Hants County can be prosperous once again: poet

Carole Morris-Underhill
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Canadian poet, playwright and literary critic George Elliott Clarke, who is originally of Three Mile Plains and still owns land in the area, took a few minutes Nov. 30 to voice his thoughts on how this area could prosper.

His immediate suggestion was to remove the causeway and return Lake Pisiquid to the Avon River.

“I'm not an economist, I'm not an environmentalist, but I just think that that causeway is a distortion of the environment which probably does not do a lot to help in terms of maximizing the potential of the waterfront,” said Clarke.

He noted that opening up the area and making Windsor a port once again would make the area ideal for tourism and commerce.

“I think with the river and the tides coming in off the Minas Basin, Bay of Fundy, it's a much more dynamic waterfront.”

Clarke was in town for the opening night of Quick As A Wink Theatre's musical production Glory Days: The Great Windsor Fire of 1897. After watching the play, which tells the true tale of Windsor's first black independent businessman being charged with, and acquitted of, arson while mixing in historical facts about the prosperous time in the area's history, Clarke said he believes Windsor could be great once again.

He offered a few suggestions on how Windsor could thrive once more, starting with restoring the railway.

“There should be a rail service at least between Halifax and Windsor, just like 100 years ago,” said Clarke. “It would help in terms of people who already treat Windsor as a bedroom community, as a kind of a suburb, a more distant suburb than, say, Mount Uniacke, for Halifax.”

He said he thinks many commuters would prefer to hop aboard a train, enjoy a cup of coffee, read the newspaper and relax instead of being behind a wheel travelling in all kinds of weather.

“So we need to start investing in local industry, no matter how humble it is.” George Elliott Clarke

“When the train service started up in Nova Scotia, it was between Windsor and Halifax. Nowhere else, just Windsor and Halifax,” said Clarke. “And I think that could still be a lucrative route for somebody who wanted to invest in that service... and if somebody was really daring they would add Wolfville to accommodate the Acadia University students.”

The other key aspect that would make Hants County more prosperous is ramping up local manufacturing, Clarke said.

“Our manufacturing now is done, unfortunately, offshore because it's more cost effective,” he said, noting we use cheap labour so we're able to buy cheap goods.

“Forget about trying to ship stuff all around the world. Worry about the local market. And say you only employ 10 people or 20 people; hey, those are 10 to 20 people who didn't have jobs before and they're going to be able to contribute to the economy, grow their families here,” he said.

“So we need to start investing in local industry, no matter how humble it is.”

Clarke said people need to remember it was local production, local labourers with a dream, that built our small towns and big cities.

“Put some money back in the local economy and that's going to make your downtown thrive. You put a couple factories downtown, you got a downtown. You got a workforce, you got people who want to go and spend money in the coffee shops.”

Organizations: Quick As A Wink Theatre, Acadia University

Geographic location: Windsor, Hants County, Halifax Lake Pisiquid Avon River Bay of Fundy Mount Uniacke Nova Scotia Wolfville Windsor, N.S. Minas Basin

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