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Yarmouth chamber’s new president upbeat about what’s happening

Angie Greene, the new president of the Yarmouth and Area Chamber of Commerce, and Geoff Irvine, executive director of the Lobster Council of Canada. Greene assumed the chamber’s presidency (succeeding Neil Rogers) at the organization’s March 7 AGM, where Irvine was the guest speaker.
Angie Greene, the new president of the Yarmouth and Area Chamber of Commerce, and Geoff Irvine, executive director of the Lobster Council of Canada. Greene assumed the chamber’s presidency (succeeding Neil Rogers) at the organization’s March 7 AGM, where Irvine was the guest speaker. - Eric Bourque

Angie Greene assumes presidency at chamber’s AGM; lobster council’s Geoff Irvine addresses group

Who would have thought a snowball could be a source of inspiration, yet it was for Angie Greene, the new president of the Yarmouth and Area Chamber of Commerce.

As she spoke during the chamber’s annual general meeting – where she officially assumed the group’s presidency – Greene talked about the positive things she sees happening in the local area and the potential for greater things to come.

Southwestern Nova Scotia has much to offer and more people are realizing it and want to experience it, she said.

To set the stage for her address, she talked about a nice winter day when she was shovelling a path in the snow so that her chickens could come out and get some sun. A few scoops in, she said, she realized the conditions were perfect for snowballs and so, putting aside the shovel, she decided to make a path by rolling a snowball instead.

Speaking to chamber members during their March 7 AGM, Greene said, “This morning I was looking out my window at that snowball and remembered how perfect the conditions were that day for getting that ball big fast. Like here in our community. Rural is trending. The 20-and-30-somethings are taking note of our enviable lifestyle and moving their kids and their parents to get closer to nature, to clean air and to simplifying their lives.”

The challenge for those who already live here, she said, is to convince themselves – or perhaps just remind themselves – that they have what many people elsewhere want, notably those who live in big cities who maybe would welcome the sort of change southwestern Nova Scotia could give them.

“They have hour-long commutes in (city) traffic and five-minute lawns to mow,” Greene said. “We have five-minute commutes and it takes us an hour on the ride-on to mow our massive lawns.”

She cited examples of the positive things occurring in the local area, including the impact of the ferry service on a growing tourism industry, business start-ups, the renovation of downtown buildings and big new projects like the proposed Mariners Centre expansion.

She noted it wasn’t that many years ago when the picture wasn’t nearly as bright.

“It takes courage to buck against the old rhetoric of stagnation and recession,” she said, “but the snowball has already started rolling.”

This might have been a good segue into a presentation by Geoff Irvine, executive director of the Lobster Council of Canada and guest speaker for the Yarmouth chamber’s AGM, given how the lobster fishery continues to roll along and play a vital role in the economy of so many communities.

Among other things, Irvine spoke of the interconnectedness of the industry, how what happens in one area can affect another.

“I just ask everyone to understand that the sector is very diverse and very complicated,” he said.

Referring to southwestern Nova Scotia, he said a positive development in recent years is that the region’s fishermen have come together more.

“When we started the lobster council nine years ago, the harvesters here for lobster were truly not organized and now they’re much more organized and it’s really good news,” he said.

The industry has become more complex, he said, given things like international rule changes, sustainability, safety and market access.

If he had to pick a major issue facing the lobster sector, Irvine said, labour would be right up there.

“We don’t have enough people,” he said. “Nobody wants to work in fish plants anymore and it’s one of our biggest issues.”

On a marketing note, Irvine said Canadian lobster is competing internationally with various popular food offerings from other countries. A plus for Canada, he said, is that this country has a good reputation and is highly regarded in much of the world. He would like to see the lobster industry take advantage of that more.

“We really need to promote the Canadian brand,” he said.

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