99 Luft Balloons

Anyone over 35 will get the reference in the title.  Anyone under 35, google it.

I heard the most wonderful story on Wednesday.  I was talking with one of the original rainmakers that engineered Moncton’s transformation back in the late 1980s (names like Rideout, McKenna, Belliveau, Daigle, etc.) and he told me about a cold January morning when a bunch of these community leaders got together in downtown and let off a large bunch of balloons into the sky.  In these balloons where little notes with “Greater Moncton: We’re OK” on them with a telephone number.

They got a call from as far away as Yarmouth confirming that “Greater Moncton was O.K.”. 

Of course this is weird and wonderful at the same time but it does say something about where Moncton was at just 20 years ago.

I don’t have much of a creative mind but there is something in there for places like Miramichi that are also trying to deal with a serious structural shift in its economic base.

There are lessons from Moncton circa the late 1980s that need to be retold.  Stories of a deliberate Mayor (Rideout).  Stories of an engaged Premier.  Stories of building economic development infrastructure (M.I.D and GMEC).  Stories of community engagement (Symposium 2000, Creating Tomorrow Together, etc.).

The 20 anniversary of Symposium 2000 is coming up in May of this year.  I hope that the local media does some retrospective for us.  It is likely that close to half the people living in Greater Moncton today did not live here just 20 years ago so we need these stories to be retold.  See Bill Belliveau’s comments on Symposium here.

23 thoughts on “99 Luft Balloons

  1. Just tell me the story of how much money went into this project? As compared to the other cities. I know the why! Because economic development only succeeds with a continual feeder! Good money supply can make a lot of us look good, and does. Yes write us a book on the back room deals in the past 100 years. Except, unlike yesteryears, anyone who acquires that kind of information nowadays is pulled into the circle. As they gee-haw around and circle the wagons. No longer can just anyone become Prime Minister or President.

  2. Great article, and typical! One government MLA speaks the truth, off the record, and from then on the french have their say! Trying to spin a disaster for the english into a great thing.
    Also notice the democracy involved! I THINK, THEREFORE IT WILL BE!
    Next will be Graham bragging about mckenna, a never ending effort, but still, somehow, tries to say HE built our nice highways. Thats the way its done ,conflabelflush.
    Too bad we didn’t have any REAL investigative journalist anymore, but neither does Cuba!

    Donald J. Savoie Louis J. Robichaud Robert Pichette Louis Robichaud, the premier at the time, told his fellow MLAs prior to the vote on April 11, 1969: “I think this is a fair bill and if all of us want to treat it fairly, implement it fairly and harmoniously, I believe it will lead to much better understanding in New Brunswick.”

    Bill 73, which made both French and English official languages in the province, was passed unanimously in a vote later that day.

    But the introduction of official bilingualism was not without controversy. In the decades since, some have questioned whether it was the best approach for New Brunswick and whether it has really had the desired effect.

  3. So while we continue to waste those billions, look as this mess!

    When a short while ago, posted in the TJ was that 350 million was waiting in Ottawa, for NB, if proven it was invested in french schools, and NBer’s match the funds!

    Please, teachers: give a little
    Published Saturday April 11th, 2009
    A12Hon. Kelly Lamrock
    Minister of Education

    Education Minister Kelly Lamrock is asking the New Brunswick Teachers Association to postpone next year’s scheduled reduction in class size. That means putting their success above our own fear of change, or a desire to avoid difficult discussions.

    When we say kids come first, we have to mean they come first when it’s tough, not just when it’s easy.

    By now, you have undoubtedly heard that many advanced economies are in recession with little measurable upturn expected before late 2009 or 2010. Like other provinces, New Brunswick is not immune from these economic challenges. The effects of the slowdown are real, and being rapidly felt.

    In recognition of our current fiscal reality, New Brunswick’s recent budget introduced a program of spending restraint. Premier Shawn Graham has met with public sector unions to discuss ways in which we could work together to weather these challenging economic times.

