I read a letter to the editor in the Telegraph-Journal that I wanted to share with you. I’ll just pull some quotes and leave off the name. The title of the letter is “Continued growth has drawbacks”:
Once again I find myself reading another newspaper commentary about how important growth is to New Brunswick’s future, “To succeed, N.B. must continue to grow.” Just take a close look at places here in North America that have sustained continued growth and ask yourself, “Do I want to live in Los Angeles, Houston, Miami or even Vancouver?” These places have won the prize and paid the price for their growth and development. Overcrowded streets with traffic jams day and night, housing prices no one can afford, and intolerable crime levels come with such victories. I just came back from Texas. I could not wait to get back home to New Brunswick. I remember what Texas was like 40 years ago and the paradise that Texas once was is being destroyed by the hordes of people who have moved there to get their piece of the ever-growing economic pie. Most of us still live in open natural settings here in New Brunswick.
I had a conversation a couple of weeks ago with a young business leader in the province who told me with considerable frustration that he didn’t want to live in a province where people move here to get away from the hustle and bustle of dynamic economies. He said that even young people move back here to ‘slow down’ their lifestyle, work less and have a higher quality of life.
Sounds good, right?
Not necessarily. What people like this retiree from Texas don’t understand is that places like New Brunswick need to have at least enough growth to cover the basic costs of that lifestyle he says is so important. I don’t believe we need to become Los Angeles or Houston to be successful but we do need enough economic activity to pay the bills.
I want people to move here to enjoy the high qualit of life. That is a main reason why I have stayed here despite several offers that would have required me to leave. But I work hard. I take my career very seriously. Living here should not be about about turning off your brain and breathing in the country air.
If people (other than retirees) are moving here to scale back, to settle into a comfortable routine and wait for the pension to kick in – I’m not sure that’s a good model. I like the idea of young people moving away, gaining interesting skills and then moving back here to help build successful and innovative companies, infuse new ideas into government and institutions, etc. Bringing back a wider world view makes sense.
But to come back for a kind of pre-retirement slow down – count me out.