Op-ed for Mayor Brittany Merrifield

Op-ed for Mayor Brittany Merrifield, Grand Bay-Westfield

Published Saturday June 19, 2021, Telegraph Journal

Grand Bay-Westfield has new leadership at the Council table for the first time in a generation, and our new Council is set to grow our town, play an active role in building our regional economy, and work closely with all levels of government to make New Brunswick a ‘have’ province.

There is truly no place like Grand Bay-Westfield. On one side, we have the mighty Saint John River – first named the Wolastoq River by the Wolastokiyik and Maliseet people – a word that means “beautiful and bountiful river.” On the other side is the abundant forest on the ridge. In between, and against that glorious backdrop, a wonderful and welcoming people are nestled into neighbourhoods and schools and churches and shops.

Our new Town tagline captures this reality perfectly: Neighbours By Nature.

With a brand-new Council at the helm, I know our neighbours are watching. They are undoubtedly asking themselves: where will our new Council lead us?

Since we’re less than two weeks into our new mandate, our Council’s vision for the next four years is still a work in progress. However, I am excited about the energy, commitment and alignment we already have as a group. The north-star concepts arising from our discussions are inspiring and growth-oriented: population growth for financial sustainability, organizational capacity, infrastructure sustainability and climate adaptation, and community vitality. 

Our pillars contain an impressive to-do list that will keep us busy throughout our term. The good news is that our Council is not just ready, but enthusiastic about getting to work. Our common desire to see the abundance of our Town grow and mature, and to see our neighbouring communities flourish, will guide us into the future. We see that future as:

A municipality that builds on what we have, while retaining our small-town feel.

An open and diverse community seeking solutions that create abundance and balanced growth.

A values-driven community focused on wellness and well-being, which gives visitors and residents the ability to experience all that we have to offer.

Council has talked about the values we want to bring to our governance. Together we have discussed the importance of justice, community, courage, inclusion, trust, and openness.

This is a piece of what it means to be neighbours by nature.

A thriving and prosperous community must embrace a common set of values that create the conditions for inclusion of people of all colours, creeds, genders and faiths. We must actively weave this diversity into our town experience in a way that creates a future with a place for everyone.

Our Council seeks to make this vision a reality, and to bring those values to life. We are a team with a strong desire to be effective and capable partners, both regionally and provincially, over the long term. We believe that if one side must lose for the other to win, we all suffer.

That is why we are neighbours by nature.