    Tough times call for tough decisions. Even with an education budget increase of $21 million, there are other costs that will go up faster. For example, higher teachers’ wages will cost $31 million this year. There is no doubt our teachers have earned this and deserve it – our record increases in literacy are testament to their skill and hard work. However, we still need to make up that funding gap.

    Already, we have had to reduce funding in the areas of student transportation, library supports and behaviour intervention. Unfortunately, it’s not enough.

  4. The message here is that ‘hype can sell’, and that’s true. The balloon metaphor is apt, because on the one hand, there was really no ED connection to throwing out a bunch of balloons (“Moncton is OK”? Really, how did THAT help ED?) On the other hand the german song was all about nuclear paranoia-a bunch of students release a bunch of balloons, and the military calls out the air force starting a nuclear war.

    That’s a bit of a stretch in economic development, but there IS something to be said for doing even stupid things in order to get people motivated, and that motivation can lead to wonderful things. That’s especially true in an age when just about anybody has a computer in front of them and can become an instant entrepreneur with a little knowledge (not so good now that few people are buying).

    During the depresssion they started big projects here and in the states that helped set the stage for cheap power in both countries, and projects like that help morale and put money in people’s pocket. But again we come back to – are highways the ‘make work’ project that is necessary? However, until some groups come up with some projects, thats what the government will be looking at-at their 99 red balloons will have about the same effect (not literally of course).

  5. While NB is still talking ED, Maine moves!

    NMCC wind power tech program ‘a hit’

    By Jen Lynds
    BDN Staff

    PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The mounting interest in wind power has led to an influx of interest from those who want to learn how to maintain and fix windmills, which has had a direct impact on the future of Northern Maine Community College.

    Last September, NMCC launched a first-of-its-kind program in New England geared toward training wind power technicians.

    At that time, the Maine Community College System board of trustees formally approved a proposal brought forward by NMCC to introduce a wind power technology program on campus. The program will train wind power technicians to operate, maintain and repair wind turbine generators.

    Officials from NMCC said they were inspired to create the program in light of the growing interest in wind power and NMCC’s proximity to the state’s first commercial wind farm just 14 miles from the campus in Mars Hill.

    NMCC President Tim Crowley said on Wednesday the college is instructing approximately 42 students who are taking the initial courses that are part of the wind power technology program.

    Right now, students in the program are taking just initial courses. College officials intend to bring the full program on line this fall.

    “The program is a hit in terms of interest,” Crowley said on Wednesday. “I think we will see the greater evolution of the program once we start the associate degree program in the fall.”

    There already is a faculty member on board to teach introduction to wind power, and Crowley said that the college intends to hire additional instructors to help teach the rest of the courses in the program.

    College officials have noted that conservative estimates indicate Aroostook County has the potential to realize 50 to 80 new, long-term, highly skilled, high-wage technical positions in operation and maintenance for wind farms between 2009 and 2012. Additional employment opportunities are anticipated in neighboring northern Washington County, Franklin County in western Maine and in Canada’s Atlantic provinces. A two-year technical degree is the desired credential for entry into these positions.

    Current entry-level wages for a wind power technician are $18 to $22 an hour

  6. “The 20 anniversary of Symposium 2000 is coming up in May of this year.”

    F’ton and Moncton are both growing, but how much of that growth is a result of people/business moving there from other parts of NB? Has anyone parceled out what has gone into the ‘growth’ of these urban areas? Is it really net growth for NB as a whole, or is it mainly a redistribution?

  7. The best way to tell that is to look at the census. I haven’t seen it for all rural areas, but definitely the rural areas are getting smaller. I had even thought that Oromocto was getting bigger because when other bases closed down people were shipped to base gagetown, but the latest census shows the population at about 1000 people less than it was twenty years ago. However, there is no way to tell how much is ‘immigration’ and how much is the rural population. There are spanish speaking communities and other immigrant groups that didn’t exist years ago, but they are still quite small. I haven’t seen any studies or media addressing that question-although I think David has mentioned it a couple of times in the past.

