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NEWS

metronews.ca Monday, March 17, 2014

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Expert opinion

What’s to be done?

Cape Breton is on the verge of seeing its population dip below 100,000 people. Cape Breton Post FILE

Cape Breton University political scientist Tom Urbaniak says he believes the province has been “ambivalent” when forced to address the situation of the province’s population decline, particularly in Cape Breton. “I’m not quite sure anyone knows what to do next,” Urbaniak says in an interview. He says the recently released Ray Ivany report into the state of the Nova Scotia economy did not provide examples of how other struggling economies reinvented themselves under challenging circumstances. Focusing development on a central urban core while embracing newcomers of all origins should be part of the way forward, Urbaniak says. “(It’s) creating that quality of place,” he says. “Having easy access to a multiplicity of amenities, both in terms of basic services but also in terms

of culture and the arts, recreation, entertainment and a high level of safety and good, mutual support networks and a vibrant nonprofit sector. All of that is part of the mix.” And there are those who still want to be part of that mix. Many people who left the island in search of employment decades ago are now deciding as they reach their retirement years to move back home. Sydney Mines native Mary Arlene Aitken is one of those people. In her 50s, she bought property eight years ago with her husband in Georges River, outside North Sydney, with the intention of moving there permanently within the next two years. Even after spending 35 years living in Hinton, Alta., she says she “can’t stay away” from Cape Breton. Doubts are creeping in, however, considering Nova Scotia’s high rate of taxation and gasoline prices that can’t compare to the relative bargain basement deal of $1.139 in Hinton. Chris Shannon/Cape Breton Post

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