There is a northern New Brunswick after all

For some of you southern NB folks, you may not be aware that there has never really been a defined area called ‘northern’ New Brunswick.  Sometimes Miramichi is in.  Edmundston has never really been in.  There has never been a coordindated thinking about Northern NB from Edmundston in the West to the Acadian Peninsula in the East to Miramichi in the South.  Even all the previous ‘funds’ from government that were talked about as ‘northern’ were really targeted to smaller areas within the area.

It’s good to see the Northern Mayors from west to east coming together to talk about their collective economic destiny.  Whatever the history, the region does now share a common, but dubious bond.  The entire area is under economic duress and that common thread should help bind them together.

My hope is they start to realize that another fund to dole out a few bucks over multiple years for pet municipal projects is not the solution.  You don’t address the challenges from large scale disinvestment in the forest products sector with a new statue or upgrades to some local tourism infrastructure.

The Mayors should call for a comprehensive approach to economic development that includes attracting large anchor companies, fostering supply chains in the region and the growth of export-oriented local firms.

4 thoughts on “There is a northern New Brunswick after all

  1. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to develop some ideas here on ED and put them on youtube, maybe send the link to the Mayors. I wouldn’t hold my breath on ‘attracting anchors’-how many new ‘attracts’ have you seen in the entire province since Molson? I can just see that meeting:”OK local MLA, we want you to go out and bring Google to Edmunston”. “Oh, I hadn’t thought of that, I’ll go give them a call right now”.
    That WOULD be interesting though, what about a model for BNB that has local MLA’s using their services much the same way as federal programs.
    Small cities with resource based economies need provincial laws right now, not new companies. Are you saying a new ‘anchor’ for Miramichi, like a lumber mill, is a GOOD thing? Years more of corporate welfare, free wood, no tax revenue and yearly decreases in jobs and wages is not ED but UN-ED. Personally, I think these mayors should get on the line with the Mayor of McAdam and get their plan for community forests. Get on line with NB Power about the use of biomass. Get talking to the province about co-funding a new medical school, vet school, creating contacts in other countries, architecture school, etc. If the province can move the Department of Energy to St. John, then there is no reason they can’t move the Department of Environment to a northern city.
    While an anchor would be ‘nice’, at this point its unrealistic, maybe even counterproductive (depending on the ‘takers’). The north has the structural problems mentioned in the article-no educational resources, no facilities, no decent highways (ever travel from Bathurst to Edmunston?), higher telecom prices, and higher energy prices (they get a LOT more snow and cold).
    Those are big problems that need to be dealt with now, a new company in town which will only train people to do that one thing is not a GOOD thing (when it leaves does the whole thing start all over again?) So, for example, what is the ‘anchor’ for Moncton? There is none. For St. John? None. Except of course for Irving. That’s not to say that Company X shouldn’t be welcomed, even sought after, but to say the ‘strategy’ should be that is pretty misguided (Campbellton HAS an ‘anchor’-the mill).

  2. I like the idea of common cooperation. I think it would be good if it even crossed economic jurisdictions. Like say a mini region-state getting together like Greater Moncton, Dieppe, Petitcodiac, Memramcook, Shediac, Sackville, Cap Pele, Amherst, Port Elgin, Dorchester, Oxford and Springhill.

    Even if nothing concrete came out of the first discussion at least the ball has begun to roll, cooperation attempted and ideas exchanged. Remember, free trade talks almost collapsed at an early stage so nothing is for certain.

  3. Hopefully the mayors will put pressure on the province. It’s high time that the government start acknowledging the north, not just throwing money at industries that are in trouble or creating a couple of part-time jobs at a golf course and hope that makes them happy until the next election.
    An example is the sulphite mill in Edmundston is very expensive to operate and the unionized salaries are inflated. All these towns in the north are (or were) mill towns. Don’t get me wrong here, we don’t want any of these people walking home but there is a correction that is taking place in the forestry industry. It’s tough; the industry is in the worst shape since confederation.

    These towns are working hard at diversifying their economies so when tough times come, not all the eggs are in one basket. The province needs to realize this and come up with something creative; not just throw tens of millions of dollars at the same mills and increase their crown logging. They need new companies, new industries.
    There are interesting companies in the industrial parc in Edmundston; plastics(IPL) , signs (Pattison), glass manufacturing (Prelco)…ok, these are manufaturing jobs but there is some potential for niche industires.

    There are skills there; there’s a community college in Edmundston, Miramichi, Bathurst and Campbellton. A university campus in Edmundston and Shippagan – These schools aren’t big but there is infrastucture there.

    As far as roads – oh well. I’d rather have the government invest in the knowledge industry than roads. The point is, the counties of Madawaska, Restigouche, Gloucester and Northumberland are not some kind of desolate area. There is potential and it needs a little help.

  4. “There are interesting companies in the industrial parc in Edmundston; plastics(IPL) , signs (Pattison), glass manufacturing (Prelco)…ok, these are manufaturing jobs but there is some potential for niche industires.”

    No doubt. And the current tax policy for smaller companies in New Brunswick is like the equivalent of pouring poison on plant seeds and hoping it will grow to be healthy and full over time.

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