    As for the post above that, there is no point in training wind power technicians if there are no wind power turbines. This sounds like the community college trying to be ‘ahead of the curve’, and good for them, but most of those workers will be leaving to find jobs-IF they can find jobs. The good thing about that is that it creates a new lobby group-if you have a bunch of guys trained for wind power they are going to be quite vocal in telling Maine to get on the ball with wind power-and the more people making those demands the better.

  8. “The best way to tell that is to look at the census.”

    Obviously that doesn’t work. Where are all those UNB economists when you need them? Studying Bhutan, no doubt. Seems to me you’d have to start by separating out the local service industries from the export industries and see where the growth has occurred.

    “but the latest census shows the population at about 1000 people less than it was twenty years ago.”

    Drive thru Oromocto and you will quickly see why. Looks like 1/4 or more of the PMQ detached homes are empty; they’re too small and in need of repair, so soldiers have migrated to the surrounding LSDs in large numbers where they can build their own (larger) homes. If you include those LSDs, then the area population has increased somewhat. With the completion of the TCan, this area has become a suburb of F’ton in many respects.

  9. Maine has PROPOSALS for wind farms, and the government has accepted most of them, but provide the link for actual wind farms operating in Maine please, because I can’t find any. Meanwhile, most wind investments have hit gridlock because of the credit crunch in the US. Keep in mind also that wind turbines aren’t actually that complicated, and have relatively few problems, so its not like every windmill is going to have some guy sitting under it all day for when it breaks down. For small residential uses its a little different, but even that is a pretty small market and heavily serviced by many of the engineers who studied alternative energy and couldn’t find work.

    Actually, most of the PMQ’s had people move to Oromocto West as well as new subdivisions WITHIN Oromocto. That’s where the growth has been huge. That’s because the military pays relatively well and credit has been pretty easy to get. It’s not like they moved BECAUSE the PMQ’s were in disrepair-that’s up to individual renters to maintain.

    As for the central question here, we simply don’t know because economists may not be reading this site-in fact we know they aren’t. It’s not that the information is not out there, we don’t whether it is or not…has anybody here hit the journals looking?

    I don’t see why the census doesn’t work, not only does it show people’s residence, but also shows whether and how far they travel to go to work. There’s lots of that kind of information available, but again, we can’t expect David to do everything.

  10. Wind power developer applies for project in Maine

    By The Associated Press

    OAKFIELD, Maine — A Massachusetts-based wind power developer is seeking state approval to build a 51-megawatt project in the Aroostook County town of Oakfield.

    In its announcement Wednesday, First Wind said the project will consist of up to 34 turbines that could generate enough energy to power more than 20,000 homes.

    First Wind is no stranger to Maine. It owns and operates a 42-megawatt project in Mars Hill and a 57-megawatt project near Danforth, and has applied for a permit for a 60-megawatt project near Lincoln.

    The application for the Oakfield project was filed with the Department of Environmental Protection.

  11. Again while EDer’s talk and New Brunswickers dual everything, Maine is doing. Its been the History of America. NB will be very lucky if New England signs any deal with them. Canadians worked hard to earn the hate Americans now have for Canada!

    Maine firm breaks new ground on composting
    Hawk Ridge refines biosolids recycling to create rich, ‘safer that dirt’ mulch

    By Sharon Kiley Mack
    BDN Staff

    BANGOR DAILY NEWS PHOTO BY BRIDGET BROWNThe New England Organics facility in Unity and their employees including facility manager George Belmont (left) and director of product sales John Kelly recently received certification for operating a National Biosolids Partnership environmental management system. Buy Photo

    UNITY PLANTATION, Maine — Even on a 48-degree morning, the piles of compost steam at Hawk Ridge Compost Facility as temperatures reach up to 167 degrees inside the heaps of rich, dark mulch.

    Acres of minimountains of the products sit and cook — products coveted by landscapers, farmers and contractors for use on golf courses, athletic fields, campgrounds and parks.

