I was asked to participate in a forum yesterday looking at the future of one of the important industries in New Brunswick. The invitation asked the participants not to discuss the event publicly so I will respect that admonition.
But I will say this. There were 30 people or so in that room and each one seemed to be more knowledgeable than the next. I felt like an intern. Here were people – some with 30-40 years experience rattling off statistics and context from as far back as the 1970s without missing a beat.
Addressing New Brunswick’s economic challenges will come from marshalling and listening to the guidance of folks like this. There is a deep braintrust around here that has seen it all and has good ideas. We need (I need) to listen to more of these folks.
But that’s not my main point this morning. The T&T has a cover story about the Halifax-Moncton corridor – quoting Donald Savoie saying the two should work more closely together.
I am a big fan of urban-urban collaboration like this.
Richard Florida now thinks the future is in these mega-urban regions and that is where governments should invest their dollars. Provinces and even national governments fade in importance compared to these city-states.
He may be right, he may be wrong. Just a few years ago he was paid a pile of cash to tell little places like Sackville they are the new creative hubs and now it’s mega-urbans.
But I do agree with him on the importance of urban areas and the economic linkage between strong urbans and their smaller town and rural peripheries. If we had strong urban to urban linkages in the Maritimes – Halifax – Sydney – Moncton – Saint John – Fredericton – Bathurst – it would be a better model longer term.
I think it will be an interesting policy debate over the next few years – decade or more. One could argue that Canada has already followed a mega-urban development plan for the past 40 years. According to Statistics Canada, Greater Montreal, Ottawa-Toronto, Calgary-Edmonton and Greater Vancouver have accounted for all new population growth since 1971. Everywhere else combined has lost population.