They have already begun: meetings with elected officials, presentations to town councils, and casual conversations with residents. The first town dialogue is scheduled for April 30 in Bridgetown. Kings County Dialogues on Gambling took place in 2010. Meetings were held in several towns and with diverse groups. Arising from these meetings was the incorporation of a small organization whose aim is to keep the momentum gained from the Kings dialogues alive. Kings Community Action Group on Gambling is currently working to raise its profile in the area.
The dialogues in Annapolis County will be similar to those held in the county of Kings. The meeting will begin with a presentation by Audrey Shields, a clinical therapist with Annapolis Valley Health. To avoid laying blame on individuals, she will look at gambling from a community perspective rather than from an individual viewpoint. Following the presentation, the meeting will take a workshop format, and there will be time participants to raise concerns. Shields is quick to point out that she is not anti-gambling; she is against the harms the gambling can bring and she admits that not all gambling products are equal. Some are more harmful than others. Discussion will also include topics such as how a town or village protect itself from unwanted gambling products.
The dialogues will be held as follows: Bridgetown, April 30 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Lions Hall; Lawrencetown, May 10 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the library; and Middleton, May 17 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the fire hall. Details for other meetings are currently being completed.
To register for a town dialogue, please call 542 -2363 or 691-2645. The Community Dialogues on Gambling are funded by Gambling Awareness Nova Scotia and the five Community Health Boards of the Annapolis Valley and Annapolis Valley Health.