    “This is cleaner than dirt,” Mary Waring, Hawk Ridge’s compliance manager, said Thursday, “and is actually safer than a lot of other organic residuals on the market, such as cow manure.”

    More than 52 major golf clubs in New England have greened their fairways with Hawk Ridge’s compost and mulch. Its material also enriches 58 athletic fields, including Foxcroft Academy, Nokomis Regional High School in Newport, the University of New Hampshire, Bates College in Lewiston, Pemaquid Park in Bristol and Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass.

    What begins as municipal solid waste is combined with food waste, ashes, shredded paper or sawdust to become the ultimate recycled product through a very simple system of heat and air at Hawk Ridge.

    But don’t let the uncomplicated composting system fool you.

    This isn’t your grandparents’ poop. It also isn’t what you find in your backyard composting pile.

    From when the facility opened in 1990 to today, massive technological changes have revamped the industry. Hawk Ridge began as a single cement pad and roof, and its products were feared by many who misunderstood its safety.

    Hawk Ridge is now the largest biosolids composter in New England — handling 600,000 pounds of material a year. The facility is owned by New England Organics, a subsidiary of Casella Inc.

    It accepts 145,000 cubic yards of material each year and ships 80,000 cubic yards of finished product under the earthlife brand name. As the longest running private compost facility in the Northeast, Hawk Ridge recently hit a milestone when it produced its one millionth cubic yard of compost.

    Your town may be on its client list — Portland, Augusta, Bangor, Brunswick, Calais, Eastport, Falmouth, Houlton, Rockland and many others.

    “Towns that bring their solids to us are very careful about their own systems,” Waring said. “The monitoring process actually begins there and a lot of the larger cities have their own pretreatment facilities.”

    John Kelly, director of product safety, said Hawk Ridge is very selective about whom it contracts with. “It’s kind of an untold story about how clean the biosolids are once the cities treat them,” he said. “They can almost be land-applied at that point.”

    The compost and mulch created at Hawk Ridge is screened and tested to standards far exceeding those of the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection standards. In most cases, the material has less metal, dioxin, fecal coliform and salmonella than Maine’s average soil.

    Here are some statistics: Maine soil has 7.4 parts per million of arsenic; Hawk Ridge compost has 2.7 ppm. Maine soil has 30 ppm of chromium, HR compost has 13 ppm.

    This is how the system works: Biosolids are brought to the Unity Plantation facility — at peak operation, 40 trucks a day come in and out. The solids are mixed with bulking agents, such as sawdust or shredded paper, to a ratio of 25 percent solids, 75 percent bulkers.

  12. Good post, to the point. But again, 28 brand new windmills are going to provide few jobs for technicians-MAYBE one. However, I do agree with GB that Maine is MILES ahead of NB on most of these initiatives. We had this discussion before, and my point still is that it comes down to the difference between a representative government with actual democracy, and having the ‘responsible’ government of New Brunswick (and most of Canada) that has few political options. In Maine, if its good for Maine they will do it, and some of the benefits go to the industries that provide the service, in Canada, if it benefits industry then it gets done, and some of the benefits go to canadians (although less and less).

  13. “Actually, most of the PMQ’s had people move to Oromocto West as well as new subdivisions WITHIN Oromocto.”

    Next time you are in Oromocto, visit Oromocto West and compare to suburbs in Burton LSD. Oro West is privately-owned housing, not PMQ.

    Also, take a tour of the PMQs; many are empty, many are in various stages of reno. Note the sizes of these homes – too small by todays standards and much smaller than new privately-owned homes. Soldiers are being driven out of the PMQs for these reasons; they get more bang for the buck in Burton or Geary than they do in Oromocto West. Its simple economics. That’s partly why Oromocto has not grown in population.

    ” It’s not like they moved BECAUSE the PMQ’s were in disrepair-that’s up to individual renters to maintain.”

    Obviously you have not been following the stories in the press over the past decade re military housing. Ever hear of asbestos or mold?

