Nova Scotia

'There are tons of jobs': Lunenburg County plans cross-country marketing tour

This summer, a bright yellow camper straight out of the 1970s will leave Nova Scotia on a cross-Canada tour to entice people to move to Lunenburg County for work.

Road trip across Canada organized to boost Lunenburg County's declining population

The camper was purchased for the cross-Canada tour by a group of Lunenburg County residents concerned about the area's declining population. (Jerri Southcott/CBC)

This summer, a bright yellow camper straight out of the 1970s will leave Nova Scotia on a cross-Canada tour to entice people to move to Lunenburg County for work. 

The slogan on the side of the camper reads, "Create a life you love in Lunenburg County." The camper was purchased by small group of residents sensitive to the issues raised in the Ivany Report.

Tina Hennigar heads up the initiative and says the idea was hatched after talking to employers and newcomers. 

"There are tons of jobs. We've heard from employers who need me to go tomorrow and bring people back," she said. 

The report, called "Now or Never: A Call to Action for Nova Scotians," addresses concerns about the province's economic health and population decline. 

County 'hitting a crisis mode'

The aim of the initiative, funded in part by corporate sponsorship, the Lunenburg County Community Fund as well as the Community Foundation of Nova Scotia, is to sell the community to towns and cities across the country.

"We are hitting a crisis mode for not having enough people to fit the talent pool," said Hennigar.

The van leaves in July, starting in Montreal and will make its way across the country, finally ending up in Victoria, B.C., Hennigar said.

Destinations between Quebec and B.C. are still being planned. But Hennigar estimates she'll be on the road for a total of 33 days.

Embracing collaboration

Hennigar hopes to get some input on her trip from people all over the South Shore who are looking to see the population grow.

"We're kind of painting the rocket as it takes flight. So, it's changing all the time," she said.

"It's all about collaboration. I knew if I sat behind a desk expecting to greet hordes of people looking to relocate here, I'd be waiting a very long time."

A chance to attract the unemployed

Hennigar says they got a call from the town of St. Marys, Ont., requesting a stop in their town after a Kraft Heinz Co. plant closure put nearly 200 out of work.

"I'll promote our employment and development opportunities, our real estate — which is very affordable — as well all the great things we offer, [some] I'm still learning about," she said.

Students show support

Bridgewater high school student Juliette Lennox thinks it's important for young people to support the tour.

"Local businesses give back, on average, to the community 250 per cent more than larger corporations. We need young people, entrepreneurs to come into the area and start businesses."

Student Juliette Lennox plans to return to Nova Scotia after attending university in Montreal. (Jerri Southcott/CBC)

Ben Halverson is also a high school student in Bridgewater concerned about the number of young 
people leaving the South Shore for school and not planning to return.

"If people return or come into the province and start businesses and create jobs within our community, it will help economically and it will make the province a better place to live."

'I'd really like to come back'

While Lennox will be attending McGill in the fall studying science and psychology, there's no question where she plans to start her career.

"I'm from Scotland. My family moved to Canada when I was three. I've always had a lot of cultural conflict, with my parents wanting to go back to Europe. But as I've grown up here, I've come to realize that this is my home," she said. 

"I'm actually quite connected to my Nova Scotian roots now. I'd really like to come back."