Everyone’s favourite pollster is doing the rounds in the Maritimes pitching a fresh view on urban and rural development. He has adopted what would be called in religious terms a fundamentalist view of urban/rural development as he now defines urban areas as small as a town of 5,000. This is actually Statistics Canada’s view although they seemed to have tweaked their wording in 2011 and now call them ‘population centres’ rather than urban areas.
For Mills the focus should now be on urban development – not just Halifax and Saint John but smaller ‘urban’ places such as Yarmouth and Campbellton. The rest should be left to their own devices. Public services should be centralized in urban areas, economic development, etc.
Mills goes on to talk about EI and the entitlement mentality that exists here, etc.
This is really a variation on the theme, however. I have long said here that you need to have urban areas connected to each other by a reasonable geographic distance. Take Nova Scotia, if all development happens in Halifax and very little anywhere else, you end up with a very unstable situation. Everything just peters out the further you go from Halifax – except in the direction of Moncton which is probably why the corridor between Halifax and Moncton – places like Truro and Amherst – have done reasonably well. If Nova Scotia had a small but growing urban concentration in Yarmouth – it would make the outlook for the whole region in that part of the province much stronger. If there is no urban hub down there at all – it’s problematic in the long term.
My view is that we need to go bakc the drawing board. We have opportunities in the urban areas. We have opportunities in the rural areas. We should pursue both. Almost by definition – in a knowledge based economy – the opportunities are greater in the urban areas.
Now we have a situation where urban development is occuring and there is growing push back against any kind of development in rural areas and smaller towns. Increasingly, many areas are satisfied with their migration to retirement villages. Again, as I have said before, that is not viable. A retirement village in most cases does not generate enough of an economic base to be viable – except those in close proximity to an urban centre.
Anyway, I probably agree with Don Mills on 90 percent of his new view on this.