  14. Educating is difficult without one helping themself! Besides this ,Oakfield has anothe 30 windmills ready to be installed

    Stetson Wind, a 57 megawatt (MW) project, will surpass First Wind’s Mars Hill facility as the largest wind energy project in operation in the State of Maine. The project consists of 38 General Electric 1.5-MW wind turbines, and will have the capacity to generate approximately 167 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity every year.

    “The Stetson Wind project continues Maine’s aggressive leadership in pursuing energy independence,” said Maine Governor John Baldacci. “We are capitalizing on the clean, renewable sources of energy that exist in our State, like wind, solar and tidal. By harnessing these sources of energy locally, we keep money in our State and we create jobs in our State, all while improving our environment and our national security.”

    The project officially began generating power on a commercial basis and delivering it to the New England electrical grid earlier this week. Construction on the project began in January 2008. The project created 350 development and construction jobs and First Wind spent approximately US $50 million with Maine-based businesses developing and building the project.

  15. Burton and Geary didn’t start growing until the housing market in Oromocto West dried up. And here we’re talking about over a decade ago. The government had a co-op program for soldiers beginning in the seventies where the government provided low interest loans on the first five years of a mortgage-and THAT is when people started leaving the PMQ’s-and asbestos wasn’t considered a problem in the seventies (and its actually more of a problem in removal than staying put).

    Just drive around Oromocto and see all the new developments, however, it wasn’t enough and housing prices in Oromocto West were at one time among the highest in the country-which is when the developments began in Burton and Geary. And LOTS of homes have mold.

    However, I”m certainly not arguing that some people who lived in PMQ’s are now moving to surrounding areas, but again, that’s something we don’t know. I have cousins in the military who have up to three kids, and they live in PMQ’s with no problem. We lived in PMQ’s most of our younger lives, they are fine for those with younger/smaller families, but like any home owned by somebody else, it can be a challenge to get landlords to maintain them.

    For air turbines, even with another 30 turbines, thats 58 brand new turbines, hardly a huge market. And the credit squeeze may yet affect them. One sad thing is that with this school opening, its very possible that since the two new larger wind farms being proposed for New Brunswick will be owned by american companies, they may well end up hiring MAINERS for the maintenance jobs.

    As for education, I’ve posted here and elsewhere that its no coincidence that IRving pays very little in taxes, and that the New Brunswick government provides the LOWEST percentage of its budget towards education in ALL of Canada. That also takes into account that New Brunswick is the ONLY province in Canada where libraries fall under the auspices of the Department of Education (most provinces they are run by regions-which helps explain NB’s low ranking in library services). That would put the number even lower. So when the rich don’t pay their fair share and the government doesn’t invest in education, is anybody SURPRISED by the outcome? Of course none of this gets into the media since they own it, so they look like heroes coming to rescue the poor stupid New Brunswickers.

  16. I come to the defence of the NB libraries, which I think are at the top of anywhere in the world. Having read over 4000 library books (sic) I have been a quite steady visitor. In fact I think its the best run institution in NB.
    There are indications you have not been in many libraries. About 30 years ago I was one of the few to be found there most any hour of the day, but now the libraries are a steady stream of people, unfortunatly heading for the fiction area, showing a life of boredom mostly, whereas I never read a fiction book. The books out there with fairly accurate stories of the life of the world are so fantastic, why would anyone waste one minute on a nonfiction ramblings of some so-called artist?
    I forget to mention the large number of parents with their children, apparently trying to help them to learn the Global language English, which is basically ignored in , what some fools would call poor stupid New Brunswickers. Not having the opportunity to learn reading and writing their language, because of the direction taken by a bunch of liberal stupid fools, does not a poor stupid New Brunswicker make, as the other parts of the world that welcome the Brains of the New Brunswicker.

    ” I am ready and willing to change my mind when presented with the evidence, What about you sir?”

  17. I know many in the library field so know the ‘professional’ reputation of New Brunswick libraries. Virtually EVERY library now is packed, that doesn’t change their reputation. I”ve been to MANY NB libraries and used to haunt the Fredericton library, and at that time their music section was WAY ahead of many in other cities, even provinces.

