PICTOU – The last year has seen a lot of negativity and uncertainty in regards to the county’s future.
A group of people in Pictou have decided the unknown is not good enough and are working together to create a positive Pictou.
Camille Daivdson of the Stone Soup Cafe, along with Troy Greencorn of the deCoste Centre and David Porter of the Pictou Youth Centre, chair the Pictou Positive Group.
“It started with a group of concerned citizens and business owners,” explains Davidson. “Once the amalgamation was over, everyone was asking, ‘now what are we going to do?’ and we felt we needed to do something positive for Pictou.”
Davidson says over the last eight years of her living and working in Pictou, she has seen a steep decline in positivity and attitude toward the town and its future.
“There seems to be a lack of confidence, for lack of a better word, in Pictou. We as citizens need to take control on how the town is perceived.”
The Pictou Positive Group started in June with the three co-chairs meeting weekly to discuss ways they could work toward building up the community.
“What this group has done is proved there are a lot of people who are passionate about our community and we want to build on that and create new opportunities and a new vibe for the town,” says Davidson.
The group has since divided into three subcommittees, or focus areas, they plan to work toward.
The first is beautification of the downtown core, the second is growing the community and the economy through festivals and events and the third is recruiting and retaining citizens and businesses to the area.
They realize this is no easy task, but anything worth doing is going to be difficult in their eyes.
“We think Pictou has all of the tools in its tool box to be a successful town, we just don’t know all of them yet.”
It is also ideal timing, according to Davidson, with the new incoming council.
“I’m not saying anything against the former council, it’s just that now we have a new council and mayor and a clean slate to start off with so let’s move forward.”
One of the group’s first plans of action was to create a monthly speaker series. The series invites community leaders from other Atlantic Canadian communities that have achieved significant success in the face of the similar challenges to those facing Pictou, to come and speak on how they turned things around.
The first took place in October with guest speaker Pam Mood, mayor of Yarmouth.
“She was very engaging and funny.”
Davidson says there were approximately 25 people in attendance, some of whom were incoming council members.
“Everyone was really fired up when they left. She (Mood) was very insistent on putting things back on the citizens, explaining the mayors are there to facilitate citizen-led projects.”
The next speaker series will take place November 16 with Rachel Bailey, mayor of Lunenberg.
Davidson says there will be a break in December and the speaker series will start up again in January with more community leaders, not necessarily mayors, from places like Parrsboro and Tatamagouche.
“We hope to inspire people and ourselves to go on to do bigger and better things. Every challenge we face has been experienced by other communities in Nova Scotia and further afield. By inviting speakers to share their stories, successes and challenges we will be better prepared to act ourselves.”
The hope is that the group will continue to grow and expand and make Pictou a better place to live, work and play.
“Nobody will be turned away from the group, the only stipulation, however, is that people remain positive. No negativity.”
The sub-committees meet monthly and the Pictou Positive Group meets as a whole once a month to stay abreast of what each committee is up to.
“Our end goal is we want a thriving, full downtown and summer and winters full of festivals and events. Pictou is ideally situated, has a beautiful waterfront, the people are friendly and knowledgeable, we have great educational opportunities, very reasonable housing prices, high speed Internet and so many other positives. We want to see all of the storefronts in the downtown full, there’s no reason they can’t be.”