I like the title of Shipley’s piece on the permanent closure of the UPM mill in the Miramichi today in the TJ. He calls it the “end of an era”.
There are several definitions for ‘era’ but the one I like is “a period marked by distinctive character or reckoned from a fixed point or event“.
This is the end of an era. An era that provided at one point over 1,200 direct high paying jobs for the region. Replaced now with a Walmart and a Boston Pizza. And a call for more tourism. The waterfront is nice, we are told, let’s develop that.
If the Miramichi moves from an ‘era’ of high paying forestry jobs to an ‘era’ of retail and tourism – I weep for the future of that town.
You see tourism and retail should be afterthoughts in an economic development sense. A little icing on the cake, if you will allow the metaphor. Jobs for stay at home moms/dads looking for part time work while the kids or at school or for students looking for summer jobs. But you cannot anchor a successful economy with these jobs.
Think back to the definition of era – reckoned from a fixed point or event. Now is the time for community, business and government leaders to find that new fixed point or event for the Miramichi.
And the stakes are high because the Miramichi is just the first domino to fall here. The call centre boom is coming to an end. The forestry industry is in the midst of a once in a century rightsizing. So that fixed point or event is now up or down.