    But centralization always comes with a cost. Regional libraries are under the control of a central bureaucracy in Fredericton, which often starves rural libraries (IF they even exist) and makes political decisions that serve the bureaucracy first. That’s how bureaucracies operate. Take something as simply as hiring. Not that city or regional library hiring can’t be political, but its FAR less political than going through the Department of Education. That doesn’t even get into book selection, go to an NB library and try to find a book critical of the Department of Education. I can write and print a book on local history and have it in the ‘local’ library in weeks. Local flavour is almost always lost when decisions are made in Fredericton.

    I tend to share the above comment that unfortunately MOST libraries are moving into non fiction and even worse, purchase of Hollywood DVD’s when the CBC and NFB are FULL of documentaries that are virtually never seen. However, many non-fiction books are also fiction, or at least BAD non-fiction, so there’s a whole other discussion on book selection. I did recommend Charles’ posted book on Agent Orange to my local library, and was told it was already on order.

    The Fredericton public library leaves a lot to be desired, I’d rate it as ‘ok’. I’ve been to libraries in virtually every province and in many countries, they are one of my favourite places to see in a city. I certainly never said the library was ‘bad’, and my MAIN point was that library costs are substancial, and only in NB are libraries part of the Department of Education. I’ve posted before that NB only spends 16% of its budget on education, where 22% is the average of Atlantic provinces. If you take out library funding, which isn’t included in the other province’s budget (although may be funded in a different way BY their education dept., I don’t know), then NB only spends 15% of its budget on education, perhaps even less.

  18. “Just drive around Oromocto and see all the new developments”

    Yes, Mikel, excellent suggestion. Why don’t you give that a try? Oromocto West is hardly filled up and the suburban developments in Burton (and other areas like Lincoln – around Oromocto) have grown markedly over the past decade. By contrast, many PMQs are empty; you can see that for yourself. You asked why Oro has not seen a pop increase over the last census, despite the staffing at Base Gagetown; its because of the developments of 1 acre lot subdivisions outside of Oromocto.

    Why are so many PMQs empty? Again its obvious – they do not meet todays standards for family housing – doesn’t matter whether you thought they were ok then. They are substandard now, and that’s apart from the asbestos, mold, and rotting seaweed insulation.

  19. Actually, I DIDN”T ask that question, I made a statement: “.. I thought that Oromocto was getting bigger because when other bases closed down people were shipped to base gagetown, but the latest census shows the population at about 1000 people less than it was twenty years ago.”

    The next statement was that people did not move BECAUSE of the PMQ’s, but for other reasons. Oromocto West is no longer the ‘hot spot’ it was years ago, but keep in mind that the population of Oromocto West now almost exceeds that of Oromocto, and on the far side of the highway, thirty years ago, there were NO houses.

    Again, its poor science to make general observations about specific cases. I don’t know what kind of science Richard practices, but again, there are LOTS of PMQ’s still in Oromocto, and lots of them have families and lots of them are in good condition. These are homes that are over forty years old, so there’s no question that they need upkeep, and its not surprising that the government would rather get out of the housing industry altogether and tear them down as opposed to fixing them up. For definitive answers on why people moved, they have to be polled.

    As for the Burton parish, there are new developments, but there are also people leaving. The Burton parish includes Geary as well, and in the 2001 census showed a population of 5000, and in 2006 showed a population of 5019. 19 people is hardly ‘massive growth’.

    These are things that maybe are studied and published somewhere, that would be good to search for, because you can only get so much information from driving around.

  20. I enjoyed reading Bill Belliveau’s review of Symposium 2000 and current vision. One thing though, the Vaughan Harvey/Main intersection has to be rescued before you celebrate it. Got off to a bad start with the Sobey’s store – Moncton bought Sobey’s insistence, as did Fredericton, that a downtown store had to follow the surburban mall model with acres of parking street at streetfront and the store recessed. This has to be corrected with streescape infill before anything atractive can take shape there.

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