I wanted to revisit this issue of the urban/rural debate in New Brunswick in light of a couple of slides I developed for my SJ Board of Trade presentation this week. It goes directly to this issue of becoming more ‘urban’. Most people that think about these things say one of our problems is that we are not urban enough. One demographer said we have the urban/rural profile of Canada back in the 1930s. In terms of raw numbers, there is something to that statement.
But do you urbanize but emptying out your rural population or by increasing your urban population? Again, in my opinion this is not just semantics.
Look at Canada’s urban growth since the 1950s and then look at New Brunswick’s urban growth over the same period. In both cases the rural population grew – only slightly – but the real difference was in the growth of the urban population.
In my opinion, New Brunswick needs to work towards fostering a solid economic base under our rural economy – based on natural resources, tourism maybe telework, etc. At the same time, if we want to grow and create a stronger and more durable province (from a fiscal perspective) we need serious growth in our urban centres such as Moncton, Saint John, Freddy and I would put the smaller urbans in there as well. Bathurst is taking on the role as a regional urban centre – as one example.