The County of Kings community will tackle its diversity strategy alone
The County of Kings township mayor says his council will go it alone after three towns in the township decided not to support a regional diversity initiative.
The community previously said it needs Berwick, Kentville and Wolfville to help implement the county’s strategy over a five-year period.
Mayor Peter Muttart said the strategy is broader than a partnership with cities.
“We would all feel comfortable if no one was left out in our communities and that we all had the same level of dedication and emphasis on the issues,” he said.
“That would give me a level of comfort, would give my Council a level of comfort that he doesn’t necessarily have now.”
The three cities would have been responsible for 30 percent of the initiative’s annual budget of $230,000.
The strategy would guide local policies and priorities in each community to improve representation and economic empowerment, ensure equal access to services and celebrate diverse cultures.
Muttart said it is now a regular part of the local council and he is proud of the work done by the staff.
“I know that what our people to whom we dedicated this file are doing is certainly gaining a lot of respect in the province, and I 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 cities are already investing in diversity and inclusion, according to their mayors.
The mayor of Berwick did not respond to a request for an interview.
The mayor of Kentville said her city council didn’t feel invited into the planning process.
“They want us to help them pay the bills,” Sandra Snow said. “But they really didn’t want to focus on some of the amazing things we were doing.”
Kentville’s Accessibility Plan embraces diversity, inclusivity and equity and is used in every City Council decision, Snow said. She says her town also celebrated local African Nova Scotians and Mi’kmaq.
Snow said it was easier for Kentville to focus on the issues within its own community.
Wendy Donovan, the mayor of Wolfville, said her city started its own initiative to figure out how to become more inclusive and equitable.
Donovan says Wolfville is unique because half of the population is Acadia students and many are from outside of Canada.
“A lot of what we’re doing right now is some sort of fact-finding about who is in our community, what obstacles they face, and what things we should be doing in the future differently than what we’re doing now.”
Removing systemic barriers
The County of Kings parish says it has already done that job.
The staff spent 14 months consulting with dozens of people, including First Nations governments and African Nova Scotians, said Brittany Traynor, the community development manager for the community.
“I think this is something unique, and the strength of the strategy is that it’s designed for the community,” she said.
The county has two permanent full-time staff dedicated to the diversity portfolio and addressing systemic inequality and exclusion in the area, Traynor said.
“As a result, we have a level of focus and responsiveness to the community that goes beyond simply celebrating diversity.”
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