Posted in Opinion

Follow the Thread

Reflecting upon the use of GIS at the municipal level, I felt that it was time to do some background research. GISThreadI had noted that Chris Turner at BlueJack Consulting had developed a web GIS application for the Eastern Shore. Likely my best resource would be Eric Melanson at Esri Canada in Halifax. Eric was a COGS graduate from the ’80’s.

Eric provided me three links to East Hants, St John, NB and Maple Ridge, BC. Later, he added Cumberland County and mentioned Cape Breton. My specific interest was GIS in rural Nova Scotia.

To go further, I contacted Brent Hall at Esri Canada, Toronto. Brent is Director, Education and Research, after an academic career at the University of Waterloo and Otago. Brent was able to refer me to a number of materials coming from Esri, California. In particular, podcasts, videos, online magazine articles. This made me realize:

a) there was a new generation of tools and products under the ArcGIS Hub brand;

b) since I had been away from the technology, companies like Esri were using a variety of multi-media tools to reach their target audience.

bookCover_scaleAt the end of my thread, I listened to a podcast by Geoffrey West. He had written a book, called Scale. In particular, West talks about scale in terms of large cities and companies. Of course, my interest was at the opposite end of the spectrum. What happens in rural Canada? These areas lack the diversity of our urban areas and thus are extremely vulnerable to the effects of change.

After a conversation with Simeon Roberts, he sent me a copy of the Municipal Affairs Business Plan 2017-2018. One of their priorities is:

‘Develop for consideration a new model for the Regional Enterprise Network program that supports ONE Nova Scotia economic growth, youth workforce attachment and rural entrepreneurship’

bookCover_NSbusinessplanAnd further:

‘Bring more datasets in the Nova Scotia Geospatial Infrastructure to support and promote land use planning and economic development, build data management tools and a viewer to deliver data to RENs and Municipal Units’.

Joining the dots, it would seem imperative that there should be an analysis of the use of GIS technology by the different municipal units across the province. At a minimum, this should include East Hants, Cumberland, the Eastern Shore and Cape Breton This type of cross-comparison would seem to be essential as part of the development of a new model for the REN program.

In addition, faculty and students at COGS should be familiar with the application of technologies like QGIS and ArcGIS Hub so that they have the necessary expertise, as we follow the thread.


For planning purpose, there will always be the need for good geographic information about our landscape and its use, whether that is agriculture, forestry or municipal development.


I have appreciated the electronic and face-to-face conversations with Simeon Roberts, Eric Melanson, Brent Hall, Doug Foster, Jeff Wentzell. The opinions, of course,  remain my own. Thanks to Edward Wedler for his graphic response.


Chris Turner.  Check online Bluejack Consulting.

Eric Melanson

Cumberland County

City of St John

East Hants

Maple Ridge

Brent Hall

Check Andrew Turner, Constituent Engagement. A World Tour of ArcGIS Hub Sites

Also check podcast Geoffrey West January 11/2018 The Fundamentals of Growth and Transformation: companies and cities

Check WhereNext magazine.

Nova Scotia Department of Municipal Affairs.  Business Plan. 2017-2018.



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