The absurdity of the thing is downright amazing.
I am referring to the residential development project that was slated for the Portage Vale area near Sussex. This was a $100+ million development that would have attracted wealthy investors from Ireland and the U.K. There are dozens of these types of projects all across Canada – none in New Brunswick. They do not require any government funding and are targeting people living outside New Brunswick – so it’s all new money – new taxes – new investment for the province.
Irish developers have ended negotiations with the province for a Crown land swap to construct a multi-million-dollar resort in the Portage Vale area. Silver Maple Developments of Ireland withdrew its application Monday for a swap of 1,600 hectares of Crown land on top of a large hill in Portage Vale/Elgin, provincial Department of Natural Resources spokesman Wade Wilson said Tuesday.
A province that has almost no visibility at all in the global context.
All we had to do as a province was a small land swap of crown land. That’s it.
But a few people egged on by a few hostile reporters – sent government officials running for cover and now its dead.
The developer has shelved the project and will now do a similar one in Portugal.
There are several things that are sad about this whole thing.
1. The media allowed and encourage this issue of the ‘old’ ‘Acadian’ forest. In fact, the our old friends at the Conservation Council of New Brunswick and other environmentalists helped this Steeves guy in and I quote “….his battle against the land swap”. This despite the fact that the exact area is is scheduled to be harvested by Irving anyway. So the Conservation Council of New Brunwick would prefer an Irving clearcut to a real development providing real jobs for the people of the area? That makes sense. Click here to view their all out assault on this project.
2. This issue about secrecy. This is the most absurd thing of all. The media – in every story – talked about all the secrecy. How many of these residential developments in Moncton get full public grillings before the land is even in place? I realize there is a process related to a land swap with government but officials should have been all over this with a copy of the Self-Sufficiency Plan tucked under their arms. From everything I have read on this government officials – both elected and staff – were almost comatose on this.
So, what we have is real simple. The government is out there trying to encourage more call centres to come to New Brunswick. That’s it. Look at the last 50 new businesses attracted to New Brunswick over the past 7-8 years. Almost all call centres. Somebody comes along with something a little different – combined with a small handful of protesters – arguing about environmental concerns when the land will be clearcut anyway – and we get this result.
Finally, in a bit of irony, the government goes on about how ‘tourism’ is a key sector for development. They just dumped another $100 million into it. They are craving to get tourists here for 2-3 days a year.
Then along comes a development which would have brought hundreds of tourists here – maybe immigrants – for months at a time spending money in the province.
And we get this.
I’m all for environmental stewardship. I am serious about that. But for me the Conservation Council of NB has absolutely no credibility anymore. They are just another organization that throws crap at the wall hoping some will stick. Disapprove of everything – that’s their motto – scare people with buzzwords and militant actions – and hope that they can scuttle as much development as possible. They would be far better off and relevant to take reasonable positions and help try and guide the province into an economic development stream that addresses both our need to address serious economic challenges and our population decline in an environmentally sustainable way.
And as for the little band of protesters that are perfectly happy to watch New Brunswick sink into the well of Equalization and population decline – I don’t give a rip. These guys will always oppose. It doesn’t matter. If you wanted to put the headquarters of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick in Portage Vale, there would be someone pissed off.
But leadership is about balancing the needs of the province against the needs of vested interests. And there was virtually no leadership on this issue at all. Except, of course, from David Coon.
And the wheels grind on.