|Profile of Leon de Vreede
by Shaun Allain
Leon de Vreede is 28 years old and lives in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. After moving to Nova Scotia from the Netherlands, Leon attended Acadia University in Wolfville and graduated in 2003 with a Bachelor of Science in environmental science. He is an avid camper and enjoys a number of nature activities. He’s also into music, yoga, graphic design, as well as volunteering and spending time with friends whenever he can. Living a healthy lifestyle and keeping in touch with friends and family as much as possible is an important part of his life.
Leon currently works for the town of Bridgewater as their sustainability planner. Every municipality in Nova Scotia needs to develop a sustainability plan by the year 2010. Leon is a part of this process and is working on a 2 year community planning process where he and his team identifies sustainability issues and prioritizes the ones to work on and develop an action plan for. He is very involved with working and communicating with the public and local stakeholders to determine what people believe and fear about topics such as climate change and energy usage. Five key areas of concern that he has come up with are energy, food, transportation, development of a green economy and education for sustainable development. He’s also organized an energy audit for all of the town’s facilities and developed recommendations for them to cut back on energy usage and consumption. There is also a Sustainable Partnership Program that he is involved in which is meant for any local business that is interested in learning about sustainability and how to contribute to the town process. They have only initiated this program about a year ago and already a large number of organizations have signed on and have been attending regular meetings to get introduced to new topics and be consulted on how to improve in those areas.
He has come to enjoy the small urban community of Bridgewater and nearby rural areas. The easy access to nature, more relaxed pace of life and friendly people has really made the lifestyle enjoyable for him but he does mention that the lack of diversity and small town mentality is a negative aspect. Through his time in the area, Leon has come to realize that a mix of people, from different educational backgrounds, is needed to fill the gaps of services and businesses. He noted that nearly everything you can achieve and do in a larger city can be accomplished here in small town, NS however the jobs are proportionally in smaller quantities.
When asked about why he feels that people are moving away to larger cities he said, “I think rural communities need to do a lot more to situate themselves so that they provide interesting job opportunities for young people”. “More apprenticeships are a good idea, [and] are ways for young people to explore and learn about jobs available in their local communities. Rural communities should also work to ensure that they support youth entrepreneurship through skills development, coaching, and providing seed funding”.
“I think rural communities need to do a lot more to situate themselves so that they provide interesting job opportunities for young people”.