The announced closure of the McCain’s french fry facility on the outskirts of the port community of Borden-Carleton is nothing short of a major economic loss for the town. It can be compared, although perhaps smaller in scale but no less devastating, than the closure of CFB Summerside two-and-a-half decades ago.
Borden-Carleton town council has been working hard to increase its population base and attract new business development to the area. But now a major economic engine from the community will be gone Oct. 31.
Rural communities across Prince Edward Island are struggling. Borden-Carleton is no different. Mayor Dean Sexton is worried and he has a right to be.
“We’ve been trying to maintain if not get more businesses here,” he said. “Like any small community on the Island we can’t take much more decline. The next thing that happens is you lose your school and once your school is gone, your community is gone.
McCain’s is providing a $2 million transition fund to help with economic development. That money, however, is not going to the Borden-Carleton council but rather to the province.
Premier Robert Ghiz said in a press release said these fund are “to identify potential economic development initiatives. In the coming weeks and months an action plan will be developed.”
The funding should go to Borden-Carleton. Let the community decide where the dollars will be spent. There needs to be action taken to find a replacement for McCain’s and it needs to be done quickly.
The community cannot survive a long, drawn out provincial government study into how much of the $2 million should be spent in Borden-Carleton and on what.
The community has its elected officials and they were put in office to chart the future of the community. Let them do that.
The premier was unavailable to comment on the $2 million fund but his office did say that the parameters of the funding have yet to be worked out. And that one of the requirements from McCain’s attached to the funding is that no economic development could be brought in that would be in direct competition with their current business.
Town councillors have a responsibility and a right to determine their own future and the province should be there to assist, not direct, how the community reaches its goals.