Searching for an ambassador to sing the praises of the Town of Berwick?
Look no further.
Ty Walsh is a man who loves his town and wants everyone to know it.
Walsh was born in the Berwick area, attended both Somerset and Berwick schools, and later moved away for post-secondary education. It wasn’t until he met his wife, Katrina, also from Berwick, that he ended up back in the area - something he says he never imagined happening.
“When we were searching for houses, there was only one house that met what we were both looking for, and we’ve lived here in Berwick happily since 2012,” he says.
For the past nine years, Walsh worked at the Kings Regional Rehabilitation Centre in Waterville in client programs, but recently left that behind to focus on being a stay-at-home dad to his almost two-year-old son, John.
Besides looking after John, affectionately known as “the Duke” on social media, and his four-legged, first-born beagle Murphy, Walsh is one of the newest and youngest members of Berwick’s town council.
For as long as he can remember, Walsh has had an interest in politics, having first volunteered for an election in 2003. Then, in 2009, Walsh was the campaign office manager for Ramona Jennex, and in 2012, after just moving to town, he considered running for town council but decided he would be better off to run with more time in town under his belt.
By 2016, Walsh says he had gotten to know more people in the town through volunteer work with the Berwick and District Lions, and the Apple Tree Foundation, and had been successful chairing many projects and committees at work with the Kings Regional Rehabilitation Centre.
It was then that Walsh and his wife felt they were at a good point in life to take on a new project.
“Little did we know that the day after I signed the paperwork to run, we would find out we were pregnant,” says Walsh.
Walsh’s colleagues at town hall say he has been an incredible asset. Berwick’s mayor, Don Clarke, says it’s especially nice to have a young man with a young family on the council.
“Ty has demonstrated the value of having that younger voice,” says Clarke. “He brings great enthusiasm and a fresh approach to some old problems. We are fortunate to have him as part of our council.”
'FEELING OF PRIDE'
One would be hard pressed to find anyone more enthusiastic than Walsh about the Town of Berwick.
"It was hard to understand the feeling of pride people had in the town when I was younger, but since becoming a townie almost seven years ago, I see it now," says Walsh.
Berwick once held a national title of being the “most industrious and self-sufficient town in Canada” and Walsh says that is very much engrained in the town’s culture.
“It’s very easy to assume that as a small town, not much happens here, but the truth is, as someone who promotes a lot of town events and happenings, Berwick is a very busy area,” says Walsh.
"The people in our community really dig deep and work hard to make a standard of living that they feel proud to come home to. In my role as a councillor, I see that not only must we nurture that mindset but work towards an inclusive and welcoming town that others wish to share, become part of and live here."
It’s no secret that Berwick had fallen on hard times with decreasing economic activity over decades with industries gradually closing out and shutting down, says Walsh. On top of that, because of Nova Scotia’s aging population, Berwick had been considered a retirement community and young people were leaving and not moving home.
But, Walsh says, smart decisions made by community leaders have paid off and the town is once again enjoying a boost in business and community living.
“The change in the two-and-a-half years since I was elected has seen very few houses stay on the market for very long, and the young families have started to come back to the town and play active roles in our community,” he says.
When asked what he does outside of town and family life, Walsh laughs and says that sometimes it doesn’t feel like there is much time for anything else outside of those two things. But, Walsh is well-known for being a huge Batman fan and he, or his son, can often be seen sporting some of the comic hero’s paraphernalia.
“My wife and I are avid thrift store shoppers, collecting books, clothing, and now that we’re parents, lots of toddler toys,” he says.
What’s next for Walsh, especially in the political realm? Only time will tell. Although he loves being a councillor, as a first-time dad he says his family comes first in any decision making for the future.
He’s not looking to the provincial or federal levels of government right now, as he feels the municipal level is the right fit for him.
“There are many other opportunities that come with being a town councillor for sitting on boards and planning committees, both locally and provincially, and I plan to take advantage of the knowledge sharing that happens around those tables to further promote Berwick’s place in the world.”