Cross your fingers for downtown Moncton

I hope I don’t sound too critical of the folks charged with developing the downtown. I know the time and effort that many people have put in. However, I am a little cranky. Greater Moncton has undergone a significant economic expansion over the past 10-15 years and the only evidence of that in downtown is what? – A call centre tucked off main street where no one can see it.

Downtowns are the focal point of a community. Some have said that the downtown is the truest reflection of the economic health of a community. In downtown Moncton, however; we have not had any significant new developments since the City Hall complex in the early 1990s.

Four years ago, Verdiroc was tasked with developing a grand vision for the development of a key section of downtown. Do you want to know what has bothered me about the Verdiroc deal all along?

Very simple.

It doesn’t seem like they want to put any skin in the game.

In almost any development opportunity, there will be some level of risk to the developer. That is a cost of being in the real estate development business. However, everything coming out of Verdiroc involves almost no risk on their part. A new justice building finance by the province (conveniently developed by them) and a new convention centre financed by government (conveniently developed by them). Where is the risk? The other proposed developments – as I read things – are just that – proposed.

Maybe it’s time to jetison Verdiroc and try and find a partner that will be a ‘partner’ – as in share the risk.

The future of the downtown is at stake.

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