people and tremendous competition for new immigrants from urban areas. Cumberland Regional Economic Development Association (CREDA) and the five municipal units hope to take steps to address these trends by developing a regional repopulation strategy for Cumberland County. Key components of the strategy will include youth recruitment and immigration.

A repopulation committee has been formed to lead the process, which is being facilitated by the Rural and Small Town Programme at Mount Allison University in Sackville. The committee has representatives from the Municipality of the County of Cumberland, the Towns of Amherst, Springhill, Parrsboro and Oxford, CREDA Board and staff, the Cumberland CBDC, Cumberland African Nova Scotian Association (CANSA) and Mount Allison.

“We want to arrive at a detailed work plan that will enable CREDA and its partners to take some kind of agreed upon action to retain and recruit young people in the community, attract and retain immigrants, and look at other potential sub-groups that we might attract and keep,” said David Bruce, Director of the Rural and Small Town Programme at Mount Allison. He cautions against unrealistic expectations. “We can’t just say we want 10,000 people to come to Cumberland County in the next 10 years. We may agree it would be nice to attract certain types of people with certain types of skill sets, but they may choose to locate elsewhere beyond our control. We must also work on creating the right community dynamics to try to persuade people to settle in the area,” he added.

CREDA Executive Director Rhonda Kelly said there are potentially only a few key options when it comes to repopulation. She said the average family is much smaller than it was 50 years ago and this is one of several factors contributing to population decline. Kelly added that continuation of this trend will impact upon the labour force and the region’s ability to fill potential jobs. She said youth are a very key component from CREDA’s perspective. “Attracting young working families is one of our objectives which aligns with other projects such as Skills Inventory Phase Two that identifies some of Cumberland’s private sector labour force needs, both short term and long term.”

Kelly said that CREDA is hoping to undertake a third phase of the Skills Inventory Project which will look at the public sector such as the teaching, administrative and medical professions to determine what opportunities there will be for jobs. “In order to recruit people to the area, viable opportunities for employment must be identified. Further, the region must collaborate to ensure we are a truly welcoming area,” Kelly said. “Its not enough to just say this is a nice place to live. Community partners and municipal units will be key in encouraging welcoming communities.”

The committee held its inaugural meeting in February and will involve community members in helping to formulate the strategy through focus groups and by talking with current immigrants who have settled in the region.

Their goal is to have a strategy and action plan ready by late June.


For more information contact:

Rhonda Kelly, Executive Director, CREDA
David Bruce, Director
Rural and Small Town Programme
Mount Allison University
(506) 364-2395