I have been in Moncton now for going on nine years. Nine good years. The city has added 10,000 people to its population, the economy is chugging along. New residential and retail nodes are growing. But there is one major concern. The downtown.
In those nine years, I have seen at least five different ‘plans’ for downtown development. I have agonizingly watched the city give Verdiroc another ‘6 month extension’ – it seems like a million times. I have waited for the next Assumption, Blue Cross or City Hall signature office building for years – and none forthcoming.
Now, we hear today, there is another plan. All the same elements that have been thrown around for years are there – convention centre, hotel, parking yadda yadda yadda.
There’s an old saying that ‘as goes a city’s downtown so goes their economic development’. That is why cities across North America have spent billions revitalizing downtowns in the past 20 years. Yet, in Moncton, our downtown has barely moved at all since the visionaries in the late 1980s planned for the new city hall and the Blue Cross Centre.
Well, that’s 15 years folks. Moncton is a transformed city in that time.
It’s time to be deliberate about downtown’s development.