Former Town of Antigonish Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Stephen Feist was back at a town council meeting, Nov. 20, to be recognized for work started prior to, and during, his time in Antigonish.
Mayor Laurie Boucher presented Feist with a Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Award, which recognized international work Feist was involved in, over the course of 14 years, and with two different programs.
The first program was with Guyana on municipal governance, from 2004 to 2007.
“I worked directly with the municipal advisors from the federal government of Guyana on both capacity development, on municipal government for the Guyanese Advisors, and the development of a Municipal Resource Handbook,” Feist explained, in an email to the Casket.
“This included four trips to Guyana and hosting two delegations from Guyana to Nova Scotia.”
The second project took place during Feist’s time as Antigonish’s CAO, which stretched from 2011 to 2016.
The Caribbean Local Economic Development Program (CARILED) involved Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago and St. Lucia and included, amongst its work, the town hosting delegates, from each participating country, for a two-day program and a three-day workshop at St. F.X.
Feist explained his last trip to Guyana was in January of this year and it marked the end of the program, from FCM’s end.
He noted his original involvement came about as FCM sought a smaller province which would be similar to Guyana.
“What they were looking for was not only representatives from the provincial government but, also, from all the municipalities,” Feist, who was a municipal advisor with the province at the time, said.
He noted that role, somewhat, led to the second.
“I went to a FCM conference, when I was the CAO for the Town of Antigonish, and I bumped into one of the people I was working with before and they said, ‘Stephen, you have to come and hear about this new program that we’re starting up on local economic development,’” Feist said, noting his earlier work played a role in FCM wanting him to become involved again.
“One thing led to another and Carl [Chisholm, former Antigonish mayor], who was with me at the time, I filled him in on it and he said, go find out what it is and bring it back. I brought it back to council who said ‘OK’… that’s how that one evolved.”
He noted he was also sought out because he was working for Antigonish at the time.
“Even though we’re a small community, we have the university here and a regional hospital, but the other thing was, the town owned its own electric utility,” he said.
“Those three things, basically, worked together and, this is one thing I’ve always said, even though the Town of Antigonish population-wise might be a small municipality, we punch way above our weight. Primarily, because we have our own electric utility, the university is here, a regional hospital, and we also have the archdiocese here as well.
“And the other thing is, even though Antigonish is a small municipality, it’s really the regional centre for a much larger community. Based on all of those factors, that’s why the FCM was quite interested in the Town of Antigonish.”
Feist described being selected for the award as a proud conclusion to his career, writing in the email; “I consider it a great honour but one that I do have to share with the Town of Antigonish and Municipal Affairs, Province of Nova Scotia, for allowing me to participate in these programs.”
He described more emotion when talking to the Casket.
“I was absolutely speechless because not that many awards were given out; I was blown away to receive it,” he said. “It’s a very nice way to end my career, icing on the cake for the end of my career, and a very nice surprise.”