Without much reason, I have been reading a number of books about the second world war recently. 50-60 years later is bringing some very good retrospective views on that period.
Anyway, I got a chance to come through the Plaster Rock-Renous highway coming back from Ottawa (to pick up my dog). It’s a bit of a go – particularly when snow-packed but reminded me of an interesting case in point.
Miramichi is pushing the government to make major investments in that highway. They commissioned a study last year that showed upgrading that road would be good for the Miramichi economy. In a media report, government officials talked of the steep decline in traffic on that road and questioned the need for upgrades.
It seems to me that (frustratingly) the days of government proactively building infrastructure on the hope that it will be needed for long term economic development are long gone (with the exception of roads). These days just about everything is done reactively – after the growth has occured.
When one side begins losing a war, they will tend to consolidate forces in a single area to try and make a last push through enemy lines and tip the balance in their favour.
For Miramichi, IMO, should take the same approach. Northern NB as a whole is losing the economic development battle and needs to consolidate effort. Instead of spreading the line very thin, officials in the Miramichi should work with government to help build out a couple of strategic economic sectors. Maybe the NBCC animation program is one place to start. Certainly wood is not dead. But the emphasis should be on attracting and fostering new private sector business investment.
Maybe someday there will be enough truck traffic on the Plaster Rock-Renous highway to justify expansion but convincing the government to put $50 million there is just $50 more million not put where it could be more effective.