Jill Smith, a gifted stone carver, is a born and raised Lunenburger.
She doesn’t vote for the same party in every election, but this time around, said the issues near and dear to her heart have made the decision clear. She’s passionate about health care, climate action and conservation — issues that will impact her grandchildren and their children.
“I think a lot of people are looking at the fact that parts of our country are burning and things like fish stocks are down,” she told Global News. “People can’t deny that our oceans are being fished out, that our weather has changed, that we’re more vulnerable to flooding and fires.”
Smith said she’s deeply concerned by the growth of open-net salmon farming in Nova Scotia, and the Liberal government’s delisting of Owls Head Provincial Park as a potential site for protection. The decision was taken, she added, “sneakily and quietly” to make way for a sale to a company that wants to build a golf course there.
“I’m looking at issues that I think are really important for the future of our province, not just sort of short-term gain for corporations in this province,” she explained.
The Municipality of the District of Lunenburg is split into two ridings — Lunenburg and Lunenburg West. The former includes the towns of Lunenburg, Mahone Bay, New Germany, Riverport and Blockhouse, while the latter encompasses Bridgewater, LaHave and Hebbville.
Both South Shore ridings are replete with small businesses; Lunenburg is home to a number of tourism hot spots, with industries ranging from fishing to boat-building, while Lunenburg West relies on retail and trade, with call centres and Michelin as two of the major employers.
Smith is a voter in the Lunenburg riding, where Liberal Suzanne Lohnes-Croft is the incumbent MLA and a cabinet minister in Premier Iain Rankin’s cabinet. Her competition comes from Progressive Conservative candidate Susan Corkum-Greek, New Democrat hopeful Alison Smith, the Green Party’s Thomas Trappenberg and an independent candidate, John Giannakos.
Linda Roe, a native of Burlington, Ont., moved to the Lunenburg area 14 years ago. Back then, she told Global News, it was “easy” to get a family doctor, but since then, something has changed.
“There are people here that are lifelong Nova Scotians and they don’t have one. To me, that’s a big issue,” she said from her Art Barn studio and gallery in Blue Rocks, N.S.
“I know Nova Scotia has difficulty keeping doctors. They may attract them, but they don’t keep them.”
Roe is worried about access to health care and affordable housing for Lunenburg’s aging population. She doesn’t consider herself a “political animal,” she added, but said it’s important to pay attention and vote when it’s time.
“If you want to be an ostrich with your head in the sand, then whatever you get is what you deserve,” she explained.
Michael Higgins, owner of the Lunenburg Bound book store, said he’s worried Nova Scotians young and old may be left behind after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“One of the things that’s really concerning me is that both the Liberals and Conservatives are not interested in raising the minimum wage, and I think if you want to have an economic recovery from the pandemic, you have to bring everyone along with you and that means raising the minimum wage,” he said.
He also described housing as “problematic” both in Lunenburg and across the province.
It’s a struggle Talesse Rawding knows well — a recent high school graduate in New Germany, she said low vacancy rates make it difficult to envision a future at home.
“It’s kind of impossible to picture myself even living here in five, 10 years because right now I’ve been looking for a place and I absolutely can’t find anything,” she said. “I do have a dog and that makes it a little more difficult, but there’s absolutely no housing for rent whatsoever.”
Many of her friends are leaving the area for that very reason, she added.
This election will be Rawding’s first time voting, and as an undecided voter, she’s inviting all parties to impress her with their education platforms.
“I found in New Germany school, a lot of our programs are being cut in general, and I understand because they’re small schools, but it’s also hard for a lot of students to get through and get into other programs going on,” she explained. “I think anything to do with education would really reel me in.”
The election takes place on Aug. 17. For more information on how to cast your vote, visit the Elections Nova Scotia website.